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I’m thrilled to present our third interview in the Educator on FI/RE series. These interviews highlight educators with a variety of approaches and at different paths on the journey to financial independence. Today, we feature EconTeach!
It’s great to learn from each other and build our community together. If you’re interested in being interviewed, please contact me.
Don’t forget to check out our previous entries in the series:
And now, let’s get to EconTeach’s story!
Tell us about you
I’m a social studies teacher in my early 30s. I live in Columbus, Ohio and teach economics and sociology at a suburban high school. I love traveling and try to participate in PD opportunities in the summer (especially ones that involve international travel). I enjoy spending time with my fiance and our two dogs, trying out new happy hours, and doing crossfit and yoga.
What do/did you like most about working in education?
I am lucky to have a lot of autonomy in my position. Developing my own curriculum for elective classes allows me to emphasize student-led discussions about current events instead of preparing kids for a state-mandated test. I have the freedom to select documentaries, news clips, films, and articles that address important societal issues and students are open to talking about their experiences and what they want in the world. I am overwhelmed by how many of my students are passionate about making the world better — whether it’s challenging structures of racism and sexism or addressing concerns about the environment or economy.
What do/did you like least?
My only real beef with working with education is dealing with changing state standards and requirements. These usually come with extra paperwork that do not really impact my teaching in a positive way. I’m also lucky that issues with parents are few and far between.
What is your Why of Financial Independence? (Why are you learning about or seeking FI?)
I love how empowered I feel when taking control of my finances. My immediate “why” is being less stressed about money. Reading about mindfulness and minimalism definitely helped me prioritize spending money on the things (experiences) that matter the most. My long-term why is to have the freedom and funds to travel extensively and buy a house near water in the future.
- FI Curious – Just learning and becoming interested in financial independence
- Future FI – On the path, but still learning. Destined for financial independence!
- FI Success – Financially independent!
I’m somewhere between FI Curious and Future FI. When I learned I would be teaching economics, I got my hands on every PF book I could and started reading blog posts from the FI/FIRE community. My “research” inspired me to be more proactive about managing my finances and planning for the future.
Share any financial numbers you are comfortable sharing – examples include:
- Net worth
I maxed out my education level on our district pay scale and have 9 years experience so my gross wage is about 70,000. I have about 2 months of living expenses in my savings account but haven’t calculated my net worth. I think some of that is the emotional weight of my public student loan and shame for not saving in my 20s. Luckily I set up a 403(b) my second year of teaching, but I was not contributing enough. I’m looking to build my net worth over the next decade.
(PFI Note: You’re ahead of where I was with that 403b set-up. No shame!)
Tell us about your path to FI.
What are your successes/wins?
My small victory came before taking a month-long trip to India and Australia this summer. When I travel I usually feel the need to buy a whole new wardrobe but when I made a packing list, I realized I have everything I need. It was a total “light-bulb” moment for me and I carried that momentum into back-to-school season and didn’t buy any clothes (and I don’t feel like I missed out).
A big victory came in December when I finally paid off my private student loans. On the day I made the final payment I got a negative test result from a biopsy, so it was an awesome day. A lot of weight was lifted off my shoulders.
What are your challenges?
The guilt and shame of my past decisions create emotional hurdles for me. Forgiving myself for carrying credit card debt and not paying off my private student loans in my 20s is still difficult for me.
What is your long-term goal? Do you have a FI target?
(This answer with overlap with my “why” — I don’t have a specific target amount in mind yet)
If you become financially independent will you:
- Retire early?
- Continue to work in education? (How/why?)
- Do something different?
I’m not sure what FI might look likely exactly–my fiance and I are still working on a totally clear vision. I want to travel and luckily teacher schedules allow for time for trips, so there’s no pressure to retire in the immediate future. I still would love to be a part of education in some way throughout my life.
Tell us about a short-term goal you’re working towards.
My fiance and I are saving for our wedding 🙂
We deliberately put it off until 2020 because we did not want to go into any debt to pay for it (and it’s an absolutely gorgeous venue that didn’t have many open dates in 2019). We are incredibly fortunate for both our families to pitch in, but we still didn’t want to risk debt.
Who/what inspires you?
The freedom and opportunities FI can provide inspire me. I also love the partnership I have with my fiance, so the prospect of having more time together and working together toward goals is pretty inspiring. (Fiance and Finance are pretty similar — Coincidence??)
What’s something you want to say to other educators about financial independence?
I was talking to a coworker during a PD this fall and she started furiously taking notes about PF books and ideas. I think teachers want to know, but I’ve noticed many teachers haven’t taken steps toward doing things like opening a 403(b) or investing. I don’t know if it’s because of the image that a pension means you’re all set for retirement (or used to mean as states are changing requirements…) or being resigned to the stereotype of a low-paid teacher, but most teachers I’ve talked to are pretty hands-off when it comes to financing. I would love to see more teachers (especially young ones) talk openly about FI.
Is there anything you’d like to get feedback on from the community?
I love the advice and personal stories from the community — so please keep it coming 🙂
Finally, if you’d like me to share any contact information, a website, or social media let me know. Basically, where can readers reach you if they want to connect? (optional)
I don’t have a website, but I’ve been toying with the idea of starting a blog to share lessons and experiences while teaching econ to students and also my personal path toward FI.
Thanks, EconTeach for sharing your story! I can’t wait to see you succeed. Congratulations on your coming wedding – that partnership with your fiance is so important!
Readers, let’s make two things happen – please follow her on Twitter. And, she requested that we keep these interviews coming! Share this with any educators you know that are interested in financial independence. If you are willing to your own FI story, please contact me.
Leave any comments for EconTeach below.