A Week In Missouri On A $36,000 Salary

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To celebrate World Teachers' Day on October 5, Refinery29 is publishing a special theme week of Money Diaries featuring teachers from across America. Today, we have a teacher who makes $36,000 per year and spent some of her back-to-school money on markers. We asked the OP some questions regarding her back-to-school spending, and here's what she had to say:
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"I spent about $100 at the start of the year, however I will continue spending money on my classroom as the year goes on when I replenish supplies. I also sponsor a club, so when we host our Christmas party and other events, I will have to shell out for supplies for those.I can expect to spend up to $500 by the time the year is over.
"At the beginning of the year, I bought supplies like markers, colored pencils, construction paper, etc. Yes, I am a high school teacher, but I still like to work in as creative an environment as possible! I also make a pretty elaborate bulletin board in my classroom each year because I think it's fun (maybe I should be an elementary school teacher? I don't know) so I bought supplies to put that together. I also bought notebooks for students who couldn't afford them, and I keep a snack stash because I often have kids asking for them because they're hungry. Of course not all of them are food insecure, but I still like being able to hook them up, so I make sure to have snacks on hand.
"A lot of people think high schoolers are insane, hormonal bullies, and they definitely can be! But when they're not being giant pains, they are hilarious and smart and generous. It's those moments of laughter and connection that help you remember what is so great about them during the times they're making you want to bang your head against a wall (like when they are misbehaving because it's raining, or it's not raining and so that's exciting, or it's a full moon, or there's an assembly later, or it's an early release, or someone makes a funny noise, and on and on)."
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Occupation: Teacher
Industry: Education
Age: 23
Location: Missouri
Salary: $36,000
Paycheck Amount (Monthly): $2,303
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $600
Student Loan Payment: $0 (We paid off my student loans in a lump sum using my husband's savings so we wouldn't have to pay interest.)
Internet: $79
Phone: $80
Car Insurance: $128
Rental Insurance: $11
Utilities: $35
Water: $25
Savings: $500, plus anything we can put in from my husband's paycheck. He's a PhD student, so he is not making much. We use his salary to contribute to savings and fully pay off our credit card bill each month so we don't carry a balance.

Day One

7 a.m. — I wake up way earlier than I usually do on the weekend. Most of the time I try to squeeze every moment of sleep I can out of weekend mornings to recuperate before another week, but I am actually glad to be awake. I use this unexpected time to jump in the shower before Mass. My husband, C., comes to find me, and is surprised that I'm awake this early.
10 a.m. — After eating a breakfast of toast and strawberry preserves, I wander into our guest bedroom that doubles as my husband's office to inquire about his plans for the day. He is pounding away at his keyboard, doing research for his dissertation. He usually sets aside his work on weekends to spend time with me, but he also likes to capitalize on my sleeping time to work a bit. We debate going to Mass, but a slow start to the day just sounds nice. We decide to wait and go on Tuesday evening instead if he can make it back from teaching in time.
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1 p.m. — Our two dogs are out of pretty much everything they need, so we head to Walmart to restock the doggy staples. We buy dog food, flea chews, and tick spray. Living out in the country means they pick up unsavory critters quite frequently and, after much trial and error, I have found that these medicines do the trick. Still, the flea chews are pricey: 30 chews for $54. I give each dog half a chew three times a week, which makes them last longer. Our dogs are small. We also grab some stuff for my husband, including deodorant and a planner, since he will start teaching at his college soon and one of his goals is to be more organized. $100
2 p.m. — After Walmart, we hit up Aldi for groceries for the week. We may live in a small town (and, in my case, teach in an even smaller, adjacent one!) but there's an Aldi, so when I start missing living in the city, at least I can rejoice in the fact I have a place close by where I can pick up German treats and Winking Owl wine. You do what you can. But seriously, I would never move to a town that didn't have an Aldi — it's a big selling point. We pick up sweet potato chips (I could eat my weight in them), granola bars, pretzels for weekday work snacks, zucchini, sweet potatoes, baby carrots, red potatoes, hummus, a big tray of chicken thighs that are on sale, hamburger meat, buns, white rice, green beans, corn, prepackaged potstickers, and salad, and I talk my husband into a variety pack of Wild Grove ciders. Ciders are my weakness (okay, one of my weaknesses!), and they're perfect for fall. $83
6 p.m. — After a dinner of pot stickers and salad, I finish up lesson plans for the week and settle in on the couch to watch a movie with my husband and the dogs. We love movies, especially older ones. One of the small perks of my husband working at the college is his access to their rather extensive movie collection where he can check out selections for free, so he is always bringing home movies for us to watch. Tonight we watch The Thin Man, a charming and funny 1934 mystery/rom-com. Everyone is lavishly rich, and I love the ex-detective's wife. I want to be her when I grow up (and once I come into my millions).
9:30 p.m. — I lay at my clothes for tomorrow, set my alarm, and head to bed. I fall asleep while thinking about school tomorrow, as I usually do.
Daily Total: $183

