I know, I know. Everyone has a budget for their homeschool books and activities, right? Some are just larger than others. You know – the budget where you can buy whatever you need without thinking about it?
Yeah, that isn’t my budget! There have been years when I had less than $100 for all three kids, and years when my budget was higher than that. I have never gone above $300 per kid, even on the most expensive years, but it is getting harder as they get older.
While I know every budget is different, I have a few tips that will help stretch whatever budget you might have.
Disclosure: Some of the links on this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission from your purchase. Please see my disclosure here. Thank you!
#1 – Go to the Library
No matter what my budget is, I use the library like crazy. I use our library’s online catalog to put books on hold to pick up quickly when I need them. I just run in and grab them, without dragging all of the kids in and out of the library. Then every couple of weeks, we go in and spend some time just browsing.
You can absolutely learn almost anything by reading books! So that is always my first stop when I am planning for the next school year.
#2 Beg or Borrow from Friends
Maybe you have a friend who has kids that are a grade above or below yours. Try to work out a system with them to borrow their books. I have a niece that is one grade below my daughter, and she has borrowed our Teaching Textbooks discs, and it has worked out beautifully.
It’s also possible that you have friends that have books just sitting around collecting dust and they would be happy if you took them! When my daughter was younger, I had a friend who gave me a whole pile of A Beka books. What a blessing!
#3 Learn Together as a Family
Some of my favorite school years have been the ones where we all gather together in the living room and read the same book together. Then each child would go do an activity that corresponded with that lesson at their own level. This cuts down on cost because you are only buying one curriculum for the entire family.
Some of my favorite curriculums can be used this way. We used Mystery of History one year and my oldest daughter did notebooking while the youngers just listened to the story and colored a picture sometimes.
We have also used Apologia Science this way several times. They have several different books that can be used together as a family. They are recommended for grades K-6, I think though, so as they get older, they separate into the different subjects by grade.
We will be using Simply Charlotte Mason next year, and I am so excited that we will all be learning together! I will be doing a post soon on our curriculum choices for next year, so keep an eye out for that!
#4 Use free online tools
There is SO much available online for free! From free preschool curriculum to notebooking pages to online co-ops, the internet is full of great FREE resources!
I recently stumbled on an amazing resource that I am so excited about! I was searching for schedules for K’s science for next year, and found the Virtual Homeschool Group. This site has LOTS of online courses and At Your Own Pace Classes – FOR FREE! It’s amazing! You still have to buy the books that go along with the course, but the teaching and online classes are free. They have everything from Saxon Math, Apologia Science, Mystery of History (coming in the fall), to Computer Programming and Study Skills classes.
It is all dependent on volunteer help to build and teach the classes though, so if you take advantage of the classes, maybe you can find somewhere that you can help.
There are several online courses that I have used as resources at one time or another. I haven’t ever used any of them exclusively, but I have friends who have and loved it. So you just have to find the thing that works best for you and your family.
- Ambleside Online – This program is based on the Charlotte Mason philosophy, and Oh, my goodness! It is full of amazing literature and extras! I have used their enrichment items, like picture study and poetry, and it has been amazing. I tried to use it for K’s first grade year, and really struggled, but I think it was me more than the curriculum. I didn’t understand the Charlotte Mason method very well, and felt lost. I think if I tried it again now I would do a lot better. I still use this site as a great book list resource. Like I said, there is so much amazing literature on this site, and most of it is in the public domain, so there isn’t a lot you have to buy.
- Easy Peasy All-in-one Homeschool – This site is completely free, and is a complete education from K-12. You truly could homeschool your child completely through high school for FREE using this curriculum. I can’t even imagine the hours the writer has put into this site. We used it for history last year, and had mixed results. Princess didn’t like it and balked at doing it. She would go for days without even looking at it. But each child will be different. It has lots of lapbooking and online games, so if you child enjoys these, it might be a good fit. And it’s free, so it couldn’t hurt to check it out.
- Old-Fashioned Education – I love going to this site to look for good books for whatever subject I am working on at the time. She also has a full curriculum, but I have never used it.
Well, I better stop now, but suffice it to say, there is so much amazing information out there on the internet, that you really could homeschool for free if you needed to. Maybe I will do another post next week to list more of my favorites.
#5 – Buy used
My last tip is something I have done A LOT! When I am planning for the following school year, I decide what I need to buy, and then I start looking for used. I try not to buy anything new except consumables – workbooks, and notebooking journals, and the like. I have been very successful with buying books from Ebay and Facebook groups, as well as Homeschool Classified sites and Amazon. I usually look on Ebay first to see what the going rate is, and then go on Facebook and HS Classified to see if I can get it cheaper.
While I prefer to buy from a person, you have to be careful buying online. I have never had it happen to me, but some people get burned trying to buy used books. Always send your payment through Paypal as a payment for goods, so that if it never shows up, you will have a recourse to get your money back.
Another site that I found recently was Thriftbooks. I have found lots of the books on our reading list for around $3.59 a book! And they are all really nice books. They have a quality check process, that weeds out books that are falling apart. I haven’t been disappointed in any of the ones I have bought. If you sign up for an account with my Tell-a-friend link, you will receive 15% off your first order!
What is your favorite free resource? How do you save money while homeschooling? Share with me in the comments and be sure and like my page on Facebook.
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