Saving Money for Those Much Needed Classroom Resources Your School WON'T Pay For
Did you know that a very high percentage of teachers spend some portion of their money to fulfill the basic requirements to do their job? I’m not talking about the things they WANT to have… but the things they MUST have. Things like:
Tissue, Cleaning Wipes, & Hand sanitizer: These items are essentials for keeping a healthy classroom, especially when cold and flu season starts. Parents are asked at the beginning of the school year to donate these items but donations often run out as the school year progresses. Teachers then fill in the holes.
Anchor chart sticky poster paper: If you teach mini lessons or small group work, you need a place to write learning targets, strategies, and examples to put up around the room in plain sight for students to be able to reference every day.
No. 2 pencils, erasers, glue sticks, notebooks, scissors, markers and other art supplies: Most parents dutifully stock up on the required school supplies for the beginning of the year, but not all families can afford to purchase the entire list and many supplies are exhausted as the school year goes on. These are the most common items that need to be replenished throughout the year.
Books for the classroom library… “WHY do teachers have to start the year with NO books or very little unless they purchase them all themselves?”
Classroom storage such as bookshelves, bins or crates:Teaching is a tactile profession. Children’s books, papers, booklets, game pieces, and instructional materials all need to be stored somewhere.
Now what do you do when you really want something that you feel will benefit all your students and help them reach their end of the year goals faster, but weren’t provided in a classroom budget or all your classroom budget is gone? Or maybe you really want to go to that professional development training, but the school is just NOT going to pay for it.
Here’s how you still get the items or training you want without breaking your personal bank!
Step 1:START small, think BIG. Choose 1 or 2 items you want to purchase for your classroom. It all starts when you set a goal and make a plan to reach the goal.
Step 2: Take a look at your bank account over the past month or two. Look for where you let $5 or $10 slip away on something you don’t necessarily need. Make a list of each item and how much you are spending on each one. Maybe you are buying a cup of coffee 1-3 times per week or month. Or how about when you stop and get yourself some food because you don’t have time to cook, even though there’s food that you can make in your kitchen. Once your list is made, it’s possible that you are spending $50-$200/month on things you don’t need, or there’s a better way to have those things with less money, or no money at all.
Step 3: Now look at your list to see if there are any items that you could cut out or do differently. For example, if you are buying coffee at a coffee shop, how about if you buy your own coffee and make it at home? Or reduce the number of coffee you buy significantly and stick to it. Or if you are eating out a lot, what if you can rearrange your home life schedule to accommodate cooking meals at home? Or if you just have to eat out because you don’t have time to cook, look at your grocery budget and see if there’s some items you don’t need to buy to make room for eating out during the week.
Step 4: Now make your goal plain, say it out loud, and write it down. Keep your savings goal visual somewhere in a room that you walk through every day. For example, I wouldn’t put it in my basement, because I don’t go down there everyday. I wouldn’t put it in my laundry room either, since I only do laundry on Wednesdays & Thursdays. But a good place for me would be my master bedroom, closet, or bathroom. My office would also be a good place, too. Commit to short-term money saving goals, like saving $5-$20 a week or a month for 6 months. That is much more attainable than to save $500 a month for a year.
Step 5: Find an accountability friend or family member. Share your financial goal with at least one other person, someone who you trust and will keep you on track with your goals. This person will help you create a new schedule, look at your budget with you, or encourage you to not buy that cup of coffee or eat out.
Once you reach the short-term goal, you’ll have a habit of saving that you can be proud of! You’ll be able to keep going with a new goal and get even more resources or training you want for your students.
You're not just saving money; you’re improving your financial life.
Talk to you soon,
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