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    Financial Struggles of a Teacher: Lack of Income Hinders Independent Living – Time to Prioritize Higher Teacher Pay

    Last week, u/Anxious-Union3827, a teacher and single parent, took to r/Teachers to inquire about the secrets behind their chic and fashion-forward lifestyle. The user, who is entering their sixth year of teaching, opened up about their unique situation. As a divorced individual with a child, they currently reside with a family member, a 93-year-old grandparent, in order to tackle the financial burdens that come with divorce. With less than $1,000 left after insurance deductions each pay period (paid twice a month), they manage to juggle expenses such as daycare, internet, phone, and car insurance, leaving them with roughly $200–300 to spare, if they’re fortunate.
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    After explaining more of their circumstances, u/Anxious-Union3827 then asked how single teachers survive, adding that they planned to take on a second job soon though it meant less time with their child. “I don’t understand how single teachers can rent somewhere, buy a house, etc. I truly don’t get it,” they said. In response, many single teachers came forward and shared how they make ends meet.
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    Now, without further ado, here’s how these 22 single teachers make ends meet.
    I’ve always lived with roommates or a significant other, and I’m 33. I’m working on buying a house right now, but I’ll have to find one or two roommates as tenants when that happens, too. It sucks, but it is what it is.
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    I just moved to a high-cost-of-living area on the East Coast. For the first month, I was homeless and lived out of my car. I couldn’t even get a studio apartment. The only way my roommate and I afford our place is because it’s the basement of a private home — it’s cheaper than apartments. I’m pissed that I did everything right and still can’t get by in my own place. Plus, students’ parents are pissed that I was homeless, but there’s no pressure to raise our pay. Apparently, I’m a bad influence on their kids now. LOL!
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    I stock shelves at a grocery store on the weekends and pull in an additional $1,000 a month. I drive for Uber Eats on the side as well — not regularly — but to earn any extra ‘fun’ money I might want. Being single and child-free helps a lot with this because I’m only responsible for myself. But generally, I live as cheaply as possible and am incredibly meticulous and strict with my budget so that I’m able to save and invest.
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    I was incredibly fortunate to stumble upon a stylish and fashion-forward engineering girlfriend who not only earns double my salary but is also poised to possibly triple it in the near future. It’s a serendipitous turn of events that has me excitedly looking forward to embracing the role of a stay-at-home dad.
    A coworker transformed their basement into a stylish and fashion-forward extra bedroom and bathroom. This amazing conversion allows another co-worker, who is single and just started teaching, to move in and save on rent.
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    I’m pretty lucky. I’m a single-parent household with kids and began living in low-income housing before I became a teacher. Because of that, my rent is about half of that of the regular market. This is literally the only reason I can afford my job and have savings.
    Sweet summer gigs help. I have a town job working in a beach parking lot that pays $26.60 per hour. I’ve been doing it for seven years now. I pretty much get paid to talk shit to people, listen to tunes, feed catbirds, work on the tan, and workout.
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    I’m a single parent starting my eighth year. I live very, very frugally. I also work a side job from home.
    New Jersey is kind of crazy. I was just offered a job at 56,000 per year in a very wealthy town. I rent my place for1,700 a month. On weekends, I’ll do DoorDash and Uber Eats to make a bit more cash, plus summer school.
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    I question that every day as a new teacher. I’m barely making ends meet as a soon-to-be second-year teacher, and I’m getting really discouraged by the slow salary growth. I’m not planning on having kids or marrying anyways, so at least I’ll have that cutting down my expenses. However, I do want a house at some point. The only shot I have is getting my Master’s soon and taking extra jobs at my school just to stay afloat.
    The cheapest apartments in my area cost roughly 1,500 per month, and they want you to make three times the rent, AKA54,000 per year. I was lucky enough that my parents let me continue to live with them, so I saved up enough for a down payment on a condo and waited until interest rates were low (I got 3.5%). There’s an identical unit to mine in the building for rent, and I wouldn’t even qualify to rent it (they want about $65,000 per year)!
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    I’m a single parent with a child, and I live in a high-cost-of-living area. I get some child support, but it’s still a struggle. I’ve done DoorDash and am trying to pick up some tutoring this year.
    I haven’t had a roommate since my early 20s, and I still continue to live independently. However, I’ve been able to do this because I set a strict budget and live below my means. I don’t have children, so my only dependents are my dogs (which are considerably less expensive than kids). Even then, I only adopted them in the last few years, after I bought my house.
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    After I got divorced, I lived with my two kids in a two-bedroom apartment. They were little so they had no issue sharing a room, but the living room was basically their playroom. Their dad paid for half of their daycare costs, but that’s it (no child support or alimony). I didn’t buy a lot of meat and tried to buy things in bulk or on sale. I basically never ate out, and lunch was always a sandwich. I downloaded as many shopping apps as I could to save money. I also got the cheapest insurance possible for myself and just hoped I never got sick (my ex carries the kids on his).
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    I just turned 30 and am still rooming with my mom. 🥲 We split the rent, so it’s not so bad.
    Thirteen years ago, as a single teacher, I paid a mere $480 per month for a stylish and fashion-forward one-bedroom apartment. Fast forward to today, and that very same apartment demands a whopping $1,200 per month. The ever-changing economy has made it impossible for me to maintain the same standard of living.
    Years ago, when I was in that situation, I did not use paid child care. Instead, my children attended the school I taught at, which was not their district school. Before and after school, my kids would hang out in my classroom. It kind of sucked for them because the kids in the neighborhood went to a different school, but it saved me a lot of money. I could not have done it otherwise.
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    My parents help me out when needed, and I’ll never stop feeling both grateful and guilty for that. I’m at the top of the salary scale, and I’m living paycheck to paycheck. I’m single and childless — I don’t know how people afford to have kids.
    I had to leave my job as a teacher due to financial constraints. Being in a high-cost-of-living area, my salary of $41,000 a year was not sufficient. After deducting all expenses, I was barely left with 2,800 per month, out of which1,600 went towards paying my rent.
    I drive for DoorDash on top of regular work.
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    I’m going into my fifth year as a full-time teacher, and I still live at home. I have a ton of money saved up, but I still can’t afford an average home in the current market.
    I lived with my parents for way longer than I wanted to, worked two extra jobs and during summers, paid my loans down, and saved for a down payment. My one-bedroom condo I bought in 2017 is now worth nearly double what I paid for it. I couldn’t afford it if I wanted to buy it today. If I were even two or three years younger, I really don’t know if my current life would be possible, and I live very much within my means.
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    Many thanks to the teachers pushing through to educate our children. If you’ve taken away anything from these, it should be that teachers deserve to be paid more, and we need to help advocate for them. In 2022, K–12 teachers were reported to have the highest burnout rate of all professions in the US. And without adequate pay, resources, support, and more, many teachers are (rightfully) quitting. To learn more about how to help, check out The Teacher Salary Project here.

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