I suddenly became a single mom—a single homeschooling mom—years ago, with a 1st grader, kindergartner, two-year-old, and baby on the way.
At that time, I bought the lie that homeschooling families were perfect. I tried hard to “make” our family fit this perfect mold. It was such a crazy lie and so far from the reality of life.
It took me a long time to accept reality. Somewhere in there, I was forcing homeschooling into a box—one that closed the lid and said, “Keep out: imperfect families and single moms.” I bought the lie that I wasn’t enough, so I kept quiet. In God’s merciful grace, I didn’t quit homeschooling, but I did hide.
For so long, I prayed that our family would be reconciled and once again fit into that perfect homeschooling family mold. But God has gently taught me that the perfect homeschooling family doesn’t exist. He’s taught me that I can still homeschool in the broken world because we are all broken, even those who aren’t showing it.
How Can a Single Mom Afford to Homeschool?
It’s a question I get all the time.
It’s really quite a fair question. I know it was at the forefront of my mind when I first became a single mom. However, it’s not that easy to answer due to the wide variety of situations.
So how does a single mom afford to homeschool? What if you don’t even know how to homeschool? Sweet friend, by the grace of God, if you desire to homeschool, it can be done! God never calls us to something and leaves us stranded. Trust Him to provide for all of your needs—financially, logistically, and educationally.
I polled a Facebook group (of over 350 single moms who homeschool) for some insight into how single moms afford homeschooling. And can I just say that I was humbled and amazed at the sacrifices these ladies make in order to homeschool their kids? Make no mistake, homeschooling is almost always a financial strain for families because there is only one income. When a single parent chooses to homeschool, things naturally get a little more complicated … but God specializes in the complicated! Here are just a few ways that He provides.
1. Child Support and/or Alimony
Of course, the first source of income we think of is child support. This is at least an excellent way to supplement your income, decreasing your own work needs. According to my single mom survey, 54% of homeschooling single moms rely on child support, making it the most popular form of income. We are lucky to live in a time when courts are getting far more strict with child support. Dads are being held accountable for financially supporting their children, and free agencies will even help you collect the mandatory child support.
Don’t be afraid to fight for what you need to take care of your kids. In most states, child support is a set formula. You plug in his salary, yours, number of kids, etc., and it spits out a number. If you are not getting that number, consider contacting your local child support enforcement agency. They will help you for free.
I’m well aware that this amount is generally not enough on which to live. Studies show that divorced women can expect at least a 40% standard of living decrease, and this includes the assumption that you are working outside the home. I know from personal experience the difficulty of moving to a smaller house, being in a less affluent neighborhood, and going from brand names to thrift store shopping. But I would encourage you to consider it all meaningless. I’m not saying it was easy, but I quickly learned what is truly valuable in life, which lessened the pressure monetarily.
We will talk about ways to save money and cut costs later, but for now, I would challenge you with this thought: The lower your cost of living, the less you will have to work, which of course translates into more smiles, hugs, and giggles from those sweet kids of yours.
2. Outside Support
There are many ways to get outside support for your homeschool journey. Nearly 14% of the single moms polled in my survey are living with family or friends. This is an excellent way to cut your expenses so you can homeschool. I know the idea of moving in with your parents likely doesn’t sound appealing for most, but for a season, it could allow you time to work on a business plan, build up some income, or even earn a needed certification/degree.
Another source of outside support is homeschool agencies such as the HSLDA. These agencies have resources for single moms, including scholarship funds. Don’t be afraid to seek these out and apply. You never know if this is the way through which God will provide for your family.
3. Government Assistance
This is always a sticky subject. As Americans, our country was founded on the principles of hard work and sacrifice. Not many people are in favor of the way government assistance programs look today, as so many abuse the system. Forget all of that. You are not that person. And it doesn’t matter what other people think anyway. Government assistance was created for people in times of need. At least at the beginning, you may need to rely on these programs for help. You might be interested in hearing that 35% of the single moms surveyed were using SNAP (formerly food stamps) services.
If you find that you need to use this service, don’t be ashamed. Some reports show that nearly 20% of our society (which includes two-parent homes) uses SNAP to supplement their food costs. I know for me personally, those first few years would have been impossible without it. I don’t know if I would have had the resources to create my business and grow it to sustainability without SNAP. Now my family doesn’t need that assistance, and someone else can benefit the way we did when times were the toughest.
Practically speaking, you can apply for SNAP at your local department of social services office; Google will help you find the information. Each state has different requirements, but most have an online application process which is rather helpful for single moms. The process can take 30-60 days, depending on the state, so don’t wait until your pantry is completely empty before you explore this option.
Single moms who desire to homeschool need to think outside the box when it comes to jobs. Most of us need one, but it doesn’t have to look the way it used to. Some moms work nights or off-hours outside the home and pay babysitters. Some rely on family members to help with childcare and/or the actual homeschooling. Many others work from home. Don’t be afraid to look into something that is totally unknown to you.
There is a multitude of resources on the web to help you. In fact, Real Ways to Earn Money Online is an entire site devoted to this topic. A popular site for locating jobs is Rat Race Rebellion. I also enjoyed this article titled “25 Real Jobs for Stay at Home Moms.” I keep track of all the ideas I run across on my Work at Home Mom Pinterest board.
Some questions to think about as you explore the possibilities for you: What are your skills, and how might you use those at home instead of in a traditional setting? Is there something you are qualified to do but have never pursued? What is your passion? Is there one thing that people are always saying you do well? If so, how can you use that talent to make money?
