“How can you afford to homeschool as a single mom?”
The question is uttered more frequently than any other. And it’s a fair question. The odds are stacked against a single mom when it comes to homeschooling. Shoot. The odds are stacked against a single mom regardless.
Statistics have conveyed that single moms experience at minimum a 40% decrease in their standard of living upon divorce, not to mention the many other unique circumstances they face.
It’s only natural to think that homeschooling is an impossible goal. Oh, but my friend, it’s not.
I probably don’t need to remind you of that little verse…”with God nothing is impossible” (Luke 1:37). Of course, that’s true whether it’s the financial aspect of homeschooling or the physical exhaustion of having more to do than one person should have. God is able to do beyond what we can think or even IMAGINE! (Eph. 3:20)
Welcome to FHD’s 3rd annual event, Homeschooling for Free and Frugal Series! Click here to begin reading all of the new Homeschooling for Free and Frugal articles. This article is by Kim Sorgius of Not Consumed.
So how does a single mom afford to homeschool?
1. I ask God to provide.
I know that you probably don’t want a “Sunday school” answer, but the truth is, I would be nowhere in this process without this step. God has to be the one to decide that I’m homeschooling, not me. And if He calls me to it, then I KNOW He will equip me to do it! (1 Thes. 5:24) I can trust the promise that He will equip me mentally, physically, and financially! And what a beautiful promise that is!
2. I make sacrifices.
Of course, this isn’t to say that I don’t have a part in this. I certainly do. Like any homeschooling mom, there are sacrifices that must be made in order to make it happen. Truthfully, this is a hard part. I grew up wanting a huge house with a white picket fence, a brand new Lexus, and a closet full of clothes that had no holes in them. Then one day it all fell apart and I realized the blatant hypocrisy of all that. All I really want (and need) is Jesus.
Yes, that means we have bare pantry shelves sometimes.
It means we have holes in our clothes because they have been passed down through three other families before they get to us.
It means we have downsized over 2,000 sq. feet in the past few years.
It means I will likely have no social life, no retirement fund, and very little sleep to go with it.
But I promise you, it’s all worth it. Every moment I have with my kids, I am reminded of the beautiful joy and privilege of having them right here with me instead of waving from the window of a big yellow bus. I’d much rather have them than my own “happiness” or any other material thing in this world. And if this one sacrifice I make means I have no retirement fund or no large collection of fancy clothes when I’m 50, it will still all be worth it.
After all, for what purpose is my life if it isn’t to pour out everything God has given me into their precious souls?
3. I seek creative employment.
Of course, we must have money to do this thing. So the first thing I did was throw out the idea of a traditional job and began exploring my skills for options that would keep me home. I looked at what I liked and what I was good at and then I formed a business plan around that.
I won’t lie. I work 50-60+ hours a week developing my business. That creates an interesting dynamic for choosing the activities which are left in the day. But one day, I won’t think about all the sleep I lost or how dirty the house was. I’ll remember spending the morning at field day cheering on my sweet athletes or nearly blowing up the kitchen in a science experiment.
Better yet, my children will remember the same.
So what are my practical money-saving tips for affording to homeschool?
1. Tithe. Yep. If you give your money to God, you won’t run out. He promises.
2. Don’t buy it. Really, you don’t need it. The less you have, the less you need to clean anyway!
3. Ask a friend, if you can’t see a way to live without it. Facebook is great for this. Use it to ask if someone has size 2T clothes sitting in the garage. Maybe you can borrow them or maybe you can buy them cheap. Or you can ask for homeschooling materials, yard supplies, pretty much anything you need!
4. Find it used. Seek out local consignment sales, frequent Goodwill, and become a Garage Sale expert. You will find it hard to pay full price once you get good at it!
5. Make sure you get a good price. Don’t buy anything unless you know you are getting the best price, even if it’s only $5. You know that’s how they get you at those ever-so-temping $1 bins. Some things are a good deal. But MOST are worth way less than $1! Don’t be caught thinking that just because it’s a small amount of money, it doesn’t matter.
6. Shop online. Many things are cheaper online, plus you have the added savings of gas and time. I consider it a huge bonus that I won’t be tempted to throw that cute sweater in the cart. My Amazon Prime membership has paid for itself 100 times over this year!
7. Shop smart when it comes to groceries. Just because it’s a necessity doesn’t mean you should throw all caution to the wind. Food is the #1 way people waste money. Don’t throw it away. Take the time to find ways to save!
8. Barter services with friends and neighbors. Can you mow his yard while he does your taxes? Or maybe you can babysit for someone in exchange for a haircut. Think creatively!
9. Ask for a discount. I know this is a hard one and I struggle with it, too. But you’d be surprised how many homeschooling companies would be willing to work with you, if you asked! This goes for other companies, too!
10. Drink water. This probably seems like a silly tip, but did you know that water is free? (Well, you already pay for it anyway.) In our house there is no milk, juice, or other kind of beverage unless it’s a special treat. This saves a ton of money!
11. Portion out breakfast and snacks. I know the need to make fast and easy breakfasts and I know that you can get a box of cereal pretty cheap with a coupon. BUT, that box of cereal is about half wasted in my home. Probably yours too. I started rationing out the cereal when I created our Breakfast Station. It’s been a huge time and money saver!
I’ll be honest, homeschooling wasn’t my original plan, but God had worked on my heart and it was working quite well for us in 2009 when I became a single mom. I can’t imagine giving it up now. Oh how glad I am that God didn’t let me quit!
If you are a single homeschooling mom desiring community, please join our Facebook group at Homeschooling Alone.
Kim Sorgius is just a girl, crazy in love with Jesus. She’s a single mother of 4, a passionate homeschooler and life-long student. After teaching 8 years in public school, she traded her M.A. in Early Childhood Education for sippy cups and homeschool co-ops. Visit her at Not Consumed or The Homeschool Village.