The financial considerations of home-schooling
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Bayport Blog

The money side of educating your children at home

Published: August 19, 2020
Categories: Personal loans
Tags: Day-to-day expenses, Financial Literacy, Financial Planning, Financial Tips, Investment, Loans, Online loans, School fees

Covid-19 has taught us that many things can be done from home, including working and schooling. However, home-schooling is not only an option during times of crisis. If you want to consider it even when schools are fully open again, the financial implications must be a big part of your decision, including whether or not you will need a loan and how best to apply for a loan.

Home-schooling has been legal in South Africa since 1996. Since then, many parents have chosen it as a permanent solution for their children, or as a temporary measure to deal with a specific situation, such a child being too unwell to go to school for a long time or to help a child overcome a difficulty, such as learning problems or being bullied at school.

There are, obviously, many factors to consider when deciding whether or not to home school. There are excellent resources online to help you think through the issue, and it is always a good idea to talk to other parents and to children who are or have been home-schooled. In this article, we are only looking at the financial considerations.

Home education is generally less expensive than school education, because you don’t pay school fees, and there is no need for uniforms or transport to and from school every day. You also don’t have to contribute to fundraisers and events such as sports days or concerts.

However, a big consideration is the impact of home-schooling on your family’s income. If both parents work outside the home, home-schooling often means that one parent has to stop working, which means a loss of income.

Before you decide that is a deal-breaker, look at the full picture. It is possible that the total cost of schooling, including after-school care, is costing you more or at least the same as your second income.

The situation is obviously different for single parents, but it might be an option to hire a tutor to help your child get through the schoolwork at home.

The costs involved in home-schooling

  • A curriculum for your child to follow
  • Learning supplies, ie, books and stationery
  • Internet access and a computer
  • A proper workstation or even a dedicated classroom in your home
  • Extramural activities, such as joining a sports club and going on field trips (home-schooling does not mean your child stays at home all the time!)

Fortunately, there are many ways to contain the costs of home education:

  • Use the same curriculum and learning materials for multiple children. If you have only one child, team up with other home-schooling parents to share resources.
  • Make use of second-hand curriculum material and free resources on the internet.
  • Join support groups that can negotiate discounts for field trips.
  • Make use of a public library instead of buying books.
  • Get as much advice and support as you can. Other parents have walked this path before you – learn from their experiences to benefit your children and your budget.

Financing options

Back-to-school expenses are typically lower for home-schooling parents, but you might still need a cash injection to start the school year.

It is, of course, best to have savings that you can use to set up your home-schooling system, but it is not always possible and sometimes, despite your savings, you might still need extra cash for a piece of equipment, higher speed internet or computer repairs.

An online loan could be very useful in these instances. However, as is the case with all debt, think carefully before you enter into a credit agreement:

  1. Understand exactly how much you need for the full school year. A proper plan will ensure you don’t run out of money halfway through the year, or borrow too much and burden yourself with debt.
  2. Look at all your options and think creatively about where you can save money. Touch base with other home-schooling parents for advice.
  3. Draw up your school budget for the year and discuss it with your child. It is important that he or she knows how much money is available for school activities so that you can decide together how best to spend it. For instance, if your child knows that there is money for either an outing or a sports activity, she can decide what she wants to do. In this way, you can avoid the disappointment of having to say “no” and your child learns valuable money skills from early on.
  4. Understand your own financial position so that you know how much you can afford to borrow. Bayport’s affordability calculator can help you in this regard.
  5. Put in the hard work to do loan comparisons. Different companies offer different deals and personal loan interest rates. It is always worth the time and effort to understand what is on offer and to work out what deal will be best for you.
  6. Make sure you understand the full cost of the loan you take out. Ask the agent to explain all the fees and costs to you, including how to calculate the interest on a loan. Never make a decision until you know exactly what the loan will cost you over the full repayment period.

Home-schooling can be an exciting journey for you and your child. By doing enough homework upfront, you will get the maximum educational and financial benefits from the experience.

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