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Nursery budget tips for 2024

10 min of reading
13 February 2024
A child's hand reaching towards an abacus as an example of nursery budgeting

It’s the beginning of a new year, and now’s the time to organise your nursery budget. If you prefer tuff trays to spreadsheets, you may inwardly groan at the prospect of planning how to save and make money this year. 

Fear not – we share simple tips to help your early years budget work for you.

In this article:

    Know your Early Years budget: The big picture

    First things first: when looking at your early years budget, you need to know your bigger picture. Extending past simple incomings and outgoings, your nursery budget’s big picture includes anything that might alter how your nursery runs throughout the year.

    When planning your EYFS budget, changes to last-minute plans (such as staffing or occupancy) can throw a spanner in your plans. However, if you prepare for eventualities, your nursery setting will likely stay profitable, even in challenging circumstances.

    It’s important to be aware of what might impact a smooth year for your nursery:

    • Staffing challenges and recruitment
    • Staff qualifications and qualifying apprentices
    • Nursery occupancy and mobility of children
    • CPD plans
    • EYFS funding changes

    Track your nursery budget incomings and outgoings

    Knowing where your funding is coming from, when it’s due and how many spaces you have available within your child-adult ratio is all-important to maximise profitability in your nursery. There are often hidden outgoings that can all add up when planning your nursery budget.

    Nursery incoming payments

    Paperless Billing

    From funding to parent payments, your nursery will likely receive incoming payments from various sources. Keeping on top of all payments can be an admin-heavy task. Nursery software helps to keep all of your incomings and outgoings in one place. Highlighting if you are still waiting on funding from particular children.

    Your setting should be able to have full visibility of what the coming months will look like financially, knowing when the spaces will become available in each room. Having this awareness of occupancy is essential for maximising profitability.

    For example, as EYFS pupil premium funding must be applied for and is not assumed, it can be helpful to flag an eligible child on your nursery software as a reminder to pursue that additional funding.

    Due to the recent 2024 changes in EYFS, all nursery managers should know that the 2024 EYFS funding process has changed. This means working parents can now access free childcare places for up to 15 hours (altering again later in the year).

    Tracking pupil funding easily online saves nursery owners and managers valuable time- including any top-up funding you may receive for supporting children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

    Home-nursery relationships should be trusting and positive. Automating processes such as invoicing can help promote parent-nursery relationships, avoiding awkward face-to-face payment reminders.

    The majority of nursery parents have access to the internet via their smartphones. Using their mobiles to pay their nursery fees, keep all nursery-related payments in one app using Blossom’s BePaid feature.

    Want to find out more information about the seven different financial reports you can create with Blossom’s nursery software? Get in touch today.

    Early years budget outgoings

    Your most significant expense will be staffing. Like any primary or secondary school, most of your outgoings will be dedicated to paying staff. This payment may be the same or very similar each month.

    Staff payments are just one outgoing to prepare for this year. You don’t need us to tell you no premise = no nursery. Whether you rent or own your premises, you must factor in ongoing costs to run your nursery. With the cost of living still challenging, electricity and gas rates for nursery locations make settings feel the pinch.

    Premises rent or maintenance of the property and grounds can fluctuate each year. The recent adverse weather may be something your setting did not predict (and who could blame you!). Therefore, knowing what your nursery insurance covers and how the process works for this coming year is important.

    From educational online resources to complete nursery management, your setting may have access to important software. The renewal dates and prices should be noted so you can easily shop around if you are unhappy with the service you are currently experiencing.

    Want to get the most out of your nursery software? Chat with one of our customer experts to learn about our price packages and range of features for your setting.

    Marketing and promotional expenses are often forgotten outgoings that must be included in your 2024 early years budget. “But we don’t implement marketing strategies in the nursery (yet)”, I hear you cry. It is likely that you do, just without realising it.

    You are marketing your nursery when you advertise an early years practitioner vacancy or plan and deliver an outstanding open-day event. This also applies to time spent sharing promotional posts on social media or any investments to improve your nursery website. These are all marketing expenses and should be factored into your 2024 budget.

    Early years learning resources are part and parcel of your EYFS curriculum. Maintaining and replacing well-loved equipment should be a frequent cycle in your setting. This will help to avoid unnecessary injuries and keep the children motivated by regularly changing areas for role play or continuous provision.

    Share nursery budget tips

    On occasion, it can be lonely at the top. Being a nursery manager or owner means working with fantastic staff daily. However, you are still responsible for challenging staffing decisions (including boundary setting) and how to stretch your EYFS budget.

    Building a strong and supportive network with other EYFS managers is important. Finding a professional sounding board for some of your trickiest situations. There are hundreds of EYFS managers and owners’ social media groups for you to join if you’re unsure where to start.

    Many of these groups have the option to post anonymously, allowing the freedom to ask tricky budget, staffing or recruitment questions honestly.

    Finding articles like this can help give nursery managers advice and ideas and share tips and tricks of the trade, whether you are a childminder or owner of a large group nursery. If you’d like to be the first to know updates on all things nursery (like Ofsted updates and EYFS activity ideas), sign up for Blossom’s blog.

    Analyse your setting's trends

    How can you know where to improve if each year you go through the motions? Tracking trends and patterns is where you will be able to enhance the efficiency of your nursery.

    Are you aware if you had a similar absence pattern for sickness in staff and children last year? Is there a particularly busy month for parent enquiries that needs to be factored in when planning your management timetable? Should your premises maintenance be organised in your statistically quietest time?

    Having nursery software that allows you to analyse and recognise your EYFS setting’s trends can help you save money and improve profitability through purposeful, strategic choices.

    If you’re a fan of The Apprentice or Dragon’s Den, you’ll know that every good business plan includes a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats). Threats are probably the area you’re most concerned about, and rightly so.

    Analysing your nursery’s threats financially and operationally can help with strategic decisions and practical goal setting. If a new nursery is about to open in the local area, or a local primary school is increasing their offer to include wrap-around clubs, these threats could negatively impact your nursery’s profitability in 2024.

    Set nursery budget goals

    Goal setting is a vital part of success. There is a huge difference between goal setting and making a list of wishes. You may want to be recognised in a national nursery award, but writing it down on a goal list will unlikely influence whether this will happen.

    To ensure your nursery budget stays on track, goal setting is essential. Let’s start with the big picture and work our way down to the nitty-gritty. We will move from yearly to quarterly and finally monthly (if you’d like to drill further, nothing stops you from setting weekly and even daily goals for your nursery business to grow and succeed).

    Yearly nursery goals

    With budgets in mind, your yearly goals may cover operational, financial, and expansion areas. Consider what is possible to achieve financially in your nursery. You may be about to face a financially challenging year or aim to surpass last year’s profits. Either way, your yearly goals should be your driver when you open the purse strings at any point this year.

    Quarterly nursery goals

    Linked closely to yearly goals, your quarterly goals for your childcare setting may cover financial, operational and growth areas. Consistently keeping your annual goals for your nursery setting in the forefront during leadership and management meetings can avoid a scatter-gun approach to buying resources, investing in CPD and even recruitment.

    Monthly nursery goals

    From January to January, it is useful to set monthly goals for your nursery. Take care to recognise your trends and patterns of busy months and quieter months to know how much time and energy to invest in your nursery’s growth.

    We’d love to hear about your 2024 goals for your nursery, share some of your reach for the stars plans with us on our socials!

    Ready to make your nursery budget work for you? Our customer support team is available to answer any questions about Blossom software, and book your free, no-strings demo today.

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