Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling on a Budget

budget homeschool

Quite often, I encounter people who think homeschooling is expensive. People who want to homeschool but don’t think they can afford it, or those who spend a lot on curriculum because they think they have to.

If you’re one of those people who think that you could never afford homeschooling, I want to encourage you–homeschooling doesn’t have to be expensive. Like anything else in life, it CAN be, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some of the ways that we make it affordable.

Get Creative

Use what you have. I shared our “homeschool room” which is really just a combination of spaces in our home that we use, since we don’t have the space or money for a real homeschool room. I have shared our frugal organization in a small house. We have really just used what we had in most instances, or purchased really inexpensive things as we needed them. This goes for both organization and curriculum. Think outside the box here! Creativity and resourcefulness are imperative for operating on a small budget, but it is completely possible.

Curriculum

The “use what you have” idea applies to curriculum as well. My children are smaller, so it is very easy for us to find free printables and worksheets for them. I also have some inexpensive ones in my printables store, but you can get many nice ones for free as well. Here is more about our curriculum, but again don’t be afraid to think outside the box and use what you have!

Resources

There are lots of great resources for free/cheap homeschool deals. Here are some of them:

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, I still stand by my assertion that the only thing homeschool parents NEED is a commitment to homeschooling. You can work out the money aspects of it easily enough with a bit of creativity.

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This post is a part of iHomeschool Networks Ultimate Guides series. Be sure to check it out for lots of great tips and information!

Keep Good Going (Part 2)

This post was sponsored by New York Life. Find out how New York Life can help you and your family Keep Good Going by visiting newyorklife.com/keepgoodgoing

I’m loving the Keep Good Going campaign from New York Life. I shared the grandpa video with you recently, and now I’m sharing this beautiful, touching video My Uncle’s Gift.  I just love seeing companies focusing on something other than themselves, and I love that they are wanting to promote this idea of keeping good going!

Because it’s something we all can relate to. And it’s something we all desperately need. We need to let those positive influences and words of wisdom sink into our hearts and lives. I’ve actually been working on a post recently about a nugget of wisdom I gained for a high school teacher I had. My high school algebra and calculus teacher, Mr. Lutes.

One day, a slightly mischevious student in our class asked him if he was proud that he completed his homework. This kid was being his usual funny, joking self and was asking for a gold star. But Mr. Lutes in his wisdom, used it as a teaching moment for all of us. His words were simple, yet profound. “You shouldn’t get a gold star for doing what is expected of you. You should do the right thing just because it’s the right thing, without expecting a reward for it.”

Those words have stuck with me all these years. I think it’s especially important for us moms. Sometimes we can feel a bit burdened by what we do and unappreciated. We cook, wash dishes, clean the house, and do laundry. We wipe noses and bottoms, endure tantrums, and pray we are teaching our kids something along the way.

And sometimes, it can feel like no one sees, no one notices. No one is waiting with a paycheck or award. But that’s not why we do it. It can’t be why we do it.

We take care of our families because we love them and it’s what we’re called to do. And that’s what we need to do with or without accolades. Just because it’s the next right thing.

We need to do what we should do, even without getting a gold star or having a cheering section. Some of the most admirable and honorable things are quiet, and done behind close doors. Things that no one will ever even know about, let alone congratulate. But God sees it all. And his promise to us is that we will reap if we do not lose heart. Don’t grow weary in doing good. Even if no one ever notices. It’s an important lesson, and one that I think can help us all grow in contentment if we could really accept it.

Learn more about how New York Life can help you and your family Keep Good Going

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How to Bless someone at a Homeschool Convention

This post is sponsored by Great Homeschool Conventions. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

bless someone

I’ve shared before how much I enjoyed the  Homeschool Convention that we went to last year. There is still time to get to a Great Homeschool Convention this year–in Cincinnati at the end of this month, or Ontario, CA in June. Also, if you are a blogger be sure to watch for info about the blogger meet-ups at each location. 

I’ve shared with you some of the ways I think attending a homeschool convention will bless you. But we all know that life isn’t just about us, right? So today, I want to give you some ideas for how you can bless someone else at a homeschool convention.

I’ve shared before that I think it is very important for us to be intentional in our lives. We have to be intentional in our marriages and we have to be intentional in showing kindness. If we wait for that perfect opportunity, it may never come. Instead, we have to look for those ways to show kindness.

Get them there

  • As I’ve said before, going to a homeschool convention was such a blessing to our family! Do you know of a family that could benefit from this, but can’t afford it? Get them a ticket to the convention. This is especially great for local families who would only need the cost of the ticket. You can get that ticket for $55 (single) or $70 (family).

In Sessions

  • Are you in a crowded session? Offer someone your seat up front.  Or if there is standing room only, offer them your seat.
  • Be attentive. Okay, this should be a given, but be kind and respectful to your presenter and other attendees and be attentive to the presentations.
  • If you get to the session early, offer your help to the presenter or coordinator. Just be willing to follow through even if it’s a not-so-glamorous task they ask of you.
  • Remember that presenters often are stressed out and have very little time to relax, chat, or do anything else during conventions. Maybe bring a small gift for one of your favorites without monopolizing their time.

