Lots of homeschool families make financial sacrifices in income in order to homeschool, so smart shopping is essential in order to keep your homeschool budget under control.
That means saying no to impulse buys and carefully researching homeschool purchases. It also means that smart shopping has to become a way of life. Two of my favorite ways to shop smart are to buy used resources when possible and to watch the timing on my purchases.
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Shop Smarter: Buying Used
Buying used resources is one of my favorite ways to spend less when purchasing for our homeschool. While buying previously loved curriculum isn’t always possible, it’s always an avenue worth exploring. When you’re trying to spend wisely, buying used resources makes a huge difference.
I’ve spent $20 less by purchasing a used BJU Math 3 Teacher’s Guide, saved $10 on a practically new copy of the Ultimate Geography and Timeline Guide, and saved $5 here and there on countless books used for supplementing over the years. Buying used pays off!
The key to buying used items for your homeschool is paying attention to the information available about the items. If details about the condition aren’t listed or questions regarding the condition go unanswered, avoid that seller and keep looking. The information regarding the condition of the item will let you know if the item is truly a good buy, why the item is for sale in the first place, how usable the item is, and give you an idea of how much life a product has left.
For example, a used student math workbook may be available for half the cost of purchasing it new simply because another homeschool family went with another math option a few weeks into the school year. If the seller mentions that the first ten pages were completed, you could probably go ahead with the purchase and simply review those pages with your child. That’s a reasonable sacrifice to make in order to spend half of the retail price.
Finding quality, gently used resources isn’t always a fast project, but it can be done! Here are a few of my favorite places to find used homeschool resources.
- eBay – Look for sellers with good feedback, clear photos, and detailed descriptions of the items. Also be aware of shipping costs and be sure you’re comfortable with the shipping fees. Most sellers are reasonable about shipping costs, but it’s smart to pay attention to this.
- Facebook groups – There are plenty of Facebook groups that are exclusively organized for the sake of buying and selling used homeschool curriculum.
- Thrift stores – This is often a hit or miss experience, but if you’re willing to look, thrift stores can be a homeschool gold mine. You’ll probably not walk away with the specific curriculum you’ve been hunting, but thrift stores are great for finding supplemental materials at a bargain price.
Timing is Key
Timing is an important factor in keeping our homeschool budgets in check. By simply having a plan and sticking to it, we can take advantage of sale dates and, in turn, trim our homeschool spending in major ways.
As tempting as it may be to jump in on those lovely displays of school supplies, by holding off a couple of weeks after local schools start, you can catch lots of savings with After Back to School clearance sales. I’ve gone this route many times and never been sorry for waiting a bit.
As homeschoolers, we don’t have to have bags full of shiny new supplies by a certain date, or else… Using the old box of crayons for a few weeks longer isn’t too much to ask when big savings are on the way.
Some folks shop for toys and electronics on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but some of us shop for homeschool curriculum. This is primarily helpful if you’re looking for something specific that you didn’t purchase at the beginning of your homeschool year. Most homeschool publishers and even retailers like Amazon push out some significant savings at these times. Most will announce sale information by mid-November.
Also in regards to timing, one great tip I read in my recent post comments is the idea of buying what you need only when you need it. Rather than purchasing a year’s worth of supplies or curriculum that you may or may not get around to using, purchase as you go. That’s a great tip for homeschooling and all things in life! Stocking up doesn’t always save you money in the long run.
Purchasing Through Homeschool Buyers Co-op
I find myself going back to Homeschool Buyers Co-op every year because buying through a group like that has helped stretch my budget many times in the past. By purchasing through the Co-op, I’ve even saved $50 off retail prices for our math curriculum for the year. (Gosh, it seems like I’m always looking for ways to cut costs on math!)
When I’m not saving $50 through the Co-op, I save $15 here, $20 there. All of those savings add up! When it comes to making homeschool purchases, I’m always looking for the best possible resources that work within my budget. Homeschool Buyers Co-op is a huge help in allowing me to get exactly what I need for considerably less than retail prices.
Head on over to iHomeschool Network and check out the lineup of incredible Hopscotch topics from the rest of the IHN gang. I’d also love for you to make your way back here tomorrow for Day 2 of Make Over Your Homeschool Budget!