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How to Homeschool for Free or Cheap

Interested in homeschooling but afraid it might break your family’s budget? Read this post for some really great tips on how to homeschool for free — or very close to free!

{Don’t miss our weekly round-up of all the best FREE homeschool curriculum & resources! And you can also check out my Top 10 Favorite Free Homeschool Sites here.}

how to homeschool for free

Guest post from Jessica of Where’d My Sanity Go:

Yes! It is possible to homeschool for free or cheap!

Once you dig into all the homeschool curriculum products available, it can be overwhelming. When you check out the prices on those bad boys, it can get scary.

Don’t worry though, there are a lot of ways to give your child a great education at an affordable price. Some of the homeschool lessons and curriculums we use are completely free!

So if you’re wondering how to homeschool for free, here are my top tips…

Use what you’ve got:

Search your home for any books you may have forgotten about.

When I started out, I had no idea how I was going to afford all the things I thought I needed.

Luckily, my son had a ton of nature and science books already. I used these to build a few of my lessons for him, and we had a set of dictionaries we used for spelling lessons and other subjects.


If you already know of other homeschool families in your are, ask them if they have any old schoolbooks or homeschooling curriculum books they aren’t using and that you might borrow for a while.

If you’re not familiar with any other homeschool families in the area, look on Facebook for local homeschool groups or ask your friends and family, your church, or even your local schools.

When I pulled my son out of public school, they were kind enough to give me some information about local homeschool programs.

Shop for used books:

Check local garage sales, used bookstores, and other local stores for discounted items.

Join a few Facebook groups where people are selling their used homeschool books for dirt cheap. I have saved so much money by doing this and hardly ever purchase anything brand new. Before buying anything, I always first search for used homeschool supplies or books.

Utilize free homeschool resources

There are tons of free online homeschool curriculum options out there. You don’t have to stick with just one either, you can take different lessons from multiple online curriculums to fit your educational outline.

A few popular free curriculums:

  • Easy Peasy – All In One Homeschool – 180-day lesson plans for PreK-8th. (this is one of our favorites)
  • Khan Academy – Free online lessons for just about any subject.
  • – Independent teacher-led courses for homeschoolers.
  • YouTube — there are a ton of educational YouTube channels out there that are perfect for supplementing your homeschool curriculum. You can find different channels that range from preschool to high school subjects.

Finding affordable or free homeschool educational materials or curriculum is not as hard as you think!

I recommend scouring the internet to find out what’s available. Join local homeschool groups, find local Facebook groups, etc.

Several of our local homeschool families often get together for different field trips — many places even offer homeschooling families a discount on tickets!

Do you have any other advice on how to homeschool for free? I’d love to hear in the comments!

Jessica Fuqua is the owner/editor of Where’d My Sanity Go, where she often writes about family, parenting, and homeschooling.

5 Unique Ways To Make Money Cleaning Your Home

Are you looking for unique ways to make money from home? Did you know that you can make a nice chunk of change just by taking stock of what you already have, staying organized, and decluttering regularly?

{Looking for other unique ways to make money? Check out our list of over 40 different income-earning ideas!}

Make money from home by cleaning and organizing

Guest post from Rebekah of The Tex-Mex Mom:

I’ve never really loved cleaning. I love a clean room for sure, but cleaning? It’s not really my favorite.

One thing I do love, though, is finding ways to make money from home!

Did you know that you can make money cleaning your own home? Yes, you can! How’s that for cleaning motivation?

Here are some of my favorite ways to make money cleaning your own home…

1. Collect spare change

As you clean your home, make it your goal to see how much spare change you can find.

Good spots for finding random change in my home are:

  • under the couch (along with who knows what else!)
  • at the bottom of the purse and diaper bag
  • in the laundry room
  • in random pants and jacket pockets

I’ve even found a few stray bills on occasion – that’s always a big win! You might be amazed how much spare change you can collect when you intentionally look for it.

2. Make the most of your receipts

If you’re like me, you probably have way too many old receipts that need to be cleaned out. Before just throwing them all out, scan some of your recent ones into a shopping app like Ibotta or Fetch.

Take Fetch for example: You can usually get between 2-4k points just for downloading it and using it the first time. Quickly scan a couple receipts and you’ll have enough points to cash out a $5 gift card (5k points) right away!

I will say that the amount of points or dollars back that shopping apps give you tend to decrease after using the apps awhile, but they’re definitely worth downloading at least for the beginning bonuses.

3. Clean out your closet

Closets have a way of starting to overflow after a while!

Take some time to clean out your own or your kids’ closets. Pull out any clothes you no longer need and set aside the nice pieces to take to a consignment store.

