Tuesday, May 7, 2013

I Don't Budget For My Homeschool

(this post contains affiliate links)

I have a confession.  I don't budget for my homeschool purchases.  Yeah, I know.  I bet you don't hear that from many homeschoolers, do you?  I'll tell you why, though.  I found a homeschool philosophy and a curriculum I identified with very early on.  This meant I could start planning, window shopping and buying here and there all year as I find good prices, spreading my "budget" out so that purchases are almost inconsequential.

However, just because I don't have to budget a large chunk of money for one major yearly purchase doesn't mean I don't care about what I spend.  I do aim to be wise with my spending.  The Frugal Homeschool is the topic of the Schoolhouse Review Crew's Blog Cruise, so I'm going to try to share how I try to save money in our homeschool.


Ambleside Online is the most rigorous Charlotte Mason curriculum I have found, and it is free! Many of the books and resources used are in the public domain, which means they are also free!  This means I can get many of them for free on my Kindle app until I find a hard copy of the book at a great price.

Ambleside Online

{There are other free curricula online, from reading to math to all-inclusive, you just have to search for what you need}

The Schoolhouse Review Crew has been such a blessing, and I cannot begin to tell you how grateful I am for the opportunity.  It is sometimes hard work to review the items and write fair and honest reviews under a strict deadline, but we've received many wonderful products, some of which we will continue to use far after the review period.  Right now, our current reading, math, PE and art curriculum, as well as many supplements for various subjects have come from the crew.  This program allows me to learn what does work for my family, so I'm not wasting money on things that don't work.

Books & Supplies

As Charlotte Mason homeschoolers, we thrive on books, and the best part is, real books do not need to be purchased from curriculum publishers.  The library is the most economical source for books, especially if you want to preview one before purchasing it, but it's not always the most practical.

Books for $0.50 each!

Before I go book browsing, I scan my book lists so titles and authors are familiar, and I keep a list on me too.

Ollies is a Discount/Buyout store that has a decent, though random selection of books.  I found a children's poetry anthology for 1/4th of the price on Amazon, and classic picture books for just a few dollars each.  I've also found some fun art supplies here too.

Book Closeouts is an online book discount store that also has random selections, but I have found several titles for Ambleside Online for the upcoming year at a tiny fraction of the cost of buying new.

Book Sales at the library and museum are a great place to find books and resources, and you are putting your money back into the community.  I have even been known to use http://www.booksalefinder.com/ to find sales on vacation!

Goodwill/Yard Sales/Flea Markets are hit or miss, but in addition to books, they are great place to find board games and other educational or crafting materials.  I just found a huge art book for $0.50 at a "flea market" booth at the local spring fest, and I mentioned recently that refurbishing this student desk is on our to-do list.

Flea Market find that will be "flipped"

Amazon I get their free kindle books all the time.  Also, their prices are usually the cheapest when buying new, they have the 4-for-3-Books and of course their free shipping.

Educator Discounts are often offered to homeschool teachers as well, so check out this extensive list to find stores near you!

Field Trips
Field trips are fun, but can be costly if you're paying regular admission to museums, zoos, and aquariums.  However, many will offer discounted or free admission after certain hours or on certain days of the week, or consider an annual pass if you like to visit frequently.

In addition to your big name local attractions, consider low-cost alternatives.   Instead of the zoo, try a state park or wildlife rehabilitation center.  Interested in art?  See when the local college's art department is hosting an exhibit or see if a local town is having a local-artist art walk.

I recently compiled a list of common Free and Frugal Field Trip Ideas to remind myself that educational opportunities are everywhere, and sometimes its just fun to get out of the house!

Also, be sure to ask about Homeschool Discounts!  Some places we've received homeschool discounts are the Creation Museum, Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, and Parrot Mountain and Gardens.  Many places also offer special classes for homeschoolers, so check their websites or call ahead!

Target Free Tuesday at Imagine It!

Online Resources 

Google and Pinterest- You can find lesson plans, unit studies, lapbooks, worksheets, coloring pages, crafts, educational videos and more - all for free!  Of course you have to use your discretion as to the quality of the materials, but you can find anything your heart desires if you look long enough.  (I am currently compiling my own list of Free Online Resources that I use, or think might be helpful to other homeschoolers.)

Contests, Giveaways and Freebies - There are always giveaways for books, DVDs, study aids, and even full curricula.  Publishers are always marketing their products, and sometimes they will offer free e-books, samples or even a unit from their program to entice you.  For example, I've received a full art DVD that a well-known art company was offering free at one time.  I've also won contests for great products to enhance our homeschool.  Just use your discretion and choose reputable blogs and websites before entering your personal information.

Free Stuff

A few other FREE things you might be interested in . . .
Lego Club Magazine - free Lego Club or Lego Club Jr.
Pizza Hut Book It Program - Incentive program for reading
Kids Bowl Free - summer program

So there you have it.  That is how I save money all year, buying little by little, and always scouting for deals.

Please share your favorite frugal tips and be sure to check out some other frugal homeschooling tips from my fellow crew mates!

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  1. great post! I love all the resources you gave!

  2. I can't wait to try the online book sites you mentioned. I have never heard of them before! Thanks for sharing!

  3. What an awesome post! Thanks for all the info (some we knew / do...some not). Blessings!

  4. The Crew has been such a blessing to us, too. We've saved not only on what we have been given and kept using, but also on being able to figure out what works (or doesn't) and saving "trial-and-error" budget busters. That means more money for e-books and art supplies!