Spend less of your paycheck on your job. That is the entire secret to having more money.

“Spend less.” That’s not always easy–especially at the beginning of the school year. Or Christmas. Or in the spring. Or when summer comes around he corner… There are supplies to get, requisitions denied, decorations, fiestas, and students in need.

You must stop spending on your job and save!

One way to do that is by putting your credit card back in your wallet and stapling that sucker shut until the school year is over. Supergluing your purse is another fine option.

We at Broke Teacher make a lot of jokes about extreme ways to stop spending, including stealing pens from banks and post offices, but we don’t really mean all that. What we mean is this–don’t spend a ton of money on your classroom.

This year I spent a grand total of fifteen dollars on Back to School.  According to the National Retail Federation, America spends over $7 billion dollars. Teachers spend several hundred to a thousand, and individuals anywhere from five to seven hundred. I’ve got a friend who admits to spending about five thousand dollars a year on school. That’s insane!

I spent fifteen dollars on Back to School this year. I bought exactly two things: Sharpies for myself because I like them so very much, and donuts for the seniors in my advisory on their first day back.

Turns out the seniors went on health food diets because they discovered they’re going to be adults soon and people cannot live on donuts and Doritos alone. I could’ve saved eight dollars right there. Next time I’ll make them a frittata with my free eggs.

And actually, my Mom bought the Sharpies because she thought something was wrong since I refused to fill my shopping cart with supplies like every other teacher in the Big Store with stacks of notebooks, pens, loose leaf paper and pretty decorations.

“Nope,” I said to every potential classroom purchase.

You see, that teacher with the full cart used to be me. No more!

I take the money I used to spend on my job and I spend it on things I value–things like getting out of debt, funding one or two luxuries that make a difference to me, and saving for my future.

And that is why I spent next to nothing on school supplies this year. I hope you’ll agree to do the same.

It really wasn’t that hard to get to this point.

All I had to do was run completely out of money, be scared worse than Halloween, and be forced to decide between groceries and saving the world.

Second, I had to realize I could still be an amazing teacher without spending money. In my first book I tell a story about being able to spot a student teacher a mile a way. They come in with armfuls of stuff from the store–candy, high-priced supplies a professor who hasn’t taught in 20 years made them buy. The people with the least money are spending the most on classes that aren’t even theirs! That’s criminal.

We’re training them into bad habits from the start.

When I think of all the well-planned lessons I’ve had ruined because of bad school technology–lack of computers or links being blocked, it turns out I’m a master of shifting on a dime. I bet you are, too.

If you’ve ever stood in front of a class with your lesson plan destroyed because the copier jammed, someone took the art cart, or the schedule for the day got changed around on you because of a surprise event or assembly, you know what I’m talking about. That superhuman teacher power rises and takes over, and before you know it, you’re teaching a successful lesson–with zero supplies or advanced warning.

That got me thinking…

If I can adapt and overcome for these things–and I know you can, too!!!–I could certainly change my spending habits to ones that bring me success.

In that spirit, I changed. What started as a crisis ended up being my biggest epiphany.

First, I became desperately frugal–overly cheap even. After time, I mellowed out, started working a second job with a friend who insisted, “You need to spend more,” (gasp!) and developed a healthy relationship with money. Only then could I make progress toward my goals.

I had to do these three things…

  1. Spend less than I earn. That’s the only way to end up with a surplus.
  2. Cut out the spending clutter and spend on things I value and love.
  3. Stop spending my paycheck on my job.

Even though I love my classroom, spending my money on my job was not on my list of financial goals. I bet it’s not on yours either.

Start good spending habits today. Spend less on work and more on the things you love and value.

Teach with a smile and ingenuity and put that credit card away! Take care of yourself first! You’ll be glad you did. And next time you see a student teacher armed to the hilt with things he or she bought with their student loan money, give them this message…

You are enough. You are amazing. Smiles are free.


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Coming soon… “A Broke Teacher’s Guide to Success” where we share our secrets for building success in style. Join our newsletter for free bonuses and the chance to pre-order the book the minute it goes live. 


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