Creative Job Options
You may be wondering how it’s possible to homeschool when you have a full-time job, right?
It’s definitely possible to work full-time and homeschool your kids; check out this simple homeschool schedule for working moms for more ideas.
Here are some ideas to get you thinking about job options which would allow you to also homeschool:
• teaching nights at the university
• blogging, virtual assisting, social media work
• tax preparation in home
• licensed in-home child care
• private speech therapy in home
• professional organizing business
• direct sales such as Tupperware
• writing, ghostwriting
• web design
• party planning
• creating and selling products (Etsy, eBay)
• freelance editing
• massage therapy
• housekeeping for others
• music lessons
• newspaper carrier
• nurse or medical caregiver
• dog groomer
• retail sales
• customer service/call center rep
Now that you know there’s a myriad of opportunities available, let me share in detail what I have done and how you could do it too.
What I Do to Bring in Money
I remember very clearly the day I knew God wanted me to start a blog. And I’ll be honest, I thought He was nuts.
The storm had been raging in my home for over a year, and it seemed that despite any attempts or desires on my part, my husband was going to file for a divorce. This blog thing was the answer to a prayer I had been praying for nearly a year: “Lord, what am I going to do now?” Although I had a master’s degree in teaching, I hadn’t worked in 10 years. I had four children under six, one of whom was just a few months old. I couldn’t even dream of going back to teaching. It wouldn’t even have paid for the childcare. Not to mention, my two school-aged children had only been homeschooled, and there was already enough transition in our home. I didn’t want to add to the fire.
So, I had to choose to believe that God would indeed provide for us through this entity called a blog. The funny thing was I knew almost nothing about blogs. I had followed a few on homeschooling and family life. I even had my own little Blogspot blog where I shared pictures with my granny and the rest of my out-of-town family. But the idea of CREATING a blog was foreign. I mean, I felt like I was doing well most days to check email and figure out Facebook.
I had serious doubts that you could even make money with a blog. Sure, I had heard it was so, but I guess I couldn’t fathom it. Blogging or any other type of internet business was still a new enough concept that most people couldn’t quite grasp what it was. In fact, when I told people I was a blogger, it wasn’t uncommon to hear, “But what’s your real job?” Well, this is my real job now. It took me long enough to accept God’s idea of my real job, but I’m so glad I did.
Creative Cost Cutting
You know the saying, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” There are lots of practical ways to save money so that you can survive on a very limited income.
There’s no question that homeschooling as a single mom can be a drastic sacrifice, but most of us would say that giving up those new jeans or trendy haircuts will reap amazing benefits in the hearts of our kids. The list of ways to cut costs could never be covered here, but how about a few ideas to get you started?
- By far, one of the most common things I hear from single moms who homeschool is that they live with their parents. What a blessing to be able to split the costs of living! Perhaps this is an option for you.
- Look for free or cheap ways to obtain homeschool materials. Free Homeschool Deals is one of many sites with ideas. Many states have programs for materials. There are also foundations that provide scholarships.
- Coupon, bargain shop, and yard sale. Look for a site that does a lot of the work for you such as my two favorites: Southern Savers or Money Saving Mom. Can’t keep up with a website? “Like” a Facebook group that offers daily tips, such as Living on a Dime.
- Live without. Novel idea, huh? Seriously, there are so many things we think we need that are simply not necessary. (I am preaching to myself right now!)
- Ask a family member if you can be on his/her cell phone bill. This dramatically cuts the cost of your phone, and most people would love to help in this way.
- Sell your stuff. If you are done with it, sell it. eBay or Craigslist might be an option. I consign all of my children’s clothes, and that pays for their clothes for the next season. I have also learned to keep material possessions lean. I’ve kept a roof over our head for quite some time by selling the things that once seemed necessary, but now seem irrelevant. (Such as a TV!)
Allow Others to Help You
Even with child support, alimony, and a job, most single moms struggle to make ends meet. Some studies show that single moms live on 50-70% less than even women who are married but live on one income. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Consider asking for scholarships or reduced payments on things. Ask your church if they have a program to help. Most ministries have funds set aside to help single moms. I’ve gotten discounts to the zoo, on car repair, and even medical care (since I have no insurance). It never hurts to ask for help.
As I mentioned earlier, many single moms also find it necessary to use government assistance such as WIC and SNAP (food stamps). Again, we should not be ashamed to use this service. It was designed to help those who face hardship. I think we can all agree that single moms qualify … at least for a time!
If you have found yourself “suddenly single” or even if you have been there for a while, I hope you will be encouraged by the possibilities before you. Homeschooling will certainly be a sacrifice, but it’s a sacrifice that reaps amazing rewards. One day, those precious little hearts will be thankful for what you’ve given them!
Homeschool Planning Boot Camp
Have questions that still aren’t answered? I’d like to invite you to my FREE Homeschool Planning Boot Camp. Written by a single mom, this course has all the information you need to plan your school year to be successful.
Click the image below for all the details. In just 5 days you will be ready for your best homeschool year ever!
Through practical tools & Bible-based resources, Kim Sorgius is dedicated to helping your family GROW in faith so you can be Not Consumed by life’s struggles. Author of popular kid’s devotional Bible studies and practical homeschooling tools, Kim has a master’s degree in education and curriculum design coupled with over 2 decades of experience working with kids and teens. Above all, her most treasured job is mother and homeschool teacher of four amazing kiddos.