Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thrifty Thursday: Homeschool Conventions for Less

Attending a homeschool convention can be a burden to many families that are already feeling the squeeze. When Momma is teaching her little ones, chances are, she may not be earning any money. How can you attend a conference, pay for a hotel and purchase curriculum while stretching your homeschool budget? I'd like to share with you some of the ways I have enjoyed the homeschool conferences when things were a little tight.

  • When reserving a room, the earlier the better. Last year, when we were attending as a family, we opted for the hotel without the pool. The offered free breakfast for me and the guys. Based one the amount of food my teens eat, I am not sure if they made any money off our room.
  • Some years, I share a hotel room with other ladies. Not only is this a great time, my hotel ends up costing about $25.00. This is always a time of fun and great conversation. 
  • This year, my friend Shirley has offered to drive us there. We will all share the gas expenses and I know the ride will go quickly with all of the chatterboxes going.
  • The first day, I bring a sandwich and snacks from home. I have to eat them outside, but so far, the weather has been agreeable.
  • Take advantage of restaurant deals. Our hotel is located near the Ninety-Nine restaurant. Last year we ate there with coupons. On top of that, the Red Sox won the night before, so our kids ate for free. I'm not looking for fine dining, just a good meal that someone else has cooked is sufficient.
  • Eat creatively. There is a hospital cafeteria nearby. They have a large variety of foods and a terrific salad bar. Hint, time your visit, the lines can be crazy. Cafeteria food = Cheap. 
  • Fasting and praying can save you a few bucks. Actually, I'm kidding. You need to eat well and be alert. You will want to absorb all of the great information, without dreaming of a cheeseburger.
  • Research now the curriculum you are considering. Have your list ready to visit the vendor booths. Do this early on so you will have time to do more research/shopping in case you change your direction in teaching.
  • I do buy some things and pay full price at the conference. Gasp. Some of the vendors are homeschooling families that have continued to offer excellent products at reasonable prices. Two vendors that I look forward to shopping at are The Book Peddler and Schoolhouse Publishing. The Book Peddler has a great bargain bin, offers their own books and I love their booth. Susan Kemmerer of Schoolhouse Publishing is a real homeschooling mom, a serious 'boy mom. She graciously shares work samples from her children using the products. If you are not going to the convention, you have to request her free magalog. Their store offer discounts for new customers here. She freely shares her magalog at the convention and will spend time with you as you shop her booth. (Disclaimer, I am sharing my personal experience, I do not receive any compensation for sharing my love for either of these companies.)
  • If you are unsure, wait. Maybe you can find what you are looking for at your local homeschool used book sale, check Ebay, or sites that sell second hand curriculum. 
  • Purge out the old books. Just this weekend, I sold a math program on Ebay for $120. Perhaps you have curriculum you can sell now, to pay for next year's books.
  • Friends don't let friends overbuy curriculum. Shirley and I shop together. Sometimes when I am going to buy something, she stops me and let's me know, she will lend it to me. Or vice versa. I'm looking forward to borrowing her Biology 101 movies next year. Thanks, Shirl.
  • Many of the vendor booths offer scratch and dent products. You may have to search through boxes, but you will be in good company. I am sure that my kids won't care that someone dropped their grammar book. In fact, I'm sure they purposely do this. 
  • Don't be wowed by new and shiny. At our homeschool used curriculum sale each year, I notice some things. There are expensive boxed curriculum selling for deep discounts. Many times they were abandoned after only a few weeks of use. Really consider or sleep on the decision. I have bought things and second guessed it the next day.
Can you tell I am getting excited about the convention? I have been talking about what to wear and why to go. Is there anything I have missed? If you are going to MassHope, let me know. I'd love to meet you and talk homeschooling. If you have any other thrifty convention tips, please share.

Don't forget to enter my give away for The Crossmaker. Winning homeschool products is very thrifty.

Thanks for stopping by,

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Covnitkepr1 said...

Just checking back to read any postings you may have written.

I’ve been following and enjoying your blog for a while now and would like to invite you to visit and perhaps follow me back. Sorry I took so long for the invitation.

New England Catholic Homeschoolers said...

Great tips! Thanks for posting. I hope to share your blog and tips with others that will be attending the New England Catholic Homeschool Conference on June 25th.


Linda Ramos said...

I loved the fasting tip! LOL. We are fortunate enough to only live about an hour away from our convention. Still a bit of driving but cheaper than a hotel. There has been a few years where we didn't even go back the second day. I love using the convention to look at curriculums in person, then I go home and look at reviews and price deals before coming back the next day. I also love the support from many of the classes that are offered.

Unknown said...

I totally have a weakness for curriculum. I love looking through new programs and books. Thanks for the information. Love it!