Category Archives: Homeschool Frugality

Ways to save money when educating our children at home.

When Done Homeschooling

office supplies
Image by 19melissa68 via Flickr

Many people believe that they need to sell all of the homeschool materials and supplies when they are done homeschooling their children. This can be a time consuming task, though profitable.

I did not have time to concentrate on selling all of our old homeschool stuff. Instead, I:

  1. Repurposed office supplies that I would be able to use for my writing business, such as pens and notebooks.

  2. Repurposed art and craft supplies, as well as some of the books, for my daycare.

  3. Gave educational games to friends and family.

  4. Kept some of the classics for my own reading pleasure.

  5. Sold a few things in a yard sale.

  6. Gave away everything else.

Other Ideas:

  1. Bring everything to the last homeschool meetings you attend to offer to other families who will be able to use them.

  2. Offer items to non homeschool families that you need. They can use supplies, and often reference books.

  3. If items are new or look new, give them to kids as gifts.

By jppi on

Curbside Pick-Up

Here is a topic from one of Amy’s readers, which you can find on page 193 of the Complete Tightwad Gazette.

We have picked up many great items using this system. Each spring, communities have this roadside pick-up thing that they do. This helps us to declutter our homes.

One benefit to doing this early and setting things out on the road is that people in need can acquire some necessary items.

Another benefit is that less stuff goes into a landfill.

Here are some treasures that I have acquired over the years by using this system:

  • A barbecue grill
  • A nice bike for my daughter
  • A bean bag chair for each of my daughters
  • Clothing for all of us
  • Books and school supplies for all of us
  • Stands
  • A dresser
  • Shelves
  • Planters and other gardening needs
  • Kitchen items


Three Ways to Save and Sharing

On page 42 of The Complete Tightwad Gazette, Amy discusses the three ways in which she saves money: Buying items cheaper, making those items last longer and using those items less.

I would like to add to this list:

  • Barter
  • Accept kindness

Bartering is self-explanatory. Accepting kindness is key. People like to feel as though they are helping. Why not let them? At some point, you will be able to return a kindness so there is no reason to feel bad about accepting anything.

  • My aunt always gave me her children’s hand-me-downs. Once my children were done with these items, I passed them along to my sister whose daughters are younger than mine.
  • My friend cuts my hair for free. We invited her on a trip to Salem with us.
  • My friends and family give me all of their used candle holders, as well as their candle ends. Just before Thanksgiving, my daughter and I are making candles from the ends and using the holders. We will give these recycled candles to friends and family as gifts. They loved the idea so much last year, that they want to keep it going.

Here are some articles dealing with frugalness and the recession that I would like to share with you:

Hope you all have a nice day.


What to do with Small Pencils

As adults, it becomes hard to use pencils once they have been sharpened too many times. They are too small for our hands to comfortable handle.

Does this mean that we must throw them out? Of course not! We can pass them along to young children. They have smaller hands than us, so they can still use them.

This helps to reduce waste, and teaches children the art of recycling and reuse.


Making New Crayons

Be sure that you are saving all of those broken crayons. Take the paper off and reuse them to make new crayons. These make great gifts.

You can use muffin tins, or baking pans with small, decorative sections.

Simply spray each section with nonstick spray, and place the crayon bits in them. Then melt in the oven at a low temperature. Cool. Pop out and wrap up.


Homeschooling: Saving Money on Materials and Supplies

I recently published an article on my Single Mom blog called Single Mothers Homeschooling Part 5: Saving Money on Materials and Supplies that you may enjoy. The article is one in a continuously growing series on homeschooling. Even if you are not a single mother, you will find each of the articles useful. To read the other articles, go to the left sidebar and scroll down to click on Moms Homeschooling.


The Welfare Myth Part 2: Stretching the TANF Dollars

By Shannon Buck ~  © September 2007

As I mentioned in The Welfare Myth Part 1, it is a myth that welfare recipients have a lot of money to live off. Most welfare recipients really have little money for day to day expenses, once they have paid the bills. That is, if they can pay all of their bills at all.

Part 2 of this 4 part series is going to deal with ways in which low-income families can get the most for their TANF buck. This intent is two-fold:

1. To allow non-welfare recipients a view into the life of a low-income family.
2. To, hopefully, help low-income families.


First, let me say that I know this life. I have been there completely, and I am still working to get off the foodstamps and MaineCare even though I know longer receive TANF. I am getting there. I have had many experiences, and even now have little money for bills and such.  So, here is my best effort to help people understand our lives, and to help low-income families to live.

