Parents sometimes ask me, “How can a single parent homeschool?” I know people are actually asking, “How can a single parent afford to homeschool?” It breaks down to, “How can I make money and homeschool at the same time?”
So, as promised, we are going to “eat the frog.” We are going to discuss how to make money and homeschool. We are going to take control of your finances. Getting a grip on your financial situation will give you so much relief before you begin homeschooling.
But first, I want to ask how things are going with your goal setting? Did you find it difficult to come up with your WHY? Your reason to homeschool? Or did you find it rather easy? That the answer was staring you right in the face?
Whichever path you took to get to and understand your WHY, I’m glad you’re here to dig deeper for your kids. And I don’t just mean deeper into your wallet. Even though that is why we’re here today. To find out what’s there, what’s not and how we can fix whatever is broken in order to make money and homeschool.
Ok, the first thing I want to say is if you are working outside of the house…
…DON’T QUIT YOUR JOB!
I repeat, DON’T quit your job.
At least, not right away if that’s the path you choose to take. There is absolutely no way you can make money and homeschool if you have no means of income. You don’t want your homeschooling journey to be uphill right out of the gate. Take this time of preparation to get your personal finances in better shape if necessary. Believe me, this will help you avoid much stress in the long run.
Take a look at the goal setting worksheet you completed. What is your SMART goal? How can getting your finances in shape help further that goal? Perhaps you want to educate your children without the hassle of worrying about the basics? (When I say basics, I mean things you need to survive – shelter, utilities, food, transportation.) Again, how can you make money and homeschool? Perfect Pinterest pictures aside, what is it you’ll need to homeschool without added stress? Write it down and post it somewhere you can see it at least once a week.
Now that you are clear on what you need, let’s move on to the many ways to get there.
Make Money and Homeschool…at the same time
For those single parents that work outside of home, ask yourself if you want to continue in your current job and homeschool. There are several single parents who continue to work outside of the home while homeschooling. I am inspired by how creative and resourceful these parents are in budgeting their time. Some make sure they are scheduled only during the day or only during the evening. Then, they hire sitters or have supportive family members who help oversee the kids’ learning while they work. However, if continuing to work outside of the home seems scary to you, you may only want to use this as a temporary alternative while looking for other means of income.
If you do choose to homeschool while you work from home, the options are almost endless.
Here are some ways you may or may not have thought of to make money and homeschool:
- teach ESL (or your native language, if not English)
- blogging, virtual assisting, social media work
- tax preparer in home
- licensed in home child care
- private speech therapy in home
- professional organizing business
- direct sales such as Tupperware
- writing, ghost writing
- web design
- party planning
- creating and selling products (etsy, ebay)
- freelance editing
- massage therapy
There are also several sites that advertise jobs for those specifically looking to work from home. Of those, I recommend:
But, what if you were a stay at home mom before you became a single parent? And think you have no job experience?
To that, I say…
…Don’t sell yourself short
You have more experience than you give yourself credit. I find that some of the best virtual assistants, tutors, teachers, organizers, supervisors, and motivational speakers come from the stay at home parent pool. You pretty much do this stuff on a daily basis. You got this, mom!
Several sites also have Resume Wizards that help you streamline your real world experiences into a resume that will impress business owners in search of “the one”.
Know that while many of these freelancer sites may not ask you for an upfront payment, most will take a percentage of your earnings as an administrative fee. This may or may not be a deal breaker for you. Please keep this in mind while searching for work. You can also choose to upgrade your membership for a specified price.
Before we continue, I need to stop and ask…
…Do you have any personal debt?
Debt has a way of making us feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders. This is no feeling to have when you homeschool as a single parent. It would be like trying to concentrate on cooking a meal while the kitchen is burning down. So, the first thing you want to do is assess your debt. Find out how much you actually owe and make a plan to earn enough to cover the minimum payments while still taking care of the basics you wrote down earlier. Once you have that in hand, make a plan of attack to eliminate your debt. Choose which method works best for you.
- The snowball method – where you pay the minimum on all accounts. Eliminate the smallest balance first. Then, once the smallest debt is paid, you move to the debt above it adding the money from the paid account to the minimum you are currently paying.
- The avalanche method – (a variation on the snowball method) where you pay off the accounts with the highest interest rate first and then continue to the next highest adding the money from the now paid account to the minimum you are currently paying.
You also want to think about budgeting if you plan to MAKE money and homeschool. After all, you don’t want to flush all that hard earned money down the drain. (That is, unless it’s part of a homeschool finance lesson.)
While there are several people who swear by the traditional budget method, (using a spreadsheet to create categories, enter your income, subtract your spending and develop your budget), to free your time for other things – homeschooling, for example – I suggest using budgeting software. This helps create a system that you don’t have to think about. Once you set it up, it’s automated.
Recommended budgeting software
Of the many that you can choose from, I recommend:
- everydollar.com – This is Dave Ramsey’s budgeting software. There is a free membership. However, to get all the recommended premium bells and whistles (that I’m sure you’ll find crucial), you have to make a yearly commitment of $99.
- budgettracker.com – This software is good if you want to create a budget to track business and personal expenses. Sign up is free and there is the option to use in English, Spanish or French. (This feature was very helpful for me when my bookkeeper was Latin American.) You can upgrade from a limited free account to a Standard, Family or Business account dependent upon how many users you would like to add. With BudgetTracker, you can choose a monthly or yearly payment plan.
- youneedabudget.com – YNAB’s software is similar to EveryDollar’s concept of envelope budgeting. Their site includes free classes, a blog and helpful How-To guides. They also have a monthly or yearly payment plan. Right now, they are offering a free trial for an unheard of 34 Days!
- goodbudget.com – It is very similar to EveryDollar and YNAB in that it is cloud-based personal budget software that uses the envelope system. There is also a monthly and yearly payment plan. Although there is no free trail, there is a limited Free Forever subscription option.
Want to dig deeper?
If getting control of your finances is exciting…if the thought of being able to make money and homeschool is encouraging, you can go further. An awesome challenge to take is the 28-day Frugal Fresh Start Challenge by Stephanie Jones of Six Figures Under. It comes in the form of an e-book that helps you trim your expenses (if that is a problem), build a budget and fix your finances. The great thing about this challenge is that you are given a daily challenge, or assignment. Then, she asks you – more like implores you – to not go any faster. Take it day by day. Stephanie understands that fixing finances is a daily work in progress. Just as a single parent homeschool cannot be built in one day.
We didn’t forget the kids…
Of course, since this is a post on homeschooling as a single parent, I would be remiss not to show you how you can pass on your lessons to your kids.
If you have younger kids and would like to begin giving an allowance, Three Jars is a great tool to help them learn about budgeting. As they grow and are still receiving an allowance, you can give them access to their own secure site to use the budgeting software to track their spending, saving and giving.
For older, high school aged children, Dave Ramsey has a great finance curriculum to help them be even more prepared for real world financial decisions.
I even use the Schoolhouse Primary Planner printable kids financial records to help the kids understand math concepts when tracking their spending and saving.
In the next segment, we will add scheduling to your SMART goal and your new budget. Once you choose which method of budgeting is right for you, we can create a system to get you rolling. Then, we will create systems to organize the rest of your hats.