Do you earn enough as a teacher to be financially independent?

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by DFM, Jul 14, 2010.

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  1. DFM

    DFM New Member

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    Jul 14, 2010

    I've always been curious about this issue in light of the generally understood notion that, on the whole, teachers are underpaid (despite some reports which would contest that notion).

    I live in California, and I have always wondered if it's possible to be a teacher (more in terms of elementary level for me, but overall as well) and to be financially independent. Most of the teachers I know are in relationships where the combined income helps to support them, or they are young and manage to work from home and/or are supported by their parents.

    In your experience, can you be a teacher and be financially independent? What do you use your summers for, primarily? Do you make an additional living in that time, do you try and improve your skills for teaching, do you relax, etc?

    Thanks :)
     
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  3. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Yes, I earn enough to support myself if that would be necessary.

    I use my summers to primarily relax.
     
  4. jday129

    jday129 Comrade

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    I support myself and my husband. I tutor quite a bit/ work in teh summer to help out. But if we had to, we could get by on just my base salary.
     
  5. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    We support a family of 5 on the salaries of 2 Catholic school teachers.

    During the years I was a SAHM, it was tight I'll admit.

    Peter supplements with phtotgraphy. We both teach an SAT Prep course over the summer. And sometimes, like this year, I find a great freelance writing gig.

    But we're also redoing the bathroom, and next week we leave for a week upstate, so the money goes towards those extras, not towards putting food on the table.
     
  6. SunnyReader

    SunnyReader Companion

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    On my salary alone- no. (NY is very expensive). My salary goes strictly to the mortgage. My husbands salary (Police)- goes to extras, and other bills. Money is somewhat-tight now, as we are both in the beginning of our careers, but in 3 years, we will double our salaries. We still manage to go on vacations, do home improvements and any other extras.
     
  7. cheeryteacher

    cheeryteacher Enthusiast

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    Yes, I could support myself if I had to and still afford to take vacations and buy nice things.
     
  8. KateL

    KateL Habitué

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    Yes, I'd be fine on my own. However, I live in the Central Valley, which has a much lower cost of living than San Francisco or LA. Also, I have a masters degree, so I'm maxed out on the salary scale for credits, plus I get a $1000 stipend per year for having the masters. In the summer I relax, catch up on projects around the house, and attend a teacher workshop or two.

    So I guess my advice is move somewhere cheap and earn credits as fast as you can!
     
  9. janlee

    janlee Devotee

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    The same is true for me. I use my summers to relax. There were some summers that I did curriculum work for which I was paid. This was found money to do extra things with. I don't work on school related items until I go back to set up my classroom in late August.
     
  10. sue35

    sue35 Habitué

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    I could not support myself on my teaching salary. I am extremely lucky that I do not have to at this time.
     
  11. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    Well, I live in Illinois, so perhaps my cost of living is lower than California (from what I hear...). Personally, I am able to support myself, but without much extra money to spare unless I teach summer school (which I am now doing). I can live quite comfortably, but cannot afford vacations or any large expenses without considerable advance planning. That said, I'm by no means suffering...
     
  12. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    I could live easily on just my salary, but I'm close to the top of the pay scale with years and have a Masters. My salary has almost tripled since I started teaching, a lot of teachers in the upper pay slots do wonderfully.

    Summers... relax, travel, read and read some more, and then travel some more. My husband and I love the time off. I do some lesson planning, read some teacher's blogs and try to keep up to date on current trends in education.
     
  13. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Right now it's tight because Rockhubby is out of work, but we're hanging in there on my charter school salary. When we're both working it's MUCH more comfortable.
     
  14. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    There is no way. My wife and I were both teachers. She was not brought back due to the budget and so we will be mostly on my salary until she finds something else. It will be extremely tight. I know there is no way I could live on just my salary. I am in the early years of my career, soon to be 4th year of teaching. This is one of the big reasons I am looking to go into Administration, major jump in salary. A teachers salary is just not enough for one person and barely enough when two people are making that I think.
     
