Lots of people, who are considering homeschooling, tell me that they would really like to homeschool but they are struggling to see a way to do it financially.
Our culture, our government, our coveting, and sometimes our personal situations have pushed us into sending mothers into the workforce, usually to create two income families. Where once a family could make do with one income, our world now has lured us to a place where we seem to need twice as much, or where a Daddy is not around to provide.
Homeschooling, by virtue of keeping one parent home full time, requires that the family half their income and bring Mummy home again. Not being the ‘norm’, it’s easy to understand how this terrifies new homeschoolers. The world around you says that you “can’t” and “shouldn’t” live on less.
For single parents, the difficulty is very real.
But if there is a true will to homeschool, then parents will find a way to make it possible. Finances are only an obstacle, but one that can be managed.
At this junction of “Can we homeschool?”, there is a choice to be made. Is homeschooling my children more important to me than our second income – money and stuff? It is that simple. However, while in the thick of the decision, it won’t appear as cut and dry. It’s fear that is the true obstacle. For some, the fear is very real, yet for others, sadly, it’s difficult to leave their life of financial abundance.
Financial fear is a huge hurdle and makes it very difficult for families to change to such a foreign way of life. Our government ‘encourages’ mothers back into the workforce (in fact they punish us if we don’t), our society insists that we ‘need’ so much more than we ever needed before (and we’ve come to believe it is true), and our culture tells us that this new two income arrangement is normal and right and the only way (everyone we know is doing it). Very few people tell us that there is another possible (better) way. So, of course, going from two incomes to one is a monumental decision.
Hubbies struggle the most with the decision as it leaves the financial responsibilities solely in their lap.
Both parents have to want their children at home more than they want the abundance and security that comes with having a second income (or perhaps with having any income). It’s like leaping off a cliff and hoping your parachute opens. Only in this case, homeschooling is far less common and well known than a parachute, so you are placing all of your hopes in the unknown.
Some people are able to have a slice of their old cake and eat it too. If your job or skills allow you to hold a position where you could work on weekends, or take a few night shifts, you may be able to keep hold of a little of your previous income. Others create home or online businesses that they can work at odd hours. Having one foot in both camps can work well but at the same time it can create a lot of stress and fatigue. The situation may require that you give a little less of yourself to both work and homeschooling to make it work. It may be the necessary compromise but not always the best one.
Living on one income (or perhaps a government payment) means learning to live with less. As soon as we hear ‘less’ we feel deprived. Our world has triggered that response in us. But less doesn’t have to mean that our needs aren’t provided for. There can be abundance in one small income.
Our world tells us that we ‘need’ so many things but when we look at our ‘needs’ we discover that many of them are really ‘wants’ and merely luxuries. Here’s a short list of common household expenses that are purely luxuries: holidays, hair salon visits, beauty lotion and potions, even more clothes and fashion accessories, enough shoes for a small village’s needs, magazines, cable tv, movie tickets, eating out or takeaway meals, memberships and subscriptions to most things, hobby expenses, house decorating pieces, the latest and greatest phones and gadgets, club fees, new swish furniture and the list could go on and on.
Now, I’m not saying we can’t have these things. We can. But living on less means we have to prioritise what we buy. We have to pay for our needs first – basic groceries, loans, basic bills, petrol, and money set aside for emergencies.
We also have to look closely at what we think is a need and refine it. We may think we need the expensive name brand box of cereal, but in reality we could enjoy porridge or toast for breakfast instead. Time and experience will teach you more and more ways of refining your ‘needs’. Think positively about finding these savings and encourage your family to join the hunt. It could be a homeschooling Math task!
Once you’ve purchased your real needs, you’ll find that there may just be extra or even plenty left over to spend on that special desire…that one thing that you realised is a true soft spot from your previously long list of desires. For me it’s books. If there is room in the budget for books, I’m am as happy as a pig in mud. To be honest, on two incomes, if I’d bought all that stuff the world tells us is important, I probably wouldn’t have had money left over for books. So, for me, living on less, bought abundance of the kind that makes me smile.
Considering the price of school fees and child care, homeschooling has to be considered a huge money saver. I was astonished at how much parents pay for child care and schools. In Australia, in a child care centre, you’re looking at nearly $100 a day per child! For private Christian education you’re looking at approximately $3 000 – $5 000 a year for one primary aged child! All this is before we even consider uniforms, books, excursions, transport or petrol costs to get them there and back, tutors, after school programs, fancy lunch treats they’ll insist on, birthday presents multiplied by dozens, and varying other expenses to help them keep up with their friends. How can a person afford NOT to homeschool. My head is just spinning!
Homeschooling is financially possible, if you really want it to be. As the saying goes, “Where there is a will, there is a way”.
So squash the fear and keep it in check. Then focus on living with less abundantly! Remember, you don’t need everything to be rich, you just need the right things and homeschooling can teach you what those things are.