Should I stay for my teaching pension

EP 49 – Emily Maretsky: Should You Stay For Your Teaching Pension


In this episode, I interview Emily Maretsky. Emily is a high school teacher and financial coach for educators, based in NYC. She’s worked in public charter, and international schools in the US and abroad, as well as in the tech industry. Now she runs the @teacherfinancialcoach Instagram to teach teachers about personal finance.

Listen to the episode in the podcast player below, or find it on Apple Podcast or Spotify.

Emily’s Journey to Education

DAPHNE (WILLIAMS) GOMEZ: Hello, Emily, how are you doing today?

EMILY MARETSKY: Just getting back, Friday after first couple of weeks of teaching. So, I was surviving so far.

DAPHNE: Not your very first ever time teaching, but your first few weeks of teaching this school year?

EMILY MARETSKY: : Yes, this is a year 10 for me.

DAPHNE: Did you start off a little bit by introducing yourself and tell us a little bit more about the work that you do outside of the classroom as well?

EMILY MARETSKY: I am a career and technical education teacher focusing on engineering. I’m based in New York city. In addition to my work in the classroom, I also run a personal finance Instagram account specifically for teachers. I do that at teacher financial coach on Instagram.

But mainly my goal is just to help teachers understand the benefits that come with the job financially and just plan out a more secure financial future. Like no one really teaches us the things about the pension and how to invest. I really am just trying to bridge that gap for a lot of teachers. Make sure they’re in a good.

DAPHNE: We will definitely dive into pension questions specifically because that’s one of the biggest challenges that people who are thinking of leaving the career end up finding that as a roadblock of whether or not they should leave or stay due to specifically where they are, if they’re close to vesting, if they’ve already vested, and so we’ll talk about that a little bit in the future.

I know that you have had a pretty unique career journey. You worked in a different industry and then made that career change back into teaching. Then you left teaching and then you came back again.

Do you want to talk just a brief few minutes about that? Because I know people are probably interested to hear that story too.

EMILY MARETSKY: I did not grow up thinking I would become a teacher. I actually studied engineering and journalism when I was in college. Then I worked in user experience at the New York Times after I graduated, but I was kind of having some doubts about whether a desktop was a good fit for me.

So, I took a volunteer teaching job in Micronesia for a year in my early twenties and ended up loving it so much that when I moved back to New York City, I did an alternative certification program, started working in the public schools as a math teacher here, but like a lot of new teachers. I just got used to saying yes to a lot of things. I had a ton of stuff on my plate. Things were just feeling really overwhelming for me.

So, I actually left my school in Brooklyn after three years. I took a job at an international school in Bangkok where I taught for a little bit, came back to the U.S. Worked in a charter school.

Then I actually worked at an education non-profit run by a tech company out in the bay area in California. I was working like I worked in classrooms a little bit, but also just spent a lot of time in curriculum development, which I really loved and was able to really expand on learning some like maker technology, like very much up my engineering alley.

For personal reasons, I actually had to leave that job and I moved back to New York City and I went back into the classroom where I am now. I have found a school that has just a much better work-life balance for me, an administration that’s super trusting, found some classes that I really love teaching. So that’s where I am now. Then, I do the Instagram on the side as well.

DAPHNE: Do you feel like you’re going to stay in teaching for the rest of your career, are you always open to other opportunities?

EMILY MARETSKY: I tended to bounce around quite a lot. Right now I’d say I’m pretty happy with teaching, although there’s definitely like up and down moments.

So I wouldn’t say I’m in teaching for the rest of my career, but I definitely think like education is like in my blood, whether that be in the classroom, or more in curriculum development, or educating people around personal finances. One way or another teaching somehow.

DAPHNE: I love that. That’s something that people always struggle with. The idea of if they leave the classroom, they’re no longer a teacher, but honestly that’s going to be embedded until like your soul for the rest of your life, whether or not you work at a restaurant, you’re going to end up teaching everyone what to do with that restaurant.

You are never going to be a part from that part of who you are. I love that you’ve started focusing on teaching in your own unique way, um, outside of the classroom on a different subject matter, which is finance.

How did you get started with teacher financial coach? Is this something that you studied or a field that you worked in before teaching?

