“Overworked! But that’s good. It means I’m working.”
Indeed. While my salary isn’t keeping up with inflation, is anybody’s?
Health insurance costs are skyrocketing. We’re still negotiating a contract, working under one that expired last summer. Site budget costs increase, leaving us to cut back even further or pay out of our own pockets, out of our lagging paychecks. But at least I still have a paycheck.
I’m getting more vigilant about freebies. Whenever I send in a book order, I look for coupons and bonus items. If I can get a few more books into my students’ hands, it’s always good. I’m reusing paper for copies, assigning more textbook pages than worksheets, increasing my use the overhead and my class’ set of white boards. In a small way, we’re going back to the days of kids and slates.
I’m a scavenger. If another teacher retires and lets us pick through her materials, I’m there.
On the family side, I clip coupons and watch the sales. I’ve used online discount codes to buy ahead for holiday gifts so we don’t have major debt in January. I feel grateful that my husband doesn’t have to wear an expensive suit to work, racking up dry cleaning costs. He and Amigo dress casually, very casually. La Petite is a sale shopper like I am; she’s a frugal college student (is there any other kind?).
And yet I feel pressure, both Husband and I feel pressure, to bring in extra if we can. Our incomes are not growing anywhere near the rate of inflation. Despite our efforts to cut our food budget, we can’t control gas costs, electricity, or heating fuel increases.
The only way I can raise my salary is through earning additional graduate credits, which (you guessed it) costs money. I have to pay for 6 credits every five years to renew my license, but beyond those 6 I have to calculate how much it’s worth. Will the tuition costs return in the form of increased salary or not?
Husband’s 401k went way down in value. He set his head in his hands when the last statement came. My retirement account is fluctuating as well. We’re feeling lucky we’re not retiring anytime soon; our retirement funds have time to regroup and recover (crossing fingers and knocking on wood).
This election has a lot riding on it. The morale of the country has a direct impact on the economy, and the economy has a direct impact on morale. If people aren’t confident about spending, holiday shopping goes stagnant. Retail outlets fail, large companies fail, employees lose their jobs. Those employees don’t have money to spend, spending goes down, morale and confidence sink and the problems spiral larger and larger.
Money? It’s not about the cash or the numbers. It’s about security, stability, knowing that the roof above will stay above our heads and our table will be set tomorrow and the next day.
My workload grows as our budgets get tighter. My job gets more difficult as my students move in and out, can’t do homework because they’re hungry, can’t find shoes to wear in the morning.
Overworked? Yes. But at least I’m working. I’m grateful for that.