It’s that time of year again… time to start planning for next school year!
Every year before the current school year ends I start to get the itch to plan ahead and my homeschool shopping spree commences. HOWEVER, I’ve learned (the hard way) that taking my time and finding the BEST prices is what is most beneficial to our family. Starting the new school year in debt is never fun. (I may or may not have made that mistake before.)
This year we’ll head into our ninth year of homeschooling. I’m just about done with my shopping and I asked you guys on Instagram if you’d like to know some of my money saving tips. You gave me a resounding YES and also added a few great tips of your own!
So without further ado, here are some great ways to save big when you homeschool shop this year!
(You can watch the video to hear me talk about saving and keep scrolling to find links to all of the resources I mentioned. Also, I misspoke a couple of times in the video… there’s no such thing as a “brand new used book” or an Overdrive subscription!)
I’ll start by saying that you can homeschool for almost free. There is NO need to go out and spend a ton of money, especially if it will push your family beyond your means. A few ways to homeschool for free or almost free include:
Taking advantage of your local library! That magic library card will give you access to more books and resources than money can buy! (Be sure to return them before the due date to avoid late fees!)
Using the Overdrive or Libby apps for FREE audiobooks. This also requires a library card and is an AMAZING resource!
Borrowing from friends and family. If you have a generous circle, ask around and see if they’d be willing to let you borrow some books or supplies. (Just take the best care and return it when asked!)
Using free online resources like Khan Academy, Easy Peasy, Ambleside Online, YouTube, and more. A simple Google search will provide endless results if you’re willing to do some sifting.
For our family, we’ve chosen to invest every year in order to build our home library. It has been a years-long process and will continue until our last child leaves home. I’m super passionate about our home library for a couple of reasons. First, because it is an invaluable resource for the present and the future, especially if you have multiple children. Second, it can bless generations to come! I can’t tell you how many books I’ve borrowed from my book-loving grandmother! I hope to do the same for my grand children some day.
However, I’ve learned that buying used is what works for us. We just can’t afford to pay full price for things, so we almost never do. Here are the ways I usually save (with a few ideas thrown in by my Instagram friends!):
Online USED Bookstores:
ThriftBooks.com (Probably my favorite! Most books for $3.99 and no shipping after a certain (small) amount! Also, the code APPLE will get you 15% off!)
Purchase the Kindle version instead if you don’t mind digital format. These are often cheaper and sometimes you can find them on sale.
A word of caution: ALWAYS check the seller ratings before purchasing from these used book stores. And be sure sellers are combining shipping if you purchase multiple books from them. Otherwise your shipping can cost more than your books!
When I’m searching these used bookstores (and I’m ready to buy) I always open up several tabs and search for one book at a time in each store. I may have active baskets in multiple stores but I’ll know that I’m getting the best prices! I also always Google or search my recent emails for a coupon code to any shop I’m buying from before I check out, just in case!
In Person Shopping:
It’s almost certain that you’ll find the best price in person at a sale or thrift store. But chances of finding every single thing you need are pretty slim. However, I LOVE to go to our local Half Price Books and peruse their shelves. They sell all used paperbacks for half off the publisher price. So if it was published in 1990 and the cost was only $3, you get that book for $1.50! Here’s a list of places to check for used books:
Second hand book store in your area, like Half Price Books
A homeschool store in your area (if you’re in the Houston area, you HAVE to visit The Homeschool Store… it is a homeschool mom’s DREAM!)
Mardel is another homeschool store that is a big chain store and has many locations across the country. They usually have a used book selection.
Curriculum sales or swaps with other homeschool moms. These ladies are always the MOST generous with their prices… I think it’s because they understand the financial struggle and just want to bless another homeschool family! Get in touch with a local homeschool group to see if they have any plans for a curriculum sale.
Local library sales… can be a true treasure trove!
Thrift stores or garage sales. These can be pretty hit or miss but occasionally you can find a gem!
Finding Used Curriculum:
If you’re on the prowl for actual curriculum in addition to books, there are some GREAT used resources out there just waiting to be purchased. It will take you some time to search, but it will be worth your effort, I PROMISE. This year I purchased an Instructors Guide (regularly priced $119) for only $24! The time it took was so worth it! Here are a few places to look:
HomeschoolClassifieds.com- this site is devoted to homeschool resources only.
Ebay- sometimes you can find a full curriculum package!
Facebook Groups- these are an invaluable tool, and SO convenient! I’m not a true “Facebooker” myself… I haven’t posted anything there in 2 years. But the groups are worth your membership! And Facebook makes it easy to search within your groups only, so it’s super easy to find what you’re looking for if it’s available. Here are a few groups to get you started:
Again, be very careful when you purchase on these platforms. All of these resources provide options for ratings, so check a person’s seller rating before you buy.
Discounted Retail Prices:
Sometimes you just can’t use something that’s been used. Consumables are the biggest examples of this. But there is hope, I promise. You don’t have to pay full retail prices for your workbooks and consumables. Here are a few places you should look:
RainbowResource.com- the motherland of all homeschool goodness. These guys have it ALL and at great prices! Their catalog is THE BEST. It weighs like 30 pounds but you will flip through that sucker for days! And having their catalog is a really great way to learn what all is out there, especially if you’re like me and prefer seeing things in a book rather than online.
ChristianBook.com- also a great place to search for retail discounts
Mardel.com- If you have a Mardel in your area this is an invaluable resource for looking through a physical product before you buy it. When we lived in Colorado it was my favorite place!
Other School Supplies:
When you’re looking for other school supplies like markers, notebooks, pencils, etc. be sure to check out your local dollar store first. They have composition notebooks for 99 cents year round at the Dollar Tree. And I’ve even found some three ring binders in great shape at Goodwill, so second hand stores aren’t out of the question either!
I hope these tips were useful to you! It’s likely you’ve heard of many of these before, but hopefully you learned at least one new way to save for the coming school year! I’d love to hear if you have any more suggestions! Be sure to leave your tips below!