EMILY MARETSKY: I actually never formally studied finance. I am completely self-taught, but I love this subject. Something I had never really focused on earlier in my career. So, I really love it and don’t mind spending all my outside of work hours kind of learning more. I actually got into this at a happy hour with some teacher friends a couple years ago.

I’m sure you know those Friday afternoons where you go out with your coworkers, a tough work week, and people are wondering, “How many years do I have left in the classroom?”

I’m thinking about leaving New York city or I just want to try something else. In New York city for our pension tier, we have to be in the classroom for 10 years in order to vest in the pension and myself and most of my friends at that point were about halfway in and we’re like, “Can we keep doing this for another five years? What would it be like if I were to leave? What would be the financial fallout?”

After that conversation, I went home that weekend and just ran some spreadsheet numbers and was pretty surprised about what I would be missing out on. If I were to leave without taking the pension. It really wasn’t a huge deal. I actually figured out that I might actually be better off if I didn’t get a pension and vested on my own.

So, that just kind of opened the door for me. I started really learning more about how pensions work in general, how I should be investing on my own, really researching everything HR related to learn like what my benefits are and that sort of thing.

Then just over time, I’d kind of started to become the teacher. People would go to when they had questions about this. That’s kind of where the Instagram took off.

Understanding the Difference Between Pensions and 401Ks

DAPHNE: Let’s start to dive a little bit into the pension question and for anybody who’s listening, Emily and I actually hopped on a YouTube video. You can find it at teachercareercoach.com/pensionvideo. Just one word for anyone easy access because some of the topics that we’re going to talk about right now are hard to describe in just audio.

You need to see visuals. There’s a couple of charts and graphs, but I’ll link it in today’s show notes. I’m going to also remind you of that at the very end of this conversation for anyone listening, if you’re interested more, but what you said about whether or not you should leave due to the pension, that’s everyone refers to it as like the golden handcuffs.

I think that it is a little bit of gaslighting that happens at school districts, where they wave things over your head of why you can’t leave. Usually it’s, “You can’t leave because of the students.” But then if that doesn’t work, if it starts to seem like people are struggling with whether or not they’re staying in the classroom, it’s “Well, you have job security here.”

You have good benefits and you have a pension, but if you start to look at other careers, like other careers also have benefits, other careers also have these things. So, it’s always like, well, do the other careers have a pension? So for me, I struggled with this also.

I didn’t really know what the difference was going to be. Pension on paper sounds better than a 401k. Everyone says, “Well, pensions are very rare. You’re really lucky to have this pension.”

I looked into it and I did the math and if I stayed in a career that was making me very, very, very unhappy at the time, for two more years, I was going to vest into my pension to have $500 more per month. I was able to actually see that calculation and say, oh, I am in my thirties. I can easily figure that out. There’s no reason to stay to vest, but this is something that is challenging for teachers.

How do you start to help teachers understand the difference between pensions and 401Ks?

EMILY MARETSKY: Absolutely. I really think you hit the nail on the head. We hear so much about how great pensions are, but there’s a lot more to that story. So if you are a teacher who works 30 years in the same district or the same state, yes, you will get a really large pension, but that’s not the reality for most teachers.

Only about half of teachers in New York state where I am even receive a pension at all. And many of those folks who do get a pension are getting a pretty small one. Unless you’re willing to invest 30 years in this career, the pension might not end up paying out as much as you think, especially if you’re starting teaching early in your career.

So, if you started in your early, mid, maybe even late twenties, if you’ve worked less than 15 years, it might actually work out better for you to take the money that you’ve paid into the pension, not get the pension, and invest instead.

For most states, if you don’t vest in the pension, they’ll give you your pension contributions back, which you can then roll into an IRA and that money will grow on its own over time to provide you with a good amount of money in retirement. So, you’re really not giving up that much if you’re still early to mid career.

It’s like later in your career, if you’re 20 years in, or if you’re older, where that becomes a bigger piece of the calculation, which you’d want to understand.

DAPHNE: That’s exactly where I was at. The advice I always gave teachers about this was I was in a unique situation in my own life. I do not know the other things that they have going on in their life.

So, making sure that they’ve talked to people at their school district about what their contract looks like, what their pension plan looks like, what their retirement looks like. But for me, it made sense to pull it and then just invest it on my own.

