Enjoying Summer On A Teacher's Budget

Julie, Head of Content and Curriculum, shares tips and strategies for having fun this summer without overspending, so you can avoid breaking your budget.

tips for how to not overspend this summer

Teachers Just Want To Have Fun

Your friends have invited you out for dinner, and because school is out for the summer you aren’t too tired to go. You have no lesson plans to write or papers to grade, and the weather is beautiful. You join your friends and spend hours eating, catching up, and enjoying the summer. You start to feel yourself relax after a busy school year. Then, the check comes. You knew this was a new and trendy restaurant, but you didn’t realize how expensive it was. Everyone decides to split the bill four ways, and your face reddens. Suddenly you regret coming. You begin to worry about how much this meal costs. Then, you start to feel anger and resentment. You worked hard all year, why should you feel guilty about dinner with friends?

"Sound familiar? This used to happen to me all the time when I was teaching. It was summer. I had time on my hands, and I wanted to enjoy myself, but I felt guilty every time I spent money."

The Challenge of Making Ends Meet

I know I am not alone. Turn on the TV or open up your newsfeed, and you will see stories every day about how teachers are striking for better pay. All across the country teachers are facing the harsh reality that their salaries are significantly lower than what the cost of living demands. Many teachers have taken on second jobs or are living with roommates to make ends meet.

How To Enjoy Summer Without Breaking The Bank

Try The Envelope System

If you overspend during the summer, finance expert, Dave Ramsey’s envelope system might solve your problem. Here’s how it works:

  • Identify the types of purchases that are breaking the bank. Look at your latest credit card bill and checking account statement. (These tend to be categories like entertainment and restaurants).
  • Figure out how much you want and can spend and stick to it. When you set a boundary for yourself and commit to stick to it, you are less likely to feel badly about your spending. Having a plan always makes it easier to stay on track.
  • Create and fill cash envelopes for the budget categories. Each month fill the envelope with the amount of money you can spend. Once that envelope is empty, you can’t spend more in that category.
  • Only spend what you put in the envelopes. If you get invited to dinner, and you have already maxed out your restaurant budget for the month, see if friends want to come over and do a potluck instead. No matter what, don’t fall back into the habit of overspending.

Master The Pause

If you have read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo or watched her Netflix show, you are familiar with the question, “does this bring me joy?” Before you impulsively make a purchase, embrace the pause and take a moment to ask yourself this question.

"We all have Target runs where we fill our carts with items that weren’t on our shopping list. Will buying that pair of shoes make you happier than buying some new books on your Kindle? Do you need to order an appetizer because you are really hungry or can you skip it?."

Taking a moment to think before you spend can help you avoid mindless purchases that break the bank.

Plan Ahead

Let’s go back to the dinner scenario. I didn’t realize how expensive the restaurant was, and felt guilty when the check arrived. Before you make plans, look up how much they are going to cost. Don’t be afraid to suggest a less expensive restaurant. Or consider seeing if friends want to meet for appetizers instead. Preview the menu, so you know how much the meal will cost you and plan what you will order that will allow you to enjoy dinner, but not blow your budget or overspend.

Be Transparent With Friends And Family

One of the challenges of enjoying yourself on a teacher’s salary is that many of your friends and family members likely have more expendable income than you do. They might not realize when they suggest getting front row seats to a concert that they are putting you in an uncomfortable position. It can feel uncomfortable to talk about money, and many people avoid it. I am not suggesting that you outline your budget and share your spreadsheet with your closest friends. I am suggesting that you tell your sister that while you are really excited for her bridal shower that you are trying not to overspend this summer, and need to be realistic about how much you can contribute.

Go Digital 

There are so many different apps that you can use to plan a budget and track your spending. Financial expert, Tom Nathaniel's website lushdollar.com reviews many of these resources and is a great place to go for more ideas. We spoke with Tom, and asked him what tools were best. He said, " I highly recommend free online budgeting tools such as Mint.com or EveryDollar.  It's a great way to track where your money is going all in one place.  Very hard to overspend as long as you track every dollar coming in and going out."

"You deserve to treat yourself this summer, but treating yourself shouldn’t leave you feeling anxious or stressed about your finances. Be realistic about what you can spend, plan ahead, be transparent, and stick to your plan. You will be able to treat yourself without breaking the bank."

How do you avoid overspending? Share with us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Julie Mason is the Head of Content and Curriculum for TeacherVision. She brings expertise in blended and personalized learning, instructional coaching, and curriculum design to the role. She was a middle and high school English teacher for eight years and most recently taught at Dana Hall, an all-girls school in Wellesley, MA. She was a blended and personalized learning instructional coach for K-12 teachers at BetterLesson for two years, and she has presented at The National Principals Conference, ISTE, and ASCD where she shared her expertised on how instructional coaching builds teacher capacity in K-12 schools. She has extensive experience designing and facilitating professional development for teachers, and she oversees the TeacherVision advisory board.

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