Ballin’ on a Budget: The Life & Times of a First Year Teacher

My dad would be shocked to read that I’m writing about money (really, that I’m even willing to talk about money).  Not exactly this compulsive I-need-that-Anthropoligie-top-right-now-spender’s favorite topic.  But @dad, look who’s growing up 😉

I knew that I wouldn’t be making a ton of cold hard cash as a teacher, but I had no idea what it would actually look like.  I wanted to be responsible about it, and I wanted to make wise decisions, but there was a serious lack of financial teacher-to-teacher advice on the internet.  Turns out teachers don’t like talking about finances as much as we like talking about boogers and lesson plans.  Who would’ve thought?
In a series of grown up decisions, I adopted a dog last weekend.  He is beautiful and perfect and cuddly and I now have a man to spoon so I regret nothing.  This investment did, however, make my financial struggle bucket just a little bit heavier.  Worth it, like I said, but still a thing to be addressed.  So I figured the next best thing to spend more money, so I bought a book called Rich Bitch.  I bought it because it had the word bitch in the title and I need help with money.  It sounded like the right book for

I buy a lot of nonfiction books that I don’t end up reading, but this one has been awesome.  (I never would have thought I would use the word “awesome” in reference to anything with the subtitle “A simple 12-step plan for getting your financial life together…finally” But…here I am.)

Nicole Lapin covers a lot of material in this book, from retirement plans to student loans to credit cards to buying houses.  Many of these were applicable to me, and a few not at all (yet…this is a book I will hold onto).  I could talk about any number of these topics, but I want to cover the information that I wanted most when I accepted my first job offer (woohoo!) in April.

Alright, so it’s time to get financially vulnerable.  I’m totally okay with putting my salary on the internet because a) money shouldn’t be such a BFD, and b) I’m pretty sure you can just Google my salary and find out what it is.  So here it goes.

As a first year teacher at a rockin’ public school, I make $45,000 a year.  That $45,000 is a ten month salary, and I receive it monthly over a twelve month period.  That means that untaxed, I get $3,750 a month.  Once taxes and whatever insurance and ish I pay for, I get $2,757 in my bank account each month. As a hot single lady with no kids and few responsibilities, this is plenty of money.  I am not in need, and I praise Jesus for the privilege of being able to say such a thing. 🙌

Lapin, in her charming and witty and makes-you-want-to-read-about-finances way, says that I should be spending my money the following way:

70% should be going towards the essentials (housing, food, transportation, bills, insurance)

That 70% of essentials should be broken up as follows:

35% housing, 10% transportation, 10% food, 15% bills/insurance

15% should be going towards savings (or as she calls it, the endgame)

15% should be going towards extras (obviously, anything not included in savings or essentials)


Lapin then breaks this down with her starting salary of $150,000.  HAHA.  Honestly.  That’s all I have to say about that.

Here’s how that break down looks per month with a first year teaching salary of $45,000.

Essentials (70%): $1,930

From that 70%: Housing (35%): $965, Food (10%): $275, Transportation (10%): $275, Bills (15%): $413

Endgame (15%): $413

Extras (15%): $413


A priority for me, apart from the essentials, endgame, and extras, is tithing.  I could have pulled that money out of essentials or out of extras, but what made the most sense to me was to just calculate that ten percent first and then eliminate it from the equation afterwards.  So, here’s how that looked for me:

Monthly salary of $2,757 minus 10% tithe (which, TBH isn’t going to a church right now but rather to friends on missions and working in local ministry): $2,757 – $276 = $2,481.  So then I just adjusted everything as if my base salary was $2,481.  This made the most sense to me.  So then I ended up with this:
Essentials (70%): $1,737

From that 70%: Housing (35%): $868, Food (10%): $248, Transportation (10%): $248, Bills (15%): $372

Endgame (15%): $372

Extras (15%): $372


Lapin makes it clear that she believes if you can cut out expenses in one realm, you’re free to add that extra money somewhere else.  So, if you live with 4 other roommates and can find rent for $500, that frees up $370 to put towards your extras or wherever you want it.  Or if you’re like me and your parents are still paying your car insurance and phone bill, PTL for their generosity and put that extra money towards savings or paying off student loans or your weekly happy hour🍸🍹or wherever needed.

Right now, this budgeting is in it’s very first stages, as in, it has yet to be implemented but is purely ideological.  It is, however, the information that I needed last year and couldn’t find, so it’s what I’m spilling across the internet for all to read.  It’s not much, but I think it’s needed.  It’s the first set of building blocks towards the financial stability I hope we will all be able to find, because though teaching doesn’t make us rich, it’s worth it, and we can still live with the confidence of a Rich Bitch attitude.


In closing, know this, first year teachers:  1) This book is helpful and I like it because Nicole Lapin says dogthings like, “rich bitches do hard shit” (Lapin- pg.228), 2) don’t panic but also don’t overspend: your salary will be plenty, but you won’t be rolling in bathtubs full of dolla dolla bills, and 3) you should definitely get a dog even though it will cost $600 (aka 2 months of teacher “extras”) just to legally get him into your apartment.  Worth it.










11 thoughts on “Ballin’ on a Budget: The Life & Times of a First Year Teacher

  1. So… I love this. Let me tell you why 1) I am a teacher, and have been for 8 years, so I identify with all things “teacher” 2) I LOVE that your tithe comes first – there aren’t many people riding in this boat – we get mostly side eyed – so I am so blessed by that. 3) It warms my heart that you love Jesus without a “holier than thou” attitude. Thank you for sharing! xoxo


  2. Pingback: Ballin’ on a Budget: The Life & Times of a First Year Teacher | ¡Bienvenidos a la clase de español!

  3. Pingback: Ballin’ on a Budget: The Life & Times of a First Year Teacher | ¡Bienvenidos a la clase de español!

  4. Pingback: Adulting Part II | Erin Taylor Green

  5. Pingback: Investing Financially in 2017 | Erin Taylor Green

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