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As the sun begins to shine and you spend more time outside, it’s easy to let thoughts of September slip out of mind. But a little preplanning now could go a long way in saving you money and time next season. Consider these ideas for stretching your Sunday school budget:

Order early: Spring is when you’ll often find the best prices on curriculum. Publishers offer discounts now so that they can save staff time later contacting current customers who haven’t yet reordered. If you know which curriculum you plan to use, put your order in this month and save. If you’re ordering from Faith Alive you’ll save 20% by ordering your curriculum before May 31 and 10% on orders placed between June and the end of August. If you’re planning to switch curriculum make May the month that you consider and compare so that you can still cash in on spring savings.

Assess your inventory: Enlist the help of teens and preteens who may have some volunteer hour requirements to squeeze in before the end of the school year. Direct them in

  • taking stock of the supplies and determine what was used and unused—if the play dough dried in its container, take it off the shopping list for next season. If the CD for the 4th grade class is still in its package ask the leader before ordering the one for next year.
  • testing the art supplies and redistributing those that survived. Wait until August to restock what’s missing, when school supplies go on sale in local stores.
  • taking stock of unused children’s papers and gently used leader’s guides to determine which pieces to order for the fall.

Seek secondhand sources:If you need to replace big ticket items like chairs, tables, bookcases, or electronic equipment look for local leads. If there are schools closing in your area (a sad reality in many districts), ask about specific items. Check with other churches in your area that may be upgrading or downsizing. Set up a search on Craigslist with alerts to notify you when items you need come up for sale.

Challenge the children: God delights in the creation, and the creation declares God’s glory and goodness! Our kids should hear about how to reduce, reuse, and recycle as much from us as they do from their school teachers. Consider making stewardship a core value of next year’s Sunday school season. Spend some time this summer brainstorming ways to get parents, kids, and teachers involved. In your pre-kickoff meeting next fall encourage teachers to

  • brainstorm with kids about how to stretch supplies and waste less.
  • look for ways to collaborate more, working on projects in pairs or as a group.
  • assign kid supervisors for each supply to make sure crayons are collected, pencils are sharpened, and large scraps of paper are saved neatly for next week.
  • and celebrate small acts of stewardship by thanking the kids you catch using supplies well.

What cost-saving ideas would you add to this list?

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