For the second year in a row, I've worked at a large used curriculum sale in Orlando. Boy, is it big! It is also two days of hard-work, lifting, loading, categorizing, assisting shoppers and cleaning up. I find it to be well-worth it for the spoils I bring home. Yes, those are brand new 7th Grade Daily Grams workbooks for $5 each! The Fallacy Detective for $3! IEW Theme-based writing for $5! Novels in excellent condition for 50 cents! Encyclopedias! Wall charts! Jonathan Park on audio! Biography magazines! Card games! Board Games! Math Manipulatives! I got nearly everything on my list this year in "gently used" or "brand new but discounted" condition. I was thrilled!
I used to be very snobbish about used items. I liked everything to line up on my shelf in pristine condition so I could marvel at its perfection and beauty--LOL. Now, after calculating the costs of homeschooling two boys in the manner in which I want to homeschool them, I've realized that it ain't cheap. Ebay is fine, if you can find what you want and don't mind paying for shipping (or finding a box a packaging materials if you're the one selling). But I much prefer to buy/sell to local homeschool moms. I belong to two homeschool support groups and we are fortunate to have a "forum", where moms can chat about curriculum, field trips and used items up for grabs. Also, just recently, a Facebook page was created for our area specializing in curriculum exchange. So, it's been nice to get what I need for relatively little this year.
I have had a few splurges......we bought Rosetta Stone Spanish at the Homeschool Convention (new, but at a great promotional price for Levels 1-3). Sometimes I'm leary of buying software used, fearful that the alotted number of registered users has been surpassed and it will be unusable to me. I've purchased used copies or borrowed Teaching Textbooks in the past and we were easily able to add new registered users to that, so I got lucky there. Always do your research before buying anything with CD-ROMs.
Do you have a fantastic library? Does it have used items for purchase? I do and I have to say that is the #1 way I've built my personal collection over the past 15-20 years. New, hardback versions of best-sellers and classics---$1, or even 50 cents! Anything I no longer use that isn't "curriculum" or of possible interest to homeschooling families gets donated to my local library. I like to give back to the service that has given so much to me :)
So, check out your area and see if they have used curriculum sales. If they are small-scale, encourage more people to participate. It's much more fun! If nothing exists, create something! Local churches are usually more than happy to provide a fellowship hall for use on a Saturday, in exchange for a small fee for electricity. This can be re-couped by charging sellers $5 or $10 per table. Everyone wins in the end and it's a great way to promote homeschooling in the area with signs and advertisements. Never underestimate the power of word of mouth (i.e. Facebook posts!).
Good luck with shopping frugally this summer! I'd love to hear of your best deals!