It’s important for everyone to know how to manage their finances well, including things like paying off debts, building savings, and having a fund ready for emergencies. But it’s even more essential for nurses because your budget plans can get complicated based on things you can’t control.
In this article, we’ll guide you through the basics of managing your money as a new global nurse in the US. The more you understand about finances, the smarter choices you can make with your money.
Understanding Financial Wellness
In a recent survey, 61 percent of nurses shared that they struggle to find time for retirement planning due to other priorities. Additionally, 59 percent admitted feeling uncertain about where to start managing their finances, while 6 percent expressed confidence in their knowledge about investing.¹
These findings shed light on the common financial challenges within the nursing community.
Getting a handle on your finances helps you secure financial stability and freedom. To check your financial status, consider these four elements of financial health:
- Handling your daily and monthly finances well
- Being able to bounce back from unexpected financial problems
- Reaching your financial goals
- Having the freedom to make choices and enjoy life without financial constraints
Challenges Preventing Nurses from Financial Well-Being
Managing your finances comes with its own set of challenges. As a nurse, you often work long hours and juggle various responsibilities. With the demanding nature of your schedule, finding time to check, track, and take steps to improve your finances can be quite the task.
Here are some factors that may hinder your financial well-being:
Working irregular hours can lead to extra financial challenges.
Working irregular hours and having unpredictable schedules can leave minimal room for financial planning. One of the challenges of hourly pay and shift work is the mindset it cultivates.
Planning a vacation? Pick up an extra shift. Faced with expenses like your child’s braces? Clock in for overtime.
Thinking you can always work extra shifts or find a per diem job can cause problems. It’s important not to get into the habit of thinking, “I’ll just work more to pay for things.” While it might help in the short term, it’s not a practical or long-term solution. This mindset, while offering solutions for immediate financial needs, may not be sustainable in the long run.
Insufficient workplace perks and benefits.
If you don’t have sufficient healthcare benefits, retirement plans, or other job perks, it can leave you financially vulnerable. This means you might face difficulties, especially when unexpected medical expenses arise.
That’s why you must also consider seeking employment with a good employer offering comprehensive benefits. A workplace with solid benefits can provide the necessary financial safety net, making it easier for you to handle unexpected financial challenges and secure a stable future.
The high cost of continuing education.
You must keep learning and staying updated on medical advancements through continuous education. However, the cost of these nursing programs might stand in your way, making investing in your professional growth challenging. This financial barrier can limit your ability to enhance your skills and knowledge in the healthcare field.
Related Reading: Is Continuing Education Worthwhile for Global Nurses?
Covering the costs of your work essentials.
You might have to cover the cost of work essentials like uniforms and stethoscopes. On top of that, the hectic schedule might end up spending more on meals at work or grabbing food on your way home.
It’s understandable that, with all these costs, there might not be much left for savings. But even with unexpected expenses, debts, and bills, you can still work towards building an emergency fund, paying down your debt, and growing your savings.
Securing Your Financial Future: Tips for New Global Nurses in 2024
While you start spending your working years taking care of others, take a moment for yourself by going through this guide. It’s time to make sure your financial future is secure.
Take charge of your budget.
Creating and sticking to a budget is a powerful way to improve your finances. Whether you’re used to living paycheck to paycheck, trying to improve your spending habits, or saving up for something special, a budget can be the vehicle for reaching your goals.
Here’s how to do it:
- Figure out how much you earn. Begin by outlining your monthly income. Fortunately, many nurses live on a dependable salary. However, if taking extra shifts at the hospital or pursuing a healthcare side job makes your income unpredictable, ensure your budget accounts for higher and lower earning months.
- List your regular expenses. Add up your usual expenses like rent or mortgage, car payments, and bills.
- Track your spending. See where your money goes, including variable expenses like groceries, gas, eating out, and shopping.
- Set your goals. Adjust how you spend money to match your budget’s goals, whether you’re saving for something big or just trying to spend less.
