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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.

What it’s really like to be married to your business partner

Wonder what it’s like to be married to your business partner? In this episode, Jesse and talk about hospitality, summer habits, and what it’s like to combine marriage and business.

Missed previous episodes of The Crystal Paine show? You can listen to them here.

Just Open the Door!

Remember that goal I set in 2018 to open our home every single week? It was hard and scary at first, but the more we did it, the more it’s become second nature to use!

Last week alone, we opened up our home all week to host three college girls who are volunteering at Pine Cove Camp in the City, we hosted the Girls’ Bible Study for the teen girls at church (I think maybe 20 girls came?), we had multiple teens over, we had two couples over for dinner, and we had a family over for dinner.

And I loved it!

In this week’s episode of The Crystal Paine Show, Jesse and I talk more about the lessons we’ve learned on hospitality recently. We also share how it has changed our lives to re-define what true hospitality is.

(Want to hear more encouragement for practicing hospitality, even if it scares you? Be sure to check out the episode devoted to this topic with Jen Schmidt, author of Just Open the Door.)

The Habit Trackers We’re Using This Summer

We also dive into the topic of Habit Trackers and how both of us are using them this summer — me for a specific goal and Jesse to help the kids stay on track and be more productive. I share how I’ve been making huge progress toward a goal with just a simple change in my perspective and by putting some accountability in place.

And Jesse shares how the printable habit lists he put together for the kids have made a big difference in encouraging the kids to work hard, play hard, and spend less time on electronics!

What It’s Like to Be Married to Your Business Partner

Instead of an interview, Jesse and I answer a follower’s questions on what it’s really like to work together as a married couple. We discuss decision making, how we handle conflict and disagreement, who decides how the money is spent, how we make decisions on what risks to take, and how we balance being a spender and a saver who are also married and in business together.

Whether you are a couple who works together or you are just curious to hear more of the behind-the-scenes of our business operations or you just want to know how we’ve stayed friends and business partners who are also married, you won’t want to miss this episode!

In This Episode:

[00:51] – So many people have been in and out of our house lately that we joke that we’re past the “Just Open the Door” stage and have moved onto “Just Leave the Door Open” stage!

[07:01] – Have you ever used a habit tracker? I just started using one to better prioritize my time and it’s working! (so far…) You can check it out here, I snagged it from Abby Lawson.

[13:30] – Jesse has been using a habit tracker with the kids to keep them busy and engaged! They are working toward a big “end of summer” surprise!

[16:26] – Over the next few weeks, Jesse and I will be tackling some of the most-asked questions and topics you all have submitted as podcast episode suggestions.

[17:06] – This week, we’re having a very honest conversation about what it’s like to be married and business partners — and how we make it work all while staying best friends.

[19:32] – How do we make big business decisions — does one person have more say than another? We share more on our roles and how they play out.

[24:09] – What if we don’t agree? We chat about what we do when we don’t agree and agreeing often involves waiting or compromising.

[28:12] – One of us is a spender and the other is a saver (can you guess who is who?) How does this work in our business?

Links and Resources:

How to Listen to The Crystal Paine Show

The podcast is available on iTunesAndroidStitcher, and Spotify. You can listen online through the direct player we’ll include in the show notes of each episode. OR, a much easier way to listen is by subscribing to the podcast through a free podcast app on your phone. (Find instructions for how to subscribe to a podcast here.)

Ready to dive in and listen? Hit the player above or search for “The Crystal Paine Show” on your favorite podcast app.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission — at no additional cost to you. Thank you so much for your support!

Aldi, Sprouts, Big Lots, and Kroger Shopping Trips + Our Weekly Menu Plan

Want to see what we bought for this week’s $70 grocery budget? I’m currently challenging myself to stick with a $70 budget for our family of five. This includes almost all of our breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners + most household products (toiletries, laundry soap, etc.).

For live updates, be sure to follow my Instagram Stories. See all posts on my $70 Grocery Budget here.

I finally made it to Sprouts on a Wednesday!! If you’re unfamiliar with Sprouts’ sales cycles, they have overlapping sales on Wednesdays — which means you can get the sales from the last week + the sales from the coming week on Wednesdays!