I have earned an easy $10 to $25 multiple times by selling clothes we are no longer wearing!

You can also sell online through places like ThredUp or through the Poshmark app.

4. Say goodbye to books you never read

While you’re dusting your bookshelf, pull out the books you know you’ll never read again and post them for sale on Amazon.

My husband did this a few weeks ago and was amazed how many books he sold. You may not make big bucks, but every little bit helps!

5. Sort through your DVDs and Blu-rays

Ready for my favorite tip? (I’m pretty proud of this one.) My husband and I took some time last week to clean out and organize our DVD collection. We decided to put them all in an album and get rid of the cases. I don’t know why it took us so long to do this — it saves so much space!!

As I was organizing the DVDs I realized we had several Disney movies that came with both a DVD and a Blu-ray disk — and we’d never even touched the Blu-rays. We stuck the Blu-rays back in their original cases and posted them on Facebook Marketplace (obviously with the disclaimer that they did not include the DVD.) They all sold right away. Score!

6. Take stock of what you already have

This is more of a tip for saving money, but that’s just as important right?

When you’re cleaning out the space under your kitchen and bathroom sinks, take careful stock of what you already have. If you’re like me you probably have more spare toiletries and cleaning supplies hidden in there than you realized!

Taking stock of what you already have and organizing it will keep you from spending money unnecessarily!

While I still don’t love cleaning, finding ways to make money from home has definitely given me more motivation to clean!

Have you found ways to make money from home while cleaning? I’d love to hear them!

I’m Rebekah, wife to Pablo and mom to three little kiddos. I enjoy staying home with my kids, teaching English online with VIPKID, and reading new books when I get a chance. I love to write about motherhood, frugal living, and everything else that pops into my head on my blog, The Tex-Mex Mom.

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6 Frugal Habits That Stuck (+ 5 that didn’t)

Guest post from Jennifer:

In 2009, I became a mom for the first time and my husband got the “job of his dreams” (or so we thought).

In 2010, I lost my job… and my husband’s “dream job” wasn’t turning out the way we thought it would. In other words, we were broke. Not so broke that we couldn’t pay our bills, but broke enough that we could ONLY pay our bills.

My first thought was: “if I can’t MAKE money I can at least SAVE money.”

Here are a 6 things we started doing 9 years ago (and continue to do today!)

1. We Buy Bulk Rice

At one point we were literally on a “beans and rice” budget, so much so that we bought rice 25 pounds at a time! It’s so cheap in bulk at Costco (we shared a membership with my husbands parents) that it just made sense.

Even though we are much more financially secure now, we still buy our rice 25 pounds at a time and love having it on hand for a quick side dish.

2. We Cut Hair at Home

Do you know what a haircut for a child costs? We paid over $20 for my child’s 1st haircut!

Once our 2nd child arrived, I quickly realized I needed to invest in a $25 hair trimmer, watch some You Tube videos, and learn how to cut my kids (and husbands) hair.

There was a learning curve at the beginning, but with some practice I can now do a pretty good fade on all three of my boys — my husband now shaves his head!

3. We Shop at Thrift Stores


We get great quality, brand named clothes for a fraction of the price!

If I were to give you a tour of our house you would be shocked on how many things (furniture, clothes, decor, tools, toys, etc) have come from thrift stores. It just saves us money, and it’s a thrill to get items for a fraction of the cost.

Even our “Santa” shops second hand!

4. We Buy Groceries at Aldi

This switch took me longer than I’d like to admit.

I thought coupons were the way to go at the beginning of our struggles, and it may be for some. I was blinded by free toothbrushes and cake mixes and didn’t realize these coupons were actually costing me more time and money than we had.

Aldi is a magical place where food is cheap and coupons aren’t needed. I am Aldi loyal and always will be.

5. We Make Food From Scratch

I quickly realized that processed food cost more, I always knew this, but now it mattered. So I pulled out my Betty Crocker cookbook and made my own food.

We made French fries, homemade waffles, biscuits, oatmeal packets, and Hamburger Helper Meals just to name a few. This was great because homemade tastes better and is usually better for you!

Since eating out wasn’t much of an option, we also found recipes of our favorite restaurant food. I can now make some amazing orange chicken, and an outstanding pizza crust.

I still make homemade waffles weekly for breakfast and my biscuits are a family favorite!

6. We Sell Stuff to Buy Stuff

During our lean years, all money that came in went to bills and food, there wasn’t a lot left for “stuff” like clothes, electronics, toys, new furniture and so on. If we wanted to get new things we looked around our house to see what we could sell in order to get the money.

