Teacher Unions

Discussion in 'General Education' started by ninamricci, Aug 18, 2019.

  1. ninamricci

    ninamricci New Member

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    Aug 18, 2019

    Hi, as a first year teacher the topic of teacher unions confuses me a little. Am I supposed to join one right away? Join one at all? I was looking into the NEA and it looks like its really easy to join. Is it free? Basically should I join and what happens if I do or don't. Thanks!
     
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  3. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    I don’t necessarily support teachers unions — I’m not anti-union, but I don’t agree with their policies. I like the protections that they offer teachers, but I have found that they sometimes do more home than good. For example, collectively bargaining for higher benefits when the state pension fund is severely underfunded. Sure, you can negotiate all you like, but if the money is not there then you have a net gain of zero. And this comes at the expense of being offered higher salaries. Think about it: If the payout is supposedly at the end, but the state pension does pay out, then you basically acquired nothing at the expense of not getting paid better throughout the tenure of your career.

    Now back to your question. You can join the teachers union or you can opt out. And the US Supreme Court Janus ruling has made it so that mandatory dues are no longer permissible under the law (thank goodness for that). You can still receive counsel by your teachers unions even if you are not part of the union and don’t pay dues. They still are legally required to represent you, at least one CA they are. So, if I ever transition to public school, I don’t plan on paying dues or joining a union. That’s just my $0.02.
     
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  4. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    Join something that offers legal counsel and liability insurance. People are crazy and you need protection. Hopefully, you’ll never need it.
     
  5. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Comrade

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    Wow! I did not know that you had a choice. I thought everyone had to pay here. We pay about 200 bucks a month for our union dues. I have mixed feelings about the union, but mostly lean towards you should support your local union IF you have 1.
    They do what they can to help teachers here. I have seen them help a few teachers who were railroaded for telling the truth. ( A lot of schools have climates of secrets, I think.)
    If it hadn't been for the union, they'd be unemployed and blackballed. I can only imagine if teachers did not have someone backing them here. Teaching conditions could deteriorate if admin, SB, and Supers did not have a tiny bit of fear. ( Our 30 minute duty free lunch would be the 1st thing to go.) Since our area has an overabundance of teachers who can't get teaching jobs, they could lower salaries and benefits.

    Nina, If your district does not have its own union, you could join NEA. If it is commonly joined by teachers in your district, I think I'd join it to have some back up if needed in this day and age. I am not sure how much the dues are, but you can easily find out.. I worked in a nonunion state for about 13 years a long time ago. It was in an area that needed teachers and treated them with respect. If you are in an area like that you may not need one.
     
  6. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    You pay $2,400 a year in dues?! I would quit the union and give yourself a pay raise of $2,400.

    And I’m miffed with teachers union generally because the public school teachers near where I live make so-so money and have moderate benefits. However, the teacher unions almost never seem to be able to negotiate better salaries and the cost of healthcare to teachers keeps going up and up for the same benefits. If they were so great, then teachers wouldn’t keep getting fleeced. And this is coming from someone who works at a private school!
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2019
  7. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    I would definitely join your union and pay your dues. The union offers you protection and support. It might cost you something, but think of the cost to yourself and the profession if you let your colleagues carry your backpack up the hill.
     
  8. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Comrade

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    Well, it is about 200 a month for 9 months. It is kind of sad where I am because the teachers and higher ups tend to have adversarial relationships.
    When I worked in a non union state, it was different. Maybe I just started out in an excellent school, but it was more like a team of: We are in this together.
    Yeah, I could get a pay raise that way. The union though is needed here due to the overabundance of teachers and lack of jobs. The SB has tried to take advantage and some teachers who are gutsy really have benefitted from them. I am not a huge wave maker, but there are times I need to stick to my guns. It is good knowing there is someone to back you if needed.
     
