Friday, June 22, 2012

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Top Places to Save on Curriculum (Bonus Pricebook Spreadsheet)

It's curriculum-shopping time again!  I am all ready for the upcoming year. I even purchased one course for the following year because I was able to save so much money. It helps to have a good list of resources to shop and compare prices for the items you need each year.

I am often asked from friend where I find the best homeschooling deals.  I generally try to keep my yearly curriculum budget under $200.  I am a huge comparison shopper. This week, I purchased all the books I'll need for the upcoming year, and I spent around $90.  Today, I'm going to list my top ten places to buy curriculum for my homeschool, listed in order of where I look first to last.  As a bonus, I'm sharing a fully-customizable curriculum pricebook spreadsheet to keep track of where to find your best deals for the upcoming school year!

1. Homeschool Classifieds  This board is ultra-organized and simple to navigate.  It has been around for several years now. I discovered it around 2006, and it's been one of the first places I go to get curriculum for each school year.  Homeschooling families from all over the country use this board, which has a search form and is organized in multiple ways. It's much easier to search than many of the swap boards of forums I've encountered (compared to swap boards/forums like VegSource offers, Homeschool Classifieds is a dream to use). It is also my first place to go to sell my own used curriculum. When I list an item, if it's a popular item and I have a fair price, it usually sells within a day or two.

2. Amazon I look on Amazon to get comparative prices for both new and used curriculum.  If Amazon beats anything other place on the list, I usually buy here first. I am careful to note the condition and description of any of the used curriculum I buy.

3.  I dub this site as "eBay's forgotten cousin." It's still a great place to buy used books. I don't like to buy on eBay because the pricing is usually too high, but does not involve bidding, if you aren't familiar with it.  One feature on is that it will list current auctions from eBay of the same item you are looking to purchase on at the bottom of the screen, so you may also snag a deal on eBay instead if the timing (and your bid) is right.

4. Rainbow Resource  Rainbow Resource is a wonderful place to explore new curriculum. You can sign up on their website to get a free catalog, and each year you  will be sent a MASSIVE telephone-book sized catalog to peruse and mark for reference.  Sometimes, because of discount sales and the time of year I am purchasing curriculum, this company is the cheapest place to buy. Not to mention, their customer service staff is TOP NOTCH, no matter which way you contact them--live chat online, telephone, or email. These people are experienced and helpful on every level.

5.  Learning Things Learning Things is similar to Rainbow Resource in regards to their discounts and the customer service they offer.  Their website is organized and clean.  They often offer discounts for homeschool groups, along with selected curriculum (as I am writing this, there is a huge sale on Apologia curriculum).

Great deals on School & Homeschool Curriculum Books and Software

9. The Homeschool Lounge  This is one of the largest online homeschooling support communities.  It has groups for just about any area of interest you can think of! One of the groups is the Used Curriculum Shop. It's a very active board. Tiany Davis has done such a tremendous job here to meet just about any homeschooling need you could imagine. Check out my link (and add me as a friend while you are there!).

6.  Your Local Support Group   My local homeschool support group has a wonderful classifieds board on its online site.  I have bought and sold items here, and I don't have to pay shipping. Usually I can meet someone somewhere if I am going to be out, or we'll meet at our support groups monthly meeting.  If your homeschool group doesn't have a classifieds feature on your group board, talk with or email the administrators and moderators and see if the feature could be added.  If not, consider organizing a curriculum sale/swap at a local church or park.

7.  Used Book Sales  This is the first year I've not visited a used book sale. Usually they are put on by a local homeschooling group.  One year I came out with an armload of books for under $20.  Some people even give away heavily worn curriculum. A big advantage of used book sales is the opportunity to talk with actual users of the curriculum for tips and advice.

8.  Christian Book Distributers  I often compare Amazon's prices to the ones here. It's a great place to find Bible curriculum, and they have a section for homeschooling books as well.

9.  Curriculum-Specific Sale/Swap Boards  Search Yahoo Groups for the publisher of the curriculum you want to purchase.  If it's a popular one, it may have a Yahoo group with the sole purpose of selling/purchasing used curriculum from that publisher alone.  I've only used this method a couple of times, but it's saved me more than 50% off of retail.

Honorable Mentions:

CurrClick  I go here mostly for the free items they offer, but they also have some popular curriculum you can download.  For instance, you can download Writing Strands curriculum in an ebook format so you can use it for more than one child. You can also purchase curriculum and guides from homeschooling families who have developed great resources.

Hip Homeschool Moms Their Free Classifieds board is newer, so I've not used it yet, but it looks promising. The amount of volume is lower than other sites, but it looks promising, as it seems to be growing. 

The Well-Trained Mind  The Sale and Swap Board is not as organized, but the quality and amount of curriculum in demand is worth taking a look.

McKay's  I am sad I don't live near a McKay's Used Book Warehouse anymore, but when I lived less than an hour from one, I found so many great finds. The amount of school curriculum there is astounding.  I even found a Shurley English workbook there for free (in a box labeled "free" outside).  McKay's in Nashville, TN has a new, larger location which I've not had the opportunity to visit yet. (Usually time in TN is spent with visiting family now. I don't find as much time to shop for school books.) The great thing about McKay's is that you can sell them your used books for store credit or cash. Warehouse locations are also in Knoxville, TN, and Chattanooga, TN.


I developed a pricebook featuring these favorite places to purchase curriculum into a spreadsheet to help you maximize your savings.  It's available in .xls format (which also works for OpenOffice and Google Docs users). I also converted it to a .pdf for those who are terrified of spreadsheets (I was once one of those people).  However, the spaces are small, so the spreadsheet is much easier to use in my opinion. It allows you to compare prices for up to 4 sources from each website, such as from the Amazon marketplace, different sellers on HomeschoolClassifieds and, and a source of your choice (i.e., your local support group).

***If you prefer a larger space for writing, Gricefully Homeschooling has a less-detailed pdf comparison sheet that has more space for writing (scroll down to the bottom of her page for the free sheet).

(Important note:  For the .xls format file, you MUST click on the link first to be directed to my Dropbox file, where you can download the file from that page.  Right-clicking will NOT work for that file.)

Curriculum Pricebook
.xls format
.pdf format

Happy shopping!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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