Using Quickbooks for reports

August 2, 2009
Hi Carol,
Our Board of directors for our homeschool group of 100 families just received your 2 books (Money Management for Homeschool Organizations and Tax Exempt 510c3 Status for Homeschool Organizations).  I have read them.  It has reassured me that we are on the right track and that we have instituted many of the things that you mentioned.

We have purchased Quickbooks and our treasurer is working hard to learn  the software.
What financial reports do we need to generate monthly?  We need these reports to be a simple process.The Balance Sheet and P&L (Profit and Loss) statement in Quickbooks looks are overwhelming.

We are not accountants and double entry lines are confusing.We have reconciled our checkbook successfully.  YEAH!
Any advise would be helpful,
Hilary S

Hilary,

I’m glad that my books were helpful.  Your organization sounds as if they are getting things set up well.  I hope you’ll be serving homeschool families for a long time to come.

I think Quickbooks (QB) can be as simple or as complicated as it needs to be. The reports your treasurer generates is dependent on what the board wants to see. When I was treasurer, I gave my board a P&L (Profit and Loss) statement.  They really liked to see the budget in one column and actual P&L in another column.  Then they could see how we were doing compared to our budget. This report can be generated in QB as a Budget Report.
I also created a mini balance sheet at the bottom of the P&L.  I took the amount in the checking account and then listed payments to be made.  This gave the board an idea of how much cash we had on hand and where it was planned to go.

If the P&L statements in QB are too overwhelming, then perhaps you’re not using QB correctly.  I frequently see QB users make their Chart of Accounts too long.  Then the P&L becomes 2-3 pages long.  I recommend that a P&L be condensed into one page or less.

If your treasurer would like my help in setting up QB, I’d be happy to help.  She can e-mail me with what needs to be done and I’ll give you an estimated cost.  I also do QB training over the phone. I keep things as simple as possible.

I hope that helps.  I wish you the best of success! (Congrats on balancing the checkbook!)

Carol Topp, CPA

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Carnival of Homeschooling

July 21, 2009

Welcome to the Carnival of Homeschooling!   Our theme this week is:

As Time Goes By: Reflecting on 25 Years of Marriage and 12 Years of HomeschoolingIMG_4033

In 2009 my family celebrates two milestones, our oldest daughter graduates from homeschool high school and my husband and I are celebrating 25 years of marriage (today!), so I’m reflecting on the passage of time.

Before you begin

IMG_4720 - CopyThis is Dave and I before we were married, setting the stage for marriage with a period of engagement. Like engaged couples, parents just starting to homeschool can be excited and fearful at the same time.

Teri’s Take asks Will you begin homeschooling this fall?

Praiseworthy Things asks parents to consider the important question, What About Preschool?

Percival Blakeney Academy compares Home Schooling VS Home Cooking

Why Homeschool has a video of John Taylor Gatto talking about the purpose of Public Schools brainwashing and preparing for factories.

Starting to homeschool

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Our family went from just the two of us to four when we added two daughters. We had a lot to learn as parents and many parents learn a lot as they begin homeschooling. I am so grateful for the parents and experienced homeschoolers that shared their wisdom with us.

Wired For Noise shares a review of a book set that is great for beginner readers in Reading Together

The Frugal Homeschooling Mom adds reason number 8 in Why Homeschool? Eight Reasons (and more to come)

Terri Sue Bettis presents Homeschooling an Only posted at Cricket’s Corner.

explore-discover-learn asks Why do Kids Bully? and offers  Bully and Cyberbully Printables

Terry presents Art Supplies Can Spark a Child’s Creativity posted at My Creativity Blog.

Growing and learning

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This is one of my favorite pictures from early in our homeschool journey.  My daughter is about seven and is pretty happy to show us her spelling book! Notice little sister peeking out from behind her shoulder. Our daughters kept growing and learning as these homeschool bloggers also continue to do:

Purls of Wisdoms blogs about learning styles in Homeschooling Styles

Whippasnappa’s Blog notices the changes in her children because of homeschooling in Thoughts on Homeschooling

C h r y s a l i s tells us that stargazers across the world are in for a major event next month. Scientists say that on July 22, a total solar eclipse will be visible from India, China, and parts of the South Pacific in The Eclipse Will Look Like a Diamond Ring

Barbara Frank Online asks Is your young teen sleeping through the summer? in The Young Teen in Your House

A Mountain Mom shares The process of being organized.