For example, we really wanted a new sectional but was not prepared to make such a large purchase.

I then started looking around our house to see what was more important, the old elliptical I never used or a new sectional? An old sofa or new sectional? Finally we made enough to pay for a new-to-us sectional without using any money from our accounts!

We do similar things now, we try our hardest to sell stuff we don’t use anymore in order to buy stuff we want/need. This way of doing things has allowed us to be debt free and build up our savings.

Although there are plenty of frugal habits we have continued through the years, there are a few frugal habits that didn’t stick around after our very lean “beans and rice” years…

1. We no longer wash ziplock bags to reuse them.

2. We no longer make our own laundry detergent.

I buy whatever is on sale at Costco.

3. We no longer cut dryer sheets in half.

I now get a little crazy and put in the whole sheet… sometimes two!

4. We no longer say, “We can’t afford it.”

Instead, we say: “That’s not how we want to spend our money.”

I say this a lot in front of our kids, I want them to know that we’re okay financially but that doesn’t mean that we will buy whatever they want.

5. I no longer put my needs and wants on the back burner.

I did this for years and years… but now I treat myself to quality makeup and skincare products, and I don’t feel guilty.

Even though we are in a much better place financially, I always have a frugal mindset about how we spend, and save our money. I’m blessed to be a stay at home mom to 4 kids and watch my husband thrive in his career (which wouldn’t be what it is today without that first “disappointing” job so many years ago).

God really does have a funny way of working things out.

I’m Jennifer, a stay at home mom to 4 children. I’ve been married to John for 12 years and we are happy to live in the suburbs of Kansas City! I love staying home with my kids, working out, watching way too much TV, and crafting!

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Kroger vs. Aldi: Which is cheaper?

Is it cheaper to shop at Aldi or Kroger? If you’ve ever wondered, read this post for the full scoop on which store is actually cheaper.

{Note from Crystal: While I love shopping at Aldi, I’m also such a fan of Kroger markdowns, so this was a fun guest post to read!}

Guest post from Heather of The Debt-Free Mama

I grew up with a mama who LOVED our local Aldi store — it’s how she stretched those dollars to feed our family of eight kids.

When my husband and I started our marriage in 2009 with $75,000 of student loans, payday loans, AND credit card debt, we were determined to pay it all off as fast as possible.

With an Aldi store right down the road from our home, it became my go-to grocery stop over the years. My husband tried to convince me to use coupons for other stores but I refused to try anything different.

Trying Out Kroger for One Month

We started 2019 with a renewed energy and focus to pay off our mortgage of $99,000 over the next five years.

However, by early February I realized I wasn’t practicing what I was preaching — I wasn’t trying new strategies to save money.

Thanks to’s Instagram account, I had been watching her savings at Kroger for months. So I gave in and decided to try an experiment. I told my family and friends, “Okay, I’m going shop at Kroger for one month and see if I can save money.”

The day came. I had saved digital coupons and knew I should scan the perimeter of the store for the markdowns. But I had no menu list, no shopping list. What I DID have were sweaty pits and cold hands just thinking about something different — something completely outside of my shopping comfort zone!

I Felt So Awkward!

I took a deep breath, walked into Kroger, and shopped through my Kroger coupon app.

You guys, I felt so awkward. Not to mention, it took me over an hour to shop. Plus I still spent more than I expected I would!

I went home, looked at my purchases and then scanned my pantry and freezer to see what meals I could put together for a few dinners.

I continued visiting a couple local Kroger stores 3-4 times a week for about a month. I got faster each time and more creative with our dinners.

My Best Finds at Kroger:

  • $0.29 per packet of Simple Truth organic baby food (normally $1.25)
  • $0.19 half gallon of milk (normally $1.79)
  • $0.25 pint of cottage cheese (normally $1.25)
  • $8.47 for 3.15lbs of pork chops (normally $17.29)
  • $9.34 for 2.84 lbs of beef stew (normally $17.01)
  • $.79 for a package of smoked polish sausage (normally $1.99)
  • $0.99 for dozen Simple Truth organic eggs (normally $2.79)

In my normal Aldi routine of picking meals for the week, making the list, and then buying what I needed, I kept myself to $100-$120 weekly. However I often spent extra fun money by stopping in at the Walmart next door. Browsing equaled spending more than I needed to and buying things that weren’t essential for our home.

Because I was now ONLY shopping with coupons at Kroger, I saved on our grocery budget, AND in the fun money category.

I saved $46.66 just using the digital coupons. This DOES NOT include all of the money I saved buying clearance items. We also saved in our gas category by using our Kroger points at their gas station.

