If you, like me for many years, depend on adjunct teaching assignments as a major source of revenue, the holiday season can present an emotional, and financial, conundrum. Quite often, community colleges, universities, professional schools, and private and public institutions of all stripes break for the winter holiday season. Students flee as soon as exams are over, faculty and staff follow shortly thereafter. Family time, travel time, and celebrations carry us into the new year.
But, we, as adjuncts, have to make that dollar stretch further because our teaching contract often does not include a payment for that "gap" time before classes resume (often during the second or even third week of January). This most certainly can result in a deep sense of anxiety, with a "how can I pay that next bill" cloud hanging over one's head.
So, how does one battle those holiday adjunct blues? Consider some of these tips. I have not been good about adhering to all of them, but some have helped and others I hope to try in the near future:
1) Save, save, save. Sorry to run the cliché here, but it's true. During those paying months of your adjunct life, stash away something for you to have. Call it a "Gap Fund", or a "Stretch Fund" or something to that effect that is absolutely intended for the winter holiday season and stick to it. It provides a cushion that you will need.
2) Consider tutoring. Sure it's holiday break, but most students (at least the ones I know) will have some type of homework, or anticipate preparatory materials, waiting for that January start. And, you can help! Schedule some tutoring times in the areas of your expertise. Research the going rates for tutors so you present a reasonable offer, and set up some times to help students and earn a bit extra!
3) Be frugal. The one thing that I have learned as a father of three over the holidays is to look for alternative ways to enjoy the holidays without dumping my entire savings on one sleigh ride. Head out to see the tree-lighting ceremonies in your neighbors, joins some carolers (I believe they still exist…), check out holiday concerts at local schools, universities, churches, etc, and, of course, shop for those deals (everyone does it anyway!).
4) Relax. Nothing like a good book, family/friend time, or a quiet evening at a bookstore browsing, or even relaxing at home. The holidays are a time of joyous celebration, but for many can be a cause of stress and sadness. Take care of yourself first.
Wishing each of you a happy holiday season, and wonderful time with family and friends!