A budget can reduce stress

 

As a homeschool leader, are you “a people person” and hate dealing with numbers or a budget? Do numbers or a budget stresses you out?

Numbers on a budget can help homeschool leaders plan and look to the future. A budget can do a lot to reduce stress.

If you make a plan and know what might be coming, it will help you set priorities.

 

I’m writing this during the COVID-19 pandemic, something none of us planned for!  But hopefully, we will be returning to “normal” (whatever that will look like!) sometime soon.

Aren’t we glad that many scientists and hospitals had already made pandemic plans? Yes, we have had shortages and problems, but we’ve coped a lot better because some leaders made plans.

A budget helps you and your leadership team ask yourselves :

  • What is important to us in our group? Is it cost, convenience or quality? You cannot offer all three! Choose two.
  • Is it important that we keep the cost extremely low? A budget that aims for low cost is going to be a very different budget than one aiming for top quality.

Good, easy and cheap. Your homeschool program cannot offer all three!

A budget helps you focus, plan, and set your group’s priorities.   So, believe it or not–having a budget might sound like it is a limiting thing, and some people don’t like budgets. But instead a budget can bring great freedom and relief from a lot of stress.  


If you need help establishing a budget, start with my article  Budgeting basics

And consider ordering my book Money Management for Homeschool Organizations.

This 115 page book will help you to open a checking account, establish a budget, prevent mistakes and fraud, use software to keep the books, prepare a financial statement and hire workers.

Sample forms and examples of financial statements in clear English are provided.


Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com
Helping Homeschool Leaders

San Antonio, Austin and Houston: Q&A with HomeschoolCPA this week

San Antonio, Austin and Houston, Texas will all be getting live Q&A time this week with Carol Topp, CPA, the Homeschool CPA!

San Antonio: Tuesday February 25, 2020
from 7:00 to 8:30 pm
on the lovely grounds of
Family Educators Alliance of South Texas (FEAST)
7735 Mockingbird Lane • San Antonio, TX • 78229
Register here for San Antonio

Austin: Wednesday February 26, 2020
from 6:30-9:15 pm
at
Calvary Worship Center (North Austin, close to TX 45 & N Mopac Expy)
14901 Burnet Road
Austin, TX 78728 
More information and to RSVP for Austin

Houston: Thursday February 27, 2020
from 6:30-9:15 pm
at
University Baptist Church  (Chapel area)
16106 Middlebrook Dr
Houston, TX 77059  
More information and to RSVP for Houston

Each event is free, but the organizers would appreciate you register so they have a head count.

The San Antonio event is sponsored by Family Educators Alliance of South Texas and the Austin and Houston events are sponsored by Texas Homeschool Coalition with much appreciation!


Each event will have:

  • A brief session presented by Carol Topp, CPA, the HomeschoolCPA on “Topp Tips for Running a Homeschool Organization”
  • A Town Hall session for you to ask question and get advice from other homeschool leaders
  • Q&A time with Carol Topp, CPA
  • Professional advice on finances, legal structures, taxes, employees, insurance, etc.
  • A chance to look at HomeschoolCPA’s books
  • An opportunity to be encouraged by other leaders who understand you!

I hope to see you in San Antonio, Austin or Houston!

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com
Helping Homeschool Leaders

Merry Christmas 2019! Don’t plan on getting a lot done!

Topp family in Zion National Park, Utah August 2019

Merry Christmas from HomeschoolCPA and the entire Topp family! The photo was taken in August 2019 on our family vacation to Zion National Park in Utah. What an amazing, beautiful place. We loved the time we spent there.

I hope you have a restful, peaceful holiday.

Are you like me and think, “I’ve got some time off (from homeschooling, running a homeschool group, work, etc.), so I’ll get a lot done!” but you never do?

I always think I will get so much done on my Christmas break. My list this year includes:

  1. Organize my basement so I can have a real studio to paint and draw.
  2. Read novels, nonfiction books, and a required textbook for my CPA license continuing education.
  3. Catch up on blog posts and podcast episodes for this site (and a few others sites I manage).
  4. Take an online classes (in colored pencil drawing my new hobby).
  5. Prepare emails, blog posts, tweets for a new book I am releasing in January. 🙂

Who am I kidding? I’d be lucky to start two of these tasks and get one of these tasks finished!

Why can I not get everything done that I plan over a break?

Well, it’s because my husband is off work and my adult daughters hang out at our house a lot during the holidays.

So the real reason I don’t get a lot done is that getting stuff done is NOT the point of a holiday break.

The point is to rest, recharge, and spend time with my loved ones!

So I plan to do that and let the list be replaced with this task:

Rest and spend time with my family.

I wish you and your family a restful, peaceful Christmas and New Year. Just don’t expect to get a lot done! 🙂

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com
Helping Homeschool Leaders

Boards, Burnout and Bylaws: Leadership Tips from a Homeschool Leader

 

Ever wish you could just sit down with another homeschool leader who understands you and your issues?

