Teachers from around the country are spending their hard-earned salary to purchase things for their classrooms. According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), most teachers spend roughly $450 a year on classroom materials, and 9 out of 10 of those teachers are not reimbursed for their purchases. Paying out-of-pocket for classroom supplies may seem inevitable, but with the money you save from managing your student loans correctly, it doesn’t have to break the bank. Teachers shouldn’t have to shell out their own hard-earned cash to stock a classroom, but as long as that’s the reality, here are 10 things you can buy with the money you save on student loans. 

1. Fun decorations

St. Patricks day is coming up and we need some lucky green decorations in the classroom STAT. Seasonal decorations and decorations for special events like birthdays are a great way to cheer up a classroom, especially for younger students. Buy durable, long-lasting decorations so you can reuse them for future holidays and events.  

2. Filling that snack drawer

Give your kids candy for good behavior, or a prize for solving a math puzzle, or a treat for turning an assignment in early. Perhaps the snack drawer is open to all students so they can stay fed and concentrated throughout the day. Some kids are simply not getting enough food. Their families may be struggling financially, or athletics are keeping them hungry, but whatever the reason it never hurts to have extra snacks on hand.

3. Pencils (freshly sharpened, of course)

You can never have too many pencils. They break, the eraser falls off, or they’re sharpened until they’re stubs and every test there will be at least one student who forgot to bring one. Pencils are a necessity in the classroom and you’ll be glad you stocked up ahead of time.

4. A themes tape dispenser or stapler

Ok, these are just fun. Everyone loves a quirky tape dispenser or stapler! Pick a theme that appeals to your personality. Are you a frog person? A plant person? Maybe you love soccer or tennis. You’re the one who has to use it and look at it every day, so make sure it’s a theme that fits you! 

5. Books for your classroom library

Books are so important for our young learners and a classroom library is no exception. This space should be brimming with options for young readers to explore, especially for students who have less exposure to literature or can’t afford to purchase new books. If you’re a math teacher or a music teacher or otherwise have some form of educational focus, use a classroom library to offer niche reading material to your most curious students.

6. Backrest for your desk chair

Not everything is about your students, some things are about you. If you’re sitting all day proctoring tests, grading assignments or otherwise working at your desk, your back is going to feel the strain. Do yourself a favor and buy a backrest to prevent any back injuries down the road.

7. Shoes

You have to wear them all day every day so you might as well invest in some good shoes. Perhaps you’ll lean towards a comfy pair— one that has good arch support and plenty of cushion. Perhaps you’ll select a fashionable pair of shoes. After all, you’ll see them every day! Whatever you choose, it’s up to you. 

8. Color-coded class folders

Organization is key, and color-coding your folders can save you time and trouble. Imagine you bring home papers to grade, but you accidentally bring back papers from a different class. Color-coding your class folders is an easy way to nip that problem in the bud.

9. Dry erase markers

These bad boys will always give you trouble. They dry out, students push down the tips, and they get lost or stolen pretty easily. You’ll want to have a backup supply of dry erase markers at all times so that you never have to worry about finding one that works. Just make sure you don’t mix up your dry erase markers with any permanent ones! 

10. A great meal out on the town

So this one is not directly related to the classroom, but it’s just as important. Being a teacher is more than a full time job— after classes and office hours there’s still homework to review, tests to grade, and new lessons to plan. Use some of the money you save on student loans to pamper yourself, whether that’s a good meal or a relaxing vacation. You deserve it!