Monday, June 4, 2007

Summer budgeting and money for teachers

I’ve had a lot of people ask me lately how, as a teacher, I make my budget work. Two-three months without a paycheck is quite a challenge, and requires some advanced planning. Over the past few years, I’ve seen people achieve this in several different ways and have tried a number of them myself. Here are just a few of the ways to get through the summer:

A summer job

For those of us without kids at home, and with free time and energy, this is probably the best plan. There’s no reason why we need to take two months of complete vacation every year. I’ve known teachers who mowed lawns, waitressed, painted houses, worked at bookstores, went to summer camp, and any number of other things. Some teachers will do anything in the summer as long as it is with kids; some will do anything as long as it’s not. The key is often to do something that is strenuous in a different way than teaching is, so that you still feel like you’re getting a mental rest.

“Summer savings”/ “12 month pay”

Many schools will split up your pay checks and pay you over 12 months instead of over ten if you would like. The first school I worked at did this by making a monthly deduction from your check and placing it in a credit union account. They then paid you from the account during the summer months. If your school doesn’t offer this, you can accomplish the same thing yourself. Simply divide your salary by 6. This will give you your savings goal. Now divide that number by ten. This is the amount you should deposit in a high interest savings account every month. Do it first, before you pay any of your other bills. When the end of school rolls around, you will have two months’ salary in the bank that you can draw from to pay your bills. You’ll also have the interest from that money. Bonus!


The summer after my first year teaching, I managed to eat for almost no money by a combination of grocery couponing, using up what was in my pantry, cooking from scratch, and eating at my mom’s (okay, I was awfully young and single at the time). I had a salesman tell me once that because his parents were teachers, they went fishing a lot in the summer and he had never realized as a kid it was because they needed the free/cheap food. When you are off from school in the summer, you have a lot more time and brain power to dedicate to saving money. Sure, that won’t pay your rent, but it can definitely cut down on your expenses.

So what do I do? Right now, a combination of the above. I have a part time job, but I can’t bring myself to work full time. I scrimp and save, and explore the more bizarre recesses of my pantry. I beef up my emergency fund in preparation for the lean months. I plan major purposes so they fall in the winter or late fall. Most importantly, though, I plan and prepare and am very aware of where my money is going.


alicia said...

Haha, love your blog's title and tag line. Found your site through Blogg-Buzz. Great tips! I no longer teach, and my dad's been in the profession long enough to have it down pat, but I enjoyed the post :)