April 18, 2011

Save Money by Planning Ahead: Homeschool

It is that time of year for us.  Time to look ahead to next fall. Time to look back over the last eight months. Time to make some decisions for next year's schooling.  It may seem early, but there are some real advantages to spring decisions.

Truly, I began this process back in January.  It had been long enough to see what was working well, what needed some enhancement, and what was not working.  But, I did not necessarily feel settled on what the changes would entail for us.  After praying, reading many blog reviews, discussing things with Ryan and looking over catalogs together we are now settled, and excited.

We learned last August (the hard way) to plan ahead and spread out the curriculum costs.  Otherwise, it can be a bit shocking.  I have read a statistic that the average homeschool family spends $500 per child per year.  We spend about that much, or a bit less, for our two (and a half) children in school, total.  To drop all of that in one month is not really ideal for most families, us included. 

Also, there are some companies that offer spring specials: we took advantage of Alpha Omega's spring sale to take care of next year's math (and did get free shipping on my smaller order: contact me if you want to know how).  And by starting early, I have a larger window of opportunity for finding used books.  I do use Ebay and Amazon to find some cheaper deals on some of our curriculum. However, if there isn't much difference in price I will buy directly from the publisher in order to encourage the company to stay in business. 

There are also many used homeschool exchange sites out there to also save some money with.  I have used this one: Homeschool Classifieds.  You can also look here, or here (this one you can only use if you are a HSLDA member) for used homeschool curriculum.

The best place to save money?? Well, if you happen to homeschool using a Charlotte Mason philosophy or some classical styles you know it requires a lot of books.  This can get expensive.  The library can be an invaluable source, but many families want to own quality books for a variety of reasons.  My source?? Goodwill.  There are particular branches of Goodwill that specialize in books.  Shopping here can save TONS of money for your homeschool and simply build your home library.  I now consider a used book expensive if it is more than two dollars.  And deciding early which books we need next year has given me a few opportunities, already, to reduce the cost of good reading. 

So, what are we changing, and why, you ask?  Well, you will need to wait until later this week because this is already too long.....

Edited to add:
Also, don't give into the common notion that you must have all of your curriculum for the next school year purchased by September.  Really, why not spread it out over the fall and winter?  Make your list of needs chronologically and start at the top.  This comes down to your budget: what can you afford each month?  Prioritize and then buy appropriately!


The Musacchio Project said...

What a valuable source of information in this blog. I am looking to eventually homeschool Kaydance and a couple of my friends kids through elementary school. I will be contacting you in the future, I am sure.

Ryan & Heather said...

Hey that is awesome Tal! If I didn't have so many of my own I have thought that idea would be a great home based business! You will be really good at it!

Jessica-MomForHim said...

Great idea for a blog post! I shop ahead, too, both to get better deals and spread out the cost. I will be officially homeschooling 3 kids next year (3rd, 1st, and Kind), plus a 3 yo and 1 yo. I figure I have spent about $150 so far, with only $100 or less to go, and because I have spread it out like you mentioned, it doesn't "hurt" as much!

So far for next year I have:
*All the My Father's World-Exploring Countries and Cultures I need, bought on ebay and saved almost $200! This is our History, Bible, Geography, Science, Art, and Reading for multiple grades
*I think I have everything I need for M (kindergarten) by using workbooks I have accumulated through the years, while including her in our group curriculum.
*Language Arts for H (4th) bought on ebay
*Math for G (1st) bought on ebay
*Teacher's Manuals for Lang Arts and Reading for G (2nd) that I used last year with H.

This is what I still need:
*Math for H $46 new--still hoping to find it used
*Workbooks for G for Lang Arts and Reading (2nd) $58 new--hoping to find used, may even skip reading since we'll hit it with MFW
*I might pick up workbooks here and there to supplement for my kindergartner and preschooler, but won't spend much, less than $10.