ChristineMM presents Homeschool Stuff Reorg Before & After posted at The Thinking Mother.

Freehold2 discusses an important topic in Copyright and Homeschoolers

Kathy presents Airborn: Homeschool Review posted at Homeschoolbuzz.com Reviews.

Jen presents My Homeschool Recipe posted at Cage Free Monkeys.

Jimmie presents Living Math Curriculum Review posted at The Curriculum Choice.

Travel and field trips

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My husband used to say that the money we saved by homeschooling meant we could take really big field trips and here’s a picture from one of our biggest “field trips” ever-to China in 2003. We all learned so much and see the world differently as a result of traveling. Here some homeschool families share their travels near and far.

Summers’ Family Adventures enjoys Cleveland’s Metroparks in Rocky River Nature Center

Kimberly from Life of a Homeschool Family visits a local museum in Macon Museum of Arts & Sciences

Home Spun Juggling shares photos from her recent trip to the aquarium in Sharks, Jellies, and Penguins, Oh My!

Amy from Neighborhood Clubhouse explains How Homeschooling Families Can Find Free Travel Accommodations

Dave from Home School Dad explains a service project his family did in Oh Where is My Hairnet?

Susan presents Riding the Escalator posted at The Expanding Life.

Continued commitment

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My daughters have continued to be committed to homeschooling all the way through high school. This picture shows their books from one year of high school!  They really felt a sense of accomplishment when they saw their book towers!  The following posts will encourage you to continue in your commitment to homeschool.

Aimless Conversation discusses the importance of setting goals in Homeschooling With a Purpose

Loving Learning at Home reflects on her homeschool life in Assessment Time; Reflection Time

Homeschooler Cafe’ encourages other homeschool parents in Just Hang In There!

See what the Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers will be using next school year in Our 2009-2010 Curriculum

Kiwi Polemicist is concerned about homeschooling freedoms in Sweden in Update: Sweden wants to outlaw homeschooling done for religious and philosophical reasons

Take Dana’s poll How Involved are Dads in Homeschooling? at Principled Discovery

Beverly’s Homeschooling Blog shares Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl was homeschooled. Pfc Bergdahl is a soldier being held captive in Afghanistan

Milestones and celebration

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Here is my daughter, Emily, on her graduation from homeschool high school. Quite a milestone in her life that we’re happy to celebrate! Of course milestones mark an event, usually an ending, but in Emily’s case this milestone is a beginning as well as she heads off to Grove City College in PA this fall.

Homemaking 911 celebrates a milestone in Christina is Graduating This Month

Amanda presents I Think I Can, I Think I Can, Wait? Yep, I Know I Can! posted at The Daily Planet.

From my other blog I share Homeschool High School Graduation and Sending Your Kids to College.

Wrap up

Thank you to all the bloggers that shared their posts! I hope you have enjoyed this reflection on our family life and marriage. No matter where you are on your path, remember that the joy is in the journey!

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This final picture is Dave and I at a family celebration of our 25th wedding anniversary. We haven’t changed a bit, right?  Wrong! Of course our past 25 have years have changed us for the better, I hope.  Homeschooling our daughters has been a rewarding, fulfilling experience.

The next Carnival of Homeschooling will be at Small World. Submit your blog article to the next edition of carnival of homeschooling using the carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.  The deadline is Monday July 27 at 6 pm PST.

Carol Topp


I’m hosting the Carnival of Homeschooling

July 14, 2009

I’ll be hosting the Carnival of Homeschooling Blog Carnival next week!

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The current Carnival is over at  Tami’s blog

The theme is:

As TIMG_6500 - Copyime Goes By: Reflecting on 25 Years of Marriage and 12 Years of Homeschooling

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This year my oldest daughter graduated from homeschool high school in May and my husband and I are celebrating 25 years of marriage on July 21st, so I’m reflecting on the passage of time.

