By Julianna Duerksen
One of the biggest obstacles to homeschooling is the predicament of finances. How in the world can a family cut their income in half so mom can stay home full time to teach the kids? Especially in Colorado, with the insane housing market, a potential recession under way, and skyrocketing prices, I get it.
The choice to homeschool isn’t just for the wealthy. But it does require sacrifices.
When my husband and I were dating, one thing we discussed was what our roles would look like when it was time to start a family. We decided early on that, no matter how difficult, we would prioritize my being able to stay at home with our children. Now, as a mom, I’m incredibly grateful for a husband who’s willing to work long hours at a not-so-fun job so that I can stay home.
But the decision also requires a willingness on my end to live a different type of lifestyle. For us, that means right now renting a basement apartment to save money while many other young couples around us are purchasing their first home. It means driving adequate but not fancy cars so that we can avoid debt. It means using hand-me-downs instead of the latest name brands.
Even in a less-than-ideal economy, staying at home with your children is doable. Here are a few practical thoughts I’ve found (and observed from other moms a season or two ahead of me):
- Staying at home can actually save you money. The cost of childcare alone can make it worth it to stay home. Plus, consider how much you’d spend on purchasing convenience foods (because you’re tired after work), eating out, maintaining a professional wardrobe, school clothes for your kids, and much more.
- A penny saved is a penny earned. By staying home, you have more time to:
- Plan ahead and shop for groceries. I’ve found once-a-month grocery shopping can save hundreds of dollars. I don’t actually plan my menu out for the month, but I’ve figured out generally what items I need to buy to last a month. Then I try not to go to the grocery store until the next month. Every time you go, you spend more than you need to. 🙂
- Cook from scratch. Try to buy whole-item foods and make baked goods, dinners, sauces, salad dressings, etc. from scratch.
- Find hand-me-downs and used items. You (or your kids) probably don’t need as many clothes as you think you do …
- Homeschool curriculum doesn’t have to be fancy. Growing up, I learned the most from real books (the kind you can get interlibrary loan) — biographies, historical fiction, nonfiction — than from fancy curriculum packs. Consider swapping curriculum with friends or checking out the Used Curriculum Sale.
- Cancel subscriptions, streaming services, and expensive phone plans. Instead, learn to love playing outside, going on walks, playing music together, reading aloud, and playing board games. If you’re just needing to watch something, try free documentaries on YouTube. For phone plans, you can save a ton by using prepaid phone plans (I use Tello) and not using a ton of data by browsing constantly!
- Pack lunches for your husband. Since my husband works on a construction site, his coworkers go out to lunch every day. To help him avoid the temptation of going along, I try to be intentional about packing varied lunches and putting fun items (like cookies, muffins, etc.) in so that he looks forward to eating my lunches instead.
- If you’re looking for more practical help to cut debt, save money, and save, I recommend Dave Ramsey’s resources.
- It’s not wrong to look for ways to earn side income. Of course, we desire to prioritize our children first, and there’s nothing wrong with not contributing financially, especially if you’re in a season of raising a bunch of littles. After all, we can only do so much in a day! But if your season permits it, the world of the internet has made making money from home part-time much easier, from blogging to reselling goods to becoming a virtual assistant, and much more.
- Investing in your local church is key to making this lifestyle work. This might seem unrelated, but when you choose to live simply, you have more time to invest in your local body. As you serve, you develop relationships. This community will become crucial during the tough seasons of parenting.
When my husband decided to quit his management job and pick up a less exciting one a few years ago so he could invest in our church, he had no idea how God would provide in great ways through the church for his future family. Now, not only do we have free babysitting and help from tons of “aunties” who are eager to adopt our little family, we were also so humbled to be showered with everything we needed — both to start our own home before our wedding, and then, only nine months later :), everything we needed to take care of our baby, including a year’s worth of diapers! We’re now making it our aim to go above and beyond in helping more new parents in our church start out.
- Staying at home means happier, more obedient children = happier mommy! First, littles ones desperately need the consistency that only you can bring to their lives. By staying at home, you can maintain routine, boundaries, training, discipline, and schedule. If you’re thinking “I’d go crazy at home with my kids all day!”, perhaps it’s because they’ve never experienced the consistency they need to learn obedience. Back to the financial issue, when you choose to actually stay home as a stay-at-home mom, instead of running around for a thousand activities for the children, you’ll save money and have more content children too!
Practical purposes aside, choosing to stay home is about more than money. It’s a calling. The sacrifices we make today to be the primary ones investing in our children 24 hours a day, 7 days a week will reap a hundredfold as they grow to be mature, Christian adults who will make an impact on the hopeless culture around us.
What’s more, God can use the mundane challenges of being a stay-at-home mom to grow our own hearts toward Christ. Being at home forces us to grapple with what’s most important in life — our souls and the souls of our children — instead of being distracted with the face-paced, materialistic culture surrounding us. The financial sacrifices it takes to stay home can actually propel our hearts toward Christ, as we give up the things that were tethering us to this world. Moms, we have the incredible opportunity of living out the Gospel to our children. Isn’t that alone worth all the sacrifice?
Leave a Reply