So, how much does it really cost to homeschool?
If you’ve not jumped in and started homeschooling yet, you have probably asked yourself this question. You want to be prepared and realistic as you plan to homeschool.
Some people claim to homeschool for free, but there are always hidden costs. Even those who send the kids to public school have hidden fees along the way.
So in an effort to pull the curtain back and be transparent, let’s talk about how much it really costs to homeschool. If you haven’t started yet, use this guide to help you plan ahead financially.
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Here’s the first thing you have to know: There are whole spectrums of how much it costs to homeschool. It depends if you go thrifty or moderate or generous in your spending. And of course the area of the country you live in could impact some fees.
Can you homeschool well with a small budget? Yes! I have shared before how to homeschool successfully as a one-income family. You just need to have a realistic of idea of the kinds of expenses you will need to budget for.
Let’s talk about the main categories of spending for most homeschool families. Then scroll down to listen to episode 178 of the Homeschool with Moxie Podcast where we’ll talk about 6 strategies for homeschooling on one income.
Are you a working homeschool mom? We’ve got you covered too! Check out episode 144 of the Homeschool with Moxie Podcast where we enjoyed talking with Jen Mackinnon about how to homeschool as a working mom.
Most families buy some sort of curriculum to use in teaching their kids. You can get all fancy with this and buy a whole grade level in a box. Or you can go the eclectic route and pick and choose the best from various sources. You can definitely spend thousands of dollars on curriculum if you want to, or some people do it mostly for free. Most families are somewhere in the middle. Of course, the more kids you are homeschooling, the more money you might spend. But, not necessarily. You can read HERE about how I’m going to homeschool five kids next year (including two in high school) for only $510.98 in curriculum costs.
Testing or Evaluation Fees
Check into your state laws regarding homeschooling. Some will require standardized testing or evaluations. Most standardized tests start at $25, but could be as high as $75. Evaluation fees are variable as well, starting at about $20.
You might want to consider a membership in your local, state, or national organization. The benefits of this are support and activities for your kids that you just can’t replicate yourself (think spelling bee or science fair). When we were part of a local group several years ago, it might have cost $30 for the year, then we also became members of HSLDA for about $120. Some state memberships also include discounts to conventions.
Again, you can go crazy or simple in this category. Of course, shop the sales and stock up when prices are lowest, usually at the end of the summer when everyone else is getting ready to go back to school too. My kids have even received new school supplies for Christmas, because who doesn’t love a new set of sharpies or crayons in January? The older my kids get, the less supplies I really need to purchase. Three-ring binders can be reused and we always have a large supply of college ruled notebook paper. Other than that, mechanical pencils are like gold around here. We go the simple route and it works for us. Make a list of the school supplies you’ll need and put it in the budget.
Thrift stores, yard sales, and library sales are great places to build your home library. Of course, books make great birthday and Christmas gifts too! Do you have your eye on a comprehensive history encyclopedia to use as your history spine next year? Ask the grandparents to buy it for the family for Christmas. Keep an eye on eBay or other online sales as well with your wishlist in hand. This spending category is small for some people and enormous for others. Know your book buying habit and plan for it.
Professional Development for Mom & Dad
Don’t skimp on this category even though it might be tempting! You need the encouragement and support that comes through continuing development in your role as a homeschool parent. You should make room in the budget for conferences, online courses, and books! Check out the 30 books every homeschool mom should read. But if money is tight, start with the free courses and borrow books from the library or a friend.
We’ve gone through seasons where we didn’t pay anything for extracurricular (either because we didn’t participate in anything or we found the free options) and we’ve been through seasons (like right now!) where we are paying for several. Decide what your budget, your calendar, and your sanity can handle. No, your kids will not be ruined for life if they don’t participate in all. the. things.
So, what might extracurricular expenses look like? A YMCA membership, or a gym class fee. Art lessons. Sports teams. Music lessons. These do add up, and the more kids you have, the more it adds up. But don’t stress it. These things are nice, but not essential. Again, find the right groove for your family and don’t compare to others.
Did I miss anything? What are the other hidden costs of homeschooling?
One obvious costs is that one parent might not have a full-time job because of the decision to homeschool. This is definitely a factor to consider.
But working moms can still homeschool successfully! Listen in to episode 144 of the Homeschool with Moxie Podcast where we enjoyed talking with Jen Mackinnon about how to homeschool as a working mom.
6 Strategies for Homeschooling on One Income
While some homeschooling families have two working parents, nearly 2/3 of homeschoolers are in one-income family units. Homeschooling on one income may seem impossible, but there are many of us who do it year after year and you can too!
When you’re considering how to make homeschooling work for your family, almost every area of life needs assessed. From schedules to family dynamics, from education styles to personality types, homeschooling requires you to be all in. But finances do tend to be a top concern for many families.
Join me over at My Joy-Filled Life as I share 6 Strategies for Homeschooling on One Income with Sarah’s readers.
Listen to episode 178 of the Podcast
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Know and Tell: The Art of Narration by Karen Glass
- Wild + Free Homeschool with Ainsley Arment
- Homeschooling Statistics from Think Impact
- National Home Education Research Institute
- Homeschooling multiple ages together
- How to find an extra $1000 in your budget this year
- eBay Reseller Mini Course for Teens
- Selling on Etsy Masterclass for Teens<< save 20% with the coupon code HWM20