When I was in college, a professor that I highly respected gave me some really good money advice.
She said to me, “You’re going to be a teacher. That’s fantastic! I’m sure you’re going to live a really great life. But it wouldn’t hurt for you to become financially smart. Start now while you’re young.“
At the end of that conversation, she recommended two books about financial literacy.
There I was, a 20-year old college student, standing there with my professor discussing finances.
That small moment, almost two decades ago, has since shaped my financial life – and in a very positive way.
I cannot express how thankful I am that she planted that seed in my head. It’s in large part to her that I have developed such good money habits.
Those two books that she suggested set the tone for my financial life from then on out.
The Core of Money Advice
Being money smart is more than just saving money.
Financially fit means developing a healthy relationship with money.
It’s not hard to do, but it does require action.
This article share 11 money advice tips that I believe every teacher should do consistently in order to change their money habits.
[Disclaimer]: This information within this post does not serve as formal financial advice. Consult with your personal financial advisor to receive customized, targeted advice specific to your unique money situation.
I divided these money advice tips into twelve months, so that you gradually complete them without feeling overwhelmed. If you can check off all or almost all of these tasks because you’ve already done them, fantastic!
Unfortunately, it’s easy to ignore some of these things because hey, life gets in the way, right?
We may not think about one or two of these good money habits until it’s too late or until something comes up.
But the sooner we do them, the better shape we’ll be in financially.
Money Habit #1: Create Long and Short-Term Goals.
So the first money advice is to make long-term and short-term goals.
At the beginning of each year, usually in January, my husband and I sit together and write financial goals for ourselves.
What constitutes as long-term and short-term is relative, but short-term is usually less than a year to to 3 years while long-term is anything longer than that.
Determine what are your goals, and then create actionable steps to help you arrive at your targets.
It’s much easier to manage your money when you know exactly for what you’re saving and investing.
Additionally, make sure your values align with your values and what’s important for you in your life.
Only you know what that is.
Money Habit #2: Start or Increase Your Emergency Fund.
The next piece of money advice is to create an emergency fund, also known as a rainy day fund.
Dave Ramsey is known for talking repeatedly about having an emergency fund, but he wasn’t the first to come up with the idea.
He does, though, have a good system to help you get there.
How much to keep in your emergency fund varies person to person, but anywhere between 6 months and 2 years worth of salary feels safe.
The most important thing, though, is to have a stash of cash accessible in case well, an emergency comes up! Life happens.
Depending on credit cards is not the best idea, as doing so could lead to a vicious cycle of paying the minimal while while still owing an ever-increasing balance.
A rainy day fund is essential.
Money Habit #3: Check Your Credit Report Annually.
Check your credit report, every year.
Grab a free copy, and check to make sure all your information is accurate.
You can get a free copy of your credit report from all 3 major credit reporting companies every 12 months!
Because there is a lot of fraudulent activity that happens with credit cards, making this a yearly habit is uber important.
Is all well with your bank and store accounts?
Are all transactions that are shown on the reports yours?
Just having peace-of-mind knowing that everything is as it should be regarding your credit feels nice.
Money Advice #4: File Your Taxes On Time.
When tax time rolls around, be prepared.
If you don’t have a complicated tax situation, you could possibly do your taxes yourself.
Whichever choice you make, file your taxes on time in order to avoid penalty.
This is very easy money advice to follow.
Tax time is smoother if you’ve kept all of your files and paperwork organized throughout the year.
In my household, we keep one of those portable file boxes on hand to organize our tax paperwork. Doing this regularly throughout the year makes things so easy when it’s time to file.
If at the end of the tax year you owe money or more than you thought, visit the HR department at your place of employment, and adjust your W-4.
Who wants a tax surprise at the end of the year? I’m sure you don’t.
Money Habit #5: Keep those Business Receipts Organized.
If you have a small business or freelance like teaching English online or Teachers Pay Teachers, make sure to keep track of receipts, transactions, and business expenses.
Filing taxes as a freelancer or small business owner has its perks, but you’ve got to keep track of everything.
Keep your business accounts and expenses separate from your personal accounts.
Keeping all of that stuff organized during the year is going to really come in handy with it’s time to file your taxes.
You’ll have everything already organized, and your tax professional will be very happy indeed!
