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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Overspending!

I went to a really good, "Differentiating in Math" conference for teachers this week.  This wonderful elementary school teacher with 30 years of experience taught us a new, fun math game just about every 5 minutes for an entire day.  I think my overloaded brain began to shut down about 2:15 in the afternoon.  I had copied and typed on my laptop just about every explanation out of her mouth. Then, to top it all off, she handed us all out a 1/2 inch thick book to go with all her other games and activities!  Talk about a goldmine!

I've probably got half as many games as she does already and now I have triple that! What's a teacher to do?  Then her husband was outside in the lobby selling her other books. She must have had about 20 different workbooks with fun science, writing, reading and math games and activities.  What a super teacher!  Each of her books cost $20 dollars and teachers were grabbing up 3 books at a time because she offered a $5.00 discount.
                                                    
I've been out of legislature "classroom spending"  money since December! So as I looked longingly through the stacks of wonderful stuff I was a little jealous of my 2 neighboring teachers who were district trainers and had a stipend to spend on stuff to use for professional development classes for their district teachers.  I know also from experience that whenever I buy a teacher book like that I might use 1 or 2 things out of it and leave the rest.  It's not super cost effective.  So I looked through her sample books and copied down the directions for a few minibooks and science projects and got a few more freebie good ideas.
It is so easy to go overboard when you are a teacher.  I remember when I was a student teacher and my wonderful master teacher was in her early 50s and had taught for over 20 years.  She had so much stuff packed into her little classroom. I remember asking her how much money she spends in a year on her kids. She said easily $3,000 and some years it is more.  EGADS!


 I taught in California for 4 years before moving to Utah and they don't give you a stipend for those expenses that you incur teaching. I got paid $14,000 more in California so it wasn't as painful spending a few hundred dollars a year on my class. But the legislature here does give us more than $100 dollars to spend on kids. I use it usually to buy experiment stuff, craft and art supplies and some party goods and books, books books.  I must have several thousand books in my classroom library. Most of those are really good childrens literature and chapter books for the students. But many of them are teacher books with good ideas I've used over the years.

                                                 Math Games are Fun in my Class at center time.

Well, on the way home from my conference I was listening to talk radio and they were interviewing Governor Chris Christie and how he came into office in New Jersey being promised everything was in order and would go smoothly for him.  He said the first month in office he was shocked to find out he wasn't going to be able to make the payroll for the next month!  The state was millions in the hole. People in their state had increases in taxes 115 times in 8 years. Everybody told him to raise taxes again, there was no other way.  He wouldn't do it. He cut spending across the board by 9% and got a BOATLOAD of flack for it. But he stood firm.
I think I like this guy!

I think this pic of Mitt Romney and Chris Christie might be fortelling ... future running mates? Hmmm...
 It was refreshing listening to him being interviewed. It was very unusual to have someone political talk straight and kind of be bold.  I am so fearful of what will happen to our country if lawmakers can't stop spending our money. The moderator kept saying "When they raise taxes, that just means they are spending more of YOUR money that you earned. It made me kind of bugged, when you look at it that way. Yeah, why are they dipping into my paycheck again? Don't I deserve to keep most of it? Maybe they need to cut their budgets and learn to SPEND LESS!


Sodoku is a brain teaser math game...Fun!

Luckily when I was growing up my parents made us earn treats and special toys we wanted and any clothing we wanted had to be very limited because we had a big family. I remember babysitting at 13 and buying all my own clothes or sewing clothes after that. I never remember mom and dad paying for anything as soon as I could earn my own money.  When I went off to college I was very prepared to keep a checkbook, because I had saved all my own money for college by having 3 part time jobs the last year of high school and working fulltime all summer and getting a scholarship to pay for my tuition.

