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When I first started homeschooling, I was nervous, so I decided on a big box curriculum.  It was expensive, and it didn’t perfectly suit our needs, but everything was laid out for me.  I appreciated that so much the first year!

Now, as we’re in our third year homeschooling, I’ve given up the big box curriculum and have more eclectic tastes.  There’s so much good curriculum out there!  Why would I want to choose only one big box program?  I don’t!

However, mixing and matching curriculum can also be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be.  One way you can save a lot of money buying curriculum is to attend a curriculum swap.

How To Find a Curriculum Swap

If you’re a member of a homeschooling group, you can easily find out about curriculum swaps from the group.

Otherwise, ask your homeschooling friends about any curriculum swaps in the area.

Finally, some conferences (especially the smaller ones) allow patrons to have a curriculum swap, often before the conference begins.

How To Save Money at a Curriculum Swap

My friends, the best advice I can give you is to have a list of items you need to buy, and try not to stray from that list.

Trust me, walking into the swap and seeing so much curriculum can be tantalizing.  So many pretty books!  So much curriculum you’ve never seen before or that you’ve heard good things about.  Because the prices can be much lower than retail, you may be tempted to buy things “just in case” you decide to use it later.  You can quickly blow your budget doing this.  Know what you’re looking for and go on a hunt to find it.

Come with a limited amount of cash.  If you only have $100 to spend, only bring $100 in cash.  When the money runs out, you’re done shopping.  Using this strategy, you can wisely choose what you need and limit the impulse to buy curriculum “just in case.”

Check out the free boxes.  There is usually a table (or two) of free items.  At a recent curriculum fair we attended, Bookworm looked through the free boxes and found several novels for himself as well as some books for the girls.  He also found free school supplies like paper, folders, and binders.  Although we didn’t need them, he also saw older editions of math books, so you never know what you’ll find there.

Negotiate with the seller.  Sellers have their prices marked, but you can always negotiate.  The seller may not budge on the price, but often if your offer is reasonable, they’ll take it.  After all, they’re done using the curriculum and just want to be rid of it.

Take the seller’s e-mail address.  Do you see something you like but you’re not sure you want to buy it?  Maybe it’s curriculum you want to research further or you won’t need for another year or two.  Instead of buying it right then, ask for the seller’s e-mail address.  If she doesn’t sell the item at the curriculum swap, she may be willing to sell it to you at a later time.

How much money can you save at a curriculum swap?  This year, I wanted to purchase The Ultimate Geography and Timeline Guide ($27.95), Trail Guide to World Geography ($15.83), Uncle Josh’s Outline Map Book ($12), and Eat Your Way Around the World ($13.46), but we just didn’t have the funds to pay $69.24 for one subject.  As luck would have it, I stumbled upon all of these books at one of the curriculum swaps I went to.  Best of all, they only cost me $26, and I’ll be able to resell them when I’m done for roughly the same cost!

Have you been to a curriculum swap before?  If so, what are your favorite ways to save?

Working with a Tight Homeschool Budget

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