Growing Your Home Library Without Breaking Your Budget

home-libraryI bet you’re wondering how I grew my home library to over 2,000 outstanding, high-quality books without spending hardly any money. I myself sometimes marvel at how God has provided over the years.

When planning my homeschooling for the upcoming school year, I always start by committing the year to God and asking Him what areas to study. We go through history chronologically, but all the other subjects besides math are delight-directed until high school, depending on what we haven’t studied yet.

Anyone who has done unit studies successfully is able to pull together lots of fun books on one topic. You can do this by going to the library, but I prefer to own the books so that they are always available to me. (I like to preview all the books as well, and only have the very best.) When I write down what topics we will cover for the following school year, the books practically pop out at me wherever I look. Here are my favorite places to find books:

  • yard sales
  • second-hand stores
  • used book stores
  • used books on Amazon
  • Craig’s List
  • library book sales
  • used curriculum sales
  • gifts from friends or family

Back when I first got married, I didn’t have the basic Bible study tools like a concordance, Bible dictionary, handbook about Bible times, maps and charts, etc. I asked myself who would feel joy if I studied the Word of God? My parents decided to get me the whole set, which was on sale, for Christmas. Our whole family is closer to God now because we have proper Bible study tools, and the credit goes to my parents. I have no doubt they will be rewarded in heaven. That set of books was not cheap, even at 50% off. What I’m saying is that if people are going to buy your family Christmas presents anyway, make known specific books that you can’t wait to purchase.

After getting the bulk of my books at yard sales and second-hand stores, can you believe that I actually made money off books, and I could buy whatever I wanted—even new books—from my list? I know you’re eagerly waiting on the edge of your seat for my secret, so here it is: I buy hardcover children’s classics and coffee table books at yard sales for fifty cents. Then I turn around with a large stack of almost-free books that look new, and I trade them in to a used book store. My used book store also sells new books, and I often get a trade-in value of $80! I do this in the summer when yard sales are in profusion. I never buy children’s books that are from a book club, because they are worthless. I’ve learned over the years which books have higher trade-in value, and which ones get rejected. But with practically no money, I’ve acquired over 2,000 outstanding, high-quality books for my home library that my family uses profusely in our homeschooling.

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20 Responses to “Growing Your Home Library Without Breaking Your Budget”

  1. I would love to win this for our homeschool library!

  2. justneedcoffee says:

    This looks wonderful!!! What a great contest!!

  3. Jackie says:

    I love the idea for your workshop! Sure sounds interesting and I’ll be sure to tell all my friends.

  4. Fibia says:

    Thank you for the chance. We LOVE books!

  5. kimberly says:

    I would love to win. Perfect idea for a workshop.

  6. Diane Hurst says:

    This is a great idea, Susan! Do you sell your books at a local bookstore, or have you found an online store that accepts trade-ins? I know it’s possible to be a reseller through Amazon, though haven’t looked into this (and it wouldn’t give you the instant purchase money).

    • Susan says:

      I trade the books in at a local bookstore. I find the process easier that way. Shipping costs lots of money, plus I like to touch the books I’m buying, if possible. The other thing is that I know exactly how much money I have to spend at the exact time that I’m shopping, so time-wise, it’s a good use of my time. It’s fun because I feel like I’m going on a shopping spree. I always come armed with my reading list, and then I browse for books about different subjects. It’s hard to browse inside the books online.

  7. Debbie says:

    Anything to make literature more fun for my kids would be great!

  8. Michele P says:

    This looks like a geat resource. Would love to win a copy!

  9. Jennifer says:

    Hello Susan,
    I live in North Idaho, and know you live in Spokane area, so I was wondering if you could tell me a good place to trade in books in Spokane? Thank you!

  10. Kristi says:

    Great tips, thanks so much for sharing!! I would love to win this, it looks very good, and I keep missing you at conventions!! ((sob))

  11. I just donated a trunk full of books to one of the local places that take books, and I had some really good ones (we have to down size drastically sadly). I wish I would have thought of this then! Do you know of a shop you like better than others in Tacoma WA area?

    • Susan says:

      I would look in your local yellow pages for used book stores, and call them and ask if they give in-store credit. The best bookstores are the ones that sell new and used books.

  12. Leah says:

    What sort of books do you have?
    Make a list. Over the years I have built up my personal library of books. I even have a copy of the Bible for children. With regards to finding books, I recommend that you use Amazon to find some that may be appropriate. Or you can visit your local library and bookshop to look at the books there as well. Another very good way to find rare and unwanted books is at a yard or church book sale.

    Alternatively why not try out the lesser known sites like book depository? I have found some great books on there in the past. I recommend the website. It is literally a virtual Aladdin’s Cove of books. To check out book reviews, use goodreads which is a popular book review site.

    Additionally do not forget about your local charity shops. My local ones stock all kinds of books. I have spent many a hour in the past looking at the books on the shelves with the kids. Have a careful look next time, maybe you can pick up some new ones? It is worth a shot at least. Other suggested tried and tested ways and means of finding all kinds of new books to read include other blogs, a book drive or a bookswap too. I personally find the site book crossing very helpful with regards to that. Or Facebook can also help you, ask a friend for some new recommendations. I hope that this is useful to you!

    • Susan says:

      We have all kinds of books in our home library, and I just received a lot more books from my dad when he passed away. It sounds like you have gotten a lot of good deals, too, on books over the years.

  13. Thara says:

    We now too have lots of good books at home in order to read. I’ve often borrowed lots of books at no cost from family members or friends. You can search online in addition to see if you can find titles on the cheap. You can begin your search at a library to narrow down book options. Good luck. View some of the free bookshop catalogues.
    Do also take a look at the shelves in the shop in question here too. Make out lists of book recommendations too. That always helps me. I second going to charity stores and church book fairs at the same time. Alternatively you can explore other options. Like finding books on the cheap.

    • Susan says:

      Yes, borrowing books is another option, but then you feel pressured to give it back, so it’s not as good as building your own home library.

  14. Thara says:

    It is nice to meet you. Additionally you can see if a mini hospital shop has any books in order to sell or not. Sometimes a local downtown restaurant also do a free book swap. Alternatively you can find so many books on the internet for low prices as well. Make some brief summary notes. I know that Amazon sell loads each year, but also take a look at other popular sites like GoodReads and eBay. Or there are the specialist online stores that are owned by high street bookshops. Good luck to you.
    That is a good place to start. Pool your own resources. You can get a free mail order catalogue that describes what is available in question at that bookstore.

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