I would venture to say that most homeschoolers start buying curriculum for the following school year in the spring or summer. More often than not this is a daunting task, and the cost of the various curricula can be overwhelming.
Over the last few years I've purchased curriculum from a variety of sources. I try to buy used curriculum and books whenever possible, but sometimes it's just not an option and I have to resort to purchasing new. Here are some of my favorite ways to find curriculum at good prices.
Finding Used Curriculum
- Swapping with friends. The absolute least expensive way to acquire curriculum (and my personal favorite) is to swap with friends. I have a friend whose child is a little older than my middle child, so we've swapped curriculum several times. I've borrowed various science curricula, and she's in turn borrowed language arts, history, and logic curricula. It's a mutually beneficial arrangement that saves us both a lot of money.
- Buying from other homeschoolers in my local homeschool association. This is by far my favorite way to purchase books. I'm a member of a local association that has an online forum and I subscribe to the forum on an individual-post basis so I am notified as quickly as possible when someone posts curriculum for sale. I can also send out requests for curriculum that I'm looking for and I've often found great deals this way.
- Buying from my local homeschool store. I realize not everyone has access to a local homeschool store, but we happen to have a great one within 30 minutes of us. I rarely buy new books through them, but I often find used curriculum at decent prices. I take advantage of every discount opportunity as well. Members of my homeschool association get 10% off every purchase, plus I use a 15% of coupon once a month that comes in our association newsletter.
- Shopping at my local used bookstores. Many larger used bookstores carry homeschool curriculum. And since we use a lot of living books (non-textbooks) we've been able to find a good number of those books at our local Recycled Books or Half Price Books.
- Shopping online at Half.com and Amazon Used Marketplace. I used to purchase a lot of curriculum through eBay, but I have found that I can find books and curriculum for much cheaper on Half.com and Amazon. Especially since eBay won't allow the sale of teacher manuals any longer, I've been much more successful in finding what I was looking for with Half.com and Amazon.
- Buying (with caution) from VegSource. VegSource operates a used curriculum swap, but there aren't any buyer or seller protections like are available from Half.com or Amazon. However, I have heard of many people who use VegSource very successfully. I've actually only purchased curriculum once through VegSource, and that was only after I found out that the seller was a homeschool store in Oregon called Kingfisher Curriculum Cove. I made a big purchase of books through them and I was extremely pleased with the prices and service I received. I now refer a lot of my homeschooling friends to that Oregon store, and whenever I'm in need of curriculum, I always check with them.
Finding New Curriculum
- Using AddAll.com to find the best prices. AddAll.com lets you search for a book by title, author, or ISBN, and then it searches the databases of multiple online retailers (included their new and used inventory). Then it returns the results with the shipping prices so you get a much more accurate look at the real cost of each book. AddAll.com searches eBay, Half.com, Abe Books, Walmart.com, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and numerous other retailers.
- Buying in volume from Amazon.com. This is probably my number one source for new curriculum, but I only shop Amazon when I can purchase $25 or more so I don't have to pay shipping. Plus Amazon has great shipping times so shopping with them also helps satisfy my need for instant gratification.
- Ordering from CBD.com (Christian Book Distributors). I often find discount codes in homeschool magazines for CBD.com, so even though I have to pay shipping, I can often get great deals on books from CBD.com. I've ordered through them several times, and I've occasionally received free shipping coupons with my shipment to use on future orders.
I know there are other great sources for homeschooling curriculum, so I'd love to hear what your favorites are. Leave a comment and share where you find your homeschool curriculum.