People often feel that homeschooling isn’t an option for them due to financial constraints and responsibilities. With the economy the way it is, it can seem as if two incomes are necessary, now more than ever. But for those who are serious about wanting to homeschool, there are numerous ways to offset the decrease in income. It can take time getting used to living on one salary, but the benefits of homeschooling your children can last a lifetime, both yours and theirs.
Before one parent decides to give up their job, it is important to use a personal budget-tracking system. This is crucial to understanding exactly where the money is going. There are free online personal budget trackers to help figure out what the biggest expenses for a family are, as well as all of the little things that add up quickly. It is necessary to track every expense for at least one month, although three months would be optimal.
It’s not uncommon for a person to be spending a lot more money on some things than they realize. We’ve all heard the example of the person who stops at the local coffee shop on their way to work, but it’s true. Getting your morning coffee fix anywhere other than at home can cost a family over $1,000 a year. The same goes for eating out while at work. Brown bagging can potentially save in the thousands of dollars. It’s the little things that add up, and until you see it with your own eyes, you might not believe it. After adding up the little things that you can do without, it is then time to decide what some of the big changes are that you’re willing to make. Here are some things any family can look into to help aid them in their quest to securely make the transition from two incomes to one.
Grow Your Own Food
While it’s true there is a start-up cost involved for things such as gardening tools and fencing, they will likely last for many years. Different websites will quote different amounts for how much a person can save, but on average, for every dollar spent on seeds, they will produce between $10-25 worth of food. Not only is this a great way to save money and eat healthy, but it can also be a fun project that the kids can help with.
Most of the time you can get really good deals at warehouse stores where you can buy in bulk. When you shop there, you can then go home and separate the food out into portions that your family will use. Store or freeze the rest and notice the savings. A great example of this is cheese. You can buy a large bag of cheese, take it home and separate it into smaller plastic bags and freeze it. If the cheese is properly frozen in an airtight bag or container, it can last up to six months. Depending on the type of cheese and the size of the bag you purchase, it can be like getting four bags for the price of one at the grocery store.
Eat at Home
Eating out can be very costly. When you take this out of your budget, except for special occasions or birthdays, you can save thousands of dollars a year. Cooking at home is not only healthier but much more cost effective. If you have chosen to plant your own garden, the food will not only be fresher but much tastier.
Consider Getting Rid of One Car/Downsize the Gas Guzzler
While this is not usually a popular option, the reality is that by selling one of the family’s cars you can save hundreds on car insurance. Staying at home will also save quite a bit of money on fuel and regular upkeep of the car. The money received from the sale of the car can be used for emergencies or paying down any debt. You can also downsize the car you decide to keep. It may not be the dream car you love, but as long as everyone fits, it will do the job.
Downsize Your Cell Phone and Cable Bills
Look into downsizing your cell phone bill and cable bill. Many cell phone companies have a way for you to analyze your bill online so you can see how many minutes, data, or web-access minutes you are using. You can then talk to a representative and downgrade your plan accordingly. If you’re are willing to forgo cable, you can either buy an antenna to get reception for local channels for around $100 or build one yourself for a cost of under $15.
Lower Your Utility Bills
Utility bills are often an easy way to cut back. Consider line drying clothes in the summer, washing in cold water, and saving rain water for your garden. These are just a few examples. Many electric companies will inspect your home for a small fee. They will give you specific ways for you to cut back on your bill. These suggestions fall into one of three groups: no cost, low cost, and investment. Depending on which recommendations you follow, you can save hundreds of dollars a year.
Decrease the Size of Your Wardrobe
Business and even business-casual clothes can cost a considerable amount of money. When you cut back on these it can save hundreds of dollars a year. The reality is that your child may need fewer clothes as well. Take some time and look for deals at some of the discount retailers or online. By spending a little more time looking, you can spend a little less.
Fight Your Property Tax Bill
Any homeowner is well aware of the decrease in the value of their home. Use it to your advantage. When your property tax bill comes in, take a good look at it. You can do a web search for property home values in your neighborhood and find out what the current selling prices are. Be armed with this information when you speak to a customer service representative at your local county office and argue for them to reevaluate your tax bill.
Check Your Insurance Amounts
It can be important to check what you are paying for insurance every couple of years. You can also save by increasing your deductibles. Don’t be tied to an insurance company just because you’ve been with them for years.
Rent What You Used to Buy
Libraries can be a treasure trove of great stuff. You can check out books, audio books, and even the latest movie releases for free. Many offer classes for both adults and children. Some offer movie nights or other forms of entertainment.
Change the Way You Vacation
It may be some years until you vacation in the Bahamas again, but kids love to do things as simple as camping out. Drive to your destinations instead of flying and play car games with the kids. There are plenty of ways to enjoy your time together without having to pay thousands of dollars.
Save Money by Shopping After Season
Stores are very anxious to get rid of anything they didn’t sell during the season, especially around Christmas time. This is a great opportunity to purchase things for pennies on the dollar. You can stock up on inexpensive gift wrap, decorations, and even cards. This can also be a good time to save on clothes for the next year if you feel you have a good idea what size your child will be wearing.
If You Still Don’t Think It’s Possible, Work Part Time
While this may not be the most appealing idea, it may be practical. Many places are always hiring for the night/weekend shifts. You probably won’t make anywhere near the salary you did at your full time job, but it can help to offset the cost of keeping your kids at home.
These suggestions are just ideas of where to start. Many families are able to find other ways to save when knowing that doing so will help them be able to homeschool their children. A good idea is to try living on one salary for a couple of months before you actually do it. This can help get the family get used to the changes that are going to happen and to see if more or less cutting back is necessary. The money not used from the second income can go towards paying off credit cards or building up an emergency fund. Regardless of what your family needs to do to be able to homeschool, know that you are making a decision that can have a positive, powerful impact on the family as a whole.