5 simple tips to help teachers reduce money stress

Teachers' worries about personal finance can often be eased relatively quickly, says Eileen Adamson

Eileen Adamson

How teachers can tackle their money worries

Only a minority of teachers feel financially secure, surveys suggest, with many tired of living pay day to pay day and worried about living expenses.  

This is an added stress that we teachers can do without.

How teachers can tackle their money worries

These five tips will help you to feel better about money, maximise the money you do have and improve your financial wellbeing:

1. Your 'money mindset' matters

Underearning or overspending get blamed for money problems, but mindset is often the biggest issue.

“I’m rubbish with money.”

“Money doesn’t grow on trees.”

“We can’t afford it.” 

“I’ve never been able to save money.”

“I can’t go into a shop without spending.”

Many people have adopted these as their mantras without even realising.

This can affect the way you feel about money, the way you deal with money and sometimes, ultimately, how much money you have.

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Entering a shop thinking, “I can’t go in here without spending,” puts your brain into “buy” mode, making it much more likely that you will purchase something. If this is something you had no intention of buying, it leads to a sense of guilt, shame or anger, as well as impacting on your bank balance.

To combat this, become aware of the way you talk about money. Start noticing the thoughts in your head and the things you say out loud. Noting these thoughts down helps you to become aware of the repetitive thoughts you’re having.

By taking these repetitive thoughts and changing the statement into a question, the example above becomes “Can I go into a shop without spending?”

Rather than feeling resigned and helpless, this simple switch of language can help you to feel excited and curious. It becomes a challenge: “Can I go into a shop without spending? Yes, I can!”

You feel hopeful and empowered and it can really help you to take control of your money. 

2. Am I spending too much?

A simple way to check is to calculate your ratio of income to spending.

If you want to live a financially secure life, one example of a healthy ratio is the 50/30/20 spending plan. This suggests your net income should be split into the following:

  • 50 per cent needs.
  • 30 per cent wants.
  • 20 per cent savings or debt repayments.

This can help you to pinpoint if you are spending too much in one area, then allow you to see where changes could be made. 

3. Is your spending making you happy?

We know money doesn’t ultimately buy happiness, but spending money on the things that really matter can make you happier. Conversely, spending money on things you don’t care about can make you miserable. 

However, we rarely stop to think about whether our spending is making us happy.  Doing so can be life-changing.

Start by thinking about what’s most important to you. What are your main values in life?

Look through your bank statement and note which of your values each transaction aligns with. Also, identify any purchases that do not align with any of your values.

This exercise is powerful in helping you to reduce spending in areas that add no value to your life.

4. Create savings pots/accounts

People forget to budget for things that don’t occur monthly. Bigger events such as Christmas and holidays are often considered, but what about birthdays, car maintenance, haircuts or back-to-school costs? These things can cause a huge dent in your monthly spending, especially if they are not accounted for.

Think of your bigger yearly costs, calculate the total cost for each, divide by 12, then put monthly amounts aside into separate savings pots. Paying for a car service from a savings pot, rather having to find the cash, or having to put it on the credit card, is a brilliant feeling.

5. Quick and simple organisation

One of the simplest things to do is to use a bills account and a spending account. Pay all income into the bills account and ensure all regular expenses are paid from it. Calculate how much you have left for spending and transfer a weekly or monthly amount over into your spending account. 

This can be easily achieved by opening a new account for spending, while the account you use just now becomes your bills account.

Achieving these five steps won’t take too long, will help you to identify where you might be wasting money – and give you more money to spend on the things that really do make you happy.

Eileen Adamson is a PE teacher, host of the Your Money Sorted teachers’ podcast, co-host of the BBC Radio Scotland Clever About Cash podcast and money coach for teachers at the Your Money Sorted website. She tweets @YourMoneyCoachx

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