Last week I was able to go into my classroom for the first time! It was so exciting, but so so so much work. I spent 3 whole days there last week, and it looks like I did nothing. This week I began new teacher orientation that lasts the rest of the week and is all day long. There isn’t much time to spend in my classroom this week because of it. So, I have been trying to make use of my time in the evenings by making things for my classroom. It’s so much work, but I know it will all get done eventually. The kids start September 3rd, so I still have some time.
What are my label options?
One of the things I knew I needed for my room is labels for things, lot and lots of labels. I searched online and in stores for some cheap labels, but everything was pretty pricey, so I decided to do some experimenting on my own in Microsoft Word. There are tons of programs out there to make labels, I’m sure PowerPoint would have worked well too. I just picked Word because I am the most comfortable with it right now, and I was trying to be the most efficient with my time. Whatever you decide to use, make sure you can insert an image into a shape.
How to make labels for your classroom
The first thing you need to do is decide if you want to insert an image or simply use colors. If you want to use an image, you need to first find the image you want to use. I searched though Pintrest for some free chevron patterns and downloaded those. Next, open a blank word document, then insert a shape. I chose to use ovals for these particular labels. Once the shape is the size you want, click on the “fill” drop down arrow and click “fill effects”. This should open a new window with lots of options. On the left side of the screen, the first option should be “fill”, click that and then click the top option of “Picture or Texture”. From there you will need to upload the picture you want to use. This will fill the shape with the pattern. Finally, insert another shape that’s smaller on top of the first shape and leave it white, this will be a space for the label name. From there you can either insert text, or print it out and hand write the label.
I haven’t decided yet if I am going to insert text onto my labels or hand write them. I plan to wait until I am closer to finishing my classroom to decide this. I am considering printing the labels, laminating them, and then writing the labels with Expo marker so I can change them year after year. I’ll be sure to update when I finish my classroom 🙂 Have you ever made labels before, how did you make them?
I never thought I would switch to a mostly organic diet, I never thought I could afford it. I mean, organic food is so expensive, right? Its difficult to swing that on a tight budget, and I can just eat the other, cheaper options. I used to always say this, food is food, so who cares if it’s organic or not? While I was in grad school, I knew I couldn’t afford it. I was making roughly $1,000 a month and trying to put as much of it towards my loans. Right around this time, a few of my friends started changing their diets to be organic and take out certain food groups, and their health issues went away. This intrigued me.
Some Background Info
You should probably know before I really dive into this post that I have awful sinuses. I’ve had issues since I was in middle school with sinus infections and migraines. I have gone weeks where every day was ended with a migraine. It’s not fun, and would require me to take a lot of medication. I had sinus surgery when I was in college, this helped a lot, but my migraines would still randomly come and I still got the occasional sinus infection with a cold. At my absolute worst, I was taking a strong decongestant and nasal spray every single day, and would still get the headaches now and then. I was spending at least $30 a month just on my allergy medicine and nasal spray. This doesn’t include the additional decongestants I would take when I got a headache. I didn’t want to live like that anymore, taking medicine everyday, only to still feel awful. I was curious to see if I just started eating healthier, more veggies and fruits, and organic, if my sinus problems would get better.
Was an Organic Diet Worth It?
Lemme tell ya, I felt so much better after making the switch. I still got the very random headache, but I was able to stop using the nasal spray and take a much more mild allergy medicine. This allowed me to save a lot of money on medicine. Once I calculated it all out, the additional cost of groceries was about even to what I saved from stopping my old medicines and lowering my allergy medicine. Personally, I would much rather pay more for groceries, and take less medication that costs me a lot of money each month. I now spend at most $18 a month on my allergy medicine, usually I can find the Rite Aid brand to be even cheaper and I get 20% off everything with my Plenti card. This allowed me to put additional money towards my grocery budget in order to afford organic choices.
Stepping It Up
Recently I’ve been doing a lot of research on how our diet effects our health. Some people in the past have mentioned how cutting out dairy completely got rid of all of their sinus problems. This seemed completely impossible for me, I love dairy. But, what I have found online supports what people have told me. So, I’m slowly cutting dairy out of my diet to see how I feel. It’s definitely hard, but I think cutting things out slowly will make it more manageable for me. I’ve only made switches so far, like almond milk instead of milk, almond milk yogurt instead of Greek yogurt, but I have already noticed differences. For one, I unexpectedly lost the 10 pounds I gained in college after eating organic now for about 4 months and making those minor switches for about 2 months, I was shocked. But, my sinus problems have also greatly improved. The only times I feel congested and get headaches now is the day after I eat a lot of dairy. I still take my allergy medicine, but I’m hoping if I completely cut out dairy, I’ll be able to stop taking that altogether.
