Before we start choosing our homeschool curriculum, I want you to know that homeschooling does not have to ruin your family budget. Families in all different income levels successfully homeschool. It is again one of those things that you can cater to your unique family. We have been a one income family since my oldest child was born, so I am accustomed to finding ways to save money to help out my family. Now I do work from home, but we are still very mindful of our family budget. I have learned a few things that help me save money on homeschool supplies and curriculum over these last 13 years and I am happy to share them with you.
The Shiny Object Syndrome
Before we can save money in our homeschool, we need to determine what our budget actually is. In order to do this, we need to determine what it is we actually need in our homeschool. It is beyond easy to get carried away and think we need all the things – the newest math program we heard about, the shiny manipulatives, multiple science books in case one child isn’t interested…etc. I can still do this after 8 years of homeschooling. But again, because I have homeschooled for that long, and do teach multiple children on one income… I choose to buy only what we truly need in our classroom and then get creative with my wants.
I can not tell you what your budget should be in your homeschool. That is something you should decide with your spouse. I actually do not have a set yearly number amount that we spend, but I am always looking for ways to spend as little as possible. Because I have multiple children, I typically need to spend more on the oldest and less and less for each subsequent child. I know some states will give you a stipend for your homeschool, which I find such a blessing. I wish we had that in our state!
If you’ve examined your budget and are aware of your needs versus wants, then let’s discuss some ways you can save on the items you’ll need in your homeschool this year.
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How to Save Money on Homeschool Curriculum
If you have been around here for awhile, you know I can research my little heart out. I actually enjoy the process and it serves my family well. Take some time to do your research before you decide to buy for your homeschool. Make a list of curriculum and supplies you think you’ll need and then research the prices on them. Read reviews and talk to other homeschool moms. Make sure the items you are choosing are right for your family and each child. Consider the learning styles we talked about yesterday. Avoid those impulse buys, especially at first while you are on a budget.
Are there ways you could raise money to buy your supplies? Many of my friends sell their used curriculum within the community. Could you have a yard sale each summer and designate that as your homeschool budget? If there is a more expensive item you need, do you know of any other moms that would go in on it with you and form a small co-op? W have done that plenty of times. Do you have a friend who is an amazing artist and willing to come teach your children, instead of buying that drawing book? Bartering services is another great way to save money. You may have a skill that would be helpful to another family and you can trade services. Be creative!
Buy Used Curriculum
I hardly ever buy new curriculum. When I do, I do my research so I can get the best price. There are so many places you can buy used curriculum. Before you buy anything used, you will want to make sure you know what edition you are purchasing. Many times the teacher guides are updated so that they only match the newest edition of the student book, so be aware before you buy. I have also bought used workbooks, after being told they only had worn covers, and found out that half the workbook had been used. So be aware!
Some places to look for used curriculum:
AMAZON: I buy most of our curriculum through Amazon, because it’s easy. Of course, this is after I have done my research so I know what I’m getting into.
CHRISTIAN BOOKS: Another one of my favorite places to buy from. Keep an eye out for sales and discounts.
HOMESCHOOL CLASSIFIEDS: Self explanatory, a great place to look for anything used
HOMESCHOOL BUYERS CO-OP: You can get a lot of great group buy savings here
EBAY: It’s EBay
LOCAL SWAPS/CONFERENCES: Our state has a homeschool conference each spring where people sell their used curriculum. This is a great place to find what you need. Homeschool curriculum companies typically have sales at certain times of year as well, and that can be a perfect time to pick up that curriculum you can’t or don’t want to buy used.
There are many free resources out there for homeschooling. Too many to list, but I encourage you to do your research before buying. These are some of the resources I have used over the years.
The Good and the Beautiful – free language arts and math curriclum
Easy Peasy All In One Homeschool: a complete, free Christian curriculum for all ages
Ambleside Online: a favorite of mine. Uses the Charlotte Mason method and completely free.
Khan Academy: They say you can learn anything for free, all online. We have used a lot of their lessons for reinforcement.
Lesson Pathways: A portal site for K-5 with ready-to-teach learning units in science, history, math, language arts, and reading and phonics
Enchanted Learning: tons of free printables and worksheets for the younger years
Homeschool Share: many free unit studies and lapbooks for all ages
My friend Krystal from Simple Finance Mom just posted some great tips on How To Save Money on School Supplies, so check that out too!
I hope you’ve been encouraged and have realized you can successfully homeschool on a budget. There are so many more resources other than what I listed here…so do your research (are you tired of me saying that?). And try to have fun with it! Tomorrow in this series, we will be discussing how to actually choose curriculum, so be sure to come back!