Topic | Budget for a CM education.


This topic contains 16 replies, has 13 voices, and was last updated by  crazy4boys 3 years, 8 months ago.

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  • April

    I have two questions for you CM educators.  Do you have a budget for each year?  If so, how have you gone about setting it? Maybe one more question – What is your budget?  I’m trying to figure out a budget so I don’t overspend.  Thanks for your imput. My dh gasps when I say that I need $300 for our two children. Due to trauma with one of my children I choose to not use the library and purchase all our books.  We do hope we can adopt more chidlren and have a large family so they will be well used. Just hopeing for experince in this area.  My children are still young (5.5 & 4.5).  Thank you.



    Personally, if you are planning to purchase all your books, I don’t think that $300 is at all unreasonable for two children. I also have to purchase all of our books, including leisure read-alouds, since we live overseas and I have budgeted around $600-$700 per year, and I find this very generous (it would be possible to do less if we needed to). We have 3 kids – currently only one is a formal student – but all of this stuff will get re-used as really the only consumable item I am using is math workbooks (we just switched over to Math U See). Do you have an e-reader? Many CM friendly books are available at little-to-no cost in Kindle (or other ereader) formats which may help you save on costs, but also allows you to have the books at your fingertips if you find using the library too cumbersome. Just a thought.



    I spent about $100 per child per year when you take into account being able to reuse things, until we hit high school.  Then it went up considerably. One kid this past year we spent over $1000 on, sigh, but that includes two community-college classes. 

    You CAN, however, do it for almost nothing if you use the internet heavily (not using library will affect this).  GO JOIN www.  IMMEDIATELY and start putting yourself on waiting lists there.  Find out what’s online.  Look into an ereader. I actually have a friend who used mostly and bought only a few things, borrowed a few, got some on swap sites and I think one year spent $35 including paper to print things for three kids. 


    I have only been HSing for 3 years and try my hardest not to go over $300 for both of my kids. I currently have a 3rd grader and 6th grader. Granted, the 3rd grader will be reusing a lot of what her brother used but my son is approaching high school so not sure how that can even out in our budget.

    This year, I have been hitting the used book stores like crazy and found quite a bit there as well as using my Kindles (I have a keyboard e-ink one and a Fire). We will also be using the computer a lot.

    I have not really begun a CM style of teaching but one of the things that drew me to CM was how budget friendly it can be especially if you have library access.

    Of note, I have tried boxed curriculum (MFW–ECC) and just hated it. Yes, it is nice with a schedule and things but it is a lot of busy worksheets, etc. If I stayed with MFW, we would be spending almost over $1,000 a year once my son hits high school level and I would have to individually teach my kids. Not to mention, I would have to supplement/repurchase things once his sister reaches that stage. It would also be about $300 for my daughter’s “curriculum” alone and it would not be reused at all.Worse still, is my kids could hate the curriculum (like now) and I am out all that money..again!!

    With CM, we start off as a family for most things and then branch off. No workbooks, etc are truly needed in my opinion. If a book is not working, I am not out anything or maybe just a dollar or two.

    Yep, I am going to like CM and so is my wallet Laughing


    We spend between $300-$500 per year for two children, dd 6 1/2 and ds8. To avoid a huge oh-my-goodness moment in August, I buy our books yearround so that it’s more affordable. I have already started purchasing books for next year. We also ask for a lot of books to be given as birthday and Christmas gifts from grandparents. I also highly recommend Paperback Swap. I haven’t been on in a while because none of my books were being requested, but I was able to get several very good resources for the cost of shipping some of my own resources. I’m to the point now where I’m trying to save books for my grandchildren (isn’t that crazy?!?!) since my dd has already declared that she wants to homeschool her children one day. Of course, I realize she’ll probably change her mind 100 times between now and then, but I would like to have some nice things to pass down to her if and when she’s ready.

    If your child doesn’t like going to the library, perhaps you could request books from them online or by calling ahead. Then when your dh is home you could pick them up. That’s just a suggestion to make things a little more cost effective for you. This past year was the first year we were able to buy everything we needed and haven’t had to make trips to the library out of necessity. We have checked out leisure reading books for ds8, who is a voracious reader. I think we would go broke if we had to buy books for him weekly to satisfy his appetite!

    We also have an iPad, and MANY CM friendly books are free on iBooks. I know for a fact that all of Arthur Scott Bailey’s Tale of… books are free and many by Thornton Burgess are free as well. Wind in the Willows, The Complete Winnie-the-Pooh, and other literature recommendations are free too. 

