* Make sure your cell phone is charged. You want to be sure that your spouse, your sitter and your friends can reach you, if needed. It’s also handy to have if you’re shopping with someone, in case you get separated.
* If you’re planning to do the bulk of your curriculum-shopping at the fair, bring some sort of cart on wheels, so that you don’t have to lug everything around all day.
* Make notes before you go. Research curriculum on-line or through catalogs before you go. Makes lists of what you’d like to look at more closely. Your list should include the retail prices, so you’ll know if you’re finding a good deal at the fair.
* Make notes as you go. Write down the name of the vendor/booth where you found the products you’re considering. How much did each item cost? What did you like about it?
* Talk to the vendors. Vendors are often homeschooling families, just like you. They’re usually glad to tell you the pros and cons of what they’re selling. Okay, okay, often they’re more willing to tell you the pros, but if you know what they like about it and what makes it desirable enough to offer at their booth, you’ll have a better idea if the product would be a good fit for your family. Be sure to ask them what they don’t like about the particular product.
* Take a time-out. If it’s feasible for you, take two days to shop. Don’t buy anything the first day! Go home, look over your notes and think and/or pray about your intended purchases. See how everything fits into your budget. Decide if there is anything that you don’t have to have right away. It’s often easier to start with some basics and add things in as you go along and work out a schedule that fits your family. If you can buy something for the same price at a later date, it might be best to wait until you’re ready for it. If you can’t arrange to shop for two days, at least take yourself out for lunch or dinner. Use that time to look over your notes and make decisions.
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