They had some great produce deals that I stocked up on:

Sprouts Shopping Trip

  • 6 packages of strawberries — $1.25 each
  • 3 Cantaloupe — $0.99 each
  • 2 Pineapple — $0.98 each
  • Sprouts Chocolate Chip cookies — used free coupon
  • Total with tax: $13.24

Did you get your freebies from Sprouts? If not, be sure to sign up for them here.

I was SO excited to find so many good clearance deals at BigLots when I went on Wednesday!!

My biggest score? Boxes of Kodiak Cakes for $0.75 each!!! Jesse loves these and he was super thrilled at this score!

Big Lots Shopping Trip

  • 4 boxes of Kodiak Cakes — marked down to $0.75 each
  • 5 packages of bread, bagels, & English Muffins — $1.40 each (I stuck these in the freezer.)
  • 1 can of Split Pea Soup — marked down to $0.25
  • 3 cans of corn — $0.25
  • Total with tax: $11.74

Aldi Shopping Trip:

  • Honey Crunch Oats — $1.59
  • All Purpose Flour — $1.89
  • 2 packages of hot dog buns — $0.85 each
  • Milk — $2.49
  • Cream Cheese — $1.29
  • Cheddar Cheese — $1.99
  • Eggs — $0.73
  • 10 lb potatoes — $3.49
  • Watermelon — $2.99
  • Total with tax: $19.39

Have you read my post on my 25 Favorite Things to Purchase From Aldi. And 5 Things You Should Not Buy at Aldi.

Kroger Shopping Trip #1

  • Eggs — marked down to $1.39
  • All Egg Whites — $4.99
  • 2 loaves of bread — marked down to $0.89 and $0.99
  • 1 bag of apples — $0.99
  • 1 bag of grapefruit — $0.99
  • Total with tax: $11.36

Kroger Shopping Trip #2

Bush’s Baked Beans — $0.99 each with the Weekend Only deals

This past week, we got to host three college girls from Pine Cove all week long who were here leading a Camp in the City for local kids.

We provided breakfast every morning for them. Then, we got to have dinner with them on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (they had dinners elsewhere the other nights).

Just for fun, we invited extra friends over on Wednesday and Friday night. I was excited that we were able to do all of the entertaining and still stick with our $70 grocery budget!

Oh and we ate a lot of leftovers this past week because we had a lot of extra food. 🙂 (I always want to make sure there is a enough food when we have guests, so that means I tend to plan a lot more food than we actually need! But hey, it means dinner is taken care of the next night!)

What We Ate On Our $70 Grocery Budget This Past Week

Note: When you see the meals below, please remember this: I buy ahead often. Which means that when I find a great deal on something I know we’ll use, I buy as much as I can afford in our budget to have on hand.

This means that you aren’t going to see all of the groceries my shopping trip that I used to make all of the meals we ate.

Please also remember that I’m putting this out there and it’s not a perfectly balanced menu. This is just really what we ate — and I hope that it encourages you to see the real-ness and lack of perfection here.

Our Menu Plan


  • Cereal, Pancakes, Bagels, Toast, Waffles, Fruit, Yogurt, Bacon, Sausage, Banana Bread, Apple Muffins


  •  Leftovers, Salad, Mac & Cheese, Turkey, Fruit


  • Fruit, Popcorn, Cookies, Banana Bread


  • Sunday — Fend for yourself
  • Monday — Dinner with our guests: Spaghetti with Meatballs, Green Beans, Fruit, Salad, French Bread
  • Tuesday — Leftovers
  • Wednesday — Dinner with our guests and some other friends: Barbecued Meatballs, Twice Baked Potatoes, Roasted Broccoli, Roasted Brussels, Fruit Salad, French Bread
  • Thursday — Leftovers
  • Friday — Dinner with our guests and some other friends: Brats/Hot Dogs, Squash Casserole, Salad, Fruit Salad, Homemade Mac & Cheese.
  • Saturday — Leftovers

$70 Grocery Budget Totals

Total spent on groceries: $61.23

Cashback earned this week: 625 points for submitting my receipts to Fetch rewards + $0.10 for submitting my receipt to iBotta rewards.