I also want to say that I am not encouraging women to get pregnant and live off the state. That is not my goal. My goal is to help people get off the state, even though this is a difficult task for anyone. School and work are important.  However, sometimes we need a little help along the way. That is perfectly understandable. Especially for those who do not get child support. Get what you need, and leave the rest for someone who needs it more.


The rent. Rent can be very expensive. If you do not have section 8, it may benefit you to look into it.I lived in low-income housing for may years. I can tell you that it is not necessarily the cheapest way to live. So, I encourage you to look at all of the options.

I also want to mention that low-income apartment complexes are not what they used to be here in my area of Maine. When I first moved into one of the places, it was a nice, quiet place to raise children. Over the years, things go messed up.

Check out a place well before moving in. You may find that you would not like to raise your child there.

The utilities can also be expensive. The only things that are necessary are heat, electricity, possibly gas, water, sewer and a phone. Here in Maine, we can sign up for HEAP (heating assistance). This does not pay for heat for the entire season. It may pay for as little as a month or less. When we sign up for this, we also get a small discount for the phone – not long distance charges.

I recommend that everyone gets on a payment plan for everything that they can: Electricity, oil, gas, etc. This does not give you a discount. It allows you to pay the same amount each month per bill. So, instead of those crazy $200.00+  bills during the winter months, you may pay $80.00 every month of the year. You will likely have to be with a company for a year in order to do this.

If you homeschool your children as I do, you may also consider cable/satellite or something like that a necessity as well. It does come in handy. If you cannot swing this, maybe a family member will allow the use of their television. You may also consider online access a necessity, as I do. We use it for school, plus I use it for work and helping others.

Now, about the phone bill. I have taken everything accept the diagnostic plan off my phone. I have also gotten rid of my long distance provider. I pay 10 cents a minute in state with my phone company, and I do not call long distance often. I also purchase phone cards when they are on sale if I no that I will have to be making numerous phone calls. I do have call forwarding because I work online. My phone bill is only about $8.00 a month.

It is necessary to find ways to save on utilities. For instance, think about ways that you can save money on electricity, water and heat. Here are some steps that my family and I will be taking this winter:

* Keep the thermostat at 68* during the day, 64* or below at night.
* Keep blankets in the livingroom for when we are chilly. Also keep a throw blanket on each     bed.
* Wear sweaters or hoodies when inside. Keep them where we can access them easily.
* Wear two pairs of socks or warm slippers.
* I am learning to work on my writing with no background noise from the television. This will     save quite a bit.
* Use the laptop more often than the desktop for work and volunteer projects. The desktop will     be reserved for homeschooling.
* Limit the amount of time each person can spend in the shower.
* We already replaced necessary lights with the longer lasting florescent lights.
* Plug the heat tape in under the trailer, then bank the trailer.
* Put plastic in windows.

Your town/city hall may be of some help in emergencies. I have used mine once for rent, and twice for food. You will have to keep all of your receipts for this to work in your favor. I am not sure what else they help with, but it may be worth checking out when you have a true need.

The Department of Health and Human Services is a possibility as well. It will likely be called something else in your area. Contrary to popular belief, if a person can physically work, she/he will get sanctioned if you do not have a job or go to school in a reasonable amount of time. I only suggest there services if it is absolutely necessary, because it is not a fair or easy system to work with. There may be better choices. Please check out all of your options before doing this.

Medical insurance is the one thing that I do suggest that you get for your state welfare department. It is too expensive not to do this. Even if you do not qualify, your children will. This is the best thing that you can do for them until you can get other insurance. If your ex has insurance, make sure the children are on it.

If you know in advance that you will be losing insurance, get all of your medical, eye and dental appointments in before they will expire. I would also like to note here that, if you do not have insurance for prescriptions, you may be able to get free or reduced cost prescriptions from the companies that make the medications. Check with your doctor and pharmacist.

Here are some of the services the  Department of human services offers in this area:


ASPIRE is a service through the Department of Human Services that encompasses a lot of areas. These are for people who are looking for work, working or going to school, from what I understand. Here are the programs that I am aware of:

A one time payment per year for car repairs.
Help getting a vehicle – you pay for it, but there may be cheaper interest or something.
Your children can get free lunch/milk at school.
Help with childcare for work and school.
Help with textbooks for college.

I am sure that there are more.

The churches in your area may also be able to help you. You do not have to be a member of the church, at least not here. Two of the programs that one of the churches in our area offers are:

thrift shop

I have only gotten the food once. A friend new that I had no food in the house at one point when Skye was a baby, so he called his mother, who called the church. He brought me over there and helped me bring the food home. I was so grateful to him, his mother, and the church. I was also a little surprised, because I was not a member of the church.

