Teacher Bonus!! What to do with the Windfall?


I was pleasantly shocked this week, when it was announced that we would have a quick staff meeting after school.  Everyone growled at this idea of staying late to listen to the principal talk about nonsense.  I bet it has to do with seniors sneaking off campus again, or the freshman and their weird fascination with the Juul devices, even though they don’t smoke.  This was probably the fastest staff meeting ever.  They stood up on the stage of the theatre quickly yelled out, like they were Oprah, that every employee of the district was getting a $1,000 bonus check to be picked up outside the theatre door!  Everyone yelled, screamed, cheered, and I sat calculating with no expression. I wasn’t expecting that announcement, and with me and my wife both working for the district I knew we had $2,000 coming our way.

I actually didn’t get my check until the next day, because the the line was too long, and I went to basketball practice.  But, walking through the mass of excited teachers I could overhear the spending ideas each of them had for their money.  I heard of more books to read by a few English teachers, video games by the some younger, nerdy, gamer, math guys, and some mothers talk about how they will shop for more Christmas gifts.  I walked away thinking I can save $2,000 to add to a retirement fund at the end of the year.

But, as I walked through the long corridor towards the gym, I began to think that maybe I would use the money someway different, and maybe be normal for once.  I didn’t want or need anything.  With the markets going down, I didn’t want to go buying anything investment wise.  I did want some books, but I just went to the library and got some to read.  I didn’t have any need for the extra money.  I could just give it all away to random people around Christmas time, and show the kids charity and goodwill. I could just save it for future travel plans, pay off my mortgage more, or use it to build a porch by my future vineyard in the yard by the fire pit.  Heck, I could upgrade the fire pit!  But, none of it felt right.

So a week passed and my $1,000 check is in my savings just sitting there.  My wife is handling her $1,000 how ever she wants because, she never spends money and she is also struggling to figure out what to do with $1,000 and we decided to keep this separate.  Christmas shopping is done, so she told me maybe get the kids some good shoes and then she is stuck with at least $850 left and no good ideas either.  We could take the kids someplace fun, like Dave and Buster’s and blow a quick $200!

It’s a strange situation to be in, just getting money, when you are so use to living on a budget, having your financial house in order, and having all your needs and most wants met though a plan we have devised.  We have longterm plans to travel with money in the account ready to go.  We have accounts for a future vehicles, and we pay double or triple on the mortgage each month.  So, $2,000 extra for the family is confusing to us since we have a plan in place for our extras already.  This has never happened to me as a teacher before, to just get a bonus.  I work extra duties to get extra pay, but I put the extra duty money into my travel fund, or spend it on my property improvements such as planting fruit trees and getting bee hives.  I always have a plan ahead of time for the extra money.

I could always do something crazy like buy a whole Bitcoin if the price goes low enough and hold it over a long time just in case it wants to make a run again.  I could throw a party and have it catered by Chick-fil-A for the New Year.  I could put a nice spoiler on the Honda Civic and put in a tape player for my old tapes in the attic.  I could buy a pool table and put it in my dining room that still sits empty.  I could just buy 100 tacos and have an eating contest with my friends.  I just don’t know…

So, if you needed nothing and wanted nothing, and had a plan for everything, what would you do with a free $2,000 for your family?  It’s like wining the lottery and being content with your life.  I’m not sure I would change much if I won the lottery either.  What would you do?



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  1. Nice to get unexpected bonuses, and nobody deserves it more than dedicated education professionals like you and your wife! I used to get a pretty significant amount of my pay in the form of bonuses and stock options. Sometimes it was like having a second income and sometimes it was zero. But we lived on about half of my base salary and saved the other half so on the good years when we got stock or bonuses we pretty much just had a nice dinner out and saved everything else in a brokerage account. It really added up and helped let me retire years earlier than I ever thought I would. Most people leverage up their standard of living with those bonuses which really puts them in a bind on the years they don’t come through. You and your wife are the smart ones in the bunch! And again, thank you for your service.


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