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When Your Budget Won’t Budge

September 16, 2011

The perks of being a public school teacher:

  • Tenure (and obvious job security once you reach tenure).
  • “Summers off” (I work for the county during the summer and take classes, but even still, I have lots of time to travel).
  • The daily satisfaction of knowing that you are doing something that actually matters. Even on my worst days, I still feel like I’ve done something worth doing.

The downsides of being a public school teacher:

  • Very little room for upward movement (unless you want to become an administrator. Which I don’t. Ever).
  • The public’s perception that you are, well, lazy (see: “Summers off”).
  • Very little control over your salary/pay scale. Unless we move to pay for performance (which I have serious issues with), I will always be locked into a set pay scale, regardless of how much/how hard I work.

I’m not trying to turn this blog or even this post into a controversial (and endless) discussion of what public school teachers are worth/how they should be compensated. However, I realized today that, due to some maneuvering within my county and the state, I will essentially be making the same amount of money this year as I did my second year of teaching. If they keep making cuts, I could soon be making the same amount of money as I made my FIRST year of teaching. And then I wigged out. I wigged out because:

  • I am currently paying for grad school out of pocket. I want to avoid student-loan debt for as long as possible.
  • I just bought a car. And a laptop. Both were things that I needed, but they were BIG purchases.
  • I feel like I should be making MORE money as the years go by and I gain experience (and more formal education), not less. I want to eventually buy a house, but it’s hard to save money when your employer keeps cutting back.

Mind you, I have a job. I have a secure job, at that. And that job comes with health care and a retirement plan and other perks and benefits. I know that I am WAY better off than a lot of people out there, including people who have families to support. I am thankful and lucky that I only need to worry about me, but I am still concerned about how I can continue caring for myself while also planning for my future.

Oh, and I still need to eat.

And I want to eat well.

So what do you do when your budget won’t budge?

I’ll tell you what you DON’T do: you don’t go out and pay someone to make you dinner, even though the last thing you feel like doing is cooking.

Instead, you get in your kitchen, and you use what you have on hand.

And, if you’re lucky, it turns out like this:

Garlic Shrimp and Spinach Stir Fry


  • 1/4 C bulgur with soy (prepared according to directions)
  • 8-10 small shrimp, defrosted (if frozen) and peeled
  • 2-3 big handfuls spinach
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1-2 tbsp Eggplant Garlic Spread, optional
  • 1 oz Feta cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  • Prepare bulgur according to directions, set aside.
  • Heat garlic in a saute pan over medium high heat. Toss in spinach and shrimp and stir constantly until spinach is wilted and shrimp are pink.
  • Toss spinach and shrimp with bulgur, stir in eggplant spread and top with feta. Season to taste.

This meal reminded me that healthy eating doesn’t need to be a hassle, nor does it need to be expensive.

Even more importantly, it doesn’t need to be gross.

So with this in mind, I’m taking my own advice and trying to be positive about my situation.

I have a job. I have a job that I’m good at. I have a job that I love.

As long as this job allows me to live (and eat) well, I’ll be ok.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. September 18, 2011 12:48 pm

    Our generation has it particularly difficult in planning its financial future, its certainly terrifying. As our education level increases and we garner more experience we SHOULD get paid more money, definitely not less. 😦

    But as you said, as long as we can still indulge in great and nutritious food, we should be ok! πŸ™‚

  2. September 20, 2011 6:43 am

    What’s with these cuts?? That’s ridiculous in that county where the taxes are *that* high…you must be freaking out!

    • September 20, 2011 5:55 pm

      Maybe that’s what pisses me off the most—I know money has to come from somewhere, but good golly, the taxes here are outrageous. Shouldn’t they be adding a little extra padding to the schools? Then again, what do I know?


  1. Yes, You Can « Go With the Dough

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