Sunday, August 22, 2010

Isn't homeschooling awfully expensive?

Blog cruise time again this week!

"How do you afford to homeschool? What are some ways to save money on homeschooling supplies?" is the Blog Cruise question(s) this week.

Oh, yeah, a topic near and dear to my heart.  I'm tackling the first question.  There are a lot of places this question could take me.
  1. Why should I make the effort to afford to homeschool?
  2. How can I homeschool for less?
  3. How can I make some extra money so we can afford to homeschool?
  4. How can I cut back other expenses so we can afford to homeschool?
That's not an exhaustive list, by the way, but it is what hits me the most right now.

Why should I make the effort to afford to homeschool?
A question that is very pertinent to me right now.  There are so many other ways we could spend our money, you know?  And options like virtual charter schools are so tempting.  For me, though, I know that homeschooling has been worth it.

The other side of this is that many of the other options out there aren't exactly cheap either.  Walk into Wal-Mart and they have lists posted of school supplies needed for the various schools.  Some of those lists are really long, and include a lot of supplies for the classroom, not just for the kid.  Then there are the fundraisers, teacher gifts, and the fact that the kids need nicer clothing (around the house, they can wear jeans with holes, or their favorite ragged t-shirt).  And fees for field trips, fees for extra activities, and expensive lunches (even the reduced price lunch would cost me more than I spend for lunch at home).  Add the extra money spent on convenience at breakfast.  Plus the cost for doctor's visits as the kids would pick up ever bug going around.

How can I homeschool for less?
Homeschooling does NOT have to be expensive.  It really doesn't.  We watched Good Will Hunting quite some time ago.  If you can get past the extreme amount of rough language, it is not a bad movie.  The best line (which I will paraphrase as this is a family-friendly blog) came when Will is in a conversation with some ivy-league snob types.  He is able to speak intelligently on a number of "educated" topics.  A Harvard man expresses surprise, wanting to know how he learned so much.  Will says something about eventually learning that "(you)... dropped a hundred and fifty grand on a ... education you coulda got for a dollah fifty in late chahges at the public library." (pulled from imdb's memorable quotes page).

Well, I'd vote for a little higher budget for late fees, but the principle is good.  There are some amazing FREE sources for practically anything you or your kids need to know.  The library is a fantastic one, depending on where you live.  The internet is another.

Some of my favorite resources that are inexpensive:
  • Old Fashioned Education:  I don't agree with everything she puts into her year-to-year plans, but she does link to some amazing resources.
  • Sites with public domain books available, such as Baldwin Project, Project Gutenberg, and Librivox (for audio versions).
  • Paperbackswap:  I post books I don't want or need anymore and pay to ship those media mail.  I get books I need for school.  I've done phenomenally well with this.  (The link is a referral link, so I get a free credit if you sign up and post ten books.  And if you do, thank you.)
  • At various times, I have subscribed to lots of different podcasts.  Merriam Webster Word of the Day, for instance.  We usually listen straight off the computer.
  • Teacher Toolbox from The Old Schoolhouse sends something free each month.  This month, it was Download N Go's Expedition Mexico.
The biggest thing, though, is to research before making a purchase.  Read reviews from a bunch of people.  Really analyze why someone likes a product, and especially analyze why they don't.  If a reviewer gives details about how they use it and what worked (or didn't) you can get a good idea if it would work for you.  (This is why I give so much detail in my reviews, usually.  I want people to get enough information to make a reasonably intelligent decision!)  If you think you will want to hand it down, you might want to spend a bit more for new or higher-quality used.

Along those lines, don't buy more than you need.  If you do some planning before you start purchasing, you may be able to avoid overpurchasing.  All that extra stuff is just going to make you feel guilty that you aren't using it.  So don't spend the money in the first place!

Why buy when you can borrow?  The library, obviously.  But ask around from homeschooling friends too.  Even friends in your online world.  Giving someone money to send you their materials, and paying to ship it back can be a lot less expensive than buying it outright.

How can I make some extra money so we can afford to homeschool?
Well, me finding ways of picking up some extra money has made all the difference for us.  At various times, I've telecommuted, I've worked as a mystery shopper, I've participated in various pay-to-click programs, I've taken online surveys, and I hope to get a check for the google ads on this blog in the next month or so. My more recent means to homeschooling supplies is Swagbucks (there's a referral link on the left side of my blog.)

Some of the telecommuting has resulted in a real income (and real time!), but most of the rest means I get $10 here, $1 there... but pretty soon it does add up to some real money. 

If you blog, you can also sign up at places like Booksneeze or Tyndale (there are links on the right side of my blog) and get some resources in exchange for reviewing them.  If you are choosy and patient, you can end up with items that will be great for your schooling.

How can I cut back other expenses so we can afford to homeschool?
Well, that could be a whole series of blog posts.  But if you really want to make homeschooling work, and you have resources that you really feel you need, there is probably something you can cut.  My favorite blogs to help me in this are Springs Bargains (that's local though) and Money Saving Mom.

The TOS Crew Blog is sponsoring a question of the week every Tuesday.


Loretta said...

Stopping by from the TOS Crew on my (late) Week 7 Blog Walk.

Thank you for your very informative post about how to afford homeschooling. I appreciate the links that take the reader to other places for more information.

Debbie Phillips said...

Lovely post. Stopped to leave you a message since I follow your blog. Wanted you to know I am reading your posts. Great Job. We love public domain books and our library.

Julie Coney said...

paper back swap! I forgot about them.... how could I do that! YEESH! thanks for the reminder!

Debra said...

Thanks all three of you! :)