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Developing a Homeschool Budget

So, how much does homeschooling cost anyway?

As much as you can afford.

That isn't a very comforting answer, but it is a realistic one. Some families reportedly homeschool on as little as $50 a year. Most likely you will spend more than that. How much, exactly, is going to depend on the resources you have available and your children's needs.

Buying homeschool goodies can easily get out of hand, especially for new homeschoolers. Take it slowly to start with. Your children will be best served if you spend your dollars conscientiously.

Hopefully, the following steps will help you conserve your dollars. Most importantly, they will help you make sure that your homeschooling dollars are spent conscientiously.


Spend some time researching available materials before you buy anything. Check out local stores, catalogs, web sites, the local library and homeschool resource books.

Examine curricula carefully (check with members of your local support group to see if anyone uses the curriculum you are considering). Don't forget to consider memberships to local museums or zoos, private classes and lessons, and fieldtrips.

Write up extensive wishlists. Once you have an idea of what is "out there" you will be better able to determine what will be useful to you.

Narrow the Field

It is highly unlikely that you will be able to purchase everything on your list, so you'll have to begin to narrow things down. Focus on the things you want for this year.

For many families, a packaged curriculum is the largest single expense. Consider this choice carefully. Will you be using all of the curriculum, or only portions? Will you have to supplement it with additional materials? Can you purchase different materials that cover the same ground? Consider whether or not the ease of using a packaged curriculum justifies the expense. Would you prefer to spend those dollars on different materials?

These are personal decisions and there is no single correct choice, but it is important to consider the options before laying out the money.

Spending Limits

Now we're finally getting to the money part of the equation. How much can you afford to spend? Do you plan to purchase most of your materials in a big chunk in August each year, or will you purchase smaller amounts of materials each month? This factor may have a significant impact on what you can afford to spend.

Revisit Your Wishlist

Look over your wishlist again. Now that you know what you can afford to spend, you can transform your wishlist into a shopping list. Most likely, your money won't go as far as you'd like. Can you reduce expenses by purchasing used items? Can you borrow materials from the library rather than purchasing them?

Stick to Your List

This is really the key to staying within your budget. Don't buy any homeschool items that are not on your list. If your needs change, rewrite your shopping list. Getting carried away at Office Max or the local teacher supply store can easily be the death of your budget. Review your wishlist and your expenditures at least once a month to be sure they are in alignment.

Getting Started
Tips and resources for getting started with homeschooling.

Making the Decision
Factors to consider when deciding to homeschool a deaf or hard of hearing child.

Organizing Your Home
Suggestions for home organization.

©2000-2013 Barbara L.M. Handley
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