In the Vendor Hall

  • The workers at vendor hall booths are often volunteers and/or small-business owners who work way more hours than they get paid for. They are likely stuck at the booth for a lot of the day. Make up some small goody bags to hand out to them with a sweet note thanking them for their contribution to the homeschooling community.
  • Even if you don’t have time or money for goody bags, stop with a smile and wish them a good day. Let them know that they and their work are appreciated.
  • Instead of getting ALL the things you want, maybe you can make do just a bit and save $20 to pay it forward. Purchase an extra copy of a popular item and tell the worker to give it away to the next person who comes to buy it. The cool thing about acts of kindness like this is that you get to anonymously bless someone, and the person passing on the act of kindness gets blessed too since they get to be the one to hand out the good news.
  • Volunteer at a booth. Is there a particular company that you have worked with or loved? Ask if they need help in their booth. Many companies are always needing extra volunteers, even if it’s just for a quick errand.

Out and About

  • Pay for someone’s meal! This is one of our family’s favorite RAK’s. We’ve had it done for us a couple of times as well and it has always tremendously blessed us.
  • Many times there are large families who are packing around a lot of stuff–activities for kids, diaper bags, etc. If you see a mom struggling, offer her some help. She may not accept, but even if she doesn’t, she’ll probably appreciate that you took the time to offer.

What would you add to the list?

What is your favorite way to pay-it-forward, or what is your favorite random act of kindness to bless someone with? I would love to hear your ideas!

Thriving Thursday 4/3

What have you been up to this week? There were so many FANTASTIC posts linked up last week and I can’t wait to see what you ladies have to share this week :)

Thriving Thursdays Link Up!!!

Thriving Thursdays is a link up for family-friendly bloggers, who are choosing to THRIVE in their lives. It’s a place for us to encourage and inspire one another to live life to the fullest–in Jesus Christ. Link up your posts about thriving–in marriage, faith, parenting, homemaking, relationships, in the kitchen, in frugality.

Everything we do can be a ministry and worship to our Lord. Link up as many posts as you want, and I hope that you’ll take the time to visit some other participants as well.

I am so blessed by the posts you all share! I really look forward to seeing all of the encouragement shared here each week. Keep it coming! Sometimes I highlight posts here, and I also pin my favorites to the Thriving Thursdays Pinterest Board.



Getting out of Debt on a Low Income {Budget Update}

Debt Reduction Series

I know it’s been a while since my last update.  That’s because there really hasn’t been much to report, nothing good anyway. However, as of today, we DO have some good news,  and I’ve received a couple of inquiries, so I thought I would give you all an update.

Before I get started with our particular update, I want to note that there are a few characteristics that are pretty necessary if you are going to get out of debt on a low income. Number one is patience. The Dave Ramsey stories you hear about people paying off $85,000 in debt in 6 months…well, that just isn’t mathematically possible on a $36,000/year income. It just isn’t. So for us, we had to recognize that it’s going to take us more time and patience. That’s okay. The important thing is that we are moving in the right direction.

Secondly, you have to realize that no matter how things look on paper, you are likely to experience setbacks. Cars break down. We may have unexpected doctor bills, unexpected expenses. You might move across the state and have a house you can’t sell or rent that you’re still making mortgage payments on.

Okay, that last one might be a little less common, but it’s what happened to us. We tightened our budget and made our get-out-of-debt plan. But then everything changed as we moved across the state and had to find another $440/month in our budget as we had to continue paying that mortgage on top of our living expenses here.  Let me tell you, that is a bare bones budget for a family that was already on a pretty tight budget to begin with!

Student Loan Debt

In my last update, I shared that we’d found renters. Unfortunately that did not work out as a long term solution. The house was rented for 5 months, so that income did help us to continue chipping away at my student loan and as of TODAY, we sent away the last payment of my second student loan!!!

This means that on our bare bones budget, we have paid off nearly $20,000 in student loan debt in a little less than 2 years!!! 

This is a great milestone for us, and a very exciting moment. We even splurged on Italian last night to celebrate :)

Mortgage

We are still whittling away at the remaining $56,200 that we owe on our house mortgage. We’ve tried renting it, which isn’t ideal. We’ve also tried selling it. In the 7 years we’ve owned the property, we have had it on the market for 7-8 periods with 4 different realtors. (do the math–most of the time we’ve had the place, it has been on the market!). We’ve also tried to do an auction this past weekend, setting the reserve below what we needed to break even, and we were going to use our savings to make up the difference.

Nothing has been successful. Finally, the latest agent said that she feels the house is basically “unsellable” because of the difficulty to obtain financing right now (it’s a double-wide), and a few other factors. She recommended that we contact our lender again and see if they could offer us any options. I had called before and was told basically that if we were up to date on our payments, they would not do anything for us. I was also told that since we aren’t living there, they couldn’t do anything for us.

I called this week and the woman I spoke with was very helpful. She feels like our good payment history and circumstances (job transfer 250 miles away) would probably allow us to be approved for either a short sale or deed-in-lieu. This hasn’t been our first option, because we want to feel like we’re doing the honorable thing by our lender. However, if they allow us to get out of it and mark the debt “paid-in-full” which they can do if they choose, then this is an option for us.  The woman I spoke with actually said we should have called them from the very beginning. Which I did, but apparently didn’t talk to the right person.

So if things go as planned, and we are approved to proceed with a short sale and/or deed-in-lieu, then we could potentially be debt-free within 6 months or so. At that time, we can start saving more fully for the small place in the country that our family so desires.

At any rate, we’re taking baby steps, but in the right direction.

I can’t end it without saying this. God Provides.  Every step of the way, God has provided for our needs to be met. He deserves all the glory.

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