Lesson 1


Teaching is a passion, a work of the heart. If you go to twenty schools and interview every single teacher inside, most will tell say they started teaching “for the kids.”

You’d say that too, wouldn’t you?

But teaching today’s a challenge. There are regulations, mandates, datapoints, and other requirements that make the day-to-day tough at times.

The thing that makes it the toughest–the lack of funding for many classrooms. Today’s teachers aren’t keeping up with other professional jobs with equal education. Teachers, on average, make 20% less than college-educated peers going into other fields. This, in combination with the rising cost of college is leading to a teacher crisis:

  1. Teachers are leaving.
  2. The ones who stay are spending their own money funding their classes. Debt is rising for most teachers.

This might be you.

If you are not debt-free and you are spending your resources on your job, this is a problem. You’re delaying your dreams and keeping yourself in debt.

To compound the problem: we’re programmed to do this. Just think of how many requests you get for stuff “for the kids,” or how much you sale and coupon shop for your classroom because “they need it.”

My ex-student Karim set me straight on this. “You are not the world’s Walmart,” he said. (the whole story made it into the book–A Broke Teacher’s Guide to Success. It was an “ah ha” moment for me.) He told me students have to learn to value their own education.

Still, I would’ve kept spending a business crisis and the 2008 recession hadn’t hit. We got crushed. I didn’t have a choice but to stop spending. Once I did, I realized this: I should have done it earlier.

Spending my paycheck on my job kept me from getting out of debt years sooner.

It set up the expectation that I was someone who would cave in and just get the job done–even if I had to put my family’s finances in jeopardy.

People often took advantage of me directly and indirectly–and I let them.


  1. Make a very quick list of your income and expenses. If you already have a budget, take it out.
  2. Take a bunch of sticky notes or a piece of paper. List your debt. Tape it to the wall or put it somewhere you can see it often–screenshot it on your computer desktop, put it in a pinned note file.
  3. Go through your last three months of bank statements and receipts. Make a list of how much money you spent on school. Everything counts from the fundraisers you really didn’t need things from to the donations, to the pencils you bought for your class.
  4. Answer: How much could you have reduced your debt by this month? This year if that’s average spending?


Next Lesson: Five Reasons to Stop Spending on Your Job Today