|This picture has nothing to do with homeschooling. It was just the only one on this computer.|
When we started homeschooling last year, we had no extra pennies. ZERO. We knew homeschooling was the right choice for our family but we also knew it was going to have to be cheap. Scratch that. It was going to have to be free. Or at least free-ish. But every time I searched for cheap homeschooling ideas, I would find tips like "Use your library!" and "Make your lunches at home!".
Now, if you're brand new to cheapskatin' (my favorite sport), maybe tips like that would prove useful to you. But no no no, those were not helpful for dweej of the getting-paid-to-accept-a-brand-new-coat-from-Lands'-End. I am a money saving fiend! Fiend, I tell you. The library and I have been bff for years. Fine, the last minute and the library are BOTH my bff. They're not jealous of each other, I promise.
Now that we're almost a semester into our second year of homeschooling, I feel like maybe I'm ready to give you a few of my cheapskate techniques without being a complete poseur. Poser? I never know which one to use.
Oh no! I'm not qualified to homeschool after all!
Also, this list is really not going to be useful to all you experienced homeschoolers. Feel free to leave your own tips in the combox, though!
Are you ready?
Homeschooling for Cheapkates: A Top 10 List
The Internet. I know, I know. Duh, right? I mean, you're reading this blog. Clearly, you have internet access. But sometimes crazy things happen and we think "Let's cut expenses! Do we really neeeeeeeeeed the internet?". The answer to that must always be an emphatic YES. From finding promo codes for websites so you can score incredible deals to hunting down the lowest prices on books to finding tips on making your own cleaners and ways to make some moolah from home, internet access is an absolute must. MUST. I mean, hello? Have you searched Pinterest for homeschooling ideas yet? Dooooooo iiiiiiiiiiiit.
Speaking of the internet, the site we used last year, which is FREE NINETY FREE was a super fun introduction to homeschooling for us. It's called Lesson Pathways (give a clicky right there to check it out) and it is the bomb dot com. I've heard really cool people say that. It's, like, the new thing or something, right?
Which means, of course, you have to have a working printer. Now don't freak out, okay? Go to the Goodwill. There will be a printer there. It will cost approximately $5.99. Or go to your facebook or your twitter (because you have internet access and it is a glorious thing) and say "Hey! I need a printer! Does anyone have an old one laying around that I could take off your hands?". You will find one, I promise. And then this printer can be used to print worksheets or (legally!) copy pages out of workbooks so you can buy just one and use it for all your various and sundry children.
Also, coloring sheets.
Also, shipping labels.
I don't know what that has to do with homeschooling.
Then after you do the worksheets or color the pictures, you take the pieces of paper and you flip them over and the backs of those papers become (drumroll) SCRATCH PAPER. You can write your shopping lists on them. Or people can draw on them. Or you can fold them up and make cootie catchers without wasting perfectly good blank paper that should never, ever, ever be wasted. Ever. Because I'm a cheapskate and I don't want to buy more paper and no I do not care that a whole ream costs just $2.99. I do not care! Every penny counts!
You know what else you can do with internet access? Netflix. And do you know what Netflix has? Documentaries. And do you know what documentaries are? Easy peasy learnin' that your kids won't complain about! Ply them with popcorn and you've got yourself an astronomy lesson. Plus, way cheaper than cable. Waaaaaaaaay.
You know what's not cheap? Gas. So if you wanna cart the kids to enrichment activities (and you probably should), try to cram them in on just one or two days a week. This will not only save you money on fuel it will also minimize the temptation of "grabbing a snack real quick at Chick-fil-a" or "an itty bitty trip to Starbucks". 'Cause a coffee that's the same price as a printer from Goodwill is just no good for cheapskatin'. No good at all.
But let's say you want to use an actual curriculum and not piece things together yourself in the ghetto manner heretofore described. For the mostest budget friendliest option, don't choose a company that makes you purchase a huge box filled with their publications and pre-printed syllabi. Not that they're bad, they're just pricey. Instead, go with a company that gives you a book list (Mother of Divine Grace, Angelicum Academy, Kolbe Academy come to mind) so you can use your sweet internet connection and your awesome shopping skillz to get your books on the cheap.
But how does one get books on the cheap? I thought you'd never ask! This is really my fave tip ever and you will love it when you
hear read it: Google the ISBN number. Oh my gosh it is so fun. Snatch the ISBN off of any book retailers website (Amazon or whatever) and then paste it right in there and hit enter. VOILA!!!! Then, before you make your purchase, check Ebates to see if you can get cash back for shopping at that retailer. Sometimes the answer is a big fat YES and then you can do the super-power-jig of awesomeness
While we're talking book shopping, try to think of ways that a single book or course can be used for all your grade levels. The Harp and Laurel Wreath is one such book. Every grade level for every year. Penmanship, vocabulary, poetry, memorization all in one sweet little volume. A cheapskate's dream!
Conversation. This one is free and maybe the most important one of all. How do you think this thing works? What do you suggest? What would you do if you were in my shoes? Which one do you prefer? Why? How do you think we could figure that out? What do you think went wrong? It is amazing how having the time to actually have these kinds of chats creates such excellent opportunities for learning while simultaneously allowing us to really get to know our kids and what makes them tick.
Do you have any cheapskatin' homeschoolin' tips to share with everyone? Feel free to leave them in the comments!