Several times a month the TOS Homeschool Crew members have the opportunity to participate in a special blogging opportunity.A specific topic or question is posed and members blog about their answers or experiences. Although I was on the Crew last year, this is the first time I have participated in this blog cruise.
The Question for the newest TOS Blog Cruise is asking crew members Do they set a budget for homeschool supplies and books?Quick Answer: No, not really.
Ok, here's what I do. Beginning in the late spring I generally take stock of where are my children are in different subjects and begin looking at and thinking about what I want to cover in the next year. From there I look through my shelves to see what I have that my work for my youngest.This doesn't work too well for my oldest as I generally don't have materials for her to grow into. Then I make a list of what I need to fill in the gaps and ideas of programs and curricula to check into.
During the summer I try to purchase the most essential materials or what I would like to have for the first few months of school. I try to do this as inexpensively as possible. This may mean from used sources or discount curriculum suppliers.
Throughout the year I keep a wish list for books and other items that I would really like to have. So far, if I have been patient I have found a number of those items for a lot less than new. I don't start a new list each year, just add and subtract as I find things or learn more about products.
I also keep my eye open for discounts and sales throughout the year,so when I see something on a good price I can grab it.; This also has the side benefit of something new to use and it occasionally review of something covered. I particularly like $1 sales offered by various online retailers. Also one online homeschooling group I belong to has a sale day at the beginning of each month and occasionally someone with have something I am looking for on sale.
We do several lapbooks a year for science and history as well as more for other topics. For these 'kits' I watch several online companies and purchase when they have sales or specials. My history and religion materials have been purchased over the course of several years at the publishers sales in the fall.I have often been able to pick up text books for $5 and workbooks and resource materials for $3 at this time.
For supplies, I usually purchase those when retailers have their back to school promotions. They often have many items for under $1 or not much more, so I can get a whole lot of what we need for less than $10.
We also use the local library system quite extensively.They have a numbers of branches and a fair sized collection as we are in a metropolitan area. They allow a number of items checked out per card, but the number which can be requested from other branches is fairly limited. We use library books quite a bit for science and history as well as fun approaches to other subjects as well as simply to read.
I also use quite a few free resources from various online companies and sources.If I run across anything free online I generally save it to my computer because I don't know when it might be beneficial.About the only time I don't do this is if it is something which is way below my youngest level.However, I may still save it if it is something which can be modified or used for another purpose in some way.
So you may be wondering how I keep my spending under control and keep track of what I am spending for our homeschooling adventure.I simply keep a record of all my purchases and the amount.Since most of my purchases go on a credit card which we pay off monthly it is fairly easy to double check to make sure I have recorded everything.Also, if I notice the credit card getting to high, I just don't look at "good sales" for a month or two.
While this may sound kind of loosey goosey, it has worked for us so far.I actually have not spent over $500 a year total in any of the years I have been homeschooling.Some years I may spend more for one child than the other, but it's not the amount of money spent that determines the quality of their education.