Can You Survive on a Teacher’s Salary?

It isn’t news to anyone, especially a teacher, that educators don’t get paid very much. Trying to live off of a small salary can be tough, but if you make some smart choices about your expenses and find ways to supplement your income, you can live comfortably and happily off of a teacher’s income.

Decrease Expenses

While this may sound difficult, decreasing expenses is often pretty simple. Cut out the extra cable channels you don't use, lower the number of minutes you get on your cell phone bill, and check with various insurance companies to find a cheaper plan that still gets you the coverage you need. Avoid unnecessary purchases like gourmet coffee, new clothes, expensive beauty products and treatments, and allow yourself to enjoy a simpler, less expensive lifestyle. You will quickly get used to these changes, and the money that you can save and put towards more important purchases, or into savings, will vastly improve your feeling of wellbeing.

If this sounds daunting, the first step is to look at the things you pay for on a monthly basis, and then find ways to decrease those payments without damaging your quality of life. Calling up service providers and companies you consistently do business with and asking for a cost reduction can be much more profitable than you might expect, and checking your payments against those of other competitor companies could lead to some surprising results. It doesn’t have to hurt you to keep money in your pocket.

Increase Your Paycheck

Even with decreasing your expenditures, it’s important to increase your salary. Many school districts give pay bumps to teachers for meeting certain criteria. Getting a higher degree often puts teachers into higher salary brackets, which means you’ll get a higher salary for as long as you’re in the district. If you’re not ready to go back to school yourself, there are often extra positions at the school you teach at for which you get paid extra. Coaches, club advisers, and after-school tutors can get paid up to several thousands of dollars and can be fun for those looking to connect with students outside of the traditional class setting.

Take on a Side-Job

If your school doesn’t have any paying jobs you can take, or if clubs just aren’t your thing, you can always find a side-job you can complete after school or on the weekends. You can stay in the education field and tutor for an SAT-prep company or similar programs, help people new to the country learn how to speak English, or take on teaching night-classes at the local college. If you want to break out of the teaching mold, you can find a myriad of jobs online that can use your skills without requiring traveling or specifically teaching. Writing articles, creating your own website, or editing any number of written pieces are all out there available to anyone qualified, and having a teaching degree can often put your name at the top of the list.

While teachers don’t make as much as people in many other professions, it’s still possible to live off the small income if you find ways to work around it. For most educators, teaching is more than just a job, and making the changes and sacrifices necessary to live off the income allows you to have a career you’re passionate about, which is worth much more than money.

Janet Rivas writes for education blogs where you can read about masters of education programs.