A Peek Into May at Our House

Every month in 2019, I’ll be sharing a photographic peek into the previous month. I thought this would be fun to give you a behind-the-scenes look at our month and recap some of the highs and lows and special memories of the month.

It was Spirit Week at Kaitlynn and Silas’ school and they had so much fun planning their outfits. This was crazy sock day and Silas wore peanut butter and jelly socks while Kaitlynn wore movie popcorn and Sprite socks.

You can see some pictures and a video of their Prehistoric costumes here.

Silas made a tornado simulator (just like Kathrynne’s) for his Science Fair project. He worked so hard on it and did the lion’s share of the work himself.

He just needed our help with putting the simulator together and doing some of the research for his report and board (since he’d never done a school project quite at this level before).

Kathrynne and I flew to Utah for me to speak at the Everything Food conference. I love it when it works out for me to take one of my kids with me!

I loved getting to speak on one of my very favorite topics — increasing your engagement with Instagram. After taking almost two years off from doing any conference speaking, I said yes to some opportunities again this year to see how it would feel to be back on the road.

We created some very clear boundaries of what I would say yes to in order that I wouldn’t completely exhaust myself (like I did unintentionally back when I was traveling and speaking a lot more!) and y’all, I just LOVED being back on the road getting to speak again. And I came home fired up and excited for the next speaking event — yay!

I’m excited and hopeful that I’ll continue to find it life-giving because I so love getting to meet you all in person. It’s one of my very favorite things! (Psst! If you’ve asked me to speak at your event in the past few years and I’ve said no, go ahead and ask again because I just might say yes now that I’m in a better place with more capacity and better personal boundaries!)

She’s 14 and she loves hanging out with me.

I don’t say this to gloat, because just between you and me, I’ve made a ridiculous amount of mistakes as a mom.

I say this to push against the commonly touted belief that the teenage years are awful and hard and miserable. That you just grimace and hold on and try to make it through.

Honestly, yes, there are challenges. Yes, it’s like learning a completely new dance…

It’s letting go and seeing your child no longer need you like they once did.

It’s giving your teen space to learn and process and make mistakes.

It’s listening a lot more and instructing a lot less.

It’s realizing she is growing wings and, much as I want to, clipping her wings to selfishly keep her close to me will only hurt us both in the long run.

It’s a new dance and some days I misstep. But I’m loving it and so grateful for these beautiful years.

Mamas of littles, don’t dread the teen years. I’m here to tell you that, so far, they’ve been pretty amazing!

After we got back home from Utah (which was absolutely breath-taking, by the way!), I took Kathrynne and a group of her friends to see the new Avengers movie.

We went to TopGolf for Silas’ birthday.

10 years ago, I gave birth to this high energy, insanely extroverted BOY!

He brings so much life to our home and he is friends with pretty much everyone he meets. (Oftentimes, we’re out somewhere and he’ll holler out to someone he sees that he kind of knows from somewhere. I’ll be all, “Who is that?” And he’ll respond with something like, “Oh, I met him once at the park two years ago.”)

But despite his incredibly outgoing personality, I love that he is still very much a Mama’s boy.

In fact, one Sunday recently, he was telling me about how one of the men on stage has grown kids in multiple countries (he had read his bio in the church program.) I said, “Maybe that will be you all someday.” He gave me a shocked look and was like, “Never, Mom! I have to live close to you!”

He has decided he and his wife will live on our street so he can come spend time with me every day.

I love this boy so much! Being his mom has been one of the greatest privileges of my life.

TopGolf rolled out the red carpet for his birthday — including banners, a birthday card, a shark dressed up, and free Injectable Donut Holes.

One of the highlights of May was getting to interview our pastor on the podcast. Have you listened to his episode yet? It was one of the highest-downloaded episodes yet.

Kathrynne had her 8th grade banquet at school in May. It was such a special time of the teachers speaking words of blessing over each of the students and commissioning them as they move up to high school.

