The Ultimate Savings Guide for Teachers: A List of Teacher Discounts, Secrets, and Deals

Wondering how to save money as a teacher? With small salaries, big classes, and a lot of financial needs, educators frequently struggle to keep everything under a strict budget. We've created this guide full of money-saving tips for teachers to help you find better educator discounts on everything from 3D printers to field trips to pencils. Get cheaper supplies, attack your college loans, master taxes, and learn new ways to save money as a teacher! 

Getting Started as a Teacher: Important Money Tips Getting Started as a Teacher: Important Money Tips

Getting a teaching position is super-exciting, but it becomes very apparent after a few months that most teachers are strict with their spending for a reason. Learning how to budget on a teacher's salary has as much of a learning curve as most lessons! Here are some tricks for getting started.

How Teacher Loan Forgiveness Works

Teaching full-time for five consecutive years at a low-income school will make you eligible for a forgiveness of $17,500 on direct student loans (subsidized or unsubsidized), assuming you are fully certified as a teacher and meet additional requirements. Also, there is a chance you may qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF). If you've made 120 monthly payments on your direct loans but there is more left over and you're working for a qualified employer, you may have the rest forgiven. This is through the federal government. Your state may also offer a specialized teacher loan forgiveness program as well.

Memberships and Important Groups

There are dozens of potential groups to be a part of as an educator. Consider joining one or a few of them to get special deals, professional development opportunities, and bargaining help.

Mastering the Summer Break

If you're looking at a low paycheck and wondering how to make more money as a teacher, getting a good gig for the summer months may be a reasonable answer. Check local businesses to see if they need summer help; restaurants, stores, and resorts all frequently need more hands in places that people visit on vacation.

Here are a few other options for how to make extra money as a teacher:

  • Blog, contribute, or sell relevant writing in your area of expertise.
  • Tutor kids online.
  • Find an arts-and-crafts hobby that you could sell on Etsy.
  • Earn money on your own schedule with a popular app service like Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Rover, or Instacart.
  • Rent out your house during the summer on Airbnb and go camping.
  • Run a service that's only relevant in the summertime, like a lawn-cutting service.
  • Run special summer events like a writing retreat or a historical tour. You could also find continuing education programs to teach.
  • Become a waiter or bartender for the summer rush.
  • Become a counselor or teacher at a summer camp.

The Real Trick: Saving on School Supplies The Real Trick: Saving on School Supplies

Schools are paying for less and less these days, and teachers who are serving low-income students can't simply ask parents to buy hundreds of dollars of supplies. It often falls on the teacher's shoulders to buy everything from crayons to books to technology. So how can teachers afford it? Where do teachers get discounts?

There are dozens of stores that give teacher discounts with the use of an ID or NEA membership. If you need to buy something, consider buying it in bulk and checking well ahead of time to see if you can get a percentage taken off your order. We've gathered a list of some of the best teacher discounts online to check before you sink hundreds of dollars into necessary books and classroom supplies.

Classroom Supplies Classroom Supplies

If you're struggling to cover basic classroom expenses; don't worry. There are numerous places with teacher discounts as well as consistently affordable online stores like Oriental Trading, Dollar Days, Discount School Supply, K12 School Supplies, Teacher Superstore, and National School Supply. You'll find discount teacher supplies easily at any one of these stores. Note that if your class is in an extreme situation, you may be able to get help from the Kids in Need Foundation, too.

Basic Classroom Supplies

Every paperclip, pencil case, and glue stick can add up. It’s been estimated that nearly 94% of US teachers need to buy their own school supplies, often around $500 per year. Kids coming in without home support or money can’t help it, but teachers having to spend half a grand on the regular is pretty awful. See if you can find wholesale options and deals to cut back on those costs!

Arts and Crafts Supplies

Despite mountains of evidence showing that the arts can have a positive impact on children’s behaviors, attitudes, and expression, when budget cuts have happened, art supplies were the first to go in almost 80% of U.S. school districts since 2008. But a savvy art or elementary teacher who knows where to buy and when can help fill in the gaps. Try these discounts, or start fund-raising with Move Your Mountain or the Art Class Curator Resource Library.

Getting Deals on Books Getting Deals on Books

If your administrator unfortunately believes that cutting back on books is one of the top ways schools can save money, then use these resources to work better with the budget you have. English books especially can be pricey, so consider buying in bulk, grouping purchases with other teachers, or buying used.

