When It’s Time to Choose Time Over Money

Choosing Time Over MoneyYou can always make more money, but what you can’t get more of is time.

This statement is both profoundly true everywhere and logistically false in education.

The idea that any teacher can simply work hard to earn more income shows little understanding of a profession that is governed by salary schedules, lane changes, and tons of financial red tape and shortfalls at district, state, and federal levels.

So why in the world would a family made up of two teachers walk away from money?

Money to the tune of $5,000.

For us, it comes down to time.

My husband is a three-season coach. What that means is that he coaches students every season of the school year.

What that means for our family is that he isn’t home until 7 or 8 most days. Sometimes, due to other commitments, he isn’t home until 9 or 10.

Said another way, there are days when he only spend about 20 minutes of face time with our son.

Said another another way, that means that every day of the week, I work full time, make a mad dash to get our son, and then do everything I can to play with him, run errands, make dinner, and get him ready for bed. All before I tutor, grade, lesson plan, freelance, or work on my blog. While I’m working on these commitments, my husband scurries around the house to make lunches, finish the laundry that I’ve long forgotten in the machine, and takes care of other tasks. Rather than winding down, we just sputter into bed at 11 each night only to wake up and do it all over again.

That means that we plan for six hours of sleep on a good night. Assuming our son sleeps through the night.

Which he never does.

Our life exists in a time crunch. It isn’t what’s best for parenting, and it isn’t what’s best for marriage.

It’s also self-inflicted.

We Do It For the Money

Stipends are lucrative.

At least as much as anyone can use that word in education.

My husband is well-paid as a coach. His district incentivizes extracurricular work much more than mine, probably to partially combat their lackluster base salaries.

We don’t factor stipend work or side hustles into our budgets. But we do use them for things near and dear to our hearts. Our stipends have taken us on oceanside adventures in Costa Rica and to Chichen Itza, Tulum, and other adventures. These same stipends also help us pay off our mortgage more aggressively and meet other financial goals.

It’s a matter of $4,000 or $5,000 that’s on the table. But it isn’t just about earning money for money’s sake. There’s more at stake than just extra income.

…And Also Keeping Our Jobs

Domain 4.

If you’re a teacher, I don’t have to say anything more than that phrase for you to understand.

If you’re not a teacher, let me try. Under the new evaluation framework in teaching, we have to prove our professional worth. That means being involved not just in our classrooms, but with our coworkers and our students in an ongoing capacity. We have to be “full members of the teaching community and committed to enhancing it”.

Of course, this is incredibly subjective and leaves huge gaps in the evaluation process that are entirely open to interpretation. (Sorry, admin friends, but it is.)

When this new model came to pass, teachers scuttled about, looking for all sorts of ways to show their worth, hoping to get a passing grade.

RELATED POST: Teacher Talk – Losing a Little Control of a Career I Love

So walking away from not one, but two sports, like my husband is considering doing? It’s a bold move financially and professionally.

When Your Job is Who You Are

Walking away from money is never easy, and yet, sometimes it’s the right thing to do. The problem is that my husband isn’t just walking away from money, from side hustle, or from a job.

He’s walking away from a piece of who he is.

In education, you are trained from your very first class to focus on students and the impact you will have on them. Money is no matter. It isn’t discussed, and it’s certainly not prioritized. How could it be when most student teachers are strongly discouraged from holding paying jobs while they student teach for a semester or a year?

That mentality continues along the career path indefinitely. We take our jobs seriously, often times giving very little thought to what we earn. Instead, we focus on what we do, who we teach. Most of us happily weave the title of teacher into the fabric of our identity.

RELATED POST: My Passion is My Work

Coaching is no different. My husband is a skilled athlete who possesses the ability not just to play the sport, but to actually teach it to kids who have talent in the rawest of forms.  He mentors these students. He is kind and patient. He shows them what quiet leadership looks like in an era when coaches and parents take things just a little too far a little too often.

It is a tremendous loss for these students to have my husband walk away as their coach. And I know it’s something he’s wrestled with deeply since our son was born.

But for everything he gives those students in the afternoons and evenings, it’s something that our son doesn’t see until the weekends.

My husband isn’t ready to stop coaching entirely, but I do know that he’s ready to scale back aggressively. Next week, he plans to let his bosses know that he is going to drop one or two of the sports for next school year.

Final Thoughts on Money and Time

You can always make more money, but what you can’t get more of is time.

After years of scaling back our expenses, growing our income, and making sure that our budget stays fairly modest despite those gains in income, we are in a position to do something new.

We can use the money that we do earn in a new way. It won’t allow us to make more time, but it will let us simply make better use of the time that we do have.

And right now, I can’t think of a better decision for our family.

So Tell Me…How do you balance money and time in your life?

When It’s Time to Choose Time Over Money