It’s that time of year again. May. Time to start wrapping up your homeschool year, evaluating what worked and what didn’t, plan out your curriculum for next year and hitting all of those homeschool conferences!! What busy fun, right? But the biggest damper can be your budget. Especially when you are walking down those vendor halls and want absolutely everything you see.
I know time is precious but I just wanted to share five quick and easy tips to stretch your homeschool budget. So, let’s get right to it, shall we?
Buy used. I know this is not always possible but if you know what you want ahead of time, you can stalk the used sites until it shows up. There are many ways to purchase used curriculum – check local stores in your area (I have found some privately owned Christian stores stock used curriculum, education supply stores and all used bookstores), also be sure you are on any list of local homeschool groups. Most larger groups host a used curriculum sale. And of course, there’s the internet. There are several Facebook groups that sell used curriculum, also Vegsource.com/homeschool and my personal favorite, Homeschool Classifieds. I am sure that there are many more, just Google it.
PROS: You can save usually half the cost and you know that you are helping another mom buy the next level curriculum for her kids.
CONS: Popular items tend to go quickly, you can’t see the products first-hand so make sure you are familiar with it ahead of time, sometimes you have to compromise on condition (written-in, or broken spine, etc.)
Swap. If you are fortunate enough to belong to a large homeschool support group, see if there are other moms that would be willing to swap curriculum with you. When I lived in NC, I had a friend whose daughter was one level below mine and a level above my other daughter. It was great to just pass around what we needed. In fact, we attended homeschool conferences together and planned our years so that we could share some of the materials. You could also swap students. This could work like your own little co-op, you could teach one subject and the other mom could teach another subject. Play to your strengths! Of course, this only works on subjects that aren’t age/grade specific unless your kids are on the same level.
PROS: Saves you time and money depending on which option you use.
CONS: You have to find a willing participant.
Multi-Level Teaching. I know I just mentioned swapping students but multi-level teaching is an easy way to streamline your own homeschool. There are very few subjects that must be taught sequentially and all others can be taught together. I often teach history, science, geography, writing, and art together. You only have to adjust assignments to the child’s level. Most curriculum actually has ideas to challenge older students or make it easier for younger students. When you multi-teach, you only need to purchase multiple consumables.
PROS: Saves you time and money.
CONS: Might not work if your children have a large age gap or learning styles vary greatly.
Library. Never underestimate your local library! Libraries offer so much more than just books too. We use our library for about ninety percent of our regular reading material but did you know that there are also courses offered? Our local library has a huge selection of Standard Deviant DVDs and also Great American Courses. I often check out DVDs to go along with our studies. (Especially ones that will supplement our geography studies since unfortunately, we can’t travel extensively.) Our library also offers some digital resources, including a a wide selection of audio books, online learning games and foreign language courses!!! Most libraries also offer inner-loan services so if they do not carry what you need, they can get it from another source. If you live near a county line, you can take advantage of belonging to multiple libraries and expand your amount of resources.
PROS: You can save a lot of money. I saved almost $400 one year just by access the foreign language courses offered.
CONS: Be careful or you could rack up some serious fines if you don’t return the items on time. Also, depending on your area, the selection might be limited.
Book Bundles. I am a huge advocate of ebooks. I admit that I was a little late coming to the party but since downsizing, I realize that actual books do take up a lot of space!! I love book bundles for several reasons – saves on space, saves on money (most bundles save you waaayyyy more than even half off!!!), great resources to either completely cover a subject or add great ways to supplement. But the main reason I love bundles? – you can gain access to curriculum and if you don’t absolutely love it, you don’t fret over the lost money. I can’t tell you how many times it works in reverse for me, too. I will buy curriculum that everyone else loves but it just didn’t work for my family. And now, I’ve spent my budget. Lucky for me, I can also go to library of ebooks and pull something to replace it.
PROS: Ummmm, I think I already shared all of those but to recap: money, space, access to more. Also, bundles tend to have more than just curriculum but also planners, courses, books on marriage, parenting, health, etc. etc. etc. 🙂
CONS: Book bundles are usually only available for a very limited time so you have to jump on them fast. (Be sure you subscribe to my site and I’ll let you know what a good one is coming up!!!)
What’s your best ways to stretch the homeschool budget?