How do you manage your annual homeschool budget?
Over the years, I’ve observed two kinds of homeschool shoppers: those who shop to fill the needs they already know about and those who shop to try to figure out what they need. The former wrap up their shopping with useful resources and a well-managed budget. The latter usually end up with a blown budget and a cartload of confusion.
The difference between the two? A plan.
Use a Plan to Create Your Homeschool Budget
The single most effective way to build and stay within a homeschool budget is to lay out a general plan before you shop. You don’t have to know all of the specifics about which language arts program you need. But, if you know what you need that language arts program to cover, you can quickly narrow down which curriculum options fit both the needs and the budget you have available!
The early summer months are a great time to start thinking toward next year. Consider what worked well this past school year. What might need to be changed or redirected? Are there any electives or extracurricular activities you want to add in? What are the priorities and what are the “extras” that you’d like to have if the budget permits?
Avoid Overspending Caused by Panic
Because spring is the time when homeschool companies often promote their biggest sales, many homeschool families already have their new school year figured out before summer hits. If your homeschooling friends are that way but you’re not, you might feel like you’re running way behind. That can cause you to panic shop, only to discover later that you’ve forgotten some key components to the new year. The homeschool budget becomes stretched and strained, if not completely blown, as you seek to fill in the gaps.
First, let me give you this word of encouragement: you’re not running late! Many, many families are still working out their homeschool plan, and summer is a great time to do it. And making that plan is the critical part, no matter when you do it. A plan allows you to shop for the things you know you’ll need instead of just panic shopping for what you think you might need — and overspending in the process.
Can I give you one more little tip from a veteran? It’s really helpful to keep notes in your homeschool planner about the plan, the homeschool budget, and what you’ve purchased. Why? Because this allows you to go back each year and easily see how much you spent in the past for a resource so you can estimate what you’ll need for the new year. It’s all handy and in one place.
Stay Focused on Your Direction
How many of us have bought a homeschool resource that we’ve never ended up using? I know I’ve been guilty of it!
Do you know what the best remedy has always been for me? Planning! I know, I sound like a broken record. But good planning has solved so many of my curriculum blunders.
When I plan well, I can look back over the year I just finished and evaluate what worked and what didn’t, then use that assessment to make a list of what I’ll need for the coming year. That’s why I really like to keep all of my notes right in my planner.
When you use your planner to create goals, plan for the year, make note of benchmarks, and evaluate regularly, you set yourself up for a quick and clear education on what works and what doesn’t. This is actually the foundation of the ACHIEVE method. The idea is that every step combines to create a big picture of success, not just from the beginning of one year to it’s ending, but also going forward into each new year.
As summer progresses and the new school year draws closer, you’ll be tempted to purchase things quickly and without much thought. But, with a good plan, you’ll be able to stay within your homeschool budget by purchasing well and intentionally, setting yourself up for a great year!