This was only $4! Original price: $22!
I like to think I'm pretty good with money. I'm debt-free. I save. I invest - although I could diversify a bit more. I look for good deals. And I'm actually satisfied with my teacher salary.
Whoa. Say WHAT?! Isn't the news totally over-loaded with the pittance teachers get paid? How can you be satisfied with a teacher salary? With furlough taken out, on top of that?
It might just be California - we have one of the highest teacher salary rates in the nation. Well, depending on location (i.e. SF, LA), we also have one of the highest cost-of-living in the nation. But it's possible to get by - decently, not just squeak by barely - on a teacher salary. That is, assuming you aren't a single-income household with 6 kids.
That said, I would also like to point out that I've spent about $400 on supplies and materials for the classroom so far this school year. I've bought:
- copy paper
- binder paper
- disinfecting wipes
- a dustpan
- a mop
- hand sanitizer
- post its
- stickers/candy/small prizes
- three hole punch
- filing folders
- sheet protectors
- card stock
- batteries (for the clock)
- window cleaning solution (gets all the residue off transparencies)
- paper towels
- books on math/special ed/teaching activities
- felt triangular banners from colleges
- a timer
The above is all brand-new stuff. The copy paper, books, and transparencies are the priciest out of the lot. This list doesn't include all the junk I've complied over the past two years of my student teaching in preparation for setting up my own classroom. THAT list is as follows:
- used tennis balls (to put on the feet of desks)
- old calendar art
- fishing line
- thumb tacks
- an old bed sheet that I jimmied into a window curtain before maintenance installed my current blinds
- a lamp
- a fan
- an ethernet cable
- a power strip
- clear storage containers
- books and magazines for the classroom library
- those open box-things to organize papers
- whiteboard calendar
- cups to hold pencils and such
- large binder clips
And here are the things I got free from the school supply room:
- whiteboard markers
- overhead pens
- rubber bands
- whiteboard cleaner
- 4 reams of copy paper each month
This list is on top of anything the parents of my students donate to my classroom.
I have $100 from the PTA and $300 from the principal's personal stash of cash to spend. I guess I've just about spent it all, and the school year isn't even half over! I haven't filed for reimbursement yet - just because there might be some big ticket items later (I still want an overhead timer, but I don't know where to buy one without paying an arm and a leg for shipping).
But it scares me a little that I've already spent so much. I'm as frugal as I can possibly be about all the materials used in my classroom. I don't buy copy paper unless it's around $20 for 10 reams. I get everything on sale, or at discount stores. I'm a member of every teacher discount card in existence (which are quite misleading, because sometimes you can get things for a lower price than WITH the teacher discount anyway at different places that don't offer any teacher discounts). I hunt for deals online and through word-of-mouth. I haggle when I can, and I mooch off free stuff whenever someone feels generous towards education.
Still, in a nutshell, I have to spend that much money each year --> to do my job --> to get paid --> to pay for the next year of doing my job --> ..... Um. Does anyone else see the ridiculousness of this cycle? Most ridiculous of all is that I'm willing to involve myself in it.
I'm lucky enough to be in a school with rations of supplies. Can you imagine what it's like at a less fortunate school? It's terribly scary. We're just digging ourselves into our own financial graves this way.
Seriously. Doctors don't have to buy their own surgical equipment. Cops don't have to buy their own guns. What is it with teachers and buying their own tools to do their job?
Also: I've really got to look into the logistics of students turning in electronic assignments. It's a little tricky with math, but I'm sure there's a way.