Per diem is a Latin term that means “by the day.” A per diem nurse is a nurse who is employed “by the day,” or as needed by a medical facility.
What is a PRN nurse?
PRN is a Latin term for pro re nata, which translates in English to “as the situation demands.” Both “per diem nurse” and “PRN nurse” have essentially the same meaning and can be used interchangeably.
Whether your nursing job title is per diem nurse or PRN nurse, it means you only work when that institution has additional staffing needs that they cannot fill with their own “career” nursing staff. With the increasing demands of today’s healthcare environment – and the fact that patients are living longer (and are often sicker) than ever before – per diem, or PRN nurses are in high demand.
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About per diem/ PRN nursing
Most hospitals have their own unit of staffed per diem nurses. These nurses may be assigned to one particular unit in a hospital or can be resource nurses who cover many different specialties within the hospital setting (as long as they are trained to do so). Hospital staffing needs usually increase during holiday seasons or during times of high census in the hospital (such as during the COVID-19 pandemic).
In addition, there are nurse staffing agencies that set up outside nurses to work in hospitals that have additional staffing needs. These nurses work for “per diem nursing agencies” and may end up working in a variety of facilities. Often, these nurses might work a few shifts at one hospital, and then a shift in another facility, all in one week.
Per diem (or PRN) nurse vs. full-time nursing: what should I choose?
Most nurses work full time, at least for their first few years after graduating from nursing school. Novice nurses need to put the time in and develop their clinical and critical thinking skills. It takes many years to build up nursing expertise at the bedside, which is why I would never recommend that a new grad nurse work per diem. If you are considering per diem as a nursing avenue for your career, make sure that you are experienced enough to manage the stress of working in many different working environments.
As a per diem nurse myself, I have found many benefits to working per diem that I would not have had if I was working as a “staff” or “career” nurse. If you are teetering on making a change into the per diem nursing environment, these are benefits of working as a per diem, or PRN, nurse.
Benefits of being a per diem/PRN nurse:
#1. Higher pay then a career nurse
Per diem nurses are usually paid more money per hour than regular staff because they generally do not receive benefits, and do not have set hours.
Some states pay more per hour than others. California, for example, is known for having a higher hourly wage than many states with a lower cost-of-living, like South Dakota or Illinois. Per diem nurses in California have even been known to make over 15K or more in a single paycheck by working multiple days in a row, and taking advantage of overtime pay!
#2. You can make your own nursing schedule
One of the most significant benefits of working per diem is that you can choose precisely when you want to work. As a working mom, it makes it much less stressful to know that you won’t be scheduled during a time you don’t have child care.
#3. Per diem nurses can pick up seasonal work
There are times of the year when more nurses are needed to meet staffing needs, such as flu season or summer time. During the current COVID-19 global crisis, there are many hospitals with increased staffing needs in coronavirus “hot spots,” such as New York City and Seattle, where some of the first clusters were found. Per diem nurses who are willing to be flexible and work in new facilities have the opportunity to work more often.
Unlike career nurses, who often do not have complete control of their schedules, per diem nurses can choose to decline shifts if they don’t jive with your schedule. This means that if you don’t want to work nights, holidays, or weekends, you usually don’t have to.
#5. Have the possibility to add on a shift at the last minute
Some per diem nurses work for two different hospitals at the same time. Therefore, if they end up getting canceled to work at one hospital, they can call the staffing office at their other hospital to see if they have any nursing needs. Often, they do, and you can work that day and not lose income.
#6. Cancel a shift the last minute
Working parents understand the need for flexible scheduling. If your child (or yourself) become ill the day or two before a per diem shift, then you have an opportunity to cancel yourself ahead of time. You don’t need to worry about whether or not you have a vacation or sick time saved up.
#7. Opportunity to cross-train in different specialties
Per diem nurses, often have additional learning and educational opportunities because they get new opportunities to cover many specialties.
For example, a per diem emergency room nurse, who also floats to ICU units, might also be able to cross-train for a PACU unit they have staffing needs. Here is another example: a per diem NICU nurse, might be cross-trained for post-partum or antepartum units if they needed additional nursing support.
