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Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup" | Creative Commons License,

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Beating the Economy: Tips to Keep Homeschooling Affordable

By Vicki McClure Davidson


Homeschooling can be kept affordable... there are many creative solutions to saving money | Photo credit: MSClips
Homeschooling can be kept affordable... there are many creative solutions to saving money | Photo credit: MSClips


Homeschooling is a noble, enriching endeavor, but it can sometimes be frustrating when escalating costs impact your family's budget. Times are rough for everyone, and you may feel so overwhelmed with the expenses of curriculum, art supplies, books, and science materials that throwing in the proverbial towel can sometimes seem like the best solution.

But it's not. You're not alone, and there are many creative ways you can successfully homeschool without spending huge amounts of money.

You CAN beat the bad economy.

If you haven't done it already, join a homeschool support group. These are extremely valuable for the sharing of ideas, triumphs, and concerns. Other homeschool families have gone through tough times, many are still going through exactly what you're going through. Being a part of a group is fun and will help you get through the rough patches and offer you solutions and answers. The "veteran homeschooling parents" understand you and your child because they have gone through many of the same ups and downs. They offer support and involve members in community activities, such as service projects, field trips, homeschooling workshops, and teaching techniques.

Analyze all your expenses (ALL outgoing cash flow... don't leave out anything, including that gourmet coffee you may splurge on a few times a week) and determine where money is being frittered away, a dollar or two at a time, without you even realizing it. Even cutting $10 a week from unnecessary purchases will free up almost $500 a year, which can then pay for a huge amount of your homeschooling expenses.

Below, Mike Farris of Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) offers valuable information about how, during these economic hard times, parents can keep homeschooling affordable, when every dollar in a family counts. Transcripts to all Home School Heartbeat radio programs are available on the HSLDA website.

The transcripts of two related programs covering homeschool frugality and advice on saving money are provided below.

Can I Afford Curriculum?

If you wince when you write the check for next year's homeschool curriculum or wonder how you'll be able to continue to pay for homeschooling, stay tuned! This week on Home School Heartbeat, host Mike Farris and his special guest offer suggestions to help your home education budget go a lot further.

Mike Farris:
This week I'm joined by my oldest daughter, Christy Shipe. She's a wife and homeschooling mom of three. She's already homeschooling three of my grandchildren. Welcome to the program.

Christy Shipe:
Thanks, Dad.

Homeschooling is always a commitment, and in today's economy, there's a financial commitment that's especially noteworthy. Christy, you've discovered a lot of resources for homeschooling that are free or very inexpensive. Tell our listeners what you found out about these kind of resources.

Sure. I found my homeschooling materials from four basic sources. First of all, the internet. And my favorite website for starting my research is called—that’s the number 4—and it has a great list of materials, organized by grade levels, for grades K through 8.

And then I've also gotten used curriculum from other homeschool moms, and I believe the HSLDA website also has information on getting used curriculum in your area.

Another place that I've actually gotten materials is Costco. They have some really cheap workbooks there.

And then finally, the library. We use a lot of science and history books from the library, as well as just books for our reading.

Christy, thanks so much. I’m sure that a lot of moms are going to find your suggestions very helpful and practical for them as they make their own choices in curriculum. I'm Mike Farris.

Inexpensive Curriculum: Putting It Together

If the thought of putting together your own homeschool curriculum is daunting, in spite of the financial incentives, join host Mike Farris and his guest Christy Shipe on today's Home School Heartbeat, as they discuss how to structure free or inexpensive resources.

Mike Farris:
My oldest daughter Christy Shipe, who is now a homeschooling mom herself, joins me again today to discuss homeschooling curriculum options for parents on a budget. Christy, how structured can your curriculum be if you're looking for cheap or free resources?

Christy Shipe:
Well, it's a mix of structured and unstructured. There are many guides that you can find for structuring your own curriculum. And I'll just mention a few. The Well-Trained Mind, by Susan Bauer, is a book written from a classical education perspective, and that can serve as a helpful curriculum guide.

You can also just find your state's curriculum standards online. I just typed in “Virginia scope and sequence” on Google, and it pops right up. It's totally free; you can download it.

Or you might want to use the Making the Grade series. They publish the books like, Everything Your Fourth Grader Needs to Know, Everything Your Third Grader Needs to Know. And those are helpful.

And then I just formulate my own lesson plans week by week, based on the scope and sequence that I'm following. And it’s been very easy to follow, and so far it's been working well.

What's the balance, Christy, between structure and spontaneity?

I think in order to school this way, you need to be an organized person who feels free to experiment a little and do your own research.

That's a very helpful insight—thanks so much, Christy! I'm Mike Farris.


To listen to current and archived radio programs with hundreds more homeschooling tips and information, go to the Home School Heartbeat section of the Home School Legal Defense Association's website (




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Transcript provided with permission | February 24 and 25, 2009, Home School Heartbeat radio program.