7 Travel Nursing Finance Tips to Save the Most During a Travel Job
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new city, new foods, new coworkers, new adventures, and forget all about the details for instance – money. Nurses typically join the travel nursing industry because of two reasons: high salaries, and travel opportunities. While the income is excellent, if you aren’t careful, you won’t have anything to show for it at the end of the year. We’ve put together 7 financial tips for travel nurses to help you be smart about your spending.
Track Your Spending During a Travel Nursing Job
You may think you have an idea of where all your money goes, but you need a very clear picture of your current situation in order to analyze how to move forward. You are likely to be surprised at how much of your money you’re spending each week, and maybe even at what you’re spending it on.
There are a few different ways you can go about tracking your spending:
1. Export your bank account transactions into an Excel spreadsheet.
This can be done with most online banking options. Once the transactions are delineated into a spreadsheet you can create categories and formulas to identify how much you’re spending on food compared to shopping or your car expenses. This does require some familiarity with Excel, or a willingness to do a few Excel tutorials. Here’s a tutorial playlist for Excel beginners that we like:
2. Use software or a tech solution to connect to your financial institutions (bank accounts, retirement accounts, etc) to do the tracking for you.
It’s not surprising if at this junction your brain immediately flips to Mint, the online money tracking giant, and that is what I’m talking about. However, competition has risen in the last years for Mint, and there are a few others that you might like to look into:
- Personal Capital is a top contender to push Mint off its throne. They’re a solid tool for budgeting and investment. Moreover, they are free but won’t have the new credit card offers that clog up the screen on Mint sometimes.
- Money Patrol was founded by a former Head of Analytics at Mint. It’s comprehensive and they offer a live demo on the website so you can see the style and diversity they offer. It’s not free, however. The cost is $59.99 per year after a 15-day free trial.
3. Carry a pencil and notepad with you at all times and write down every dime you spend.
This may seem arduous, and yet if you can remember to write down every time you spend money, it might be the simplest until it comes time to categorize and do formulas.
4. Set Up Automatic Deductions to a Savings Account
The road to saving is paved with good intentions. Unfortunately, it’s hard to move money over to a savings account once you’ve seen the full amount of your paycheck in your checking account and have a hundred different ways of spending it. Pull away from good intentions of saving, and onto the actual saving by making it automatic.
Elite Specialty Staffing pays all our travel nurses via direct deposit. Our paychecks are never late, and they’ll never get lost in the mail regardless of your changing zip codes. You can arrange for us to direct deposit your paycheck into two different accounts. For example, you could arrange for 20% of your paychecks to be directly deposited into your savings account while the remaining 80% goes to your checking account.
Another option would be to open a savings account with the same bank that houses your checking account and set up a recurring transfer from your checking account to your savings account. For example, set your checking account to transfer $200 every two weeks to a savings account.
5. Set Up Utilities/Rent/Mortgage for Automatic Withdrawal
This one is a lot easier to do than even just five years ago. The important part is to set them up for automatic withdrawal so that you avoid any late fees if you forget. If you can’t set up automatic withdrawals, then move to paperless billing so that you’ll be notified when a bill is due via email. Be sure it’s a valid email that you check regularly.
6. Live on a Budget as a Travel Nurse
Travel nurses can make a substantial amount of money. It’s a major benefit, second only to the opportunity to travel and see new exciting places. Unfortunately, no matter how much you’re earning, if you aren’t on a budget you may find yourself tighter for money than you want to be. Setting up a budget all on your own can be tricky, but there are several apps available to help you with this. The aforementioned Mint and Personal Capital can help but here’s a few other apps that focus specifically on budgeting:
- Goodbudget is a free tool that has adapted the envelope-budgeting method to technology and smartphones.
- You Need a Budget works to project forward with your money and follows a methodology to help you get out of debt and spend smarter. They offer a 34-day free trial and a monthly fee of $11.99.
There’s also the traditional envelope budgeting method. If you opt for this type of budget, you’ll be operating with cash and envelopes. Simply put, you’d create a budget for each category of spending; food, entertainment, transportation, shopping. Then you place the exact cash amount for each category in its own envelope. This method will give you a very visual warning of how quickly you’re running through your allotted amount for each category.
7. Opt-Out of Overdraft Protection
This one may seem counterintuitive, because overdraft protection will protect you from fees, but it also fails to keep you from spending more than you have. Regardless of how amazing the location of your travel nursing contract is, you need to keep your spending in check, and at the very least, keep your account from entering the red.
Get Some Professional Help
We recommend you use a certified public accountant (CPA) for your taxes to make sure you don’t miss any credits or deductions that are rightfully yours. Travel nurses have seriously complex tax situations, and you’ll need to file in every single state you worked in during the year. But you don’t have to limit the professional help to just tax season.
Whether it be for retirement (that should definitely be on your list) or savings for a house, a business, or a car; insightful and confident financial planning should involve some input from a professional. Ask your CPA if they do financial planning or if they can recommend you, someone, they trust.