As many people know, teachers are not the richest people in the world. On top of that, there is usually 10 to 12 weeks during the summer without pay, so our paychecks have to last. Add to all of that, the fact that teachers tend to be generous, being in a people profession, and have to watch spending money on their classrooms and students. After 20 years of teaching, I have learned a few financial tips that can save a teacher some financial headaches. While some of these tips are teacher specific, they all can be adapted for anyone looking for financial advise
1) The first step is to figure out when to pay bills. This may sound easy, but it can get complicated. The best way to budget is to divide the number of paydays into the bill. For instance, if your yearly insurance bill is 1200, divide it by the number of paydays you have in a year. This works well for a teacher, as she is missing about five summer paychecks versus most people’s pay. I have 21 paydays a year, so of course 1200 divided by 21 is $57.66. I put that much away in a savings account for car insurance. When time comes to pay the bill, it is all there, even though I am missing five paydays a year. This works for anyone. It takes a bit of math work, but is worth it in the long run
2) While I’m missing five paydays a year, I have figured out how to give myself the option of having summer pay. Some school districts will take a portion of each paycheck for summer pay, then give teachers a lump sum the last day of school for the entire summer. Other school districts don’t offer this option, as mine didn’t. I have learned to save summer pay for myself. Here is a simple representation of how I save for summer pay. We will use a a typical beginning teacher’s 2 week bring home pay, which would be about 1400 as the starting point.I multiply the 1400 by 21, the number of average teacher paydays. That number is $29,400. I then take $1400 and multiply it by 26, the number of paydays if we worked all year. That number is $36,400. I then take $29,400 from 36, 400 and come up with $7000. So the total summer salary I’m missing is $7000. In order to make sure I have enough for the summer, I simply divide $7000 by 21. That is the weekly amount I need to save to have a summer salary. That amount is $333 a payday. Often teachers complain that it is a large amount to save out of each check, but I would rather have that in the summer than nothing at all. The end check after deducting for saving is $1077. I would much rather save a little all along than be left without money during the summer.
3) It is important to save a bit of money each payday for yourself. Anyone who works with people, or in a high stress job can tell you that burn out is one of the major reasons people quit their jobs. Unless you take time for yourself, you can.become ill and end up not doing a great job in the classroom. Teachers have so much added responsibility that often times get carried home. Between lesson plans and grading papers, it seems the work never ends. I put aside $25 per payday which amounts to $525 a year. I usually take 2 weekends a year where I get a hotel just to get away and give myself and my family some alone time. While $525 won’t get a 5 star hotel for four nights, it does pay for a pretty good hotel with amenities. After all, I’m trying to refresh myself, so I can be the best teacher for the remainder of the year. I refuse to pay for these weekend outings with a credit car. With limited pay due to saving for summer, I try to keep my bills down as much as possible. This would be a great tip for everyone. Think of how much un neede charges pile up on credit cards, merely for convenience sake.
4) I have learned to take advantage of any discounts my school offers. Teachers unions and school boards are great at offering discounts and savings. If your job offers a buyers club, join it, as the savings add up. Sometimes, the membership fee is even waved for larger corporations and school boards. . If your employer has a union or professional organization, think about joining it. The National Teacher Association costs $50 a year, but is well worth it with the multiple discounts teachers receive. Some of the added discounts include special interest rates on mortgages.
5) If your job is not secure, as teacher jobs aren’t, join the union. All teachers are strongly encouraged to join the teachers union at their schools or in their districts. Some principals will try to play favorites and retain certain teachers, while letting others go. With a union representative, many a teacher has saved her job. The same can be true for any company or business that is represented by a union. Management does not want to bother with union issues, and will then chose someone else to target. By ensuring your paycheck, you are ensuring your financial future.
Financial planning takes effort on everyone’s part. Teachers have to put forth a bit more effort because of summers without work. Even with the reduced pay, I still would not give up my summers for anything. The extra time and effort it takes to save for summer, is well worth the ten weeks off!