  9. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    I think any teacher should do what is best for herself or himself. If you are happy with your union, then stay. :)
     
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  10. creativemonster

    creativemonster Comrade

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    5 day work weeks - thank a union. Class size caps - thank a union, duty free lunch - thank a union. They might cost money, but they are far more expensive when they don't exist. I'm very pro union, very thankful. And I feel like the union helps many who don't feel comfortable helping themselves. Have trouble speaking up - as many of us do - the union is willing to step in to help. For me I feel like they are worth their cost. And the more of us who join, the easier their jobs are. And just because I am in union, I can still have a friendly relationship with those higher up. My principal and the bosses of my principal know this isn't about personalities - it isn't personal - it's contract negotiations. If anything (for me) the union makes it easier to have a friendly working relationship with my higher ups.
     
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  11. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    Wow, $200 a month seems like alot. I pay around $20 per paycheck and we get paid twice a month.
     
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  12. El sol

    El sol Rookie

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    Completely agree with some of you here. Why pay money when you can keep it and spend it on something else more important? What are unions useful for anyway? Their history is irrelevant. I personally have never seen their need, even at the beginning because everyone was being treated fairly and equally. Don't throw your money away. Stay away from unions while special sectors dimish the power of the unions all around the country. Wait, why just teacher unions? Let's end them all! [/end carcasm]

    I'm amazed at the reasoning of not just people here but also IRL. I know some are politically-motivated, as was the case with the person from the Orange County district who won the superior court case.

    But some reasoning just baffles me. "Hey, don't pay, you can still get counsel from the union". Really? How will unions offer counsel when they are being weakened and their survival depends on member engagement? I'd be pissed if my dues where being directed to help someone who decided not to pay them and decided to mess up in their job.

    I hope the members from other union sectors aren't as stupid as some teachers in their reasoning to abandon unions, seriously.

    ADVICE: If you're a new teacher, join the unions: district, state and national. After you have some sense of security, after a few years probably, you can consider quitting. It's like driving, when you first start you need insurance, but after a couple of years, don't pay, you don't really need it if you're a careful driver.
     
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  13. Emily Bronte

    Emily Bronte Groupie

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    If you’re not part of your local union at your school district, you aren’t getting representation. Sorry, but that’s how it really works, Educator unions are voluntary. Janus, just prevents the collection of fair share dues. Meaning, prior to Janus you had to pay something as you were directly benefitting from a union negotiated contract and benefits package, although you may not have been part of the union. Unions alone cannot change the culture in the US around how much teachers are paid. I get paid 25k more a year than my friend who teaches in a right to work state. We have the same level of education and years of experience... both states have similar costs of living....it blows my mind that there’s such a lack of historical knowledge about what unions did and continue to do....
     
  14. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    I guess it depends on where you live/teach. In some states a union has little power and effectiveness. There's a lot of corruption in unions and a lot of teachers' unions use their voice to push agendas that do not directly relate to public schools. In such places e
     
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  15. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I'm in a non-union state. I am in the education association, however (and it's nowhere near hundreds of dollars a month, so I don't mind the payment). My mentor teacher during student teaching said that even if she agreed and disagreed with this and that, she believed it was part of being a professional. Plus always the CYA.
     
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  16. Pisces

    Pisces Rookie

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    Here in GA, I am not allowed to join the GEA because I work at a private school.
    I wonder if it's the same in California. Can independent school teachers join the CTA?
     
  17. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    This is my 7th year here and I only joined the union last year. For me the biggest benefit is teacher protection. Up until last year we had great or good admin and I didn't feel the need for protection.
    Last year we got one that is a micromanager, and wants to assert his power by controlling us (where we enter the building, we leave, etc), writing people up and so on.
    I'm paying $90 a month but that gives me peace of mind, For example I have the right to have a site rep with me for any meetings with admin.
    Our union is not that strong, only about 50% of teachers joined, but they constantly are getting us raises and small victories, so I think it's worth it.
    I don't think I would pay it if it was $200
     
  18. Teacherb

    Teacherb New Member

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    The union is important--you will use it because you receive its benefits. You may need it's protection for reasons you cannot forsee. I never thought I'd need union protection, but me a group of teachers all used it last year and it was helpful. Join the damn union!
     
