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Many parents are nervous to start homeschooling because they fear the cost. Homeschooling does not have to be expensive, though. Although books and curriculum are our biggest expense without a doubt, there are loads of ways to save on these items and find cheap homeschool curriculum, books, and educational apps.
Use the Public library
When we were living in the Washington, D.C. suburbs, we visited the public library at least once a week. We made extensive use of Maryland’s inter-library loan system, which added countless titles to the books at our disposal. There weren’t just paper books in their collection, either. We were also able to check out audiobooks and ebooks and to use educational resources like language software and educational games. If you’ve got a local library, you should definitely take advantage of it.
Check to see if your local library has an educator card. Often, they provide perks like longer check-out times, greater total numbers of books you can check out, and reduced fines for overdue books.
Buy a subscription to an online “library”
Since we recently got rid of all of our possessions to travel as a family, we are experimenting with online book subscriptions rather than relying on the local library for access. We have found that many, many of the titles we need are available from a few online sources.
Epic is a book subscription service just for kids’ books. For just $7.99/month, you have access to their entire collection of 35,000 titles. There are books across all categories, and their system of awarding badges for reading has really encouraged my sons to love reading even more. Click HERE to learn more and get a free 30-day trial!
Scrib’d is an online book subscription service for all ages that has books, audiobooks, periodicals, and even sheet music. When you sign up for their membership, you receive access to more than one million titles for just $8.99/month. The selection here is unreal, and they also offer a 30-day free trial.
Amazon, of course, is a leader among sellers of physical books. They also have a terrific collection of Kindle ebooks, many of which can be read for free on any phone or tablet with a Kindle Unlimited Subscription. The subscription typically costs $9.99/month, but you can try it free for 30 days or sign up for a 6-month subscription for a reduced rate of $6.66/month HERE.
Buy used homeschool curriculum and books from other homeschoolers
There are several support groups and Marketplace groups on Facebook just for the people using a particular curriculum. People frequently post used curriculum and entire lots of books for sale at a fraction of the cost you’d pay for new materials. If you don’t see what you need, try posting ISO (in search of) what you’re looking for in those groups. Many people will have these items sitting on the shelf, but they hadn’t considered listing them themselves. Big, general groups include the Homeschool Curriculum Marketplace and Homeschool Curriculum Sell/Exchange. If you’re using a particular curriculum, do a search on its name to look for other users and to see if a buy-sell group has already been established.
It goes without saying that you can follow these same steps to find out if any of your fellow local homeschoolers have curriculum they’d like to sell. Although the selection might not be as large, you won’t have to pay for shipping.
Buy used homeschool curriculum and books from online retailers
My favorite used book retailer is Thriftbooks. They have excellent prices and selection, any purchase over $10 ships for free, and they offer loyalty discounts to repeat customers.
Amazon, of course, has a wonderful selection of new and used titles (including textbooks!), and their prices are fantastic.
Buy a Curriculum that can be shared among siblings and reused multiple times
Many of our resources are easily shared between both of my children. Our Shiller Math Curriculum, for instance, came with hard copies of the workbooks, but allowed me to download clean copies to use with my younger son when the time came. Our Healthy Living from the Start health textbook from Oak Meadow has the curriculum for Kindergarten to 3rd grade all laid out in one book. Because the assignments are done on separate paper, the text can be used again and again.
Buy a Curriculum that allows Digital Downloads and Utilize a PDF Reader
Several of the curricula we use allow for digital downloads of the material. This saves us money on shipping and allows us to easily use the material again and again. Many families utilize printing services to print these PDFs, which can make them nearly as expensive as a manufacturer’s copy. We prefer instead to open them on our tablets in the PDF reader GoodReader.
My kids are able to easily write on the screen with a stylus in their workbooks, and when the time comes to reuse the file, I have a clean version. It’s easy to print out any pages that we’d prefer to have as a hard copy. Best of all, when we travel, our books are all on a small device or two rather than weighing down our suitcases.
Look for sales/discounts on new curriculum
Many curriculum publishers do periodic sales on their curriculum, and buying during these sale periods can save you significant money on your purchase. The best way I’ve found to stay in the loop on these sales has been to join the Facebook groups that are designed for the users of a particular curriculum. Searching the group for “[curriculum name] sale” should bring up old posts that let you know when yearly sales are. Black Friday is typically a wonderful time to purchase curriculum if you are planning way ahead or following a less traditional schooling schedule.
Some publishers, like our beloved Logic of English don’t do many sales, but they do offer discounts on scratch and dent or recently phased out products. You could save significant money using a workbook with a torn cover or last year’s Teachers’ Manual.
Utilize Co-ops for buying new curriculum and educational apps
There are several co-op groups that will get you substantial discounts on curriculum if you join their organization. These groups are able to get volume discounts on the resources they purchase, and they pass the savings on to you.
Homeschool Buyers Co-op
The Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op is a group of over 190,000 homeschooling families that negotiates volume discounts on curriculum for their members. Those in the co-op can save as much as 90% on specific titles. (Prices on each item go down as the number of families wanting to purchase them increases.) Deals are often available for only a limited time, so you’ll want to check their “Deals of the Week” page on the website or their Facebook page regularly. This group is free to join, so doing so is really a no-brainer.
The Griffin Academy features a collection of online subscription-based resources that Academy Members can use as part of their membership fee. Homeschool teachers pay $35/year to become members and then have access to a huge digital library across all subjects. We are currently using BrainPOP Jr. and Calico Spanish daily as part of our Griffin Academy membership. These two resources alone would cost me $325/year. Enrolling felt a little like joining a secret club. I joined this Facebook group to learn more.
As you can see there are all sorts of sources for cheap homeschool curriculum, books, and apps. From purchasing used homeschool curriculum to joining groups to help defray the cost, I hope one of the tips above helps to save you a ton of money!
Have you found other ways to save?
Tell me about them in the comments!
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