December 28, 2017

Teacher Budget!




This seems to be the time of year when many of us think about revising our budget. Maybe this is because of a blown December budget?! In any case, I have done some of the leg work for you, and I am prepared to share what I have learned. I am not a financial advisor in any sense. Rather, I am a teacher who wishes she would have known a little more about finances some time ago. After all, my idea of a budget was to pay the bills and spend the rest! I now know better after taking a good hard look at my habits. I learned little ways to cut back, how to score better deals, and how to make a little extra for spending and saving.




The first step in getting a budget under control is recording every penny that you spend. I like to write down everything I spend in a pretty notebook with flair pens. However, there are a few Apps out there if you prefer to be more modern. Either way, just get started, and never stop! I actually met the author of Millionaire Teacher, Andrew Hallam. He and his wife still record everything they spend, and he advises others to do the same.




Once you see where your money is going, the next step is to figure out where you can cut back. Here are 10 ways that helped me spend less:

1. CABLE
We lowered our cable bill significantly by subscribing to only BASIC cable TV...no HD, no long list of channels, just basic TV. Do we really need more than that? Actually, yes, we also need Netflix. Teachers, especially need Netflix on Friday nights. Still, basic cable plus Netflix may lower your monthly bill.

2. CELL PHONES
I lowered our cell phone bill by going to my provider's store (Verizon) to have them look at our plan. I am eligible for the educator discount which is a small amount, but every little bit helps. All you have to do is ask about the discount and provide some sort of proof like a pay stub. We also use our phones until they break beyond repair. This means that all 4 of our phones are now out of contract, and we get a significant discount for staying with the same provider. The savings will make you think twice about running out to get the latest iPhone just because.

3. SUBSCRIPTIONS
I canceled all paid subscriptions including newspapers, magazines,  satellite radio, etc. I find that I really don't NEED these subscriptions.

4. HALVES
 I think in halves. I use half of everything possible: laundry detergent, shampoo, cleaning supplies. You get the idea. I even cut paper napkins in half! This is a perfect job for little ones, and it will save you money. Even if you save $1 per week, that is $52 per year. It all adds up. Thinking in halves means that you only have to buy the product half the amount of time which saves you money!

5. GENERICS
Speaking of buying products, I only buy generic products or products that are on sale at the grocery store. Generics often taste or work just as well as name brands, and this strategy has saved me a lot of money each week. Overall, I spend about $200 less per month by shopping generics or the sale. I also make sure that all my digital coupons are loaded onto my card before I go grocery shopping.

6. BEAUTY
We have also cut back by not seeing a hair stylist as often. You can try to get some extra time out of your hair style. Although I refrain from playing hairdresser in my bathroom, we do have special scissors that we only use for hair to cut back bangs now and then. I realize that some people count on their nail salon time for their own sanity, but I do my own nails which saves money.

7. LUNCH
I pack my lunch. It's healthier because I choose what I am going to eat the night before rather than making a hungry decision after a potentially stressful morning at school. It also saves a lot of money. If I spent about $5 per day on lunch times 181 school days that would add up to be $905! My rough estimate for a packed lunch is about half of that! I do treat myself to a lunch out with coworkers on inservice days as a little treat and a break from packing a lunch.

8. ENERGY
An oldie, but a goodie....I make sure I turn off lights that I am not using. I turn the thermostat down a degree or two from my perfect comfort zone in the winter and up one or so in the summer. I also wash clothes in cold water most of the time. I preplan errands to make the most of gas mileage.

9. RECREATION
I cut back on entertainment. I try to plan one recreational event every month or so rather than every weekend. We actually enjoy those times at home when we can just chill with games, a craft, or a movie, and that one event per month is a special treat. I also look for bargains when deciding on recreational activities. I look to see what is offered in my community for free. Perhaps your library offers free museum passes like my library does! We also have a movie theater close by that shows first run movies at a significant discount especially if you choose a morning time. Remember to check for coupons and ask about a teacher/student/senior/military/etc. discount!

10. FASHION
I spend less on clothes. I only shop the sale racks at department stores and find many bargains at my local thrift stores. Thrift stores are awesome because you never know what you may find! Have you ever heard of thredUP? I not only shop this online consignment store, but I also send them my clothes that are in great condition to earn cash! Here is a link, but first a transparency alert...I may get some spending money if you sign up through this link!

thredUP


Maybe some of these strategies will help you with your budget! Once you record all of your spending for a month, you will likely see some other areas where you can cut back! I would love to hear your ideas in the comments!