Nurses who can be flexible and open to additional learning opportunities may find that they have more opportunities than ever to work. When you have experience working in several different nursing specialties, then you have a decreased chance of being canceled and not making any money that day. Per diem nursing can provide nurses with increased job stability and add valuable work experience for your resume.
#8. Build vacation time right into your schedule without taking time off
For per diem nurses, there is no need to put in vacation time, because it is possible to build vacation time right into your schedule.
For example, full-time nurses often work three 12-hour shifts a week. You can schedule yourself to work on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday one week, and then on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of the next week. That leaves you with eight days off in-between your shifts to hop on a plane for a week’s vacation.
#9. Working per diem is a great way to keep your license active
Many nurses who only want to work part-time, appreciate the option to work as a per diem nurse. Whether you have small children at home or you have other side careers that you are persuing, per diem nursing allows you to have that flexibility without altogether leaving the bedside, or your profession, behind.
As nurses get closer to retirement, some may choose to work a little less and spend more quality time with grandchildren. If that is the case, then per diem, nursing is a great option. You can keep your foot in the nursing industry, keep your skills and knowledge sharp, continue to bring in some income, while also having time to dedicate to the other passions in your life.
I hope this article helped you clarify whether or not being a per diem or PRN nurse is right for you. There are many factors to consider, but it is wonderful to work in a profession where this type of work environment is possible. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.
As s a nurse I have been exposed to so many stressful situations. I’ve been cussed at by angry patients (more times then I can count), swung at, kicked, had a full urinal thrown at me, been exposed to, been in the middle of dozens of violent patient situations and take-downs, and been the victim of nurse bullying.
In addition, I see other nurses being treated poorly from patients, family members, doctors and even sometimes other nurses. In fact, it’s not even unusual. And, like other nurses, I am expected to continue giving compassionate patient care without regard to my own well being.
This sacrificial attitude of putting myself last on a very long spectrum of compassionate care is just not going to cut it anymore. The thought of spending an entire career with this amount of wear-and-tear is frightening. Something has to give before I completely fizzle and burn to a crisp.
Nurses need to have compassion for themselves too.
I came out of nursing school with equal parts compassion and adrenaline to save lives and make a positive difference in the world! In fact, I left a very lucrative 10 year medical equipment sales career so I could do just that. I was determined to advocate for and serve my patients to the best of my ability. Compassion was one of my greatest strengths.
As an overachiever for most of my life I have always maintained the attitude that I can do anything as long as I try hard enough. And now, after 7 years as a registered nurse, I am discovering that I am failing at the one thing that actually defines a great nurse: compassion.
The nurse burnout is real.
What I am currently experiencing is a state of physical and emotional exhaustion that is more extreme than anything that I have ever experienced in my adult life. I started my nursing career with the determination to give amazing patient care and here I am, 7 years later, losing my compassion.
(And just so you know – this has been hard for me to acknowledge because I have been a “yes” person my entire life.)
There is beauty in the breakdown.
My nursing burnout amplified after the birth of my first child in 2015. Then, it got even worse after my second child in 2018. In fact, I started writing regularly again out of desperation to find an outlet for the exhaustion and overwhelming fatigue I was feeling as a nurse and new mom. My goal was to find more effective ways to take better care of myself and make my life a little easier. And it actually has helped me find a little reprieve.
But most importantly, it has opened my eyes to the fact that I need to make some huge changes in my life. Most of all, I need to find my compassion again. But this time I am unapologetically focusing my compassion on myself, first.
So, in light of this discovery, I am 100% accepting and honoring these uncomfortable feelings. I am using them as a catalyst to make changes in my professional and personal life. My mental and physical pain will be an opportunity for growth and finding self-compassion.
I rarely take the time to do nothing and reflect. This is a good year for more of that.
I am on a mission for self-compassion.
You know how when you fly in an airplane, there is the safety warning before take-off? Passengers are instructed to put the oxygen mask on themselves first, then help others around them. Because if you pass out from lack of oxygen, you’re not helpful to anyone!
So, here is me putting the oxygen mask on myself first. Some of the changes I am making are professional and some are personal. But they are all things I have been wanting to do for a really long time but haven’t because I was thinking about others’ needs before my own.
