One of the main concerns that people have when thinking of leaving teaching is the financial implication. Money worries are one of the main barriers to leaving teaching, and many will remain in a toxic work environment, in a job they hate and which is making them ill, because they insist, “I can’t afford to take a pay cut!”
“I’m desperate to jump but have so many anxieties about making the leap. The time pressure doesn’t help. I know I can’t be there in September for my own sanity so searching for jobs and stressing about deadlines for applications. Worrying about making the wrong decision just to get out quick. Loss of pay. All a massive worry. But the long and short of it is, I can’t continue.”(From my Facebook page, Thinking of Leaving Teaching.)
You may be thinking of going part-time, doing supply teaching or getting a job outside of teaching. However, the reality is you most probably won’t find a job that pays as much as your teaching job to begin with especially if, like me, you were UPS3 with responsibilities. In response to the common retort, “I can’t afford to take a pay cut!”, my question is, “Have you actually written down your outgoings? Many people haven’t.
The reality is that there are many things that people spend their money on that are non-essential. For example, I know people who buy a £3 coffee every morning before work. That’s £15 per week, £60 per month, and over £650 per year… just on a morning coffee! Their gym subscription, that they rarely make use of because they complain of being too busy, is £75 per month which is £900 per year. They could join a non-contract gym, such as PureGym, and pay £20 a month, a saving of £660. There are plenty of other ways that people can save money.
“So much happier! It’s amazing how you can reduce spending if you need to: we eat out far less, don’t buy expensive branded clothing anymore, drive older cars and only buy what we need rather than want.”A comment from the Thinking of Leaving Teaching Facebook page
Analysis of my spending habits back then shows just how much money I wasted. I was a classic victim of Parkinson’s Law:
“No matter how much money people earn, they tend to spend the entire amount and a little bit more besides. No matter how much they make, there never seems to be enough.”How Parkinson’s Law relates to money
Reducing money worries by budgeting
Thankfully, my understanding of the value of money has improved since then and I have learnt the difference between what I need and what I want. One thing that helped me was creating an “Income & Expenditure Real Survival Budget” spreadsheet. I entered my mortgage, bills and all other outgoings on this spreadsheet and it told me how much I needed to earn to cover them. After entering the monthly salary, it works out how much money you have left over.
If you are looking at other jobs, you can use the Net Salary Calculator UK 2019 to work out the net monthly income (after tax) from the gross annual salary stated in the job advert. For example, a job offering a salary of £25,000 a year will give a net monthly income of £1,711.
Knowing both the net monthly salary of a potential job and your expenditure will tell you whether or not you can afford the pay cut. You can download this spreadsheet here:
Bizarrely, I manage to save more money now than I did when I earned a Head of Department salary on UPS3 and I even make over-payments on my mortgage. Despite initial concerns about money, I am so much happier now. I have no money worries and no regrets about leaving teaching.