How to Save Money: A Step-By-Step Guide

Even though this has nothing to do with teaching, I thought this could come in handy.

Before we start, there is one thing you might want to consider:

Get rid of your credit card and switch to using cash only. I know that it might be difficult in some countries, but I still recommend using cash whenever it’s possible. Why? There is no scientific proof, this is just my personal belief, but I really think that cards make us spend more (especially credit ones!). Seeing how the amount of banknotes and coins is getting less day by day makes you more cautious and thoughtful when it comes to spending money, which is extremely important if you want to save as much as you can. The more tangible something is the more difficult it is to let it go.

Getting started

Buy a notepad you are going to use for writing down your expenses. Spend three months writing down literally every pence/cent/yen/whatever you spend. Make sure to always ask for a receipt – this will make your task much easier. If no receipt is available for some reason, make sure you write down how much you just paid straight away without putting it off for later.

After you have finished your probation period, it is time to make some calculations. These are the numbers you will need:

  1. The average amount you spend on food per month (be it eating out or doing grocery shopping)
  2. The average amount you spend on rent and bills (gas, electricity, water, internet, phone service)
  3. The average amount you spend on commuting (train/bus tickets or petrol)
  4. If you have any regular monthly appointments (e.g. language classes, counselling sessions, beauty treatment, etc.) add them too.
  5. Next, put aside a fixed extra amount for unexpected expenses (e.g. a night out with friends, carwash, a new pair of shoes instead of those that fell apart while you were walking, etc.). This will depend on your salary – decide how much you can afford.
  6. Finally, since living on a tight budget might be somewhat depressing (especially at the beginning), think through how you want to cheer yourself up. Would it be a delicious dessert you eat every Sunday? Or a new aromatic candle you get at the end of the month? Or something else? The key is that you have to plan these little treats and make sure their cost is already included in your monthly budget. If you do not wish – or cannot afford – to spend money on this then you can ignore this step.
  7. Add all the amounts above. The number you get at the end is your fixed monthly budget.

Moving on

  1. Now, as soon as you get your monthly salary, divide it into two halves: the fixed monthly budget and the rest. The rest should stay in your bank account, and the fixed monthly budget should be converted into cash.
  2. You UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES CAN GO OVER the limit aka your fixed monthly budget. If you go over it then you were not careful enough when spending money. You have to develop a new mindset. Your will has to be as strong as it has never been before; resist the temptation to buy everything you lay your eyes on, even if it is just a cup of Starbucks coffee – unless you have classified it as your monthly treat (because in this case it is already included in your monthly expenses!). No one said it would be easy, but everything is possible (the impossible just needs more time to be done).
  3. If you systematically go over the monthly budget you can consider making it slightly bigger but keep in mind that the amount you save each month will become less. Make your choice.
  4. If you receive any kind of bonuses at work, leave them in your bank account. They should be added to your savings.

Wrapping up

  1. At the end of each budget month, make the following calculations:
    • Assets (= how much money you had when the budget month started)
    • Income
    • Expenses
    • Leftovers
  2. Leftovers become the first part of your monthly budget for the next month. The rest of the amount should be taken from your monthly salary.
  3. The more you have left at the end of each month the less you need to take from your monthly salary, i.e. the more stays in your account.
  4. Gradually, you will start noticing the numbers in your bank account going up. Congrats, you have started saving money!

I hope you will find this useful!

Plenary Speech

A couple of weeks ago, I gave a plenary speech at excitELT, a conference that always makes me feel excited.
Of course, it did not go as planned (nothing does, right?), but nevertheless, here is the script.
You can also find the link to download my article about the Dialogical Feedback project in the text below.

———- (INTRO) ———-

Oh well… I am feeling very nervous right now.
Actually, I’ve read somewhere on the internet that this is the worst phrase you can choose to start your presentation with.

However, at the same time, even though hardly anyone admits it out loud while presenting, the majority of people do feel nervous and even anxious when they have to speak in front of an audience, even a small and well-known one.
In fact, public speaking anxiety and communication apprehension, in general, are among the most widespread types of anxiety.

Communicative Language Teaching emphasizes communication. Students are constantly talking to each other, even if it’s a simple pair-check for the answers for some activity.
At universities, they have to take discussion classes, presentation classes and all other kinds of highly communicative classes.

Raise your hand if you teach such a class.
Raise your hand if you think your students might feel anxious during your classes.
Raise your hand if you ever felt anxious when communicating in a foreign language.
Raise your hand if your teacher ever asked you how you felt about communicating in a foreign language.
Raise your hand if you ever asked your students how they feel about communicating in a foreign language.

Continue reading “Plenary Speech”


Like all lessons (well, most of them) begin with a lead-in, I start my blog with a lead-in post.

Who am I? 24601. Well, nope. My name is Lina, I’m 25. I originally come from Russia, and I am an English Instructor at a university in Tokyo.
I have an MA in Scandinavian Studies (surprise surprise!) from the University of Edinburgh and two ELT certificates: TEFL and CELTA.

I’ve been thinking about starting a blog for quite a while but would always find an excuse not to do this, such as ‘you’re not experienced enough’, ‘oh come on, what do you have to say about ELT? you hardly read any monographs!’, and ‘do you really think anyone would read your dull entries?’. You see, I’m being like extremely extremely honest right now.

Anyway, the time has come, and I do have some things to say about teaching English (and about being a non-native teaching English as well).

What you will NOT find in this blog: Long academic entries filled with quotations and sophisticated arguments. I ain’t good at academic writing, and I do not intend to make you doze off.

What you will DEFINITELY find in this blog: Short notes based on my own experience teaching English to Japanese students, practical tips and sample lesson plans.