It’s been awhile since I’ve run an Educator on FIOR (financial independence optional retirement) interview. I love these interviews that show how real educators are taking charge of their money to build wealth. If you’d like to be featured, just drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org – I make it as easy as possible!
The variety of locations, approaches, and jobs is one of my favorite things to showcase. Today, we’ve got an international teacher who’s worked at state, private, and international schools.
Enjoy this interview with Money Savvy Teacher (MST)!
Tell us about you.
I am a 30-something primary school teacher from the UK. I had a very “normal” upbringing and whilst I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a teacher, I also knew that I wanted to travel and see the world. Since qualifying as a teacher in 2011, I’ve worked in state (public) schools, a private school and an international school. I also took a year off work in 2017/18 to go traveling with my boyfriend. (Saving up for this trip and making our savings last almost a year definitely helped me learn to better manage my money!)
What do/did you like most about working in education?
Those lightbulb moments when a child understands a new concept you’ve taught them – especially if you’ve racked your brains for a new way to explain it to them, and they finally “get it”. It’s a wonderful feeling! Also, in teaching, no two days are the same. I love the variety of our work and the fact that we have so much autonomy over how we teach.
What do you like least?
As for what I like least: I find it can be an extremely high intensity job, with little to no respite during term time. Last year, I worked with a teacher who had previously worked as an air traffic controller. She commented that teaching was a lot more stressful than working in air traffic control!
What is your Why of Financial Independence?
I’m seeking to reach FI because I want to have the freedom to live life on my own terms. If I follow the typical trajectory that the government has me on, I’ll be working until I’m 68. I cannot imagine teaching a class of 30+ ten-year olds full-time when I’m 68! If I reach FI however (hopefully in the next 10 years) I can choose to work part-time, retire early or take some more sabbaticals along the way whilst I’m still young and healthy.
- 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!
Although I’ve only been on the path a short while, I do really believe I’m ‘Future FI’. Becoming FI is my North Star Goal and I’m determined to get there. I’ve picked up so many nuggets of information recently and I’m trying to put everything I’ve learned into practice.
It’s also my intention to encourage others to do the same so I’m endeavouring to lead by example. I think that if more educators knew about FI (it’s not so well-known in the UK) they would happily give more to their work as they’d know it would only be for say 10 years rather than 20/30/40 years.
Share any financial numbers you are comfortable sharing.
Income: I currently earn £36,000 (approx. $46,000 at the time of writing) but I’m hoping to progress in my career and boost my income. I also mark exam papers which brings in an additional £1,000 a year and I’m looking into other side hustles.
Savings: Aside from my teachers’ pension and the equity in my house, I have around £35,000 in savings/investments. I share how I distribute my pre-tax and post-tax income each month over on my blog.
Net worth: This is where I struggle. Teachers (and public sector workers) in the UK have a ‘defined benefit’ pension, so there is no definitive way of knowing what the grand total of this is. Therefore, it’s tricky to know the exact value of all my assets.
Tell us about your path to FI.
What are your successes/wins?
Embracing minimalism and frugality has opened up a whole new world to me. I no longer feel like I have to keep up with the Joneses nor appease anyone with how I spend my money. I love buying secondhand, cooking from scratch at home, using my local library and I hate wasting things.
What are your challenges?
The challenge for me is getting my boyfriend wholly on board with the FI journey. I think he’s starting to see the light so I’m hoping he’ll come round eventually!
What is your long-term goal? Do you have a FI target?
I want to have enough money saved to bridge the gap between retiring early and receiving my teachers’ pension at 68. I’m also really interested in developing some passive income streams as I think this would give a good buffer, especially in years when the stock market crashes, as we’ve recently experienced!
If you become financially independent will you:
- Retire early?
- Continue to work in education? (How/why?)
- Do something different?
If I became FI, I think it would be difficult to go ‘cold-turkey’ and not work at all. I would probably teach part-time or take on some private tutoring. In my spare time, I’d pursue other passions, volunteer for a charity or just enjoy spending time pottering in my garden. I’m pretty sure I’d be enjoying myself too much to want to go back to the classroom full-time again!
Tell us about a short-term goal you’re working towards.
My boyfriend and I are seeking to pay off our mortgage early by making regular overpayments. I love the idea of being mortgage-free and not owing anyone anything! It’s incredible how effective overpayments are on reducing a mortgage term and this goal really motivates me to boost my income through side hustles.
Who/what inspires you?
Great question. I’m always inspired by people who go against the grain and question the status quo. It takes courage and conviction to do this and I really admire those few people that pull it off without caring what others think.
What’s something you want to say to other educators about financial independence?
Start yesterday! And avoid lifestyle inflation. If you can learn to live well-below your means – and continue to do so regardless of pay rises – you’ll be way ahead of the crowd. Also, try to avoid comparing yourself to others and being pressured to spend more than you want to.
Is there anything you’d like to get feedback on from the community?
I would love some advice on how to work out my net worth. Like I mentioned earlier, teachers in the UK pay into a defined benefit pension which makes it tricky to calculate our net worth.
Where can readers reach you if they want to connect?
I love that MST refers to achieving FI as her North Star Goal – she’s definitely Future FI!
This response really resonated with me:
I think that if more educators knew about FI (it’s not so well-known in the UK) they would happily give more to their work as they’d know it would only be for say 10 years rather than 20/30/40 years.
I couldn’t agree more. Finding and planning for financial independence has made me so much more resilient during those challenging times we all experience in a school year. I’m glad to have other voices out there working to share their examples. Make sure you pop over and check out Money Savvy Teacher.
If you’ve got an example of how you factor a pension into your financial planning, be sure to drop it in the comments below. It’s a great benefit, but adds complexity to the planning. I wrote about ways we’ve used in: 4 Ways to Include a Pension in Your FI Plan)
If you’d like to read another interview with an international teacher, check out one of the very first Educators on FIOR interviews with Frogdancer Jones. You can find all the Educators on FIOR interviews here.