Here are my new personal nurse self-care and self-compassion goals:
#1. Work two 12 hour shifts a week instead of three
This one is hard for me because it equates to a significant decrease in pay (and I really like money!). With two toddler age children, child care is our biggest expense (besides housing) and it’s not going away any time soon. But fortunately, we are in a position to afford it for the time being and I want to use the extra day off to spend more one-on-one time with my adorable babies.
In addition, since most hospital shifts are 12 to 13 hours I don’t get to see my children at all on the days that I work. I am also staying away from working back-to-back shifts because I just don’t want to be away from my children for more than one day at a time.
#2. Work fewer holidays and as few weekends as possible
After I had children I really hated having to work on holidays. I have missed so many birthdays, Easters, 4th of Julys, Thanksgivings, Christmas and New Years to be working at the hospital. At some point, I started to resent missing that time with my family. Working on holidays is the norm for many nurses, and I expect to work some. But since I will be working a little less anyway this will also equate to working fewer holidays as well. The same goes for weekends.
Self Care for nurses is more important now than ever.
#3. Continue working per diem
There are a lot of benefits and drawbacks to being a per diem nurse. For example, I love that I can schedule myself to work on the exact days I WANT to work. However, it also means that if I am not needed then I get canceled at 0400 and then I don’t make any money for that day. And since I end up paying for a nanny regardless, that’s a double whammy.
The best part of being a per diem nurse is that it offers me a much better work-life balance. When I worked as a career nurse it was almost impossible for me to secure childcare because my work schedule was always changing. Some weeks I got the schedule I needed and others I didn’t. So on the whole, being a per diem nurse is the right choice for me and my family.
#4. Continue writing and growing my website to help other nurse moms
In 2016 I became a nurse blogger. My venture was born out of my frustration with burnout as a registered nurse and my desire to create a more flexible work-life balance. Writing about nurse lifestyle topics that interest me and exploring ways that nurses can take better care of themselves helps me to take care of myself better too.
My little blog is even starting to make a small monthly income, which absolutely thrills me. I have a dream that if I keep working hard my website will make enough money that I can work one day a week instead of two.
#5. Take a comprehensive course in website management and blogging
Last week I signed up for a comprehensive blogging course that will probably take me the next 6-8 months to complete. I honestly haven’t been more excited to do something for myself like this in a really long time. In fact, I can’t wait to see my progress over the next year!
#6. Explore other medical-related career options
A few weeks ago I interviewed for an aesthetic sales position. Although I didn’t end up working for the company, it did open my eyes to the fact that there are so many other great opportunities that I could be interested in and also fit my skill set as a nurse. A nursing practice can take many forms and I am giving myself permission to continue learning about other nursing career options.
#7. Focus more energy into my family and friends
One of my New Years resolutions this year was to “choose fun.” So many studies have shown that spending quality time with family and friends is incredibly helpful in decreasing stress and improving burnout symptoms. Since I will be working a little less I will have more time to focus my energy on the people who matter most to me.
#8. Enjoy my new fancy gym membership (with childcare on site!)
In the spirit of investing more in myself, I started 2019 off with a gym membership. It has been a complete game-changer for me. In fact, the old me would never have never splurged on a fancy gym membership. Making regular time to work out always makes me feel great, clears my head and gives me more stamina. And my 1 year old loves the Kid’s Club, so it’s a win-win.
As a nurse and mom, my life basically revolves around caring for everyone else, and I am SO GRATEFUL to be able to do that. But if there is one thing I have learned through my own compassion fatigue it is that I need to put the same care into myself as I do into my patients and family. So in the spirit of self-compassion, I am metaphorically putting on my oxygen mask first, before helping those around me.
#9. Practice more yoga
I have been regularly practicing yoga for 14 years. Finally, in 2o15 I completed Yoga Works’ 4 month Urban Zen Integrative Therapy program for medical professionals. I learned how to teach simple yoga, do guided meditation and perform Reiki. It was amazing!
However, in recent years I have not been practicing as much as I would like, and that is going to change. My goal is to incorporate yoga into my busy schedule every single day. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes. Yoga helps me stay balanced in times of great stress, gives me flexibility (both physically and mentally) and has been extremely grounding. In fact, I recently started teaching my 3-year-old daughter a series of yoga poses and it is bringing us both great joy!
