Living on a CFI's salary

Icaro

Well-Known Member
Living on a CFI\'s salary

While a lot of people who contemplate making the transition from a well paying job to CFI'ing full time to get on the road to the airlines realise that there will be a lot of sacrifices to be made, at least on an intellectual level.

I was wondering if anyone who is now living the life of a fulltime CFI could comment on how they had to adapt the way they live to just be able to survive? What tips do you have for living on the tight pay you'll be getting for perhaps something like 2 years (maybe more)?

I have often wondered if I'd be able to make the change, and while I do realise there will be one I admit that I probably don't fully understand what it would be like, which is important if I (or anyone else) is seriously considering doing this.
 

ready2fly

Well-Known Member
Re: Living on a CFI\'s salary

I'm just a few months from doing that very thing.

My wife and I have been stocking away money. It's not a ton, but it should be enough for any unforseen emergency that might arise.

We've also been living without cable Television for quite some time. We clip coupons. We buy clothes on sale from cheap places like Old Navy. We don't go out to eat a lot. We bring out lunches to work. We put money away whenever we can.

For those of you who are single.....I wish you luck. I know my flight instructors were all low on funds, but they all survived. You can do it, but you will have to sacrifice luxuries.

My former instructor who is now with AirNet told me that he actually found out that he had a lot of "luxuries" he didn't know about until he was instructing full time.
 

pilot602

If specified, this will replace the title that
Re: Living on a CFI\'s salary

The other option ... that a lot of people seem to exclude ... is doing it part time and holding another, better paying job, as well. Yes it might take a little mroe work and you may not build the flight time as quickly but it's another completely valid option that isn't quite as big of a hit on the wallet as just up and going out full time. I plan on doing it this way. It may take me a little longer but in the end I think it'll work out. I hope so at least.
 

EatSleepFly

Well-Known Member
Re: Living on a CFI\'s salary

I didn't really have to "adapt" to instructing full time, since it was my first "real" job anyways. Before that I was a waiter, ski instructor, and had a few other odd jobs.

I would say that instead of getting a full time job doing something non-flying and a part-time job instructing, you should try the other way around first to see if it'll work. Get a full-time instructing gig, and be a bartender at night or something.

Buy generic brands. Its the same stuff. There was a story on CNN the other day about how the generic brands are made by the same company a lot of times, but buying them can save you as much as 40%. Also, it might pay to buy in bulk. My roommate and I have a BJ's membership, which seems to save a lot over going to a normal grocery store.

Buy cheap clothes. R2F and I probably have the same wardrobe
, because I shop at Old Navy too (on the rare occasion that I actually can afford new clothes). For instructing, I buy my pants at Target for $8 (our shirts are provided).

Stockpile money. This one is huge, especially if you instruct in less-than-favorable climates. In the nice months, you'll likely stay busy enough to survive. Its when winter comes that things start to suck. If theres any way at all possible that you can put extra money aside during the summer, you'll be a whole lot more comfortable during the slow months.

Knock off the neighborhood 7-11. (Kidding...
)

Stay single. Or find a girlfriend that understands your situation. My last one didn't. I sent her packing, and am all the better for it.

One last thing I considered was selling my truck and buying an el cheapo car. Ultimately I decided not to, cause I drive a '98 S-10 with 83,000 miles on it. I figured it wouldn't be worth that much, and its almost paid off anyways. But if you drive some huge gas guzzler or extravagant car, you might consider selling it and getting something more economical.

Well, thats all I can think of for now.
 

pilot602

If specified, this will replace the title that
Re: Living on a CFI\'s salary

[ QUOTE ]
Knock off the neighborhood 7-11. (Kidding... )

[/ QUOTE ]

Yeah. Go for the neighborhood Jewelers.
 

Ralgha

Well-Known Member
Re: Living on a CFI\'s salary

Pretty much do nothing but Eat, Sleep, and Fly (hence the username probably!
). That's pretty much all I do. I hardly ever go out somewhere that costs money unless a friend is willing to cover me, and I just hope that my computer isn't going to break in some way that requires money to fix. Summer will be better though.
 

braidkid

New Member
Re: Living on a CFI\'s salary

Excellent post as I am contemplating making the plunge to full time instructing myself. I'm not sure if I can stand the environment I'm in for another 12 months.
So far I've been blasting out resumes to various schools across the country. No luck yet but I haven't aggresively pursued it either. At this point I'm not in a hurry, but if something appealing comes my way I'll consider it.

I figure if I can get an instructing job that pays at least $12k/year, my wife and I could survive. Between my wife and I working we should be able to pull in $25k/year which is enough to pay the rent and groceries. We don't have any car payments which helps. Anyway, I'll be sure to let you guys know the second I take the plunge...
 

stuckingfk

Well-Known Member
Re: Living on a CFI\'s salary

[ QUOTE ]
I figure if I can get an instructing job that pays at least $12k/year, my wife and I could survive. Between my wife and I working we should be able to pull in $25k/year which is enough to pay the rent and groceries. We don't have any car payments which helps. Anyway, I'll be sure to let you guys know the second I take the plunge...

[/ QUOTE ]


Braidkid, may I ask you what you what your wife does? And it seems like she is a great wife, moving around for you. Tell her I'd be only so lucky to find someone like that.

Have you applied at UND? I am sure your engineering background would help and you already have dual given. Our instructors here get paid $14 starting out full time, full benefits, and around 7 students. Not the greatest place to work, but certainly not the worst.
 

braidkid

New Member
Re: Living on a CFI\'s salary

My wife, Christina, bless her heart she's stuck with me. She was attending college during the time I chose to make flying a career. Since then she has agreed to put my career first and has stopped her schooling until I get my career off the ground (no pun intended)
Yes, I am lucky to have her sticking through this for me.

