This is a continuation of a series of posts.
Our Debt Diet Part $ couponing and saving at the store
Our Debt Diet Part $$ changing jobs, getting rid of the monkey on our backs
Our Debt Diet Part $$$ college expenses
I quit my job. What?! Yes, I had to step down. The last three years I’ve worked at my children’s school as one of the development directors. I planned a lot of events and organized volunteers. It was a lot of fun, but it was a big toll on my family. When I would need extra people to help set up or do some job I always recruited my kids and Clay. They were troopers too. Clay especially was very helpful, and I couldn’t have done the job last year without his help.
We made the very hard decision to bring our two little boys home to educate them last year. Levi struggled through Kindergarten and wasn’t ready to go into first grade, but his teacher didn’t recommend him repeating Kindergarten. So, I was stuck with what to do for him. He has an auditory learning issue, that we’re still trying to figure out. We have a tutor that works with him twice a week as well as with Isaac who is dyslexic. Isaac was doing fine in school (with the exception of spelling…good Lord I’ll be so happy when he can use a computer and spell check everything), but since both boys utilize the private tutor and they are best buddies, we brought them both home for school last year. And the year was okay…not good, not horrible, just okay.
By the end of November I was pooped beyond pooping. I was spread so thin between the job, my older two kids and keeping on top of the two little boys’ school work. I knew going into the year it wasn’t going to be a lot of fun, but I stuck it out til the end. So, we decided to bring all the boys home this year since my income covered their tuition and Seth needed a switch in his Science that wasn’t offered at the school this year. We gave Seth the option of whether he wanted to attend a public school, but he wasn’t interested in changing schools and he wanted to continue to play basketball with his current team (they allow homeschool kids to participate). This allowed us to tailor his schedule to benefit him the most. Seth is enrolled in one online college course with the junior college and he’s finishing his junior year with a combination of curriculum that I’ve put together for him that I think he will either LOVE or HATE. Having him home this year also allows him to be in a theater group. He’s my actor, in case you didn’t know. He’s auditioning for a musical this week and he doesn’t really sing, so we’ll see how that goes. He will be attending the same junior college as Ellen after he graduates and hopefully will enter college with 12-15 credits completed from his high school years.
Seth is working this summer at a local horse ranch and is saving up money for his own vehicle. He likes expensive toys and is a car nut. I’m thinking he might have a harder time purchasing an old vehicle than Ellen, who was not concerned with the age of her car. I’m looking forward to this school year. Having the boys at home will be a fun challenge. They are looking forward to the new schedule and they get excited whenever another new book comes in the mail.
But, how is this saving us money? Let me tell ya just the big three that are making a difference.
Transportation– The savings in gas alone is huge. I used to drive a minimum of forty miles a day just for school. This also took away over an hour of my time.
Supplies- I purchased very few school supplies this year and what I did purchase, I used a coupon. I also picked up items at our local Goodwill. Not having to fill out the school supply list is a HUGE savings. I remember one year I spent $60 per kid on the specific items they had to have for school and that was with me being as frugal as I could, making them re-use anything they could and purchasing the cheapest items. Most of those supplies never came back home to re-use. I also didn’t buy any back to school clothing or uniforms. Hooray!!
Food– Seth, was such a perpetrator of charging lunches at school last year. I let the kids have the hot lunch at school maybe once a week, but it was so much cheaper for them to pack their lunches. Seth would forget and then charge a lunch. After way too many of these infractions Seth had to start buying his own dang lunch. Then he started to remember to pack his lunch only slightly better…..or he mooched off his friends. Anyway, I don’t have to keep certain items in the pantry for those packed lunches. I can focus on making a good lunch at home using the food we have or even utilizing left overs. I’ve already noticed how that has changed my shopping trips.
There are some other minor things that will save us as well, but these are the biggest savings that will be noticeable.
But, what about the expense of Homeschooling? Homeschooling is not free. We budgeted the cost of school for the three boys and it’s considerably lower than last year. There are some very cheap options out there right now though. Our area has a virtual public school that costs $99 per student and that includes a computer and books. That’s pretty amazing. I’ve got a lot of free and low-cost sources I use for materials that include other home educators who share or sell their materials at a low-costs. I don’t look for the cheapest items to teach my kids, I look for the best materials to suit their learning. So, sometimes I’ll spend a bit more on something that I know will benefit them or I’ll search high and low for that item at a discount. I spent a lot of time this summer putting together their curriculum and searching for the items I needed that were the best value.
If you are purchasing books, I found this website to have an incredible amount of the books I needed for very little. I also utilized eBay and used curriculum sites to fill out our school needs this year. I have a lot of materials from the years I homeschooled my older two, so I haven’t had to purchase many items for my younger boys.
With all the changes we’ve made with jobs and schooling, we are still ahead of our spending from what we were last year. We’ll see how the year goes, but I’m much more excited going into this semester than I was last year. I know this post may not be helpful for many of you that are choosing other options for schooling your kiddos, but I thought I’d share what we’re doing this year. I’m all ears if you have great ideas about how you’re saving on your kids’ school items.