Textbooks and Books

Dusty, poorly maintained, and irrelevant books can be a huge disadvantage to a classroom. Don’t assume those are the only options, as places like Scholastic offer amazing bulk-book deals and huge savings besides. Beyond textbooks, you can use these deals to encourage your students to read the books they like to read with your own classroom library; just stamp the inside cover with your name and classroom number.

Magazines and Newspapers

This might be surprising, but news agencies are spending thousands to ensure that the next generation of kids is educated about current events and invested in our world. Magazines and newspapers also make great talking points for class!

Tech Deals Tech Deals

In terms of budget cuts, tech is usually the first to go. But who gives teacher discounts on technology? Luckily, there are ways to save on the classroom tech that you need. (Note that you may also apply for a Best Buy Community Grant for tech-related classroom help.)

Other Deals and Teaching Resources Tech Deals

Of course, teacher deals aren't limited to just classroom supplies. With an NEA membership, you can get deals on clothes, toys, and much more. And there are plenty of other ways to avoid spending extra money unnecessarily on your classroom needs.

Lesson Plans and Free Media

If you're struggling to create lesson plans and activities, you also have access to many free teaching resources through government or private sources. In other words, you shouldn't have to drop hundreds on buying your own DVDs for class.

Teaching Coupons

Note that in addition to hunting for teacher discounts and deals, you can always check for coupons using the Cently Chrome extension or on CouponFollow.com. We have hundreds of deals on popular sites that teachers use, like Amazon, Target, Office Depot, and more. Don't ever pay full price for your classroom supplies!

Fund-Raising, Field Trips, and Working With Parents Fund-Raising, Field Trips, and Working With Parents

Remember: Your school projects don't and shouldn't come out of your own pocket. From grants to local fund-raisers, there's plenty of ways for teachers to raise money for their field trips and special projects. Also, don't forget that teachers themselves can save on travel and tickets quite frequently.

Field Trips 101

A field trip can change a whole child's life; don't let the lack of budget make you shy away from a powerful journey. Here are some travel tips for teachers.

Examples of Discounted Field Trip Locations

Check your local museum, art gallery, children's museum, or tourist attraction for special field trip deals. You'd be surprised by what's right around the corner. Here are some popular examples all around the country.

Hotel and Travel Discounts for Teachers

Traveling back and forth on your field trips, or going on vacation by yourself, doesn't need to cost so much. Find some handy teacher hotel discounts as well as deals on car rentals.

Getting Grants

Certain organizations also award cash for field trips or for any general classroom needs. Consider applying to these:

Fund-Raising and Asking for Help

Having a good relationship with your Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) is an absolutely vital tool for working effectively during a fund-raiser. If your school doesn't already have a PTA, it may be smart to recommend forming one. An organized and passionate PTA can get a great deal done. Be a team player and give everyone clear-cut goals. Here are some pro tips:

  • Engage all parents with an email list.
  • Create clear volunteer schedules, call trees, and check-ins for parents volunteering for events.
  • Have backup plans.
  • Ask for feedback on your plan and adapt to changes.
  • Thank everyone who was involved for every project.
  • Keep everyone informed.
  • Don't forget all necessary forms and paperwork, such as an emergency plan for your kids. Go over what to do in an emergency with both kids and parents.

Parents can come up with some fun and interesting ideas that you may not have thought of. There are dozens of fund-raising ideas to try out; getting your field trip idea paid for may be easier than you think!

Another option that many teachers don't think of is hitting the streets to ask local businesses for financial assistance or help. Local chambers of commerce may already have school-benefiting fund-raisers. Always be sure to ask your school administrators for help as well!

Taxes and Keeping Receipts Taxes and Keeping Receipts

Here's an important tip: Save those receipts! Teachers can qualify for an Educator Expense Deduction up to $250 (or $500 if jointly filing with another teacher). Books, supplies, technology, and athletic equipment can all qualify under the guidelines. Also, don't forget to take any deductions for your own student loans.

The financial life of a teacher seems stressful, but once you find a rhythm, it can be quite rewarding. Keep an eye out for any other school employee discounts, such as deals that might show up during Teacher Appreciation Week. Deals might be available during the second week of May for this observance. Look for special deals at stores like Staples, restaurants like Chipotle, and any participating local businesses.

Remember that so many people in America appreciate you every single day!