How Two Thrive On A Teacher Income

IMG_3488Warning: We do not have car payments or health insurance costs to pay, just yet. I do not “look down upon” anyone who does not do what we do. Money management is a difficult task that many young adults have not been adequately prepared for.

“Teacher Broke” is a phrase we throw around in our educator community. It’s like we feel the need to humble ourselves around one-another…or maybe that’s really what we think we are..broke. 

Many fresh-outta-college “kids” (young adults) will have their first couple pay checks spent before they even get a job. You think I am kidding? I also know people who will literally check their bank account before they go out to eat..see that they have a couple of bucks.. and proceed to get a coffee with me.  I have friends who keep a list of things they want to buy when they get their next pay check. I personally have hives starting up my neck just thinking about it. 

Before we get started on my tips for providing for two on a single teacher income, I want to tell you some lies you might not know about.

Lie #1: You should get a new car.

YOU SHOULD NOT BUY A NEW CAR. Please tell me you know how much value they lose as soon as you drive off the lot. You know that right? Thankfully my parents were able and willing to buy my first car back in 2011 when I turned 16. It was 5 years old at the time and had fairly low milage. I have driven the same car for 7 years. Do I dream of having a SUV with a sunroof? Absolutely. Do I think about it…look up cars…run the numbers daily? No. Because I know that my car gets me where I need to go and that is a payment I do not have to have yet.

Lie #2: You should get a house.

Renting is not ideal. You are spending money you will never see again. But, if you do not have enough money to purchase a house, you do not have to buy it.

Lie #3: You deserve new clothes.

When you first graduate and hopefully land a job, something in your head says “you need a new wardrobe”. Though that might be accurate, you do not have to buy your clothes new.  There are so many websites that have amazing products for less. The key to a versatile and well-worth-it wardrobe, is to have pieces that you can wear year-round and are not going to be “out-of-style” in the next few months. Pieces that are timeless are going to be worth the most to you. Websites like ThredUp and Poshmark have products that are NWT or used that you can purchase. Plus, both of those websites allow you to sell clothes from your own closet.

Lie #4: You need a pet. 

You do not need a pet. You may want a pet. You may benefit from a pet. Puppies are adorable, but if think about how much time they need before you go out and rescue one.  Many people do not realize how much pets cost. Cats are less maintenance than dogs, but nevertheless cost money.

Lie #5 Eating out is cheaper.

Depending on the type of “eating out” you are doing, you are most likely spending $6-$12 on a plate that will last you one meal. I struggle with this concept, and we eat out a lot due to time and effort. I, too, lie to myself and say that it is cheaper for us. If you go to a sit down restaurant you are also paying to tip your server. Heaven forbid you order water.


Now that we got the lies out of the way, this is how we currently function and semi-thrive on our teacher income.

Tip #1: I buy all most my clothes at thrift stores, yard sales, or online reseller pages. 

Most of the clothes you see in stores these days are not close to worth their price-tag. I hate to say that, because I have several friends who own boutiques and small businesses that sell clothes. I will say, before we were married and before I had bills, I would purchase my clothes from my friends who own boutiques. Since this is a blog about how to thrive on a small income for two, I will tell you that you probably should not be spending $25-$45 on a new top or dress. I have a Lazy-Susan type closet currently. Not the actual structure, but the content is on a wheel. I will purchase an article of clothing used. I wear it a few times, and then I will resell it. This keeps my closet ever-changing as well as my money growing (or at least not being buried into my temporarily trendy clothing).

Tip #2: We shop at Aldi for groceries.

This is about to change for us due to us moving closer to my school, but we typically shop as needed. We currently live so close to the store, that I will buy the meat and sides we need weekly in order to prep food without having to freeze it. That is just what works for us right now. My point is that if you have an Aldi grocery store and are not shopping there, you are ignoring a big opportunity to save money on your food items.

Tip #3: Buy the double packs. 

When we do go to Walmart, it is typically for toiletries. This doesn’t happen often because we buy the double packs of items like deodorant, soap, body wash, toothpaste, etc. This saves a little bit of money for us initially. Also, remember that the less times you go to the store, the less money you are more likely to spend. 

Tip #4 We use internet to watch television. 

We are not paying for cable, so therefore we are able to save money as well as time. We do use Netflix at our house. We download the app on our devices so that we can watch as we work (dishes, folding laundry, etc.

Tip #5 Make your own caffeine.

Coffee grounds are so inexpensive compared to buying it from a fast-food restaurant…much less Starbucks. There are so many ways you can do this, but at our house we like to brew it at night, put it in the fridge, and pour it over ice the next morning with our french vanilla creamer from Aldi.


Those are just a few of the ways we have decided to save money for our family of two on a teacher salary. Though our salary is not much compared to many degree holding workers, it works for us to be able to have more than we currently need. 

There are so many other ways for us to save money that we do not do yet. Please share with me what you do to save money for your family. 

Saving money is challenging, but not impossible. There is a mindset change that has to take place in order to go from “just barely making it” to thriving. We definitely don’t have it all figured out, but I try to challenge my mindset about money each day. Recently I have been filling my time with business podcasts as well as personal development podcasts. Listening to a variety of podcasts has helped me help fix my mind on long term goals as well as short term financial goals. 

Thanks for reading,

That Teacher Wife 

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