Teaching is not a lucrative profession; however, earning a decent income as a little consolation in career fulfillment somehow helps teachers come to grips with financial struggles. To further improve economic status, most of us employ smart spending strategies and even venture into passive income-generating sidelines.
First installment of our Personal Finance Tips for Teachers Series (Part 1): On Frugal Practices, we agreed on a few fundamental frugal practices that can help us manage resources efficiently and save a little on wise spending. Today, we’ll cover a new list of helpful tips on managing finances.
Managing finances can be as challenging as earning a living. Perhaps easier if our paycheck doubles or triples the sum required for all expenses. Though this is likely the case, still the figures per se do not equate to a stress-free financial management. So, managing finances wisely is a big issue especially to us, teachers, who always struggle with a tight budget.
Part Two: On Managing Finances
 Start with a Savings Account. Aside from our payroll account, it’s better that we build up another high-yield savings account. We can even link these two accounts and apportion a sum for savings via automatic or manual electronic fund transfer.
 Build an Emergency Fund. Keep in mind that saving is for possible financial emergencies or future business ventures, but the former must be thought of with a higher priority. An emergency fund worth six months of living expenses suffices a financial security should we be faced with personal financial dilemmas such as temporary loss of a job and unforeseen medical expenses.
 Make Wise Investment Decisions. Investing in expensive electronic gadgets, for instance, is not good unless justified by educational and business purposes. Choose investments then that promise long-term returns and generate passive income.
 Pay Off Debts. Being in growing debts comes with some degree of stress, anxiety, and even worse, depression. Debts are an obstacle as they negatively impact financial decisions. As advised, set up a debt pay-down plan that does not ruin the budget and sacrifice most of the savings.
 Stay Away from Bad Debtors. “Some people use one half their ingenuity to get into debt, and the other half to avoid paying it,” says George D. Prentice. Quite unbiblical, but saying ‘no’ to delinquent debtors keeps our financial terms intact and emotional well-being in better shape.
 Create a Working Budget. Start with the paycheck. Set aside for savings and distribute what is left across major expenses such as food, rentals, transportation, utilities, and others. To manage expenses wisely, keep a journal or an Excel sheet. Review and revise it often for changes and budget stretch.
 Track Daily Expenses. Managing finances includes informed decisions on even minor details. Try to list down all daily expenses and keep track of unexpected purchases that ruin the budget. From here, we can start working on our weakness and practice necessary smart spending routines.
 Plan Ahead Major Expenses. Whether it’s a special occasion or a summer vacation, it’s good that we plot details with a tentative schedule of expenses ahead. In doing so, we can have enough time to contemplate whether it’s worth pushing through and meets our budget.
 Plan Your Weekly Meals. Meal planning demands extra work and time, but becoming a habit, helps a lot in managing a tight budget. After all, personal preparation of healthy meals is a creative work de-stressing exercise.
 Pack Your Lunch. When we bring our own lunch to work, we take control of our diet. We save money from those costly food packages in the school cafeteria, unless we are shareholders of the managing cooperative. Also, we are exempted from waiting in a long queue and from making side comments on poor food service.
 Do the Weekend Grocery. Buying goods in bulks saves money, and going to the grocery store with a shopping list prevents us from making impulse purchases. As it becomes part of our weekend routine, we get closer into understanding how our economy works and how we take part in it.
 Don’t Make Too Many Trips to the Malls. It’s a waste of time frequenting the mall and browsing the shops without buying anything. In fact, it’s a threat to the budget as we may have remorseful impulse purchases. Instead of going often to the mall, browse products online and schedule a weekend shopping.
 Review Shopping Receipts. After shopping, it’s good that we review and keep receipts. We don’t know whether the purchased products would need replacements or cash refunds within the next days of warranty. Also, shopping receipts serve as our references in tracing monthly expenses.
 Use Teacher Discounts. Not only during Teachers’ Day that discount coupons for teachers are almost everywhere, we must also make use of discounts such as for online shopping, beauty spas, and fast food chains whenever applicable. However, availing products and services just to apply discounts is totally impractical.
 Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate When Shopping. Sometimes, it takes just a smile and a friendly talk to make a successful bargain. In the Philippines, making a bargain is highly accepted especially at flea markets. We can haggle with the merchant over the price of something and find a compromise between our wishful thoughts.
 Take Public Transportation. In the Philippines, taking public transportation can be stressful, but no doubt saves money as cab fare costs hundreds. When visiting unfamiliar places, seek advice on shortcuts and try mapping out the route to save time and costly fare.
 Keep Loose Change. We better keep a coin purse or a cookie jar for loose change. Let us not underestimate the value of coins as they can cover minor emergency purchases such as cooking ingredients at the neighborhood variety store. Also, we can help the smiling lady at the cashier who always asks for spare coins.
 Conserve Water and Electricity. Saving electricity and water at home and workplace does not need to cost the earth. Aside from reducing utility bills, we also support the advocacy of making this planet a better place for everyone. We always know how to conserve, and we just need to be serious about it.
 Reuse as Much as You Can. Conserving resources usually comes with purposive practices of reusing and recycling. We may not know the impact of these simple practices on our finances until we figure it out.
 Stay at Home on Weekends. Prices of movie tickets can hurt our budget. We can just stay at home on weekends, do the house chores, and spend quality time with family over smaller-screen movie marathon.
Given these uncomplicated tips, managing finances feels like nothing but managing classroom instructions as planned. Occasionally, we modify plans and proceed with innovative strategies to address current situations and needs of our students. In managing finances, we also employ trial-and-error approach and become financially wise with new ideas and practices.