Many families choose to homeschool for the freedom that it provides. Under most state laws, you’re free to choose the curriculum you choose, what you teach and how you teach it. This means it’s likely you have a wide open canvas to start filling with resources, supplies, manipulatives and all the little extras that your heart desires. If you don’t have control over your homeschool expenses -your wallet can feel the pressure pretty quickly.
Homeschooling doesn’t have to be expensive (it totally can be….but it doesn’t have to be). There are many blogs and programs that allow you to homeschool for free or very frugally. If you’re just starting out and want to keep the homeschool expenses under control, check out these tips that my wallet and I have learned over the last several years.
Invest in a Good Printer
Invest in a good, efficient printer. By purchasing a good, quality printer that you can refill inexpensively, you’ll save lots of money in the long run. We previously had a laserjet printer that we loved but we found that it wasn’t the best choice cost wise for us and the printing quality wasn’t what we needed. We recently purchased an Epson Ecotank printer and have been blown away by the amount of printing we can do on one set of ink bottles.
Now that we can print efficiently at home, I’m able to purchase many of our materials and supplements as PDF downloads and print them myself. This usually saves anywhere from 10-50% on the cost of the materials and I can reprint anything as needed!
Use Page Sleeves on Workbooks
If you’re homeschooling multiple kids and plan to use the same workbooks or curriculum, page sleeves are a great way to extend the life of your books. We use page sleeves and dry erase markers on many of our workbooks and worksheets. I bought a large pack of the sleeves years ago and they have held up great and saved us lots of paper and money over the years.
We like these specific sleeves since they open both at the top and the side. With this design, you can slide a paper down in from the top slot or slide your workbook in from the side without having to tear any pages from the book.
Recycle or Reuse Paper
We reuse and recycle a lot of our paper. We also have asked friends and family to save any paper that we may be able to use. It’s not a bad idea to ask local offices or businesses if they are willing to give away their used paper if it’s not confidential information.
Worksheets that were printed on one side only get put into a pile and we use the blank backside for math calculations or writing rough drafts. Anytime we have paper that might not be clean enough to reuse the entire sheet, we trim it down into squares for notes and doodles.
We simply toss any “reusable” paper into one of these trays and that’s what we grab when we need to draw, sketch, write a draft or work on math problems.
Buy Basic Supplies in Bulk
Purchasing a lot of basic supplies in bulk saves a lot of money and keeps you from making shopping trips throughout the year. Some of the supplies that we purchase in bulk every year include:
- erasable pens
- construction paper
- glue sticks
- colored pencils
- index cards
Watch for Sales and Specials
I frequent lots of homeschool supply and curriculum websites throughout the year as many of them feature different publishers or categories on sale at different times. Normally, the end of summer is when most websites and stores have their largest sales but you’ll also find some hold Black Friday or holiday sales as well as spring events.
Be sure to follow my social media and check the sales, specials and bargains section of my site where I keep updated posts on current sales happening all over the internet.
Research Curriculum and Try Samples
Before making any big ticket purchases, I highly suggest doing lots of research. Curriculum can be expensive but many publishers offer sample lessons, trial periods and mini units so you can get a better feel for their layout and presentation. We always download any samples and try them out first before committing to a purchase, especially if it comes with a hefty price tag. Your local library may even have homeschool texts and manuals that you can check out with your library card.
Even if a company doesn’t offer a sample or trial on their website, it never hurts to send an email or make a quick phone call to ask. Many times they can point you in the direction of more information or offer some type of example for your family to try out. YouTube has lots of channels by homeschool families that share reviews and flip-throughs of popular publishers and books.
Use Multi-Level Curriculum
If you’re homeschooling multiple kids, you can save money by using multi-grade curriculum for some subjects. We currently do this with science, history and writing. This greatly cuts our costs by allowing us to purchase one teacher guide or manual instead of two. I simply add on additional student resources or they share if there isn’t a lot of writing or activities in the student materials.
Create a Budget
Creating a budget before making any purchases is a good idea. I know when I have a budget or limit to what I can spend, I get much more creative and will seek out the best deal to stretch my dollar.
The rule of thumb that I follow is roughly $200 per child per year for supplies, curriculum and materials. This will vary slightly year to year depending on what curriculum we decide on and if we can reuse any books.
Shop Second Hand
There are so many places to get great deals on second hand homeschool items. The consignment store is one of my most favorite places to pick up homeschool supplies and materials! I always find readers, manipulatives, games and resources at our local consignment sale. Goodwill and Facebook Marketplace are also worth a look.
There are quite a few homeschool curriculum buy, sell, trade facebook groups as well. Just be sure to do your research beforehand to ensure you aren’t paying too much for used materials.
I hope these tips on keeping homeschool expenses under control are helpful for you and your family. If you are brand new to homeschooling, remember to start small and explore a bit before committing to any large purchases. The flexibility that homeschooling provides allows you to get creative when needed – there isn’t always a need to spend a lot of money!
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