Cash Confessional: Teacher with master’s degree makes $52,000, now ‘navigating through e-learning’

Cash Confessional: Teacher with master’s degree makes $52,000, now ‘navigating through e-learning’
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Our Cash Confessional series, in partnership with Bank of America, takes a personal and anonymous look into how people of all ages and incomes spend their money. Answers have been lightly edited for clarity. 

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Tell us about yourself.

I’m a single, 32-year-old female with a master’s degree.


Industry and income?

I make $52,000 as a teacher. I earn an additional $4,000 in income as a summer league swim coach and about $1,000 to $2,000 in occasional babysitting over the course of a year.

Fairly compensated?

I’m extremely underpaid. I feel as though parents all over the country are seeing that now. I think I should make at least $90,000. I have been working at my school for eight years and have a master’s degree.

How has the coronavirus impacted your work?

Navigating through e-learning has been a tough learning curve. I consider myself very proficient with technology and using online tools, but this time is so unprecedented.

Monday, March 16 was a blur for me — I didn’t know where to begin. How was this going to work? Are my kids going to have internet access? How will I teach these fourth graders through distance learning. As each day goes by, we are getting our footing a little more.

Zoom video chat has been great with staying connected to my kids and colleagues.

I’m uncertain as to how the summer league swim program will be affected — and since I have a teacher’s salary, I depend on this extra income to pay my car insurance and property taxes.

Rent or own?

My rent is $1,200. At some point I’d love to own a two-bedroom condo. But I’m also trying to decide if I want to make Charlotte my home for the next few years still or move closer to family.

One thing you’d like to purchase that you can’t currently afford?

A gym membership to Orangetheory.

Best purchase you made this month and why?

I bought Spandex faux leather black leggings for $100. I love wearing them. They make me feel sexy and confident.

How has the coronavirus changed your spending habits?

I save a lot of money on the weekend now.

I enjoy going out to bars and breweries with friends on the weekend, so I’m going to be saving that money now.

I am also not buying any new clothes. I may need to order some more comfy yoga pants and leggings, though, with all the time in my apartment.

Reoccurring monthly expenses?

  • Car: $325/month
  • Car insurance: $1,300/year (paid as one lump sum in the summer)
  • Spotify, Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu: about $50/month
  • DVR/HBO add on: $50 (cable/internet included in rent)
  • YMCA: $47/month

Credit card strategy and credit score?

I use the Truist (I still want to call them BB&T) cash-back free card and the translucent free card from American Express with cash back. My credit score is 760.


My only debt is my car, which has about $10,000 left on it.

Top 3 financial goals:

  • To be able to support myself at all times.
  • Always make more than I spend.
  • Donate more.

Best and worst financial decisions?

Best: Opened Roth IRA with some inheritance money instead of just spending it. I also do a good job of spending within my means. I am able to fully pay my credit cards off every month.

Worst: Waiting five years into my job to open a retirement account. I should have done that immediately.

At what age do you hope to retire?

I hope to retire at age 55, which would give me 30 years in teaching — but I’m not sure if I will stay in the education track.

No. 1 most stressful thing?

Not being able to treat myself to big trips. Or if I do a trip with friends from college, trying to make it work in my budget because everyone else makes more money than me. I will not let finances get in the way of me enjoying my time. I find a way to make it work in my budget.

Do you budget?

I just try to spend within reason. I know I will spend about $100 a week on groceries and $50 every other week on gas. Those go on my American Express, and I try to keep that card around $500 a month.

All my other expenses go on my Truist card. I just try not to go crazy with it and keep it as close to $500 a month.

Where did you learn to manage your money?

My mom. We didn’t grow up with a lot, so I learned now to manage and know the worth of making money and saving.

Are you motivated by money?

No, not money. I am motivated by helping people around me.

I work very hard to make my money, but that is not the driving force behind it.

What do you consider “rich” in Charlotte?

Not sure. Anyone who owns a house worth over $600,000.

No. 1 piece of financial advice?

Don’t spend more than you have, but also don’t let money get in the way of making memories with friends.

Build your financial know-how with free tools and information to help you make more confident decisions. Visit the Bank of America Better Money Habits site today.

Need 1:1 guidance on getting your finances in order? Schedule an appointment with a Bank of America specialist today or stop in your local financial center.

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