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Financial Strategies for the ESL Teacher

OK. So, we all know that most teachers don't get paid very much.

It's unfortunate but true. Good teachers teach because they love it, not for financial reward. There's something altruistic about the whole business, we do something we love and at the same time we make a valuable contribution to people.

Here's a brief outline of what we'll talk about on this page:

  1. Delaying Gratification
  2. Simplify, simplify, simplify
  3. Pay yourself first -- automatically
  4. Get out of debt and stay out of debt.
  5. Developing and maintaining the right mindset
  6. Creating multiple income streams
  7. Ongoing self-education

There's a saying that goes "those who can do, those who can't teach." I suspect that's true about some teachers but I wouldn't say that about the majority.

What about those who "do" and teach?

They love the interaction with the students, the mental challenge, the environment of learning and academics and yes, the exploration and adventure of it. Those with the passion for it make good teachers and make the most difference in their students lives.

What I am getting at is since most teachers don't get paid very much it's smart to smart about money. It's taken me a long time to get smart about money and I am still learning.

So I think the thing as ESL teachers is we want to maximize our income and minimize our outgo so we can live a decent, happy and stress-free life so we can continue doing what we love to do: teaching ESL. But we don't want to be stingy and miserly about it just smart and wise and frugal.

Delaying Gratification
/ Do I really need that?

I think the mark of a truly financially successful person is one who has been able to delay gratification. You know who's been able to put some money away, has been able to resist buying things they don't really need, not blown their credit cards out to the max.

Of course, I have been guilty of all these things. I've bought things impulsively because I had the money in my wallet at the time. It's important to seize the day, carpe diem, and all that. But I also think that needs to be tempered with an eye toward the future.

So I've learned that when I go to a store and have been tempted to buy something I ask myself, "Do I really, really need this? Do I really need a new one? Can't I make due with the one I have at home?" Or "Do I really need this thing at all?"

I have actually many times gone into a store and put several things in the basket, and right before going to check out asked myself , "Do I really need all this stuff?" and wound up putting everything back and walking out empty-handed.

This gives me a feeling of such personal satisfaction. Why? It's a matter of self-control and resisting the influence of all these products that are saying, "Buy me, buy me!"

The fact is we really don't need to have a lot to live well.
I don't think prosperity is measured by the pile of junk that you accumulate in your garage and attic.

Most of us have even forgotten what's in all that pile of junk. And it cost money that we worked hard for to buy it all. This I think is one of the reasons we find it so hard to donate it, sell it or throw it away.

And a lot of this stuff we put on credit cards that further puts a financial and emotional burden on us and complicates our lives.

2. Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

You might be wondering what all this has to do with financial info. Well, your lifestyle directly affects your finances. I am not talking about living in poverty or going around with holes in your clothes.

Do you really have to have the newest of everything? How many lattes do you buy at Starbucks a week? But how much junk food do you buy?

That junk food not only causes a drain on your wallet but compromises your health. And once you lose your health it costs time and bucks to get it back. So it pays to eat well, exercise, not only in fewer doctor bills but with a healthy positive outlook on life.

It helps to unclutter your life. Your closets, your drawers, your attic, your shed, your car and your desk--how much is there that you just haven't gotten around to throwing away, that you hold on to for various reasons or excuses.

Do I really need all that stuff?
I realized all that stuff weighs me down and causes an emotional drain. When I started to lighten the load I started to lighten my life. Literally, a lot of emotional baggage is removed when I started to remove the clutter from my life.

And we begin to discover that our personal lives and our financial lives are inextricable linked.

3. Pay Yourself First -- Automatically

This is an idea that's been around for a long time that is whenever any money comes into your life you pay yourself a certain percentage of it first before any of it goes to bills or any other money that you owe. The classic book The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason is all about the power of paying yourself first. This is a short inspiring book that can be read very quickly and its lesson is very profound.

The bottom line is you will never reach any kind of financial independence unless you learn to pay yourself first. Not only does this pay off financially but emotionally as well.

As money starts accruing in your savings account it really aids in boosting your self-esteem and feelings of prosperity. And you will begin to learn that wealth and prosperity have a very significant emotional and psychological component.

Richard Bach is a financial writer who's has been on Oprah and offers some great advice and tools to help you get your financial life in order. In his short book The Automatic Millionaire he shows you how you can set up an account that gets you to pay yourself first automatically. Once you set it up your account grows without you having to think about it.

Also, you might want to think about getting a self-directed Roth IRA, (trustetc.com) a good way to defer your taxes and have a nice chunk of money when and if you ever want to retire. Of course, I love teaching. Why would I ever want to retire from something I love doing?

4. Get Out of Debt and Stay Out of Debt

One of the best things I ever did was negotiate a settlement on my credit cards and pay them off. I cut 'em up and cancelled all my accounts. Now I have a debit card and an American Express Business card that I have to pay off every month.

You can get an American Express Business card fairly easily if you have a registered business. But you have to pay it off every month because this is not really a credit card. It's a convenience.

And if you ever need to rent a car an American Express card comes in handy since you can't rent one with a debit card.

To help you clean up your credit get The Complete Guide to Credit Repair by Bill Kelly Jr. You'll learn how credit works, how to use credit properly and how to improve and maintain new and existing credit accounts.

