Have you ever seen a teacher work with a group of struggling readers until they push through and start reading? Their eyes light up at their new power.
How about a school custodian befriending the “weird kid” at a lunch table giving him a school connection? He comes to school every day for the rest of the year.
Did you hear about a middle-school principal saving a 7th grade-student from the child pornography ring she’d been forced into? The principal faced three months of death threats after the police arrested a responsible gang member.
The EA working minimum wage who stays calm and respectful with the student who punches and kicks at her because he can’t communicate any other way?
Or what about the school superintendent who risks his job to resist the community and stand up against his board to change a policy that unfairly impacts poor students of color?
Did you know high school teachers routinely take student refugees, new to this country with no English, and make them graduates in 4 – 5 years?
I’ve seen all of these and a thousand more examples. Educators make a massive difference in individual lives and our society. These are my people. And I’m using my first post of 2019 to declare that they deserve to be wealthy.
We can absolutely make it happen – together.
What Do You Mean By Wealthy?
Let me be clear this isn’t about increasing teacher pay. If you came to read a rant about teacher pay, or a plan for how we’re going to pay all teachers like doctors, I’m sorry to disappoint.
Know that I’m a huge advocate for increasing educator pay. I believe educators deserve more and I do everything I can in my personal and professional life to make it happen. I’d love for teachers to have professional sports contracts.
While we’re working on that, though, let’s take action with what we directly control. I’ll continue to advocate for higher pay but we can reduce money stress in educator lives now.
Oh, and fair warning – if you think public educators are overpaid, you probably aren’t going to enjoy my writing. The same applies if you’re the person who smugly asks, “Don’t Teachers Get Paid in the Summer?“
If wealthy doesn’t mean high income – what does it mean?
In this case, I’m defining wealth as having enough money that you can choose to work or to spend your time some other way. This is commonly called financial independence.
Far too many educators are impacted by financial stress. This inhibits their health, happiness, and ability to give students their best. We need to change this.
Financial independence allows you freedom and choice. We are happier and more effective when we feel we can leave a situation if we desire. You deserve it.
I want all educators to be financially independent.
That takes a lot of money right? Isn’t that the same as higher income?
Income and wealth are not the same things. It’s absolutely true that having a higher income makes financial independence easier to achieve. (Don’t believe anyone who says otherwise.) However, it’s
Educators deserve to be paid more. Absolutely. Yet, it’s also true that the average teacher salary of ~$58,000 places teachers easily in the top half of all earners and a single teacher household is right near the US median household income.
(There is significant variation by experience and location, and pay is below (and falling) other professions with similar education. If you don’t believe me, check out Nicholas Ferroni’s #TeachersWorth hashtag on Twitter.)
Yet, there are countless examples of people who earn greater salaries and are not financially independent. Similarly, there are also many people earning less who have managed to become financially independent. It’s not easy, but it’s possible.
So, while we aren’t talking about this type of wealth:
We are talking about financial freedom. It looks different to everyone, which is great. You can choose to boost your income or reduce your living expenses, or both. Unlike some, I emphasize flexibility in what financial independence means and the varying paths we take.
Let’s figure out what financial freedom means to you and make it happen.
Educators? Why Don’t You Just Say Teachers?
I specifically and emphatically use educators. While teaching is my passion, and what I often return to, there are other important people in education. I’ve worked in different roles in enough schools and districts to know that every one of these people matters to educating our students.
So, yes I mean teachers. I also mean educational assistants, principals, bus drivers, administrative professionals, custodians, food service, superintendents, coaches, college professors, counselors, school psychologists, speech pathologists …okay, I’ll stop now. You get the idea. If you work in education to impact students, you deserve to be wealthy.
Actually – I believe everyone deserves to be wealthy. We’d be a happy, healthier society if we were free from the toxic stress of money. I’m glad if my writing can help anyone, but want to be clear that I’m writing as an educator and will be focused on educator issues.
My goal is to make educators financially independent. One educator at a time, if I have to. Starting now.
That Sounds Hard. Is It Achievable?
You know what? Despite what I wrote in 9 Reasons Educators Aren’t Wealthy we have a head start. When people look into wealth accumulators, they find that educators are often well represented. This was true in The Millionaire Next
While relative income isn’t one of our strengths, we have several advantages as a profession. Educators aren’t pressured into conspicuous spending (quite the opposite.) We tend to be frugal, or at least generally responsible with money when compared to other professions. We have advantages in dealing with student loans, and we have tax-advantaged investment vehicles that other professions envy.
These all add up to make it more than possible for educators to achieve financial independence (FI.) It’s not easy, and it takes time and effort. But it’s doable.
If you want to read about specific, active examples, The Millionaire Teacher himself has demonstrated one path to financial independence. The Millionaire Educator is another great example. (Maybe I made a mistake by not going with Millionaire Principal?)
I’m happy to say that I’ll be an example soon enough. We started as a two educator household deep in debt, ignored our finances for a decade, and then got our act together. We’ll be FI in 7 years or less.
You can be financially independent, too.
What Am I Going to Do About It?
I created EducatorFI with this mission:
To support all educators to reach financial independence.
To support the mission, I will:
- Write about my own experiences and learning on the path, including publishing my own goals and tracking. I’ll be transparent about my privileges, wins, and challenges.
- Amplify other educator voices – check out the Educators on FIOR page for other educators writing about personal finance. (Message me if you have an online presence you want me to share.)
- Feature other educator experiences – Next week I’ll launch an interview series featuring real educators on the path. I plan to have stories of all types of educators blazing their own path. I want us to share, read, and support as many different approaches to educator FI as possible.
A quick note here: This site will never charge you for anything. There will be affiliate links and ads to support the operation of the site at no cost to you. In the unlikely event it makes more than it costs, I will donate at least half of any profits to charities supporting traditionally underserved students.
And of course, I will continue to advocate for education funding in all my roles.
What Can YOU Do?
First – begin your own path to financial independence:
- Educate yourself:
- Take One Action now (some possibilities):
- Connect with someone to help you be accountable. Going together is better than alone. If you don’t have anyone locally you can connect with, contact me. I’ll be your accountability buddy as you start the journey!
Second – if you have the time and inclination, support our community by doing any/all of these:
- Subscribe for weekly updates
- Comment below
- Follow on Twitter or Pinterest
- Share this post with one other person (or on your social media)
Thank you for anything you do to get the word out.
We will support each other on the journey to financial independence.
WE Can Make It Happen
Educators pour themselves into the critical work of preparing students for a successful future. Our economic and civic future depends on you being successful. You deserve to be wealthy.
Let’s make all educators financially independent. It starts now.