Did you read Money Matters in the Summer 2014 issue? Here's the introduction:
What happens to homeschool life when financial crisis strikes? We talked to three families who've been there, done that, and survived to share the strategies that are seeing them through tough times.
If you read this, and it helped you (or not), we'd love to hear from you on this topic. If you haven't read it, but you feel you have something to say on this issue, you are more than welcome to join the discussion too.
I wanted to write this article because money is a hot topic in my household, but I don't hear a lot of talk about financial issues in homeschool forums. Many homeschoolers are devoted to homeschooling no matter what, and I think that's awesome, but it still doesn't take away the stress that lack of money can have on a family.
We are doing okay, but we are not where we want to be financially. If we continue on this path, our futures look kind of bleak when you consider how much money a couple needs to retire comfortably. Let alone if an emergency occurred that would drain our meager savings or cause us to go into debt.
I know a lot of families who don't think twice about spending all their money on big cars, vacations, and houses that are too expensive. While I think it's important to follow your dreams and live a life worth living, I see a lot of careless spending too. I see people who aren't willing to do a little planning to secure their futures. And then I hear these same people say things like "Oh, we can't homeschool. We both have to work." I can't help but wonder how many people could afford this lifestyle if they were willing to forgo a few luxuries?
For my family, we've decided that homeschooling is important enough to risk not having two incomes. We know we can give our boys an excellent education and give them a vision for their lives that we never had when we were young. This is of utmost importance to us. But we still try to spend wisely, and I continue to look for work I can do at home while homeschooling. I included a lot of resources for financial education — both for children and adults — as well as some standard advice given by financial experts along with the article because I think that while this information is common sense for a lot of people, there are many people in our country who sorely lack this information. (I know I wasn't taught any of this growing up!)
As homeschoolers, we're in a unique position to allow our children and students to learn first-hand what it means to spend sensibly and make good financial decisions. Because they are home with us all day, they see what it takes to maintain a household and how much things cost. Homeschoolers are some of the most frugal people I know (out of necessity). I'm excited to think that our children have an edge in this very important subject!
It was truly inspiring for me to interview these three families who have or who are facing financial crisis while homeschooling. I learned that what we have to do is decide what our priorities are in life, keep them straight, and then work hard! I learned from Joan Otto, who with her husband is paying off an enormous debt, that homeschooling can be the catalyst to start focusing more on priorities and working out financial goals and that a bad financial situation does not have to deter a family from homeschooling. I learned from Max Ventura that single parents can homeschool. While I am not sure I could make all the same decisions she made, I so admire her determination to homeschool despite living in poverty because she felt strongly it was best for her children. I completely agree with her when she gave this advice:
If you want to homeschool as a single parent, you have to do four things, says Max: Figure out what is most important to you, find a support group, find a job that will make it work, and keep your motivation alive. “Even if you cannot homeschool right now, you can start reaching out to the homeschool community, create relationships for you and your family, and in doing so, you’ll build confidence,” she says.
I learned from Kristina Daniele, whose husband lost his good paying job, that a willingness to try new things and keeping a good attitude is so important to overcoming crisis.
What about you? Were finances part of the discussion when you started homeschooling? Do finances prevent you from homeschooling?
Is homeschooling non-negotiable for you? Is there a point where you would consider putting your children back into school because of a bad financial situation?
Do you have any questions about homeschooling and finances that you would like answered?