These two are already happy about self-care goal #1: Work two 12 hour shifts a week instead of three. Job flexibility has never been so important to me.
Nurse self-care matters. If we don’t care for ourselves then how can we expect patients to listen to our health advice and education? I am taking this opportunity to give myself compassion and hopefully lead others by example.
If other nurses find themselves feeling as unappreciated and burnt out as me I encourage them to find ways to care for themselves first. Otherwise, we are perpetuating a broken system that does not acknowledge that nursing burnout is a real issue and ignoring nurse health and well being.
So nurse, what are you going to do to take care of yourself today? Leave a comment!
(This post may contain affiliate links. You can read my disclosure page here. For more information about collaborating with Mother Nurse Love click here).
Nurse, take care of yourself first.
This statement may appear counter intuitive. After all, aren’t nurses supposed to be selfless humans who give care to total strangers without concern for their own well being?
Two words: Absolutely NOT!
Nurses NEED to put themselves first so they have the stamina and good health to care for their patients and their own families. This is non-negotiable.
Staying healthy as a nurse is a win-win for everyone. First off, our families get a better version of us. Second, we have the energy and stamina to keep up with heavy patient workloads. And third, we have better relationships with our spouses and friends.
Most importantly though, nurses who take care of themselves are happier!
(Attention employers: studies show that happy, healthy nurses give higher quality of patient care. This results in a decrease in medical errors and improves patient satisfaction, which is very good for hospital PR and the overall patient experience. So support your nurses in their quest for a healthier lifestyle!)
8 Simple Ways Nurses Can Stay Healthy When Working 12 Hours Shifts!
Here are 8 ways nurses can stay healthy and practice better self-care on a daily basis:
#1. Protect your back: do core work!
As a result of years of heavy lifting many RN’s are suffering from chronic back problems. I know several nurses who have had to go out on disability and sadly still suffer from permanent chronic back pain.
Chronic back pain in the nursing population is a common ailment. An evidenced based review at the Texas Women’s University reported that estimates of chronic low back pain among nurses range from 50%-80%. There is good news though: the review also presented an overwhelming amount of studies that found that regular yoga significantly reduced symptoms associated with chronic low back pain and greatly improved overall physicality. Yoga poses (like plank pose) help you create a stronger core. So say yes to yoga!
By working on your core at home, you can preemptively protect your back from some of the wear-and tear you are going to experience as a busy RN. You STILL NEED to use good body mechanics while lifting and turning patients- this is imperative! But by working your core you help strengthen your back and help prevent injuries from occurring over the course of your nursing career.
Compression stockings help increase circulation of blood flow and oxygen by helping increase the velocity, or speed of blood flow. By squeezing on the legs, the veins carrying blood to the heart are compressed. Think of how when you squeeze a hose, it squirts the water out faster. With compression stockings, the same volume of blood is able to move up the leg, but it has less area in which to move.
Standing for long periods of time causes valves in the veins to become weakened, causing blood to collect in the veins. This causes the veins to enlarge and increase in pressure. The veins then stretch from the increased pressure and cause varicose veins, which can be painful and unsightly!
A study by The Society of Occupational Medicine found that wearing compression stockings significantly decreased lower limb venous pressure in nurses who stood for very long hours. The data found that compression stockings protected against oxidative stress in those who work in long-standing occupations.
Yoga stretching not only increases flexibly, but increases muscle strength and prevents injuries such as chronic lower back pain. In a career as physically demanding as nursing, the more physically stable we are, the better care we can give to ourselves and our patients.
A study published in the National Institute of Biotechnology Information investigated the effects of yoga on stress coping strategies of ICU nurses. After only 8 weeks of yoga the results showed that the participating ICU nurses had significantly better focus coping strategies and a major reduction in perceived mental pressure. If that is what can happen after only 8 weeks, imagine the impact a regular, permanent yoga practice could have on stress management levels.
Weight can creep up on healthcare workers who wear comfy, loose-fitting scrubs to work everyday, without you even noticing it!
Patients and staff often like to bring unhealthy snacks like donuts, cakes or cookies into the nurse break rooms as a “thank you” to nurses. This gesture is very “sweet” of them, however it doesn’t do our health or waistlines any good. Suggest bringing in fruit or veggie platters as a healthy treat for nurses instead.