I am still not a member of the church, but I do go to their thriftshop at least 4 times a year with my children. I have purchased clothes in all baby and children’s sizes, as well as for myself. They also have books, toys, puzzles and household items. I am fond of going there and spending $2.00 a bag on clothing.

At one point, someone signed my daughters up to receive free winter boots through the town. We did not take them, due to the fact that they already had ones that fit them. I decided that those boots should go to someone else.

We bring our old winter coats to Hannaford. They are collected there for people in need. This means that there is a place nearby that gives them to the needy. I think that this is a wonderful program. I believe that the program is called Coats for Kids.

The Salvation Army and the Angel Tree programs help to bring happiness to children on Christmas morning. If you are having a particularly lean year, you could contact these or other programs in your area for help. Some of the bigger stores in Bangor do these, as well as churches.

Online, Freecycle is an excellent place to acquire things like clothing and household needs. You will also have to have things to give. For instance, if your baby just grew out of her clothes, you can offer these up to give away. Do this with only the best clothes, not ones with stains and holes. After posting that, you can immediately make a wanted post. Something like: Wanted: Baby Girls Clothes Size 24 months in (your town).

This is a wonderful give and take system.

8. is also a place where you can sometimes find exceptional buys. A year ago I bid on numerous boxes of teenage girls clothing. We ended up with a couple of dozen each of socks, pants, tops, and brand new underclothes, as well as a couple of jackets. This was an entire new wardrobe for each of my two daughters, and what we could not use went to a friend of theirs, and from her to a neighbor who was sharing clothes with her mother.

When I did the math, I found that I had only paid about $1.00 per article of clothing.

Freebies. My best advice is to take everything that is offered to you. If you cannot use them, someone can. You could give them to the church thriftshop, put them in a yardsale, sell them on ebay, or even offer them as the give away items on Freecycle.

Yardsales, thrift shops and consignment shops are wonderful places to shop, as are flea markets, clearance aisles, and dollar stores. Just make sure that what you pick up is of good quality. A pan I purchased at a dollar store lasted only three washings. One spatula kept melting, but two more are the best ones I have ever had. Just pay attention, and know the prices in other stores.


Armed with the above information, you should be able to find even more programs in your own areas. Please look for these. Talk to everyone you know who may have helpful information. I know that it is hard to stretch your money, but there is some relief sometimes. Take what you can get, but help others as well. I sometimes put things out on my front lawn with a big free sign. I have had a lot of help in my life, so I want to give back by helping others. I encourage this.

Shannon Buck is a single mom living in a small town in Maine. Check out her other free resources for low-income families at

100 Things About Me #3: I Love Used Book Stores

Image By: xandert on

I love used book stores.

Even when I visit Salem, Mass., I go to a used book store. It amazes me the treasures that are found in these places. Books of all types at affordable places. Another beauty of the situation is that people didn’t throw these treasures into landfills. They are available for others to read.


Feeling Blessed

I have been the recipient of a few things this past week. Twice, a friend has given me cucumbers, and another time she gave me tomatoes as well. She also brought us over 2 cans soup, 1 sea salt grinder, 1 garlic sea salt grinder, and 1 bag dried beans.

Her husband purchased too many report covers, so Zowie received a few of them. These will be helpful to her this year.

It was nice to receive these items for free, and they are much appreciated.

I also lucked out at the food pantry this week. Though there is not as much that they can give to each family as there used to be, I am thankful for what I am able to get. Here is what I brought home this week:

lemon poppy seed muffins

3 cans tomato soup

1 can diced tomato

2 cans tomato sauce

2 apples

2 peaches

1 plum


salad mix

2 zucchini

1 cabbage mix

2 heads broccoli

1 dozen eggs

2 oranges

1 packet carnation instant breakfast mix

black peppercorn grinder

cinnamon grinder

1 bag dried beans

1 bag rice

1 box cereal

1 Italian season grinder

ginger, and a few more spices

3 potatoes

1 bag of rolls

1 large bottle of Listerine


By the way, I had an over accumulation of soaps, shampoos and lotions from helping a friend clean out her home, so I donated them to the food cupboard that I get our food from. I also drop off food that is given to us that we won’t eat.


Freebies for Homeschoolers

1.  Win a year of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine- Digital Edition!!!

2.  Book-It Program through Pizza hut offers homeschooled children a personal pan pizza free each month for participating.

Hope these are helpful!