As for what she does to make money....she went to flight attendent school and decided she didnt want to pursue that. She tried nursing and decided she didnt like that either. So for the time being she is working minimum wage jobs such as waitressing, nanny, etc. until my career has started and we're stable somewhere. Between me flight instructing and her babysitting/waitressing we should be able to have shelter and food on the table. Whether she sticks with me after that is another story!!


I would be very interested in working at UND. lruppert, if you have any contact information for me I would be greatly thankful. PM me if you'd like.
 

Derg

New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
Re: Living on a CFI\'s salary

I think what helped me as a CFI was having no car payment, spending lot of time at work (I wasn't out clamoring over things I couldn't afford to purchase), building up a good clientele that'll spring for dinner on occasion and keeping living costs low.

And an gainfully employed girlfriend to sponge off of doesn't hurt either!
(hi Kristie!)
 

DaPaul

New Member
Re: Living on a CFI\'s salary

Yeah,,,,, these kinds of girls are 1 in a million. And two of you already have them, so that means there may be another 100 or so in the country. Where duz you find dem?
 

Mr_Creepy

Well-Known Member
Re: Living on a CFI\'s salary

I agree with ESF except the cheap clothes part.

2 good suits will last longer and do you more good than 5 cheap suits.

Take care of good clothes and they will last!
 

ready2fly

Well-Known Member
Re: Living on a CFI\'s salary

Pretty sure ESF was talking about day-to-day wear. Not going to an interview wear.

I have four or five VERY nice suits in my closet that will be utilized when the interviewing process begins.

As for the day-to-day stuff - think CHEAP!
 

jdflight

Well-Known Member
Re: Living on a CFI\'s salary

Even though my truck was paid off, I still had to sell it in order to make rent. I live in a crashpad with airline pilots to keep my rent costs low. I don't have to share a room, but I do have a two bedroom one bath with four other guys. When I go out, I've gotten very good at letting people buy me drinks (and convincing them that they should). I rarely go out to eat. The POS car that I now have goes only from the apartment to school or the grocery store. Nearly everywhere else, I walk, get a ride or take my bike. The last girlfriend I had was a grad student and also very poor. We would go to the park and play frisbee or something like that. We would rent dvds for a dollar a night at the cheap place instead of Blockbuster. And we'd make dinner instead of going out. The biggest thing I've had to get used to is putting things on credit without expecting to be able to pay it off at the end of the month. That was a big change for me, and now I don't use that card nearly as much. I try to use the ATM more because it keeps me from spending as much.

It's not easy. In fact, it's extremely difficult and sometimes depressing. I made $6000 last year. Granted I only worked 8 months, but still. Once I get to a regional and I'm making $24K, I'm going to be living large! Yes regional pay sucks, but if I can do this, I'll live like a king on that kind of money.
 

drumminpilot

Well-Known Member
Re: Living on a CFI\'s salary

[ QUOTE ]
Yeah,,,,, these kinds of girls are 1 in a million. And two of you already have them, so that means there may be another 100 or so in the country. Where duz you find dem?

[/ QUOTE ]
Make that 99 or so in the country.... I found mine at a show my band was playing.
 

Mr_Creepy

Well-Known Member
Re: Living on a CFI\'s salary

R2F My Young Padawan, A Jedi ALWAYS looks his best!

Cheap clothes wear out fast. Good quality (and not all expensive clothes are good quality) will last longer and you will look better in them. I am finally starting to realize that. I now let my wife shop for my clothes and other people are noticing.

Just today I was sitting in a client's office with a new Izod (yeah I know, Izod) shirt on and I was wondering why the (female) client kept me around for seemingly small stuff.

I noticed she was smiling over my head occasionally. So I watched the reflection in a picture behind her desk of several other ladies walking by and giving her all kinds of signals, like thumbs up, waving the hand (like something was hot) and stuff like that.

That didn't happen to me before I let Kathleen buy my clothes I promise you!
 

JaceTheAce

Well-Known Member
Re: Living on a CFI\'s salary

My father went through the CFI route to earn all his hours. He owned a Dental Lab throughout his Flight Instructing and worked 70-80 hours a week for about three years (most were for the Dental Lab). He had to keep the Dental Lab running in order to support a Californian family of 5. As he was still making good earnings, he was able to not worry so much about the pay for the CFI job. But the downfall is you barely have time to relax and enjoy life.

As for me, I'm getting good practice living here in San Diego. Rent here is very expensive compared to the rest of the country (one-bedroom apts go for $900-1100). I almost ALWAYS cook at home, bring my lunch to work, and am keeping my old beater 1983 Honda Accord with 217,000 miles as long as it can last. If it lasts me until 400,000 miles, hell...I'll still be driving it to my airline pilot interview =D
 

donttouchanything

New Member
Re: Living on a CFI\'s salary

Rent is high everywhere in Cali. I went from paying less than $500 a month for a house (with a pool) to $1245 for a one bedroom with a view of a pool (pool was the next complex over, but the view was nice). It's crazy here
 

EatSleepFly

Well-Known Member
Re: Living on a CFI\'s salary

[ QUOTE ]
Pretty sure ESF was talking about day-to-day wear. Not going to an interview wear.


[/ QUOTE ]

Yeah, thats what I meant.


I have a few good suits and a whole bunch of dress shirts/pants. I'm required to be spiffy for my Bonanza flying job.
 
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