If you’re anything like me, you don’t really enjoy talking about finances. You may often avoid the subject altogether. You realize that you’re not getting your ideal pay, and you may not be using your money wisely. There are a lot of factors involved in less than ideal financial decision making. Here at The Educators Room (and our sister site, Teacher Self-Care), we strive to equip educators to be their best selves. We are well aware of the lack of pay teachers receive for the work they do. We also know that we are responsible for the decisions we make for our own lives.
Healthy finances are a critical part of teacher self-care. Here are five quick tips to guide you through a financial refresh this school year:
Commit to improving your personal finances. Be all in.
It is no secret that our American economy is fluctuating. These politicians often over-promise and under-deliver on their commitments to improving our economy. We have to become responsible for the state of our finances!
I recommend listing every single debt and bill you currently have. This process may take your breath away, but it is critical to know exactly where you are. You need to write down every loan (student, car, etc.) and credit card balance. Categorize your debts from smallest to largest. Face your reality! Take inventory of your habits. How often do you eat out? Do you meal plan? Do you shop when you’re stressed? Be real with yourself! You must choose to stop living above your means.
Create a written (or electronic) budget
Now is the time to develop a plan to reach your end goal: being debt-free. I cannot emphasize the importance of creating a monthly budget. The goal of this habit is to tell your money where to go. There aren’t many things worse than getting to the end of the month and not being able to determine where your hard-earned money has gone! Creating a budget isn’t as complicated as it may seem. As educators, we know the importance of a good plan. Make your budget!
Surround yourself with knowledge and inspiration
Just as educators know the importance of needs-based PD, is it also critical to develop a financial learning plan based on your specific needs. There are so many free resources on the internet! (Some of my absolute favorites are Dave Ramsey, Rachel Cruze (Dave Ramsey’s daughter), and Chris Hogan). There are plenty of articles, podcasts, and Youtube videos. Make a learning plan that works for you and commit weekly!
Pay CASH for everything.
Personally, I use cash for groceries, gas, etc. When you can physically see your cash dwindling, you may be more likely to spend less money. This is critical. I have cut up store credit cards, so I can no longer use them. Do yourself a favor and utilize cash for most of your expenses.
Bonus: Start building an emergency fund.
Oh, I can’t emphasize the importance of this. Emergencies happen. Your tires will go flat. Your roof will leak (this happened to me just last month during the crazy rain in Georgia). You need to have an emergency fund so you won’t have to keep utilizing credit in order to pay for an emergency. This will definitely help you out in the long run.
I hope these quick tips were helpful for you as you look critically at your finances during this school year. Yes, teachers don’t get paid enough. But at the end of the day, we’re responsible for the current state of our finances. Let us know how these tips help you.
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