What International School Teachers Should Consider

 When I give financial seminars to international school teachers, I tend to shock them with this:

“As international school teachers, you aren’t as wealthy as your counterparts in England, Canada, the U.S., Australia or New Zealand.”

At first, they stare at me with the crazy look you’d reserve for someone who just ate a handful of cockroaches.

Their salaries are often higher than those of their teaching counterparts back home, they think.  And their taxes might even be lower.  So how can they, as international school teachers, be poorer than the teachers in their home countries?

Consider this:

Upon retirement, the average public school teacher usually has the following:

  1. A house that’s paid for
  2. Total savings of $100,000 or more
  3. A pension which could give him/her an income of $50,000+ each year

For an international school teacher to generate $50,000 per year, he or she would need to have at least $1.2 million in investments, or they would need to give an insurance company roughly $1 million to receive $50,000 in annual income.

To match the retirement benefits of a public school teaching couple with a pension and social security, a private international school teaching couple would require roughly $2 million.

And I’m not the only person believing this.  Jonathan Chevreau, of The National Post, recently reviewed my book, Millionaire Teacher.  And he felt (correctly so) that any career school teacher could consider themselves a millionaire.

When a review copy of Millionaire Teacher first landed on my desk, initially I didn’t pause to look at it. (Nothing unusual there: We get a lot of books here: probably two or three a day).

I imagine I processed the title and thought it a bit strange. After all, most teachers in Canada are relatively well paid and enjoy those Defined Benefit pension plans the rest of us in the private sector generally envy.

From where I sit, any career teacher who makes it to age 65 is already a millionaire, since the rest of us would need $1 million of capital in order to spin out an annual $50,000 from it.

So my initial impression was that the very phrase “Millionaire Teacher” was redundant.

You can read the rest of Jonathan Chevreau’s review here.

My point is this:  most international school teachers I’ve met believe they’re wealthier than they are.  Rather than living the life of Riley (which many do) they really need to hunker down, save significantly more for their retirements, and pay far more attention to their investment costs.

International teachers can, in many cases, enjoy the fruits of their international experiences, while amassing comparable levels of wealth to their home country counterparts.

But they have to get serious about their saving and investing.

With a new year dawning, the best time to start a disciplined regime is right now. 





Andrew Hallam

I’m a financial columnist for Canada’s national paper, The Globe and Mail, as well as for AssetBuilder, a financial service firm based in Texas. I’m also the author of Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School (2nd Ed. Wiley 2017) and The Global Expatriate’s Guide To Investing: From Millionaire Teacher to Millionaire Expat (Wiley 2015). My mission is to educate, motivate and inspire people on basic retirement planning and best practices for investing, using evidence-based strategies. I’m happy to comment on your questions. However, please read the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and the Comments Policy.

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