I saved a total of $100 in February by trying this new technique.

I know I could save even more over time because I’d get smarter and learn how to layer coupon deals.

What I Enjoyed About This Method:

  • Finding killer deals on dairy and meat.
  • Getting creative with our meals.
  • Dinner seemed quicker to prepare because they weren’t complex recipes.
  • We got to try different items or brands because they were on sale.

What Was Challenging For Me:

  • I have a baby and a toddler with me so nothing is quick in-and-out.
  • I had to make sure I always knew what was already in my pantry and fridge.
  • I needed to make sure we ate up the produce (clearance) more quickly so it didn’t spoil.
  • I am a unit-cost shopper and often I felt like the coupon deals still weren’t a better price than the Kroger brand of the same item.

My Plan Going Forward:

Since quick in-and-out isn’t part of my life right now, I still plan to utilize my Aldi store on a regular basis. However, I have decided to adjust my meal planning routine that continues to save me money.

Instead of picking recipes for a week’s worth of dinners, I use what we already have, piece together dinners, and fill in the holes. I did this process just last night and was surprised to find that I already had the majority of four dinners on hand — I just needed an item here or there to supplement. Then I added a chunk of items for when we have guests over next Sunday.

I still plan on stopping by Kroger a couple mornings a week to snatch up the clearance meat. I will also keep an eye on their Friday/Saturday ONLY sales and buy only the items that will really benefit our family.

Lessons Learned From This Kroger Experiment:

  1. It’s okay to try new things. In fact, it’s more than okay. It’s necessary for growing as an adult. You might discover you like the new thing.
  2. When you’re new at something, you aren’t going to do it perfectly. That’s okay, too.
  3. When you try a new thing in one area of your life, you become more open to trying new things in other areas of your life.

This experiment started out as a challenge to save money for our family. While I did do that, the real value came when I opened up to other new things in my life. I hope that reading about my experience encourages you to try a new method in saving money for you and your family.

You never know. You might just LOVE it!

Heather Burgette inspires and educates women to boss their dollars, everything from budgeting to saving and investing. Heather shares her own journey of paying off debt at The Debt-Free Mama.

16 Ways to Save More At Restaurants

Want to learn how to save at restaurants? Here are 16 ideas for saving money on eating out:

Guest post from Sarah who blogs at Sidetracked Sarah:

Does your family eat out a lot?

We don’t do it very much, because we have a large family and the cost can be outrageous if we’re not careful.

Throughout the years though, we’ve learned ways that we can still eat out as a family and not spend way too much.

Here are 16 different ways we save more at restaurants!

  1. Save any restaurant coupons you get in the mail or newspapers. I like to put them in the glove box of my car or in my purse so that I’ll have them when I want or need them.
  2. Order water to drink. Imagine my family all ordering drinks at $2 per person. We have 9 in the family, we’d be spending nearly $20 of our tab on drinks.  Not only is drinking water better for you, but it saves you dollars!
  3. Share meals. Some restaurants are notorious for providing extra large servings. If you find one that you always end up stuffed with and come home with leftovers, try sharing meals among your family. Instead of buying a kid’s meal for each kid, buy an adult meal for 2-3 kids and enjoy the savings.
  4. Sign up for text messages, birthday clubs, and any email clubs that your favorite restaurants offer. Any restaurants I frequent, I sign up to get their emails and texts because they love to let us know about the deals that they have each week.  And I love to use those deals when it’s a good time for our family.  They typically send us something free on our birthdays and anniversaries, too. (Check out these Birthday Freebies.)
  5. Look for Kids Eat Free Deals. We especially love to find the Kids Eat Free restaurants on vacation, but any time you can find a good restaurant that lets the kids eat for free, you’ll save quite a bit of money. Some only let one kid eat free, while others let two eat free per each paying adult.
  6. Utilize the dollar menu. When traveling, we will often buy everyone in the vehicle a one dollar item (like a sandwich or burger) and buy fresh fruit and/or chips to go with it for us to all share. It’s a great way to stretch out our dollars and keep our tummies happy at the same time.
  7. Adults, order kid’s meals. Not all restaurants will allow adults to order kids meals, but several do. A friend of ours always does this at Cracker Barrel. We do it sometimes at our favorite local Mexican restaurant, but they add a dollar to the price, which is typically still a great deal.
  8. Try ordering off of the lunch menu even at dinner. Some restaurants will let you order off of the lunch menu, with a small up-charge ($1 at our favorite restaurant). Not all will do this, but it’s worth asking about.
  9. Don’t order desserts or appetizers. Nothing increases the price of your meal at a restaurant more than ordering appetizers and desserts. Try going to restaurants that have free bread or chips and salsa if you’re really desiring an appetizer.
  10. Only eat out at lunch time. If you can help it, just go out to eat at lunch, when lunch menus are offered.  You’ll save several dollars per meal by doing this.
  11. Eat at buffets. Buffets tend to give children very discounted prices, but some buffets tend to hike the prices up for everyone. Be sure to watch for the economical buffets and see where you can save money.
  12. Watch for specials. Sometimes restaurants are slower on Mondays and Tuesdays and they may have a special for just those nights. Other times, there may be a happy hour during certain hours of the day. Often, restaurants will rotate their specials out. Watch for exterior signs and be sure to ask your server about any special you may not want to miss.
  13. Plan ahead. Just doing a little bit of research before you head out to eat, is a great way to save some money. Sometimes, I will check out the menu online to see if I can afford the food at a specific restaurant or I’ll search for any deals in the area.
  14. Order ala Carte. At one of my favorite restaurants, my favorite food is a lot cheaper when I order it as a single item, ala carte. When I think of ala carte, I often think of it as being a really small portion, but in most cases, it’s plenty for a meal.
  15. Sign up for Educational Rewards Programs. Many restaurants will offer kids rewards for reading books. We like to sign our kids up for Book It with Pizza Hut and Braum’s Book Buddies every year. Sometimes, libraries will also have reading incentive programs where kids can earn gift certificates for reading more and more books.
  16. Evaluate Why You’re Eating out. Lots of times, you’re eating out because you forgot to plan your food, or you just got too busy. Try spending some time planning and assembling some Crockpot Freezer Meals more often.

