This post contains Amazon affiliate links, which enable me to continue blogging and bringing you relevant content.
Phew. That's embarrassing and I'm not even sure why. 7 years of teaching and that's not even all of the out of my own pocket expenses. There was a time in the beginning that I didn't keep receipts, so my little spreadsheet data isn't quite accurate. And it's not counting the random things thrown in with my groceries. I'm not proud of that amount and that's why I decided to write this post (for my own sake and yours I guess) and share my experience. There are other teachers with higher numbers and lower numbers and people in between, and if you're thinking, "No way. Not me." You may want to start keeping track if you don't already. If I were to have guessed my number each year, I would say I spent about $200. Obviously, that's way off. But, it really doesn't seem like much when you spend here and there. Turns out, it is. When I began to keep more receipts and remember to put them on my spreadsheet, the number is out. of. control. And, as you can imagine, the number should get smaller and smaller each year (if you are conscientious and try to make that a goal).
After only 5 months of teaching under my belt, I was already sick of spending my own money. In 2008, I was a first year teacher. I had student loans and all the same bills you most likely had or still have (my parents didn't have a college fund for me, so it was a pretty big loan and I even went to the relatively cheap university here in Alaska). So, the little income I did have was precious (housing here is ridiculously expensive). So, I immediately looked into ways to save money and was delighted to find out a few more ways. Here are a few things I've learned that have helped (and I need to write them down so I can remember to use them myself!).
Donor's Choose and Adoptaclassroom. They're both fairly easy and surprisingly there are lots of people out there looking to pay it forward and want to help you out, but you have to actually take the initiative to specifically ask for what you need. I've had 2 successfully funded projects on Donor's Choose and highly recommend posting when a company is matching your funds (my last one was reeeeally close to being funded by Sonic, but a generous stranger funded it instead--yay!). It's fairly easy and if you make an effort to advocate for your project (shout it out on your own social media platforms, email your friends and family, etc.), you will be surprised at how many people are willing to help!
Teachers Pay Teachers, make sure you're following your favorite sellers to receive notifications about when they have sales (I often announce my own sales and half-off discounts on my Facebook and Instagram), and take note of the TpT Sitewide sales (they're typically in August, end of November, February and May--but none of those are certain) and keep your wishlist/cart ready so you can purchase quickly when the sale is happening rather than scouring the site looking for things to buy.
here. Basically, you can deduct up to $250 of your individual (unreimbursed) purchases that you made to do your job. That being said, I somehow end up spending that, and more. I've kept pretty good track of my purchases using an Excel spreadsheet every year (in case I'm ever audited!) and all of the receipts that go with each purchase (I keep hard copies, use an app--Expensify--that I take photos of receipts and it's stored/calculated, and online receipts are kept in a folder on my computer and in my email). There are also instances (grocery shopping for one), when I forget that I had put something in my cart for school and that doesn't get marked on my spreadsheet. But, probably 75% of the time, I remember (or I separate the item for a different checkout at the store so it's on it's own receipt).
Amazon Prime as a teacher, well, you're definitely missing out. I do the majority of my shopping on Amazon. I buy everything from clothes to dishwasher detergent to play doh on Amazon. I LOVE how I can shop in my pajamas, right on my couch, at 11:00 p.m. and get FREE 2 day shipping. My husband bought me the Amazon Echo for Christmas, which makes me feel like I have a personal assistant haha!