10 Ways I Saved Money as an NQT!
I can remember the excitement the summer I finished my Professional Masters in Education (PME). I was on Pinterest looking up “colourful classrooms”, “rainbow classrooms”, “classroom hacks”.
I wanted to do it all!
My wishlists on Amazon kept growing and growing. I found myself mindlessly picking up things every time I visited the shops. I would buy things out of excitement not sure what I actually would need.
It came to August when I was starting into my very first classroom, and I learned I would get a classroom budget to spend on my class for that year. I thought to myself how I wished I had known this earlier, before I had spent hundreds of euro on my classroom. Also, not knowing the resources that were available to be shared amongst the school staff.
I am here today to give you some of my top tips to save money as an NQT, especially if you are in your final year of your teaching degree now, this is perfect timing. Even if you are a current NQT, it’s never too late to start saving your money and being more mindful of your school spending.
Track your Spending
You may need to keep receipts for your school which is great, however I would recommend doing this anyway. At the end of each month, add up all the money you spent on school resources and items. This will shock you!
Sharing is Caring
Ask your co-workers if they have a certain resource or if the school has a certain resource before you buy it. Never buy anything for a specific class out of your own pocket until you ask your school management team, principal or co-workers first. The school may have a budget that could purchase whatever it is you feel you need and for this to then be left in the school. It is worth asking first!
Ask the Parents
Ask parents to help with classroom supplies.
For example, last Christmas I was going to start doing DEAR time (Drop Everything And Read) in the dark for the last week of school. I went to local shops to buy flashlights but they were too expensive. I asked the children to ask their parents if they had little flashlights at home, even the ones you sometimes get for free with different organisations. Before I knew it I had twice the amount I needed!
Buying that kind of resource would have been a huge waste of money as you do not get Art supplies i.e. recyclable materials. Bottle lids to use as counters. Ask local businesses for donations, i.e. cardboard, furniture they may be getting rid of (slightly damaged).
Ask different teachers you know to give you a list of some of their ‘teacher essentials’. Compile a list of your own and look at what you will need to build up over time. Don’t rush to buy things before you start in your new class. See what you will need well in advance and shop around.
I love using the Google ‘shopping’ tab as you can browse a lot of the same product in different stores and compare prices.
Plan ahead and stick with your plans
If you plan ahead as to what you will need for that month (supplies for art, resources, etc.) you will know exactly what you will need well in advance and can either have time to shop around, or get help from parents or coworkers.
Look at your long term plans at the start of the year and make a list of resources you are going to need.
Have a look at what you already have in your classroom, school or at home and then make a new list of what you need to source and by when.
This way you can make sure to use your budget, if you get one, to buy only the things you will need.
Reuse materials and get creative!
Reusing jars to store pencils/ markers, reusing any pump bottles for paint to ensure you aren’t wasting too much paint in art class, the list goes on! There are so many hacks to reusing materials in the classroom. You can reuse for crafts, for manipulatives or for classroom decoration.
I also keep a scrap paper box too. Any smaller pieces of paper unused are kept which I use for making small notes, or the pupils use for writing or doodling.
You can do an amazing job of decorating your classroom with recycled materials too!
Start developing a ‘wish list’ that you can openly share with your family. Maybe these are things your family or friends could buy for you for occasions that will help you out.
Don’t forget how much of a fantastic resource your local library is!
Libraries Ireland have some fantastic services. You can check out some of their current e-library services on their website at the moment.
As a student teacher with my cooperating teacher’s library card, I could take out a large number of the same novel for each pupil in my class. Enquire with your local library about this and if they have a list of the books that you can rent a large amount of. It will save both you and your school a lot of money!
As well as this, check out some fantastic, free online reading websites that you could use in class if your school has iPads or laptops like www.getepic.com. Instead of having to purchase new books all the time, perhaps something like this could offer some variety into your class library.
Purchase wisely and set up a savings plan for yourself from the start
I wish I had thought about doing this straight away as an NQT.
After doing The Teachers Savings Plan course, I am now aiming to save ⅓ of my wages every month. This course is aimed for teachers who want to get on the property ladder, however, even if this is not something you want to do down the line, it has fantastic insight into saving from the start and how do-able it really is! This way, no matter what you spend, you know a fraction is going into your savings every month!
Avail of Discounts
Make sure to use discounts you have through memberships with your teacher union. If you sign up to the INTO (Primary Teachers in Ireland), you can avail of discounts through Membership Plus.
It can be super exciting having your very first class, and you want to have your classroom perfect, inviting, colourful, with all the necessary resources at hand. This can still be done on a budget, and sometimes the more you involve the school, school community and local businesses, the more exciting it is for the pupils. It is important to look after your own budget as an NQT and be mindful of your spending habits.
I hope these top tips will help you save money, sooner rather than later!
Did you know that 74% of teachers do not feel confident with formative assessment teaching methodologies?
As we approach the new school year, this survey conducted by Rahoo Training in 2020, and its findings, should be at the forefront of a school leader’s mind.
Webinar 8th November 2023: How to Enhance the Teaching & Learning of Maths with Formative Assessment
“How to Enhance the Teaching & Learning of Maths with Formative Assessment” is 1 hour in duration including Q&A opportunities.
This webinar will be hosted by a Nadine Lyons, Maths Lead Practitioner at South View School Dubai.