This little diet experiment blew my mind, I’m so happy I made the changes I did and continue to do so. I feel so much better and now understand why it is so important to fuel our bodies with the best foods for it. We shouldn’t have to take a ton of medicine each day just to get through it. By making healthier choices and creating a diet that was specific to my health problems, I am now able to live a much happier life, almost medication free! Did you change your diet for health reasons? What was your experience?
UPDATE: I have made all my student loan binder sheets available for you to download to make your very own student loan binder!
Recently I posted about some tips for making a debt payoff plan, one of my tips was to get organized. I organize all of my loan information in my student loan binder. I’m a binder girl, I just really like how easy it is to find everything I need in a binder. And it keeps things nicely organized. By having a binder just for student loans, it reminds me just how big a part of my life they are currently. I’m excited for the day when I wont have to have a student loan binder, but for the time being, it helps me stay organized and tackle this massive amount of debt.
When I first decided that I needed a student loan binder, I wanted to make sure it was pretty. That sounds kind of ridiculous as I type it, but student loans can be pretty depressing, why not make it a little more exciting! That made me pick lime green for my binder, it’s just such a nice pop of color to brighten my mood when I sit down to track my debt. And, I happened to find it while I was in the process of moving home (hah! Free baby 🙂 ). And of course I had to make a nice cover sheet for my binder, another way to brighten my mood.
Now, onto the inside of this bad boy. I broke my student loan binder into 4 sections: Debt, Private Loans, Federal Loans, and TEACH Grant. Debt is where I keep my payoff plan and a student loan payoff page that allows me to see the “big picture” of my student loan debt. This has all my loans on the page with how much I paid that particular month, the balance remaining at the end of the 6 months, and total payment for each month. This section is where I can see how I’m doing in my payoff plan, and how much more I have to go. The following 3 sections are places to keep things organized for my specific private and federal loans, and my TEACH grant that I have. I keep a log for each individual loan that helps me see how much I paid each month on that particular loan. For my TEACH grant, I don’t keep a log for each individual grant because I don’t need to pay these back, assuming I meet all the requirements in the next 8 years.
A binder system for organization is what works for me, the most important thing is to make sure your system works for you. Find a system that works and stick with it! I find it so motivating to input all the numbers and see how much I have paid off. I try really hard not to look at what I have left because it makes this payoff seem impossible, by focusing on how much I have already done, it motivates me so much more. How do you organize and keep track of your student loans and other debts?
I know this sounds crazy. Why would I ever close out my savings account at my bank, that’s just crazy talk. Even the nice man who helped me close my account looked at me like I had 8 heads. This was a long decision in the making for sure, I’m all about saving my money. Even during grad school, when I was making about $1,000 a month give or take, I managed to put away 10% of my income each month. I consider placing my money into savings a monthly bill that needs to be paid. Saving is key to future success, so even though I have a ton of student loan debt, I still put away money for savings each month. However, I realized that my bank’s saving account was earning me nada in interest, seriously 0.01% is getting me nowhere. Yes, my money was safe and it was earning something, but why not earn a whole lot more.
This is when I started looking into other options. My savings account grew quite a bit while I was in grad school. I was shocked how much it really adds up when you start adding to it every month, definitely something I wish I did sooner. Anyway, I started doing some research and found online banks and investing. Investing scared me, I had heard so many stories about people losing all of their money this way, but I saw the interest rates and was intrigued by it. Online banks I was interested in, but concerned about the security. These seemed to be the two best options in order to earn the most interest on my money.
As I did more and more research, I found that online banks are great for savings accounts. They provide much higher interest rates, like 0.99%, and they make it a little more difficult to access your money. At first, I thought this was a negative, and it definitely can be if an emergency comes up and you need those funds. Personally, I don’t want easy access to this savings account. I don’t want to be able to quickly withdraw funds. Out of sight, out of mind type thing. The purpose of this account is to save, save, save and I can’t do that if I have easy access to that money. Another concern I had was fees associated with depositing money into the account. Most of the online banks I researched have free options that are really easy to use. After completing my research, I have decided to use ally for my online banking. They have an easy to use website, FDIC insured, provide 0.99% interest rate, have a mobile app. I really could go on and on, I’m very happy that I decided to make this switch and excited to see my money grow!
