The 170 page ebook contains much more content than the posts you find here. It also includes a ton of resources and freebies from other websites. It was a true labor of love, and I know you will love it!
For any family seeking a private Christian education in the home, money quickly becomes an issue. While programs like K12 and other public-school umbrellas exist, they do not offer the freedom of choice so many homeschoolers are looking for. Nor do they offer a Christian education.
Most homeschooling families opt to buy their own curriculum so they can truly be in charge of their child’s education. When a homeschooling family has many children, curriculum buying becomes an exercise in creative frugality.
Here are a few ways you can save and stretch money in your homeschool:
My absolute favorite place to get school supplies is Discount School Supply. Every year, I order all the paper, pencils, crayons, paint, craft supplies, etc. we need for the year (and often, they will last longer than that). I buy crayons in bulk, pencils in bulk, glue in bulk and whatever else I know we use a lot of. Discount School Supply’s prices are amazing and the shipping is FREE if you have an order over $79.
Another place we buy from is Miller Pads and Paper. I have never purchased from them online, but they go to a lot of conventions and I buy things from them like dry erase lapboards and specialty papers. They are also a terrific source for higher level art supplies (I need to keep this in mind when getting extras for See the Light Art!)
2. Utilize free sites.
There are entire websites devoted to offering free curriculum like Ambleside Online and Old Fashioned Education – there is a great list of free curriculum sites on Successful Homeschooling. Free curriculum websites are amazing resources that often use public domain materials. If you go this route, I would highly recommend investing in some type of eReader like a Kindle or Nook so your children are not confined to staring at a computer all day. I also like Sherry’s (Large Family Mothering) idea of investing the money to print off free books and then bind them yourself.
There is also a new website, FreeHomeschoolDeals.com, that offers several freebies every day, including free Kindle ebooks. And on Fridays at Gricefully Homeschooling and Kathy’s Cluttered Mind there is a FreeBee Friday with a link up where other homeschoolers can link up their freebies.
I also use places like Homeschool Share for free unit studies (like when we needed a Farmer Boy supplement for our Little House on the Prairie study). And of course, never forget your local library!
You could easily pull together a full curriculum for all of your children with all the free stuff on the internet. It would take a little diligence, perseverance and time, but it is definitely doable.
3. Dream big and one at a time.
Most homeschool moms go into their school year with a budget in mind. They say things like, “I have $500 to spend for the entire school year. How can I get the biggest bang for my buck?” I would like to encourage you to come at your budget in a little different way.
Rather than seeing your children as a collective, look at each child individually and their individual interests and needs. Include the things most people consider “extras” and dream big. You can always pare down from there.
For instance, we’ve decided our youngest children only need Phonics and Math. The rest of their schooling can come from books we already own, library books, or just plain life. We focus the bulk of our budget on our older children and increasing our own library of resources. (by the way, the numbers in the photo are random 😉 )
I start high with my homeschooling dreams and work my way down when deciding on a reasonable amount to spend each year. I write down each child’s name and all the items I think they could use in a year and the price of each item. From there, I start paring down and searching for online resources to replace some of the items until I land on a more reasonable number.
Dreaming big for each individual child teaches you to see each of your child’s strengths and weaknesses and interests in the context of education and discipleship. You may find yourself very surprised and very excited by the prospects of budgeting this way because it gives such insight for each child. In the Subscriber Pack, I’ve included a Budget by Child sheet where you can try this method of planning.
4. See your purchases as an investment.
This is the number one thing I tell homeschooling parents of many. Your purchase today will be passed down from one child to the next. If there is a curriculum you really think would benefit your homeschool, but the price feels too hefty, don’t always walk away from it. Consider how many of your children will be able to use it and other places you can scrimp in order to purchase it. The money you spend now will be well worth it in the long run.
And I want to urge you to realize your child’s education is not just about academic scores. This is the very reason I wrote Homeschooling with Purpose. Homeschool parents have to move beyond test scores and textbooks as their measure of success.
Rachel Q says
Great article, Amy! Thanks for the encouragement and wonderful ideas =) I wanted to add one online resource where I purchased much of my curriculum for my older children for next year. It is http://www.currclick.com. They have quite a few free resources and most of their other things are very reasonably priced. I’ve used many of their things in the past, and I can’t wait to use it next year. It was sort of like you said. I had to dream big and pare down…but they made it possible for me to do that and still feel really good about the upcoming year. For my daughter who just completed kindergarten we were very pleased with her success in My Father’s World A to Z, and we wanted to continue into grade 1 with MFW. However our budget shrunk a bit, so I had to be careful. I looked at what we would really use of the curriculum and found most of it on ebay and amazon. I’m going into next school year for under $400 on curriculum. I know I’ll have other supplies to purchase, but right now I am so excited. Thanks also for the tips on where to purchase discount school supplies. One way we did that one year was when Staples had their back to school sales with really good deals I discovered that b/c I taught my children at home I qualified for a teacher rewards card. I was able to get even more supplies at really inexpensive prices. I only wished I had known that before!