My categories will be along the lines of time such as:

Before you begin
Starting to homeschool
Growing and learning
Travel and field trips
Continued commitment
Milestones and celebration

If you have a post that could fit my theme or a particular category, send it me using this handy submission form: http://blogcarnival.com/bc/submit_199.html

Any posts on homeschooling will be accepted, but if you have a post (even an old one) fitting the theme or my categories, that would be appreciated.

The due date is Monday, July 20 at 6 pm. The earlier, the better!

If you haven’t read any blog carnivals before, please read What is a Blog Carnival.
Thanks!!

Carol Topp


Planning a Homeschool Co-op

July 10, 2009

Faye, a homeschool mom and columnist for the DC Examiner.com, has a great list to help start a homeschool co-op (edited slightly for brevity):

Although it is wonderful to be able to plan lessons, activities and programs that best meet your child’s needs, sometimes banding together with other homeschoolers can be a huge blessing!  Planning a homeschool co-op is a large undertaking, but with some good people and a strong foundation, it can benefit you and your family in many ways. Whether you want to have a group for regular field trips, or you are looking for a way to provide some structured school time in a group setting, a homeschool co-op could be just the ticket.

If you are interested in starting your own homeschool co-op, I would like to offer some suggestions.

1.  Start with your homeschool support group and friends.  Who would be willing to help you get things started?  2-5 people is a good number for a planning group (more than that and it might seem impossible to find a time when everyone can meet!).

2.  Spend some time brainstorming about what the “ideal co-op” would be.  Would you meet once a week, or every morning?  Will the group be for just a certain age group (ie: only elementary-age)?   Do you want to offer set classes, with textbooks, tests, homework, etc?  Or perhaps something more relaxed, like clubs and projects?

3.  Once the group has ironed out a general idea of what the first year could look like, you will need to find a place to meet.  This may prove to be one of the most daunting tasks!  Try the local library or community center, a church or firehouse, or maybe even an empty business.

4.  After you have secured a space, it is time to invite homeschooling families to join you!  It can be tempting to hang up flyers and spread the word via homeschool yahoo groups and blogs.  However, a word of caution.  I have heard many, many stories about co-ops, and the one thing that resonates over and over again is the importance of having a group of like-minded people.  Now, that doesn’t mean that you all have to believe in the same things–far from it!  At our co-op, we enjoy having new points of view for the kids to consider.  However, if it is important that the co-op be Christian-based, that might not be a good match for someone who is agnostic.

5.  For your co-op to grow and thrive, people have to be willing to work together, to pitch in, and to get along.  It is an “army of volunteers”, and if the adults/kids don’t get along, the co-op will suffer and perhaps never get off the ground.

6.  Once you have a location and a few families have indicated interest–YEAH–you are in business!!  Meet with your planning group and decide what classes/clubs/projects you want to offer.  Some ideas to choose from:

  • Art/drawing
  • Science
  • History
  • Foreign language
  • Physical education

7.  Finalize which classes you will offer, decide on a start date, then work out registration details and fees.  If there is a fee to use your facility, all families will need to divide that expense. Many facilities will also want you to carry a separate insurance policy (for one local co-op, it is @$35.00/family/year.)

8.  Do an Internet search to find forms you may need/want to have (registration, emergency info, family info, student info, etc.)  The planning group can share these tasks so no one person feels burdened.

9.  Plan a park day for families to meet, get everyone registered, order your materials, and you’re on your way!

10.  You might also consider getting a website set-up exclusively for your co-op.  Homeschool-Life.com offers a low/no-cost website service for homeschoolers, and it allows you to have group registration, to use message boards, to provide event reminders, etc.

11.  Be sure that everyone who chooses to participate is willing to help with some aspect of the group, whether it is teaching a class, cleaning up, watching the little ones, or helping as needed.  “Many hands make work light” is certainly a true statement when it comes to a homeschool co-op!

12.  Resist the urge to “do everything” in your first year.  It will be tempting to do this, believe me!  Try to offer just a few things to the group (no more than four).  See how that works out, ask for feedback, and your group can grow from there.