It was just some paperwork and the reason why moving it rolling it into a new plan is the most beneficial for me is it was just easier for me to figure out where all of my money was as well.

I had a couple of different jobs with different retirement plans, but if you end up leaving that position and going to a new company, you can just roll over what you’ve invested into new places with, I think, it’s no fines. If you roll it into a retirement plan, correct me if I’m wrong there.

EMILY MARETSKY: Absolutely. If you roll it over into another retirement account, you shouldn’t be paying fees. You shouldn’t be paying taxes as long as you do that from one retirement account to another, it should be fine.

Outside of teaching people change jobs frequently, usually every couple of years. So it’s very, very common for people to have a savings account with one company and then you roll it over to your savings account at your next company, or you manage it on your own. So it’s very common to have that.

What to Understand if You’re Further in Your Career

DAPHNE: One thing that I heard you talk about though is later in your career how much more important the pension calculation is because it seems like if you’re in your twenties and your thirties and you do not think that you’re going to retire in teaching it, calculations wise, it does not add up.

Once again, I’ll link that video where we show in a chart, what that looks like, but when you’re later in your career, what starts to happen there?

EMILY MARETSKY: Yes. So what happens later in your career is your salary goes up and at that point you have many more years of service to count towards your pension. That’s where the numbers really start to increase and they increase pretty quickly for your pension amount in the last 10 years of a long teaching career.

The second piece is if you are retiring from teaching close to actual retirement age, like you’re finishing your career around 55-60, whatever your retirement age is, you’re going to be collecting that full amount of your pension. If you are leaving teaching younger, let’s say you’re leaving at 30 or 35.

Your pension is going to lose value over time because it’s a static number versus the cost of everything around you, housing, food, anything really, grows with inflation, but your pension does not. So it really declines over time versus if you’re going to collect that pension soon, you won’t have to worry about that as much.

I show a bunch of these examples, how it works for teachers who are career changers at the end of their career, teachers who work a full career versus teachers who just start in their twenties or thirties and work a couple years, I show how that math is going to work out for people.

DAPHNE: One thing that I noticed in our video, it teachercareercoach.com/pensionvideo. Last time I’ll plug it before we move on to other topics. But one thing that I noticed you talked about is career changers, who are later in life and how the pension actually works in their favor.

So I thought to myself if I still have my teaching license, and if for some reason I don’t have career stability towards the end of my life, could I potentially go back into the classroom when I’m in my fifties and put in a couple of years of service and then get that pension?

EMILY MARETSKY: Absolutely. I’ve actually never been asked that before, but I’ve actually thought about that myself. If I were to leave teaching, if I were to return to the district, I work in for the last couple of years, right before I retire, my pension would be like a great deal for me right at the end of my career because it would be based off of my highest earning years and I would collect immediately. So there would be no loss to inflation. Absolutely.

DAPHNE: That’s one strategy that I was thinking. Would you want to leave your money in the pension program with that time gap in between just to keep it safe or is there a time limit that you can leave a district before returning?

EMILY MARETSKY: Absolutely. And that’s something that you should look into. If you are going to move out of your district or move into a new job. The pension rules differ for every state.

In New York, if you are not vested in the pension, you have seven years where you can keep that time credit and keep your 403B money before you have to move it. If you are vested, you can keep it there forever and then you could return towards the end of your career.

Just knowing the rules about that and how it works in your state is quite important. If that’s something you might think about, I definitely hear from teachers who are like, “I’m going to leave, but I might come back. What should I do?” I’m like, “Well, think about that timeline for yourself.” That will help you think about if you want to keep your money there, or if you want to move things,

The Advantages and Disadvantages to 403Bs?

DAPHNE: I heard a little buzz word that I want to pivot and talk about, which is 403Bs. I know I talked about it on an earlier episode some with Rachel Scott of Teacher Talk Money. 403Bs.

Why do you think they’re so important for teachers? I’m assuming you do think that.

EMILY MARETSKY: : I do think they’re important in general. I think all teachers should start investing today. It just gives you a lot more flexibility with your retirement plans.

So if you are someone who stays in the classroom for 30 years and you get a pension, the money you’ve put aside into your 403B, for example, will give you extra money on top of the pension. If you’re a teacher who doesn’t end up staying to get the pension, the 403B is, is your money.

