Thinking of giving up teaching? Get the money sorted.

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"I'm thinking of giving up teaching.  How much do I need to be able to leave?” is one of the questions that I get asked quite frequently. 

You might be thinking about retirement and wondering if you've got enough money to retire.  Alternatively, you might be fed up with education and thinking about leaving teaching, but you're not sure how much money you need to earn, or need to have, to leave. 

If this sounds like you, then I'm here to help you find the answers. If you prefer to listen, rather than read, then you can listen in over on my Your Money Sorted Teachers' Podcast.  

Early retirement from teaching

Let's start with retirement. 

I had always planned to be giving up teaching at 55, go traveling for a year around Europe in my camper van. However, I discovered that because I've been working part-time, my predicted pension was way less than I imagined.

As well as working part-time, I had also stopped paying my AVCs when I had the kids, which had an impact on the amount that I was going to have available on retirement.

I was also really focused on the kids' future and being able to help them through university was really important to me, so we have put money aside since they were born to fund that.  The downside of that was that I forgot about myself and my own retirement provision.

Pension shock

The Teachers' Pension is known to be a good pension scheme, so I didn't really give my pension much thought.  I had been paying into it since I started teaching and assumed it would all be fine. 

However, when I checked my pension a few years ago I realised that it was only going to pay out £6,000 a year. And that was if I taught until my Normal Pension Age (NPA) of 60 (in the final salary scheme) or 67 in the CARE scheme. 

If I was to be giving up teaching at 55 then my pension was going to be reduced significantly from that £6,000 figure.  It was certainly not going to be enough! 

I spent a few years in the doldrums, thinking that my dreams of early retirement were doomed, imagining myself still teaching at 67 and kicking myself for being so stupid!

Eventually, I realised that was pointless and I had to take action.  

The first thing I started to do was research and find out how much I thought I would actually need in retirement. 

giving up teaching

It's often less than you think.

Often people think of their current salary, compare it to their pension and think that giving up teaching is impossible!  However, generally most people, by retirement age, have got lower outgoings.  The mortgage will often be paid off, children are financially independent and commuting costs are gone! 

Research by Which in 2021, showed that for a couple to have a luxurious retirement, including long-haul holidays and a new car every five years, would need £41,000 in today’s money. A single person to have that similar lifestyle would need £31,000 a year.

If you want a comfortable lifestyle rather than a luxurious one, you could get by as a couple on £26,000 a year and as an individual would be £19,000 a year. To cover the bare essentials, a couple would need £18,000 a year and an individual would need £13,000 a year. 

These figures should give you a rough starting point. Don't forget that at your State Pension Age, you are also likely to be eligible for State Pension, which currently stands at just over £9300 a year.  

When should I start thinking about this?

Now!  Seriously, it doesn't matter what age you are or what stage of your career you are at, the sooner you check your pension statement the better.  Hopefully, having checked it you can relax, knowing that you can retire whenever you choose, or if there is a shortfall, then the sooner you can take action to rectify this.   


Where should I start?

Find out how much your teacher's pension is predicted to payout. Depending on where you work in the UK, it might be with the Scottish Public Pensions Agency (SPPA), the Teachers' Pensions site or the Northern Ireland Pension Scheme.

Each of these sites allows you to download a pension statement, which gives you a starting figure to work from and determine whether you have got enough to provide for the retirement you want.

It can be a wee bit tricky to work out what it actually means and so I’ve got a freebie to help you to work that out. 

Need extra help understanding your pension?

If you, like many other teachers, are a wee bit confused by the whole pension scheme thing, then make sure you check out my podcast on the basics of Teachers Pensions. It's a non-jargon, simple-to-understand chat about the basics of your pension. If you prefer to read, then you can check out my Teachers' Pensions FAQs post. 

Giving up teaching before retirement age

For some teachers, the thought of being in the classroom until retirement age is just too much. They want out now. 

However, many feel totally stuck in teaching because they just don't know what else to do.

I once felt that way. I felt that I just had to keep teaching because my income was higher than my husband’s and there was a huge pressure to stay in teaching, even when I really wasn't all that happy about it.

However, I knew that something needed to change, before I cracked, and fortunately, we were in a relatively stable financial position. Security was always important to me and we had very little debt, a low mortgage, and had a little bit of savings. That allowed me to take the gamble of dropping down to two days teaching and starting my own business. 

Having that financial security makes all the difference to being able to take the next step.

retire from teaching

How much do you need if you are giving up teaching?

First of all, you need to work out how much you actually need to survive each month.

The 2 big questions that you have to answer are:

How much do I need to bring in each month to just survive?

How much would I need to bring in so that I can thrive?

These will help you work out your Survive and Thrive Costs, which then allows you to work out what kind of salary you would need to make in another job.

Often, you'll find that you can actually reduce your salary and still get a better quality of life because you've got more time, reduced the stress that often comes with teaching and you are happier.  Money can't buy that!  

However, the reality is that we need money to survive and I help people to maximise the money they do have, as well as find more money and create a life that works better for them.  You can get started right now.  

Once I had worked out my ideal retirement income and my survive and thrive costs, I was then able to start planning how I could still retire from teaching at 55, without living on a tiny pension. 

Just 7 years after I started out on this journey, I now know that I can retire at 55, with enough money to allow me to live a full and happy retirement.  In fact, I might even consider giving up teaching before then, if I ever decide that it's not for me any longer.  The beauty is that I now know I don't need to stay in teaching just for the money; I stay in teaching because I genuinely love my teaching again! 

Hopefully, this information will help you to start to plan effectively so that you too can leave teaching whenever you choose.  It doesn't matter whether it's in 6 months, 6 years, at 66 or 69 (which could be the NPA for our youngest teachers, depending on whether the State Pension Age rises again).  The important thing is that you KNOW you can leave when you choose.  The peace of mind that comes from that is just amazing.  

Eileen x

Hi, I’m Eileen Adamson, teacher, money coach, host of Your Money Sorted Teachers' Podcast and ex co-host of BBC podcast Clever About Cash.  I help female teachers to become happier, healthier and wealthier.

Find out more about my membership group - The Money Cafe.  It's a friendly, safe space for teachers who want to feel good about money

For more information on how I can help you, please see my coaching courses, my favourite products and services, my Etsy shop or my Amazon shop.

financial coach for teachers

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