The Teachers’ Paycheck Gap: Is A Summer Job Your Only Option?

1/10/20 Ricky Baizas

If you are paid on a 10-month salary schedule, it’s tempting to tell yourself that you will spend the first semester, and save during the second. Or, the urge might be there to buy that new car when your first paycheck hits, then make up for it throughout the rest of the year. Without a little foresight and budget planning, you may just find yourself eating Top Ramen in August like a destitute college student.

Here are some options for those teachers who find themselves struggling financially during those summer months when you should be out enjoying the sweltering heat.

Consider a summer job.

Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way early, shall we? We know teachers enjoy their summers off, and many are involved with all sorts of educational summer programs and camps. The key here is to try to set yourself up to work during the summer because you WANT to work, not because you HAVE to work. The good news is that there are plenty of summer jobs out there to add to your teaching income.

School is out and there are a lot of working parents that need someone to watch their kids. Consider a fun daycare program where you can use your skills to educate outside of the box and create interactive programs. This is a great opportunity to work with kids outside of your normal age range. Also, consider teaching at a community college or a trade school; you never know, it might be good to approach material from a different angle to keep it fresh. Selling your lesson plans online and textbook copywriting or editing are solid options if you wish to earn some extra money from home, in the comfort of your own air conditioning.

It is completely understandable if you wish to take advantage of your summer and don’t want to interact with anyone under the age of 18. If you want a job that is quite the opposite of a classroom, consider bartending or driving for Uber. Although, even adults sometimes need extra care, so while you may still have to occasionally “babysit,” these can be excellent ways to get out and socialize while the weather is warm.

In a pinch and need some quick(er) cash relief?

If you need money and don’t have time to wait for your first summer job check to come in, there are ways that you can cut spending and start saving immediately. Start by taking a fresh look at your monthly budget. Cut back on groceries, lower the data plan on your phone, and cut the proverbial cable cord to help lower your monthly expenses.

A lot of financial institutions like to support their teachers. If you find yourself behind or short on some of your bills, contact your lenders and creditors and talk to them. Some banks and car dealerships have the option to skip a payment, especially if you have a healthy relationship with them and good credit. You can also call your mortgage company and refinance your home if the terms are favorable enough for you.

If you need cash in hand quickly, consider a personal loan like those offered by LoanMe. These loans offer flexible repayment options and generally are offered with no collateral needed. Once approved, you can potentially have your cash within hours, instead of days. Contact one of the personal loan experts at LoanMe for more information.

Use the extra time you have in the summer to do a personal finance audit for hidden savings. Check for payments being made automatically out of your accounts. Did you set up recurring payments for things you never use, like that monthly gym membership? Cancel any recurring payments that are slowing leaking money out of your bank account, and you’ll begin saving immediately. Who knows…you may not miss it and can start saving all year long for a big summer vacation next year!

Develop or enhance your professional skills for future pay increases.

Summer break is an opportune time to think about brushing up on professional skills that may have gotten rusty, or even work toward new credentials (such as the National Board Certification) to increase your pay and add to your portfolio. Many districts offer teachers’ salary increases in their base pay if they accumulate a set number of continuing education credits. Or, and this is more of a longer-term project, taking summer classes and working toward a Master’s or Doctorate can also increase your income in the future.

You can also add specialized skills to your teaching resume. Many districts pay teachers more with specializations, and if you’re seeking a job at a school that is in-demand and has a higher base pay, this will help you land the position. This also may allow you to work in a different area or with different students than before. Learning a language and becoming a certified ESL teacher will help freshen up your resume and can earn you a larger paycheck.

It’s never too early to begin budgeting for next year’s summer break.

Whether you choose to get a summer gig or go back to school to enhance your knowledge, start thinking about the upcoming school year now. Budgeting early will let you test out methods and will show you what works, and what doesn’t.

Know yourself – if you are not the type to budget and save, hand over the reins to another person or agency. Opt to have a portion of your paychecks automatically taken out every month and dispersed over the summer, whether it is through your district payroll or your personal financial institution. Should you choose to have your school district withhold money for summertime savings, make sure you get the agreement in writing. There are cases where the district made mistakes and switched the teachers to the 10-month plan, and they were left without a paycheck come July 1st.

If you are pennywise and diligent about saving, then you are on the right track. Take advantage of teacher-specific offers from banks (or other financial institutions) that will help you save. Inquire if your bank or teacher’s credit union offers a “summer saver” saving’s account with special interest rates. If you can resist making a withdrawal until the end of the school year, you might have a nice little nest-egg to pay for your summer activities.

Or set yourself up for success – open an account with a small bank in the next town and don’t set up online access, and refuse printed checks. That way you have to pay a big fee at an ATM or drive a distance to withdraw cash. These deterrents may seem punitive, but if it’s harder to pull money out of the account, you’ll be less likely to spend it.

Regardless of how you choose to spend your summer, you don’t have to spend it broke. Whether you choose to use your expertise in child care and education, or choose to work in a poolside bar, you have plenty of options to help bridge that gap between paychecks, and just maybe have some fun while you work.

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