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Tips For Teachers: How To Prioritize Your Finances This Summer

School’s out for summer! 

Or is it?

Alice Cooper’s famous lyric has been associated with the summer sun, the end of exams, and the final ring of the school bell. But after the last locker shuts, all the stray papers are safely filed in recycling bins, and the chalkboards wiped clean; someone still remains. Someone who sits behind their desk, graciously grading assignments, reflecting on past lesson plans, and preparing for the next year: teachers.

Teachers look at summer through a different lens. While relaxing can be an important component, for many, it’s not the norm. Between second jobs, preparation requirements, and family obligations, teachers don’t have much time for themselves in the summer months. But one thing that you can do for yourself is to maintain control of your finances. 

Today, I’d like to talk about summer finances for teachers and ways to empower you to make the most of your summer personally and financially. 

Know Your Payment Election Options

As a teacher, you’ll have the choice at the beginning of the school year to select how you want to receive your paychecks. Most districts offer their teachers either a 20 or 24 payment structure. It is important to weigh all of your options when making this decision. Be sure to consider your budget and savings plan as you make your choice.  

If you have the opportunity for the 12-month payment cycle, you should strongly consider it so that you have consistent income throughout the entire year. This will both simplify and streamline your budget which can keep you from feeling overwhelmed. 

By opting for the 9-month plan, you’ll receive one lump-sum paycheck before summer that covers June, July, and August. This might mean that you will need a sophisticated savings regimen to ensure you have enough money for your expenses during the summer. Remember, your last paycheck will be in June, so be mindful to save up for the coming summer months and not spend it all in July. 

No matter how you elect to receive your paychecks throughout the year, you’ll need a strong budget to both cover your expenses and support your long-term financial goals. 

Never Lose Sight Of Your Budget

No matter your profession, budgeting is one of the most important tools you have to manage your financial life. For teachers especially, budgeting can help you navigate and prioritize expenses and saving goals. 

Think of your budget as you would a lesson plan; it may not always be the most fun to create or most simple to stick to, but it brings structure and guidance that leads to a productive end. Fill your budget with your values and goals and let it reflect the things that are most important to you. When you structure your budget to reflect your values, you will be more intentional about its construction and more motivated with its execution. 

This summer, make your budget a priority. Take a look at the places you can improve to make it a more financially savvy summer. I’d like to provide you with some easy ways to get started:

  • Eliminate extraneous expenses

    • Have you bought a gym membership that you only really use once per month? Now that the weather is nice, you can find outdoor activities to keep you healthy like running, walking, swimming, tennis, and more so you can ditch the expensive gym costs.

  • Save up gift cards

    • Do you have a bunch of Starbucks or Subway gift cards from birthdays or holiday gifts? Now is the time to use them! A great way to cut expenses, whether that be food, clothing, or recreational items, is to use gift cards.

  • Use coupons when you can

    • Clipping coupons is not a fun way to spend a Saturday morning, but it can be really helpful when looking to save money at the grocery store. Some stores now have electronic apps that allow you to clip coupons virtually and they directly apply the discount when you check out. 

  • Focus on savings

    • So much of budgeting is listing fixed expenses. But another important facet of budgeting is creating a strategy for your savings. For each paycheck, be sure to funnel some money into your retirement accounts, emergency savings, and personal savings. Each of these savings channels is crucial to the health and wellbeing of your finances. By working each of these into your budget, you are prioritizing your financial future. 

  • Prioritize debt repayment

    • Student loans burden about 70% of college graduates and teachers have a particularly difficult time eliminating their debt. It is important to make debt repayment a staple in your monthly budget to keep the payments manageable. 

Your budget is a way to map out your financial life. By taking control of it, you will be more confident and comfortable with your finances. 

Make The Most Of Summer Opportunities

The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 1 in 5 teachers have a second job to cover their living expenses. The Associated Press also cited teachers as being 30% more likely to take on a second job than people in other professions. 

Based on current wages, many teachers need to find jobs to earn extra money in the summer months especially those who are paying off student loans or in a district with lower average wages or areas with a higher cost of living (all you New Yorkers know what I mean). Many teachers tutor, work at museums or summer camps, lifeguard, and run summer school programs. 

But you don’t have to take a summer position that directly relates to teaching. Now can be a time where you work on a passion project or side hustle that means a lot to you. Perhaps you are an artist and you want to sell your work at a local farmers market or a musician who gives lessons throughout the summer. 

I love working with teachers! If you want personalized advice for your summer finances, give me a call! I can’t wait to hear from you.