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How to Make a Price Sheet for Curriculum

As we are getting closer to completing our current curriculum, I am beginning to think about ordering our curriculum for next year. Of course, being a complete cheapskate, I have to make sure I am getting a bargain. In comes my price sheet……………………….. I use this sheet to:

  • check prices at homeschool conventions
  • check prices at used curriculum sales
  • check prices at online sites selling used items
  • check prices at online sites selling new items

Here is how I do it……..

Step 1: Make a table

Make a table….mine is four columns and eight rows. I made this on Microsoft Word, but many programs can do this same function.

Step 2: Label the Columns and Rows

Label the rows and columns. The first box in the first row will be labeled “item.” All other boxes in the horizontal row will be labeled with the names of the companies that you want to compare. The first box in the first column will be labeled “item.” All other boxes in the vertical row will be labeled with the names of the items that you want to purchase.

Step 3: Open a tab for every site that you are comparing.

Open each site in a separate tab. Open them in the same order that they are listed in your table. (Click on this to make it bigger.)

Step 4: Check the prices and record them on your table.

Look at the first item on your list. Check the prices at all sites. Record them on your price sheet. Look at the second item on your list. Check the prices on all sites. Record the prices on your price sheet. Continue…

Step 5: Use this sheet as a baseline when shopping for new and used curriculum.

Other Factors to Consider

  • Shipping: How much will shipping be? When I write the price on my price sheet, I am not factoring in shipping costs. For most items, Amazon will offer free shipping on purchases of $25 or more. When ordering from Christianbook.com, I ask the salesperson for free shipping. As long as I am spending over $100, they have always told me yes…..so far! I have heard rumor that Rainbow Resource offers free shipping, but I think it is for very large purchases. So, while their prices are a little cheaper on a few things, I might choose another supplier to avoid shipping costs.
  • Taxes: When shopping at homeschool conventions, please remember that you will have to pay taxes! Many online stores do not charge taxes! That can be a huge savings! I found a curriculum that I wanted to purchase at my local homeschool convention. But, I would have to pay close to 9% sales tax. While the base price was a little cheaper at the convention, the taxes made it more expensive overall……and I didn’t have to haul it all over the convention hall for the rest of the day!
  • Shopping Used: While I am incredibly thrifty, I rarely buy used books for my core curriculum. Why? I’ve been burned. Thinking I was getting a great deal, I have unknowingly purchased curriculum with broken or missing components. Currently, I am struggling through a used math book that is missing all of the reproducible math sheets. If it is an art book, read-alouds, readers, or an educational puzzle, then I will scour the used sales. But, for the subjects that really count, I usually buy it brand-new. Also, many times the used prices are only a few dollars cheaper than my rock-bottom new price with free shipping. I would rather pay a few dollars more for a guarantee that I will have all the pieces.

What are your money-saving tips for buying curriculum? Tell me in the comments!

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Saving Money at the Grocery Store

In my quest for frugal living, I am learning that the fastest way to save money is to look at my food budget. My boys eat a lot…….more than most adults.

Exhibit A: Recently, my family recieved an invitation to another family’s house for a movie night. My friend told her son that we would be coming over. Her son replied, “Mom, we better hide all of our food. Because those boys eat so much that we won’t have any food left after they leave.” Smart kid.

Here are my favorite ways to save money on food:

 

Once-a-month shopping

I do about 90% of my grocery shopping one time each month. I have to go to the store a few other times in order to re-stock perishable items such as milk, bread, produce, and eggs. Why do I shop once a month?

  1. It saves me so much money! If I am not in the stores, then I can’t spend money. So many times, I found myself buying impulse items or “I-can’t-remember-if-we-are-out-of-that” items.
  2. It is easier to budget! At the beginning of the month, I withdraw my entire grocery budget in cash. When the money is gone….it’s gone! In the past, I didn’t want to carry that much cash around all month. This way, I am only carrying it for a day or two.
  3. It saves me time! I am still planning a menu, looking through my pantry, making a list, and going to several stores. But, I only do it once a month instead of once or twice a week.
  4. It forces my family to think about how much they eat. I buy a reasonable amount of granola bars, yogurts, chips, etc. If they are reasonable, then the food will last all month. If they are not, then they will be without their favorite cereal until the next grocery shopping day.

