School Budgets with OmniOutliner
As a grant administrator and school administrator I’m building budgets all of the time. No, really, it happens quite often. Zero based budgeting and incremental budgeting are two methods that I use. With the zero based method I start off with a total budget amount in mind and build my budget up to that amount, aiming to have zero money left over. An incremental budget means that I take the last budgeting cycle amounts and base my new budget on what was actually spent last time, attempting to take into account future needs. I find that using these methods together is very effective.
Obviously, my school district has professional accounting software that tracks the real money, so there is no need for me to adopt another system that tracks actual purchases. Most of the time the budgets that I create are quick, one-off, planning budgets that help inform purchasing, grant reporting, and grant writing. That said, the normal Word, Excel, Pages, Numbers tools don’t really allow you to do this type of budgeting very well. You can make it work if you have to, and I’ve been using these tools for many years, but a ton of time is wasted on formatting and double-checking formulas. I always had a nagging fear that I missed a cell somewhere and something wasn’t actually calculating properly. Developing printable and presentable budgets with these tools was another whole extra level of frustration.
Enter OmniOutliner. It’s the smartest outliner program I’ve ever used. It’s so smart it can handle multimedia and even do math. Being an outliner app, it easily handles my budgeted items list. I then put in pictures as needed (i.e. product pictures for hardware purchases), and can assign a dollar value to each item. Because OmniOutliner is so smart, it adds up the lists automatically and I don’t have to worry one bit about any formulas or stray cells. When I’m ready to share what I’ve created, OmniOutliner is preloaded with professional looking themes, and everything scales well for printing and presenting.
OmniOutliner has many uses in the education space, but as a budgeting tool alone it has been worth the money for me. When a tool works so well that you stop thinking about the tool itself or how the tool is working, and can focus totally on the content and the actual work that you are trying to do, you know you’ve discovered a valuable solution. The next thing you do is look back and realize that your old methods had the guise of being productive, but in reality a lot of time was spent fiddling.