Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The economics of homeschooling

One thing I love about homeschooling is that it can truly fit any budget.

The average annual expenditure per homeschooled student is around $450, according to research I quoted earlier.

This works out to around $37.50 per month - less than what most people spend for cable tv. I, personally, save more than that each month on gas money because I don't have to drive the kids back and forth to school each day.

There are also tons of books/websites that proclaim to show you how to homeschool for free or almost free. (Simply use a search engine with the terms "homeschool free" for ideas.)

But what about 2 common scenarios:
  1. Mom works outside the home and the family "needs" her income.
  2. There is a single parent home.

For scenario #1, there are very few instances that I have seen where Mom's income was actually necessary. When you factor in the extra costs of Mom's job - extra gas, pantyhose, afterschool care, fast food/eating out because Mom is too tired to cook or is not home to cook, etc - Mom's income gets whittled away pretty quickly.

Many times, Mom's job puts the family into a higher tax bracket, increasing taxes to the point that the family would come out ahead by Mom not working. This is especially true if the family's income is pushed to the point of being just below the next tax bracket.

For scenario #2, it is trickier, but I have supported myself and 2 small kids as a single mom by working from home, so it can be done. It may not be easy, but it can be done. Again, when you do not work outside of the home, many expenses go down, so you can do just as much with less money. Not having the cost of driving back and forth to work and school saves a ton of money on gas.

Let's look at some numbers, shall we?

Let's say Mom makes $25,000 a year at her job.

Taxes will take $6250.

Gas for the job takes approximately $30 per week. That's $1560.

Afterschool care for 2 kids is another $80 per week. (That is low for what I have seen, but that's okay.) (Before-school care would be more, but let's say Mom doesn't need it.) That's $4160 per year.

The family eats out once a week because Mom is too tired to cook. For a family of four, let's say that is $40. That is $2080 per year.

Mom needs to look good, right? Pantyhose, clothing, hairdo, etc. Let's give Mom $200 a month for all of that. That's $2400.

Mom eats out for lunch twice a week with the girls from work. That's $20 a week. That's $1040.

So we are down to $7510 from $25,000 already. That doesn't even factor in the convenience foods the family buys for "quick" meals and other costs.

Now, let's say this family chooses to homeschool. How to make up that $7510???

The kids' expenses will go down. No uniforms to buy or tons of new clothes. Remember "play clothes"? Yep, that's what we do. Instead of a whole new wardrobe for school, we buy a few new outfits and then the kids wear play clothes around the house.

You know that huge school supply list you get each year? Buying tissues, pencils, marklers, etc. for the whole class?? Nope. You have 2 kids (or however many), and you are the teacher. Buy what you want. It is your choice! I saved an average of $75 a year just for this - not counting clothing.

Bookbags? Nope. That saved me $20 per child. (See how this adds up?)

Registration fees? Nope. (Yes, public schools now charge a fee to register your child - at least here in SC they do. Unbelievable.) That saves $35 per year, per child.

See how fun this gets? :o)

There are other ways to save money, too. I will blog about that later.

One more note: If you feel the absolute need to bring in an extra income, look at ways to make money from home. Perhaps you have a hobby that can be income-producing. There are other ways to make money from home, as well.

-----Shay :o)

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