Set a budget and use cash

I decide how much money I will spend at the beginning of the month. I withdraw our entire food budget in cash. I spend the majority of the cash on my initial shopping day. I reserve about $100 for perishables that we will purchase throughout the month. When the money is gone, it is gone! We are done shopping for the rest of the month. As we run out of our favorites, I will have to be creative, using up the rest of the food that we have already purchased. My family uses Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University to establish our budget. Dave says that the food budget should be between 5-15% of the household income. (The food budget includes eating out.) We highly recommend Financial Peace University!

Buy generic

Admittedly, there are a few items that I will not buy generic. Coffee is one of them. But, for the most part, I try to find an acceptable generic product so that I have the room to purchase a few name-brand splurges. This is when shopping at several stores comes in handy. If a generic is yucky at one store, I will try the generic at a different store.

Know Prices

When purchasing bread, I know which store offers the best price. I shop at several stores, purchasing items at the cheapest store. I learned all about checking prices from the book, Miserly Moms.

Plan a menu

Every month I plan a generic menu before grocery shopping. I make sure I have every ingredient needed for the selected meals. I don’t assign dates, although some people do. Personally, I just keep a list on the fridge. Each evening, I look at the list and choose something. After making it, I cross it off the list. When I need to add some variety to my menu, I go through my favorite cookbooks:

Why I don’t use coupons

My hard-core couponing friends are screaming through their computer screens at me “COUPONS!” While I use a few coupons, I must admit that I don’t use very many. In order for it to benefit my budget, the coupon must be for something that was already on my list. I don’t believe in spending money to save money. I don’t buy the extra item. That saves me money. Usually, the coupons are for name-brand items. I have noticed that the generic is about the same price-without a coupon. But, if I happen to find a coupon for something on my list and it happens to be cheaper than the generic, then I will gladly use it……..if I remember to get it out of my purse!

What about sales-ads?

I shop once a month. I use the sales ads that are valid on the day that I do my shopping. But, I do not make a special trip to the store in order to snag a bargain. Why do you think the stores offer items for half-price? How can they do that and still make money? Because they know that we will buy all kinds of other items while we are in there! I have met a few gals that can keep on their blinders, walk through the store, and buy five jars of ninety-nine cent peanut butter without purchasing anything else. Then, there are the rest of us. We go in for three sale items and leave with a cart full of “great deals.” Those “great deals” blow my budget.

Today is my grocery shopping day. Maybe I should get off the computer and start making my menu…….

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Cheap, Safe Cleaning Solutions for Kids

Skip the cleaning aisle at the grocery store.  Commercial cleaners are expensive and many of them are toxic.  I use inexpensive cleaning solutions that I can safely hand to my boys.  In our home, cleaning is a family affair.  I don’t feel safe giving kids a bottle of bleach.  I acknowledge that there are many “non-toxic” products.  But, I know that they will spray their brothers with it or decide to use half the bottle on one toilet.  Check out these alternatives. 

Note:  For tougher grime, I will pull out the “big guns.”  But, I don’t let my boys handle those products.  These products are ideal for “regular” grime.

The Cleaning Kit:

  • a washtub for storage
  • vinegar
  • baking soda
  • microfiber cloths (they are cheapest in the automotive section)
  • a sponge
  • gloves
  • paper towels

 How to Clean the…….

Toilet Bowl:  Sprinkle with baking soda, then pour in a little vinegar.  Scrub with a brush. 

Toilet seat and floor:  Full strength vinegar

Counters: Half vinegar and half water

Dusting: Microfiber cloths – dry

Windows and Mirrors: Microfiber Cloths- one wet (for washing) and one dry (for removing streaks) 

Floors: Half vinegar and half water

Tub:  Sprinkle baking soda on sponge.  For tougher grime, make a paste of soda and water.  Let stand 5-10 minutes.

Many of these ideas came from the website www.organizedhome.com or the book Miserly Moms by Jonni McCoy.

 

 

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