The Frugal Café | Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup"</a> | Creative Commons License,
Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup" | Creative Commons License,

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How to Get Your Important Homeschooling Tools & Supplies on a Limited Budget

By Vicki McClure Davidson


The erratic US economy is on everyone's minds and taking its toll on families. We're unsure about what is looming ahead, what new surprises in taxation, bailouts, and welfare handouts Congress will be giving away will-nilly, so we want to be sure that the solid money we have in our accounts and pockets that we can spend is well spent, especially for homeschooling tools and supplies. No waste, no pain.

What educational tools and supplies do you most need to have on hand for homeschooling? In addition to your child's required curriculum materials, there are essentials that you should invest in (while these suggestions are geared to one student, most can serve several students during the same school year, so there is only one investment. Consumable supplies will need to be replenished as needed.)

Here are recommendations with helpful suggestions on how to keep costs down to stay on a lean budget:

Top 11 tools and supplies that are recommended for your home school. | Photo credit: MS Office

Top 11 tools and supplies that are recommended for your home school. | Photo credit: MS Office
  1. A good supply of lined paper (you can find reams priced at 99 cents or $1 a package at a variety of discount/dollar stores), and an assortment of pens, pencils, colored pencils or crayons, sharpeners, erasers, rulers, binders, etc. (all can be found at dollar stores and sometimes at yard sales; talk to other home schooling parents and see if you can cooperatively trade or barter supplies, should one of you have an abundance of something).
  2. An old encyclopedia set; World Book or Britannica are good choices (about $10-$25 at a yard sale, much higher at a used book store, and several thousand dollars if bought new).
  3. A good dictionary (about $1-$2 at a yard sale or $5-8 at a used bookstore; also, check the used book clearance area at your local library or explore used books online).
  4. A good thesaurus, preferably Roget's Thesaurus (about $1-$2 at a yard sale or $2-$7 at a used bookstore; also check the used book clearance area at your local library or explore used books online).
  5. For older students, get Strunk and White's Elements of Style. This is a must-have reference paperback for English grammar and punctuation rules (about $1-$5 at a yard sale or used book store; check the used book clearance area at your local library or explore used books online).
  6. Art materials (about $25, depending upon what your art lessons will be; look at supplies at the dollar stores before hitting the more expensive art stores—you may be able to find what you need at a fraction of what others charge).
  7. Annual dues for youth club, like 4-H or Scouts (about $10-$20).
  8. Annual dues for a hobby club or special interest group that interests your child (about $15 to $25 each).
  9. Music, singing, gymnastics, cooking, or dance lessons, depending on your child's interests (this can be pricey, so if possible, barter or look into less-expensive youth organizations, such as Boys and Girls Club, or local churches).
  10. A homeschool magazine (about $20 a year). Review a few different back issues at your local library before choosing one to subscribe to that is right for your needs. This is essential to give you ideas to help keep you on track and to learn more about successful home schooling methods.
  11. Homeschool support group dues (about $10 to $30) and homeschool conference (usually $50-$100). Within the support group, you may be able to trade or barter for any of the above-listed items.

Another suggestion to keep costs down is to request any of these items on the Freecycle website for your area. Click here to find out more about the cool concept of Freecycle and how it is set up for communication its members to "recycle for free" personal unwanted items with other members in their neighborhood.





Related Reading:
Beating the Economy: Tips to Keep Homeschooling Affordable
The Plus-Side of Joining a Homeschooling Support Group
Memory Trick: Eight Parts of English Grammar
Math Memory Tricks
Of Mice and Modifiers — How to Avoid Confusing Modifiers in Writing
Frugal Café Blog Zone: Gotta Make 'Em Laugh: Links to Clean, Christian, & Kid Joke Sites
Cheapskate Lifestyle: Thrift Store Shopping Exploding As People Rediscover the Savings & Joys of Second-Hand Bargains
DIY Recycled Fashion: ThreadBanger | Video Demo: Back-2-Skool Special: Frugal DIY Ideas for Making Your Own School Backpacks, Book Bags, Laptop Covers, Pencil Cases, Book Covers, & Messenger Bags


BackDoor Homeschool Tools website, (
Homeschooling on a Shoestring website, (