Homeschooling internationally and particularly buying books and textbooks, isn’t cheap. But by researching and choosing wisely, you can keep your expenses minimal while still getting all the books you need.
Because a new homeschooling year is looming closer, I decided to write about how I manage to keep costs down while getting the best curricula for our school plus the reading books that we need for the year.
Tips and tricks to finding cheap books for homeschooling
Most of the good curricula textbooks cost between $50 to $100 per book. Considering that we have 4 basic subjects plus a couple of electives, that’s a lot of money every year. I manage to keep the costs well within $500 even with the extra books and electives. Let me tell you how.
1. Get pdfs instead of printed books – it’s cheap
Many times, especially if you order internationally, shipping costs for books are the same or more than the books. Let’s not even start on the possible custom fees… Or long waiting times for the books to arrive.
To avoid shipping costs, I make sure to check the publisher websites for pdf or ebook versions of their books.
Many publishers also have regular sales and the pdfs are generally cheaper than the printed books, too.
Follow my Facebook page for regular sales updates from my favorite publishers and stores.
You might wonder if the printing costs are worth it? Read more about our printers here to find out how we keep printing costs to a minimum.
I am buying the cheapest compatible inks and also tend to buy printing paper in bulk when it’s on discount. That way I am stocked for each year and our books end up being the cheapest possible version.
Some publishers that offer pdfs are:
- Pandia Press – they offer science and history in both pdf and audiobook formats. We just love their curricula!
- Evan Moor – great workbooks for all grades and all subjects. You cannot go wrong with their books. Most of them are sold in pdf formats.
- Ellen McHenry– we use her pdfs for science. I just went ahead and bought all of them because M loves them.
- Well Trained Mind – they offer pdf versions for all their books, including history (Story of the World) and their Language Arts books.
- Institute of Excellence in Writing – while a lot of their products are physical, they have pdf options for their student books and other materials. It means less shipping weight when ordering their packages.
2. Buy used textbooks instead of new
This is something that many homeschoolers forget. Used textbooks will be a cheap option most of the time (I found used textbooks for as low as $3-$4, even with the higher shipping costs, $10 for a textbook doesn’t compare to $100). There are some downsides to this though:
– this requires a bit of extra digging to find the best possible offer, considering shipping costs as well.
– you could receive damaged books that are almost unusable. I just had this happen to me a couple of times, but you can usually return the books or sometimes you can work around the defects. The majority of the textbooks I ordered this way were in very good or like new conditions though. So for us, it’s been worth it.
– the editions you get might not line up to the workbooks for example. That’s an issue I am aware of and we managed to work around it easily so far.
Here are some places where you can begin digging after used curriculum:
Here’s a special hint. Use Bookfinder– a neat little website – to research used books on multiple platforms and compare their pricing.
3. Shipping services
Whether you order them new or used, some websites won’t ship to your location.
A simple solution around that is using a shipping service.
I use and enjoy Eshopwedrop. It’s free, they offer you addresses to multiple countries.
You just place orders on the regular websites and ship your package to the address for that particular country . When the package arrives, you get notified and you need to follow some steps to get your package home.
I had no issues with them so far and I have been using them for USA and UK orders. Sometimes they are cheaper than regular post which is awesome. I also get the books straight to my house as opposed to going to the post office or customs office.
You will still pay custom fees and need to upload custom documents, but you can do it online with your card.
Here’s how it looks:
4. Look for discounts, coupons and sales
This one is obvious. You want to save as much as you can on homeschooling curriculum so, before placing an order do a quick google search on coupons for that particular website.
As I mentioned above, I am posting sale announcements regularly on my Facebook page. So make sure to follow me there to get the updates.
Cheap reading books
Now that we’ve got the curriculum covered, how about reading books?
The obvious solution is to use a library, but sometimes they don’t have the book you need… Or you live in a non-English speaking country and the choice is limited.
Even if you want to buy the books, another issue with living in a non-English speaking country is that English books are relatively hard to come by locally (even if the online offer has gone up considerably) and they aren’t cheap at all!
So again, whenever I need a title, I follow these steps, looking for:
- free shipping
- closest location
I will give you a list of shops where I previously bought used books from, some are the same websites that I use to buy cheap books for homeschooling from.
For Romanian readers, find second hand/cheap English books here:
For buying new books I use:
And for Romanian readers:
I hope this post has been useful. If you have other websites for finding cheap books for homeschooling or any tips and tricks, feel free to post them in the comments below.
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