dailystarx

News and Magazine

Insider’s experts choose the best products and services to help make smart decisions with your money (here’s how). In some cases, we receive a commission from our our partners, however, our opinions are our own. Terms apply to offers listed on this page.

  • I homeschooled my son full-time in 2020 and 2021 and continued to run my freelance business.
  • By using a zero-sum budget and planning my work strategically, I earned more than I had in 2019.
  • I also paid for all-day classes for my son on Fridays, which helped me get more work done.

This essay is part of “Home Ec: The Economics of Stay-at-home Parenting,” a series from Personal Finance Insider about the financial reality of staying home with your kids.

Homeschooling my son in 2020 and 2021 was one of the best decisions I could have made for my family. The start of the COVID-19 pandemic was such an uncertain time, but to be honest, I’d always dreamed of homeschooling my son even if just for a year or two. 

However, my husband and I couldn’t really afford for one of us to stay home full-time to do it. The solution involved me working from home and homeschooling our son, which not only worked well for our family but also our finances. 

When working on my taxes at the end of the year, I realized I earned more than I had made in the previous year (2019), all while teaching my son at home and spending a lot more quality time with him. We were also spending less thanks to these four crucial money moves we made.

1. We stuck to a zero-sum budget

There are so many ways to budget your money. One of my favorite methods is zero-sum budgeting because it helps you give each dollar a specific job. Instead of listing out your expenses and trying to keep everything below the amount of your total take-home pay that month, you work backward. 

We started with our income for the month. Next, we listed out our expenses including debt payments and savings. Then, we  allocated our spending to equal the exact amount of our take-home pay. Using a zero-sum budget helped me become extremely aware of where our money was going and clearly track the progress of our financial goals. 

Here’s an example of what our budget looked like:

Expenses

Mortgage/rent: $1,489

Utilities (water, electric, garbage, etc.): $234

Groceries: $400

Dining out: $100

Gas: $150

Cell phones: $90

Internet: $65

Health insurance: $600

Auto insurance: $90

Streaming and other subscriptions: $75

Minimum credit card payments: $100

Extra credit card payments: $350

Retirement: $500

Savings: $350

Misc./clothes/personal care: $150

Total expenses: $4,743

Total income: $4,743

I liked how this style of budgeting helped us track income, which is often not emphasized enough when it comes to budgeting habits. As a work-from-home homeschool mom, there were plenty of opportunities to earn extra money with flexible side gigs; my zero-sum budget made it easy to factor all of that in. 

Zero-sum budgeting also helped me make sure we were putting any extra income to good use to not only stay afloat financially but get ahead. 

2. I used Parkinson’s law to my advantage

I’m not big on “laws” or rules of thumb, but I really like Parkinson’s law because I find it to be 100% true. Parkinson’s law states that “work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” This means if you give yourself eight hours to complete a task, it will likely take you the full eight hours to get it done. 

Working from home while homeschooling often means splitting up time throughout the day for various tasks. Since we didn’t really start homeschool until around 10 AM, I’d often get up really early and try to work for a few hours. 

Knowing that I had to shift gears and start schooling my son around 10 AM gave me the extra motivation to avoid distractions and knock out some assignments for work during the time block I allowed myself. 

Last year, I added a part-time wealth-coaching job to my load in addition to my content writing business. I realized that I could send outreach emails to clients and even conduct calls during downtime moments of the day when my son was doing independent reading or taking a test. 

3. We adjusted our lifestyle

In addition to zero-sum budgeting, we also cut back on a lot of extra purchases, and I identified savings opportunities where it made sense. 

Homeschooling is usually pretty cheap, but at the time, my husband was also working part-time and going back to school, so it was important that we didn’t overspend. 

We downgraded to just one car and sold my husband’s vehicle since it was older and my car was in better condition for transportation. 

We also followed a meal plan and didn’t dine out much. Instead, I utilized YouTube and other resources to help me prepare restaurant-worthy meals right at home. 

For car insurance, we switched to Metromile where the premium is based on how much you drive. Then, we switched to Total Wireless for our cell phones and paid $90 per month for three lines with unlimited talk and 25GB of data.

4. We invested in a co-op group for our son

Since I have an only child, I wanted to make sure that he would be able to socialize with other kids; co-ops are perfect for this. A co-op is basically a group for homeschooled kids to connect, take certain classes together, and share experiences. 

Some co-ops have volunteers or staff that teach classes or electives while others are more informal and have meetups once a week for an activity or field trip. 

When selecting our co-op, I wanted to be strategic and get the most bang for my buck. We decided on a co-op that had a weekly enrichment program on Fridays. Students could choose from classes like gym, art, music, cooking, Spanish, karate, and more. 

Since each class is taught by a qualified teacher, parents have to pay a fee (per class) for the semester. We decided to have my son spend a whole day at co-op each week, so I signed him up for four Friday classes, which was around $600 for the semester. 

This investment was worth it because I got to spend my entire Friday catching up on work, running errands, and completing other tasks. This eliminated the cost of having to pay a babysitter if I needed to go somewhere, and my son was able to make new friends and learn new things. So it was a win-win for both of us.

Thanks to these key money moves, homeschooling while working from home was definitely possible and just as enjoyable as it would have been if I were staying at home full-time. 

Even though we operate best as a two-income household, I’m glad we were able to make homeschooling work, establish a reasonable budget to fit our lifestyle, and know when to spend some money in order to ultimately improve our finances overall. 



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.