One of the best ways nurses can stay healthy by preventing weight gain is to grocery shop in advance and prepare meals the night before a shift. That way you are not tempted to order take out or reach for high sugar goodies when you are starving at break time.
One day per week I make a big batch of quinoa and keep it handy in the fridge for myself. When I need it, I add veggies, nuts, seeds, dried cranberries, olive oil, tempeh or whatever else I have in the fridge at that moment. Not only does this help me make healthy lunches for work, but I also have delicious leftovers ready to eat when I get home from a long 12 hour shift.
Per diem means: for each day. As a nurse, I am literally employed “by the day.” Hospitals need per diem nurses to cover staffing needs in the hospital, which can vary by the day or season.
Per diem nursing has been a game-changer for me as a working mom. It is so flexible that I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to go back to being a career RN again.
Here are a few benefits I found when I became a per diem nurse:
Significantly higher per hour pay
Work as little as one day a week or as many as five days a week (as long as there is a need)
Make own schedule (if the hospital doesn’t need me they call me off)
Cancel at the last minute (as long as it is by 3am)
Add on a shift at the last minute
Incredible opportunities for learning and professional growth
Work in many different specialties: Emergency Room, Cardiac, Liver Transplant, Medicine, Neuroscience and Stroke, or Oncology, and more
Opportunities to “master in” to a unit that is chronically short on staffing needs for a period of time: this guarantees a certain number of hours and gives an opportunity to go to the same unit for weeks or months at a time
Nurses work very long hours and night shifts, which interrupts the normal sleep pattern.
Help yourself by creating an environment at home that is conducive to sleeping, even during daytime hours.
Install blackout shades in your bedroom.
Disconnect electronics that artificially lighten a dark room.
Wear an eye mask.
Purchase quality ear plugs so that the guy mowing his lawn next door doesn’t wake you up at noon when you are finally entering your REM cycle.
When I first started working night shifts I even went so far as to use “blue blocker” sunglasses when I was driving myself home at 8’o clock in the morning. (“Blue blockers” are the aviator style sunglasses that Zack Galifianakis and the baby wore in “The Hangover.” Who new one of the best ways nurses can stay healthy involves also looking stylishly cool?).
“Blue blockers” have orange glass lenses that cut the blue portion of the light spectrum. This helps prevent the light-inducted melatonin suppression and helps make it easier to fall asleep after seeing the morning sun.
#7. Meditate for 5 minutes a day
One of the best ways nurses can stay healthy is through meditation. Meditation is the practice of focusing your mind on a particular thought or activity to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state.
A few benefits of meditation:
better focus and ability to ignore distractions
happier state of mind
Headspace is an app for your phone that has many different meditations each lasting 1o to 60 minutes. If you can find 10 minutes in your day then you have no excuse not to meditate! Meditation is attainable for even the busiest of nurses!
I listen to Headspace with my headphones most nights before I go to bed. It helps me relax after a long day and even helps me to get a better nights sleep.
Like yoga, meditation is a practice. There is no good or bad. It is just what it is at the time. You can keep practicing to train your mind to do better the next time. And then eventually your brain is rewired by the habitual repetition of meditation and it becomes easier.
#8. Practice gratitude
Intentionally choose gratitude.
Try keeping a gratitude journal. Writing down what you are grateful for consciously reminds you that even though being a nurse is frustrating at times, the good stuff far outweighs the bad. It keeps you aligned with the positive aspects of being a nurse that we should keep our energy focused on: giving great patient care and helping save lives.
I love being a nurse, despite the fact that is it overwhelming and at times even maddening. Practicing gratitude helps me recognize how lucky I am to be a nurse who gets to help other people as my profession. I go home everyday with a sense of accomplishment that even I can “be the change I wish to see in the world.”
As an expecting Mother and registered nurse, I will soon be confronting one of the biggest downfalls to being a per diem RN: unpaid maternity leave.
In fact, as a per diem nurse, I receive absolutely zero benefits outside of my regular hourly rate.
So why be a per diem nurse, you ask?
