Here in the UK, the path to becoming a teacher isn't always easy. Aspiring teachers face a long road to reach QTS, and often enter the profession on some pretty shaky financial ground. That's one of the major reasons that nearly half of new teachers don't last beyond five years in many parts of the country. Still, a recent survey indicated that most teachers who make the decision to leave the profession agonize over it; and would remain in their jobs if they had the ability to alleviate some of their common pain points.
The bright spot in the data, if there is one, is that teachers who make it to five years have a good shot at thriving in their profession. To get there, however, aspiring teachers and NQTs have to navigate their early years to reach a level of financial security that comes with climbing the ranks and earning a higher salary. To help, here are five financial tips to help new and aspiring teachers make it through the lean early years and remain in the profession that they love so dearly over the long term.
1. Create a Holiday Savings Plan
One of the things that new teachers often fail to account for is that their expenses tend to go up when school is on holiday and that it can create a noticeable imbalance in their budget. That alone can create financial stress that is difficult to deal with, but it does have a solution. To avoid the problem, it's a good idea for new teachers to spend their first term in a financial austerity mode, with unspent earnings going into a separate savings account. Although it's not pleasant to face a school year with little financial flexibility, it's the only way for a new teacher to get a real handle on what their spending will be throughout the course of a year. In the worst case, they'll end up being able to take a nice relaxing trip during the holiday as a hard-earned reward for saving so carefully, and that's an outcome few would argue with.
2. Take Advantage of Tax Rebates
Teachers, like many other professionals in the UK, are entitled to tax rebates on a variety of expenses associated with their profession. Things like union subscription fees, unreimbursed supply costs, and personal vehicle use can help teachers qualify for substantial tax relief. Many, however, don't take advantage of the available rebates because they don't believe it's worth the effort to do so. In reality, however, the average rebate teachers can expect from making a claim is around £250, which is no small sum. With nothing to lose, every teacher should explore what rebate they may qualify for.
3. Minimise Debts
In the UK, we don't have to worry about things like student loan refinance options like our peers in the US because repayment here is tied to earnings, but that doesn't mean that new teachers can afford to ignore outstanding student debts for very long if they want to get their career off to a solid start. To do that, every effort should be made to pay down outstanding overdraft or credit card debt accumulated during schooling. In addition teachers in certain subjects and regions of the country may be eligible for student loan reimbursement, which can help them move up the ranks without fear of escalating loan repayment amounts.
4. Maximise Discounts
Sometimes, the most effective way to remain in good financial standing is to simply spend less money. Doing so, however, isn't always as easy as it sounds. The good news is that teachers can find some help in this area in the form of a wide variety of discounts on products and services that are available to members of the esteemed profession. They cover just about anything imaginable, from phone service to hotel stays, and everything in between. Shaving a little bit off of monthly expenses can have a huge effect on the bottom line of a new teacher, so it makes good financial sense to take the time to find every possible break on offer.
5. Hang in There
With minimal effort, it is possible for new and aspiring teachers to relieve themselves of some of the financial pressures they face. All it takes is a little forward thinking and some careful planning to make your salary stretch a little bit further than it otherwise would have. Doing so should help to eliminate some of the stress associated with the early years of your teaching career and help you to get established doing what you love – and that's an outcome that everyone should celebrate.
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About the author
Andrej is a digital marketing specialist, dedicated writer and digital evangelist, with a keen passion for exploring how technology can help both in classrooms and home learning. He is a contributor to a wide range of technology-focused publications, where he may be found discussing how technology is influencing everything from neural networks and natural language processing.