    I like to compare prices on several different sites when I’m ordering. The ones I look at first are:,, and Abe Books frequently has books we need in a good, but used, condition for less than $5 with free shipping. 

    If you have a family member or friend who also homeschools, consider borrowing and swapping from each other. I am able to do this with my sister-in-law, who is also using SCM for her children. I was able to loan her our Module 1, Pollyanna, and some Shakespeare for her to use this year. I haven’t borrowed anything from her yet, because we’re one year ahead, but I’m sure I will someday! 

    Hope this helps,



    Let me just interject that when my two stepsons were in public school upper elementary grades, we had to pay for their school supplies. We spent at least $40 per child when they were in 4th and 5th grades, and that was with shopping sales for 10-cent folders and such….and we’re talking about 7 years ago at that. Then there were costs for field trips and other things. Since that time, our local school district has instituted school uniforms, which would be an additional cost. We probably would be spending close to $300 just to send our kids to school for an education that is not the kind we want for our kids.


    Wow, thank you for all these great suggestions.  I do think my hubby will be  happy to hear that I am not truly overspending.  I have a Kindle (love it) and an iPad that was given to me two years ago and I should put it to use.  I need to find more free items for download.  I really struggle when the Kindle edition is just a tiny bit less or in some cases the same or even more money than the paper copy.  I will always take the paper copy.  I have many of my childhood books and the girls just love them so I would like to keep a large amount of our books for my grandchildren because both of the girls (very young and could change) want to homeshcool their children and they want lots of them.  I will be checking out all the resorces listed here.



    Yes, I know initially $300 sounds like a big expense, but when you really consider how much you spend on other things, and put it into perspective, it’s not much at all.  For example, if you or your husband were in the habit to spent $5 a day at a coffee shop, that would be about $1250 for the year just for coffee and a muffin. There’s a number to make you gasp!  If your family ate out once a month at $50 a pop (and even that’s cheap), there’s another $500 a year.  When my dh complains about $35 for a resource I intend to use with both of my chidren, I gently remind him that it costs less than our usual Sunday family trip to the pool and out for a treat.  We can have a family night in and save the money for that particular resource.

    My budget last year was $300 at the beginning, but by the end of the year I will have spent closer to $400 — that includes half of next year however, as I will be continuing with some of these resources for more than one year, or reusing a resource for our younger ds.

    I do use the library quite frequently. 

    My biggest single expense at this point has been math, but I have my math curriculum for next year, and at least half for the following year.  I plan to use Mods 1 and 2 next year and will likely have to purchase books for that.   My list of “have to” purchases for next year only total about $100, so I will be looking into a few “Would like to” purchases.

    One thing that helps is if you don’t have to spend all the money at once.  Your children are very young and there is no need to spend a small fortune.  Check out used sales, bargin bins, and see what you can borrow or request as Christmas or birthday gifts.   Figure out what you really need to get started, then spread the remaining spending through the year.  $20 a month is less likely to be missed than $300 up front. 


    No matter what budget I come up with, I’m always able to justify it to myself because it’s SO much less than what it would be costing me to put my children in a Christian school and as Sue said you could probably easily spend $150 per child in a public school – by the time you do teachers gifts, gas for driving them to school (some schools are even requiring parents to pay for the bus) etc…

    So, the BEST idea is to take a look at your family’s general budget and set aside what you can afford AND what you choose to invest in your children’s education.  Some families don’t have any money for things other than basic necessities, they scrap together what they can to pay for pencils and paper and you CAN do it that way, though you would probably have to invest extra time in finding free resources so if you DO have money to spend this may not by the wisest use of your time.  Other families may sacrifice other things like cable tv or eating out to help supplement their school budget – knowing they are investing in their children’s future.  Our family sets aside a certain amount each month for the school budget and all year long I’m keeping an eye out for used books that I KNOW we’ll be using in the future – Apologia science books, MUS teacher’s manuals etc…  Because you’re just starting out, your expenses can be higher – the first time I bought MUS blocks and teacher’s manual and student text, I was WELL over $100 just for math and that was WITH buying the blocks used.  Now with three children in math, I’m still spending $75 a year JUST for the new student texts, plus how ever much I’m able to find the next year’s teacher text for… 

    All that to say, that if you HAVE the money, then $300 is definitely not an exorbinate amount to spend on school books… now, if your family can only eat 2 meals a day because you’re spending $25 a month on school books, then it probably is too much… make sense???

