As much as tutoring has a lot to do with the passion for teaching, helping, and moulding the new generation, it is inherently still a job in which you are trying to make a living.
You need to be fairly compensated for your time and efforts that go into helping your students so that you’re able to sustain yourself, pay your bills, and support your own family too.
In order to be able to stay in the tutoring industry in the long run without having to worry about your finances, you need to be mindful of the way you’re managing your money.
I’ve compiled 5 financial management mistakes you can’t afford to make:
Spending unnecessarily on tutoring
As a private tutor, you are completely in charge of your own earnings and expenditure.
Like any other form of self-employment, being a tutor requires you to invest time and money in order to provide your service.
Tutors will usually spend money on transport to their tutees’ locations, lesson materials, and gifts/rewards to encourage their students.
But, you can definitely make conscious efforts to reduce your expenditure in these aspects so that you don’t have to sacrifice a significant portion of your hard-earned income. For example:
You may have students from all over the country and whether you drive or take public transport, travelling to your students is going to take up your time and money.
To make things more efficient and cost-effective, try to group your students of similar locations together, which means you can focus on students in one area per day.
But if you have to have lessons at different locations in a day, arrange the locations conveniently so that you won’t have to travel back and forth.
But these are of course subject to your students’ availability as it is difficult to synchronise their busy schedules.
Otherwise, you can also consider setting a fixed location such as a rented space or your house to give tuition, so that you don’t have to worry about travelling to and fro or having overlapping lessons.
2) Lesson materials
Buying assessment books was probably absolutely necessary in the past when technology was not that accessible and education was based on pen and paper. It was the easiest way you could acquire notes and questions for your students.
But, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to have Home-Based Learning and Work From Home, times have changed. Our society is now ready and prepared for digitalised learning.
There are lots of free tutoring resources you can find online that can completely substitute your assessment book purchases.
In fact, learning has been made even more engaging for students with free educational videos that can explain concepts in a clearer and more fun way.
However, you need to be discerning about the materials that you retrieve online as they might not be from certified publishers that you find in bookstores.
3) Rewards/gifts for students
Buying rewards such as stickers and stationery for their students is a common practice among teachers and tutors to acknowledge their students’ good performance.
While these expenditures do help with encouraging students to continue improving in their academics, spending too much on them can be very taxing on your finances, especially if you have many students.
Here are a few ways you can save money with your rewards:
- Choose simpler, inexpensive small items
- Buy them in bulk so that they’re cheaper
- Instead of stickers, you can use reusable ink chops/stamps to show your affirmation on their papers
Rewards for your students can be simple and inexpensive. In fact, verbal encouragement is more than enough to push them on.
Not keeping an account of your earnings and expenditures
It is important to keep consistent track of your every earning and spending so that you can gauge if you have been spending too much on tutoring in a time period.
If you have been spending too much on transport, for example, you may want to raise your rates so that you’re not making losses.
Or if you feel like you have enough earnings, you can afford to get some new lesson materials that can improve your quality of teaching. With better quality of lessons, you can then solicit a higher rate to compensate for your investment.
Creating a spreadsheet or using financial management applications can help you to visualise your finances accurately.
Without the proper organisation of your finances, it will be very difficult for you to view how much you have earned and spent on tutoring clear-cut and at a glance. You might risk spending too much or feel unsure about your tutoring finances.
Not having stable plans
When you depend on your tutoring income to sustain your expenses, going with the flow will not work well.
As a freelance tutor, there is always a risk of dry spells. You need to have backup plans when these dry seasons come about.
It would be good to have a side career that you can fall back on while you try to source for more students, as it could take some time for you to confirm your students.
You should also have plans for your finances in advance by allocating specific percentages on how you’re going to manage your money: how much you should be investing into tutoring (e.g. buying lesson materials), how much you should save, and how much you can spend.
You also need to take into account that as a self-employed tutor, you will not be compensated for your leaves and medical leaves. So your planning needs to include emergency funds.
Not setting the right rate
Deciding on the rate that you’re going to charge can be difficult, especially for new tutors.
When determining your rate, you should take into consideration the following aspects:
- Your experience
- Whether you’re tutoring full-time or part-time
- Your qualifications
- The student’s academic level
Tuition is expensive for students and it can be difficult for you to be firm with your rates when it comes to helping a student, but tutoring is an important job that gives students the extra help that they need to bridge the gaps in school.
Wanting to be a great tutor, you might use time outside of your lesson to prepare materials, read up to improve your subject knowledge so that you can better teach your students, and maybe even mark your students’ work.
Since you are committing to spend your time imparting your knowledge to your students and helping them to improve their grades, you deserve to be fairly compensated, which brings me to my next point:
Spending too much personal time on tutoring-related work
As mentioned, some tutors are willing to sacrifice a lot of their personal time to prepare for their classes.
But you need to keep in mind that all the time that you spend on preparing for your lessons for a student could be used to take up another student.
There are ways to ensure that you put in the effort to give your student the best possible quality of your tuition lesson, but by using your time efficiently.
For example, instead of making sure that you mark all their work after your lesson, you can squeeze in some time to mark during the lesson when your student is working on another piece of work. But, make sure that you pay full attention to your students when they need your help!
As a freelance tutor, time is very precious and you need to practice time management and work efficiently as best you can so that you can secure a stable income.
Being a tutor is a unique job in which financial management has to be done purposefully and carefully in order to sustain your career.
If you are not mindful about the way that you manage your tutoring finances, you are short-changing yourself and this can make it difficult for you to grow your income in the long run.
If you haven’t already, you need to adopt the above tips for a worry-free tutoring journey.
I hope this article has been useful for you, good luck!
Want more financial advice for tutors?
Best Accounting Systems for Tutors to Keep Track of Your Earnings
5 Easy Tips to Increase Your Income as a Private Tutor
How To Be Financially Successful As A Private Tutor