Day Two

5:40 a.m. — My alarm goes off, and I snooze it once until 5:45 before getting up. My husband gets up to let the dogs out of their room (they sleep in the laundry room) and start the coffee. He doesn't work today, so he'll spend the day writing and making sure the dogs get plenty of human time. I put on makeup. I don't use much, just cover up, mascara, and a bit of blush. I put my hair up and put on a dress. My husband sticks my breakfast in my purse (just a granola bar and a clementine) so I can eat it at work. I don't like eating this early, so I save it until I'm in my classroom. I head out the door around 6:20.
7 a.m. — After my 30-minute drive to work, I'm in my classroom prepping. I eat my granola bar and make sure I have everything ready for my lessons. I teach 10th and 12th grade English and this is our second full week of school, so we're just starting to get into the meat and potatoes of the curriculum. I make last-minute copies as my students start to arrive.
12 p.m. — Time for my 22-minute lunch break! I taught my four morning classes and have three more to go after this. The students have been well-behaved, but they're groggy since it's Monday. We are still in the honeymoon phase of the school year where students are, for the most part, trying to be the best versions of themselves, and I remind myself to enjoy it while it lasts. I eat my pretzels and hummus packed from home. Towards the end of my lunch break, a student stops by to ask if I want to buy a first aid kit for a fundraiser. I can never say no to fundraisers — the kids are always so sweet, and I'm pretty sure they see "sucker" written across my forehead from a mile away, so they're always hitting me up to buy stuff. At least this fundraiser is practical, and I'm pretty sure I don't own a first aid kit, so I put my name down for one. I buy the smaller version that's less expensive, but still feel glad contributing. $15
3 p.m. — School's out! My eighth period is usually a great way to end the day — they are one of the few classes that find all my jokes funny (teaching is one part instruction and three parts theater, or however that quote goes) and we click well. I used to stay until at least 4 every day last year, but I am trying to leave earlier this year.
4 p.m. — My husband has skillet potatoes, zucchini, and hamburgers ready to eat when I get home. (He does a lot of the cooking and is, in my opinion, a world class potato chef.) We eat between 4:30 and 5 pretty much every night like we are 100 years old. I am usually pretty hungry after a day of teaching and the scant lunches I pack. After dinner we take the dogs for a walk and watch Frasier.
9:30 p.m. — I watch an episode of Gilmore Girls (my comfort show) before bed while my husband types for his dissertation. I say goodnight to him, lay out my clothes, and head to bed. My husband doesn't need nearly as much sleep as I do to keep both eyes open, so he will probably crawl into bed sometime around 11.
Daily Total: $15

Day Three

5:40 a.m. — Alarm goes off and this time I don't snooze it. My husband gets up to start the coffee and tend to the dogs. He is working today, so he joins in the morning hustle as I put on makeup and get dressed. I grab my breakfast and lunch, and then we put the dogs in their room, give them each a milk bone and a kiss goodbye, and head out together. I say goodbye to C. and he drives to his college while I head to school.
10 a.m. — I get a text from C. that his therapy went well. He tells me about the expense, since I am paying for it. I thank him for letting me know and continue teaching for the day. $100
4 p.m. — Home again. C. is making dinner again, since he beat me home. (He's a saint.) We stand in the kitchen and talk about our days and whether we want to go to Mass. Usually we go to Mass at least once a week, but with our school years starting back up, we've been feeling a pull to stay home when we can. We feel somewhat guilty and decide to go on Sunday, no questions asked. The Catholic guilt is real. I jump in the shower, and then we eat salads with avocado and grilled zucchini when I get out.
6 p.m. — We wander around outside with the dogs and watch our puppy chase birds. Don't worry, she never gets anywhere close to them and I'm pretty sure the birds land in our yard so they can laugh at her as they fly lazily away out of her reach. I go inside to get my book. (I'm rereading The Lord of the Rings series and I'm currently on The Two Towers.) I usually don't read on weeknights since, after a day of teaching high schoolers, staring at the wall often sounds much more preferable, but I want to take advantage of the cooler weather outside and make some headway on my book.
Daily Total: $100

