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International Women’s Day: an educator’s guide to financial freedom every day

International Women’s Day, a day that is all about celebrating the contributions and advances of women—socially, politically, and economically.

As education members of all gender identities and specialties, the key to advancing yourself economically goes well beyond simply moving up the pay grid. It requires you to increase your financial literacy so that you will be in a better position to manage your money throughout all of the stages of your life and career.

The early stages of your education career

As you’re experiencing all of those precious ‘firsts’ (first pay cheque, first class, first time you had to send a student to the principal’s office), you’re also discovering the challenges that come with stretching your salary in those first years (after pension contributions, union dues, and day-to-day living expenses).

If you’re a contract teacher who only gets paid for the days you work, you need to be especially mindful of how you manage your budget. While it might feel like there’s not a lot of money left over for savings in the early years, it’s important you start setting aside some funds to ensure you have the money you need later on. Educators’ Regional Assistant Vice-President Karen Hubbard has a suggestion: “As soon as you get that first pay cheque, start a Pre-Authorized Contribution Plan (PAC) where you can automatically sock away $25 or $50 a month. You’d be surprised how much that can add up over time. Then, as you move up the pay grid, you can increase those monthly contributions.”

Your teaching career is now in full swing

Now that you’re further up the pay grid, you most likely have greater financial obligations that come with owning a home, raising children, and running a household. It’s also likely that you’ve been incurring debt through loans and credit cards in order to manage these obligations. “This is the time to take a look at the interest rates you’re paying”, says Pat Bellissimo, Educators Principal Broker and Vice-President, Human Resources. “If you have high-interest credit cards and loans, look into debt consolidation at a lower interest rate. You’d be amazed at the amount of money you can save every month—plus you’ll be in a better position to pay your debt down faster.”

Read more about what you need to know about debt and how to pay it off.

Once you’ve got your debt under control, it’s also a good idea to ensure you’re still on track for retirement.

Educators’ Certified Financial Planner professional Lisa Raponi recently discovered a female-focused statistic that could possibly impact how you plan for retirement. “The life expectancy of Canadian women is, on average, 4 to 5 years longer than men, according to Statistics Canada”, says Lisa. “In fact, another StatsCan study goes on to say that women are more likely than men to report that their financial standard of living in retirement falls short of their expectations”.

Something else to consider: most education members tend to retire 7 years earlier than the general population.

Of course, as an education member, you do have the benefit of having a great pension plan in place. However, with possibly more years in retirement to look forward to, you can never over-estimate how much you’ll need to retire, especially if you’re eligible to retire early. That’s why it’s important to sit down and develop a solid financial plan for retirement. Getting educator-specific advice from Certified Financial Planner professionals such as Karen and Lisa is a great way to start.

Enjoying your years, ‘after school’

Although you’ve most likely saved sufficiently and planned well for the years ahead, you need to think of the legacy you want to leave behind. This where the importance of estate planning comes in to provide you and your family with peace of mind when it comes to the distribution of the assets you worked so hard to build over the years. Consulting with your financial advisor on a regular basis is a good idea to ensure that your plan is always up to date, so you can relax and enjoy your retirement years to the fullest.

As always, the key to financial empowerment at any age, male or female, is continuing to enhance your financial knowledge. After all, “the more you know, the more you grow”. So keep learning. Keep sharing. And keep celebrating each and every milestone along the way.

Are you an education member with specific financial questions you need answered?

Educators Financial Group has been helping education members achieve financial freedom for over 40 years. No matter where you are on the pay grid, or what your pension income is in retirement, we can provide you with a financial plan that fits within your specific life stage and budget.

Contact us and we’ll get back to you with educator-specific advice.

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The information provided is general in nature and is provided with the understanding that it may not be relied upon as, nor considered to be, the rendering of tax, legal, accounting or professional advice. Please ensure to consult your accountant and/or legal advisor for specific advice related to your circumstances. Educators Financial Group will not be held responsible or liable for any losses, costs, damages or expenses incurred by reason of reliance as a result of the aforementioned information. The information presented was obtained from sources that are believed to be reliable. However, Educators Financial Group cannot guarantee their completeness or accuracy.

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