Tag Archives: cheap

How to Homeschool … for Cheap

 

Homeschool #2

As I prepare for another challenging and exciting homeschool year, I am seeing facebook group pages fill up with people who are unsure, tentative and a bit overwhelmed by starting homeschool.  They don’t know where to start.  Or some have done enough research to pave a small path, but the amount of curriculum possibilities, and associated dollar signs, makes their heads spin.

I’m all about making sure my children have the best education I can give them.  But best doesn’t always have to mean most expensive.  Here are a few tips:

1) Take advantage of curriculum or curriculum aids in your public library.  That’s right, I’ve found excellent supplemental items in the library.  Granted, you can’t hang on to it for the entire school year, but depending on the item you may be able to structure your studies to get full use out of it during your time.  And you can always continue to renew!  You can also pick up books that give you great homeschool info, like 102 Top Picks For Homeschool Curriculum.

2) Attend used curriculum sales.  Co-ops, conferences and now many Facebook pages offer used curriculum at great discounts.  So what a few pages are marked up or have highlighting?  You can get the meat of what you need from it, and avoid new book costs and shipping fees.

3) Go on virtual field trips.  All sorts of trips are available for art, history and science.  It’s a great way to learn and can ease the cost of attending so many events.  However, you’ve got to get out of the house once in a while! :)  In which case, you want to ….

4) Research Homeschool Days.  From the aquariums to museums, ballparks to theme parks, it seems like everyone is offering days specifically geared to homeschoolers.  The rates tend to be a little lower, and you meet other like-minded people.  It can be a nice bonding experience.

5) Pool resources.  If you have more than one child who is homeschooling, consider allowing them to share a textbook.  Just buy separate workbooks.

6) Lastly, check out online curriculum.  There are tons!  And it’s not just having the child sit in front of the computer all day.  Some curriculum give you work to print, or activities to do.

Homeschooling doesn’t have to be expensive.  Be open, be creative and enjoy the possibilities!

Summer Camp Time Already?

Yup. Sure is. And for me, as with everything else, it becomes a part time job and a full time adventure. I am the type that thoroughly – and I mean thoroughly, researches every endeavor for my kids. From ratio of camp counselors, to time for breaks and lunches, to exact camp agendas, and of course are scholarships available – I check out everything. I’ve had many parents ask me how I begin research to find the best places for my child to spend their time during the summer.

1) I check out places I like to visit with the kids. I find out if there is a summer camp available. Then I look into whether they offer a scholarship/financial help. After all, camps typically run $200 or more per week, and that ain’t cheap.
2) I google areas of my boys’ interests. My oldest is into science (especially Magic School Bus). My little guy loves art and soccer. So I see what camps focus on those areas.
3) My local rec centers are places to look. They could offer great activities for the boys – and a reprieve for me – for about half of the price of ritzier locales. And they still have fun.
4) Vacation Bible School, anyone? VBS is one of the best ways for the boys to get a great learning week of fun! We are blessed to have a number of great churches holding VBS sessions in our area. And the cost is minimal – if any! A win-win for all of us.

I then reference, cross-reference and triple check dates. Parents, start your engines. Let the sign ups begin!

The Greatest Show On Earth . . . My Way

Boys at circus

Yep, I did it my way. I took my princes to see the circus the only way I know how – economically. Let me give you a few tricks of the trade to save money on ticketed events.

– Always google the word “discounts” or “coupons” with whatever event you’re going to. In this case I searched for “circus discounts” and found out about an awesome program at the local library. Read 5 books, get a free child’s ticket with an adult purchase. Bam.
– Sign up online to receive emails from the company. I’ve done this several times and gotten great details re: early sales, ways to save, etc. I signed up for the birthday club from Legoland and got free entry for each boy during his birthday month.
– Facebook. I sign up for the company’s facebook page, and tap into some of my “frugal” networks to see what deals they’ve unearthed. Our local paper also has a column on seeing Atlanta cheap. I stay on top of that.
– Check out all of the savings websites. Groupon, ScoreBig, Living Social and Goldstar are just a few. I scour these sites to compare which deal is the best.

We loved gaining admission, paying less than normal.

Coming soon … how I saved money once we got inside.

Then Vs. Now

When you’re a college junior, living on campus, meals paid for, with some extra spending money, life is good. You tend to have different priorities than a married mother of two (or at least you should, lol). As I sat making my ever present to-do lists, I thought about how those lists two decades ago (good Lord, why did I have to say “decades”) stack up to my lists now.

PRIORITIES THEN VS. NOW
– Not picking an 8am class vs. Wishing for anything that starts as late as 8am
– Studying for a test vs. helping to finish homework
– Finding money for pizza vs Finding pizza’s low fat alternative
– Deciding when to buy my spring wardrobe vs recycling last year’s clothes at the back of the closet
– Eating whatever, whenever vs No late night munchies (too many calories)
– Extra funds for a road trip vs enough funds for the Children’s museum
– Trying to find something to do vs. wishing I had nothing to do
– Full social calendar (mine) vs. full social calendar (the kids)

Lol. Then vs. now ….

Budget Momma

My husband and I threw my son an awesome birthday party. My son and his friends had a blast, it was relatively low maintenance, but here’s the best part … the location was free!

I thought I’d just share a few of the secrets I use to take full advantage of any deals and bargains I can find. Parents know how astronomical prices for kids’ parties can get. A kids’ “jumpy place” (as I officially call it) can run upwards of $300 for about 15 friends. No food. No drinks. No cake. Just jumping. Yikes.

So armed with this pricing knowledge and determined to spend nowhere near that much, I started a brainstorm session. Where can kids go to play that may not be considered a “party venue”? I was flooded with thoughts – and pursued many of them. A YMCA rec room? A church with a nice-sized gym facility? Maybe a craft store? I did come across some other cool, unique venues, but they were costly. And that’s not what you’re reading for. You wanna know how I got the free goods. I finally hit the jackpot when I called … Home Depot.

Now, I must issue a MAJOR DISCLAIMER – All Home Depots do not allow you to have a birthday party. And for some that do, there may be a cost. But more important than the location is my method. Here’s a few quick steps to having a party, or doing pretty much anything else with kids, for cheap.

1. Ask what they offer. I cannot believe how many people are afraid to just ask. I’ve always had the attitude that the worst they can tell me is no. And I’ve been told no plenty. But I’ve also scored free stuff.
2. Always be honest. Tell them exactly what you’re looking for and why. Trying to play up your cause or shading the truth just isn’t worth it. Honesty truly is the best policy.
3. When it comes to attending an event or getting coupons, I exhaust every option. I once wanted to take my boys to an expensive event. Well, with my hubby there were four of us. I called the group sales to find out if we could get group pricing for my family with four people. Turns out we could. You have not because you ask not.
4. Keep your eyes peeled for “free days”. The Children’s Museum of Atlanta has free admission on Target Tuesdays. Fulton County residents can get free admission to some museums on the first Saturday of the month.

My children have had exposure to some incredible events and opportunities. And I’ve been blessed to provide it … for a lot less than most ;).