As a homeschooling mom of seven children, it can get super expensive to educate them at home if I'm not smart with my money. I have 2 children in lower grades, 2 in middle grades, and now 3 children in high school. My husband usually just tells me to "buy whatever they need," but I'm not one to purchase anything on impulse. How would I know what materials and supplies to buy if I don't even know what I plan to teach first? So the first step in shopping for our homeschooling year is to make a list of classes that I actually plan to teach.
To me, the most important step in all of this is to make sure I have the necessary books that I need to actually be able to teach those classes proficiently. That's the hardest part about starting a new school year for me. I have over 1000 books, so going thru them during the planning stages is definitely not an easy task for me. Now sometimes I don't have the books that I'm needing. What do I do from there? I start a search online for cheap books that fit within my budget. In addtion to Ebay and Amazon, some of my favorite sites are:
Sometimes I don't find what I need on either of those sites, I go to local thrift stores. If you shop at thrift stores, please please try to establish a good relationship with the employees if possible. Once they know you're a homeschooler, they will go above and beyond to look out for you when the best books come in through donations. So many people are supportive of home education now and will hold books specifically for your family. That's the way things have worked out for us. I've found some awesome books at thrift and consignment stores and I never pay more than $1 for a book and have received many for free. Yay!
Another place that I've found some beautiful unique books was at our local used library book sale. Check with your local library to see if they have a sale or if they ever "throw away" books. You would not believe how many libraries toss very usable books in the dumpster. I can't believe it myself. Calling the public schools to ask about what they deem outdated or old textbooks is also an option. That's probably not a popular decision when book shopping, but I can attest to it actually being on my list as a last resort if necessary.
I'm willing to bet if you have a church or even a mom's groups, someone in your close circle is a teacher at a public or perhaps a Christian school. Ask them what happens to their unwanted books. Guess what I did once? Sent a message to my local Christian school's facebook page and stated that I was willing to buy any excess books and workbooks from the previous year. Guess what they said? "No charge, just come get em out of our way!" I gassed my car up so fast. I'm telling you they gave me a very popular curriculum that would've cost me thousands. I used what I could but eventually paid it forward and gifted much of it to another family that I know once we decided to step away from boxed curriculum for awhile.
(See a later post and future Youtube vid about that part. Subscribe here.)
Current and retired teacher's yard sales are awesome too. I've gotten books there (see my pic at the top of this article) for pennies. I've found all kinds of supplies, materials, and teacher stuff. The last sale I went to was amazing. The teacher gave me some freebies and she was super supportive of my homeschool journey. She couldn't wait to get rid of these and refused my offer to pay for them.
Alright, once I have the book issue out of the way, next I need a list of supplies and materials to make my year go as smoothly as possible. I check around the house and see what I don't have and then make a list in the same manner as I did with the books previously. I buy supplies from Walmart after school has already started in my area. About 4-5 days after school starts here, I go on a supply shopping spree. I get spiral notebooks for $0.10 each. Usually, I purchase about 3-4 cases of them. I get enough notebooks and packs of loose leaf paper to last all year. Loose leaf I tend to get for $0.50 per pack.
I get tons of pencils. I think this is my biggest investment because most of the pencils on the market today are poorly made. My favorite pencils are the Ticonderoga brand. You can find them at Walmart, Amazon or Ebay. They're the only pencils that actually maintain their leads once sharpened. Sometimes Office Depot runs them on sale on Teacher Appreciation Day, so keep an eye out for that.
I get crayons and coloring pencils cheap at Dollar General Stores very cheaply. I rarely buy markers for my kids to use due to how they tend to bleed thru paper most of the time. I personally use Sharpies for multiple projects. I tend to buy those at Michael's Craft Store using the 40% off coupon. If you buy the individual sharpies, they are more expensive. Buying the bulk packs are the better deal in the long run. Scissors and pens I prefer to get at Dollar Tree due to the fact that a lot of their items come in packs of multiples. I get binders, project boards and post it type notes from Dollar Tree as well.
We use a lot of poster boards for a variety of reasons and Hobby Lobby has the best deal on those currently. I found a pack of 10 large poster boards in their clearance section for $1.50! That deal probably cannot be matched anywhere.
Lastly, I get my printer paper in bulk at the local Christian school annual fundraiser garage sale. They had a box with over 1000 sheets in it for under $2. This is one of the best deals that I've ever found. I almost tripped trying to get to that box before another homeschool mom that I recognized there could reach for it. I am almost certain that I wouldn't have found a better deal anywhere on that paper. I also got a bookbinder and laminator the same price. Got some free Bibles and blank journals in their book room too.
If you have never attended a school sale like this one, you're missing out. Get a copy of their calendar to see what events the school closest to you is having. So there you have it. I literally purchased all the supplies that I needed this past school year for under $45!!! I was able to purchase more than enough books, paper, pencils and supplies to homeschool 7 children.
Don't let anyone tell you that you have to spend tons of money to home educate. Believe me when I tell you that it's simply not true. You can homeschool on a budget! I hope this article has been useful for you. Now that you've gotten some great tips on homeschooling on a budget, head on over and visit Heather G at Fearless Faithful Mom to get some awesome tips.
Please leave any comments/questions that you may have below. Thanks for reading. XOXO God bless!