I'm not sure who it was that popularized the idea of the need for every child to spend countless hours in extra-curricular classes. Whoever it was though, I can tell you, they weren't trying to live a frugal lifestyle. At $50.00 or so a pop, all of those great educational, social, and skill building opportunities out there, can really put a crimp in the budget. With a little creativity, and a willing family and friend support group, it is possible to provide a plethora of fun and enriching "classes" for your children, without going bankrupt, or running the tires off of the minivan.
Why not invite in a guest lecturer (also known as a grandparent, uncle, cousin, or willing friend). After all, who is teaching all of those wonderful classes being offered by the public parks departments, and children's museums? In most cases it's just another parent with an interesting hobby or career experience (sounds like a grandparent to me!)
We recently had a visit from my folks. My mother happily provided some painting instruction to the kids. Grandpa, in the past, has been willing to share his yard skills, and we're still hoping to get a French lesson, or two, out of him. My husband's parents are due in a week or so, and have graciously agreed to offer our oldest few a sewing seminar. Most of the time, a hobbyist has all of the necessary tools for their hobby, so with a minimal addition of supplies, they can be ready to pass on their interest.
Grandparents are often willing to provide this training for free. They get the benefit of making memories with their grandchildren. Friends, and other relatives, might want some sort of incentive. Trading off teaching their children your hobby might work, or maybe just some free babysitting. If they don't still have young children, maybe they would settle for a plate of cookies, or a basket of that home baked bread we homeschoolers are so renowned for. At any rate, careful negotiations with family and friends, can lead to great learning opportunities for your kids, at a cost far lower than what you might find from strangers.
And, if you really are dying to fire up the minivan, take your children to your guest lecturer instead of the other way around. Then you can pullover, and read the historical markers that line the highway on the way, and get a double bang for your buck. And, I don't know about you, but our Grandma usually has a candy jar full of jelly beans at her house.
It's great to be a homeschooler!