When shopping for a homeschool curriculum there are many things to consider. Such as: content, time consumption, age appropriateness, indestructibility. Many times you find that perfect curriculum only to realize, its well beyond your budget. Yea, I've been there. But sometimes not being able to afford your dream curriculum is a blessing in disguise.
My first year formally homeschooling my children I used School of Tomorrows ACE Paces. I had used it myself when I was in school. So I was familiar with it. I had no reason to think it wouldn't be a good choice. I bought K, 1st and 2nd for my 3 oldest children. First I was rather annoyed with some of the content, but then nothing is perfect so I over looked it. Then my Kindergartner discovered if he "lost" his pace he didn't have to do it. My oldest got bored because the paces were so repetitive. Finally I was sick to death of copying paces. I had bought them with the intent of copying them year after year. I guess it would work if I had a newer copier. But I had to stand there hour after hour feeding paper into this machine and pushing a button. Wasn't the best idea I have ever had.
After the first year I quit copying and just let them have the paces. The 3rd year I started using whatever I could find at thrift stores and free online as I didn't have the money. 4th year I got a bit more organized to the point where I looked for specific books when I went to thrift store. Now I am on my 5th year homeschooling. I can proudly say I don't spend hundreds of dollars on school books anymore. Yes, I am proud of that. For one reason, my children are learning just as much when I spend 50 cents on a book as when I spend $30 on a book. You don't need to buy one whole curriculum to the tune of hundreds of dollars to be a good homeschooler.
I know many parents who want to homeschool but don't because of finances. They see the prices of curriculum and decide if they can't get the "good" stuff they won't do it at all. Curriculum is only as good as the teacher, and you are already the best teacher they could ask for. You have taught them how to: speak, walk, mind, go on the potty, play nicely...academics is a cake walk compared to all that.
So far I've bought for next school year 3 books, all new not used for a grand total of $2. What I don't use I sell online or local homeschool swap meets. Ebay, Half.com, and Amazon are all good places for inexpensive curriculum and good places to sell if you've got extras. HSLDA has a Curriculum Market, Diaperswappers and Ivilliage have a place to buy and sell and I have had good results there. Thrift stores are always a treasure trove, but if you don't have those there is always craigslist and yahoo groups. And if you are still having a hard time finding inexpensive books, there is always free online worksheets.