Friday, July 15, 2011

On a Tight Budget? Here are Some Alternatives You May Want to Check Out!

We have been on  a  leaner budget with our homeschooling and I have been on the hunt for alternative ways for saving money and cutting corners without taking away from comprehensive learning.

I have found a few things I wanted to share with my readers that I will be using as alternatives to other programs that can be quite costly ~  I also wanted to share some tips I have found helpful along the way as well for finding the very best books, programs and activities for the boys~ ( I will be creating a page for this and will continue to add to these ideas and tips as I find more of them)








MATH:

I had been considering purchasing an online math practice program for my boys. We have used some of it for free but it will only let us work so many problems in one day and then asks us to sign up.  It is very expensive so we have only been doing as many as we can daily.  I decided to dig a bit and see what I might be able to find that was fairly equivalent to what we had been using and doing.


I found Soft Schools to be the best so far for online practice in all areas of mathematics (especially for my younger son) I like it also because when going into a topic some times I am able to customize what I want him to work on so it is more at his level. I really liked this and it is a much more affordable way for us to do our math practice without paying the yearly fees we would have been paying.

Soft Schools also has many other areas for practice as well. Language Arts, Science, Foreign Language, Social Studies, resources for teachers and alot more. I would recommend checking this out when you have time.  Its a great money saver when looking for something for practicing and using concepts learned!

In a Nutshell~ Instead of paying 99.00 a year I am not paying anything!

ORDERING BOOKS~

We are using a completely literature based approach for our History this year. That means TONS of books I think so far we have over 35 listed ( could be more by the time I am finished) that can mean ALOT of money. Purchasing these books from the actual Literature Based Programs can be really pricey! I can't do that so I found alternatives for find these books and purchasing them.  ( this has worked out for me very well saving hundreds upon hundreds if not near thousands of dollars so far and I am really not exaggerating)

Here is what I do~

I ALWAYS buy used or on clearance. Never new - almost never.  ( tip: be sure to read all about the book before getting it so you know what your really getting. You want to know the condition and read the reviews of this and make sure you have a good rating on the seller. These might sound like common sense ideas but you would be surprised how many overlook these little details and when they get their book they might be very disappointed.)

Once I know what book or books I need I make a list of them, I don't include the author but include instead the ISBN number since this is much more accurate when looking for a particular book.

I have a list of all the places I search for discounted books~ (you might be thinking why not use those resources on line like "book finder" and resources like that? - truth is, I have not had ANY luck with those. I have always been able to find cheaper and better books on my own using these steps).

My searches includes ( in order by the way, with explanations also as to my madness)

Paperback Book Swap- I started this about a year ago and gave away alot of books and had lots of credits but never could find any I needed. I went back in over this past Spring just to check again and I found out that I was searching wrong! I needed to go into "posted books" for my search and wholah.. a whole list opened up to me! ( I know duh! ) lol  Here is where I look continually! 

Borders.Com ( believe it or NOT, this is the place I find the CHEAPEST books for us) why? because each September I sign up for the Borders Plus program- you know the one they bug you about joining that is supposed to save you a bunch of money at checkout. Turns out, ITS TRUE! I pay 20.00 each year ( pays for itself in the first month) and I enjoy all the benefits of ordering books online with free shipping and also in store discounts and coupons as well.  It really doesn't get any better.

I'll give you an example. I had a book I needed that was 19.00 from the site that listed the book to go with their program. I checked Borders.Com ( used section) for that same book - found it for 1.04  and bought it on the spot with NO shipping. How is THAT for savings?

Amazon.com - is my next stop for used books ( I also really use this site to track and sort my books I want on their wish lists and wish list tool bar icon- Amazon helps me know more about the books from reviews and also knowing what other books "could be" similar as well)

Abe Books.com - again another wonderful site. Here is where my ISBN number comes in much more because often times for books I may be looking for they may not have the images.  You can really find some good deals here too and I usually look for free shipping.

ISBNDB.com - this is one I use when I have a book and I really need to find the Teachers Edition or Annotated version of something. This past year I found my teens math text on Paperback Book Swap and needed the Teachers Edition so after careful reading in the student text I was able to get the ISBN for the Teachers Edition and found it for 4.00 on this site. It is very handy to have.

In a nutshell: buy USED, research that book and take advantage of money saving programs out there, they do help! 

FACEBOOK! - I have used Facebook as a real money saver for me in finding resources. Here are some groups that have helped.

Homeschool Freebies- Nan Jacobs runs and lists items (as does its members) for FREE things to use for teaching.. this is a very HIGH volume group so be sure and use a filter for this to keep up. I have seen wonderful things listed on here from Nan and others.

Homeschool Freecycle-this is a facebook group I started that sort of follows along the same guidelines as Paperback Book Swap. I have listed and also have posted and found great help here when looking for things.
( basically you post things you wish to give away and agree to pay shipping for and in return YOU can post things you need and received freely without paying for shipping)  some have emailed me in the past unhappy with having to pay shipping for someone. If this is a problem for you then I would not bother joining :) it is meant to be a kind of stewardship so that we have homeschoolers helping homeschoolers while enjoying the blessings ourselves.

In a nutshell: Community Social Networks can help save us money, taking advantage of these outlets can really be helpful! 

I will be sharing many more as I go along~ so stay tuned! Happy savings!


2 comments:

Annie said...

You should also consider www.addall.com. It's a used book comparison site. In moments, I can find out which used sites (half.com, amazon, abe, alibris, etc) has the book for the cheapest price, including shipping.

Learners at Home said...

Thanks Annie I will check this out~ :D Tracey

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