Time-Money Balance is as Important as Work-Life Balance
There is so much talk lately about work-life balance. But lately I’ve been reflecting a lot on money-time balance as well.
As teachers, we face a big dilemma- the constant search for balance between spending time and spending money. Being on a teacher budget means you don’t have much wiggle room for how you can spend your money.
Teaching not only puts restrictions on your wallet, but it restricts your time as well. According to the NEA, teachers work an average of 50 hours a week.
Contracts say 6-7 hours, but we know teaching successfully requires going in early, staying much later than the time school gets out, spending your own time grading, planning, communicating with parents, preparing, etc.
These are just a few examples that have been on my mind, but share your own in the comments to help us all think through our big-picture decisions as well as tedious tasks each day. It can make all the difference!
DIY vs. Store Bought Letters for Bulletin Boards
It seems as though every single time I decide it’s time to change the bulletin board, I go through an internal battle between making my own set of fresh letters and buying a pack of premade poster letters at the teacher store.
When I first began my teaching career, those extra few dollars were important and I ended up taking the time to print and cut out individual colored letters. After some years, though, I’ve realized the extra time is more important to me.
I could spend an hour or so making what I need for the bulletin board, or I could spend that time doing something I love, like playing with my kids or creating new doodle notes.
I’ve got a super cute new little guy at home, but he is certainly high maintenance. Suddenly, it has all become clear why people say that having two kids is a whole different world than having one. The recent months have not been easy, and I’m finding myself constantly struggling to find time for anything other than what I lovingly call Joey-duty.
Check out these premade poster letters from Amazon (affiliate link) if you are in the same boat and just don’t have time for the little things anymore!
(I've also seen something similar at Target.)
Doodle Stickers: Glue stick vs. Sticker Sheet
Not only is your personal time important, but you want to maximize class time.
If you’re an avid doodle-note sticker user, I’m sure you have debated having your students spend time using a glue stick to attach the doodle note sticker versus buying a stack of sticker sheets.
You can either “waste” a few minutes of class time by having them glue their Doodle Note Stickers into their notebooks, or pop into a store and buy a big stack of sicker sheets, like these ones. With amazon prime, you can get them quickly in just a couple of minutes!
If you haven’t tried DIY Doodle Note Stickers yet, you need to check these out, and then download this free sample! These really do offer a cool alternative for student-led visual note taking.
Organizational Hacks vs. Messy Papers
Organizational Hacks are some of my favorite things in setting up my classroom! They make life so much easier; you can avoid the mess and chaos of too many papers. Although many awesome ideas are inexpensive, (Check out these ideas!), it all adds up. Most teachers fly through their room budget in no time!
I know we have a tendency to feel guilty when we spend way too much at the dollar spot, but you may want to consider weighing the pros and cons of how much time you’re saving vs. how much money you’re spending on classroom organization. It’s possible you can justify that by feeling that you have some TIME to show for that money. When you think of all the ways you can spend that time, what is really more valuable in the long run??
It’s all about using time AND money in tandem productively!!
Inexpensive vs. Expensive Planners
Some teachers are okay with a $5-10 planner from places like Target, or they go the digital route with using something like Google Calendar. This is totally fine!
However, some teachers need a nice, fancy planner to keep their sanity! If this sounds like you, it may be wise to splurge on an Erin Condren teacher planner. Consider it an investment to save you time in your busy schedule! This is my second year using an Erin Condren planner at home, and I am loving it!
Another dilemma: Do I spend time to develop my own creative printables, or quickly purchase one on Teachers Pay Teachers? This is tricky, because depending on your skill level and creativity level purchasing a printable can potentially save you a ton of time.
You’re in luck, though, because this dilemma has an ultimate solution!
Luckily, there’s a really awesome NEW solution for this over at Teachers Pay Teachers. You can request resources to be purchased by your school. Search TpT for great resources you need for your students (just as you always do!). But now when you find a resource you love, you can request to have it paid with school funds. Simply submit a resource request to your administrator who can review it, purchase it, and get it to you instantly. (It all happens right on TpT!)
Watch the video below to hear more about TpT for schools:
I really believe that schools and districts are missing out if they don’t take advantage. Have a chat with whoever controls the budget and/or curriculum purchasing. Here is my own story to illustrate:
I was teaching middle school math, and was selecting a workbook for the Geometry units. The assistant principal gave me a set of maybe 4 or 5 sample workbooks to look through. I was the only math teacher, so I was the person who would select the one that was best. They were all pretty similar in price, and to be honest, I did not love any of them. (This was probably 8 years ago or so!)
I chose one, and the school ordered one for each student. I don’t remember exactly how many kids I had that year, but it was somewhere around 135.
Now, I’d kick myself for allowing the school to spend all that money on consumable books! I can browse through TpT and find MUCH better options. There are plenty of resources that are more appropriate, far less boring, and more up-to-date. I would have infinitely more options for how to spend that money, and save a ton in the meantime.
Here is the breakdown in costs (just from my own experience - obviously this all can vary).
The difference is incredible.
The key factor here is the fact that you can purchase just ONE license of a resource (no matter how large) and print it for all of your students FOREVER.
That is a completely different ballgame than selecting a consumable workbook. The school funds can go so much farther.
I have learned that in the balance of time vs. money, digital downloads are where it’s at!
Here are links you can pass on to your administrator if you want to give it a try.
It all comes down to a trade off! The key is balancing this trade off in regards to your own needs. No one can tell you the exact amount of time you should spend teaching, or the amount of money to save or spend on your students, because it is your personal choice.
If you have a family at home, it’s probably more important for you to spend some extra time with your children or spouse. You may realize your body needs some exercise, or your home could use some cleaning or sprucing up. You might need some “you-time” to spend alone or to socialize with friends. Whatever the trade off may be, you need to look at your life and determine what is important to you!
Personally, for me, after just having our little Joey, my top priority has suddenly shifted to exercise! With baby number two, I just can’t seem to win with this anymore. I have to set that time aside as my first to-do every day, and am slowly learning to cut time in other areas (sometimes by spending money).
However, on the flip side, when it comes to house cleaning, I just don’t have it in the financial budget at this point to spend on that. So I clean my own home, and in that case choose to save the money and spend my own time.
I think each person has to find their own balance by making each choice. We are always making cuts somewhere, so making an effort to consciously choose where those cuts are made can really help with the mental load.
I hope this post has put the time vs. money debate into perspective and has given you some clarity! No one has ever said teaching was easy! What are your thoughts and opinions on this dilemma? Please feel free to join the conversation in the comments below.
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