The Homeschool Minute ~ Homeschooling on a Budget

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The Homeschool Minute – Homeschooling on a Budget

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Homeschooling on a Budget
The Old Schoolhouse
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Mercy Every Minute   

The Wuehler Family

In answer to the question of how to homeschool on a budget, it reminded me of an answer by Dr. Heather Allen to the question, “How much does homeschooling cost?”


Dr. Brian Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute (, surveyed more than 1500 homeschooling families and found that the average annual expenditure was $450 per child, which is about $38 a month. Remember, this is the average; the cost can be lower or higher depending on how a particular family chooses to homeschool, and what the budget of that family happens to be.


One family reported spending about $125 per child per year for homeschooling expenses. This family opted to do much of their work using the local public library resources, purchased used curriculum, and found paper and supplies at garage sales.


Another family reported spending approximately $1,000 per child per year, but purchased accredited curricula, and outfitted their schoolroom with high quality microscopes, telescopes, and computers.


Either of these options is possible, or something in-between, or something much lower or even higher. It really depends on what you want to do with your homeschool and how you want to go about accomplishing your goals within the budget you have set aside. There is no right or wrong way to go about homeschooling.


One interesting statistic is that there is little to no relationship between the money spent on homeschooling and student achievement. This means that homeschooled students whose parents spend less than the average of $450, score above average on achievement tests. Similarly, homeschooled students whose parents spend more than the average of $450, score above average on achievement tests. Is that neat or what?


My advice, when looking at the data, is to pray about how you should proceed, and trust that, while you’ll make mistakes here and there, you’ll do just fine. Spend only what you feel comfortable spending, and trust God for His provision.


Plan your purchases carefully prior to attending a homeschool convention to insure that you do not purchase something not carefully researched.


Speak with your friends, share resources, and have fun and learn along with your children. What’s really important is that you are training and educating your children–not what you’re spending.


I would love to jump into a discussion of what a child could learn with a simple journal, some nature guides, and daily walks through the woods. Couple those items with living books, discussions, and planned, or even better yet, unplanned activities, and you have the making of an excellent curriculum. That discussion, though, will have to wait until another time.–Heather Allen, TOS Senior Analytical Consultant and Columnist


Watch for Dr. Allen’s newest report on homeschooling in the Annual Print 2015 issue!





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Raising Real Men    

We have eight kids, and we learned early on that “the rest of the world” didn’t know the secrets of managing a large family. Sure, if you have a boy and a girl, you need two bedrooms … but two boys and two girls don’t require four bedrooms. Ever heard of bunk beds? There are strategies like hand-me-downs, sharing, and doing things together instead of separately. Having twice as many kids doesn’t mean twice the expense!


Homeschooling is the same way. You might spend a few hundred dollars on the first student, but you don’t need to buy brand new books for every new student–we have some books we used for six kids already! And we’ve found that even that start-up cost may be a lot less than you think. If you’re on a budget like we are, here are some easy ideas for managing your homeschooling expenses:


Embrace God’s provision. If God is leading you to homeschooling, He’ll provide what you need … sometimes what you wish for, but always what you need. Remember there are many ways to homeschool successfully, and expensive outside classes and brand-shiny-new books aren’t requirements. (Even the school system doesn’t buy new books for every student!)


Learn to cook! Did you know that being able to cook even just basic meat-and-vegetables menus will slash your food budget? If you don’t know how, ask a friend to show you, or call your local agricultural extension service. They often hold free “Home Ec” classes for adults and kids, too.


Get involved with a support network. When you have a group of other homeschoolers to mingle with, you’ll not only enjoy the fellowship, you’ll be able to share resources and ideas. How did such-and-such curriculum work for you? If you’re done with that level of math, could we borrow it this year? Maybe they’ll hold a used book sale this fall. If you can’t afford dues to join, have a word with the group leaders–many have scholarships available.


Explore the world of free resources. Most of the classic literature and a whole universe of information are available online for free. Check out the Gutenburg Project,, and Google Books for all kinds of books you can download and read on your laptop or mobile device. There are even free courses from college level on down, online, at community colleges, or local libraries.


But don’t pirate other people’s books! Sometimes we get careless about copying things without permission, especially if we feel our checkbook’s pinch. Don’t do it! There are so many free resources; it’s not only illegal but unnecessary to reprint someone else’s products. A lot of the homeschool authors we love are families just like ourselves–and often live very frugal lives in order to keep producing those neat workbooks and study guides for the rest of us. When we create illegal copies or share electronic files online, we eat up the market that keeps those families going. It’s just like counterfeiting.


Maria Von Trapp and her family went from the Baron’s estate to living in a borrowed apartment as a war refugee. When someone warned her to accept that she was now poor, she replied, “We’re not poor, we just don’t have any money!” What a great attitude! If God puts you on a budget, you can look to Him for provision–whether for food and shelter, or for homeschooling needs. And you may be surprised to see what He provides!


Yours in the Battle,

Hal & Melanie Young  

The state of your marriage often reflects the state of your finances – and a great relationship makes challenging times easier to bear! Our book,
My Beloved and My Friend: How To Be Married To Your Best Friend Without Changing Spouses,
has lots of practical ideas for working through money issues, health problems, and child-related concerns, too! Find out more at



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The Familyman 


Greetings from the freezer section. I’m beginning to feel like this winter will never end. Cold, snow, and more cold and snow, I need some spring and warmth. Usually this time of year has me thinking Spring Homeschool Convention season, but I’m conflicted this year. The calendar is moving on, but the spring doesn’t seem to be springing.


Actually, I’ve already done one homeschool convention (Saskatchewan), and I have a string of others this month. I’ve talked to plenty of moms who have never been to a homeschool convention and if you’re one of those moms, let me just say, “You’re missing out on a great resource and source of encouragement.”


About the only “con” I can see in the homeschooling convention world is that sometimes conventions can be budget breakers.

And now a note to dads–Dad, send your wife to the local homeschool convention and let her break the budget. Your wife needs the best tools to homeschool your kids … and good tools cost money. So suck it up, dole it out, and smile, thankful to be able to support your wife. If you need to cut back on one of your luxuries (like coffee, cable, or golf outings) then do so.


Our kids are supposed to bleed us dry. Didn’t your parents tell you that kids cost a lot?


But maybe they forgot to tell you that they’re worth it.


Be Real,



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Art Class on a Budget:
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