As long as you save up enough, by the time you want to retire, that money is still there for you. In fact, if you saved up a ton in a 403B account early in your career, you might even be able to retire at the age of like 50 or 55. There are teachers who save pretty aggressively in those accounts who are able to retire early because they’ve just done such a good job of investing.

DAPHNE: What is the advantage of a 403B?

EMILY MARETSKY: A 403B is very, very similar to a 401k, which most companies will offer you as a retirement plan. 403Bs are just tax advantage retirement accounts, but the big thing is that 403Bs are not regulated as heavily as 401k plans. So if you are in a district that is serviced by a 403B provider, it is so incredibly important that you do your research on that company.

Even if you literally type the name of the company into Google, you should be able to find out if they’re a good provider or a not so good provider. One big hint, if you are thinking about, you know, you’re looking at your HRS10, 403B providers for your district, and you’re trying to decide which one, if the company sends a representative to your school and they offer you Starbucks cards, or they’re offering you food, or they’re giving you free meetings, that is like a red flag, that they are going to charge you really high fees.

They’re charging you that because they are actually salespeople and they’re gonna be making a commission off of your business. Even if you’re getting charged like a one or two or 3% fee, which sounds really small over the course of your teaching career, that will add up to potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars of fees because they get taken each year and they grow over time.

So, it’s so important that you research those options. There’s a Facebook group called 403B Wise that I highly recommend. If you have questions, there are teachers out there who will look at your options for you and recommend some of the better providers. So that’s one thing.

And, Daphne, I’m just going to keep going because there’s another great account for teachers called a 457B. Most teachers have access to a 457B through their state. So it works just like a 403B, but because it’s offered to all state employees and oftentimes it’s run by the state, the fees are extremely low.

While some 403Bs will charge one to 3%, a 457B might charge 0.05%. So it’s just significantly cheaper and better managed. So you, if you have access to that, that’s a great one and you don’t have to wait until 59 and a half to collect 457Bs don’t have age restrictions. That’s definitely a great option. If you have that available to you, which most public school teachers should.

DAPHNE: I remember, I have a couple of things I want to talk about one, the predatory…. I remember the salespeople coming and I signed up for a 403B with someone who came to my school district. I think he offered me sandwiches. I ate the sandwiches, but then it was so weird that we met at a coffee shop to talk about my options.

He was so excited to help me and I was very transparent. What are your fees? What is your commission? Like, can you please explain that? And he told me to my face, there are no fees. This is just the business that I do. He never was honest.

I know that that’s not accurate. So I know I’m not going to go with you now that you said something like that, but there are probably so many people that he’s done that to that he said, “Oh, there’s no fees.” It feels like that should be more heavily regulated.

That should be illegal, which I don’t know if that’s illegal, that he told me that there’s no fees when there were clearly some sort of commission that he’s receiving for his time with me, or he wouldn’t have met at a coffee.

EMILY MARETSKY: Exactly. If there was no commission for him, he wouldn’t be meeting with you. Just be extremely cautious and do the research on your own to make sure you’re not in that situation because I speak to so many folks who are.

DAPHNE: There’s also something that you talked about, um, with, I think you said it’s a 457B. So, with the 457B, I believe that I saw this happen at one of my old school districts, because you said that there is not an age limit of when you can take out the money and this could have been them using their 403B as well.

Let me know if I’m on the right track here. But one of the teachers that I worked with was saving up money to buy a house and she was putting all of her investment money into one of these types of funds and I believe that it had a stipulation that basically you can save up money, earn interest.

Then remove a certain amount from this fund in order to put a down payment down on a house and with minimal fees and just paying herself back with interest instead of taking out more of a loan.

Have you heard of that? Is that part of the program?

EMILY MARETSKY: It’s tricky. These different plans have different rules around when you can withdraw that sort of thing. I generally recommend against borrowing from your retirement accounts. T

here are some situations where it is okay to do so. With the 457B you have access to those funds without penalty when you leave service. So definitely if someone were to leave a district and move on, they might be able to withdraw exactly what they have in there, potentially paying a lot of taxes on it, but that is one way you could use the money in that way. Yeah.

