Money saving tips for TEFLers

As we don’t seem to have made all TEFLers better paid just by blogging about it (what is wrong with this world???), here are some tips I have been collecting from other teachers and TEFL blogs and forums over the years on how to make the money that you do have stretch:

1. You can easily make bead curtains and washing lines from paperclips taken from school

2. Rubber bands and a piece of cardboard make a great replacement for a fan for your teacher’s accommodation

3. Rubber bands can also be used as a replacement for a dartboard if you wish to set up your flat as a venue for other teachers who can’t afford to drink in pubs. In that case, sniffing Tippex and the ink from permanent markers is a good replacement for alcohol (leave actually drinking of these liquids just for special occasions)

4. Take at least 10 small empty mineral water bottles into the school and every time you fill one up from the mineral water dispenser secretly swap it with another empty one from your bag. That way, when you carry them all home you’ll have enough to wash up and flush the toilet a couple of times a week, even when your own water supply is cut off.

5. Make the last cup of tea or coffee of the day in your vacuum mug actually just a cup of hot water, and use that to shower when you get home. As with the mineral water above, using several during the day can really add up! In a similar way, putting creamer, milk, a tea bag or some instant coffee into your mug and then only pretending to pour water into it means that you can easily take the ingredients back home.

6. Shredded school documents, e.g. CVs of all the teachers who turned down jobs there once they realised what it was really like, can easily be made into a pillow by stuffing them into two A3 pieces of paper stapled together

7. Wear a pad filled with charcoal between your trousers and your arse and spend every moment you can in school leaning against the radiator. The heat the charcoal absorbs should keep you warm for at least the first half hour back home

8. Put similar charcoal-stuffed cushions on your students’ chairs, then take them home and use the accumulated body heat to warm up your mattress

9. Microwave your dinner and rush it home to eat. Doing the same with your breakfast and wrapping it in 16 layers of aluminium foil has also been known to work.

10. While you are in lessons, leave your mobile phone’s camera videoing the TV in reception and then watch the recording when you get home as a replacement for having a TV yourself. Alternatively, record your most incomprehensible student on the school Dictaphone and listen to that in the evenings until you work out what he or she was trying to say

11. Collect student mistakes and use them as a replacement for TV comedy and Bill Bryson books

12. Microwave a hot water bottle, rush it back home and stick it in your bed

13. Use water soluble whiteboard pens as a replacement for make up

14. Cover your bag, textbooks etc with those fluorescent star things and use them for lighting when you get back home

15. Use the (for some reason always C&W style) songs in Headway as a replacement for karaoke. Even better, young learner songs often have a version with no lyrics to sing along to.

16. Sell all the textbooks your school gives you for each term and then buy much more bashed up second hand copies to replace them

17. Carry all your textbooks and marking back home every day as a replacement for going to the gym. You could also try wearing wrist and ankle weights in class (available from pound shops), making writing on the board a real workout!

18. Virtually every kind of furniture can be made from empty photocopy boxes, although I have only tried bookshelves, a wardrobe and a sofa myself.

19. Take home the cardboard clocks that teachers use for teaching the time and a stopwatch that they use for races. Set the cardboard clock at the right time as you leave the school, then add the time it probably took you to get home. Start the stopwatch, and you can work out the real time for the next 12 hours by adding the numbers on the stopwatch to the time on the cardboard clock. The same thing works with an egg timer in place of a stopwatch, making a notch on the door each time you have to turn it over.

20. Using the puppets from YL classes in a box cut out to look like a TV can be a great replacement for the real thing

21. Sleep with other teachers for warmth

22. Print out the whole of Wikipedia on the school printers and use that as reading matter

23. Use three layers of tissue when helping the kindy kids to wipe their nose, drool etc and put them in your pocket. Once you have thrown away the top layer you will have two perfectly serviceable tissues left. Alternatively, use kitchen roll rather than tissue and just rip off the bit that got soiled and use the rest.

24. Pretend to wash your hands right at the end of the day and preserve the soap in your left hand until you get home, to be used as shampoo or washing up liquid

25. Record your lessons on video and use the tapes as a replacement for Blockbusters

26. Record your lessons on the school Dictaphone or the classroom’s tape recorder and use the school’s collection of TEFL songs and baroque music as much as you can in the class, then fast forward through the tape when you get home so that you can play just the musical bits during romantic meals for two

More ideas (e.g. how to make nappies out of classroom supplies) gratefully accepted.

If you liked this…

…maybe you need to get out more! Alternatively, you could try these


Coming soon- Money making tips for TEFLers

This entry was posted in TEFL pay, Working conditions and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Money saving tips for TEFLers

  1. David V. says:

    Tried variations of many of these tips and they’ve seen me right.

  2. tamstertravels says:

    This made ma laugh so much as I am ploughing my way through a TEFL course in preparation to a poorly paid job in Bangkok… reminds me of the Viz comic letters page! Funny, funny, funny! x

  3. Alex Case says:

    I was hoping no one would notice how much of a rip off of Viz it was…

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