Could Homeschooling Save You Money?

by Miranda Marquit · 4 comments

One of the more interesting trends in my neighborhood (and around the country) is homeschooling. With the end of school year, I’ve been thinking about this issue quite a bit. There’s no way I’d ever homeschool my son, but I can understand why some parents feel it’s right for them. I know several families that homeschool, including some in my extended family.

For some, it means a better lifestyle — and saving money. Here’s what I mean:

The Homeschooling Lifestyle

Many of the families I know choose to homeschool because it fits their lifestyles. Just like your personal finances are individual, so is your lifestyle. Fitting it to your needs makes sense, however you decide to do it.

These families prefer to be as self-reliant as possible, and that includes homeschooling. A number of the homeschooling families I know have extensive gardens, preserve their own food, make many of their own clothes, and even keep bees. It’s a lifestyle that lends itself to frugality, and the homeschooling families I know live lifestyles of simplicity and abundance.

Another component is individual learning. In many cases, children are homeschooled because the public education situation doesn’t fit their needs. I know a couple of families who let their kids choose whether to be homeschooled or attend public school. I also know families that mostly homeschool, but send their kids to public school for specialized classes like jewelry-making or music.

Your first decision is whether or not it makes sense for you to homeschool your child. In my case, it makes sense to send my son to public school because I don’t enjoy teaching (although I could do it). Not to mention that my son and I have a better relationship when I don’t try. It’s why I pay for piano lessons, even though I play, and he takes swim lessons from someone else, even though I was a certified lifeguard at one point. Decide what works for you, and figure out what you can do to make it happen.

How Much Does Homeschooling Cost?

The reality of public school is that it can get expensive. You pay all sorts of fees, from activity fees to materials fees to a yearbook fee. Then there’s the cost of participating in extracurricular activities, and a number of incidental costs, like school trips or letter jackets (if those are still a thing). You may not have to pay for some of those things, but if they’re considered “normal,” you might feel pressured to do so.

On the other hand, homeschooling does have its own costs. In some cases, you might need to buy curriculum, if you want your child to have access to high-quality exercises and instruction. You also might need to pay for test proctoring. Though it is possible to reduce some costs through sharing; some of the families I know spilt curriculum costs, and take proctor tests of other children, so that parents aren’t proctoring tests for their own kids. Working together in a homeschool cooperative can reduce costs and provide different instruction opportunities, as well as enable your child to go on field trips.

If your child wants to participate in sports, however, you’ll still have those costs. And if you’re paying sales tax and property tax, you’re still paying for public education — even if you don’t utilize it (unless your state has a voucher system, or some sort of homeschooling credit).

In the end, it’s possible to come out ahead in terms of cost when you homeschool — but the real determining factor should be what works best for your family and your kids. If it’s important enough to you, you can make it work, no matter what you prefer.

Do you homeschool your kids? Does it save you money?

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul June 12, 2014 at 11:42 am

We live in California and we homeschool. To us, the debate was between private school and homeschool, not public school. Furthermore, the idea of saving money only makes sense if you have a large family where the tuition being saved adds up. Hand-me-down textbooks also helps in a large family.

But the main reasons we homeschool is that we have a completely flexible schedule, and we can accommodate asynchronous learning. In other words, our kids can be at a 3rd grade math level, and a 4th grade reading level. We also homeschool throughout the year, including summers. That gives us the flexibility to take vacations at a discount during off-peak seasons.

Finally, our kids are on track to graduate high school with some transferable college credits by age 15 or 16. That means that they will graduate from college early, getting them into the workforce earlier.

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David Ning June 12, 2014 at 2:47 pm

Thanks for sharing your home school experience Paul. Studying at home can definitely work out great but it also requires discipline, something my wife and I may not have. Our kids are 4 and 1 right now and our plan is to put them through the public school system, as we are fortunately living in a highly regarded school district.

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Anon June 14, 2014 at 6:25 am

CLEP exams can be extremely beneficial to students, not to mention cost effective. These are tests that you can take to get college credit (typically for introductory level courses) that will allow students to get credit for/test out of these classes in college. It has the potential to allow the student to finish college early and at a lower cost.

http://clep.collegeboard.org/exam

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David Ning June 14, 2014 at 10:11 pm

That’s a good tip Anon. By taking these CLEP exams, you can prep for college early and save money!

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