One of my favorite times of the year is coming up quickly: used curriculum sale time! This is when the local homeschool groups organize sales for their members to sell books, academic texts and courses of study they no longer need, and people like me can get their fix– I mean, find the best deals for what they need.
Now, these sales usually come up once a year, so you want to make the best of it. That means, strategize!
Make a list of what you need. Trust me, you may want to buy everything otherwise. If you need certain novels or math curriculum, type up a list or print out the list from your curriculum’s websites. If it’s alphabetized, even better, so you can easily find items on your list as you find deals browsing through the tables. Personally, I have a list I carry with me all the time with all the books my kids will need for the next few years. As I find them at sales, thrift stores, and used bookstores, I cross them off.
Make a list of what you have. If you have a list of what you need, why have a list of what you have? Well, let me know if this scenario sounds familiar: You’re browsing through one of the tables at the used curriculum sale, and find a really nice copy of a book you know your kids will absolutely love, but for the love of everything that’s good in this world, you can’t remember if you already have it or not. After debating for several minutes whether you have it or not, you decide to buy it anyway since it’s just $2 and it’s in like-new condition. When you get home you realize you actually have two copies of the book already.
This happens to me all the time, evidenced by the multiple copies of Heidi, Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, Saint George and the Dragon and others on my bookshelf. The good news is you don’t have to type out a list of all the books you have because there’s an app for that! I use BookBuddy, which lets you scan the UPC code on your books through your phone’s camera and automatically adds them to your database.
Consider older editions of curriculum. Many vendors print new editions of their curricula every few years, but many times the actual content hasn’t changed much. You’ll definitely find many older versions at these sales for much cheaper than newer ones, so make sure you’ve researched the differences to see if they’re a viable option for what you need.
Research prices. If there is a specific curricula you’re looking for, research prices on eBay and HomeschoolClassifieds.com beforehand to make sure you get the best deal. Many times you can negotiate the prices right there on the spot.
Set a budget. Because you will want to buy everything! I know, I sound redundant, but it’s true. Once you know what you need and their price online for new and used, set a realistic budget for yourself. Remember, you don’t want to walk out of these sales with lots of great deals on things you don’t really need.
Leave the little ones at home, but bring the big ones. These sales are usually in a packed room with little walking space and there are books everywhere – on the tables, stacked on the floor, in boxes. It’s generally a bit difficult to maneuver a stroller and makes it very enticing for little hands to grab things while you’re distracted looking at books. (Trust me, I know.) I’ve left a few of these sales earlier than expected with a fussy little one. Alternately, these sales are great for older kids looking for reading material. I’ve seen paperbacks sold for as little as a quarter, so give them $5 and set them free to go bargain hunting for their next book.
Bring bags. Depending on what you’re looking to buy, you will need something to carry it in. Think Ikea bag. I’ve even seen people come with suitcases to carry their stash back to the car.
Now that you’re armed with these tips, here’s a list of upcoming sales in Broward County to test them out. Make sure to check out each group’s website or contact them for more information:
May 10, 2016 at 6:30 p.m. – Parkridge Baptist Homeschoolers
May 13, 2016 at 7 p.m. – Hearts Homeschoolers
May 19, 2016 at 7 p.m. – Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale Homeschoolers
June 9, 2016 at 6 p.m. – PSG Homeschoolers at Victory Life Church
May 11-21 – Scholastic Warehouse Clearance Sale Because the next best thing after used books, are cheap new books!
If you’ve been to a few of these sales before, I hope you share your tips in the comments below. Or, better yet, share some of your best finds! This picture here was of the first ever used curriculum sale I went to, and I literally filled the trunk of my car with books.
And here’s to many more great finds to come!
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