Every year homeschool moms sit down to plan the next year of curriculum. In the process—at least if you're like me—it often becomes painfully obvious that the curriculum is going to cost a lot. And sadly, many times we have to alter curriculum choice because the financial resources are not there to pay for it all.
But that doesn't have to be case. Curriculum doesn't have to be expensive!
Here are some tips for saving money when you buy homeschool curriculum.
Plan Ahead. (Do not skip this step!)
1. Create a master list. Before you start shopping for curriculum, create a document that lists all the curriculum and books you need for the next year. I personally use a spreadsheet so it's simple to calculate costs + shipping and to record multiple vendors.
2. Fill in baseline prices and vendors. After I've listed all my curriculum and books on my master list, I check each book on AddAll.com (which I talk about more below). I record the best prices + shipping, along with the vendor, on my spreadsheet. If I can't find the book on AddAll.com, then I'll go to the publisher's site to record their price + shipping.
This is also a great thing to do so you can see at a glance what you total cost for curriculum might be. And when you see that it's going to be $400, $800, or even a $1000 or more, you become a bit more motivated to find even better deals on the books!
3. Take note of possible shipping savings (AKA: used is not always cheaper). Creating a master list with prices, shipping, and vendors might help you discover you can purchase several items from the same vendor to save on shipping costs. For our family, this often means we can purchase a new copy from Amazon.com cheaper than we could have purchase a used copy from somewhere else since we don't have to pay shipping.
Consider Free Alternatives
Now I know this isn't really a tip for buying curriculum. But honestly, sometimes we don't actually need to buy curriculum when we can meet the same need with a free resource. So as you're planning next year, perhaps you should first surf some of the "homeschool for free" websites that either offer directly or link out to quality free resources. You might find there are free resources that can take the place of your paid ones. (I'm considering doing this for some of my son's language arts course next year since he'll be studying for the ACT.)
Here are a few sites to start with:
- How to Homeschool for Free
- Free Homeschool Deals
- Freely Educate
- The Math Worksheet Site (We used this site a ton when my oldest two were in elementary grades!)
- Free Homeschooling Resources
- Donna Young
- Five J's Homeschool for Free Page and Master Resource List
Participate in a Free Curriculum Swap
Free swaps are groups of homeschoolers that exchange curriculum with each other and charge only shipping costs. I've personally never used this method (expect locally with friends), but it sounds intriguing!
Here are a couple sites/Facebook groups to explore for free curriculum swaps:
Shop Strategically for Curriculum Online
1. Compare prices using AddAll.com: When I shop for curriculum online, the first place I check is AddAll.com. You can search for a book by title or ISBN if you want a particular edition, and AddAll.com searches 41 online book sellers to find the best deal. AddAll searches include Amazon (both new & used), eBay, and even Walmart! What I especially like about this site is that when it lists results, shipping cost is listed as well.
2. Join Facebook Used Curriculum Groups: There are a number of Facebook used curriculum groups you can join. Some have more members than others, so not all be of equal benefit; you might find it better to join them selectively. Just remember to refer to your price list to make sure you're getting a good deal.
Here are a few of the larger ones you might consider:
- Homeschool Curriculum for Sale (1)
- Homeschool Curriculum for Sale (2)
- Used Homeschool Curriculum and Books
- Homeschool Curriculum: Needs, Wants, and for Sale
- Homeschool Curriculum Exchange/Yard Sale
3. Shop for both used and new at Amazon.com: Amazon is probably my favorite source for great deals on just about anything. And truthfully, once I've done all my research, I often find that I get the best deal by purchasing most of my used books and curriculum through Amazon independent booksellers in Amazon's used marketplace. I also appreciate that if there's a problem with my order, even in the used marketplace, Amazon is the mediator and helps me resolve issues quickly. (This has actually only happened once when a seller sent me a different edition from the one he had listed. I got a full refund and wasn't out a penny!)
4. Buy new books from Christian Book Distributors: If you can't find your book used, and Amazon.com doesn't carry it new either, I usually turn to CBD. They often have the new editions of curriculum for a great discount. (Most of the time, when I can't find the curriculum used from another homeschool mom, I purchase my Apologia, Singapore, and Wordly Wise curriculum through CBD.)
1. Used Bookstores: If you have a local Half Price Books or used bookstore, makes sure you look there for curriculum, especially if you need literature. Just make sure you compare the prices with your master list to make sure you are actually getting a good deal.
2. Homeschool Store: Homeschool stores often carry both new and used curriculum. This can also be a great way to preview curriculum you are considering using for the first time. Again, compare the prices with your list.
3. Homeschool Group/Associations: If you're part of a local homeschool group or association, check with the members there to see if they have curriculum to sell. You group might also host a used booksale for the entire association. If this option is available, you might find some of the best deals here since you don't have to worry about sales tax (usually) or shipping. And you can even negotiate prices! Just remember to take your master price list with you so you know whether you're getting a good deal or not.
What are some other ways you've saved money when purchasing curriculum?