Once you have located the areas in your budget where you can cut back, it is time to take a look at what you can do to make more money!

Here are the top ways that I have discovered for making money. Transparency Alert! Some of these sites will offer me cash or another reward if you sign up using the referral code.

1. thredUP
As mentioned above, I use this site to buy clothes and to make money selling my gently used clothes that I no longer wear. I love shopping with the "New with Tags" filter, and I get lots of compliments on the clothes I buy from this site! It is super easy to use whether you are buying or selling.
The link includes a referral code which means that I may be compensated if you sign up!

2. ibotta
This is a site where you earn cash back for items you normally shop for. All you need is a smart phone to sign up and to download the app.  Then you will be ready to start earning cash back on your normal shopping trips. You check out the offers before you shop, and unlock the savings on items that you plan to purchase by completing very simple tasks. When you are through shopping, you simply upload your receipt through your cell phone camera. I use it mostly at ShopRite because that is my usual grocery store, but I did notice that Walmart always seems to have great offers! Yep, you can use this app at many of your normal hangouts. If you sign up with this referral code, we will be part of a team which makes it easier for all of us to earn bonuses!
The link includes a referral code which means that I may be compensated if you sign up!

3. Rewards Credit Card
You may already have one of these, but I thought it deserves some mention. I use my cash back rewards credit card for just about everything. I charge big purchases, small purchases, and everything in between. All my purchases are paid for before interest is charged, so I am careful to make sure that I only charge what I can afford to currently pay for. Once a year I cash in my rewards....either to put towards Christmas or towards a vacation.

4. Wellness Bucks
Check with your medical insurance company about this. I use to have a wellness component to my health insurance where I would earn Visa cash cards for healthy habits. For example, I earned cash back for walking for exercise, visiting my dentist, getting my yearly physical, and even for taking a mindfulness class at my local library! My new insurance company doesn't offer this program, but I understand that these programs are still around. It may be worth looking into!

5. Tutor
I have found that private tutoring is a rewarding way to earn some extra money. Our local library offers space for tutoring which is convenient for both the tutor and the student.

6. Loose Change
Roll up your loose coins, and take them to the bank. It's not really making money, but it may feel like it! I complete this task once a year, and have left the bank with as much as $600!

7. Coke Rewards
A coworker told me about the Coke rewards program. We don't drink much soda, but I thought it sounded like fun, so I signed up. I've already won a large soft drink coupon redeemable at a movie theater.
Coke Rewards

8. Mystery Shopper/Surveys
I've looked into a few of the survey companies, and I must admit that they weren't for me! I am not cut out to take part in surveys, but many people use them to make a little extra cash. Mystery shopping sounds like fun, but I have never tried it myself!

9. ebates!
Ebates is by far my favorite money saving resource out there. It is perfect for those of us who shop online because almost any store you can imagine participates. You simply start out at ebates.com, and then shop like you normally do. Several times per year, you will get your big fat check in the mail!
This link includes a referral code which means that I may be compensated if you sign up!

10. Join Teachers Pay Teachers!
It is so much fun to make resources that are being used all over the world, and you may just earn some money doing it!
This link includes a referral code which means that I may be compensated if you sign up!




Finally, let's talk about discounts. One thing we can do is get into the habit of asking about teacher, senior, military, student, etc discounts whenever we are making a purchase. It doesn't hurt to ask! My absolute favorite place for teacher discounts is A.C.Moore. It has been my experience that I can use my teacher discount on top of any coupons that I have. I have bought premium materials at a fraction of regular cost using this method.

Here are a just a few other companies that offer teacher discounts at the time of this posting:

1. Apple
2. Loft
3. Aerosoles
4. Joann's Fabric
5. New York and Co.
6. Michael's
7. J. Crew
8. Eddie Bauer
9. Easy Spirit
10. Banana Republic

These are just a few of my personal favorites. The list actually goes on and on. I think the best thing to do is just ask about a discount every time we shop or visit a museum or restaurant and keep that school id in our bag at all times!


I hope that these tips will help you as much as they helped me!


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