“Stop being a Cheap Ass!” I hear this from my wife a few times a month. The best part of this phrase is that most of the time I know I’m doing something right financially.
I have found that talking about money with people makes them uncomfortable. Even in a teachers setting where I know, because our salaries are posted online for the public to find, how much everyone in the room makes a year except for any extra stipends. All Texas teacher’s salaries are posted in a nice searchable database. Just type in your kids teacher’s name and you can see how much their base salary was for teaching, or putting up with your kid, was for the year. But teachers act like talking about money is a bad thing, until it’s too late and you get protests and walk outs over it. Suddenly, everyone wants to talk about money.
I have had very few colleagues that want to talk about our terrible 403b options, and how we can go outside the district to get better options for all. As a matter of fact they won’t even talk about retirement in general, because no one is saving any money for retirement except their teacher pension, that they all have to pay into by law. No one has IRA’s, 403b’s, 457b’s, stocks, bonds, Bitcoins, I mean nothing else except their home value to help in their retirement. Your average teacher saves nothing.
I have also noticed that because I’m not afraid to talk about these things, some people just don’t like me. I struck a nerve with them. When they talk to me, I might remind them of their greatest fear, of going broke in retirement and eating dry cat food in their 80’s because the have no plan. They don’t like me because I can save over half my teacher income, and they are living pay check to pay check doing the same job as me. They don’t like me because we are suppose to be these smart teachers, yet they know nothing about an entire area of their lives called finances. I make them feel dumb, though not on purpose.
I bring up their insecurities with money, and some mock me because I’m going to be wealthy as a teacher, because I have a plan and am disciplined enough to stick to it. They call me crazy, irrational, a liar, impossible, they say I must live like a homeless person or a pioneer settler, I’m a bad parent because my kids suffer from our cheapness, or just the general laugh at me and walk away move. This is how I know I’m doing things right!
If I blended in and believed the poor teacher mantra, then I would be just another poor teacher! I knew from a young age that it didn’t matter what I did in life, I was going to get wealthy doing it. I was taught how to live within my means, think about alternative options in my life and break the status quo, and I was disciplined enough to think long term in my planning. As I got older I realized the entire system of finances is easy to build wealth, and the problem is that no one knows its easy to become wealthy. You basically save a little every pay check, and over time you have a lot!! You add in some basic understanding of a Roth IRA to add fuel to your stash of cash and BOOM!! You’re cooking now with a whole new tool to build wealth. Its a knowledge gap and teachers should be willing to learn new information and adapt to life around them. Learn to live within your means and learn to be disciplined with your money. Educate yourself in the world of retirement planning, and be an advocate for your financial future. Teacher’s should be life long learners, and should be learning about things that can improve their lives. Stop running from changes and lets fight a real fight against ignorance in finances. Let’s make teachers rich together, by changing the mantra of the poor teacher and giving us better options and financial education with in our training. Together we can save and change the world with our jobs. We are not poor, and if we are, it is our choice to be poor from our bad choices.
Yes, I am a “Cheap Ass!” But, you know what…I’m going to be a wealthy cheap ass because I am doing things right with my finances. Make the change with me.
*Just for the record I’m not a cheap ass as we eat out 3 nights a week, my kids play expensive club sports, we travel internationally as a family, and live in a custom build 2,100 sq. home on acreage. When I am called a cheap ass that usually means that I won’t buy myself something and I talk myself out of a purchase for myself such as a good book, a new sleeping bag, or I wear my shoes out over a 2-3 year period. Sometimes I look homely towards the end of my clothes or shoes lives and still hold off from replacing the item. “Cheap Ass” is a loving term used in my house that we joke with.