I love preparing to begin a new school year. Because I am a Type A personality, I love researching curriculum, shopping for new additions for our schoolroom, rearranging bookshelves and storage, organizing our materials, and prepping for the coming year. Unfortunately, it can also be stressful, as many of us are shelling out a considerable amount of money every year to fund future learning adventures. I am beginning my 17th year of homeschooling and I have learned some things along the way to help when homeschooling on a budget. I’d love to share those tricks with you in hope that you too will be able to do more with every dollar you invest into your child’s education!
1. Reuse and Recycle
if this is your first year of home learning, you might not be able to utilize this tip. But for those of us that have multiple children or have been at it a few years, it’s likely we have some learning materials sitting around collecting dust.
Every year I go through my storage and my shelves and ask myself, “Is there a way I can utilize this resource this year?” Remember: curriculum is a tool, NOT a taskmaster! You may be using a different math curriculum this year, but are there pages from that half used workbook you can use for extra practice? Can I use this science text as a spine and add fun experiments or lapbooking activities in lieu of completing the questions? Do I have books in some long forgotten box, waiting to see the light of day?
2. Subscribe to a Printables Site
I can’t tell you how many times we’ve used these services to get through rough financial patches!! Most of these cater to K-8th grades, so if you have a high schooler you may have trouble finding appropriate materials. My two favorite subscriptions are TeacherFileBox.com and Scholastic Teachables. I love the printable file folder games and centers from Teacher File Box and Scholastic has wonderful worksheets and printable levelled readers.
Another amazing resource for homeschooling on a budget is the Teachers Pay Teachers store. While this is a pay-per-resource site, there are also a TON of free materials. Teachers have developed these materials on their own for use in their own classes and you will find both public school and homeschool teacher shops full of a wide variety of materials. You can find high school level materials there, too!
3. Ebay and Local Homeschool Swap Sales
For many many years, we purchased very little curriculum that was not gently used. I scoured Ebay for hours looking for just the right price on that curriculum I had been drooling over (because I am unashamedly a curriculum junkie). I attended multiple homeschool sales locally every year and always found great deals. I remember one year in particular I drove to a sale about 45 minutes from my home and came home with multiple boxes of new books and materials after spending less than $20!!
Check out your local library sales as well! Most libraries do some kind of sale yearly to get rid of old books and make room for new ones, and they sell super cheap! This is a great way to build your own home library for next to nothing.
Used bookstores are another great resource for homeschooling on a budget and finding used books that are in wonderful condition for pennies on the dollar.
4. Try Before you Buy
Get together with friends and have a curriculum share night! I know for me, hours and hours of research can’t compare to opening the materials and flipping through them. That is the best way to get a feel for how a curriculum is structured before you invest in it only to find it’s not a good fit for your child. I can’t tell you how many times I have changed curriculum two or three times in a year because it just wasn’t what we thought it would be. This is can really cause frustration if you are homeschooling on a budget!
Another way to evaluate materials hands-on is to attend your local homeschool conference and spend a few hours perusing the vendor tables. The people there representing each publisher are well versed in the programs and are more than willing to answer and questions you might have.
5. Buy Digital Whenever Possible
While some publishers allow for copying of workbooks and such to be used within a family, most require you to buy a set of consumables per child. However, by purchasing a digital copy or ebook, you are able and legally allowed to make as many copies as you need to for your own use.
If you have a Kindle or Nook e-reader (or even a tablet capable of running the software), the E-book version of a book is almost ALWAYS much cheaper than purchasing the physical book.
Do you have any great tips for saving money on homeschool materials? I’d love for you to comment below and share!
Make sure you read my other NOT Back to School Blog Hop: A Week of Eclectic Homeschooling posts for more great content! Click on the images in the linky below to read more Not Back to School Blog Hop content from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.