Per diem nursing has been a game-changer for me because it gives me the scheduling flexibly I need to be a working Mom. Per diem means: for each day. As a nurse, I am literally employed “by the day.” Essentially, I can schedule myself to work any day I want.
Zoe is going to have a lot more responsibility soon in her next role as big sister.
I became a per diem nurse out of necessity due to scheduling and childcare issues. The telemetry unit I had been working on was unable to give me a set weekly schedule. This made it very difficult to secure a regular nanny or plan for daycare for our daughter.
Every month I would request the schedule I needed to make my childcare situation work. Unfortunately, I would inevitably still be scheduled on many days in which I had no childcare available to me.
I had a choice: continue to call-in sick and struggle to find alternative childcare. Or make a change that allowed me to have the flexibility I needed to be a working Mom. Ultimately, my husband and I made the decision that it was better to leave my career RN position in order to reap the much needed flexibility benefit of being a per diem nurse.
Still, there is something about this that infuriates me: I have been paying into maternity leave and disability benefits for almost 17 years. Now that I’m pregnant again and actually need maternity leave benefits, I’m no longer eligible for them. Oh, the irony!
Maternity leave: A financial drain
After baby arrives, I will be out for at least 8 weeks or longer so I can spend baby bonding time with our son. This will add up to a lot of money lost.
Just to make my point, here is a hypothetical, but very real situation:
Lets say I make a little over $1000 a day and I work 3 days a week. 3 days x $1000 = $3,000 per week. So just one week of unpaid maternity leave results in a $3,000 financial loss.
So far, the math is pretty simple. It doesn’t sound that horrible… yet.
But, if you multiply $3,000 a week by 8 weeks of maternity leave, that equals $24,000 in financial losses. And that’s if I only take off a measly 8 weeks of baby bonding time.
I will be taking more time then that so I can spend more time at home with our son. I think its important for his early development and luckily we can afford it.
And the financial losses continue to rise…
12 weeks = $36,000
16 weeks = $48,000
You get my point… It really starts to add up.
Additional time off before baby
I could be out of work for weeks or months before I give birth depending on how my pregnancy progresses in the third trimester. Nurses have very physically demanding jobs that often require grueling 12 hour shifts. There is a strong possibility that I may have to step out earlier then I would like.
We could be looking at 50k or more in financial losses depending on how early I have to stop working and how long I decide to stay home with our newborn.
Who knew having a baby was so costly for a working Mom in the United States? Even before factoring in medical expenses.
Unpaid maternity leave statistics in the U.S.
This is a very sleepy photo of Zoe and me in the NICU when she was a week old. Zoe arrived 7 weeks early. At 4.3 pounds we are incredibly luckily that she was as healthy as she was. Our doctors called her “tiny but mighty.”
The Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guarantees by federal law that women are entitled up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off. However, many women still don’t even qualify for that if they work for a small employer or have been with that employer less then 1 year. What a shame.
Now that I have gotten my venting out of the way, it’s time to talk about a plan. The only thing left to do is try to make the best out of a crummy situation.
I am determined to make my maternity leave as positive and stress-free as possible, despite the financial drain of having no paid maternity leave.
Unpaid maternity leave: How to make it work!
#1. Open a new saving account dedicated to maternity leave.
One of the easiest ways to save money is to pay yourself first each paycheck through direct deposit. That way you don’t even see then money hitting your checking account. Liquid cash is good so you can use it when you need it.
Suzie Orman, one of my long-time favorite financial gurus says that you want to have as much money saved up for as many months as you plan to take off, as well as an 8 month emergency plan. You never know when an emergency can strike, for example, a medical emergency, a job loss or worse. The faster you can start saving into an account dedicated to maternity leave, the more prepared you will be when it comes.
#2. Make a budget and stick to it.
I prefer more of a no budget, budget strategy. Basically, I decide how much I want to save each paycheck and immediately transfer it into an online Barclays savings account as soon as payday comes. No muss, no fuss.
I am aware of everything I purchase and review it each month by using a program called Mint to track my expenses. If you aren’t using this, you should be. Since I have started using Mint I have watch my savings rate take off to a place I have never been able to before. It is amazing how much you can save when you know exactly where your money is going!
