Travel Nursing Tips for Finance Fitness
New year beginnings typically mark a time for reflection and goal setting. Often, we make resolutions suited to address or maintain our physical or mental well-being. For 2022, we encourage our traveling clinicians to make resolutions at this time of year to address their financial fitness.
Finances can be a serious stressor, and without planning and focus, even the highest-paid travel nurses can find themselves wondering where all their money disappeared to. While it’s true that travel clinicians enjoy the amazing benefits of being able to experience different cities and cultures within our country all while earning a paycheck, it is also true that the constant traveling and exploring can be a drain on your bank account. For this reason, we’ve written a financial fitness guide, specifically for you.
Direct Deposit into a Savings Account
Saving money isn’t as easy as you’d think. Particularly when you’re a travel nurse looking to explore your destinations and experience the wide world. If you don’t have a savings account established, this is the year to do it. Relying on personal discipline not to spend all of the money in your bank account is a constant test to your willpower. Make it easier by opening a savings account.
Elite Specialty Staffing pays all our travel clinicians via direct deposit. You can set up your payments so that either a specific dollar amount or a certain percentage of your paycheck is directly deposited into your savings account each time.
Most savings accounts have rules that include a minimum balance that must be maintained, and limits to the amount and frequency that you can withdraw from them. Once you’ve set up a direct deposit to a savings account automatically, you can forget about the money in the account and let it grow.
Taxes: Make No Mistakes
Many nurses are drawn to travel nursing for the opportunity to wander the nation while pulling in a paycheck. The housing, food, and incidentals stipends go a long way toward lifting the financial burden, however, those stipends also make your taxes more complicated.
Hire a tax professional to handle your taxes this year. Yes, they will bill you more than the popular tax software platforms available (probably). Also yes, they will be able to fully (and legally) maximize your tax credits, your deductions, and thereby protect your earnings. Taxes for a travel clinician are different from those of a regularly employed staff nurse at a hospital or physician practice. Don’t risk your hard-earned income to penalties or tax errors.
Reduce Your Debt
Do you have debts? It’s nothing to be ashamed about it you do. In fact, if you don’t then you’re in the statistical minority. The categories for debt are numerous, and if you’re juggling several different types, odds are high that you’re spread thin and only treading water.
There are ways to consolidate your debt and to actively pay it down. Famous financial guru Dave Ramsey earned his reputation by his aggressive plans to pay off debt and has a variety of free tools available on the site. If your debt situation is serious, you may want to consider credit counseling through a legitimate nonprofit agency. There are 57 of these agencies approved by the Federal Trade Commission and National Foundation for Credit Counseling, you can find the list, here.
However you choose to go about reducing your debt, the important fact is that it is possible. Be proactive about your situation; utilize resources available, and cut up your credit cards!
Build a Budget
When was the last time you had an active budget plan for your money? Or perhaps the better question is when was the last time you had a budget and stuck to it? There’s a popular budgeting framework known simply as the 50/30/20 rule, here’s the breakdown:
50% of your income should be allocated toward your needs.
30% of your income should be rationed for your wants.
20% of your income should be directly deposited in your savings account.
The 50/30/20 rule is a place to start, but you may find it won’t work for you, or it doesn’t make sense. If you have a lot of debt, then it isn’t practical to put 30% of your income toward your wants.
Consider using technology to aid you with tracking your spending, establishing spending categories by tracking your expenses, and sticking to a budget. There are several great tools available in the app store, but be sure to research them.
If you aren’t interested in utilizing technology to assist, consider the envelope method which is hands-on in the literal sense: you only work with cash.
Prioritize Pay Over Location
Every single CNA, LPN, RN, and allied health worker who travels for their work has their own personal reasons for becoming a travel clinician which therefore impacts their priorities in selecting their travel contracts. If you make financial fitness a major priority for yourself this year, it may require that you re-think your priorities. Specifically, you may need to focus on the cost of living expenses and pay rates for a contract as opposed to selecting a contract because it is a desirable location.
Change the Way You Explore Your Destination
You can be savvy with your money while still experiencing your destination. Cut out the coffee shop and instead splurge on a bag of delicious roasted beans and brew your own cup of joe at home. That small amount of money you’re spending on a regular basis at the coffee shop will add up, quickly.
Focus on free tours, free events, local parks, and community activities. Museums and other entertainment venues often have discount days, and in the larger cities, you might be surprised what you can find on Groupon. Go to the community grocery store and stock up on snacks and ingredients for easy meals. Those quick drive-thru runs after shift gets expensive but are hard to resist when you’re hungry and tired after a long night.
Plan Your Next Travel Contract
Financial fitness comes with planning and organization. Start off 2022 with your next travel contract in hand. For more information about how much travel clinicians earn and how to maximize it, read our article “Breaking Down How Much Travel Nurses Make”.