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The teaching profession is rewarding in so many ways. But financially rewarding may not be one of them. For teachers, money can be tight at times, especially during the summer season.
How can you make sure you’re making ends meet when the school year ends? How do you enjoy the summer sun without clouds of financial anxiety? These ideas should help.
If your school district gives you the option, you could choose a 12-month pay schedule rather than one lasting the nine or 10 months of the school year. With a paycheck each month, budgeting can be easier, and you won’t have to worry about the upcoming summer dry spell.
Check in with your school district about changing to year-round pay. Be aware that if you do go from 10 to 12 months, your checks will look smaller, of course – that’s because they’re being stretched over 12 months. The final yearly amount will be the same.
No income during the summer? Set up a summer fund, setting aside a portion of each paycheck. Selecting a regular amount, such as 15%, will help you estimate your budget and cover your short months. Then you will be able to draw on this summer fund for summer bills and expenses. It’s sort of like creating your own year-round pay.
Note that your summer fund should be separate from your emergency fund. Your summer living expenses are not an emergency, they’re everyday expenses that happen when you’re not drawing a paycheck, and must be accounted for. It’s still a good idea to have an emergency fund as well, to cover the unexpected, such as car trouble.
As a teacher, you could find one or more part-time jobs that utilize your varied skills. You might become a summer school teacher, a private tutor or a camp counselor. How about earning money from a favorite hobby? You could sell online the quilts, pieces of pottery or other items you make.
Or you could use the summer months to get experience in something you’re interested in or that could get you a useful discount: a sales clerk at an electronics store, for example. You might even keep the job part-time during the school year, if the pay is good and the hours are manageable.
Budgeting is crucial for a teacher! If it’s hard to stick to your budget, perhaps you could start meeting with a financial adviser. You might even take a financial literacy course at a community college, or a MOOC (massive online open course). You’d be surprised at the difference it can make to your financial life.
Alternatively, you could find a software program or app that will track your spending. It will show you how much you’ve been paying out in various categories. And it might send you an alert when you’ve spent too much in a certain area.
Lastly, if you’re having trouble making your money stretch, maybe now’s the time to enroll in courses to earn a master’s or other advanced degree. Having your master’s will let you move up the pay scale. You might even be able to do online classes from your couch.
Sometimes, your district will compensate you for the cost of your classes, so you must check with your district. If it’s a reimbursement situation, consider a personal loan with a low interest rate, if you don’t have the cash to pay for the classes immediately. Your district will compensate you for the cost of the course, but you would be on the hook for the interest on the loan. Check out this list for the best online loans with low interest rates. While you’re researching loans, make sure you’re not overpaying on your student loans, too. Refinancing your student loans can get you lower interest and a lower payment, which can definitely help your budget. Our list of the best student loan refinancing companies will help.
Hopefully, this advice will let you make the most of your hazy, crazy summer days. Before you know it, you’ll be standing in front of your classroom once more.