DAPHNE: So, you would recommend putting, if you’re saving for a down payment for a house, leaving it in a different type of fund because pulling it from the retirement investment?

I’m just making the assumption, because of the compound interest, you’re losing a lot more money taking it out for this specific purpose?

EMILY MARETSKY: Yeah. There is a lot out on the internet that you can read about with regards to saving for retirement versus saving for a down payment and investing in real estate.

The stock market gives much higher returns than most real estate investments over time. So, if you’re putting a lot of your retirement money into the purchase of a home, sure that will grow your house will continue to grow it’s cost over time, but not as much as the money would sitting in a stock market account for your retirement

DAPHNE: Going into it, I know we kind of have covered some of your top favorites. What are your other favorite types of teacher finance topics to cover?

Should I stay for my teaching pension

Crunching Numbers and Calculating Savings

EMILY MARETSKY: I would say the pension is a big one just because it’s kind of like this black box for a lot of teachers. So I like to demystify that and just show examples of what the pension formula would give to different teachers depending on their age and also how long they’ve been in the district.

I like to run those numbers frequently. I also get a lot of questions around if people are saving “enough” for retirement, which is a really complicated question. And a lot of it depends on how much money do you want to live on in retirement.

If I meet with someone for like a coaching session and we’re talking about retirement, I always say like, “What’s your income goal in retirement?” And 90% of the time, people have never thought about that question before. That’s kind of like as a teacher, if you were to start teaching a unit and didn’t know what your goals were for the end of the unit.

How can you effectively if you don’t know where you’re going? So figuring out how much you want to earn in retirement, if you’re getting a pension, how much that’s going to provide you of your goal and then figuring out how are you going to make up the rest of that money? Some of it’s going to come from social security, but that third big piece is your personal investments.

If you want to make $80,000 per year as a retiree, if your pension provides 40,000 social security might give you 20,000, how are you going to make up that remaining 20,000 so you’re comfortable in retirement? Some people are actually over contributing to their retirement accounts. Other people are under contributing. So it’s just kind of figuring out those puzzle pieces.

DAPHNE: Why do you think that it’s so important for teachers to sit down and do these calculations like right now, like right after they listened to this interview?

EMILY MARETSKY: It’s important to know where you’re at. A lot of people are just blindly saving for retirement. Honestly, I was blindly saving for retirement for most of my twenties and had no idea how much I had or how much that was going to give me in retirement.

Figuring out what your pension is going to give you, figuring out how much you will amass in your own personal savings by the time you retire just kind of gives you a better picture. So for example, maybe you’d sit down and people who stay in the New York City public schools for 30 to 35 years have a massive pension.

Some of those folks are also putting away $20,000 per year into their 403B. So when they realize how much that’s going to give them a retirement, they’re like, “Oh, maybe I don’t need that much.”

So they can start actually decreasing how much they need to save for retirement and start putting that into a down payment account. Instead they’re like so many things you can better plan for. If you understand more about how each of these pieces work.

DAPHNE: I always feel like seeing the clear numbers that clear data helps take a lot of the fear out of our decision-making as well. For me, the financial stability of teaching, it was terrifying to go into a new career.

So many people who are listening right now are probably thinking of leaving, but not having that financial stability is one of the scariest parts of it. And not knowing whether or not the calculations are going to add up in the end.

People look at salaries at new positions and they’re not able to figure out whether or not it’s worth it for them to even take like a $3,000 pay cut even if they’re saving 15 hours per week off of how much they’re actually working an average work week. Even that calculation is very hard for people to wrap their brains around. 3000 a year with 15 hours per week is something you can easily make up, but it’s hard for people to wrap their brains around that.

So, I do think that it’s so important to sit down and see what does my retirement look like today? If I left, what does it look like? What would I need to get from my next job in order to be able to feel comfortable with this number and then realizing when your fears kicking in because a lot of people struggle with money, mindset issues. I am definitely one of them.

EMILY MARETSKY: Yeah. I truly believe that you need to figure out how to align your money with what makes you happy.

So if you’re budgeting, figuring out like where your money is going and is that on the things that you care about most, I personally would 100% take like a $10,000 pay cut if I were happier in a job or if it reduced my commute. There’s so many other factors in play, you know, looking at the retirement benefits at a new job or health insurance costs.