In this short podcast episode (15 minutes)  Carol Topp, the HomeschoolCPA, interviews homeschool leader Angela Weaver. Angela runs a large group in Lynchburg, Virginia and she shares insight into many topics including boards, burn out and bylaws. It will feel like you’re listening to a good friend.

Angela had so much wisdom, that it takes 3 episodes! Here are the following episodes:

What’s the Best Size for a Homeschool Group Board?

How Can Your Homeschool Group Feel Like a Community?

 

Carol and Angela belong to the  I Am a Homeschool Group Leader Facebook Group. It is a closed group (meaning you have to request to join) of 500+ homeschool leaders from across the USA (and maybe the globe soon!). You can join us here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/72534255742/

 

Featured resource

Homeschool Co-ops:
How to Start Them, Run Them and not Burn Out

Have you ever thought about starting a homeschool co-op? Are you afraid it will be too much work? Do you think you’ll have to do it all by yourself? Starting a homeschool co-op can be easy! This book Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out will give you ideas, inspiration, tips, wisdom and the tools you need to start a homeschool co-op, run it and not burn out!

Click Here to request more information!

Carol Topp, CPA

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Why is being a homeschool group leader so exhausting and thankless?

On the Facebook group I am a Homeschool Group Leader, Lesley asks,

Why is being a homeschool group leader so exhausting and thankless?

Here are some replies from other homeschool group leaders (my emphasis added).

Jennifer: Because those you are leading haven’t done it and don’t have a full appreciation for the workload. Empathy is hard to come by when a person hasn’t ‘been there.’

Some people just don’t know how to say thank you. We had a team of 5 leaders. Every semester, I gave them a small gift and thank you note, letting them know I appreciated what they personally brought to our group.

 

Beth: Do you have a reliable team of leaders working alongside you? That has made all the difference as I’ve been in homeschool group leadership – as president as well as a numerous other roles – over the past 24 years. Our group grew from 20 families to almost 400 families during that time. There have been tough seasons and also smooth seasons. Make sure you prioritize and try to delegate or let go of things to minimize stress where you can.

The leaders don’t plan everything, but provide the structure and administration for the group, and establish policies as needed. I started our group with 2 other moms, and we were the core at first. When we found like-minded people, we mentored them and encouraged them to use their gifts and talents for the benefit of the group. We really did find some wonderful people who saw that their own families benefited by their contribution. We worked hard to repeatedly convey the message that we all helped one another. We also have those who just want to be served, and it can be frustrating as a leader when you also “are busy” and have your own family to homeschool and care for.

 

Melissa: First because the workers are volunteering so you don’t always get what you need from who is willing to work for free. It can be difficult to fill all the positions with people that will work as a team, complimenting each other’s skills. Sometimes you take what you can get.
Second, you are working for a group of people that want a service. It’s not like you are all saving the whales. The parents want something. For as low cost as possible.

 

Cheryl: Sometimes effective leaders seem to have it all under control in a way that makes others think they’re not needed. Those who stepped in in the group took time to figure out jobs that needed doing and clearly and repeatedly asked for help. And then let people run with those jobs rather than micromanaging them.

Another difference I see is in expressing thanks. Leaders who manage teams well tend to be public and loud with praise on a regular basis—rather than criticizing often. Speaking about them to the group with thankfulness for their work, mentioning in emails or other group communication their hard work, giving out awards and certificates, etc. can help.

Darlene Cheryl, this reminded me of another problem I saw in a group that I was part of several years ago. The leader of the group was a very capable woman. Someone in another role would falter or step away, and she would fill that role. After a few years, she wanted to step away from the head position. The problem was that everyone looked at her and said, “I can’t do that!” She was wearing too many hats! Her job looked daunting. We had to break down all she did into about a dozen positions before anyone would step forward to take on any of it.

Sheri: Hmmm. Are you expecting too much? Too little? Giving too much guidance? Not enough guidance? Are you working with their personality type and not against it?
Start with your WHY. Why do you exist? What is your vision? Then work on clearly communicating that vision. People will “catch” a passionate, clear vision and buy into it. Don’t try to be all things to all people; those who have a different vision, let them go with your blessing to find or start something else. I’d rather have a small group of committed people than a large group of apathetic people.
We made our yearly planning meeting mandatory. We asked for ideas and wrote them on a whiteboard. Then I would ask who would run that. If no one volunteered, I just erased it off the board. One year our favorite event, a yearly picnic, no one stepped up and I erased it. I think members thought the board would just do it, but we did not. Everyone complained but we stood firm. That next year, it was quite simple to get a whole 5 person committee to step up and make it happen.
Also, I paid attention to who was proposing events but never volunteering. As leader, I would take them aside and have a talk.

