When I began homeschooling my boys last year I quickly realized that there are definitely costs involved. All the curriculum, games, and manipulitives, not to mention the school supplies like paper, pencils and art supplies that needed to be purchased in order to give my children the best possible education. I tried out a couple of curriculums that didn’t work for our family and all these things started to add up. I got creative with my homeschool budget and started looking around to find the best ways to save money on homeschooling and now I will share them with you.
Check the library
The library has many resources available to borrow. Recently I also found that many of the curriculum guides I need are available there, I was surprised when searching the library catalog that my library carries Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer which is a very popular history curriculum that our family has been planning to use. If you are not 100% sure about a curriculum the library is a great place to try it out for free. I have also been able to check out many of the books we needed to supplement our curriculum. You can save hundreds of dollars a year by borrowing books rather than buying your books.
Trade with Friends
Curriculum can be very expensive so before I purchase something I check around with my other homeschooling friends to see if they have it or have heard about it. I have been able to borrow curriculum from friends who are not using it that year or purchase it at a discounted price.
Garage sales and Craigslist
Garage sales and craigslist are great resources for obtaining homeschool books and other teaching tools. I have been lucky enough to find curriculum items occasionally, but I find that books and manipulatives for young children are often available for under a dollar.
Used Curriculum stores and Half Price Books
Here in WA the only used homeschool curriculum store I know of is Homeschool Potpourri in Kirkland. They have an incredible amount of books, curriculum, games and manipulitives. Half price books also carries workbooks and other useful books for homeschoolers, you just have to look around.
Thrift stores often have games and educational toys at very low prices and if you go on a discount day you can get amazing deals on teaching tools for your children. I also buy a lot of our books at thrift stores, I have been able to find many books we needed for under a dollar.
Amazon carries a great selection of books, movies, games and toys that support home education. If you watch Amazon’s prices they often have great markdown prices on their stock. I have purchased workbooks, art supplies and games through Amazon because of their great prices. They have a promotion buy 4 for the price of 3 on many of their workbooks and books, and their prices are already lower than most of the educational stores locally.
Ask about educator discounts, stores like Staples, Barnes and Noble and Michaels have discounts for home educators (you will need to present your intent to homeschool letter). Also, children’s theaters will have school performances that homeschoolers can get in on if you call and order your tickets and you get the school rate. This is a great way to expose your children to performing arts without paying high costs for tickets.
Watch for Sales
Staples and Office Depot had many sales on school supplies making items free or just pennies in August and September, but if you watch their ads you will often be able to find paper, notebooks, pencils and other school supplies for free or very cheap. Target, Wal-Mart and Fred Meyer also offer amazing deals on school supplies. Watch the clearance departments of the stores you frequent because you will notice especially after school starts you can pick up some great deals on school supples.
Know the Free and Discount Activities in your Area
In Seattle the first Friday of the month is free admission day at many of the museums. There are many children’s museums, science centers and other attractions that offer discount days. Plan your field trips around the discount days to get the most for your money. If you can get a group together then group discounts can be a great way to save money on outings.
Reuse and Recycle Materials Around Your House
We use egg cartons, cereal boxes, bottles and their lids and lots of other recycled materials for science and art projects. Instead of buying lots of art supplies, look around your house to see what is already available to you and plan activities around recycled materials.
Homeschooling is about enjoying being home and learning as a family. You don’t need a lot of money to educate your children but you do need a little creativity to make you dollars stretch as far as they can. These are just a few of the ideas my family uses, if you have any creative ways that you have saved while homeschooling we would love to hear your ideas.