    Seriously, if it’s something your hubby is uneasy about, but you’re confident with your choices, then try to think of other areas where your family can cut and make a proposal to him to help him feel more comfortable, gently remind him that schools are given THOUSANDS of dollars per child to educate children poorly.  If you can do it well with a few hundred, it’s certainly worth it.  And when you put it in terms of $25 a month… well, I’m guessing that may help him put it in perspective (I just spend $15 at Sonic for me and three children and that was WITH a coupon and NOT ordering kids meals).



    Yes, I will say that my biggest expense each year is Math U See curriculum. I have to buy one complete set (teacher book, workbook/test book, and DVD), then I have to buy the workbook/test book for the other kid. It ends up costing about $100 per year, which is a significant chunk of my budget. Our other big expense this past year was our Apologia science curriculum. I bought the textbook and one notebooking journal from Mardel when they were having a 25% off sale. My mom blessed us with our cursive curriculum, A Reason for Handwriting, which was $30.

    I think I may spend less for next year than I ever have simply because I’ve been stockpiling resources for the past three years. We already own the Chronicles of Narnia, our science curriculum is going to cost $20 because of a change I’m making, I bought the extra set of MUS manipulatives last year, and both kids already have readers to get us through the first third of next year. And we’re finally to the point that resources are being passed down from one child to the next. This is making me excited!


    Oh, and DON’T forget to sell resources you buy that you don’t plan on using again – resell those babies and put the money back into your budget.  That’s me talking to myself, I’m TERRIBLE about keeping things for “someday”, but if you didn’t like it the first time around get rid of it, you can always buy another used copy if you want to try it with another child.


    We budget high, so our homeschool budget for the year is $500.00 and I have 7 kids – 4 who will be in ‘school grades’ beginning in July (K, 1st, 2nd, and 6th). We tend to buy one big thing each school year (this year it was a second Kindle for $79.00). Math workbooks alone for Math U See this year cost $100.00 for 4 kids levels. The rest will be whatever books we want/need. I try to buy things we can reuse later on with future children and if a PDF file is available for printing things I always go that route over a paper book to copy reproducibles out of.


    We budget high also.  We only have 1 dd, and we budgeted $700. for this year.  It sounds extreme, but let me explain.  My reasons:

    1.  We will not use the public school system in our area.  The cheapest private school that we would actually consider is $3500. a year + Books, Uniforms, second vehicle and the gas to run it.  We would probably be spending $4000.+ a year.  We look at $700. as saving money.  At least $3,300.

    2.  For dd’s 1st grade year our budget was $600.  Because it was our first year, I made alot of purchases that didn’t work.  What did I do with all the stuff I didn’t use or that we used and we were done with???   I sold it on Ebay.  I made right around 75% back on all the resources I sold.  Some of the used resources that I purchased, I was able to get back 100%.  So after all that I maybe paid $150. for 1st grade.  I only only spent around $500. for second grade and will probably sell alot of that in a few months.

    3.  Our reasoning for budgeting so high this year is because several of the resources we will be purchasing for starting in 3rd grade are resources that will be used from now probably until she graduates.  Thus saving us money on the next several years.  (i.e. Geography Items, Timeline items, etc.)  We are probably not going to spend all of our budget, but whatever is not used can go towards field trips, piano lessons, co-op fees, etc.

    $300. is definitely not unreasonable.  One thing that we encourage others to do is to put a school ammount in your budget and set aside money on a weekly or monthly basis.  You never know when you might feel that you need to add a specific resource and its nice to have the funds there.  If possible, buy everything without relying on credit.  This makes me research what I am buying alot more!!!  Its harder to spend cash!!!


    $300. is definitely NOT unreasonable, but that is just my opinion. We budget pretty high here also but I try to make purchases that I will use down the road, can sell later, make copies when I can instead of using the consumable, use my kindle (or the internet), etc. Most of our purchases have gone toward science and math and a lot of used books.



    I don’t think $300 is at all unreasonable.

    I completely get your reasons for not using the library; as another adoptive family, the years when our kids were coming home and adjusting required a lot of peaceful stability, and the ability to regularly search out library books and keep track of due dates was beyond me. I considered the bit of extra money we spent buying books to be well worth it, a good deal less than the cost of private education, and part of what I needed to do to care for the family God blessed us with. Now that the kids are older, we are able to visit the library more regularly and I don’t buy every single thing we’ll need.

    We’ve built a sizable library here, with many of the books purchased used through other homeschoolers, library sales or on amazon or ebay, and they’re regularly reused. Many libraries have sales in the spring – if you scan AO and SCM’s booklists and go with those in mind, you may be able to buy some curriculum for several years at a great price.

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