*This post about financial planning for nurses contains affiliate links. You can find my disclosure page here.
Nurses work hard for the money. But they need to be saving more of it. Unquestionably, this is the best financial advice for nurses today.
During my first few tumultuous weeks as a new grad nurse, a mentor with over 20 years of nursing experience gave me some invaluable advice, “Save your money now,” she said. “Pay off your school loans and automate your savings so you don’t even see it. “As a second career nurse I already had a decent 401k from a prior career selling medical equipment, but it was great advice that I needed to be reminded of now that I was beginning my new career as an RN.
Over the years I have found that nurses are very good at worrying about the health and well-being of others, before their own. Our financial health needs to be given as much attention as we devote to our patients.
Everything in nursing is evidence-based. Are nurses ignoring the evidence that compounding interest is the secret to growing wealth slowly and ensuring their financial health into their golden years.
The best financial advice for nurses is to start start saving more money for retirement at a younger age.
Are nurses making what they are worth?
Many nurses choose the profession because they are passionate about patient care and they want to make a positive impact in the world – not because they are trying to become millionaires. But nurses still deserve to make a decent living and have the ability to afford a decent retirement savings by the time 70 rolls around. Unfortunately, many nurses are deferring retirement because they simply cannot afford it.
Recently, someone said to me that they thought nurses made too much money. My jaw practically hit the floor. “Too much?” I must have heard that wrong. Is it possible that what he actually meant was “too little?” Nope. I heard it right the first time.
So I asked “how much is your life worth?” As an emergency room nurse I work with the most kick-ass, life-saving nurses out there. In fact, all the nurses at my hospital are breaking their backs to help people. Yet despite our sacrifices we are increasingly underappreciated for the hard work we do. (By the way, he never told me how much he thought his life was worth. He just kept insisting that we are so overpaid for the work we do).
What is the future of nursing going to look like?
I live in California where we still are fortunate enough to have this thing called “safe patient ratios.” And we still have a nursing union, so I consider myself luckier than many nurses. I hear the nursing conditions in some states are deplorable. (Although due to a recent vote in the Supreme Court, both our union and safe patient ratios may be in jeopardy of going away here some day as well).
In light of this and other new developments, I foresee a few changes within my workplace and the nursing field that may negatively effect my working conditions. Healthcare is a business in the United States. Nurses are in the business of saving human lives while our hospitals are in the business of saving money. What profession do you think will be the first to take a pay cut?
Is the wear-and-tear of nursing worth it?
Not to keep harping on the bad, but while I’m at it there’s this: I worry about how long I can physically be a hospital nurse before I hurt myself. I have been a nurse for 7 years and I am already experiencing chronic back pain.
Many hospitals are failing to protect nursing staff from becoming patients. And studies are showing that proper technique when moving patients still exposes nurses spines to dangerous forces. In light of these concerns, I am exploring other ways I can continue to practice nursing outside of the hospital setting.
Nurse, save your money now.
I am saving and investing as much money as I can with each paycheck. It is the wise thing to do and, frankly, who knows how long I will be able to work. Besides, there will always be employers out there who want to pay nurses less than we deserve. We cant just keep taking care of everybody else’s needs at the detriment of our own financial well-being.
If you are not already, save as much as you can now and make your savings automatic. This is singularly the best financial advice for nurses. Your future self will thank you for it.
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(This post may contain affiliate links. You can read my disclosure page here).
Are you struggling with how to pay off nursing school loans fast?
The last thing any busy, hard-working nurse wants to think about is how to pay off student loan debt from nursing school. Unfortunately, you can’t wish it away no matter how hard you try. (Trust me, I’ve tried!)
Nursing school student loan debt will remain right where it is until you get aggressive and attack it. Don’t be the sucker who spends their entire life paying off student loans. They will NEVER go away if you don’t make them, even if you file for bankruptcy.
Becoming a mom changed my financial priorities.
After I became a mother I realized that I needed to get smarter about where my hard-earned money was going. My nursing school debt needed to go. Years of making the minimum payment just wasn’t going to cut it anymore.
Motherhood also taught me something very valuable: being debt free AND having money in my bank account was way more important than spending money on stuff I didn’t need.
So I did everything I could think of to motivate myself to get rid of the almost $30,000 in student loan debt that I had. I began by listening to financial podcasts specifically focused on paying off debt. Then I took everything I had learned from those podcasts and formed my own simple yet aggressive payment plan.
My plan was easy to follow, yet aggressive: don’t spend any money on anything that is not an actual need. At that time, my true needs included grocery shopping, housing, pet food, and childcare. That’s it!
It took me close to a year to pay off almost $30,000 in debt from nursing school. I became debt free on November 1st 2016 and my savings has been steadily growing ever since!
How to pay off nursing school loans fast and become a debt free nurse:
1. Understand that student loan debt is NOT good debt.
There is no such thing as good debt. I don’t care if there is a 0% interest rate. Debt is debt. It is still a black cloud handing over your head that never goes away unless you force it to.
2. Cut your budget way, way down. Then cut it again.
Take a look at your budget and be honest about what you actually need. You need clothes to wear, and I bet you probably already have plenty hanging in your closet. You may still want to shop for more clothes – but that is where the budget cut starts. If there is something you absolutely think you need, give yourself a week to think it over. You may forget you even thought you wanted it in the first place.
An easy way to start cutting your budget is to cook all of your meals at home and packing a lunch for work. You also may want to wait until you completely pay your loans off before planning any vacations.
Tip: Want to know a trick to how to pay off nursing school loans fast? Plan to give yourself a gift you really want after your payoff is complete!
3. Contribute the maximum possible amount of your paychecks to your loans.
In order to pay off your student loan debt fast you have to get aggressive. This means that you need to contribute the maximum possible amount that you can towards your nursing school loan debt.
Pick a date that you want to be completely debt free and figure out how much you need to pay each month to make that happen. You know what they say, “If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.” Put your plan in writing and place a copy in several places – on the fridge, on your desk or in your wallet. Keep it close to you so you are constantly reminded of your payoff goals.
How to pay off nursing school loans fast!
4. Find your motivation.
I listened to financial podcasts and read a ton of books to motivate myself during my student loan payoff. Some of the podcasts I listened to included The Money Guys, Stacking Benjamin’s and Dave Ramsey.
What will financially motivate you? Whatever it is, make sure you think about it everyday.
5. Work, work, work.
Work no less than 3 shifts a week, but try to work much more if you can. Overtime is golden if you are able to make time and-a-half or better yet, double time. It will be hard and you will be tired, but becoming debt free will make it all worthwhile.
6. Get used to making sacrifices and feeling a little uncomfortable.
Take a look at the things you can reasonably live without. Brand new clothes and expensive restaurant meals are not necessities. Try going for a run, instead of spending money on a gym. Learn to cook if you are used to ordering take-out. Make your coffee at home instead of getting your daily brew at Starbucks. Making a few sacrifices along your debt-free journey will help speed up your payoff time.
You may even surprise yourself. In some ways buying less stuff can make your life easier because you don’t have as many things cluttering your home.
7. Once you are finally debt free keep living on less and keep saving and investing money.
Continue with the same motivation that you had during your payoff and keep saving for the future. Let your savings gap grow bigger each month. Lastly, vow not buy unnecessary stuff you don’t actually need that will probably end up in a dump in 5 years anyway.
Are you in the process of paying off your student loans? Do you have alternative advice regarding how to pay off nursing school loans fast? We always enjoy hearing from our readers. Share your tips with other readers.
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