I posted this on Instagram:

She doesn’t like me to talk about her or share her pictures much online. And I 100% respect that.

But y’all, I wish you could meet this girl. (Warning: Sappy proud mom post forthcoming…)

She’s wise beyond her years. She has the most caring heart for others. And I so often look at her and think, “How did I get to be your mom?”

I have watched her step outside her comfort zone and step out in bravery in big ways this year. I’ve seen her wrestle with her faith and wrestle through difficult relationships.

She’s made mistakes and she’s owned them and asked forgiveness. She’s come alongside kids that are being made fun of and stood up for them. She’s befriended those who are struggling. And she’s worked really hard in school, too.

I know that people say it makes them sad to see their kids growing up. On the one hand, yes, I’m sad knowing that she’s going to be in HIGH SCHOOL in the fall (how did that happen??). On the other hand, I just love stepping back watching her grow up and grow into all that God has called her to be.
We love you, Kathrynne, and we’re so proud of you and grateful to be your parents. ❤️

P.S. I took this picture at her 8th grade banquet. When I looked at it afterwards on my phone, it literally took my breath away! I know she’s growing up, but I sometimes don’t realize just how quickly she is until I see a picture like this!

And the same day, Kaitlynn had her 7th grade formal. I loved getting to do her hair for it.

She’d been planning for months what she was going to wear and how she was going to fix her hair. I just love how much she loves beauty.

Cute Summer Tops

Her favorite part of her outfit was her shoes. She ordered multiple different pairs from Amazon to try out (with free returns!) before she landed on these. She’s so different than me in so many ways (hello, I’m all about comfortable shoes!), but I love the life and creativity she brings into our home.

I loved getting to have one of my childhood friends and her family come over for dinner on their roadtrip in Tennessee.

Kathrynne won a special math award for her class at the end of year awards ceremony.

We kicked off our #100DaysofSummerFun challenge! Want to join us? Here are the details:

As our kids get older, we cherish our time together all together as a family more and more. With this in mind, our family committed to be intentional to do something fun all together as a family every day for the next 100 days.

I’ll be documenting it here on Instagram stories as a way to stay accountable — and maybe to inspire your family to prioritize family fun, too.

It doesn’t have to be something expensive or complicated. You know I’m all about keeping it simple! For instance, it could be something like taking a family walk or having a family basketball game.

Want to join us? Here’s to a fun summer filled with memories!

“What is the most important thing to remember?” I asked him on the drive to his last playoff flag football game.

“No matter what happens. No matter if the other team creams you. No matter if they have amazing plays & they block & intercept everything you throw. No matter if you miss every rushing opportunity. No matter if everyone is frustrated with you. No matter what, you get to choose how you respond.”

We talked about how to respond with graciousness in the face of defeat. We talked about how the most important thing was to represent Jesus in everything you do.
Then we prayed together & my little quarterback & rusher went out to lead his team in the biggest game of his life so far.

They were playing against the undefeated team. This team was good, really good. I knew that the game would likely be brutal.

But Silas went out and led his team with a quiet confidence and grace — and they WON!!! Then they went on to win the championship game, too!!!

Here’s the thing: Sure I was the insanely proud mama hollering & yelling for my boy on the sidelines. But this wasn’t about the scoreboard so much as it was about the character that my boy displayed.

For an entire year, my prayer for him has been that he would have a gracious, humble spirit. That he would learn to submit to leadership. That he would use his incredibly strong personality for good. That he would rather be kind than right.

He’s struggled a lot with this. There have been a lot of conversations, prayers, & lost privileges.
But the past few months, I have seen so many answers to those prayers on the football field…when a call has been made that he didn’t agree with, when his coaches asked him to do things he didn’t want to do, & when his team lost.

He’s had opportunity after opportunity to be kind rather than right, to be gracious even when he wanted to be angry.

It might have just seemed like two Flag Football games on Tuesday night with 9 & 10 years olds. And yet, for me, it was about so much more than that.

Mamas, keep praying for your strong kids. Keep having the hard conversations. Speak life. Believe that God can use their strength and stubbornness for good. Don’t give up!

