Have you ever attended a homeschool convention but found yourself arriving at the venue strapped for cash after you paid your registration fees, hotel fees, gas money, etc? Today I am going to share with you five ways to save money at a homeschool convention.
- Check for other hotels in the area that are not on the conferences recommended list. We recently attended a conference and found a hotel within walking distance from the convention for half the cost of the hotels listed as recommended by the convention. This hotel was an older two-star hotel, but had recently replaced the carpet. It was clean, the staff was friendly and we had free continental breakfast and free wi-fi each day. By looking around and doing my research, I was able to save significantly. This is not always the best option if you are looking for nicer hotels with more amenities. If you want all the frills, you may score a better deal using the conference’s arranged pricing with the recommended hotels.
- Bring your own snacks and eat from your cooler at least once a day. On our most recent trip, we chose to eat the free breakfast at the hotel and bring along ingredients for lunches each day. We packed sandwiches, muffins, brownies, fruit, etc and ate one meal a day from the cooler. I figure that saved us at least $30 a day for our family of 5. We treated ourselves to one meal out each day and we stayed well inside our food budget this way. Check with the rules at your local convention, you may not be able to bring food inside the convention center. Sometimes this route involves eating out of your car, but don’t worry, look around, you won’t be the only one doing this!
- Look first, then buy. I try to look around the vendor hall the first day and get an idea of things I REALLY can’t do without. Then if I still think they are great deals after mulling it over for the day, I purchase them the next day. I also try to set a budget and use cash only, when possible. ( I didn’t make it to the bank before I left on my most recent convention trip.) Watching the cash disappear from my wallet helps me avoid impulse buys and see exactly how much I have left to spend. The visual reminder helps me stay within budget and refrain from buying things I don’t need.
- Price check before you buy. I almost bought a book recently at a convention because the item was $10 off retail price. I did a quick price check on Amazon and Homeschool Classifieds before I purchased it and found that someone was listing for sale in new condition for $5 cheaper than the price I thought was great and that included shipping. I put the book back and ordered it online. If the price is within a dollar or two of the online price, I usually just go ahead a support the vendors at the convention. They come a long distance to speak and sell their wares and most of them make their living through sales. Another tip I heard and have not tried is to download the Price Check app from Amazon. It is available in the Android or apple platform for smart phones and tablets with scanners. You can scan the barcode of books and it will show you the Amazon price for the item in question. That would be awesome if I only had a smart phone. LOL! Sometimes I just take photos of products that I want to add to my wish list and purchase them later when I have the extra money.
- Sign up for newsletters and enter contests. My friend won a book after signing up for the drawing at their table and my husband picked up a free radio dramatization CD for our kids just by signing up for a newsletter on our most recent convention trip. I picked up a catalog with a $15 off of $50 purchase promo code pasted on the front. I had planned to purchase over $100 of materials from this company, so I will definitely take advantage of that. You can also look for convention specials advertised at each booth. Just don’t forget to do your homework. I saw one special recently on DVD’s that were supposedly on sale for 50% off if you purchased sets of twelve, making them $14.95 each. A quick Amazon search showed me that I could get the videos for $12 or less individually. I didn’t really need 12 of the DVD’s. I was interested in about 4 of them, so buying them from Amazon saved me a bundle. I got only what I needed and didn’t pay the inflated price. Not every special is a good deal.
These are just a few tips that have helped me be able to enjoy a homeschool convention without breaking the bank. Do you have any other money-saving tips?