  19. RainStorm

    RainStorm Aficionado

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    Way back when, when I was in college, they told us "join the union." Why? If you join your states _EA (which includes an NEA membership) you are eligible for their liability insurance if you are sued by a parent. The school ALWAYS takes care of itself, but if you personally get sued (and it can happen) you are on your own! The school takes care of the school. Without the liability insurance, you have to hire your own lawyer to represent you (even if it is a bogus case.) And without the union protection, many districts "minimize" their loses by simply "terminating" teachers who have complaints against them, even when it isn't justified. The union will stick up for you if this happens.

    If, for example, you have to restrain a child to keep him for harming himself or others, and admin hasn't arrived on scene yet -- and you accidently scratch that child in the process -- the parents can sue YOU. You will be left having to prove you did nothing wrong -- which can be a very expensive and long process. They may sue the school, too, but they can sue YOU individually. The school will get their own lawyers, but you are left to deal with it on your own -- unless you have a strong union/association. Never put yourself in that position.

    Dole out the bucks! The liability insurance is worth it.
     
  20. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Okay, liability insurance can be purchased for dirt cheap without enrolling in a teacher’s union. When I initially was studying to be a teacher back in early 2014, I bought it in my teacher credential program before student teaching for like $100 or something for the entire year for $1 million in coverage. It was nothing compared to having to shell out thousands toward a teachers union. And if the teachers unions were doing so great as they commonly purport, then how come the teachers keep getting underpaid in many areas throughout California and have to pay more and more for the same crappy benefits?

    In the state of CA, “your” union still has to represent you even if you are not part of it.

    Finally, I can negotiate much better for myself than a teachers union can on my behalf. I continue to do so and have done so for my entire career whenever I apply for a job, whether that be for consulting work, private tutoring or at my current place of employment.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2019
  21. Missy

    Missy Aficionado

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    Public and private schools are very different. Several of your broad statements do not apply in public schools. One small example: in a public school teachers cannot negotiate on their own behalf. You may dislike this, but it is a fact.
    There is strength in numbers. My local Association has an excellent working relationship with admin, and we work for the benefit of teachers and students.
     
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  22. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    The only reason teachers cannot negotiate after being hired in public schools (at least in CA) is because teachers unions lobbied politicians in years past to write laws that only allow them to do bargaining for teachers. Nice try.

    And you’ve still yet to disprove anything I said.
     
  23. Missy

    Missy Aficionado

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    You can’t dispute that what I said is true, however it came about. Guess unions do have some power.
     
  24. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Uh, that’s not how it works. If you make a claim then you have the onus of proof. Ever taken a logic class? Ever witnessed a court case?

    Try again.
     
  25. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Comrade

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    We pay our union reps which is only right imo. They are elected for their feistiness (lol). The "Jimmy Hoffa" guy we have ( Joking!!!!) gets paid more than he would if he was teaching. It is his full time job. :) I think a lot of districts do not pay their union reps. I am happy to do it because he organizes a lot and we benefit from everyone's extra work.
     
  26. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Continuing off of what I said earlier, here is one example of many insurers that offer liability insurance for educators:

    https://www.proliability.com/professional-liability-insurance/educators

    No union needed.

    Here is the Congressional law that I referenced from earlier: National Labor Relations Act. Under federal law, if union organizers win a representation election by even 50% plus one of those voting (a simple majority), they are empowered to negotiate contracts on behalf of all 100% of the workers. And by law, each and every worker loses his or her right to negotiate directly with the employer on his or her own behalf once hired.

    Ridiculous.
     