Day Four

5:40 a.m. — Alarm. Dogs jump on me while I put on makeup, husband helps me pack my breakfast (yogurt today, woohoo!) and lunch, and I'm out the door.
7 a.m. — The curriculum director stops by my classroom to ask how it's going with the new online book technology we got this year for the sophomores. She wants me to teach the other English teacher how to do it, and I am happy to — once I figure out how to use it myself! I tell her I will meet with the teacher later in the week after I have a couple days to play around with it and try out the website in my lessons. I don't consider myself technologically savvy, but I love learning how to use new educational resources, especially when they help students access and enjoy text more. Less moaning and groaning from students whenever they hear the word "read" = happy teacher.
12 p.m. — Lunch time. I quickly eat my pretzels, hummus, and leftover skillet potatoes while I reflect on the morning. My classes were a bit of a wash today, and the majority of our time was eaten up with setting up the online textbook. It's disappointing to spend so much time navigating technological difficulties, but we got it figured out.
1 p.m. — Drama class. The students are practicing a scene today, and they are very unfamiliar with blocking and stage directions. We laugh and fumble our way through the script as students try to figure out how to say their lines and move around the stage at the same time. We reflect on what to do better for next time and call it a day.
4:30 p.m. — Arrive home, and C. has chicken tempura made. We eat and watch Fraiser. After dinner, we pack lunches and dinners for the next two days. C. works Thursday and Friday each week, so he stays overnight Thursdays in his office. In an effort to save money, we pack him lunch and dinner for Thursday, and breakfast and lunch for Friday. I pack his Tupperware and check with him to make sure he thinks he has enough to eat. Luckily, C. is totally willing to eat leftovers, so we make it work.
9:30 a.m. — C. and I go to bed at the same time, since he has to drive first thing in the morning tomorrow.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

5:40 a.m. — We are both up and moving. We grab our breakfast (granola bar and clementine again for me) and Tupperware lunches and head for the door after putting the dogs in their room and giving them their bones and a couple extra kisses. I won't see C. again until our weekends start, so I am a bit sad to see him go. We're still adjusting to this schedule.
12 p.m. — Lunch time of pretzels and hummus. When I was a student teacher, a teacher told me about the educator diet, where you barely eat during the day and then get home in the evening and inhale your refrigerator. I am definitely following that pretty closely.
3 p.m. — Final bell. I breathe a sigh of relief. I have this theory, developed last year in my first year of teaching and substantiated since then, that Thursdays are in fact the worst days for student behavior, not Fridays. I guess they can smell the weekend on the wind and are resentful that it's going to take them two more days to get there. I can understand that at least, but still, Thursdays are sometimes pretty rough.
4 p.m. — I rush home to let the dogs out since my husband won't be home. I have $20 burning a hole in my wallet, and I am so tempted to stop and get extra treats for my weekly Gilmore Girls binge that I partake in when my husband isn't home, but I resist and remind myself I have ice cream in the freezer.
6 p.m. — My Gilmore Girls binge is in full effect. I eat spaetzle and drink a cider. My dogs hang out with me on the bed and my puppy watches the TV. I think she has a crush on Logan.
8:30 — Asleep surrounded by dogs (but no husband) at 8:30. Whoever said the life of a teacher wasn't glamorous?
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

5:55 a.m. — I sleep in a bit, since today is a short day with the kiddos.
6:30 a.m. — Out the door with my trusty granola bar and clementine for breakfast. It's drizzling a bit, and then as soon as a I get about 15 minutes into my drive, the sky opens up with torrential rain, hail, and whipping wind. I slow way down and wonder if I am going to die while also realizing I didn't bring an umbrella. The rain has not let up at all when I pull up to school and I sprint for it while my shoes fill up with water.
7:30 a.m. — I help a student who came in early while attempting to dry my shoes with paper towels. Still soaking wet.
1 p.m. — The kids are let out early, and I rejoice. The flooding and the impending weekend had them so amped up that it was a ton of work to contain them. I head off to an afternoon of professional development.
4 p.m. — I stop to get gas and then head home. C. won't be home for another couple of hours, and I'm not hungry, so I take the dogs out for a long walk. We walk along the gravel roads until we get to the creek, which is really full from all the rain. The dogs take advantage of it by wading around. I send my husband pictures of the flooding and he calls and says he's eager to get home and see it. I walk home hot and sweaty but I enjoy the feeling of stretching my legs. $25
6 p.m. — My husband gets home, and we eat grilled vegetables and chicken. Then we drive down to the creek again and meander around. We watch a train pass by and wave at the engineer.
9:30 — Like all good Friday night revelers, we turn in early.
Daily Total: $25

Day Seven

9 a.m. — Finally awake, I enjoy a more substantial breakfast of cereal and coffee while my husband and I watch Fraiser.
12 p.m. — My husband reads for his research, and I hang with the dogs and nap.
2 p.m. — We head to Aldi and get sweet potato chips, granola bars, avocado, salad, lemons, potato salad, hummus, pretzels, dish soap, and ice cream. $30
4 p.m. — We eat an early dinner of salad and Indian chicken, and I have ice cream for dessert (but my husband doesn't because he's lactose intolerant). We watch Funny Face while we eat. I've never seen it, but I love Audrey Hepburn because I am basic.
7 p.m. — Another long walk with the dogs, which they are very enthusiastic about. We walk and make plans for the rest of the long weekend (sing praise!) and stop the dogs from eating buggies (they are constantly trying to get extra "nutrition" this way). We get home watch a few episodes of Fraiser while I do some grading and brush the dogs.
Daily Total: $30
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