I want each of my children to receive a high quality education and I’m sure you want the same for your children. Part of providing a high quality education is making sure our children have the materials and opportunities they need in order to learn.
As my husband and I strive to provide a top notch education for our children, we have learned to be careful about how we spend our money. Early on in my homeschool journey, I stumbled into a fog, believing that a good education was achieved by purchasing expensive materials. Subconsciously I thought, “The more I spend, the more they’ll learn.” This faulty logic caused me to make unwise choices and contributed to overspending.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve developed strong friendships with seasoned homeschoolers. By following their wise advice, I was able to reevaluate my homeschool spending. The sincere encouragement the women offered led me out of the financial fog and enabled me to make sound spending choices. To prevent overspending in your homeschool, consider heeding the tips they’ve shared with me.
Check out curriculum carefully and only purchase what you need. It may not be necessary to purchase the entire curriculum bundle. Sometimes the student text, teacher’s edition, and test booklet are sufficient. If you know you won’t use the other supplemental materials (resource cards, activity booklets, etc.) in the bundle don’t waste money buying them.
Buy used whenever possible. Sugar Plum’s piano teacher is a fellow homeschool mom. She created an awesome Facebook group that allows homeschool moms to post and purchase homeschool materials. Many moms have used this great group to find materials they need at a reduced price. If you’re not on Facebook, search for materials on Ebay or Craig’s List. I’ve purchased quality, discounted homeschool materials from both sites.
Talk to other homeschoolers before you buy. The homeschool moms I know tend to hold onto materials for a while because they may be able to use them with their other children. This means there’s a good chance someone I know already has the book I need to purchase.
Shortly before the start of the school year, Sugar Plum’s piano teacher and I were talking about how much we like The Story of the World history curriculum we both use. Since her daughter is ahead of us in the series, the piano teacher offered to let me borrow her daughter’s student text next school year. I’m grateful for her kind offer as it will save us money.
Plan before you purchase. Keep a list of what you need to prevent impulse spending. This is especially important for me while at the homeschool conventions I love to attend. The atmosphere of the homeschool convention is ripe for overspending: likeminded people all around me, engaging workshops that renew my energy, colorful displays and pretty packaging, live demonstrations, and friendly sales representatives eager to tell me about their product’s educational benefits. Don’t let the convention high lead you to a financial low later on. Plan ahead and purchase accordingly.
Note the difference between wants and needs. Take care of your homeschool needs first and tackle wants as your finances allow. At our house the want and need lists are very fluid and items move between lists regularly. Consider these two examples involving a music stand and a globe.
For a long time I wanted Sweet Pea to have a music stand for her violin sheet music. I wasn’t ready to spend the money on a stand, so she used my cookbook stand as sheet music holder for a long time. That worked well until she joined the orchestra and needed to bring a music stand with her. Once the want became a need, we made the purchase.
A globe was on my list of needs so I purchased one and used it regularly during our lessons. A few months ago, Baby Girl One decided to use the globe as a makeshift soccer ball and that was the end of our globe. I have yet to purchase another globe since we’re having success using online maps and globe apps to locate places we need to explore. It turns out that what I thought I needed was only what I wanted.
Use library materials. l’m sure you’re already aware of your library’s vast resources. Use them! We love the books, CDs, and DVDs found at the library. Our study of the rise and fall of Rome was greatly enhanced by the library’s ample selection of books and DVDs. Save money by borrowing instead of purchasing.
We also love the many free and often educational programs hosted at our local library. Local educational facilities often sponsor free programs at the library in the hopes of drawing new paying customers. Over the past several months, a popular art study was offered at the library and a nature center in the area brought a few animals to teach children about reptiles and amphibians. You can skip the cost of a class by attending free library programs.
Our library even allows you to borrow day passes to local children’s museums. What a bargain! Your tax dollars pay for the library. Get the most from your money!
Search the internet. It’s kind of hard to imagine how we ever lived without the internet! YouTube videos bring educational content right into our living rooms and homeschool bloggers freely share printables you can use to supplement your studies. You can even find free homeschool curriculum online. A quick Google search will provide a long list of educational gems for you to mine. Look online before spending a dime!
Overspending is a homeschool hazard I have faced but you can avoid doing so. Careful planning, discipline, and appropriate use of resources can prevent financial heartache. Do you have tips to combat overspending? If so, let me know by leaving a comment.
© 2013, Andrea Thorpe. All rights reserved.