Plus, maintaining good records makes it easier to catch mistakes or errors when they happen as opposed to realizing later on that you’ve made them.
There are good accounting software/apps you can use to keep track of business transactions, or you can do so the old-fashioned way – by hand.
A Word About Estimated Taxes
If you have a side hustle, you may need to pay estimated taxes quarterly to the IRS.
Since you don’t have an employer deducting taxes for social security and medicare, you’ll have to pay them yourself.
Disclaimer: Speak with a tax professional about your unique tax situation.
Money Advice #6: Save Well for Retirement.
Teaching, especially the public school sector, is one of the few professions where pensions are still fairly common as a retirement vehicle.
While pensions are great to have, still try to save additional funds for retirement on your own. Roth and Traditional IRAS are good investments to research.
I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like her money all tied up in one place. Having a supplemental retirement account outside of an employer is essential to me.
And speaking of retirement, check your social security statement annually just to make sure everything looks okay.
Disclaimer: Talk to your financial advisor about your unique financial unique.
Money Advice #7: Be Tax Knowledgeable.
Even if you don’t file your own taxes, know the basics at least.
For which credits and deductions are you eligible? Educate yourself so that you know exactly what you’re owed or need to file.
Tax professionals do sometimes make errors, but the consequences will be on you!
Knowing what’s going on with your tax situation prevents you from paying too much or being scammed!
Money Habit #8: Get Life Insurance.
Here’s another key piece of money advice.
It’s not talked about enough, but life insurance is really important to have, especially if you are in a one-income household or have dependents that depend on your income.
If you are a stay-at-home parent and don’t bring in any income or if your spouse earns substantially more, having life insurance is a very smart idea.
God forbid if something happens to the primary income earner.
What will the dependents support themselves? Would the other spouse be able to maintain the same standarding of living?
Those left behind don’t deserve to have an unnecessary financial strain placed upon them.
Life Insurance Prerequisite
A thorough medical examination is usually one of the prerequisites for life insurance.
So stay up-to-date with your medical check-ups. This is not only helpful for life insurance, but also for your physical health.
Some of the best money advice that someone gave me regarding health is to be preventative – basically just take care of your temple.
Preventive care is more cost-effective in the long run than paying for a procedure that is the result of long-term neglect and inactivity.
Money Habit #9: Invest in Financial Education.
Money advice is everywhere, and there are some great books on the market to learn as much as you want.
When you have a bit of free time or during the summer maybe, invest in yourself by read a few personal finance books.
Here are a list of books that I recommend:
- The 21-Day Financial Fast: Your Path to Financial Peace and Freedom ~ Michelle Singletary
- Spend Well, Live Rich (previously published as 7 Money Mantras for a Richer Life): How to Get What You Want with the Money You Have ~ Michelle Singletary
- The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy ~ Thomas J. Stanley
- I Will Teach You to Be Rich ~ Ramit Sethi
No time to read a book?
Then check out a blog article or two.
The Internet is full of wonderful personal finance blogs from regular folks like us who are doing their money thang like a pro!
Choose a few to read and get inspired to take some serious action.
Money Habit #10: Shop Around for Car Insurance.
I’ve just got to share this particular money advice with you because every time I think about it, I get a little agitated.
Car insurance companies – I have a love/hate relationship with them.
Without explanation, some car insurance companies, even if you have no accidents or traffic violations, still increase your rate – by A LOT!
Shop around for car insurance every year or two, and look for the best rate that still provides value.
You could be saving so much money each month.
Though their services are definitely needed, some of these car insurance companies are a rip-off!
Do your due diligence and research, research, research!
Money Advice #11: Tackle Estate Planning.
Nobody really likes to talk about it, but oh boy is it important, especially if you’ve got plenty of valuable assets.
I won’t get too much into this topic because I’m not a financial expert, BUT, do speak with a financial advisor about estate planning.
The last thing you want is your relatives fighting over who gets want.
No plan in place is family division just waiting to happen.
Wrapping Up: Money Advice for Teachers
These are the 11 pieces of money advice I believe every teacher needs to know.
Follow these steps, and you’ll be on your way to being a little more financially fit!
WHAT TO READ NEXT:
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- Looking to earn extra cash? Check out these online side hustles that can be done from the comfort of your home.
- If you’re thinking to get a masters degree, factor in these financial considerations.