Now, the scary part. Investing. I began researching about investing, reading blog posts, asking people I knew about it. I was so hesitant to invest. Even after researching, I still didn’t truly understand it. I knew there was no way I’d be able to handle investing because I didn’t understand it well enough. There’s just so much involved with investing money. At the time, I didn’t want to pay a fee to have someone create a portfolio for me. That seemed like a waste of money and I wasn’t sure if I could trust someone else with my money. That’s when my friend recommended I look into Betterment which is a “robo-advisor” – a program that manages investments just like a human, but at a much lower cost. This I wasn’t sure about. There is a fee that you pay each month, which I wasn’t really pleased with. I mean, I’m supposed to be making money, not spending it. What I quickly realized is that the return I will be making on the money is far more than the fee that is charged. Betterment uses two tricks to help maximize profits: “rebalancing”, and “tax-loss harvesting”. Simply put, since investments change over time, rebalancing is when you rearrange your investments after a time period so that your holdings are still going to make the most for you. Tax-loss harvesting is much more complex and is essentially selling one of your badly performing stocks so that you can claim tax breaks with that money, offsetting the loss of that stock. You then use the money from the sale to buy better performing stocks. Since Betterment does these automatically for me, I don’t have to even think about any of that and I’m still getting the benefits.
Next, I wanted to check if Betterment theoretically will make me a positive return on my investment. Their average return since 2010 is around +9.9% yearly (90/10 stock bond mix), and the highest annual fee amount is 0.35% for investments under $10,000. The fee depends on how much you are investing, the more you invest, the lower the percentage. The fee really does pay for itself in how easy it makes investing; they create a portfolio of stocks (more risky) and bonds (safer) for you that you can tweak as much or as little as you want. Everything is completely automated for you, so you get to sit back and watch your money grow while they do all the work. For me, this was worth it. I couldn’t get a good enough handle on everything there is to know about investing to feel comfortable doing it on my own.
Obviously, it is important to remember that with any investment comes risk, and that I am investing my money with a long term goal in mind. I’m not planning on taking this money out in a few years, it will sit in this account getting returns for a long time to come. If you are investing, just remember that it’s possible to lose some years, like during the recession when most investments did badly. Fast forward 5 years, and the market is higher than ever!
Here’s a chart that I created to illustrate the estimated 5 year return on an initial $5,000 deposit based on rates for Betterment, Ally, and Chase:
The information above is an estimate. Betterment is based on the 5 year historical return data of a 90% stock, 10% bond mixed portfolio. The Chase and Ally figures are the guaranteed interest rates at the time of posting (interest rates are subject to change). Please note that all of the numbers are theoretical, and are not risk adjusted.
I’m excited to see how much my money grows now that I took it out of my bank’s savings account. The key is thinking about long term, this compounding interest will make me much more money than my bank’s account ever would. How have you managed your money to make more interest?
Ever since I can remember I have dreamed about having my own classroom someday. As I worked through my undergrad program, that dream seemed to be getting closer and closer. Just thinking about it would get me excited to finally do what I have wanted for my entire life. But then reality came crashing down, teachers have to pay for their own supplies and books?! WHAT?! The thought of stocking an entire classroom library like the ones I had seen in my placements, made me sick to my stomach. How was I going to be able to afford all of those books?? Now that I am less than a month away from starting my first year, I have become very creative in my ways of stocking my classroom library with books. Here are some ways that I have found books for my classroom, for cheap!
1. Tell People You’re a Teacher
Seriously, whenever I am buying anything for my classroom I tell people I’m a teacher. Usually, they can tell. I mean come on, who else buys that many school supplies in one trip, or that many books in one haul. No one. Except teachers. I can’t say it has always worked for me, but sometimes there is a discount that I didn’t know about. The best place to tell people you’re a teacher is at garage sales 🙂
2. Garage Sales
I can’t tell you how much free stuff I have been given from people hosting garage sales after sharing with them I’m a teacher. They’re trying to get rid of their stuff, and I will gladly take it off their hands 😉 I’ve picked up school supplies, storage bins, children’s books, and so much more at garage sales. It’s such a great way to get things for so much cheaper. But, I’ll warn you, go in with a plan, know what you’re looking for before you get there. Otherwise, you’re aimlessly looking at stuff and the next thing you know you have a bunch of stuff you don’t actually need sitting in your house.
3. Ask Family/Friends/Anybody That Will Listen
I’ve had a lot of luck asking people I know for things. Everyone knows I’m a teacher, so whenever they are getting rid of things, they call me. I don’t always need or take the things they are offering, but when I do it’s always nice. A lot of families I know will get rid of the books their kids no longer read, I gladly take those off their hands.
4. Book Sale Fundraisers
This is my all time favorite. Last weekend there was a book sale fundraiser by my house. It was book heaven. I don’t think I can even accurately describe the scene that was this fundraiser. It was just that amazing. Imagine a middle school cafeteria with every table piled with books, and all the books being under a dollar. AND THE BOOKS WERE ORGANIZED BY GENRE AND SUBJECT. There was even an entire section for children and young adults, and within the section it was organized by grade level. It made my searching so much easier. I ended up leaving with 53 books for 53 dollars and it all went to providing kids with scholarships for college, I was so excited.
