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How to Homeschool When You Can’t Afford It

The 2nd objection I hear from people about why they don’t homeschool usually comes in the form of 1 of 2 comments:

“I cant afford to buy all those books!” or

“Gah – we need my job just to pay the bills!”

How to Homeschool When You Can't Afford It

(The first objection I usually hear is “Oh, I could never homeschool…I’m just not patient enough!” But that’s the topic of another post…)

In other words: “I could never afford to homeschool!”

Today’s post will help debunk that theory.

Now, I grant you that homeschooling is not for everybody.  It’s not easy.  It’s challenging…sometimes frustrating…sometimes confusing…and it’s really very easy to doubt yourself at times.  Not to mention very often your own family and friends will think you’re a nut-case for even thinking about it.  And at the first hint of trouble they’ll sweetly suggest that you “just put ’em in school, why dontcha?” Then there are the days when the KIDS will whine that their friends go to school and don’t have to do such-and-such…

And all of that doesn’t even deal with the issue of finances!

So if you’re on the fence about homeschooling for financial reasons, let me talk about some of those issues today.

Costs for homechooling vary widely.  And because no 2 homeschools look alike, no 2 homeschool budgets look alike, either! While that may not be particularly helpful, here are some of the potential costs you should consider:

  1. books/curricula – When I first started homeschooling almost 20 years ago, this was a huge expense! Every.single.book, for every.single.subject was a major purchase, especially once the kids reached high school. Over the years, curricula publishers have re-formatted and re-priced many of their offerings to make them more affordable and within reach of mostly-single-income homechooling families.  Plus, thanks to the World Wide Web, there are TONS of free resources, and yes, even totally free curriculum* available on the internet.
  2. co-op classes – These are usually not much of an expense.  Co-ops are often groups of like-minded parents who combine their families and efforts by divvy-ing up the teaching to small groups of students, i.e. their own children.
  3. museum/association fees – If you’re lucky enough to live in a metropolitan area, or at least within driving distance of one, there are TONS of ways to use the programs available at museums and zoos as part of or to supplement various subject learning.
  4. co-curricular activities – I use the preface “co-” because, while many may view these opportunities as extra, when you homeschool, they become part of your school day.  Activities such as karate and dance become PE, piano lessons and choir practice become music, helping dad repair cars or work in his construction business become work-study or a portion of your life-skills class.
  5. gas/travel expenses – You most definitely need to consider this if you’ll be utilizing #2, #3, and #4 as a regular part of your program.

Taking a look at all these potential expenses may cause you to think that you definitely can NOT homeschool!  But I do need to point out that, while all of these things are good, none of these things are essential.  I’ve personally known homeschooling families who have taught their children (and one family had 8 of them!) solely through library books and free programs in the community. (Your local library is a great resource for finding out about those…)  And even Candy’s program and mine look totally different.

  • For a look at other cost considerations, the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has an excellent article entitled “What Does it Cost to Homeschool?” which gives averages and approximations on the costs of various components of a complete homeschool program.

It all comes down to basic math:

Your children (their ages, learning styles and needs) + your resources (budget, program availability) = a plan!


But I do want to mention a few other issues to consider that, although not specifically homeschool-related, will affect the question “How can I afford to homeschool?”

  • Are you employed outside the home?

We have lived on a single income for 28 years, homeschooling our children for almost 20 of them.  It IS possible.  Granted, there have been times I’ve done part-time work, sold fancy purses and nutritional supplements at home parties, helped with my husband’s business, writing and now blogging, that over the years have been able to supplement our income.  But I can honestly say that we mostly live on my husband’s salary and God’s grace.  If you are working right now and considering homeschooling, take the time to sit down and plan out a budget. Add up what bills HAVE to be paid (mortgage, insurance, car, etc) and consider the things you’d be willing to forego for later (designer clothes, newer model cars, expensive and/or frequent vacations).  Make sure you can cover the basics, and then be willing to be creative with the rest! Homeschooling isn’t a sentence to a miserable life, but just like anything else, you do have to balance things…

  • Are you a single parent?

It is considerably more difficult to homeschool as a single parent, but there are people who do it!  We have a few families in our own association that have become single-parent homeschoolers, and you can be sure our little group rallies around them.  I also found a few websites that are wonderful resources if you’re in this situation, and you might want to check them out.  Honestly, I’ve never been a single-parent homeschooler, so if you are and know of other resources, please be generous and leave those suggestions in the comments…

  1. Homeschool Heartbeat is a program produced by HSLDA and you may be interested in this radio program they aired with advice and support for single parent homeschoolers.
  2. They also have a financial assistance program called The Homeschool Foundation that offers financial assistance.
  3. The Single Parent Homeschool is a ministry that appears to be a virtual round-up site of resources to assist Christian single parent homeschooling families.
  4. And NotConsumed.com is a blog written by a single homeschool mom.  Kim offers tons of encouragement and practical advice there, and is also available as a speaker.


  • Are you dealing with serious health issues?

I watched my dear friend Candy homeschool through her own battle with breast cancer, and the serious childhood illness of her son.  They both survived victoriously from those challenges, and she, almost unbelievably, homeschooled throughout it all. I’ve known many families who’ve maintained home educating in the midst of many crises: job loss, death of a loved one, terminal illness. While all these situations pose significant financial stresses on a family, there are always tactics families can use to provide a low-cost, high-value home-based education.


