Guest Post: Homeschooling on a Shoestring

I’m so excited! We have our first ever guest post! Today’s post is by Dusty, from To The Moon and back! Yay, Dusty! Yaaaaaaay! *Kermit the Frog excited arm wave*

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Most homeschoolers are well versed in pinching pennies because they typically are one income families.  However, there are some families who must do more than save a little here and there, they must do their very best to spend as little as possible when financing their homeschool because without these money saving efforts they will no longer be able to educate their children themselves.

My family has run the gamut of financial lines.  We’ve had times of plenty and times that were so lean we wondered if we’d even be able to feed our children.  Over the years, I’ve learned a few things about how to stretch my dollars in order to gather the supplies and curriculum that I need in order to homeschool.

Some of these may be old hat to you and others may be new ideas.  Either way, I hope these tips will be an aid to homeschool families to help in times of struggle or to simply help sock away some extra cash for some fun field trips!

1. Buy used
This one is probably no surprise to anyone, but I’m going to list a few of my favorite places and ways to find used curriculum at rock bottom prices. Aside from consumable products, I rarely pay full retail price for any of my curriculum.

  • Ebay
    This is a hit or miss option.  I try to keep an eye on the materials that I am searching for throughout the year here.  Some times you can snag a fantastic deal from another homeschooling parent!
  • Second Harvest Curriculum
    I have ordered from this company several times and have always been pleased with their customer service and quality of the products.  They offer discounts on curriculum and list right on the site the condition of each item.
  •  Facebook
    There are several groups on Facebook where people buy and sell their used curriculum.  Here are my favorites:

    1. Used Homeschool Curriculum and Books
    2. Homeschool Buy Sell Trade
    3. Homeschool Curriculum Marketplace
    4. Used Homeschool Books, Buy, Sell, Trade

    Be sure to read each individual group’s policies before listing any items.  Also search for company specific selling groups.  Most curriculums also have groups set up to buy and sell items that are from that company only.

  • Used Bookstores
    I am blessed to have several used bookstores in my area.  All of them also buy and sell homeschool materials.  I have found great deals at these locations.  Ask around and see if you have a similar venue near you.
  • Library Sales
    Most libraries have book sales several times a year.  Check these out as close to the beginning of the sale as possible.  You can find some real gems (especially supplemental books) for extremely low prices.

2. Use Free Curriculum
There are an abundance of free resources available online if you know where to look.  You can find everything from supplements and individual subjects to full complete curricula for all age levels.
Here is a list that I compiled on my own blog but you can find several other resources as well.  Google is your friend!

3. Reuse, reuse, reuse
Think long term when you are making curriculum purchases. If you have more than one child, think about if you can utilize something for all of them down the line.  This makes your investment much more worthwhile.  Reusable materials are great to have around.

4. Use Your Library
If things are really tight, you can easily pull together your own lessons for most subjects by using books available in your library.  History, science, literature, poetry, and more are all things that you can find readily available in these community centers. Unit studies can integrate several subjects together at once and often use books that can be found in libraries. It may be a little more work than you’d like, but it won’t cost you a dime and your children will still be learning!

5. Get Help
Sometimes even pinching your pennies as much as possible still leaves you in a bind.  During these tough times, The Book Samaritan can help! This is a non profit organization that is set up to help homeschooling families in need. Send them a letter and they send out homeschooling materials free of charge.  This is also a great place to send your unwanted curriculum if you’d like to pay it forward.

Homeschooling isn’t easy.  It’s especially hard when you are worried about money.  Use these tips to help maintain low costs and still provide a well rounded education for your children.

What are your favorite ways to save money on curriculum?

Dusty is a stay at home, homeschooling mother of four and has been married to the love of her life,  a Southern gentleman, for 8 years.  She is trying to find her own path in this great wide world while devouring chocolate and leaning on the Lord.  She blogs about homeschooling, homemaking, motherhood and faith at To the Moon and Back.  Follow her adventures on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. You can also find her at Breastfeeding Place, Blessed Beyond a Doubt, and The Multi Taskin’ Mom.

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