It provides sample letters and forms, how to stop credit agencies, how to avoid credit scams and how to get your finances back on track.

You need good credit to buy a house, a car, to get a good rate on insurance and to rent a house or apartment.

What if in the future you need to get a business loan or something like that? It's important to have your credit in order and with the best rating possible.

Of course, if you were going to live up in the mountains or on a desert island somewhere or maybe join the foreign legion this wouldn't matter.

5. Developing and Maintaining the Right Mindset

Here's an inspiring affirmation I got from motivational guru Tony Robbins. It's a link between prosperity and spirituality that I think is vitally important.

God’s Wealth is
circulating in My life,

His Wealth flows to Me
in Avalanches of Abundance!

All My needs, desires and goals
are manifested instantaneously
for I am One with God
and God is

For achieving prosperity and financial independence a good mindset is absolutely necessary. One of the challenges that most of us face has to do with overcoming conditioning from the past, especially the past of our childhood.

What most people don't realize is that school conditions us to feel that we are not worthy of having a lot of money. That we are not really worthy of being successful.

So it's extremely important to do whatever it takes to start thinking in a different way, a way that will help boost our confidence and feelings of worthiness so we can achieve all that we deserve and desire to be.

It's ongoing and never-ending work because there is so much influence from TV, family and friends and society at large that constantly drums "that's impossible, you can't do that " into our heads.

It takes continually bombarding yourself with positive, upbeat success oriented books, tapes, seminars and other material. Don't hang out with negative friends of family members. Don't watch negative TV shows or movies. They'll only pull you down.

And refrain from discussing any of your unfinished projects or plans except with those contributing to them. Keep your own counsel.

Decide what's important to you and look at what wealth means to you, what success means to you.

You know for some people $50,000 a year is all that's necessary to be wealthy. Their expenses are low and they don't desire to have a lot of things.

The book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill has been a best seller since 1937. It's all about how our mental vision and attitude creates our world and our financial life. This book is a classic and should be read and studied by anyone who wants their life to be more prosperous and abundant.

I think it's important as well that when it comes to wealth and prosperity it's important to think in a "certain way." The Science of Getting Rich" by Wallace Wattles is a little book written at the turn of the 20th century that's all about thinking in this "certain way."

Click on this link for a free digital copy. (You'll need the free Adobe Acrobat reader to open it. The link to the free reader is on the download page.) This "certain way" is very important for having the right mindset to be successful and it's all about doing what you love.

Also, another great eye-opening book is Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. I think this book is especially important because it's unconventional and looks at income and wealth in a different way.

For example, did you know that owning your own house is not an asset? An asset is something that creates money and establishes an income. Of course, the banks and lending institutions want you to believe that your own house is your greatest asset.

But house ownership for most people is in truth really a liability not an asset.

Another important thing to consider is getting your subconscious mind on board and working in harmony with your dreams and your vision for your life. We have so much programming from our childhood and our past that actually block us from achieving what we want.

These blocks actually cause our subconscious mind to work contrary to our deepest purposes and desires. There is a technique called Cybernetic Transposition that can be easily learned and implemented so we can get past these blocks and direct our subconscious to work for us rather than against us.

This is contained in the digital book How to Get Lots of Money for Anything Fast" by Stuart Lichtman. Don't let the title scare you.(I suspect they chose the title for the search engines.) It's not a get rich quick thing or anything like that.

It's a very valuable and useful tool and comes with lots of bonus material that you don't know about until you get the book. And this isn't only about making money but accomplishing anything you want in life e.g. business, relationships, talents, home, you name it.

6. Creating Several Streams of Income

Creating multiple income streams is not about working more than one job. It's about using proven ways to develop residual income from different sources. You can have income from your teaching, then maybe from real estate, or a side business on the Internet.

Suffice it to say that for the ESL teacher or for anyone for that matter it's smart to have income flowing in whether you are working at a job or not. You teach ESL for the love of it, right?

7. Ongoing Self-Education

It's been said that when you stop learning you start dying. The most successful people in the world are those that continue with their education when they get out of school and continue it for the rest of their lives.

Time after time I read or hear about how really successful people are always reading books, going to seminars, listening to tapes. Not only does this keep your brain active but also infuses you with new information, new ways of doing things or thinking about things.

In addition it keeps your mind open and flexible. It also helps you be more creative and can aid you in making connections between what may be seemingly unrelated ideas.

It's good as well to read and study things that are not in any of your fields of interest. This can be mind expanding and give you an appreciation for other people and possibilities.

So keep learning, keep doing, keep opening up. Stay up, stay passionate, stay interested. This is one of the best ways to maintain a youthful mind.

Well, that's it. Those are my current financial recommendations for the ESL teacher.

I once heard motivational guru Tony Robbins say: "Money won't solve all your problems, but having a lot of it at least will help you deal with those problems in style."

I don't think it's important to have a lot of money but just enough so you don't have to think about it anymore and it grows without your having to do too much.

So even though we as ESL teachers don't get paid very much that doesn't mean that we have to live in poverty or be always struggling. It's not about working harder but being smarter and making smart choices.

I think, it's important to be frugal and financially savvy if you want to gain any measure of prosperity in your life.

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