- Pick a budget plan. Choose the 50/30/20 rule (50 percent for needs, 30 for wants, and 20 for savings) or a zero-based budget to ensure your spending doesn’t exceed your income.
- Keep an eye on your spending. Monitor your expenses, and if it helps, use separate envelopes for different spending categories.
- Adjust as needed. Adjust your budget as your job or savings goals change. Don’t forget to check in at least every few months to ensure your budget still works for you.
Build good saving habits.
Saving money is like having a safety net for unexpected events like car trouble, medical emergencies, or losing your job. So, you should create an emergency fund that can cover 3-6 months of your expenses. Once you have that safety net, you can also save for specific goals like a vacation, wedding, education, or a new car.
Generate more income.
As you consider your nursing education and career, find ways to increase your earning potential. Here are some ways to increase your earnings as a nurse:
- Higher education: Think about returning to school for your Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctorate degree to access nursing jobs that offer higher pay.
- Certifications: Some nursing certifications, such as Nurse Executive or Nursing Informatics, can help you earn more. And many reputable organizations provide certifications for nurses.
- Leadership roles: If you’re an experienced nurse with solid decision-making, critical thinking, and communication skills, consider applying for a leadership or management position.
- Networking: Actively connect with fellow nurses by participating in local events, online communities, and associations to build valuable relationships within your field.
Borrowing responsibly and keeping a good credit score is an essential part of managing your money. Having a good credit score can help you get better interest rates, increase how much you can borrow, lower your home and car insurance rates, and qualify for rewards on credit cards.
Here are some tips to improve your credit:
- Get rid of debt: A smart money move is to pay off what you owe. You can start small to build momentum or begin with the high-interest loans first. Paying off debt not only improves your credit but also changes your life.
- Combine loans: If you have several private loans, combining them into one with new terms might save you money on interest.
- Improve your credit score: There are a number of ways to do this, like paying bills on time and using less credit available to you each month.
- Choose the right credit cards: If you’re new to credit or trying to increase your score, a secured credit card can help. On the flip side, if your credit is good, you might qualify for rewards credit cards that give you points or cash back for regular purchases.
Protect yourself with an insurance policy.
Although you may not need to use your insurance often, it gives you peace of mind and can be priceless when unexpected things happen. You can also ask for help from a financial advisor to help you set up plans that align with and contribute to your financial goals.
As a quick reminder, here are some insurance types you might need:
- Health Insurance
- Life Insurance
- Car Insurance
- Homeowners/Renters Insurance
Additionally, as a nurse, it’s important to consider malpractice insurance or liability coverage. Having malpractice insurance can help protect your license and assets. It also helps with legal fees if a patient, their representative, or the state board of nursing takes legal action against you.
Money Matters: Planning for the Future
Planning your finances takes time and effort but doing it with purpose can really make a difference in how well you’re doing now and in the future. Financial planning is like a roadmap that helps you reach your short and long-term money goals, whether that’s going back to school or buying a house.
And remember, your financial planning should be flexible and adaptable as your life and career change. Instead of only focusing on big-end goals, tracking the small progress you make is powerful. These little wins help you reach your main goal and make you feel good and motivated to keep going. It’s a reminder that every little effort adds up and brings you closer to financial success.
Related Reading: Top 5 Reasons Why Nurses Pursue a Career in the US
INVEST IN YOUR FUTURE WITH PRS GLOBAL
Transform your career path with PRS Global, your trusted staffing partner. Through our direct hiring of healthcare staff, you can invest in your professional growth, seize opportunities, and shape a successful future with one of the best American healthcare facilities.
Take the leap towards career excellence and contact us today!
1 Matt Stewart, CFP®, ChFC®. “Financial Planning for Nurses.” forestviewfp.com, 06 May 2019, www.forestviewfp.com/blog/financial-planning-for-nurses.