Money Management Skills All Nurses Should Have
As a nurse, your typical day is spent looking after everybody else. But, it's important for nurses to take a moment to make sure that they are looking after themselves; especially when it comes to their financial future.
Working as a nurse can be an incredibly fulfilling and rewarding career, and even more so if you are able to carefully manage and save the money that you earn. One of the perks of working as a nurse is that people in this profession typically enjoy high job security, however, it's still a wise idea to manage your income so that you're able to prepare for emergencies, save for your retirement, repay any student debt that you have as quickly as possible, or just simply get your finances figured out for a more secure future. We've put together some money management tips for nurses that you might find useful.
Saving Money on Further Education
One benefit of being a nurse is that there's always progression that you can go after if you want to. Once you are qualified as a registered nurse, there's absolutely no reason to stop there; you can go on to study for a master's or doctorate degree like this online MSN program, train to become a nurse practitioner, or specialize in a certain area of the medical industry like anesthesiology or oncology, for example.
However, further training as a nurse can be expensive – and if you're already repaying student loans, you will want to avoid getting into more debt. Some options for reducing costs when furthering your nursing education include:
- Find an online program with lower tuition fees
- Speak to your employer about any funding options they provide for further education
- Find free programs – while these might not result in a qualification, many nurses find them helpful for improving their knowledge and overall job performance
- Apply for scholarships if you are eligible
- Find out what financial aid you are eligible for
Saving for Your Retirement
Many hospitals and other healthcare employers offer pension and retirement programs, however, many of these have had to be reduced or even completely eliminated due to budget constraints. Regardless of whether or not such a program is offered to you as a nurse, it's crucial to start saving for your retirement as soon as you can. The earlier the better, as even small amounts saved over time will add up more than you realize.
Choosing the right option is essential when it comes to your retirement savings and planning. The option that you go for will depend on a number of factors, including your nurse employment status and your individual needs and requirements. For example, if you are a full-time RN with an employer who contributes to a 401(k)-retirement account, this could be the best option for you – be sure to utilize this benefit as much as possible. On the other hand, part-time or travel nurses might find that an IRA is an ideal option for retirement savings as they offer more flexibility.
Credit cards can certainly come in handy, but if you're not careful with them, they can easily become a thorn in your side. Responsible debt management isn't just for nurses; whatever your profession, you will benefit from it. Repaying any outstanding credit card debt as soon as possible should be a top priority when it comes to looking after and taking control of your financial well-being. Failing to make the minimum monthly payments will negatively affect your credit score and if you're not paying off the entire balance each month, then you are going to end up throwing away money on interest. Some options for managing a high amount of credit card debt include:
- Consolidation loan or credit card – one line of credit that can be used to pay off existing debts and consolidate them into one
- Balance transfer – you might want to consider transferring the balance of your current credit card to a new one to take advantage of an interest-free period or lower interest rates
- Debt snowball – pay off the smallest debt first and then use the money you'd normally put towards it to pay off the next one up in size, and so on until your largest debt is repaid
- Debt plans – if you're really struggling, you may be able to come to a repayment plan agreement with your creditors or work with a professional company to arrange a debt management plan, where they will liaise with creditors on your behalf to arrange reduced payments. Your credit score will be affected, but it can be an effective way to manage debts if you're running out of other options
Have an Emergency Fund
Unforeseen expenses can happen at any time and knowing that you've got some money put away to deal with them can provide much peace of mind. Consider this – if your car broke down, could you afford the repairs? Would you be able to continue paying your rent or mortgage for a couple of months if you were out of work due to an emergency? Getting into the habit of paying into an emergency fund as soon as you get paid is a crucial step towards improving your financial situation. You may find that it's easier if you can set up an automated monthly transfer into your savings account on each payday so that it becomes just like paying another bill. Ideally, your savings goal should be at least three months' worth of living expenses.
Create a Budget
Finally, knowing exactly how much money you have coming in and going out of your account each month is essential for better financial management. Once you know how much you're earning and how much of that needs to be paid on essential expenses like savings, rent or mortgage, utility bills, transport, and food, you will be left with a figure that shows you how much disposable income you have left. Ideally, you will want to make this figure as high as possible – so go through your expenses regularly to see if there are any ways you could cut costs, like shopping at a cheaper grocery store or switching your utility plans.
As a nurse, improving your money management skills will help you feel less stressed both in and out of work.