I'll go ahead and admit it. I'm a cheapskate. But I'm sure you knew that since my blog name is Thrifty Homeschooler. I may not utilize all the free homeschool resources and piece together my own curriculum to suit my needs and my children's needs (who has time for that?) but I do my best (and go out of my way at times) to save money on the curriculum I need. I have picked up some tips and tricks along the way and I've like to share them with you.
Buying Used Online
This seems like an obvious choice for buying like new/gently used books at a discounted price. I love a bargain. Although, I'm not in the habit of haggling with another homeschooler over used books since I know that they're likely trying to sell their old books so that they can purchase for the new year. But there are times when it may be necassary.
*Know your books. Do a little research on the book(s) that you want to buy. The book/item you may want to purchase may have been revised several times over the last few years. Is it important to you to have the latest edition? Buying an older edition may save you some money. At times the only difference between an older and newer edition is the cover art. That's only astetics and I can live without having a nice, fancy cover. You may want to purchase a whole set of books. Make sure ALL books in the set are included in listing. It may be helpful to ask for a picture if one is not included in the listing.
*Does the item have all included materials? I have purchased a used book in the past that needed the accompanied CD-Rom to access the reproducibles. However, the seller didn't want to part with the CD-Rom but didn't care to mention that in the ad listing. Learn from my mistake: Always ask whether all included items are included in the sale. Another reason to "know your books".....find out what comes with the edition you are hoping to purchase.
*Do they accept PayPal? Some sellers don't have a PayPal account or won't accept PayPal because PayPal charges a fee for their services. Make sure you know what payment method the seller prefers. Sending a check can be a hassle since the sellers tend to hold check for a week to make sure that the check clears. Before agreeing to anything other than PayPal check with the site's rating system to see if the seller is reputable and has delivered on their promises.
Price Check! Check the going price of the edition you want to purchase and see if it's comparible to other sellers.
Links for more tips on buying used:
Websites for Buying Used:
http://homeschoolclassifieds.com/ My #1 choice for buying used
http://www.welltrainedmind.com/ Great forum and has a LARGE selling board
There just comes a time when you have to bite the bullet and buy new. I've had to do this recently since the curriculum I wanted was too new for anyone to sell. But don't despair. I also have some tips to save you money buying new.
Price Check! Obvious, I know, but it doesn't hurt to say it again. Price check with other online retailers. Some are more competitive than others.
COUPONS Some sites offer coupons when you spend X amount off your purchase or offer free shipping If you plan to buy multiple books, you may want to see if it may be cheaper to buy all from one retailer with a coupon code rather than shop around. You can sign up for promotional emails ahead of time and watch for the sale. I've saved up to $40 in one sale this way.
Shipping Charges It hard to know in advance what some retailers charge for shipping before you order. If you're unsure, you can contact the retailer and ask them about their shipping charges. Shipping can get expensive and cut into your curriculum budget quick, so I do a little research beforehand to make sure there aren't any surprises at the checkout. Sometimes I find that though retailer ABC sells a book I need for a cheaper price than XYZ retailer, XYZ retailer has a coupon code for free shipping that makes up the difference or makes the sale cheaper.
Popular Homeschooling Retailers:
http://www.rainbowresource.com/index.php They have a phone book of a catalog to offer almost anything you can imagine. Free shipping on orders $150 or more
http://www.christianbook.com/ Great prices. They routinely offer coupon codes for free shipping.
http://www.amazon.com/ Not a homeschool retailer, but they carry alot of books that I'm looking for and they sell new and used copies.
There are honestly too many to name. Some retailers carry only their own products and some carry a large variety. I hope my tips help you make better decisions when purchasing curriculum for the new school year. Happy Homeschool Shopping!