You might find that you might be taking a pay cut, but the financial benefits you’re getting from other things more than make up that cost.

So it’s like important just to kind of get a better picture for all of that and just mental health and happiness come first. If I am hearing from someone who’s like, “Should I put in five more years in this job to get a larger pension, but I’m really unhappy?” I’m like, “Absolutely not. You can go make money other places.

You can save for your retirement on your own. Don’t be scared.” These things will work out on their own. Wouldn’t you pay a little bit of money anyway, if you would be happier on a day-to-day basis

DAPHNE: I’m going to botch this story, but I heard or I read something really great. Jay Clouse, who’s a past guest of mine, he speaks a lot on freelancing. He has the Creative Elements podcasts.

He sent out this email that really resonated with me. It was about people who are continuing to burn themselves out. It was from the perspective of a business owner or an entrepreneur, which is why I follow him learning sage advice from him on that.

Someone who continues to burn themselves out for more and more and more like that person who may be investing $20,000 into their retirement was probably burning themselves to the bones doing that.

But someone who keeps pushing to earn more money and earn more money and the end goal of it is just to be able to feel happy and spend more time with their family is usually what everybody’s dream and goal is. You might have that right now. You may be able to have that without the extra money.

That’s I think what’s so hard for people to really wrap their brains around is that they may be wasting 15 years struggling to get to somewhere that they truly, if they just like open their eyes, they may actually be somewhere where they’re financially comfortable and okay, right now and able to skip the 15 years of misery of working themselves to the bone.

EMILY MARETSKY: Absolutely. It’s funny you bring that up because I hear this similar debate in the personal finance community as well around early retirement.

There’s a figure that people will throw out that if you are able to invest half of your income every year, you can retire in 15 years from now.


EMILY MARETSKY: Yeah the FIRE movement. Financial Independence Retire Early.

DAPHNE: Lots of nights of me just like, “Do I want to do this?”

The Mindset of Money

EMILY MARETSKY: Yeah. And I think about that too. Sometimes I feel like I should be saving more. I should be cutting back more so that I can retire early. But at the end of the day, I actually, you know, I enjoy the work that I do for the most part. I’m okay working a couple more years, if that means that I can go out to eat in my neighborhood.

And if I can travel, like I am happier spending some of that money now and okay with working, that’s my priority. There are plenty of other people who feel a little bit differently, but you’ve got to find what works for you.

DAPHNE: I think a lot of people struggle with the money mindset issues of, it depends on your upbringing. What money will look like in your family? I definitely have read some therapy about it.

I left my family and moved out on my own when I was 17 years old and put myself through college and worked multiple jobs from a very early age. I never could depend on other people financially and it’s always been a very scarcity mindset for me, wherever I’m at.

So, acknowledging that there’s potentially something behind your fear-driven money, mindset issues as well. There’s, there’s a lot of different factors that could be at play here.

EMILY MARETSKY: Totally. Like you said before, just seeing those numbers spelled out for you often can alleviate some of that anxiety. I definitely meet with people for sessions who are also in a scarcity mindset.

They’re saving a ton of money every single month and they’re worried it’s not enough, but I’m showing them if you keep saving at this rate, by the time you hit pension age, you’re going to have $4 million saved.

They’re like, “What?” I’m like, yeah. Just like just continuing exactly what you’re doing. You’re going to have a ton maybe like, what are some of your other goals? What could you use some of this money for?

DAPHNE: Have you gotten a massage recently? What could we be doing to spend this money in a way that makes you happy right now? What are some of the other more common questions that you get from teachers when it comes to finances or even the pension?

EMILY MARETSKY: Again, a lot of it is around people who are making a or people who are thinking about retiring, but they’re still a couple years away from full retirement age and what kind of impact would that have on their calculation?

That’s a big one. How can people plan to retire a little bit earlier? Like what is their savings have to look like is a big one. I think if people are investing in certain funds in their 403B, sometimes that can come up as well.

I wish I could help people more with that, but because there are so many different 403B plans out there, it’s hard to give broad advice for that. I focus a lot on like New York city because I can speak to that one quite well. So definitely around that as well.

