5 More Ways to Save Money on Homeschool Supplies

by Linsey Knerl on 8 March 2013 3 comments

Years ago, I shared some of the methods I used to homeschool my five kids on a budget. While many of those resources are still relevant, some of the websites have ceased to exist, or I have found newer, better avenues for getting supplies on the cheap. Here are my new favorite five ways to get supplies for much less than retail! (See also: 7 Important Lessons Frugal Parents Teach Their Children)

Thrift Stores

Much of the required reading in a homeschooling class involves classic literature. Just this year alone, my kids have been assigned over a dozen "classics" that we could buy from a book store for $7 to $19 a copy. Thrift stores are much more reasonable, however, and if you can put up with some dog-ears, wear, and someone else's name written on the jacket, you can walk away with armfuls of classics for $.25 to $1 each.

As it turns out, most thrift stores are happy to part with copies of "The Iliad" or "Tom Sawyer;" most shoppers are looking for NYT bestsellers, and the classics collect dust and take up shelf space.

Publisher "Imperfect" Sales

Did you know that most publishers have boxes of books that have never been sold, but that have dents, marks, or wrinkles that prevent them from asking full price?

For our math curriculum, for example, I skip the homeschool retail sites and head directly to the publisher's website. Most have a section in their store called "damaged," and I can get various required textbooks and workbooks for 30-50% off retail. These books are missing no pages; they just don't look "pretty" from the outside. These sales are never advertised, and you can't guarantee that they'll have exactly what you need. (With five kids, however, I can grab what they have at the time, and save for future years.)

Library Sales

Space on library shelves is at a premium. With so many kids clamoring to read copies of "The Hunger Games" and the next YA Vampire title, classic reads from Bradbury are getting the boot in libraries everywhere. Luckily, these titles are usually put out for anyone to acquire, at prices less than thrift stores. Just ask when the next library book sale is taking place. You may be allowed to peruse the selection early, and many libraries will take a donation of $10 to $20 for an armful of books. (We acquire 70% of our literature texts from library sales, and many of the books are valuable first editions or unabridged classics!)

Facebook

A while back, I told you about how you can sell your second hand items for cash on Facebook. This works in the favor of the homeschooler, too, as many homeschool groups have formed on the social media site for the sole purpose of trading, selling, and buying used curriculum. Taking over where Craigslist used to reign, Facebook lets users do more than just buy or sell; parents can ask detailed questions about books and software before they buy — and even get tips for making the teaching process better for the family.

Giveaways

As an avid sweepstaker, I love to win supplies for our homeschool!

Homeschool blogs are the number one source of prizes for your home classroom, and the odds of winning on such sites are better than trying to win large national sweepstakes. Many blogs offer prizes as part of product reviews, giving you a chance to see what you'll win before you enter. To find ongoing blog giveaways that offer homeschool prizes, be sure to read up on our tips. And before you think that blogs are the only way to win, remember that Facebook is a great source for prizes as well!

While it's possible to spend almost nothing on your homeschool supplies, most home-educating parents want the best for their kids — and that costs money! Employing a savvy shopping strategy can drastically reduce what you pay out of pocket for textbooks and supplies, and your home will become the ideal learning environment for much less than the suggested retail price of your curriculum!

When you're not scoring tests and essays, where do you score the best deals on school supplies?

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Guest's picture
Susan

Amazon has many used ("good" or "very good") copies of books for only a penny (.01 cent)!!! I recently purchase a handful of them from sellers such as Goodwill on amazon, although I paid 399 times the purchase price for the shipping! A good bargain, nonetheless. Thanks for the tips. I"ll check the publishers' damaged sections from now on!

Guest's picture
Shelly

Here's a site I use that's really helpful. booksprice.com It finds you the best price of a book on the Internet.

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Ligia

I also have found curriculum swaps to be invaluable for finding free items. All the moms in my homeschool group bring their curriculum to park and either give it away or sell it for cheap.