We are getting ready to begin our sixth year of homeschooling. Over the years, we've kept a pretty tight budget for our homeschooling supplies. And I've definitely learned a thing or two along the way to help us provide a quality education for our children while still keeping our finances in check. There are so many wonderful homeschooling resources and catalogs out there that it would definitely be easy to over spend.
- Look to the future. If you only have one child you are going to homeschool, you can definitely skip this step. But if you have younger children, consider buying books and materials that every one will be able to use at some point. The initial expense may be a bit more, but it will really pay off in the long run.
- Save everything. I have boxes and boxes of books and workbooks from Isabelle's previous years of school. Most we'll be able to use again with Alex, Olivia and Gracie. The rest will just serve as inspiration for me as I lesson plan or help my buying decisions. Some of the books we've saved are only somewhat used. That's because not everything we buy always works out. But just because it doesn't work well for one child doesn't mean it won't be a perfect fit for the next child. And for those programs that you know will just never work for your family...
- Sell what you're sure you won't use again. There are tons of options available for selling those materials - garage sales, online, homeschool fairs, or within your homeschooling group.
- Scour the thrift store shelves. Most thrift stores that have a book section will be like searching for hidden treasures. It may take a bit of time to dig through the selections, but it's usually very worthwhile. I don't think I've ever walked through a thrift store without walking out with at least one book we could use in our homeschool at some point.
- Learn to love the library. There's no denying it - the library is a homeschoolers best friend! In addition to books and materials you can check out, see if your library offers used book sales and if they have assigned dates when they give away old magazines. We probably have a whole bookshelf filled with books and magazines that we've gotten by taking advantage of these programs.
- Use scrap paper. Homeschoolers go through a ton of paper. Whenever possible, use scrap paper, including junk mail that has a blank side. If you, your spouse or even any friends or family members work in an office, ask them what they do with their paper. Nowadays many offices have piles of paper that they set aside to shred. Depending on office policies, most are more than happy to give away that paper instead.
- Split up expenses. If the investment for a whole year of schooling is too much at once, buy some materials at the beginning of the year and some halfway through.
- Go online. The plethora of homeschooling information and materials online is mind blowing! You could feasibly build an entire curriculum around free or low cost materials you find online.
- Cindy Rushton offers a host of valuable products for homeschoolers. Some of our favorites are The Ulitmate Homeschool Expo and the Basic Drawing and Art Class.
- The Old Schoolhouse Magazine has a fantastic collection of homeschooling ebooks.
- The folks from Knowledge Quest offer a great workshop called Homeschooling ABCs that includes 12 bonus gifts of curriculum products.
- My friend Joy created an amazing resource in her ebook, Learn the States and Postal Abbreviations. And her site Five J's is full of tons and tons of great homeschooling ideas.
- The Happy Housewife just launched a new site called Homeschool 365 that is going to be an invaluable resource. Also, be sure to listen to the Frugal Coast2Coast BlogTalk radio show where Toni shared tons of great tips on homeschooling frugally.
What are your favorite ways to save money on schooling materials, whether homeschooling or not? And I'd love to know some of your favorite online homeschool resources.
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