God bless you for your encouraging posts!
I have yet to try the Teacher’s Rewards programs (I think Office Max has one too), but I’m glad you mentioned it. And I never even thought of CurrClick, so thank you for mentioning it too. We homeschool moms are so resourceful! 🙂
Rachel @ finding joy says
Love this — especially the picture of the costs. I think that’s what I’ve discovered in my own homeschooling journey – each child down costs significantly less. And, just like you stated as well, I’ve also learned that we really don’t need all the bells and whistles in the younger years. Reading out loud? That’s an amazing curriculum.
Again, wonderful series. You are blessing many.
Yes, ma’am that IS an amazing curriculum…and I sure do have a lot of books! 😉
Rachel @ finding joy says
Then that’s good. We read all the time. I have the hardest time telling them, “put down that book you’re reading so that we can do some school.” So I let them read. 🙂
However, I must admit, Ty came home one day and one of the children said they had read 350 pages that day (which they had) and he gently suggested they take a wee bit of a break. lol
I would highly recommend Sherry’s Large Family Mother site for the encouragement and her resources. Any of them that cost are reasonably priced.
You may want to look at
hope that is helpful
Thanks for all of these great resources and ideas! We just began homeschooling our 10 and 11-year-old girls this year under a public school umbrella program. While I agree that such a program can feel confining, it can be great for some families. We purchased our Christian curriculum using our own money and are now able to use public school funds for our extracurricular activities (swimming, piano lessons, etc.). Next year our available funds will total $1000 per child – certainly worth it for our family! I would encourage anyone who wants to make a gradual transition from public school to homeschool to check out these programs.
Along with freebies is a site called Homeschool Freebie of the Day…http://www.homeschoolfreebie.wholesomechildhood.com/ They offer something each day and extras for those who sign up to receive email notifications of upcoming freebies. I’ve gotten some excellent resources through them.
I have definitely looked upon my purchases as an investment. Helps me to not be frightened out of an excellent choice because of cost. When you divide it up by kids and years used, it’s so much more affordable. I try to encourage other moms about the investment as well!
Love that site! Thanks for sharing!
Local library. 🙂
Great ideas! Thanks for sharing.
I would like to add a note to the K12 public school programs, if I could. Depending on how the program is set up, your child can be (and usually is) a public school student. This means that the government has the authority to regulate what you do…maybe they don’t…yet…but they can. If your state K12 program (or any “part-time” program) requires your child to take the AIMS then homeschooling freedoms in general are being put at risk. Over the years we have fought and won many legal battles to allow homeschooling families the freedom to homeschool with very little government regulation…depending on your state. These K12 programs and “part-time” publicly funded programs could very well be the “Trojan Horse” to homeschooling freedoms. I was homeschooled back in the days when we lived in fear of the truant officer, hid when the doorbell rang, and rarely left the house during the day. We have so many wonderful freedoms today! I would urge families considering this option to research the legal ramifications carefully and seek advice from the experts like HSLDA before enrolling. wow…that was a little more than a note…haha.
I very much agree with what you are saying here and appreciate the “tone” as well. I do not think we should “blast” parents choosing K12 because many of them either do not know the government involvement or don’t realize it puts homeschooling freedoms at risk. I chose not to mention this in the article, but I do appreciate you pointing it out…and again, in a loving way.
Just wanted to say how much I am enjoying this series and your blog in general. There is so much here that is solid and useful for every homeschool!
Thank you so much for the kind words!
Andrea W says
Great post! I totally agree 🙂 I know this year is going to be a higher cost..but my oldest is starting high school level, so there are some subjects that I’ll need to buy…but then I can pass them on to each child, so in the long run, it will save money. (Like Teaching Textbooks, Apologia on cdrom, etc) I barely spend anything on my younger ones (gr k-2) Now..if I didn’t have to buy those pesky standardized tests every single year…(we’re in MN and it’s required) 🙂
I love homeschooling!
Andrea. Great idea! We do the same thing with our homeschool purchases. We try to avoid workbooks and go for regular books, computer programs, etc., that can be passed right down the line. My oldest is 5/6 grade level and he will be the most expensive…most likely every year:) I love homeschooling too!
You have to BUY the standardized tests!?! Ugh.
