Ultimate Teacher Self Care

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So we talk a lot about teacher self care. Normally we speak of things like getting proper rest, or treating ourselves to a massage.  Rarely do we speak of things like taking care of ourselves financially.  In fact, this is a subject that is often taboo.  In reality, our financial self care is just as important.  If we do not address our present and future financial needs we are not taking care of ourselves.

Teacher self care items - body brush and bath salts

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This school year, my former student teacher was hired onto my team full time!  Over the summer, I told her there were two things she should set up immediately – even before she received her first paycheck.  The first is what I call a Summer Savings Account.  This is a special bank account that I automatically deposit into each pay period to insure that I have money to live comfortably off of over the summer.  The second is a 403B retirement account – an account separate from my pension where I save for my retirement.  Both are free to set up and can be set up through many different banks and retirement companies.  I told her it didn’t matter who she went through, as long as she set them both up.

Dollars and text - How Much Should I Save?

How much money should teachers save for the summer?

A few weeks ago, my new colleague reached out to me and asked me the best way to figure out the correct amount of money to take out of each paycheck to save for summer living expenses.  Here is the simple formula which I shared with her.  Feel free to read the steps, or watch this quick video I made which shows the same formula.

Begin by asking yourself how much money you need to live comfortably every two weeks.  All of us have a different number, based on our own needs.  I recommend being very honest with yourself.  Remember, this is self-care – so don’t pretend that you can live off of less than you actually need.  Once you have the figure that you need every two weeks, determine the number of weeks you actually work.  For my school district, we work 40 weeks out of the year, and receive two weeks of paid vacation (one week at Christmas, and one for Spring break).  So, my district pays me for 42 weeks out of the year.  Since there are 52 weeks in the year, that means that I am not paid for 10 weeks each year.  That comes down to 5 pay periods which I need to save for.  During the course of the school year I am paid approximately 20 times (21 to be precise, but it’s easier for me to focus on 20 pay periods as it’s a round number and leaves me with a cushion).

Putting it all together

I then go back to the amount of money I need every two weeks.  I take that amount of money and multiply it by 5 (because I will need to pay myself 5 times during the year).  Once I determine this figure, I divide it by 20.  This gives me the amount of money that I need to save out of each paycheck.  So here is my formula in action with actual numbers:  Let’s say that you need $1000 every two weeks.  Then you will multiply that by 5.  That will give you a grand total of $5000 which you need to save each year in order to meet your living expenses over the summer.  Then divide this number by 20.  Which comes to $250 – this would be the amount of money you would need to save out of each paycheck.

How much money should teachers save for retirement?

This is an amount which will vary depending on your unique needs (do you have a pension, how old you are, etc).  What is most important is that you begin saving.  I recommend reading the book Millionaire Teacher:  The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School.  This is an affiliate link, so if you click on it I may get a small fee at no extra cost to you.  This book is a quick read.  It has helped me immensely in saving for my retirement (and avoiding excessive fees along the way).  Secondly, I recommend that you begin saving for retirement immediately.  Finally, speak with a retirement planner (they will usually visit your school, to help make things even easier for you).  Remember, the amount you save is actually less important than the amount of years that you save in your retirement account for.  Even if you can only save $50 out of each paycheck into your retirement account, just do it.  The author Andrew Hallam has a lot of great suggestions on setting up your retirement account.

Millionaire Teacher Book

What if I don’t have enough money to save?

It may seem like a large number, but remember this is about self-care and making sure that you are able to live comfortably year round.  This is also about having enough money to live comfortably when you retire.  I know it seems like retirement is a long way off, but the earlier you begin saving – the less money you will have to save each year.  If the number still seems too high to you, consider getting a part time job during the school year or even over the summer.  A great part time job for teachers, is teaching from home through an online teaching company.  I enjoy teaching English from home through VIPkids (feel free to use my referral code – MICHE0503).  If you want more information on what it’s like to work for VIPkid, or the application process click here.  Whatever you decide to do, the most important thing is that you begin saving money for the summer and your retirement.  The sooner you start saving , the easier it will be.

Looking for more September inspiration?  Check out these blog posts below:

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  • Reply
    Kathie Yonemura
    September 10, 2018 at 4:07 am

    This is a terrific, wise post, Michelle. You’re right, we don’t often talk about financial self-care and it is SO important!! I remember my first year of teaching with NO summer paycheck. What a shock that was! I wish someone had told me about budgeting. Luckily, our district finally moved to monthly paychecks, even in the summer. Thanks for your great advice!

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    September Teacher Talk – The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs Marketing Cooperative
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