I’m always surprised at how many people I talk to who have no idea what they really spend in a month. Needless to say, this is a poor strategy for preparing for an unpaid maternity leave. You’ve got to have a plan.
#3. Make more money now or take on extra work.
If you are currently pregnant or even just thinking about it, now is a good time to take on extra hours at work. Especially if you are able to get overtime pay.
As a nurse, anything over 40 hours of work a week is considered overtime at my hospital. Is is very difficult for me to do more then that since I have my daughter at home, but I have done it a few times just to add a little more to my savings.
In addition, some holidays pay time-and-a-half rates. Therefore, I have been known to pick up shifts on Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving or even Christmas. Its not my favorite thing to do but my family handles it by celebrating these holidays on the day before or the day after the actual holiday. It adds up quite a bit when you are saving to be out for a few months.
#4. Discuss recurring expenses that you aren’t really using or don’t need.
Look at your expenses and see if there is anywhere that you can reasonably make a cut. Are you really using the 100$ a month gym membership? Or does it make more sense to take daily walks and do online yoga at home?
My husband and I talk about money a lot more then I think many other couples do. Saving money is all about establishing priorities and being on the same page. Talking about money has kept us in good financial health and kept us on the same page with our spending habits.
#5. Look at the easy ways to cut back.
Families dropping from a dual income to a single income usually need to trim expenses somewhere. Make a list of everything you are spending money on, and be honest with yourself about what is an actual need. Here are a few ideas to throw on the table:
nix the coffee cart habit = save $4 a day
pack your lunches = save $12 a day
cancel the cable you are barely using anyway = save $80 a month
cook your meals at home instead of ordering take out = potentially $100’s in savings per month (if you eat out a lot)
go on a 3-6 month spending freeze on things that are not an actual “need” = $(fill in the space here)
Do you get my point? There is A LOT of money to be saved if you just pay more attention to what you are spending money on.
There are so many items that I was told I had to have for baby #1. Many of them are “nice to have items” that I barely even used (uh hem, grocery cart baby cover used a mere 3 times!). Needless to say, many things from my baby registry are being stored away in our garage and will probably be given away practically new.
I remember looking through Pinterest at lists of “must haves” for a new Mom. They are long and mostly unnecessary. Stay away from those lists!
For example, I was told that I “needed” the newborn insert for our stroller. But for the first few months I was using her car seat in her stroller. By the time I actually went to use the insert she has already grown out of it. Same went for the ergo baby newborn insert- I didn’t even need it until she was to big to fit in it anyway.
If you actually need something, then go ahead and get it. These are just my thoughts as a second time Mom with baby registry regret. With the exception of a double stroller and a crib (which I will buy pre-owned), I can’t think of any other BIG items I will actually need for our new baby.
#7. Extra expenses to take into consideration:
I was so grateful for amazing baby bonding time with Zoe after she was born.
There will be some extra expenses after the baby is born. Some of the big ones for us are diapers, wipes, formula/food, and additional childcare. None of these things are cheap, so its good to be prepared for the expenses in advance.
You could always decide to go the cloth diaper route. I know people who have done this and it does save quite a bit if money. That, however, was not in our savings plan. There are some things of convenience that really are worth the money, and that was one for us.
Other big expenses include childcare enrichment classes (MyGym, recreation classes, music classes, ect..) if that is something you are interested in.
Childcare is our single biggest expense and we pay our nanny $240-$360 per week (for 2-3 days only). It would cost a lot more if I worked 5 days a week. I have friends who work full time and pay a nanny $750 or more in cash every single week. Day care is much cheaper but still a large expense.
I have read that the average baby costs their parents $300,000 from the time they are born until the time they turn 18. And that doesn’t even include a college education! I don’t know about you, but that really makes me think about how I budget our money.
#8. Think about the big picture.
Having a baby is one of the most amazing human experiences I have ever had. I absolutely love being a Mom. However, it can also be stressful at times, and it probably will be, even with the most thoughtful preparation.
At the end of the day you can only do the best you can. Saving for unpaid maternity leave is just one of the things I am doing to try and ease the financial loss that comes with having a baby. My plan is to eliminate as much stress as I can so I can joyfully relish in the awesomeness that comes with having a new baby.