Saturday, June 4, 2011

How to Save Money on Homeschooling Curriculum

With this being the first year that we've bought a prepackaged curriculum, I just realized the investment we would be making would require some budgeting. During my research, I saw packages for over $1,000 or for as little as $300. My goal was to see what I could get for $200, the amount I'd probably spend on school clothes for the year.

I knew that I needed reading, math, language arts, spelling, handwriting, phonics, history, and science as the core for first grade. Since Avlyn will be 7 in December, I will need to keep a record book and portfolio of her work that covers the basic subjects. I researched, read, looked at samples, prayed, and finally decided on what to get. If I purchased everything direct from the publisher I would spend around $465.00 But by looking at used curriculum and discount sites I spent exactly $245.56, over $200 less than buying from the publisher and not much more than what I was hoping to spend. Here's a breakdown of what I did, all paid prices include my shipping costs, too:

We decided to go with the Heart of Dakota curriculum. This curriculum is Christ-centered and offers everything needed for a full year. While I like most of their choices, there were some things I wanted to change. If I had purchased the entire curriculum from HOD, it would have cost me $305 - still very affordable, but even more over my budget than necessary. Also, I didn't need some of the elements in the package and didn't want one of the choices included. So I was off to mix and match and save.

Heart of Dakota - I purchased the economy package and added the science text for $121.37. This gave us all of our history, science, and the teacher manual which is definitely worth the money. The publisher recommended a certain emerging reader set that they sell for $65.33. I went on Amazon and searched for every title. I found every book for a reduced price and most were available for free shipping, making my emerging reader set $43.36  The curriculum also requires read aloud books in certain genres throughout the year. I chose not to purchase any of those and just waited for my teacher guide to arrive. When it did, I found the book list in the back and noted that at least one title from each genre is available at our library. Since these take a couple of weeks to go through, it's not really necessary to have all of them available when school starts for us. The company sells those books for around $50, our cost $0.00.

The next step was to find our math. HOD offers Singapore Math as the option. After much prayer and research, I chose to go ahead with Singapore over Horizons math. Now I could have purchased the workbooks needed directly from HOD, but they don't offer a reduced price on it unless I buy the entire package, which I wasn't doing. Now the HOD curricula only recommends the workbooks for first grade, but being that I'm new to Singapore Math and teaching math in a different way than I learned, I really wanted the textbooks and home instructor's guides that are available. So I was able to find both textbooks and the first home instructor's guide on Ebay for $23.00. I purchased the two workbooks from Christian Book Distributors for 20.97, making my math curriculum a total of $43.97. Had I purchased it all directly from Singapore, I would have spent around $70. I am waiting to see if I need the 2nd instructor's guide before purchasing it.

I wanted to get A Reason for Handwriting as our main writing curriculum. HOD does offer copywork as their handwriting program, but I thought A Reason For fit my daughter better. We will probably do HOD copywork the second half of the year. From the publisher the workbook is around $15. I went on ebay and got the workbook and the teacher guide good for K-6th grade for $12. If I had purchased both of those from the publisher it would have been $47.50.

We still need to work on phonics next  year and I've chosen Phonics Pathways. The 10th edition just came out and the publisher wants $40.65. I went on Amazon again and found the new edition for $24.86.

Price Breakdown:

Heart of Dakota  original price of wanted items: 241.76     paid price for wanted items: 121.37

Singapore Math   original price: 69.60     paid price: 43.97

Emerging Reader books   original price: 65.33    paid price: 43.36

A Reason for Handwriting   original price: 47.50    paid price: 12.00

Phonics Pathways 10th ed.   original price: 40.65    paid price: 24.86

Original Pricing Total: 464.84    Discount pricing total: 245.56

Total Savings: 219.28

I could have saved even more money had I been patient enough to wait for our particular curriculum from HOD to go on sale through the message board. I've seen the teacher guide on sale for pretty cheap, but I was eager to get my hands on it, and I do like to support the publisher somewhat for all their hardwork in creation of the curriculum. Hope this breakdown helps you see how I managed to save over $200 and still get everything I needed for first grade. Happy homeschooling!


  1. Hi,

    I came across your blog today as I was searching about HOD. I too have made the decision to try HOD this year and it will be my first official year of homeschooling. I had to laugh as I have been trying to decide on using Singapore math or Horizons and well as Phonics Pathways or one of HOD's choices. I think at this point I am just going to try their suggestions and change if I feel they aren't a good fit. I'm still nervous about that decision though. Which guide are you using this year for your daughter?

  2. Hi,

    I'm looking forward to using HOD this year. Even though we've homeschooled a few years, this is our first year doing something someone else created. I'm a little nervous, too! My daughter is 6.5 (7 in december) and based on the placement chart I chose Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory.

    I chose Phonics Pathways over the two suggested by HOD because the comments I've read about the other two seem to suggest that the phonics rules aren't a big part of the program. I really like the looks of Phonics Pathways. We're actually getting ready to start it this week. It was either PP or Explode the Code - which I may use the online version of Explode the Code with PP, but I have to see how we do with PP before investing in that. As far as the math, I'm like you. We're gonna try Singapore this year, and if it's not a good fit I'll try horizons for 2nd. What guide are you in?

  3. Do you have any suggestions for getting used HOD-- Preparing hearts for his glory? If I get the economy and science I am well over $200 not including the readers... I so want to use it but need a cheaper option.


  4. Hi,

    If you're not a member of the heart of dakota yahoo groups and facebook pages, then you need to be. These are great resources for finding used sets and parts of sets. The yahoo link is: and for the facebook group just search for heart of dakota page, but the yahoo email group is the best. You can even post a want to buy email for what you need.

    If you still can't find stuff used, check out Christian Book Distributors, Ebay, and Amazon for each title at a cheaper price. For example, I went ahead and typed each title from the science add-on into amazon and came up with a total of 66.28 for the set versus the 76.86 offered by HOD. And that was just with a quick search, so you may be able to find it cheaper at another site. In order to save money, you will need to break it down piece by piece and see where it's cheapest to shop. Then you can buy the teacher's guide from HOD. Good luck!