  15. LetsDoSomeMath

    LetsDoSomeMath Rookie

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    I think if it's just you (without kids)... then yes. It's all relative-- If it was only me- I won't have a big house and a luxury car-- I'd live in a 1 bedroom apartment (or smaller house) and would drive a different car. My lifestyle would be different then it is now--- I'd have to go back to living how I lived before I met my husband.

    There are people who survive on a lot less salary than a teacher's salary.
     
  16. orangepurple

    orangepurple Companion

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    I felt like my salary was OK as half of a couple, with both working. With hubby laid off, we were OK on my salary for a while...only because we already had the things like house and furniture and cars. I felt like I could support our family at a minimal level, and at least we had health insurance! but this year it's really hard, because I don't get health benefits for spouse and kids under our new, incredibly bad contract. District's contribution is just about the same as one person's premium under the cheapest plan; next year, when the premium goes up, the district contribution will not. Paying the premiums for the dependents amounts to nearly a 25% cut in income for me as compared to last year! Not to mention the 3% cut in salary. So no, I don't feel like I am getting paid enough.
    If I were single, it would be OK, not great, but fine.
     
  17. myangel52

    myangel52 Comrade

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    If it was just me, probably. Not comfortably, but I could do an apartment and my car, and pay bills.

    With my husband and two kids, no way. Sometimes it feels tight with both of our incomes (he makes right around the same amount as I do). It's not, but it feels like it at times.
     
  18. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I don't have to support myself, but this would be my situation, also.
     
  19. bryanmj

    bryanmj Rookie

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    Money

    I work in MN and I'm going into my 4th year of teaching. I'm working on my Master's so I've moved up a bit on the pay scale a bit. The first two years were tough but it is doable. I support myself and have money for little extras at this point. I live comfortably and work my butt off! In the summer I teach summer school to supplement my income. :)
     
  20. VANewbie

    VANewbie Devotee

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    No Way!!! My parents still support me. Its hard. I don't know how I will continue to make it.

    :(
     
  21. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    I'm a single mom, and I am able to afford my own home and pay my bills. I don't have a lot of room for luxury, but I can meet our needs. :)
     
  22. PowerTeacher

    PowerTeacher Comrade

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    No. I have a wife and three kids. My salary alone would not even come close.
     
  23. Zelda~*

    Zelda~* Devotee

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    Single, no kids, can and do support myself on Master's level + exp. salary.
     
  24. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    I am single with no kids.
    I have to work part-time to make ends meet. Of course, I live in one of the lowest paid states and my pay has been frozen for years.
    Add that to the fact that I live in an area with a fairly high cost of living (much higher than what I was used to in Michigan- and my area of NC is also higher than average). For example, in Michigan, I paid $350 for a 1 bedroom apartment with everything but electricity included. Here, I paid $860 for a 1 bedroom apartment with NOTHING included- not even trash!
    Now, I could rent a trailer closer to my school and pay around $500 a month or something like that- but I would rather work part time than live in a 40 year old tin shack.
     
  25. teach1st

    teach1st Comrade

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    Yes, but there wouldn't be much for extras. I actually had a job during the summer, when it was just me. Now I relax during the summers.
     
  26. FourSquare

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    I couldn't imagine doing it with kids. If I had kids I'd need a husband to bring in more money or a part-time job. I'm only supporting me and one fur-child. I live in one of the most expensive cities in the country, but we do fine. I split rent with a roommate and I already own my car, so all I really pay for is housing, utilities, and car insurance. My school loans are deferred at the moment. :thumb:

    Edit: I'm also 22....so anything more than $10/hr just blows my mind. :lol:
     
  27. FarFromHome

    FarFromHome Connoisseur

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    It would be very difficult for me. My district does not pay very much (and there's a pay cut next year), and housing is expensive here. If I didn't have a car payment, I would probably be fine. But if it was necessary, I would find a way to make it work.
     
  28. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    Yah, when you throw in a ton of students loans, really hard to pay the bills.
     
  29. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Virtuoso

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    It's possible here.