5. Store Sales, like Target
This isn’t my favorite one, but it did get me books for very little money. In the dollar area when you first walk in Target there are sometimes teacher stuff. One time I found some books in there that were a dollar each. I wouldn’t say it was great literature, but they were chapter books that my kids may enjoy reading. Additionally, I have a Target card, so I got an additional 5% off my entire purchase, which is nice 🙂
I’m still working on adding books to my classroom library, but this definitely helped me find way more books than I ever thought I would for the amount that I have paid so far. What are some ways that you stocked your classroom library on a budget? Share your tips in the comments 🙂
One of my favorite parts about redoing my bedroom is organizing everything! However, storage bins can get pricey, especially when I can’t handle them not matching, so I can’t reuse old ones, unless they match. OCD wins again! But, I found a solution while looking for ideas for my classroom next year on Pinterest. The ladies over at Pinkadots Elementary created a wonderful tutorial for spray painting plastic, I had to try it! And you know how Pinterest goes, I somehow ended up finding a blow dryer and straightener holder, and wanted to try that out as well! I had a lime green bin I found at my parent’s house, which definitely didn’t match my color scheme, but would be a great addition to my room. So, I went over to the local hardware store and grabbed some grey spray paint and the PVC needed for the blow dryer and straightener holder.
-Plastic spray paint (about $4.00)
-Newspaper, or something you don’t care about to spray paint on (drop cloth, plastic tablecloth, etc.)
-Sandpaper, this is going to depend on what the plastic looks like that you are planning to spray paint. If it’s a glossy finish, I recommend sanding it to rough it up a bit before spray painting it. My dad, aka Bob the Builder, gave me this recommendation and it worked wonderfully for the blow dryer and straightener holder.
You’re gonna wanna do this outside where there is ample ventilation. I was able to do this in my family’s garage because my dad built it to be used for this kind of thing (I told ya, Bob the Builder!). Then, I laid out all the newspaper and my supplies. I sanded down the PVC, just enough to make it a little rough and get some of that glossy finish off. After, I began spraying the PVC and the container. Make sure to spray a light coat, move your hand quickly. I suggest making some test sprays on the newspaper to get a feel for how the paint is coming out. I don’t spray paint too often and this was a suggestion my dad had for me to get used to it, it worked really well! Now, it’s time to let them dry before doing one more coat. I loved them already and just wanted to put them in my room!!
After I let them dry, I went back and did one more coat. Of course as soon as they dried I had to put them in my room. I love the way they turned out and it was so cheap! This was so much better than going out and buying a new container or a stand for my blow dryer and straightener. Ironically, I was at BJ’s and saw a stand the night before I was planning to make this, $15.00 for something that does the same exact thing! I was one happy girl with one happy budget 🙂
Have you ever spray painted plastic? What kinds of projects have you done?
Part of my debt payoff plan consisted of finding a teaching job close to home, so that I could move back home. This was hard for me. If you had asked me 5 years ago when I started college, I would have told you I would never move back home after school. Of course, that was before I knew I would be in this much debt. When I figured out my total amount of student loan debt, it was no question that I would move back home. My parents live in New Jersey, where the cost of living is much higher, making my salary higher. When I began the process of looking at places to apply, New Jersey had some of the highest salaries. As I did more and more research and went through all my options, going home to New Jersey kept being the best option.
When I first told my parents that I wanted to come home after I graduated, they told me I would need to pay some rent. Of course, this would still be a lot cheaper than living somewhere else paying rent, utilities, etc. I was sold and put all my effort into applying to school districts in the area. Luckily, I got an interview very quickly with a district 20 minutes away from my parent’s house, and they offered me a position.
Once I knew I would be moving back home, I began brainstorming ideas and talking to my parents about ways I could live “rent-free” at home. We agreed on me paying for my own groceries, doing work around the house, and helping them get the house ready to be sold. By living “rent-free” I can now put all my extra money at my loans and pay them off even faster than I originally planned.
Now that I have moved home, I have had to move my sister out (she lives in Philly now) and move myself into her old room. I forgot to take pictures of the room before I began moving my stuff in, it was basically a completely empty room, but I took some pictures when I actually thought to. It’s a total disaster and I contemplated not even posting them because they are so bad, but here they are 🙂
The closet, I’ve never had such a big closet!
My sister turned one of the closets into a desk area. I love this! It gives me so much more room!
I LOVE this bookshelf!! My sister got it when she was in this room and she let me keep it :)
Gotta love the bed right on the floor!
I’m not sure what to do with this area under the windows, yet. Maybe a dresser, or couch?
This is where the before pictures got a little messed up. Those two shelves next to the dresser came from the closet!
I’m super excited to move everything in and get it to be how I want it. I wish I could get rid of that rug and paint the walls, but it doesn’t fit into my budget right now.
Did you move home after college? How did you make your decision to move back home or move out?