[Today’s post was written by contributor Michelle Habrych.]
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As spring draws to a close, you may be tempted to forget about homeschool curriculum for the summer and pick it up again in the fall. But that would be a financial mistake! If you have an idea of what your kids would be studying in the fall (or next semester), or if you’re making your plan (which I wrote about here–link to that post?), you know you will need to purchase some supplies. Buying curriculum doesn’t have to break your budget. With these helpful tips for buying used homeschool curriculum, you’ll minimize times you do have to pay full price for something!
Curriculum resales are group garage sales which are specifically planned for selling used (or new and unused) homeschool books, videos, materials, and curricula. My immediate area has two sales I almost never miss: one put on by a homeschool group and the other hosted by a homeschool-friendly library in our area. How do you find out about a sale like this? Ask around; a homeschool friend may be able to give you information. Do a web search. Join a homeschoolers’ email list in your area and ask on there. If there’s not one, perhaps you need to start one!
Why the Resale is Best
Out of the many ways to buy used curriculum, the resale is my personal favorite for a number of reasons. First, the resale in my area acts as an annual reunion of sorts. Homeschooling moms are pulled in different directions and may only see each other in passing. At the annual resale, I know I will see some of those moms. Additionally, the resale provides a place to discuss the items before buying. If you have a question, sometimes the previous owner will have information to help you make your decision. You can often bargain with the sellers. If the item is just over your budget, the seller may be willing to negotiate. Everyone knows me at our resale as the “make-a-deal” seller, though I always try to put a fair price on my items anyway.
Speaking of price, there may be many people selling the same thing at a resale. You can purchase the one with the best price. Don’t forget, you’re supporting other homeschool families with your purchase. Resales are also a good place to get ideas for the next year. Don’t forget add-ons; I always sell games, educational toys and coloring books, posters, and other items to help extend a lesson. Plus, at a resale, you save on shipping charges!
Bring a List
The most efficient way to attend a curriculum resale is to have a list of what you’re looking to buy. Before you go, get cash; most sales are cash only. How do you know how much to bring? I recommend doing a quick web search to see how much each item would cost new and used (take an average found during a quick search—don’t spend too much time on this). Then consider your budget. Don’t bring much more than you are willing to spend. Some items may cost more and you’ll have to decide if it’s worth it to you to just pay that extra or if you’ll wait for another opportunity.
Buying Used Curriculum Online
Another way to buy used curriculum is online. There are many places to find homeschool materials on the Internet. First, you could go to any number of Facebook groups. There are both local groups and national groups. Remember you will have to add shipping costs if it’s too far from home to pick it up. If your area doesn’t have a Facebook group, start one! Ebay has been a popular place to buy homeschool curriculum in the past. Half.com and Amazon may have some deals worth looking into as well. Some areas and curricula have their own Yahoo groups specifically for the purpose of reselling curriculum. Do a web search if you still cannot find what you are looking to buy.
Swap or Borrow Homeschool Curriculum
Don’t forget the best way to get used curriculum—swap or borrow. Depending on the relationship you have with the lender, make sure you state expectations upfront. This year I loaned out math curriculum that was for the level between my two kids; this saved a friend from my homeschool group a chunk of change, and I get it back for our use in a future school year. I did the same with our biology book. Both are women I trust to return the items in good condition before I need them for my own students. I also joined a local Facebook group based on this idea of swapping, and someone loaned me a supplemental curriculum to try out for the school year. I decided it wasn’t what we were looking for without spending any money on it.
As you can see, there are many ways to avoid paying retail and, therefore, stretch your homeschool budget.
Do you have any more tips for buying used homeschool curriculum? Please share in the comments!
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Michelle Habrych has been buying used curriculum every year since she started home educating her two teenagers a decade ago. She enjoys finding a great bargain, as well as helping other homeschool families through buying their used items.