  • Are there extenuating circumstances?
  • Are they intimidated?
  • Lazy?
  • Overwhelmed?
  • Apathetic?
Depending on what I discerned in conversation, I could approach it several ways.
  • Sign them to assist someone else,
  • give them something simple,
  • discourage them from asking for events that they wouldn’t also work for, etc.
  • Even someone with a chronic illness can head a field trip with no cost; they can call the facility to arrange a date, set out a sign up sheet at meetings, and call the facility back with a final number.

Sometimes they just need a little guidance.

 

That’s helpful advice for Lesley and maybe you too!

If you need help running your homeschool group my books can help.
My  Homeschool Organization Board Manual may be very helpful. It is a combination of a template for your board to create binders to keep important documents and a board training manual to explain the board’s duties and responsibilities.
Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com

Policies for Homeschool Co-ops

 

What types of policies should your homeschool co-op have?

How will having policies help you avoid burning out as you lead your group?

In this short podcast episode (12 minutes)  Carol Topp, the HomeschoolCPA, answers these questions and more from homeschool leaders. This podcast is an excerpt from a workshop titled Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out.

In the podcast Carol mentioned tax exempt status and the IRS required reporting, Form 990-N. Read more here

 

Featured resource

Phone Consultation with Carol Topp, CPA

Phone Consultation: A pre-arranged phone call to discuss your questions. My most popular service for homeschool leaders. It’s like having your own homeschool expert CPA on the phone!

Cost: $75/hour to nonprofit organizations.  $100/hour to for-profit businesses. $60 minimum.

Q &A by Email:  I am willing to answer questions by email, but it is very time consuming to read and reply to emails. I charge a reduced rate of $50/hour to read and reply to emails. Minimum $25.

Contact HomeschoolCPA, Carol Topp, CPA, to arrange a telephone consultation.

 

Carol Topp, CPA

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Starting Your Homeschool Co-op with a Mission

 

When starting a co-op, did you consider your mission?

Do you have a mission for your homeschool group?

You know that you cannot be all things to all people. Having a mission will help you focus and avoid burning out.

This podcast is an excerpt from a workshop titled Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out.

In this short podcast episode (10 minutes) Carol Topp, the HomeschoolCPA, will explain what a mission statement looks like.

 

Featured resource

Phone Consultation with Carol Topp, CPA

Phone Consultation: A pre-arranged phone call to discuss your questions. My most popular service for homeschool leaders. It’s like having your own homeschool expert CPA on the phone!

Cost: $75/hour to nonprofit organizations.  $100/hour to for-profit businesses. $60 minimum.

Q &A by Email:  I am willing to answer questions by email, but it is very time consuming to read and reply to emails. I charge a reduced rate of $50/hour to read and reply to emails. Minimum $25.

Contact HomeschoolCPA, Carol Topp, CPA, to arrange a telephone consultation.

Click Here to request more information!

 

Carol Topp, CPA

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More Ways to Avoid Leader Burnout

 

Want more tips on how to avoid burnout?

In this short podcast episode (15 minutes)  Carol Topp, the HomeschoolCPA, will share 5 more ways to avoid burnout as a homeschool group leader.

Featured resource

Homeschool Co-ops:
How to Start Them, Run Them and not Burn Out

 

Have you ever thought about starting a homeschool co-op? Are you afraid it will be too much work? Do you think you’ll have to do it all by yourself? Starting a homeschool co-op can be easy! This book Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out will give you ideas, inspiration, tips, wisdom and the tools you need to start a homeschool co-op, run it and not burn out!

Click Here to request more information!

Carol Topp, CPA

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5 Ways to Avoid Homeschool Leader Burnout

 

Homeschool leader, are you tired? Are you burned out?

Leading a homeschool co-op can be exhausting. Carol Topp, Homeschool CPA, shares 5 ways to avoid burnout as you lead your homeschool group.

Featured resource

Homeschool Co-ops:
How to Start Them, Run Them and not Burn Out

 

Have you ever thought about starting a homeschool co-op? Are you afraid it will be too much work? Do you think you’ll have to do it all by yourself? Starting a homeschool co-op can be easy! This book Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out will give you ideas, inspiration, tips, wisdom and the tools you need to start a homeschool co-op, run it and not burn out!

Click Here to request more information!

Carol Topp, CPA

Save

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Homeschool Leadership is Like Marriage Part 2 (podcast)

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Leading a homeschool organization can be like marriage. It’s helpful to know what you’re getting into!.

Carol Topp shares insights on leadership from Hebrews Chapter 13 with a group of homeschool leaders in this 2nd part of a two-part episode. She shares three warning of attitudes to avoid.

Listen to the podcast.

Listen to Part 1. where Carol warned against trying to meet everyones’ expectations.

For more help in leading a homeschool organization check out Carol’s book Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out.

Homeschool Co-ops Cover_400