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  27. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Comrade

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    I never even thought about being in a union in case of a lawsuit....color me naïve, I guess! I have made it through many years without one. Knock on wood too! The reason I like ours is they have made teaching conditions better and enforce the rules.
    Prep time, lunch, evenings, are all things some admin will try to take away from teachers. They can do it subtly and our union won't allow it. Admin does not want grievances filed against them. It is good to have a healthy fear of messing with teachers imo. :)
    The underlying flow in some schools has to do with dishonesty and secrets. Admin can slam whistleblowers and teachers who have the guts to come out and yell that the emperor has no clothes. These teachers are needed.
    They'd be black balled and fired w/out the union here. I have seen our union get teachers better jobs and settlements who stood their ground. In nonunion states, those teachers would have just been fired.
    We need feisty teachers who speak the truth. So many teachers are afraid to stand up and say what they think because they are scared. I understand their fear too because I had a few years of my life that I could not financially afford to say what needed to be said. Now I am able to if needed.
    We were the highest paid state for many years too until 1 state gave teachers a big raise. We may have caught up since then though. I am going to check out of curiosity. :) A lot of it depends on how strong your district union is too. If you are just a member for liability reasons, the cost would be a lot lower.
    I agree with you though on having the freedom to negotiate your contract, but am high enough on the scale now that it doesn't matter to me. My 1st job was in a private school and we negotiated. :)
    I remember having a sticker on my paycheck sealing it . The sticker was a reminder that our salary was confidential and that we could be fired if we disclosed it.
    A more experienced teacher ( who later ended up a friend) used to bait me to tell her what I made, but I kept my mouth shut. I knew she'd be furious because I did not have the experience she did. However, the cost of living had gone up when I was 1st negotiating.
    The Union works here. If teachers are not being paid, treated, or backed, decently, I can see why they would not like their union. PS I looked at salaries online and we have slipped in rank from many yrs at being 1 to 4 or 7 depending upon if the site looks at 1st yr teachers or average teacher's salaries. That has happened over the last 5 yrs.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2019
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  28. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    My public school district doesn't allow individual negotiations. You get what is on the salary schedule. It's not something that is negotiated with a union either. A committee of various staff members come together to create the salary schedule, and everyone must follow it.
     
  29. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Before you are hired in a public school district, you are legally allowed to negotiate for placement on the salary schedule. For example, I have a friend who is a physics teacher in the local school district in my hometown. He came from the private industry years ago and was offered an entry-level salary by his current district (Step 1). However, he argued that he would be taking a huge pay cut if he were placed at said step and so he wanted a higher starting salary. The district, recognizing that he was the only and best candidate for the job, allowed him to start on like Step 7, I think. This is actually a common practice.

    However, once he was hired he could no longer negotiate. He was locked in.
     
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  30. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Some districts allow that. Others do not. Some just offer you what they offer you and do not allow for any negotiation. Speaking from experience.
     
  31. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Well, at least some allow you to. It’s a small consolation, I guess.
     
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  32. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    Before becoming hired, I was anti-union. I felt that (as an aspiring teacher) it was an indirect impediment to me getting my own classroom. I felt it helped to breed complacency among its ranks. Now, as a teacher, my general impression is that I was misguided in my opinion back then. I still do feel that teachers generally reach a point when they become entitled (and therefore complacent), but I kind of think that is more the nature of the profession. As a new teacher (original poster), I think one must realize that he/she is part of a team. That team is the union, and that union is why (as someone mentioned) you have it as good as you do (work conditions, protections, etc.) For a new teacher and a young person, it is probably inconceivable to think of poor conditions as a teacher (unless you work in a state that actually does have those conditions. In that case, my apologies.) We are entering a time in our society and country, where the little guy is bound to face increased pressure from "the man". When that time comes (if you are a union member), you will be grateful to have an army to stand with, rather than be a lone ranger.
     
  33. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Comrade

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    Yes! I know that is true. Before you sign a contract all kinds of deals can be made if they want you bad enough. Many times, they'll give your spouse a job doing something they may or may not be qualified to do! ( Central Offices have a few of those...:) ) Some will pay for your moving expenses . ( Those are usually to undesirable places though.) Where you start on the salary schedule is definitely negotiable. How many paid flights you get per yr can be negotiated too along w/ free housing depending upon where you live. Once you've signed on the dotted line though, it is all over! :)
     
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  34. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Yep!!! You are breath of fresh air.

