In a recent phone interview with Ogden native Jenni Groff, she shared strategies she has employed over her eight years of homeschooling to help others save money as they are starting out on their homeschooling journey.
When we started out we were super broke. I was educating my five children ages 12, 8, 5, 4 and a baby. Things needed to be relatively inexpensive. I’ve learned a few things to make the most of our money.
Ask yourself, "How can I make my money work well for me?” If you’re going to take the time to spend the money, then make sure that money is made to work well for you. For instance, when we moved from Lehi to Ogden, we had a Thanksgiving Point membership. We renewed it that first year after we moved, but the distance made it so we didn't go very often. It wasn't a wise way to spend our money. There have been other expenses that have fallen into that category over the years. Make your money work well for you.
If you’re going to take the time to spend the money, then make sure that money is made to work well for you.
Jenni’s Top 5 Tips to Stretch Your Homeschool Budget
Utilize Your Community’s Resources
We utilize the library a lot, books as well as programs for reading time. Our library is doing a unit on Chinese New Year this year, so we go to things like that. We look for cost effective places that we can go to to supplement our education. We also check out all sorts of technology, like e-readers, cameras, DVD players, DVDs.
There Are Great Finds Among Community Classes
A friend recently sent me a flier that said with the Boys and Girls Club your kids can take instrument classes for free and borrow instruments. So my kids are signed up and learning the guitar and violin.
Share the Teaching
We’ve been involved in a couple of co-ops, both free and paid. Right now we’re involved in a paid one that is $150/yr/family. That’s $35/child, and that’s 5 classes I didn’t have to teach. Tip for when you’re teaching: Gather resource ideas in one place, such as on a Pinterest board. Pinterest boards are really useful for when we have classes on different topics. I once taught a wire wrapping class for our co-op so I have a whole board on that that I used for preparing my lessons.
2. Buy Used and Make Your Own
When I first started, I would buy curriculum. I really didn’t have much money for the first years to buy lots of curriculum and when I did, it just wasn’t worth it. I tend to make my own curriculum now. There are so many resources out there that it is very possible to pull your own things together, put all together on something like a Pinterest page, and teach from that resource.
You Don't Need a Textbook for Real Life Skills
Many of your lessons will just be teaching real life skills. One of the things I notice people comment on in public education is that there is a lack of real world experience. It’s missing practical, everyday lessons, for example, of how to file paperwork. Or being able to know who to ask questions to when you’re out in public or in a store and you need information. Or how to sew a button on, or sew a hem, or wash dishes. I don’t know why but we don’t seem to teach our children about that as a society. So teaching your kids that is so good.
Teach Them How to Teach Themselves
I have a couple of teachers in my education who helped foster a love of learning. That’s way more important than being at grade level. Can you learn? That’s something I’ve focused on with my kids. Can they learn? I have one child who wants to learn how to turn plastic back into petroleum in a cost effective manner. I’m like, okay, you know this is going to require math? She says, okay, well, I can figure that out.
Online Classifieds & Recruit Family and Friends' Help
My kids love to build, both boys and girls. We often look on KSL Classifieds for low cost tools or supplies. Facebook Marketplace, Online Classifieds [try HomeschoolClassifieds.com]. Yard Sales. With my youngest being 9, I have a lot of elementary stuff that I don’t need anymore and can trade or sell for what I need now. Most of our friends also know that we homeschool and will let us know if they see something on KSL that we might be interested in.
3. Make Your Passes Work For You
Get a pass that gets you into more than one location. We live in Ogden. We’ve learned that we can get a pass to the Ogden Nature Center, and if we do it at the right time (Feb), we can get them for about $40. That gets us into the Dinosaur Museum, Tracy Aviary, etc. The deals are out there. Look for the deals and buy at the right time.
4. Save and Utilize Money at Key Times of the Year
Christmas is a great time for us to collect art supplies, because art is one subject my kids can agree that they all like. We’ve gotten pottery wheels, markers, and more.
At the beginning of the year, we would save some of our tax money and we would purchase things that our kids needed for school.
5. Network with Families and Businesses
Trade teaching subjects
I learned that if I offer courses (I like to teach History and Political Science. I’ve done a Wood-Working class. Sometimes moms and I will switch. My kids will take their class, their kids will take my class and we’ll call it even.
Network with other homeschool families to exchange materials.
What works for one child doesn’t always work for another child. I had a friend let me borrow her Life of Fred books to see if that would work for one of my kids. So I got to use and go through couple of the books before I needed to go and pay for one, which allowed me to save money before I had to buy up the book.
Trades for Classes - Do cleaning, swap with a mom
We make sure our kids do extracurricular classes. When my daughter was younger, she wanted to do ballet. I didn’t have money for that, but I found that if I would clean the studio on the weekends, then they would count that work towards the tuition and I didn’t have to pay anything.
These are the top 5 tips Jenni Groff has to share with Utah homeschoolers. What are your favorite money saving tips? Comment below!
Do you have money saving tips or a favorite Utah homeschooler you like to follow for inspiration! Message us through the chat button with your tip!