    I began teaching in 1993, and I bought my own house (1600 square feet on 1.5 acres) in the summer of 2000. I've had two new cars (one in 1996 and one in 2008). I take vacations sometimes. I am able to buy all of the things I need and a good portion of the things I want.

    I got married a few months after I bought my house. My husband's job pays better per hour than mine, but he works far fewer hours. His work is "feast or famine", so it's not uncommon for my job to be the sole income for months at a time.

    The cost of living is lower here than in many places.
     
  30. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    You started teaching 17 years ago and are still teaching. Wow, that takes committment. When I started I told myself 10 years max. Now I am hoping to get out of the classroom before I get to that 10 years.
     
  31. yarnwoman

    yarnwoman Cohort

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    well I am a single mom of two kids (one off to her first year of college) and my mom who is on social security lives with us. We survive on my salary and the little bit of social security that mom gets. Do we have a lot for extras - no. Are happy - yes
     
  32. MissJill

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    I'm fine on my salary right now. I have an apartment, car, and I'm going to grad school. It's not like I can go spend money on whatever, but I'm comfortable.
     
  33. supermissf

    supermissf Rookie

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    My answer? Barely. With my student loans, I can barely make ends meet. I typically get another job in the summer.
     
  34. TeacherApr

    TeacherApr Groupie

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    Honestly, I do not know how I do it but I support myself and my daughter on a teacher's salary that hasn't even HIT $30K. Child support you ask? I don't get much and he's behind by several thousand. I certainly don't have real nice furniture and don't go out to fancy restaurants and haven't gone on a clothes shopping spree for myself in years!
     
  35. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    I am just glad I don't have to imagine doing it while single. Happily married.
     
  36. taryn_liz

    taryn_liz Rookie

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    I live in the cheapest apartment complex in my town, and my budget is pretty tight right now. But my town sets all their rent/house prices by the military pay, and the base pay for a soldier off base is higher than my salary. So it's tight right now, and I'm trying to save to begin my master's.
     
  37. Teachling

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    If I were by myself I am very confident that I would be ok & have a little left over for a modest vacation in the summer. I've done with way less while my life situation has been very challenging in the past.
     
  38. oppa637

    oppa637 Rookie

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    I think it'd help if you mention your general location and salary to see if this works or not...
     
  39. Kangaroo22

    Kangaroo22 Virtuoso

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    When I taught in rural Colorado I was able to easily support myself on my pay, but I was able to qualify for subsidized housing and have no student loans so both of those things made it much easier. I basically bought whatever I wanted (within reason of course) and still came out ahead every month.

    If I got a job around here (Upstate NY) I would make enough to be able to easily pay for the necessities and have enough left over to not worry about money.
     
  40. demijasmom

    demijasmom Companion

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    Can you survive on a teacher's salary I think has a lot to do with who you are, where you live etc. If you know you can't afford certain things then don't buy them. I'm a single parent of two, I'm making it, I'm able to meet our needs first. We are able to go places and do things every now and then.I don't have a choice but to make it work, I don't have my parents to depend on or a husband. Everything I do is due to the fact that I am a single mother. Before becoming a teacher I made a lot less and I survived. I think about this quote:
    "More Money More Problems
     
  41. tgim

    tgim Habitué

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    I could just barely do it - if we didn't have college tuition and a new car. I was a SAHM for 10 years after working for almost that long - and it was tight at times, but you do what you have to when your kids are little; thankfully I could be at home. Now I am delighted to be back at work, but my take-home salary will just cover tuition and car insurance for our 4 drivers....Yes, surviving does depend on where you live and your spending habits. I don't wear the latest fashions, but we do take at least one vacation a year. Our cars are all less than 7 years old and haven't required a lot of upkeep (knocking on wood!), and thank goodness we are all healthy!

    As for my summers, I've spent the past 8 at home with my children, but now that they are driving and older I might consider teaching some camps or summer school. I do a lot of school work in the summer, revising forms and lessons and other materials, but this is the first year I have had NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND to drive anywhere!! It has been so different - a little lonely and a little empowering not to have to consider anyone else's schedule!!
     
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