Published 2nd February 2021
No matter how you look at it, the sad reality is that money makes the world go round. This is probably why you’re thinking of teaching English as a Foreign Language. Besides the fact that it allows you to travel the world, it’s also a way to put money in your pocket. But some of us seem to spend our money as soon as we earn it, and if we’re living our best lives in a beautiful city, who can blame us? But it is possible to get what you want but also save for a rainy day – you just need to be smart about it. So we thought we’d share some of our favourite tips and money hacks for TEFL teachers, to help you make the most of every cent you earn.
Kon Mari your life
There is no better time to declutter your life. If you are working from home, you don’t want to be stuck in a corner because your living room is groaning under the weight of all your stuff, and if you’re preparing to travel the world, you don’t want to have to put everything in storage that you’re going to give away when you come back anyway. Besides, you want to travel light!
Take some time and make some serious decisions about all the material objects in your life. Be brutally honest with yourself. Decide what you no longer want and need and either sell it on Facebook Marketplace or donate it to a person or organization in need. Even if you only sell a few items, that’s still a few dollars saved.
Assess your salary
When you are considering a job offer, make sure you consider the salary carefully. A salary is not just a number, and this applies to online teaching as well as face-to-face teaching.
When teaching online, companies will often quote you a base hourly rate. This can seem quite low but be sure to take into account any bonuses you may be eligible for. Some companies give you bonuses just for being punctual – and that should be a given for any teacher! It’s also useful to think about how much money (and time) you’re saving on commuting – and your daily Starbucks! – so bear that in mind if you’re comparing an online salary to your usual job.
In a school, you must first understand if the monthly salary quoted is inclusive or exclusive of tax. Then see if it includes anything else. If you are given accommodation or a living allowance on top of your salary, that is a huge saving. Any contributions to your flight is a great money saver too. There may also be opportunities for you to earn extra money for after-school or holiday classes, which is a great way to bulk up your salary.
Invest in your set-up
If you’re teaching online, it literally pays not to go cheap and cheerful. Say what? The problem with technology is that if you don’t buy quality it will let you down, and with online teaching, your reputation is your own to make or break. If you have microphone issues or a slow laptop, your students are not going to pay to have a lesson with you again because there are so many other teachers available, and companies won’t renew your contract if you have bad feedback from students.
While this might mean spending a bit more money initially, over time this will pay off later when your students are happy to come back to you for lessons and good recommendations and word-of-mouth will help you get more students. It also means you won’t need to worry about the company dropping you for technical reasons.
Read more: Tips For Setting Up an Online Classroom
Make your house work for you
If you are teaching English online, is it possible to move to a city with a lower cost of living? The beauty of online teaching is that you can work literally anywhere (with an internet connection) so it could be a good idea to move out of the big city and somewhere more remote to save on your living costs. You could even move in with a friend or your partner or your parents to save on costs.
Alternatively, you could moonlight as a housesitter, which means you can be paid for living in a house! This is a really good option if you are a true nomad at heart because the temporary nature of the gig means you will be moving around regularly.
If you are teaching English abroad, find a partner. No, we don’t mean a life partner (though it could be!) but we mean another teacher who is in the same position as you. If both of you are working in the same school or even the same city, you could share accommodation. This will help you save money on all sorts of costs. You can save money on transport, and cooking for two is always more cost-effective than cooking for one.
Speaking of food, if you are living abroad, don’t be afraid of the supermarkets or street food. Many teachers only venture out to the fancy Western-style restaurants or foreign supermarkets that stock the food they are familiar with, but often the local food is more delicious than our own!
Experiment with local ingredients to make exciting new dishes, or spend a few dollars and eat the local specialties as prepared by the locals themselves. A good rule of thumb is, if you see a local restaurant is popular with the locals, you know it’s going to be good – and probably good value for money too.
Have a side hustle
Being a teacher, be it online or face-to-face does have the perk of having free time. You could finish work in the early afternoons, or maybe you only work mornings or nights. Either way, if necessary you can use the time to do a little something extra on the side to earn a few extra bucks.
Being a TEFL teacher opens up a host of opportunities for you to pursue as a side hustle. You could be a travel blogger or influencer, a writer or proofreader, or a tutor. You could even teach at a school and then teach online in your time off.
Times are tough right now, and we want to pinch our pennies as much as we can. No matter what situation you are in, there are sure to be a few things you can do to save your money so that you pay back your student loan, or buy that new laptop, or book your next flight. Remember, every little bit helps, and soon your cents can add up to a considerable amount.