Organize Your Homeschool and Save Money
Go to any homeschool convention anywhere and walk into the vendors hall. As you casually promenade through the aisles, observe the faces of the parents as they shop. You will many sets of eyes glistening as they peer from one booth to the next. You may even notice a bit of drool oozing from the corner of a few mouths (I am talking parents not kids here). Many of those parents will have carts on wheels that are being stocked with the best school supplies, helps, and curriculum known to the free world. If you were to interview these parents and ask them about their purchases you would likely hear heartfelt inspired stories of why each item was purchased, for what purpose, and how it is intended to be used in the upcoming school year. Oh the bliss of it all!
Interview these same parents 6 months into the next school year and ask them to evaluate their purchases and you may find a completely different set of answers. Some products were perfect, some not what was expected, others were not a good fit for a particular family, and yet others have yet to be opened. This is the story of any typical homeschool family. What can result after years of this cycle is an accumulation of a lot of homeschool products and curriculum that is stored away for another time, another (younger) child, or perhaps even stored in a box that is intended for resale. Are you one of these families? Mine too!
One year my husband asked me if we truly needed everything I was storing. I immediately defended my vast surplus of materials. Then my brain took a left turn at Albuquerque and what I found was a very different mindset. When I got honest with myself I realized that much of what I had I would never use, another good portion of what I had I did want to use, but got buried under the never ending incoming surplus of goods only to be forgotten about, and a large portion of what I was saving for younger children would never be used again. I added this to the fact that every time someone else recommended a product or curriculum or I walked through a homeschool convention vending hall I came home with more than I could ever possibly use or need. I needed to get organized.
The first year I got serious about organizing my homeschool products, but I still purchased more. By the second year I had realized that all of this was completely insane and there was a much better way to homeschool my children for a whole lot less. The key to truly organizing my homeschool stuff, was a simple plan that would allow me to be prepared long before the homeschool convention came around. Now, my purchases are necessary and wise and I save so much money because I don’t purchase anything that I do not absolutely one hundred percent know that I will use in my homeschool. Here are some of the basic points in my plan to help you organize your homeschool and save money in the process.
Take Inventory. What do you really have? Take time everyday for a week or two and organize your homeschool curriculum. Search high and low. Look through your shelves, closets, file cabinets, boxes, and your computer. Yes, I have seen your computer. I know you have a bunch of e-books that you have purchased or gotten for free taking up space on your computer with the best of intentions, but have never been used. Start organizing and prioritizing your homeschool items in a meaningful way. Are you really going to use that Algebra curriculum in nine years when your younger children are ready for it? Do you have a bunch of items that you have printed in your filing cabinet waiting to be used? Get them organized and make a few lists. You can save a lot of money if you simply know what you have on hand that you will actually use and what you will truly never use.
Put Your Emotions Away. Ever purchased something that you thought was absolutely dear for your children only to discover they really have no interest? Perhaps you are like me and have even tried to force them to love what you love. One of the most effect methods I use to organize my homeschool is to put my emotions away and let my mind control the situation. I think of each of my children. I consider their personalities, learning styles, challenges, our lifestyle, as well as their ages and gaps between uses of any given item. You will find that you have a LOT more than you will ever need to homeschool your child when you get your own preferences out of the way.
Evaluate Every Item. This is the most time consuming. Even though I have whittled down my homeschool store, I still find it takes more time for me to evaluate material than to do anything else. There are some curriculum and homeschool products that have been excellent resources when educating a certain child that will not work with any other child in my house, but I kept it because one of my children may change as he grows. Thus I kept the homeschool product on a “what if” basis. This was a waste of time and space. Yes, there have been times when I have repurchased an item that I disposed years prior thinking no other child would use it, but that has happened very rarely. You must keep your mindset on what is best for your family now and in the immediate future, not long term, unless you are absolutely certain that it will be used again. When you begin to evaluate your need level of each homeschool item you will get a much more clear picture of where you are going and what you need to get there. You can even sell unwanted or unused items and use the proceeds to purchase new items, when needed, without having to spend any extra money out of your budget. I have known moms that never spend a dime on new homeschool material above what they earn in proceeds from selling unwanted items. This is a practice that reaches beyond saving money, because they do not need to have a budget from their current income!
When you organize your homeschool before convention season rolls around you will have a more happy and healthy mind, homeschool, and home, all while saving money making your wallet healthy too! As you approach convention time, you will find it much easier to organize a list of what you need and spend far less than in years past. You CAN homeschool and save money while educating your children to the fullest!
Look for the second part on how to save money by having a homeschool that is organized before convention season right here on Journey to Simplicity and continue to achieve a life that is healthy in every aspect.