Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Planning for Next Year: The Budget

Let's face it. Parents decide to homeschool for various reasons and come from various walks of life and therefore have various budgets for their homeschooling. No matter what way you go about it, homeschooling is not cheap.

Ok. I have figured out each of my children's learning styles and I have figured out our schedule. So the last factor I need before I choose which homeschooling materials I will use is the budget.

Now, full disclosure here, I am a youth pastor's wife. I don't work. Our budget for everything is minimal. What we find the most effective is to take a chunk of our tax returns each year and set it aside for our curriculum. Here are a few things to consider when figuring out your budget:

1) How much is left after you have paid your housing, utilities, groceries, gas, and other expenses? (If you are in debt, also include a portion of your family budget to go towards working your way out of that debt) I know for some of us it isn't easy.

2) Look at your list of subjects that you would like to teach next year. Most of those will require curriculum. A realistic amount for me to consider for each subject is $10-$15. Also consider that some subjects may require extra materials: art supplies, audio cds, science lab kits, etc. If you are on a more flexible budget, you may also consider the extra projects, books, kits and dvds that suppliment your subjects.

3) Decide what out-side of the home classes or extra-curricular activities you will participate in. Most will have sign-up fees or monthly costs. Personally, we are not able to do those with the monthly costs. We do things like community sports, 4-H, library story hours, and Homeschool Co-op. I have found that most of these things cost between $30-$40 to sign-up. I often forget that these things require supplies or equipment as well. For soccer we need cleats and shin guards. For T-ball we need gloves and helmets and cleats. 4-H we need whatever supplies for our projects and fair entree fees. For Homeschool Co-op we need art supplies. If you do dance, you will need shoes and costumes. These are the easy-to-forget items that you should include into your budget!

4) Think about field trips. Will you go on any? If so, how often, where and how much will that cost you? Include entry fees, parking fees, gas, food and hotel (if necessary).

5) Lastly for me, I consider what supplies I will need to stock my school shelves. I may not need each item each year, but I keep a check-list so I know what I will need to buy. Don't forget that the first weekend in August is tax-free on school supplies here in Missouri. Your state may offer a similar thing, so check it out! Here is the list I use. Remember, my kids are still in early elementary and as always, you will have differences depending on how you do it. But here is my list:
3 Ring Binders
hole punch
spiral notebooks
"fat" pencils
safety scissors
glue sticks
glue bottles
pencil boxes
white printer paper
construction paper
printing pad
index cards
push pins
reward stickers
play dough

Getting closer and closer to the Homeschool Conference and choosing next year's curriculum! Do you have any tips to share with us?

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