There has often been a misconception that homeschooling requires a big budget for curriculum and materials, however, it is possible to homeschool on a shoestring budget. If you’re unfamiliar with the term shoestring budget, it’s basically a term used to describe a small amount of money that is thought to be an inadequate amount for its intended purpose. We have always had a shoestring budget for our homeschool, some years we had as little as just a couple hundred dollars for two or more kids each year. Over the last 14 years of homeschooling, I have learned several tricks to providing the best possible curriculum for the least amount of money for our homeschool.
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Homeschool on a Shoestring Budget Tricks
#1. Use the library
If you live near a library, this is going to be one of your best resources for your homeschool on a shoestring budget.
– This is obvious, you don’t need to buy books because you can rent books, videos, and more from the library.
– Want to fill your bookshelves at home? You can buy inexpensive books from the library when they have book sales!
– Most libraries often have computers for kids to use with educational games to play.
– There is also free wi-fi that you can use your electronic devices to do school lessons on.
– If you need something and can’t find it at that library, ask about inter-library loaning.
Now if you aren’t careful, using the library can cost you a mint! I have paid so many “late” fines for overdue books that we quit going to the library for a while. Thankfully our library has a 7-day grace period after the due date, so we don’t have as many “late” fines anymore.
#2. Utilize content you can teach to a variety of ages
Math and Language Arts are typically subjects that your kids will do at their own level, there are some subjects though that they can do as a group. Science and History are great subjects that you can expand learning topics to kids of all ages. If you only have to buy one teacher’s manual for a subject that can save quite a few dollars. We use curriculum like Story of the World and Apologia Exploring Creation for all ages, adding in extra activities & assignments for each grade level.
Don’t Let Field Trips break a Homeschool on a Shoestring Budget
#3. Field trips can be free (or super inexpensive)
There’s no doubt that visiting the zoo and museums are amazing field trips, but the admission prices can really break your homeschool budget. One budget-saving trick that I have used in our homeschooling is to ask for memberships as Christmas gifts from family.
You can also use your own backyard or neighborhood for field trips. For a social studies project interview neighbors and relatives that may have lived through a different era. Observing plant and animal life in your backyard can be a great nature study lesson. Take a hike in a local nature preserve or take a “physical education” field trip to a local playground. Go beyond the Museum with these field trip ideas from In Our Pond and check out 10 Ways to Save on Family Activities from New England Family Life.
Other ideas for free field trips:
- Check out Smithsonian Magazine’s Museum Day for free museum days in your area.
- There are many places that offer special rates for homeschool groups and even have “homeschool days”. One of our favorites has always been the Homeschool Day at the National Museum of the US Air Force.
My Favorite Homeschool on a Shoestring Budget Tricks!
#4. Internet and Online Resources
It may just be the “chase” of tracking down amazing resources, but internet and online resources are my favorite shoestring budget tricks!
Here are few ideas for free (or inexpensive) resources that I use every homeschool year:
- Shop for curriculum through sites like Homeschool Buyers Co-op, EduCents, & Currclick for great discounts!
- Follow sites like Homeschool Educational Free Market, Free Homeschool Deals, Homeschool Printables for Free, & The Frugal Homeschooling Mom for great free resources.
- Sites that offer FREE full-curriculum: All In One Homeschool, An Old Fashioned Education, Ambleside Online, & Freedom Homeschooling.
#5. Second-hand Bookstores, Ebay, Curriculum Swap & Sales Groups, & Thrift Stores
As I mentioned above, we stopped using the library for awhile due to crazy “late” fines so I began building our homeschool library one thrift store at a time so that we always had books available for our lessons. Now we don’t live in an area that has very many thrift stores, so searching curriculum swap & sales groups on Facebook is my go-to method for building our homeschool library. Two of my favorite groups for second-hand books are called Shoestring Books and Homeschool Curriculum Free for Shipping.
There is a great second-hand bookstore called Half-Price Books. I love this store, however, it is a two-hour drive from us now. I try to make a trip at least twice a year though because I do love the store. Half-Price Books does offer a teacher discount too, just show a “teacher” id to apply. I use my HSLDA membership card when applying for teacher discounts. If you don’t have an HSLDA membership, you can use this free printable homeschool id from The Homeschool Buyers Co-op.
Using Teacher Discounts to Keep Your Homeschool on a Shoestring Budget
Speaking of teacher discounts, there are many stores that offer discounts that you can get as a homeschool teacher, Jo-Ann Fabrics, Michael’s Craft Store, Barnes & Noble, Office Max – just to name a few. Check out this list from The Homeschool Mom for even more teacher discounts.
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I hope that these homeschool on a shoestring budget ideas are helpful for you and your family. If you have a shoestring budget idea for homeschooling, I would love to hear about it!