As you can see, there are many ways you and your family can save money when going to restaurants.

It takes a little bit of planning ahead, but if you’re trying to pay off bills, go debt free, or just save money, cutting corners is something we’re usually willing to do. It’s nice to know we don’t have to give up everything and can enjoy a meal out from time to time.

Sarah is a busy, work from home, homeschooling mom of 7 who blogs over at Sidetracked Sarah.  She loves helping families spend less time in the kitchen and more time with their families.  She loves using her Slow Cooker and Instant Pot on a daily basis to help her do just that.

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How to Convert a PDF into a Fillable Form for FREE

Guest post from April of Love Our Real Life:

I have downloaded AND created lots of different printables over the years. These printable PDFs are a great tool to keep track of your budget, home cleaning schedules, kids’ chore charts, you name it… and I’m a sucker for pretty printables!

Unfortunately a problem I frequently run into is that most PDFs do not allow you to type directly on them. You typically have to print out the printable and write in your own information.

But, since my handwriting isn’t always the best, I needed a solution that allows you to type directly onto the PDF.

There are programs that help you create a fillable PDF, but most are NOT free.

However, I recently came across

It’s pretty basic, but it gets the job done! Let me walk you through the process with a PDF that I created for keeping track of Charitable Donations:

Charitable Donation Tracking Worksheet

1. Go to and upload your PDF.

PDFescape is a free program that does NOT require you to create an account to have access to the PDF editing tools!

Once the webpage is open, you click on “choose file” and select the PDF (from your own files) you would like to edit.

PDFescape: PDF editor and form filler

2.  Create fillable areas on your PDF

By following these steps, you will have the ability to type on any portion of your PDF.

Within PDFescape, select “Form Field” under the index tab.

Process for creating a fillable PDF: Select Form Field

Next, select “Text Paragraph” from the drop-down menu.

Select "text paragraph" in PDFescape to make box fillable

Click on any portion of the PDF. A  green box will appear. Drag this to the area you would like to be able to type information into down the road. Adjust the size of the box to fit!

NOTE: When it is saved it will no longer appear green, this is just so you can more easily see what you are doing!

On the PDF I’m showing in this example, I had several boxes I wanted to be fillable. So, after I made a box to fill the space, I right clicked to duplicate and create more the same size.

Then it was just a matter of drag and drop.

Drag box to fit space in PDF to allow typing directly on form.

3. Click on Save and Download button

When you are finished adding fillable spaces to your PDF, all you have left to do is save it! I use the green button on the left to “save and download” my new edited version of this PDF to my computer.

Save and Download button on PDFescape

Now you have a PDF you can type on!

This is a FREE way to customize any PDF / printable to work better for you.

Sign of from April at Love Our Real Life

April is the author of Love Our Real Life where she shares DIY home decor ideas, organizational tips, and craft projects. She lives in the Kansas City, MO area with her husband and two children.