Between the less than optimal wages and spending a portion of them on classroom needs, teachers need to watch their finances and spending. Here are five tips for making your money last as a teacher, from a teacher.
Use Teacher Discounts
Teachers may be surprised to find discounts at retailers other than bookstores, office supply outlets, and teacher-specific shops. Try looking at myeducatordiscount.com for an A to Z listing of retailers offering online discounts. Shop online for airfare, hotels, shoes, clothes, restaurant gift certificates, and more to save a few pennies.
When buying supplies for the classroom, don’t forget to request a tax-exempt letter from your administration, especially if you’re using your own money to purchase school supplies.
Always save receipts for items purchased for school purchases. Teachers need proof of expenditures to get reimbursed by schools, if there is money set aside per teacher. Also, teachers are eligible for a tax break when tax season rolls around.
Take Advantage of Educator Freebies
About.com’s freebies for teachers page lists several sites to check for available free stuff for teachers from posters to DVDs to computer programs.
School/District Incentives & Opportunities for Earning Extra Money
Check your district’s incentives: housing rates, financial planning, college loan assistance, and/or continuing education financial assistance. Many districts offer special programs for lower mortgage rates or one-time grants for first-time homebuyers.
Areas needing qualified educators-math, science, special education-may offer to finance your continuing education if you’re willing to enter a field in need.
Pick up an extracurricular/athletic/tutoring opportunity. Use the money from this for something specific: savings, vacation, entertainment, or large household items like new appliances or furniture.
If unable to manage a yearly obligation to coach or sponsor a club or activity, seek event-specific duties. Chaperoning dances or attending athletic events to serve as crowd control present opportunities to make a little extra cash. Bonus: students bond with teachers when they see them at after-school activities. It demonstrates your commitment to more than just your coursework.
Use direct deposit, if available, and have a portion of your check put into savings automatically. If you never knew you had the money, chances are you won’t spend it.
Student Loan Forgiveness, Cancellation, & Deferment
Your first few years, you may be able to defer your college loan payments. Check with the company responsible for your loan.
Wells Fargo’s guidelines for student loan deferment include economic hardship, if you make less than 150% of the poverty line, and education deferment for those enrolled in graduate courses or teaching in areas with teacher shortages.
Wells Fargo also offers loan forbearance for those owing more than 20% of their monthly income as well as for those experiencing economic hardship.
Sallie Mae, the largest student lender, offers deferment and forbearance options for its clients as well.
If you don’t qualify for deferment or forbearance, there are several options for paying back student loans. Consolidate, income-based payments, and personalized payment plans may aid in keeping your refrigerator stocked those first few years teaching.
Certain loans may be eligible for loan forgiveness depending on your school’s environment and how many years you’ve been teaching in the school.
Check to see if you qualify for the Stafford Loan Forgiveness Program with the federal government.
If you have a Perkins Loan, you may qualify to have it canceled by the federal government.
Business, Finance, Accounting Educators: A Resource
If you have colleagues in your school or a social network of teachers, try trading services in your specialty areas. Offer tutoring, swapping lunchroom duty, aiding field trips, chaperoning dances or athletic activities, or other tasks to get advice from a pro.
If your school offers Business, Finance, or Accounting courses, those teachers hold degrees in their specialty areas as well as teaching students. Although they may not teach at the level of service you require, in order to receive a degree, teachers in the business and economic fields still had to take many of the same upper-level courses as Certified Public Accountants, small business owners, or Chief Financial Officers. Even if you don’t have a talent to trade, they may still charge less than corporate financial advisors.
Teachers don’t earn what they’re worth, but they may still find ways to make the most of their money. Try using these five financial tips to assist with personal accounting. Teaching may not be considered a “business” but that doesn’t mean you can’t help your personal GNP keep up its GPA.
About.com Freebies for Teachers: http://freebies.about.com/od/teacherfreebies/Teacher_Freebies.htm
Federal Student Aid-Perkins Loan Cancellation: http://studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/students/english/cancelperk.jsp?tab=repaying
Federal Student Aid-Stafford Loan Forgiveness: http://studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/students/english/cancelstaff.jsp?tab=repaying
My Education Discount: http://www.myeducationdiscount.com/
Wells Fargo Educational Financing: https://www.wellsfargo.com/student/repay/deferment/