                                  Do we as consumers overspend like our government does?
                                  What does that teach our kids? Will they be credit debtors too?
 My first day of arrival in my Idaho college town I scoured campus and the small town shops till I found a job in the school library. I never got student loans. I earned and saved  summers between college years.  I worked my way through school and only remember asking mom and dad 1 time to send me $20.00. That was when I went on a 3 week student trip across the United States with a singing group I was in called The New Freedom Singers.  I was very self sufficient by age 16.  I remember my senior year I had quite a big bank account.

My kids were pretty prepared for real life. But we did help with college for 2 years...then they were on their own. 
Kids today, my own  including, are more coddled. We don't make them work that hard, or wait for things they want quite as much.  They get stuff way to easily I think. When I was first dating my husband I remember once his mom handed him a credit card to go buy some new clothes.  He never once looked at a price tag. He grabbed up stuff he wanted and went to pay. I was quite surprised by that. I was only his girlfriend at the time, but I saw how different we were raised. I think because my parents made it harder for me, I learned to be a little more frugal. Well in reality I am cheap and he likes quality stuff. :) 
College aged kids today are bombarded with credit offers...probably super hard to resist!
On the way home from the conference I stopped at Hobby Lobby and I wanted to get first choice of all their St. Patrick's day craft supplies. I bought some half price Valentine rubber stamps and cookie decorating sprinkles and gift bags for next year's class.   But it is easy to spend $15.00 here and there. Teachers do spend a lot on their students. Supply money never really covers all that we want to do.

 I buy mealworms and butterfly gardens every year and air dry clay to do solar systems on foam core board, and lots of stuff from Oriental Trading. It makes your lessons so much better if you have neat stuff to experiment with and for kids to try out and experience first hand. It is always great to get a new book to introduce a new topic you are teaching. It all adds up though.

 I remember when my kids went off to college. They got sent all these credit card applications in the mail. What the heck? Why send things like that to the most vulnerable of all consumers!  Some of my roomates didn't handle life on their own that well, calling home a lot asking mom and dad for more money. The college scene almost encourages the credit card habit.  I wonder if my grandkids will even be able to live the American Dream if we can't get a handle on our huge stack of deficits in the near future.

My students at my school take part in doing Junior Achievement in first grade. The lesson this week was on "Distinguishing Between Needs and Wants".  It was such an interesting lesson and so timely. I appreciate it so much that my students are being taught that some things are not necessary in order to live.  Some things are just desires and we can be happy without a huge list of them. I do get a lot for my money, but even with that, it is hard for me to put the cool book full of games back, when I know I don't really need 25 more.  And I might not really need those glittery 3D shamrocks for our Leprechaun hats. It is not really in "the common core" after all.

                                      College kids are bombarded with credit card offers!
                               Why do credit card companies do that to the most vulnerable?
                                                             Makes me mad!
So sadly I put some glittery green stuff back with a sigh, and wish that I was loaded and could just, well, you know...spoil the little guys rotton!  But I realize that's really the point. It isn't even good for them. When I do buy them fun things I have sometimes heard, "Is that all we get?" Kind of disturbing!.  I hope my kids never said that...

 So I'm taking some advice from Governor Christie.  I'm going to become more fiscally efficient.. And the Jr. Achievement advice; I'm going to get better at distinguishing between "needs and wants".  I guess I really don't need that new dining room set I've been eyeing at Costco after all. I already have 2 nice dining room sets.  What would I do with the old one?  My kids all have nicer furniture than I do, nobody ever wants my hand me downs!  Funny because I remember our first 5 years of marriage all we owned were hand me down pieces. Hmmm...
I hope we can get a handle on our government's overspending...so my grandkids won't suffer the consequences...
I hope our country can get it together and slash spending a bit and clear out  unnecessary government programs. Can they distinguish between true needs and lobbyists' or deep pocket contributors' wants and start being a lot more fiscally responsible.We ought to demand it.  I hope as a teacher and as a parent I can set a better example too.We don't have debt except our mortgages. So that is a good thing. And maybe I can still keep the little bottle of green glitter in my shopping cart.....yeah I know it's not a need....but hey, it was 30% off this week.

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