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Saving Money on Back-To-School Shopping

Yup, even we homeschoolers have to do some back-to-school shopping 😉

Of course, we buy fewer backpacks/lunchboxes and more curriculum, so it all probably evens out in the end.

As you might expect, I like to get this task done as frugally as possible, and since a lot of you have written to me asking how to save money on homeschooling supplies, I thought a post on the topic might be in order.

Two ways to save on curriculum:

1. Buy Used

Brand new curriculum can be outrageously expensive, and the main way I save money is by buying second-hand.

It’s fairly easy to buy hardback curriculum second-hand, but you’d be surprised at how much consumable curriculum is also available. Sometimes people buy workbooks and don’t end up using them, so they list them for sale. Or they might fill out a few pages, decide it’s not for them, and sell the books.

My most favorite place to buy used curriculum is is an eBay company, but the site doesn’t have an auction format. You search for what you want, buy it for a set price, and you’re done. SO easy. is sometimes a little tricky to shop on because some books don’t have photos. They do usually have ISBNs, though, so I check a regular retail site to find the ISBN so I can confirm I’m buying the right thing on It’s worth checking to see if a particular seller has several things you need because there are shipping discounts for ordering multiple items from the same seller.

eBay is also a good place to find curriculum if you don’t mind navigating the auction format (I hate that, so I try to avoid eBay if possible.)

You can also check out second-hand curriculum fairs in your area. And if you have friends that are farther along in their homeschooling journey, you could be the lucky recipient of hand-me-down books.

2. DIY

Unless you’re a math whiz, you probably don’t want to go at it on your own for algebra, but I’ve successfully done my own thing for several subjects.

For phonics, my kids and I made flash cards for each letter sound, reviewed them daily, and then began to put the sounds together by reading Bob Books. As another example, we studied the 50 U.S. states by reading library books, playing U.S. state games, and making an illustrated page for each state.

Bonus tip: use your library!! We check out so much material from our library each year…DVDs, non-fiction books, chapter books, geography books, and more.

Three ways to save on consumable supplies:

Like traditional schoolers, we homeschoolers need things like notebooks, pencils, and rulers.

1. Loss Leader Sales

I like to shop the super-duper cheap supply sales that stores like Office Depot run in July and August. I try to avoid cheaply-made plastic items like pencil holders, but when supplies like notebooks, composition books, and lined paper are on sale, I’m all over that.

2. Thrift Stores

I’ve also scored some spiral-bound notebooks at Goodwill during the winter (Target sends unwanted merchandise to Goodwill, so you can find school supplies at Goodwill in the off-season.)

3. Clearances

Stores that aren’t devoted to office supplies (like Target) often clear out their school supplies after school starts, so you can sometimes find clearance deals in September or October.

Digital/Online Tools

I use My Job Chart to help my older two kids stay on top of their schoolwork and chores. This is totally free to use and has changed our lives. So great for scatterbrained kids!

FreeTypingGames is where Joshua and Lisey learned how to type (Sonia and Zoe are still working on that). As you might imagine, it’s free.

Sheppard Software also offers some great free games as does Soft Schools.

And my kids use Microsoft Word for all of their composition projects.

We also use it for their daily journals once they outgrow the stage of needing me to hand-write in their journals for them. I used a Microsoft Word processor to write my own compositions back when I was being homeschooled, and now my kids are doing the same (though I must say, theirs is a lot fancier than mine was!).

Word is part of the Office 2010 Home and Student suite and I think it’s so worth buying. Office 2010 also includes OneNote (for organizing notes), Excel (for making spreadsheets) and PowerPoint.

You can save 15% on Microsoft Office today! And do hurry because this promotion ends on 9/14.

Be sure to visit Microsoft Office 2010’s brand page on where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

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Thursday 16th of August 2012

I am not homeschooling....yet! However, I have found on our library's website you can access free language lessons from Mango. I tried the Latin one and it is easy and very fun! It seems well- done amd is an attractive program. If your library's site doesn't have access, check out ours which is the Inyo County Free Library. :)


Wednesday 15th of August 2012

I seriously love your blog! I just started reading a few months ago, and it has quickly become my fav! Thank you so much for these tips... I wish I had seen your post on reading and writing materials earlier. I am really excited to try the Bob Books and the Handwriting without Tears.

Economies of kale

Monday 13th of August 2012

I know that this post is sponsored by Microsoft, but if you want a free alternative check out . Open office is open-source software with an equivalent for each program of the Microsoft suite, and the files are also compatible. It is perfect for basic use (eg. for home-schooling young kids). I don't use it because I need more complicated Excel functions for uni, but Mr Omnivore does and it works well.


Tuesday 14th of August 2012

I second! My husband is an IT guy and he had me use this free software while we were dating since I didn't have any Microsoft software on my old computer. What's great about this free software that you download is that it can save and open files in Microsoft format if you need it to. And it's FREE! :-)


Monday 13th of August 2012

It might be worth checking to see if there is a home school program within the school district. Some school districts will supply cirriculum materials to homeschoolers. You may not have a choice in the cirriculum, but our district uses Saxon math.


Monday 13th of August 2012

So sometimes ideas kind of hit you on the head, and you have succeeded in that today. We heavily use a workbook curriculum, so I never thought to look for it used, but it's all over ebay! I'm excited!

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