I know many teachers have second (or third) jobs and it’s pretty disgusting that, as incredibly important public professionals, many need those jobs just to survive (but that’s a whole ‘nother post). Will & I don’t *really* have second jobs (besides things like tutoring & coaching) and I would love to see if we can survive all future summers without having to work 9-to-5 jobs. Fingers crossed!
But that does not mean we are totally without income during the summer months and it certainly does not mean that we just sit at home bored so we don’t spend money (although some days that is certainly a reality). We don’t spend a ton of money, we budget carefully, but we definitely still like to go out, travel, and enjoy our time together. As my dad always says: “When you die, you run out of time not money.” And time is something certainly in abundance during summer (and Thanksgiving. . .and Winter. . .and Spring) breaks. 🙂
So in this blog post I’m going to try to work through how we make it during the summer months as two teachers.
Note: financial disclaimer: we do not have kids, we own our own home, and do not have crushing student debt.
Sell Your Sh*t
Ever summer I take time to comb through closets, drawers, & other random places where things hide around the house. If I haven’t used it/thought about it all year then it needs to go but rather than just donate everything I try to sell some things first. Facebook Marketplace is my go-to because it’s so easy to use but you can also sell stuff on Craigslist, EBAY & other consignment websites or shops.
This is something I do the first week of summer (if not earlier) so that I can keep track of my postings, meeting up with people to sell items in the middle of the day, and clean out my house before summer sloth sets in. I keep a separate envelope titled “Fun Fund” where all the money from my sales go and I try to keep any fun or nonessential purchases to the money in that envelope. Last summer I made about $500, it was a mix of things we no longer wanted after our move, things left behind in the house we bought, and clothes that I no longer wanted. If something doesn’t sell by the end of summer I reevaluate if I want to hold on to it or donate it.
Get Paid to Travel
This definitely requires some more long-term planning but every summer for the past few years Will & I have been able to traveled through grant programs in which they either cover our costs or paid us a stipend. This has been one of the best experiences for us! It means we get to visit new places, participate in continuing education (see next section for more info on that) and don’t go totally broke doing it! Although it is too late to apply for this upcoming summer here are some links of amazing social studies & science opportunities to think about apply to next year!
- National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Programs (I went in 2017, 2018, & 2019)
- University of Florida Center for Precollegiate Education & Training – various programs (this is only for Florida teachers but I am sure tons of universities have similar programs) (Will did this in 2017 & 2018)
- Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Short-Term Programs
- The English Speaking Union Travel & Learn Abroad (planned for 2020 but COVID, deferring to 2022)
- Gilder Lehrman Institute for American History (I got into a program this summer but had to turn it down for another opportunity)
- Harvard Religious Literacy Project
Read more: Calling all History, English, Arts, & Humanities Teachers!
Short-Term Professional Development
In addition to programs that have us traveling, there are also a lot of programs available locally (depending on where you live, of course). Luckily we live right next to a major university, so Will can typically find STEM-related summer programs that pay him a stipend for his work but I have also done an AP Summer Institute there. Even though I wasn’t paid for my time, the cost of attendance was covered by my school so it gave me something to do for a week without spending money. Some museums, public libraries, and other non-profits also offer professional development workshops which may not pay you but many times are free or carry a nominal cost that you might be able to convince your school to cover.
- University of Central Florida RET Summer Programs (Will did one 2016 & THIS summer)
- College Board AP Summer Institutes (I did one in 2014 & 2018 and Will did one in 2015)
- Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center of Central Florida Summer Teachers’ Institute
- AP Conference
- Ringling Museum of Art
Our school district also has this really amazing series of PD workshops in which they pay you $100 for full day attendance or $50 for half day attendance. I love that they email out a catalogue where I can sign up for days and drop later if needed.
Cook from your Pantry
My pantry is a scary place. I fall for the BOGO deal every time but that means I end up with a billion boxes of pasta & chicken broth while still buying more. It’s bad. So part of our spend-less goals for summer I am trying to only buy produce and utilize things I have in my pantry/freezer before buying new stuff. That will at least help us save money for a few weeks.
It’s also important to pre-make meals & healthy snack items during summer because it can be hard going from such a highly structured day where the bells tell me when to eat to a more free-flowing day which typically means I end up snacking all day without actually eating a full meal. I try to set aside 2 days a week to batch make a bunch of options that we can eat the rest of the week with a few extra dinner cooking times in there to keep things fresh.
Leverage Gift Cards
Will tends to be lucky in the end-of-the-year gift card department, me not so much. . .lol. We try to horde our gift cards for summer time so that we can still go out to eat every few weeks without blowing a ton of money. We don’t eat out a lot anyways but it’s nice to know you have $10, $25, or heck, even $100, to put towards a meal. It’s also nice way to alleviate cabin fever when you’re stuck inside together all day bored.
Find Free Local Stuff
No matter where you live there is always something free to do, whether is a local museum, public library, or park, you can find activities to do. I know a lot of the free stuff is geared towards kids but honestly, sometimes it’s nice to just go and hang out in the library for a few hours even if you’re doing the same stuff you’d do at home. Change of scenery.
Read more: My Orlando Travel Guide
Travel with (or to see) Family
This is my favorite way to utilize my summer: travel! The nice thing about summer time travel as a teacher is that it allows you to be more flexible than you can be during the school year. Find a cheap flight that leaves on a Wednesday at 11am? Sure! Want to extend your road trip by a few days on the fly? No big deal!
We also like to take this opportunity to kill two birds with one stone: see new places and see family. Last summer we went to southern Spain with my sister, her boyfriend (who live in Germany) and my parents. Because we were a larger party & I did 90% of the planning, my mom took some of the costs from me as “payback” for organizing the whole trip.
We’ve also coupled personal travel to see family with professional development. A few of my NEH workshops took place in New York City and I have family up there so I would either fly or drive up a few days early to spend the weekend with them and then started my program. Perfect.
Read more: Travel Tips: Traveling with Family
Keep your Mind Active
And last but not least, if you are stuck at home with no way to travel physically, you can always travel mentally! It is super important to keep your mind active during long summer days. One thing that Will & I do that I just love is a summer book swap. Basically, each summer he assigns me a book and I assign him one. This way we each read something outside of our comfort zone that can challenge us while providing an interesting middle ground for conversation. Try it!
Read more: Summer Book Swap!