Saturday, June 23, 2012

Monsters of Homeschooling: Money

Monsters of Homeschooling

I love the saying, "If it's important, you'll find a way. If it's not, you'll find an excuse." If homeschooling is important to you, you CAN make it work. Sure, you won't be wearing designer clothes or taking fancy vacations, but you have to decide what the real payoff will be. 

Most homeschool families live on one income or at least one full-time income. I tell my hard-working husband that his job is to make the money and my job is to make every dollar go as far as it can. We live in San Francisco where the cost of living is 168% higher than the national average. We know very few people who live on one income and the fact that we do usually astonishes people. We don't live a lavish lifestyle but we are comfortable and happy. 

Money surely doesn't buy happiness but it does provide stability and security. Money is also one of the reasons people think that homeschooling isn't for them and one of the reasons people quit homeschooling.
Are you ready to learn how to avoid the Money Monster?

1. Be realistic. If you were to get a job, how much money would you really be bringing home? Don't forget to factor in the extra childcare costs, the dinners out because you're too tired to cook, work clothes, etc.

2. Check your cell phone bill. Are you signed up for a plan that you're not really using? Do you need all the options?

3. Also look at your cable bill. Chances are you are paying more than you need to for channels you don't watch. Switch to a cheaper plan for a month and see if you truly miss it. Or go radical like we did and just live without cable! The kids watch Netflix or watch shows online.

4. Are you eating your money? If you eat out more than once a week, you are throwing your money away. One fast food meal out for a family of 4 can run $30 or more! For $30 at the grocery store, you could purchase food for 3 days AND it would be better food. You can still dine out, just do it wisely. Find restaurants where kids eat free on certain nights, split meals or sign up for Groupons. If you don't use Groupons, go sign up!

5. Make a weekly menu. Don't ever go shopping without a list! Buy what you need and use coupons if you can. It is a great idea to stock up on items when they are super cheap. I've been known to have cereal stashed in my closet because it was $0.50 a box! Coupon Mom is a great place to learn how to save money and create a stockpile. The Grocery Game is another popular site but it charges a fee and that goes against my "trying-to-save-money" mentality.

6. Use coupons or Groupons for anything you can. If you sign up for Kohls emails, you get coupons all the time. Most stores have a similar system. Shop at Home is super helpful if you are an online shopper. If you install the toolbar on your web browser, you can use that as your search engine for shopping. Not only does it provide you with a coupon to use but you earn a percentage of your purchase. I've made over $50 this way and I don't do a ton of shopping. I have yet to find a store that doesn't have some kind of coupon or cash back.

7. Find it free or used. Freecycle is a wonderful place to give away unwanted items and get used items for free. Craigslist is always a good place to find new and used items. I also love thrift stores like Goodwill. A little know secret is that I buy all my jeans from Goodwill. I can get Gap jeans that were $90 new, for $7. No one would ever know if I didn't tell them. Goodwill is also a great place to buy books! Thred Up is an online children's clothing consignment store.

8. Get back to basics on holidays and celebrations. I don't remember ever going to a birthday party when I was a kid where there was a petting zoo or pony rides. Americans have gone off the deep end when it comes to birthday parties. We recently attended a party for a 6 year old where they had "normal" birthday party activities like pin the tail on the donkey, musical chairs and a pinata. You know what, those boys had so much fun, even the older ones!
Then there's Christmas. Seriously folks, let's find a budget and stick to it. If your 3 year old is getting an iPad, I want to be adopted by you.  I am all about the magic of Christmas, but spending $1000 per kid is just nuts!
I had a friend that gave each of her kids 3 presents to represent the gold, frankincense and myrrh that was presented to baby Jesus. The gold present is big and the other two are smaller. If you have a big family, draw names for presents. This is so much more fun because you can really put more thought into your gift. Whatever you do, don't go into debt for presents.

Again, I know I am not telling you anything new. These cost cutting measures are often heard but seldom followed.

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