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Practical Homeschooling® :

Betty Borrower v. Barbara Blessing

By Mary Pride
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #2, 1993.

Neither a borrower nor a spender be? Hmm... that's not quite right.

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Mary Pride


Q. Is it more blessed to borrow than to buy? What if everyone tried to save money by borrowing instead of buying? We take a lighthearted look at two home schooling moms and how they face this issue!


"I have two neighbors," Farmer Fred said. "They both homeschool. Neither has much to spend, but they take very different approaches to saving money. I am wondering if you can tell me who has the right idea."

Can you help Farmer Fred? We'll describe his two neighbors and see what you think.

Meet Betty Borrower

On the right hand of Farmer Fred's acreage lives Betty Borrower. Betty has a very nice house filled with very nice things. Somehow, though, she has managed to avoid paying for many of those nice things.

Betty Borrower sees Farmer Fred has a new book . . . and borrows it. She likes the look of his wife Frita's new magazine . . . so she asks to borrow the issues after Frita reads them. She needs a lawn tool . . . so she sends her husband over to get it from Farmer Fred.

Betty attends all the local homeschool functions, but has never bothered to join the state group or send it any money. She also isn't a member of any legal defense plan. "If I ever get into trouble for homeschooling, I'll just call up the state group or one of those legal plans and they'll have to help me," she reasons. "After all, they couldn't afford to let the judge set a bad precedent."

Betty nags her friends into letting her have their used curriculum for nothing ("After all, YOU don't need it any more!"). If she has a friend who starts a home business, she pesters that friend to let her have goods at cost ("Christians aren't supposed to be greedy, and you surely don't want to make money off your friends!"). She's especially proud of herself for managing to teach five children with just one workbook. It's easy, because she photocopies as many pages as she wants.

Meet Barbara Blessing

Barbara Blessing lives on the other side of Farmer Fred. Her house looks just as nice on the outside, but has somewhat less inside. On the other hand, what she does have is high quality, and it belongs to her.

If Barbara can only afford one workbook, she abides by the copyright law and has the children write out their answers on separate paper. However, she usually spends the money to get them all their own workbooks. Unlike Betty, she isn't afraid to spend money on homeschool material, since she figures it benefits the suppliers who are creating good products and helps them stay in business. She has even been known to send a small contribution to an author whose curriculum she bought second-hand, to thank him for the help his material was to her.

Barbara is careful to pay her state homeschooling organization its annual dues. "I'm happy to help them, since they're helping me," she says. She has been a member of Home School Legal Defense Association for five years, although she lives in a "low risk" state. "The money I send HSLDA is helping to defend other home schoolers, so I look upon it as a donation to a vital cause," she says. "I'm just as glad I haven't needed any legal services myself!"

Buying . . . or Investing?

Barbara subscribes to several home school magazines. She considers this an important part of her professional training as a home educator. "The Bible says we should seek wisdom before rubies," Barbara says. "That means that my husband and I consider our home school materials an investment, not just an expense. We can always save on other things. Did you know that by just skipping one Domino's Pizza dinner and having hot dogs instead, we can afford to subscribe to PRACTICAL HOMESCHOOLING and TEACHING HOME?"

Do you see what the difference is? Barbara Blessing is willing to "use it up or wear it out, make it over or do without," in the words of the old New England proverb. She is also concerned with more than saving money. She sees the big picture -- how her purchases and support affect those people and groups serving home schoolers. Betty Borrower, on the other hand, wants something for nothing. She thinks it's "good stewardship" to avoid supporting her state group, to not help other home schoolers with their legal battles, to pay as little as possible to curriculum suppliers, and to read other people's books and magazines.

I hope you don't think I'm being too heavy-handed with this parable, but I did want to make a point. In this time when many people fear money is going to get tight, and being a "tightwad" is in style, let's not lose track of the big picture. It may not be illegal to share books, magazines, and curriculum, as it is to share software, but chronic "sharing" has the potential to weaken us all. Support your state group. Join HSLDA. Save your money and invest in quality curriculum. And if you like this magazine, please consider signing up for a subscription. Thank you!

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