Lesson 2


Previous Lesson: Why You Need This Course

You don’t want to be a broke teacher, do you? If you’re still not convinced you need to go cold turkey on this, peek into your checking account. How’s it doing? Is there a ton of cash in there? Are you paying your bills–with money to spare?  If you want to take a luxury vacation to an island somewhere, fix a large household expense, or go to the store and buy something without really caring if it’s on sale… could you?

Here are five good reasons to think about going cold turkey–to stop spending your income on your job today.

You want to reach your goals and dreams

Do you ever look at your friends’ Instagrams and see them doing things teachers don’t do? Drink umbrellas, shopping, restaurants…

I used to.

“I don’t need that stuff,” I’d say. It’s true, I don’t need a lot of expensive things. But, what would you do if you didn’t have to think about money? Would you think differently about things and experiences then? Maybe you don’t need an $18K Hermes bag or a Lambo, but you may do a few things differently–go away for a weekend, get someone to help you around the house, buy tons more organic food hand-crafted with love by a farmer who says a prayer for you every time he picks your lettuce?


The point is this. If you’re perpetually broke because every spare nickel you find in the couch cushion goes to a well-deserving kid who needs an eraser, none of those dreams can come true for you.

I dreamed of a day I’d get out of debt.

You are enabling

You are enabling students to be underprepared in some cases, or you’re enabling school to pass off costs onto you.

“But they need,” is a dangerous statement. True, everyone has needs. But the kid who needs a notebook needs to buy a notebook. Or, the school needs to supply things in districts with great needs. It’s not your job, because it’s not just one item. It’s an endless stream of needs. You can’t spend your way to saving the world.

What you can do is come up with creative solutions that strip away the needs (ie: “You don’t have a notebook–okay! I have recycled folders over there, go pick up a piece of paper and clip that inside.” Instant notebook.). Share? Be flexible? Change the plan? Any of those things can defeat “the needs” without you opening up your wallet.

You are hurting yourself

If you’re charging things and you’re in debt you are actively causing yourself harm. If you’ve read my book, I tell some stories about debt crisis. Back then, when the credit card crisis hit, I had excellent credit. The bank jacked my rates during the recession. If you have revolving debt, you’re paying the bank whatever the bank wants. While we have post-crash laws that say the bank can’t raise rates on existing balances, only new, if you’re leaving money on the your cards and spending on your class, you’re in a cycle where you’re at great risk of being caught up by banks and credit card companies.

You are hurting yourself by paying interest and not getting ahead.

You may be paying more not less

Any time you charge things for work during back to school sale season, you’re paying more if you don’t pay it off right away. Think of that–you just financed pencils. Stop. Pay ahead on your mortgage, student loan, or tuck that money ahead in your emergency fund or investments.

This is your job

This sounds harsh, but some people need to hear it. You go to your job to MAKE money, not give it away. That’s what many teachers do. You have to stop.

Society’s come to expect it, and we’ve created this image of the broke teacher that we can’t escape until we all change our behaviors and expectations.

When I stopped spending on school, I got more than my fair share of dirty looks. That’s wrong. You don’t have to invest your money constantly on raffles, fundraisers, causes, dress-down days, and “helping out.”  If you wish to donate to causes, and are out of debt, let your school be your cause–set up your budget. But, understand that while your job is amazing and you love your students, it’s still your job.

It’s okay to be paid for the value you bring. In fact, you should expect it. You don’t want to go to an “okay” doctor. You want the best. You know that doctor gets paid. Think of yourself the same way.



  1. Ask yourself: “How much am I worth… as an employee and expert?” If you don’t know, do this:  Make a list of your best skills. See what other industries use them. Look at how much their industry pay average is–and their top 20%.
  2. Ask again: Am I worth that?
  3. Every time you find an excuse to undercut your value or give away money you need for your bills, think of that.


Next lesson: Avoiding the Traps