All of these are significant issues that affect a family’s finances and what their homeschool will look like; none of them are insurmountable! If God’s put on your heart to homeschool, and you’re at a loss to figure it out, find a veteran homeschooler and most times you’ll find a wealth of ready information. Or, let us help.

We offer coaching services that are short and sweet, don’t involve a long-term commitment, and can help you sort out the tangled mess of questions rolling around in your mind.  You can learn more about them here.

So, yes, Virginia, you CAN afford to homeschool!  With a little bit of research, some planning and forethought, and a commitment to giving your kids your best…it’s feasible.  Don’t let finances stand in the way!

Do you have any thoughts to add?  What do you do to make homeschooling affordable in your home? Please feel free to use the comments to share your ideas with us!

How to Homeschool When You Can't Afford It

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Pat is a Yankee city-girl who has been adopted by the sleepy, sunny south. Married for 30 years and the mother of 5, she woke up one day recently to discover she reached the stage of life where she is the “older woman” described in Titus 2:3-5. A coffee lover, the purchase of a coffee shop a few years ago was her personal foray into the small, family-owned business arena.Today, PatAndCandy.com is her outlet for packaging up and sharing the nuggets of wisdom God and life experiences have taught her.
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11 Responses to How to Homeschool When You Can’t Afford It

  1. Alison September 22, 2015 at 9:29 pm #

    What great information! Thank you for linking your post to the Thoughtful Spot Blog Hop! 🙂

  2. Melanie September 21, 2015 at 1:32 pm #

    I’m a single homeschooling parent living on a small income and I spend a way too big of a percentage of my income on homeschooling related things. However, I have bought various packages and curriculum, always on a sale, that will last for more than one homeschooling year. So I’m pretty set for another 6 or so years. 🙂 I will say that I truly appreciate the internet and how many free resources there are out there. Other homeschooling parents might create different free printables, and learning ideas and share them with us via the web. It’s great that we don’t all have to reinvent the wheel.

    • Pat September 21, 2015 at 3:53 pm #

      Oh Melanie, I can’t even imagine how you do that! You sound very smart with your dollars 😉 If I had even 1/10th of the money I spent in my early years of homeschooling..well, I’d be a rich lady these days…
      Yes, the internet is an amazing resource, once we start using it properly. However, I actually think that it’s also changing the direction of learning, and specifically homeschooling, in the future. We no longer have to deposit knowledge, but rather teach our kids how and from where to dig it up.
      There may be no more reinventing the wheel…but we’re certainly gonna have to come up with a more relevant method to get around!
      Thanks so much for stopping by – and please consider sharing some of your content with our readers at our Coffee & Conversation Link Party on Wednesdays!!

  3. Kid Minds September 19, 2015 at 11:51 pm #

    Oh my, you have so much experience homeschooling! You put together a great post. I can only add that it’s not necessary to buy an expensive cirruculum. With enough time and motivation it’s possible to put one together from free Internet resources.

    • Pat September 20, 2015 at 6:09 am #

      That is so true! Plus, in this day and age, it’s even more important to teach them how to find information. It’s certainly about time we start updating our methodology!

      Thanks so much for stopping by and contributing to the conversation 🙂

  4. Melanie September 18, 2015 at 8:25 am #

    Here via the Learning Kid Linkup.

    We’ve been homeschooling our two girls since August. They’re 5 and 3, and I’ve found so many free resources on the Internet that I haven’t actually bought anything yet. Other than craft supplies, of course. 🙂

    • Pat September 18, 2015 at 9:53 pm #

      Melanie, How FUN! Yes, at that age, that should be your biggest expense! Enjoy these days…they are wonderful and creative and full of love. I hope you find that you’re building a strong bond with them that lasts forever 🙂 Two of our boys are 2 years apart and they’re best of friends – it’s truly heartwarming for this momma!
      Thanks so much for stopping by…your comment encouraged me to pause and give thought to our earlier homeschooling days 🙂

  5. Kerry September 17, 2015 at 10:18 am #

    What we have spent on homeschooling is really overwhelming, but I admit that most of it is “wants” not “needs”. There are so many great free resources available. Great post 🙂

    • Pat September 17, 2015 at 12:29 pm #

      Gah – yes, I can relate to that one! Especially when we first started, I felt like we had to have EVERYthing!!! But you’re right…my kids turned out fine without all the bells and whistles…

      I think the most important thing is tuning into their hearts. There is absolutely NO product that can do that…

      Enjoy the journey. Glad we’re on it with you for a bit!!

  6. Summer September 10, 2015 at 5:24 pm #

    This post is so aptly timed! I actually JUST sent a message to a friend telling her how overwhelming the thought of homeschooling feels, though it’s something at this point I am really wanting to do with my kids. I am just starting off pre-k with my 3-year-old so we’re not quite there yet, but I am trying my hand at preschool so that I can get my feet wet and this series is SO GREAT! Thanks for the encouragement (and knowledge that I’m not alone in my fears, but it can be done!)

    • Pat September 17, 2015 at 12:27 pm #

      Oh Summer, I’m SO happy to hear that this helped you out! You will have so. stinkin’. much. FUN with your 3-yr-old!! Just don’t get stressed out about it at that age…

      Feel free to contact us if we can help in any way – and if you’d like to see us write about anything that could help you out.

      Candy and I both loved those years…

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