For many teachers, summers provide a break from the late nights, stressful days, and countless hours of planning. They’re a time to travel to a favorite vacation spot, finally tackle that project around the house, or maybe even work a part-time job for extra income. However, summers may also be used as a time to “get ahead.” Here are three things STRS Ohio members may wish to consider as the summer months approach.
1. Increase 403(b) contributions
Each school district will be different, but if you know your contract provides a raise next year then take advantage of it. The summer months may be an opportune time for you to increase your 403(b) contributions or start contributing to a 403(b) for the first time. For some, this raise may be significant. For others, it may be nominal or non-existent. Increasing your 403(b) contributions by an amount similar to your raise should leave you with a paycheck similar to what you received last year. As you approach retirement, you’ll look back and smile as this seemingly small change can make a big difference in when you’re able to call it quits.
2. Take inventory
The summer months should provide more time to focus on your finances. Use this time to take inventory of your financial situation. What are some items you should pay special attention to?
- View your annual STRS Ohio statement. Whether you receive your annual statement in print or access it online, be sure to review it after June 30th to confirm service credit from the previous year is accounted for. In addition, make note of your projected retirement, disability, and survivor benefits.
- Review your auto and homeowners insurance. Many times, these policies renew at year-end when you’re just too busy to pay close attention to the changes. Make sure your limits of coverage are adequate, your deductibles appropriate, and your premiums reasonable. I recommend you consult an agency that represents multiple insurance companies so they may impartially shop your coverage. In addition, always ask if the insurance company provides additional discounts to teachers!
- Confirm no changes are necessary to your life insurance and estate plan. In addition, make sure the beneficiaries on your life insurance and retirement accounts remain as you wish. If you don’t have life insurance or estate planning documents (Will, Powers of Attorney, etc), use the summer months to get these documents in place!
3. Plan ahead
Ok, it’s the summer. I know no one wants to think about the upcoming school year. However, planning ahead may prevent some of the stress accompanying the start of the new year. Imagine what that first month would be like if you could simply ease back into it and not have to worry about the late nights of lesson planning. Do what you can to prepare yourself for the inevitable. Enjoy your summer break, but spend some time planning ahead. That way, instead of long hours at the beginning of the school year, you are able to come home, enjoy what’s left of the warm evenings, and relax with family and friends!
I hope the summer months treat you well!