    I wish more people would realize this and stop assuming that you cannot negotiate at all, haha!
     
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  35. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Comrade

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    The negotiating is great, but I hate it when they MAKE a position or put an unqualified spouse in a position. I was better at it when I was young. I think I was worth more then too to a district than I am now. I was a lot more energetic than I am now. Plus, I was willing to write curriculum, coach, and do other things for more $ then too. Now $ is not that important to me. Values change a bit as you age. After seeing so many people working themselves to death ( literally), you realize you can't take it with you! :) It is good that you are still young and figured out early to save. That way you can retire young and enjoy more years of freedom. :)
     
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  36. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    I agree with you mostly (95%), haha! I love, love, love money. And I enjoy working (for now). Despite my working long hours for 5 days a week, I still get plenty of rest, I don’t feel stressed out, I eat adequately and healthily, and I see the doctor twice a year (every 6 months). Each and every time, I am given a clean bill of health.

    I, too, am glad that learned to save money early because my retirement years and even before then are going to be glorious.

    I will update everyone on Halloween when my life of luxury officially begins! :)
     
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  37. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Comrade

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    What is happening on Halloween? If I'd have known more about finances, I'd have retired 10 yrs ago. This yr has started out interesting and easy compared to last yr. So I may do this 1 more year, but I may be done after this yr. I haven't decided yet.
    I believe in getting in rest and eating healthy too. I have mastered the going to bed 95% of the time. :) Eating I have more trouble with.....I tend to forget to eat until I am hungry.
    I was in better shape when I ate more regularly. My goal this yr is to force some type of breakfast down.
    I think making $ is important to most people until you watch a lot of people you love die. Then I think time for relationships becomes more important to many.
     
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  38. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    On Halloween, I will have paid off a year’s worth of rent, cell phone bills, utilities and internet, and car insurance bills. Also, I will have my Roth IRA maxed off by then ($6,000 for the year); plus, my health insurance is 100% covered through my employer, and I have no student loan debt or car debt as those were paid off a while ago. This means that outside of food and drink, I will have zero bills until June 2019.

    I plan to start shopping a lot more and doing fun stuff more. I can’t wait!!!
     
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  39. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    @Tired Teacher, any recommendations for fun stuff to do once Halloween turns around? Any luxuries that you enjoy?

    I plan to go to San Francisco as I’ve been meaning to try out these new massage places. Any ideas?
     
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  40. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Comrade

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    Woohoo! That sounds awesome. It is a good feeling to have zero debt, huh? I love it. My place has been paid off for yrs and so I can save/ invest about 3/4 of my salary and still do fun stuff when I want within reason.
    I bought a new rig...so now I have another in case my regular one starts to need any major repairs. It sits a lot, but will come in handy some day. I used to believe you should buy a new car/ truck every 4 yrs. I was raised that way.
    I never realized how many miles some rigs can get until this 1. I am at about 120,000 miles. In the past, I'd never had 1 more than 40-50 K before trading it in. ( I feel like a dumb butt for that...) I used to love to shop too. Where I live now, there are not any good places to shop. Plus, I don't need or want anything really. I went to Hawaii about 3x a yr for ages and loved to shop there. They have some unique places. I mostly shop for gifts. When I totally retire, I hope to spend more time there in the winter.
     
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  41. Tired Teacher

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    Aug 25, 2019

    Oh, there is very little to do here other than skiing, snow machining, hunting, and fishing. Plus, there are a lot of beautiful places to hike and see up here. Glaciers, wildlife, mountains, and just walking on the beach. It is too cold though to do in the winter. ( I actually am a girly girl who changed when I moved here.) I hated blood and guts, but now have helped with moose, salmon, and halibut preparation....lol
    If I want to do something from the past, I go to the lower Hawaii and Seattle. I used to go to Europe sometimes, but it has changed too much and my life has too.
     
    futuremathsprof likes this.

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