Some days, parenting is amazing. Other days, it’s just plain hard.

One night in May, I had come up with the idea for us to take a picnic dinner to Fort Negley for our #100daysofsummerfun activity for the day.

Instead of excitement over my idea, the response was more like if I had announced that we were going to go spend 3 hours cleaning toilets.

There were bad attitudes and rolled eyes and whining and fighting all the way there. When we got there, there was more complaining, “This looks so boring!” “Why are we doing this?”

Then, as soon as we started down the trail, two children had a big fight and we had to separate them for 30 minutes so they could cool down.

Inside, I was irritated and thinking, “Why are we even bothering to try to do fun stuff together?? Let’s just go home!”

But then I heard that phrase that has become my mantra for parenting, “Lean in and love.”

I walked with one child and said to them, “I know you’re really upset. I’m sorry.”

This opened the door for them to share their heart with me. Frustrations they were feeling over their sibling. Frustrations they were feeling over situations in life. And I just listened.

When they were finished, I said: “You know, I’ve felt like that a lot, too.”

This child looked at me with surprise: “You have?? You don’t ever seem like you are frustrated like this.”

We ended up having a really beautiful heart-to-heart talk together on the trail where I shared some similar feelings I’ve felt recently and I was able to not give answers or solutions, but to just show empathy — which was what they needed.

By the time we headed for the car, everyone was laughing and joking and in much better spirits.

It wasn’t the family evening I envisioned and I don’t think the kids will be begging to go back any time soon! 😉 But I’m so glad we didn’t turn around and leave when we got there (like I seriously considered doing!)

Maybe today you’ll find yourself in a similar situation — whether it’s deal with defiant toddlers, difficult teens, frustrating co-workers, or just dealing with someone with a bad attitude. Choose to press in, press through, and lean in and love. ❤️

Silas and Kaitlynn both made the honor roll! They’ve worked really, really hard for this and we were super proud of them!

We loved getting to have a big group of friends over on Memorial Day weekend for a cookout!

I just loving opening our home (or our backyard, as was the case this time!) to friends — new and old!

We took a fairly impromptu road trip at the end of May to hit three states we hadn’t all visited yet: Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa.

A little family football game at a rest stop!

We went to IKEA for the first time ever… and I’m sorry to say that I was underwhelmed.

Minnehaha Falls was incredible!

We had such a great time on our trip and I have so much more I want to share about it that I plan to do individual posts on the things we did in Madison, WI and Minneapolis, MN. (Sadly, it was raining the entire time we were in Iowa so we didn’t get to do much while we were there.)

Look for those posts coming soon — hopefully next week!

Hallmark Christmas In July Movies Schedule

Love all things Christmas and Hallmark Channel? Get ready for the Hallmark Christmas in July movies marathon!

{Psst! Looking for creative ways to save for this year’s Christmas budget? Read our post on How to Fund Your Christmas Budget in Just 15 Minutes per Day! Or check out our post on 10 Easy Ways to Earn FREE Christmas Gifts.}

Pride, Prejudice, and Mistletoe Hallmark Christmas Movie

I’ve never been a huge fan of Hallmark movies, but I know a TON of our readers are! So I wanted to make sure all of you knew about Hallmark’s Christmas movie marathon going on this summer! 😉

Hallmark Christmas in July 2019

If you love Hallmark Christmas movies, mark your calendars!

Starting on July 12th and running through July 28th, The Hallmark Channel will be running 24-hour movie marathons of their most-watched and most-loved Christmas movies!

Plus, there will be one new movie that has never been aired: A Merry Christmas Match. You can catch it on the night of July 13th.

Christmas Next Door Hallmark Christmas Movie

Check Out the Christmas Movie Lineup!

If you’re curious which Christmas movies will be featured during this two-week Hallmark Christmas in July marathon, you can go here to see the full lineup of Christmas movies!

And since the movies are running all day and night long, don’t forget to set your DVR for all your favorites. 🙂

And I’d love to hear which Hallmark Christmas movies are your favorite!

Are you excited about the Hallmark Christmas movies marathon? Let us know in the comments!

Want to save money and eat healthier?