Thursday, July 19, 2012

Homeschool Book Shelf

It's already THAT time of year!  Where did the summer go?!

The main expense of homeschooling is definitely books.  Art supplies are a close second, but books definitely hold that number one position.  So I thought I'd share with you how we've managed to save a few bucks on books over the years.

First, use your public library.  Check out at the 'brare instead of checking out at the store or online.  Your taxes already cover the cost of this service, so take advantage when you can.

Then, realize that the library may not carry every book you need.  Interlibrary loan may be an option, but the title you seek may not be available or may not come in for several weeks or even months.  There may also be a fee associated with getting a book from another library.  So, in this instance, think about a purchase.

Never buy new when used will do - check thrift stores, garage sales, Craigslist, eBay,, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  Look high.  Look low.  You'll be surprised what you can find if you only look hard enough.

Another option:  have a book swap with other homeschoolers.  If you are in a group or co-op, this can be especially helpful for all involved.  We are not, but I know of a few different groups that have exchanges quite successfully.

When all else fails, buy new.  If possible, only purchase when you have a cartful, and can take advantage of free shipping.  Don't be afraid to compare several online sites to find the best price.  Sadly, sometimes, you'll only be able to find what you want in one location, and have to pay full price and shipping.  When this happens, take solace in the fact that you literally did EVERYTHING possible to reduce your costs.

What to do with all those books when you are done?  Save the ones you like for younger siblings if possible (I have our favorites packed away for future grandchildren).  Sell the rest.  If you fail to find a buyer, donate the books to a local charity.  Get a receipt for your donation, and deduct your donation from your taxes.

Here's an example of the full circle:
Several years ago, my kids were using Saxon Math quite successfully.  I had previously ordered Saxon 6/5, 7/6, 8/7 and Algebra 1/2 used on eBay.  I think the least expensive of these was the Saxon 7/6.  It wasn't in the best of shape, but it was certainly usable.  If memory serves, I believe I got it for about $7.  Total.  Including shipping.

When I was offered free shipping on any order over $35 from one of my favorite vendors, I knew I had to take a serious look through their catalog and their website.  This same company was also the only place I could find the entire homeschool kit for Algebra, Algebra 2, and Geometry.  So I ordered these materials.  Well, it turns out that Saxon Geometry was not a good fit for us.  The book has barely been used, the solutions manual and test book never opened.  So, these were perfectly sell-able.  And the successor - Algebra 2?  Still in the shrink wrap it came in. I sold these 2 programs to Amazon today, and will be popping them in the mail tomorrow.  Amazon is paying for the shipping, and will be adding a tidy sum to my gift certificate account (to be used for future school book purchases).  I listed a few other books on my seller's account on Amazon, and put the rest on eBay.  Whatever doesn't sell will go to a local charity.

So you see, you don't have to spend a small fortune to educate your kids at home!  Happy Book Shopping!

1 comment:

Lecy said...

In addition to, ebay, and all those others, there are also several used homeschool curriculum sites. My favorite has been They sell their stuff at 25%-75% off retail depending on the condition of the book. There are also a lot of other sites out there like this that provide good homeschool books at a Fraction of the cost. Homeschooling is really expensive, but it is so worth it and there are ways to get around the expense and even avoid it if you're clever! Don't ever give up!