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We Paid Cash: Private School Education

A testimony from Erin Odom of The Humbled Homemaker:

When our first of four children was two years old, I learned that a new Christian school was opening in our town.

At the time, our family was living on a low income.

My husband was a public school teacher in a state that was near the bottom of teacher pay standards, and he and I were both working odd jobs all hours of the day and night.

Still, we could barely make ends meet.

One of my side gigs was freelancing for our local newspaper. I pitched a story about the new school to my editor, and he said to go for it.

While interviewing the school’s director, my heart began brimming with excitement. I had attended Christian schools from kindergarten through high school graduation, and it was something I had desired to provide for our children as well. This school has a unique model where children spend two days per week at home, which makes the tuition more affordable than other Christian schools in our area.

Still, it wasn’t free.

How could we afford Christian school tuition on our income? 

I was up for the challenge.

Soon after, I started blogging at At the time, I didn’t even have enough money to pay for a domain name, so I started my site on a free blogger domain.

Slowly and steadily, the blog began generating an income.

By the time our daughter started kindergarten four years later, we were able to pay for a full year of her tuition in cash.

We did the same the next year. And the next — for both her and her younger sister.

Our two oldest children just started our family’s fourth year at this school. Every year, we’ve paid for tuition in cash.

How did we achieve this dream?

1. We learned how to create more income.

Around the time I started my blog, a financial advisor from our church told my husband and me that we needed to learn how to generate more income for our family.

For some reason, it had not occurred to us before that we had an income problem. Once we realized that we didn’t have enough money to live, we were motivated to do something about it.

We tried a variety of odd jobs, but, in the end, the blog was a perfect match for my personality, gifts, and skill set. Now, years later, my husband and I run it together.

If you desire for your children to attend a tuition-based co-op or school and you can’t currently afford one, creating more income might be a first step. 

2. We lived below our means.

Even when my blog began generating a decent income, we continued to live on my husband’s salary for years. We saved almost everything that I made.

3. We put the money in an account that we didn’t touch, no matter what.

When we saw that our dream of sending our daughter to this school was going to be attainable, we set up a special savings account just for school tuition.

We only withdraw from his account when it’s time to pay tuition each year.

As soon as we pay the school tuition, we seek to replenish the account for the following school year–and then don’t touch it again until it’s time to pay. 

I will never forget walking my daughter into school on her first day of kindergarten. My eyes were blurry with tears, but it wasn’t only the fact that my baby girl was growing up. I was overcome with emotion that God had provided for our needs and had even made a way for us to achieve this dream as well. 

I still cry every year!

Erin is the mother of four children, blogger at The Humbled Homemaker, and author of the new book More Than Just Making It: Hope for the Heart of the Financially Frustrated, which chronicles her family’s journey out of living on a low income. 

Have you saved up and paid cash for something — large or small?Submit your story for possible publication here.

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  • Laura says:

    What a sweet story! God indeed provides.

    My sister once told me the same thing, that we had an income problem. I never thought of it that way. She said this after months of me telling her all the ways I was saving money and how we were still not making it. I was very frustrated. For whatever reason, I thought that if I skimped and saved enough, I could stretch my husband’s meager income, without having to go back to work myself. Well, God changed our perspective. I prayed for ways to make money from home. God is a good God. Of ourse He provided!
    Today, years later, in addition to his full-time job, we run a business from home together. It has been just what we needed.

    I am thankful for mentors who speak truth into our lives!

    • I remembered feeling the EXACT same way, Laura! I thought if I could stretch my husband’s income, we could do it…but it was so stressful month after month. I’m so thankful for the wise mentors God puts into our lives, too! Thank you for sharing your story!!

  • Diane says:

    Hi Erin,
    What a beautiful story of God fulfilling your dream when you follow His leading. Thanks for sharing!

  • Bevin says:

    I love this story! This is so encouraging. Due to the economy picking back up my husband has been able to find a higher paying job. Even so, I am still juggling my part-time job at the library and looking for ways to earn additional income from home while homeschooling. We live on a strict budget, but our goals (to be debt free) require more than just my husband’s salary.
    Thank you for the encouragement. It is wonderful to see someone succeeding that has struggled.

  • Diane says:

    I don’t work very many hours away from home, but it makes the difference between barely making it and being able to save. I think the stress of my leaving for work is less than the stress we would have not being able to save for emergencies on my husband’s income.

  • Thank you for sharing your story, Erin! I love how you determined to pay for the school, rather than feeling sorry for yourself that you could not afford it.

    My mom worked, and both my parents sacrificed so much so that I could attend a Christian school.

    I run my own business from home now too, and God is blessing.

  • Guest says:

    Your story made me smile and a teeny bit teary eyed. When I was a child (in my 40s now), my mom cleaned the bank where she was a teller t to pay for my private school tuition. My dad wasn’t very supportive of me going to private school and so this way, it wasn’t costing him anything. As I got older, I cleaned with her of course.

    I look back at those years of private Christian school and they were and are such a GIFT! I transferred to public school in high school and for me, that was the right decision but I’ll always be grateful for the sacrifice my mom made to pay for that.

  • Katrin says:

    Applause for your patience and dedication. Strange as it may seem, the most important thing of saving money is not the calculation of the correct amount for monthly deductions and scrupulous management of home accounting, but proper motivation. If one morning you woke up and suddenly decided to save money because the sun is shining brightly. Then you can forget about it .This is an unequivocal failure! It is necessary to approach to the idea of ​​accumulating money and the main thing is to find the correct answer to the question: why you are doing it? Simply saving abstract money to nowhere is a vain occupation. It is necessary to decide exactly what amount and in what terms you need to save. And the most important task is not to spend all of your money ahead of time for other needs. The exception is only serious health problems that require expensive treatment, or some emergency situations. The absence of a fashionable coat for the winter is not an emergency situation.

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