I am not a bad money manager. I have been thinking for the past four years, that something was wrong with me, after all, why am I continually coming up short in the budget department? Why, when I keep cutting corners, eliminating experiences and streamlining personnel services, do I keep receiving warning notices from Mint.com that I am over my budget for... food... gas, you know, little things like that? Reading David Ramsey's Total Money Makeover is illuminating, but this summer, I realized that simple envelope systems and debt-snowballs are no match for giant reductions in income.
This summer, I was, once again, reviewing and modifying my budget, looking around my house for more things to sell or donate in a feeble attempt to live more simply, when I happened to check the State Franchise Tax Board website to be sure my last payment had been recorded. The site has this really cool feature that allows you to see archives of the last four year's wages earned and taxes paid. It was then that I realized the enormity of the Los Angeles Unified School District pay cuts and furlough days.
Between 2008 and 2009, my pay decreased $1,072.15.
Between 2009 and 2010 my pay decreased $1,572.04.
Between 2010 and 2011 my pay decreased $5,977.17.
If you have been keeping up with that math, the difference between my teacher's salary in 2008 and 2011 is $8,621.36.
I would add an exclamation mark, but there is nothing to be excited about. I am coming up short about $862 a month.
This is not entirely the fault of our union, UTLA, for weak negotiations with the District or the LAUSD, because their budget is controlled by the California. This is not entirely the fault of California because the state budget is dictated by the taxes collected in the state both income and property tax and some sales tax revenue thrown in too. Our state is suffering, just like the country, in fact we are just a small part of the entire global economic downturn, but that downturn was caused by the few and mighty who control Wall Street.
So when I'm feeling the pinch and thinking of second jobs, launching a business, writing material to sell on Teachers Pay Teachers and my own ebooks and independently published books, it is my effort to retain a shred of dignity after 34 years of teaching almost 600 children to believe in themselves. It is time for me to believe in myself, regardless of whether the LAUSD, UTLA, California, the Federal Government or Wall Street investment bankers believe in the value of teachers.