DAPHNE: I think it’s important for everybody listening to know, you need to go follow Emily @teacherfinancialcoach because once again, dense conversations that may feel a little bit foreign to just listen to, but she puts together great visuals to help you truly understand many of these concepts.

That’s one of the things that I love the most about following her on Instagram. I feel like I’m a lot more comfortable with a lot of these conversations.

What financial advice would you give to all the teachers listening as a whole as we wrap up?

Start Investing a Little Bit Now

EMILY MARETSKY: Yeah. I mean start investing today. If you can, even a small amount is fine. Some people say only have like $20 a week that I can put aside and I’m like, “Great, let’s start with $20.”

So you start with a little bit now and it’s just getting in that habit of putting away a little bit of money each month builds over time. And then when you get a pay bump, it’s increasing it just a little bit, maybe one or 2%. That’s a lot of people start contributing 2%.

Then in a couple years, they’re at 20% and didn’t really, really feel a bite from their paycheck at all. So that’s definitely where I tell people to start. If you have an outside 403B provider, definitely look into what your provider is and what their fees are. If you want to follow me on Instagram, I try to do my best to explain these things.

I have a whole bunch of highlight reels. So, if you are just starting out and you want to start with the first post I ever made on how pensions work, you can go through those. I have one on investing as well. You can start there.

There is a book that I love called The Millionaire Teacher and he goes through investing concepts, starting with like the very basics. And he explains it in like such a nice way. The book was actually fun to read. If you are interested in this topic and want a place to start, The Millionaire Teacher book is a great one as well.

Then last, the one thing I always ask people is pass this information along to other teachers. So if there is a new teacher starting at your school this year, help them get set up with a good 403B help teach them about the pension and really like pay this forward so that all teachers can be in a good financial spot moving forward.

DAPHNE: I love that. That’s the first I’ve heard of someone expressing to take the new teachers under their wing and it’s such an important concept because if I would have had someone when I was in my twenties, helping me put all my bartending tips and some sort of investment I would have FIRE’d by now.

So thank you so much for coming on. It’s been a pleasure. And then once again, anyone listening, I will link the teachercareercoach.com/pensionvideo where we talk through all these concepts as well.

Thank you so much, Emily.

EMILY MARETSKY: Thanks for having me.

My interview with Emily was a little shorter than usual because to be honest, we realized you needed to see the actual visuals, Emily and I hopped on a video call, which I have posted on YouTube, where she shares a presentation and you can see the line-by-line differences that it makes between leaving teaching earlier or later in your career and how that’s going to impact your pension. You can watch below or find this at my YouTube channel at teachercareercoach.com/youtube. I’ll see you on the next episode of the teacher career coach podcast.


Where to go next

If you’re just beginning to think about leaving teaching, brainstorming other options is a great place to start. But if you’re like many others, teaching was your only plan – there never was a Plan B. You might feel at a loss when it comes to figuring out what alternatives are out there.

Start with our free quiz, below, to get alternative job options for careers that really do hire teachers!

What career outside the classroom is right for YOU? Free Quiz

Taking the First Steps to a New Career

If you’ve already taken our quiz, it may be time for the next steps. I want to help you get some clarity in the options available to you. To know EXACTLY what you need to do (and not do) in order to get your foot in the door.

One of the biggest mistakes that I see teachers make is that they try to navigate this process alone. Often, they put off “researching” until the very last minute. Which sets them up for a very stressful application season – trying to juggle teaching, figuring out a resume, researching jobs, and hoping to nail down some interviews before signing next year’s contract.

You don’t have to do this on your own.

If you are considering a career change from teaching, I have a resource that can help you today. With the help of an HR expert with over 10 years of experience, I’ve created a guide to support you in the early stages of your transition out of the classroom.

In the Career Transition Guide, I’ll walk you through the factors to consider and answer those first-step planning questions including:

Career Transition Guide
  • A compiled list of over 40 careers that teachers can transition into
  • An overview of how to read job descriptions
  • How to evaluate the risk of leaving a full-time teaching job for the unknown
  • Example translations from classroom-to-corporate resumes
  • A checklist of everything you’ll need to do for your career transition (so you know you aren’t missing anything!)
  • and more…

Take the first steps on your path to a new career now for only $19 $9!


or click here to learn more

Step out of the classroom and into a new career, The Teacher Career Coach Course