Thursday, July 5, 2012
Buying Curriculum Without Going Broke
Homeschool curricula, art supplies, project materials, and educational aids can be expensive. But you can afterschool without going broke. Here's how:
1. Use your library.
If you haven't been in a while, you'll be amazed at how much your library has to offer. Most libraries also offer interlibrary loan, where you can borrow materials from other local libraries and pick them up at your own library. This should be your number one stop for read alouds, independent readers, non-fiction resources, magazines, documentaries, etc.
2. Decide what you need. Then decide what you really need.
Once you've realized what your library has to offer, you should be able to narrow your list down. What else can you do without? Many curricula publishers offer all sorts of extra materials you don't really need. For instance, I don't need videos and cds to accompany every book I have. Could you use free online resources instead of pricey ones? Join a forum like The Well Trained Mind Forums, and you'll find that many members have already created great materials and are willing to share free of charge.
3. Buy used.
Amazon.com, Paperback Swap, and library book sales are great places to find cheap materials. Check if your local homeschool organization organizes a used curriculum sale too. Last month I found half the Smart About Art book series and all the early readers I could ever need at my town library's sale. I walked away with a huge bag of books for under $10. I also collected 20 Illustrated Children's Classics at a yard sale for just $3!
4. Visit the dollar store.
You can buy cheap craft materials, workbooks, flashcards, and more dirt cheap. I also use this as a resource for those one-time-use project supplies. I don't drink coffee or iron, so when I needed coffee filters and spray starch for an art project, I purchased them cheaply at the Dollar Tree.
5. Rack up points.
Lately I discovered a great site called Swagbucks, where you can earn points to redeem for Amazon and other gift certificates. In just a week I've earned $20 in Amazon gift cards. Just by downloading the Swagbucks toolbar you can earn points for doing your normal, everyday searching. If you have extra time to take surveys, you'll earn even faster! (My daughter swims for hours every day, which is normally wasted time for me because I have to be by the pool. Lately I've been taking surveys on my cell phone to better use the time!)
Do you have other great money saving ideas? Let me know! We can all use a little help.