It is a tremendous amount of work to get a co-op up and running, but the rewards cannot be overstated.  As the group grows and expands, your kids will have incredible opportunities for learning, friendships, and fun!  If you have experiences with, or suggestions for a homeschool co-op, please share them in the “comments” section below.  I am sure there are many good ideas right here in our own community!HSCo-opsCover

Faye might be right that it is work to start a homeschool co-op, but there is help.  My book Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out will walk you through the start up and  running your group.

Also my website www.HomeschoolCPA.com has many helpful articles on starting a group, getting a checking account and buying insurance.

You can do it! Just get some help from those who have gone before you!

Carol Topp, CPA


Returning co-op supplies to parents

July 6, 2009
Carol,
logosI wanted to ask you how your homeschool co-op handles classes where there are nonconsumable items purchased.  We had a class where kits were purchased for a LEGO class.  Students shared kits so we charged a lesser fee.  Now people think they should get half of the kits (kinda silly because there is only one motor) or that future classes in future years should have to pay and they receive a credit each time.  We have never done that with any classes in the past.  It has always just become property of the co-op.  It sounds like it would be a bookkeeping nightmare otherwise.
Thanks for your input.
Becky P in KY

Becky,

You’re right, the logo kits sound like a bookkeeping nightmare.  I like to keep things simple, but as fair as possible.

We had a similar situation in my homeschool co-op with Spanish books.  The teacher bought a curriculum to use and was planning on spreading out the cost of the teacher manuals and CDs over two years of students. It took some guess work to figure out how many students she would have this year as well as future years.  In the end we decided  that this year’s students would end up paying for a portion of the teachers books and CDs.  The rest of the cost was absorbed by the co-op as a whole. The co-op then owned the teacher books and CDs. Future Spanish classes were charged a small supply fee so that the co-op could recoup the cost of the teachers books and CDs.

In summary I think the co-op should own non consumables, not the individual parents. Sounds like that’s how you have done it in the past. Parents pay a supply fee, but are not entitled to the equipment afterward nor a credit from future students.
Carol Topp, CPA



Pictures from Virginia Homeschool Convention

June 25, 2009

I was excited to be invited as a speaker to the Home Educators Association of Virginia (HEAV) 2009 convention. I spoke on leading a homeschool group, having a family budget, micro business for teenagers, 501c3 tax exempt status and being a WAHM (Work at Home Mom).  I also talked to dozens of homeschool leaders, parents and teenagers that stopped by my booth.

My booth to meet and greet homeschool leaders from Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia and surrounding states.

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My booth helper, friend, co-op member and fellow WAHM (Work at Home Mom), Katy Daum (tall one on the left) and me in front of our booth.

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At the Leaders lunch with Exhibit Hall Coordinator, Tammy Bear (left), an extraordinary, organized, lovely lady!

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I met my virtual friend, Janice Campbell (right) of Everyday Education, in person. She had a lovely booth.

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The Exhibit Hall at HEAV. I was also pleased that Paul Suarez from The Old Schoolhouse (the next aisle over) stopped by my booth.

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What a great weekend.  I enjoyed meeting so many homeschool parents, teenagers and leaders.

Carol Topp, CPA


New Ebook: Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization

June 25, 2009

My friends, Kristen & Denise, at Homeschool Group Leader are giving away a copy of my newest ebook:

Paying Workers in a Homeschool Organization.

(I don’t even have this up on my website yet, so you are really getting first grabs!)

I get asked a lot about paying teachers, administrators and volunteers by homeschool leaders. I think this 17 page ebook will answer a lot of questions.

To get your free copy, leave a comment on Homeschool group Leaders Facebook page here:  Homeschool Group Leader Facebook page

All you have to do to get your free copy is two simple things by the end of June:
1. JOIN our Facebook group and POST a comment or an answer or ask your own question on it: I Am a Homeschool Group Leader
2. Then, BECOME a fan of our Facebook page, Homeschool Group Leader

Become a fan and you’ll be e-mailed the book within 48 hours.

This offer is only good until the end of June.

Kristen & Denise have big hearts and desire to help homeschool group leaders. They have big plans for offering support, so become a fan and learn what they are offering and connect with other homeschool leaders.

Carol Topp, CPA