Living on one income isn’t always easy.  Having to purchase books and materials for homeschooling, sometimes with larger-than-average families, can add to this burden.

Fortunately, homeschoolers are great at cutting corners without necessarily cutting quality.  Saving money while still homeschooling is not only possible, but happening all around the country every single day.

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Those wondering about being able to afford homeschooling often ask how families do it.  The answer lies in making the necessary changes in lifestyle as to effectively impact spending.  In order to do this, a change in thinking must occur as well.

While there are specific strategies that homeschoolers use to make one-income survival work, the general ideas are explained below:

1. Live frugally

Living frugally is something that many homeschooling families have turned into an art form. Purchasing clearance and second-hand items, accepting donations of gently used items, drastically reducing household expenses in areas like telephone and television usage, and saving money on the grocery bill by shopping in bulk or clipping coupons are just a few of the many ways that homeschoolers manage to get by.  Saving money on these items doesn’t necessarily mean sacrificing quality, either.  What it means instead is spending less by shopping more wisely than before.

2. Temporarily live with less

Homeschooling doesn’t last forever. But while it does, families sometimes need to make due with less.  Fewer family vacations, fewer luxury purchases, and fewer activities than may have been possible before homeschooling began.  Postponing large expenses, or eliminating them altogether, is often needed to keep the boat afloat.  And while this may seem extreme, it doesn’t mean the family must be miserable during this time period. Free and inexpensive solutions exist for many of these things, making the transition from having more to having less easier than one might think.

3. Find creative sources of income

Stay at home parents can be masterful at finding ways to earn income on their own.  Many a home business has been started right from the kitchen table and home phone.  Telecommuting is popular, too, enabling formerly full-time employees to reduce hours to part-time and continue working right from home.  On a smaller scale, however, there are other things that homeschoolers can do and earn money in their spare time.  Answering surveys, answering phones, and answering mail can all be accomplished from home.  Scoring exams, translating documents, and creating resumes are other examples, too.  And still other parents buy and resell items at auction, earn by blogging, hold frequent yard sales and perform odd jobs for friends and neighbors.  Income does not necessarily have to come from a regular job, thus looking at work from a different angle may help.

4. Choose wisely

Though it may take some practice, carefully considering options and choosing wisely can make all the difference when homeschooling.  Rather than spending with no forethought whatsoever, spending during the homeschooling years must be carefully planned.  Families that may be used to eating out on a regular basis or buying new vehicles every several years will want to choose much more wisely when making these purchases than before.  A more expensive sit-down restaurant may be replaced with a family-style buffet.  A new vehicle could be a more fuel efficient model or a smaller one than before.  Brand-name labels on clothing items or household furnishings are other areas to look at, so that when presented with a choice of several items, the least expensive model becomes the obvious choice.

5.  Adapt, be flexible

When dollars are scarce, it becomes far more important to roll with things than ever before.  Trying to stick with routines from the past, staying loyal to people, places or brands, and even associating with friends and other things from the pre-homeschooling days will surely result in frustration.  Learning to say no to costly activities or bowing out of obligations because they simply cut too deep into the monthly budget can be very humbling, even embarrassing, when one is used to certain quality of life.  Explaining the new budgetary guidelines to family and friends is not always easy either.  But just as new parents must make sacrifices (in sleep, appearance, work hours, and friendships), so homeschoolers must make sacrifices for the sake of schooling as well.  The sooner a family learns to adapt to the new set of circumstances and the more willing they are to be flexible in terms of what they may or may be able to do under the new guidelines, that easier the transition will be.  Digging heels in deeper will only foster resentment, unhappiness and possibly even debt.  Changing the mindset and beginning to accept what things are like now, as opposed to how they were before, brings a greater sense of peace than constantly trying to swim against the tide.

If still in doubt about the ability to afford homeschooling, it may be helpful to crunch the numbers to prove it.  Calculating the cost of transportation, uniforms and/or clothing, school supplies and accessories, lunches and snacks, attending classmate birthday parties on weekends, going on field trips, buying teacher gifts and making classroom donations, plus all of the other things that families spend on public education, it will become clearly obvious that homeschooling isn’t such a stretch of the imagination after all.   Plus, when parents who work to pay for private tuition or afterschool child care also factor in their expenses (wardrobe, transportation, hair care, and so on) homeschooling moves within closer reach because the savings are even greater.

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Homeschooling on a budget

Homeschooling during hard times