The Educator on FIOR (Financial Independence Optional Retirement) series features stories of educators on the journey towards financial independence. No matter when you start, where you are on the journey, or how you approach it I love sharing your story!
Last interview, I shared the story of a newly retired educator. This week, we go to the opposite end and share the story of a brand new teacher. She’s just started in her first classroom and is building her financial future.
Tell us about you.
My name is Dyane and I teach fourth grade at an urban elementary school. I’m 22 and it’s my FIRST YEAR of teaching! School just started two weeks ago and I should be working on my lesson plans but I’m so excited to do this interview that I’m writing it instead. I’ll pay for that tomorrow.
What do/did you like most about working in education?
I’ve always wanted to be a teacher since I was in third grade. I had an amazing teacher that year, Ms. Barkley, and she really showed me what a difference that makes. After her class, I saw how some teachers made me better and others didn’t.
I’m excited to be one of those that does make a difference. I got a job at the school where I student taught so I know all the other teachers here feel the same way. I love the energy of being on this team and all of us believe in teaching.
What do/did you like least?
The pay. I actually found Educator FI when I was looking online for financial stuff. We get paid okay but at the end of college last year I was offered a job working for an insurance company that would have paid me more than I’m getting teaching this year.
It’s not right that I have to take less to teach. Our work matters so much we should be paid more than some guy scamming people to buy insurance. I’ll stop ranting!
What is your Why of Financial Independence? (Why are you learning about or seeking FI?)
I want my kids to not have to worry about money. I’m part of a chain. My mom worked hard for me and my sister to go to college. We’ll help take care of her when she retires. I don’t have kids yet but plan to some day. I don’t want my kids to need to take care of me and I want them to never worry about money so they can give back to our community.
- FI Curious – Just learning and becoming interested in financial independence
- Future FI – On the path, but still learning. Destined for financial independence!
- FI Success – Financially independent!
I’m a positive person so I’ll say Future FI! I still have a lot to learn though. This is all very new to me.
Share any financial numbers you are comfortable sharing:
They aren’t good right now! I’ll make $45,600 this year.
I’ve got -$27,000 in student loan debt. I don’t have any other debt and don’t use credit cards.
I spend about $1000 a month on rent in the city but walk and take public transportation everywhere. I’ve got a little bit of savings but it will mostly be gone by the time I get to my first paycheck later this month.
Tell us about your path to FI.
Oh my! I am just starting so I see a lot more challenges than successes!
What are your successes/wins?
I’ve got a job!!! My first few years of college were paid for through a special program for new teachers from diverse backgrounds. It took me through most of my bachelor’s degree. I borrowed to get my Master’s degree and a reading endorsement because the advisors told me to. It helped me get my job and I make more so it looks like it was worth it.
I also started a $50/month contribution to my 403b after I read the advice from Educator FI. It’s not much now but it’s a start! I plan to increase it by a little bit each year.
What are your challenges?
Income and learning. There is so much to know! I feel like I’ve just jumped into a giant pool and am barely able to swim.
As far as income, I’m doing okay. Better than any of my high school friends and most of my family. I’ll know more once I get paid but I think I only have a few $100 extra a month. I’ve always been willing to work hard so once I get settled into teaching I’ll start looking for other ways to earn money. Teaching is just so much right now.
What is your long-term goal? Do you have a FI target?
I read that article about how saving your first 100k is a big deal. That’s my current target, but I also want to be a millionaire by the time I’m 35. Can I do it in 14 years? I don’t know, but that is my big goal.
If you become financially independent will you:
- Retire early?
- Continue to work in education? (How/why?)
- Do something different?
Right now I think I’ll work in education until I retire. I’m only 21 though so that may change but I loved my first two weeks and everyone says those are really hard. I’m energized by the challenge!
Tell us about a short-term goal you’re working towards.
The thing I want most is to be totally debt free. I was inspired by the interview with a new teacher you ran. (Educator on FIOR 15: Rachel from Wrachel Writes.) She was new and got rid of her debt.
That $27,000 is just hanging out there. I think I’m eligible for the teacher loan forgiveness program though. My first thing is to confirm that I’m eligible for that and then make a plan. I can wait 5 years if I really do get $17,500 free!
Who/what inspires you?
I need to name two people for very different reasons. My mom for how she always worked hard and never complained. Even though we didn’t have a lot we never wanted for anything. I know she must have wanted to do other things but she focused totally on us.
President Obama is my other inspiration in a different way. He was always so calm and professional no matter how much other people weren’t. That man put up with some s%$t. I channel him whenever I’m about to lose my cool.
What’s something you want to say to other educators about financial independence?
I’m so new at this I can’t be telling anyone else anything. I guess I’d tell them to learn about money and get free from debt.
Is there anything you’d like to get feedback on from the community?
If I really am eligibile for that forgiveness should I just make the minimum payments on my loans and get it forgiven in 5 years? If I do that, what should I do first with my extra money?
Also I’d like to hear from teachers about how long it took them to get a handle on the job. I want to be a great teacher before I start spending time on something else.
Thank you so much for the opportunity!
Congratulations on your first weeks in the classroom, Dyane! I’m thrilled you made time for this interview. If I remember my first weeks correctly I could barely move on the weekends. I’m so impressed by your dedication to your career and finances.
It sounds like you’re going to get your teaching degree and Master’s almost free of charge between the program you used and federal loan forgiveness. That’s amazing! I believe you’ll make your million by 35 goal based on your early start and the drive you’ve already shown.
Readers, give Dyane feedback in the comments please!
Bri Nelson says
My Dad always said each time you get a raise take at least half and put it in deferred comp automatically so you don’t even see it. You’ll still feel like you got a little bump in pay but your contributions will increase without any pain for you. Same goes for savings you get from getting a roomie, cutting back on your bills, or working a side hustle. Pretty soon you’ll be stoked how much is going in and you’ll be well on your way to the goal!
Way to go Dyane! Things get easier by the third year! My best advice is to keep taking classes and increase your retirement contributions each time you get a raise. Best of luck to you! This is year sixteen for me, and I still remember the excitement of my first year vividly!
Good luck Dyane! I hope you stay idealistic. Thank you for being a teacher. I hope the pay structure improves in the future. Our educator should get paid more.