March 31, 2016

5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents ~ Tip #4: You Are Going to Buy Stuff You Just Don't Need (aka. Homeschool Hoarding)

Day 4 of the 5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents is here! I've had fun chatting about Finding Time to Homeschool, admitting that It's Okay to Feel Overwhelmed, and Giving My Child a Voice. Today let's talk about hoarding. Because if you are a homeschooler you know that it is possible to be a hoarder. A curriculum hoarder. An art supplies hoarder. A school supplies hoarder.
5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents: Tip 4 Homeschool Hoarding

Tip #4: You Are Going to Buy Stuff You Don't Really Need

You know that saying that goes 'Don't go shopping when you're hungry"? Same with that saying "Your eyes are bigger than your stomach." Each of these statements deals with the fact that many times we take more than we really need or use. This carries over to homeschooling.

If you are starting homeschooling, you might think that you need to go out and just start buying stuff. Curriculum. Supplies.
Organization tools. Memberships to programs. If you are adding another child to homeschooling, you might think you need to stock up things again. It's a new year for school--so you head out to go school supplies shopping. Or time to stock up on curriculum sales.


When it comes to homeschooling, more is just more. It is possible to homeschool without buying curriculum (gasp!). In fact I believe some of the ladies in this blog series are talking about that very thing. It is possible to homeschool without a "classroom" in your home. It is possible to homeschool without all the latest supplies and organization tools. Without the latest in manipulatives.

It simply requires determining what is a want. 
And what is a need. 
And making sure that your needs aren't really just a want.

Ask me how I know. LOL

One of the biggest enablers...homeschooling product sales. THAT is where you end up usually buying stuff you really aren't going to use. Just because it's a great deal. All those cyber Mondays sales. The used curriculum marketplaces. And (Lord have mercy)...the Homeschooling Conventions. Booth after booth of vendors with glorious gleaming product for your to explore and sales to entice you. Don't forget the booths for the used bookstores. Or the art supply booths. 


But it's all so pretty. So shiny. So new. Such a great price! What is a poor homeschooling parent to do?

Make lists.

Seriously. I make inventory lists. I make wish lists. I make "things I really think I need" lists. And then I constantly go through what I have on hand and pare it down. Because I am a sucker for a good deal. I'm a sucker for "I'm pretty sure we are going to use this in a few years" buys. And then I end up with stacks of materials that I FORGET that I even bought!

Oh, and then there is the curriculum that you bought double of, for your younger children to use some day. It worked so awesome with your older child, that you can't wait to use it with their sibling. And then you discover that your other child won't be using it because well, it's not their style of learning. Or you found something you like even better. So holding on to it was pointless. But naturally, you don't know always know that in advance. So you hold onto it anyways. Hoarding that stack.

So. You WILL buy  and get stuff you aren't going to need. 

But there are always ways to deal with your excess. Many of the popular brands sell at nearly resale prices because of the demand, so you can get very good prices if you have good condition stuff. There are always other homeschoolers with wish lists that might be able to use your stuff. I have loaned my materials to others. Sometimes I gift it to a family that has a need. You can even list some things on Amazon or Ebay.  I have never had a problem passing on the things that I don't want, or can't use, because someone else always has a need---or maybe it's their want. LOL Regardless, I can get it out of my house to a new home. 

One thing that I'm a sucker for...books. Novels. Biographies. Resource books. And I was buying more than we needed. I decided we didn't need a full personal library, because we have an incredible library just 5 minutes away with no overdue fees and no limits to how many you can check out. Did I mention no overdue fees? LOL. They carry a fabulous collection of books--many that are even out of print and hard to find. So it's pointless (in my opinion) for me to carry all those same books! Naturally, I do keep a select few of "must haves" but I seriously pared down what we have on our shelves. They have an extensive resource collection too--so I cut back on our encyclopedias, atlases, and science books as well.

Cleaning out means making room for more...Ahem. Cleaning out means making room on your shelves/cabinets so it looks very organized, as you keep only what you need. This makes sure you don't have things stashed where you can't ever find it. Or forget you even owned it.

Speaking of forgetting we even own some products, I have flash drives chock FULL of digital products. Oh how many digital resources I bought, so sure I was going to use them. And it's even WORSE because I can't even pull it off my shelf to see what it is like I can with a physical product! So I ALWAYS forget what I have! I purchased sooooo much those first two years. And now I am not going to use any of it, and as it's a download, I can't even "sell" it to anyone! So in other words...a total waste.

You need a game plan for keeping your spending/collecting and yes...hoarding in check.

Here is what I have learned:

1. Don't impulse buy
This is just like anything else in the shopping world. Don't fall for those "ONLY 24 HOURS TO SAVE!" sales and not really have a need for what you want to buy. I am so guilty of these...sigh.

2. Don't buy for years in advance.
Just don't. You have no real idea what your child will be doing then. Their learning style might have changed. You might find something you like better when it's actually time to use it. It just takes up space! Sigh...I am sitting here thinking of the stack of "for laters" in my cabinet.

3. Do check out product/curriculum reviews.
So much this. I have learned the value of product/curriculum reviews over the last few years as I have been writing my own. Nearly all the major companies have been reviewed by someone. You can do a search on Pinterest, or Google with "Language Arts Curriculum Review" and find page after page of reviews. This lets you see the product in action and hear from REAL homeschool families what they like/don't like about it. You might be able to prevent buying things you won't use, just by checking some of these out. I know I have! As you know, I am a reviewer and I have a whole page dedicated just to all the products and curriculum I have reviewed which you can check out. You can also check out the Schoolhouse Review Crew--a group DEDICATED to providing you quality reviews on the latest vendors and products.

4. Do get catalogs.
This will let you flip through at your own pace and mark things you are interested in, without finding yourself putting them into your shopping cart. Here is when you should mark things you are interested in for future use. You can compare prices and make wish lists from these. I LOVE getting catalogs and regularly refer to them when thinking ahead to what I might want to check out.

5. Do talk to your fellow homeschool friends
Guess what? They probably have the same problem as you do! Excess curriculum and supplies that they want to pare down too. If you are looking for something--or have things you want to get rid of, talk to them! Maybe you could arrange a swap! They might have something you can borrow, and not have to purchase. 

It is possible to keep yourself in check to minimize the "damage" of buying more than you need, but I promise you that you still will have that day when you realize it's time to pare down again. It just comes with the territory. I mean, who doesn't love shopping for new curriculum, school supplies, and manipulatives? I sure do! It's like being a kid in the candy store! Which is exactly how I will be at the GHC in Cincinnati tomorrow! LOL!

Which is why I'm always going to be buying stuff that I really don't need...even when I know I shouldn't be. Sigh. It's a work in progress. LOL!

This week's blog hop is brought to you by the team at Schoolhouse Review Crew! We have come together to give you a whole week of posts under the umbrella topic of Tips for Homeschool Parents. The door is wide open on what each blogger is going to share, so make sure you visit the anchor post to find who else is blogging! I'm sure you are going to find some awesome posts and I am looking forward to exploring them myself!

Here are a few of the bloggers participating in our blog hop this week--maybe you could start with them!

Jeniffer @ Thou Shall Not Whine 
Jennifer @ A Peace of Mind 
Joesette @ Learning Curve 

Want to read some of my previous years 5 Days Of series? Here they are for your viewing pleasure!

Only one day left of this week's blog series! Make sure you check back in to see my last tip and a wrap up of what I've chatted about this week! Have a great day!

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