If confession is good for the soul then I'll feel better after I admit that for years I did not budget money for our homeschooling. "What's the big deal?" some of you are thinking, "neither do I." Well, I was an accountant by trade so I knew better. When we were a two income family, I would purchase books and supplies years in advance so we'd have them when I stopped working to homeschool our son. Schnickelfritz is in third grade now and we've pretty much gone through most of those materials now. In the past I always assumed that we would have had costs associated with public school (we lived in Indiana and families have to pay hundreds of dollars to rent school books each year) and as long as I was doing it for less then we were ahead. Then we moved to Missouri, I stopped working outside of the home, and our family income was cut by more than a third. When I'd go to the homeschool fair I may have drooled over a lot of great products but I was VERY stingy about what I'd buy. In the back of my mind I'd be thinking about how high the credit card balance already was and I didn't want to take it above what we could afford to pay in full each month. (Dave Ramsey, if you're reading this blog, this was before FPU. I know how you feel about credit cards, even if they're paid off every month).
This fall my husband and I started Financial Peace University at our church. Can I first say that FPU is not just for people in serious financial situations? We actually had no consumer debt when we started the course. While paying off debt is the topic of some of the classes, we also are learning how men and women view money differently and how to talk about money instead of squabble (or avoiding the talk all together). Some nights we learn how to get the best bargain possible on purchases, what types of insurance are available and which we need, and we're looking forward to learning about sound investing. I honestly don't think there is anyone who wouldn't benefit from FPU. Wives, if you're worried your husband won't like being lectured to, every man in our class that has found Dave Ramsey's humorous teaching style entertaining as well as informative. On the Dave Ramsey's website you can type in your zip code and find classes in your area.
Now the point of this blog was homeschool budgets. According to Dave, we need to have every dollar spent on paper before it every gets deposited in our bank account and we need to be in agreement on where it's spent. When our FPU homework assignment was to create a family budget we purposefully included a line item for home school ($25 per month). It's not a large amount, but when we have to pay an entrance fee to a museum or I need to pick up supplies for a science experiment I can pull cash out of the homeschool envelope and take care of it. Of course, I don't spend all of the money. Most of it will stay in the envelope until homeschool fair time. Then I can purchase my ticket and peruse the curriculum hall without the nagging fear that I'm spreading our finances to thin. Prior to the event, we may discuss adding more to the homeschooling envelope at our monthly cash flow meeting (budgets are meant to be flexible not written in stone) but it won't have to be as big a chunk since we've been saving for it year long.
Be sure to click on the Blog Cruise button to see what others have to say about budgeting for books and supplies.