Anita Chamblee says
One thing that I did in my very early days of homeschooling back in the late 80s, was to get educational catalogs. I would then look at what they were selling and try to make my own. I made several things that have been useful and purchased many things way back then that I am still using with my little ones (yes, I still have little ones). Here is one example of something I made years ago and still use. http://busyhandsbusyminds.blogspot.com/2011/01/phonics-on-go-make-your-own-flip-book.html
Other homeschool moms offer up a wide variety of fun printables, etc that teach so many concepts especially for the early years. homeschoolcreations.com and http://www.1plus1plus1equals1.com are a couple of my favorites.
You can also extend workbook usefulness by buying reproducible workbooks or cutting off the backs and putting worksheets in page protectors and filling them in with wipe off markers, or just using clear sliding bar report covers over the page and working with the wipe off marker. I still have some from my oldest daughter’s early years and she starts her own kindergarten homeschooler this year!
Thanks for sharing the tips, Anita! I appreciate your insight so much. 🙂
Many state level homeschool organizations have negotiated with various companies, museums and so on for discounts for members of the organization. Here in Virginia a year’s membership is $35 which pays for itself pretty quickly…
Great idea! Everyone, please do check with your local museums…these are great rainy day activities and field trips!
We’ve brought books we need second hand. They have usually been in excellent condition and this has saved us a fair amount of money even for current editions. As well as the obvious sources for second hand books, we have brought (and sold) on a UK Christian home educators’ e-mail list.
That reminds me, we’ve gotten a lot of used books via PaperBackSwap – GREAT resource!
I do so much of what’s been written above, but here are a couple of other ideas for free resources: Homeschool Freebie of the Day and Homeschool Helper Online.
–Gena at ichoosejoy.org
Jen G ~ Gricefully Homeschooling says
Thank you so much for the shout out!! =) Great ideas too!
You’re welcome – you have a great thing going there. 🙂
Love these thoughts! For us, I’m finding every child to cost less than the last. Clothing isn’t the only thing that survives as hand-me-downs! Add to that the fact that I know what I’m doing a little more with each child, so I need less stuff to help me out, and I don’t know that homeschooling a bunch of kids is any more expensive than just one or two!
This applies to a lot of areas of large family life…it just doesn’t cost as much as people think it does because they are basing it off what a family with 2 children does and buys and then applying it across the board. Sorry, that’s not how it works. 😉
christian Cunard says
I just love our blogs on the 10 days of homeschooling a large family. I have 7 children and one on the way and I am defiantly looking for ways to look to save and in other ways to invest in their education.
Thank you so much for this post. I grabbed so many nuggets on saving money. My daughter will be starting Kindergarten this fall and I’m a first time homeschooling mom, (one income family). Sometimes I wonder, ‘Lord, how on earth are we going to do this financially.’ Post such as today’s encourage me to think creatively. Thanks a bunch!
Welcome to the wonderful world of homeschooling! You will use your brain in ways you never dreamed possible! Enjoy the journey! 🙂
Thank you for the welcome! And yes, I am working on enjoying the journey.
Thank you for his post. You have expanded some of my resource ideas. I am only homeschooling 2 instead of a larger group, but these are still very helpful ideas. Thanks!
You are welcome! And yes, what works for a large family easily works for a small family. 🙂
This was such great advice! I am going to practice dreaming big and dreaming individually for my children. 🙂 Thanks!
As usual, you have done an excellent job covering this important subject!
Carie Black says
I am new to homeschooling this year and I found the most amazing website ever. It is http://www.allinonehomeschool.wordpress.com and it is all free.
another great place to shop (and sell) is
or the Well-trained Mind boards!
There is a homeschool resale that is about an hour from us, that is absolutely amazing!
Sometimes it’s good to save your pennies for something like that!
Lots of free classics on Kindle, too! Even got McGuffy readers that way!
Magic and Mayhem says
Great tips. I have some other free resources to recommend that I use for my large HSing family too. One is the “teachers pay teachers” site, where you can find thousands of free unit studies, printables, games, materials etc. and search by grade level or subject. Many of their products are for cost but you can search just for free items and I’ve found some neat ones. http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/ I have a lot more freebies for HSers pinned on my Pinterest freebie board at http://pinterest.com/magicandmayhem/homeschool-freebies/ too.
I’ve found that it is more expensive to HS the older kids than the younger ones, but the biggest increase in cost is not the HSing but the food! LOL It’s a good thing we garden and know how to cook from scratch. 🙂
Ha! That is so true about the food!
This is a great article! We are just about done with our first yr of school. Kindergarten costed us about $50. I’m planning first grade right now and let me tell ya, I’m dreaming BIG! Lol and most of it is books to go in our library. I know they’ll be read and wisdom.will be gleaned from them. They’re worth the investment.