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In our house, it has changed over the years, too. I’ve rarely had a fixed budget, but instead tried to minimize my expenditures.
The first year I homeschooled the boys, I set up a spreadsheet to track all the purchases I made for materials. I even color-coded each one with who it was for and whether it was for that year or the future. (Yep, even then I was buying ahead!)
All total, I spent almost $1,000 on those materials. However, as I wasn’t sure of which level P needed for some subjects, I actually ended up buying multiple levels and had some things set aside for when R advanced to that level and a few things ready for the next year. Considering we had spent over $4,000 the previous year to send them to our parish school, my purchases seemed ‘cheap’ in comparison.
Since then, I have not keep my records near as tidy as then. So, I can not say with all certainty how much we spend each year. I’ve always done my best to be frugal and spent a lot of time on the internet looking for free or low cost items. The library was a favorite resource for materials as well. We also did not do much in the way of lessons, though, as the cost was more than we could manage.
Flash-forward to our homeschooling in Alaska with a charter school that provides an allotment per family each year for purchasing materials and services directly related to homeschooling your children. Last year we submitted a few thousand dollars for reimbursement.
Now after you pick yourself up off the floor, I’d better explain a few things. First off, like many of other families in these programs, a large percentage of the allotment goes towards classes (e.g. karate last fall) and we can submit our internet bill each month (a good thing since it’s $50 per month.) Field trips count as well. So, when the Star Wars exhibit came to town a while back, we turned in the receipts for the boys enrolled in IDEA. However, I can also say that being part of this school has opened up the doors to materials I might not have afforded in the past (e.g. the super big kit from Supercharged Science!)
I’m still quite frugal with purchases of books, always looking for used when possible. And, I still comb the internet for free resources like I did when all of our homeschooling budget came out of our pockets. Religious materials are NOT eligible for reimbursement through the charter schools, so I still budget around $100 per year for those items.
Be sure to check out the TOS Blog Cruise page to see what other TOS Crewmates have to say on this topic. I, for one, am curious to read their posts.