Managing your Finances

The good thing about making the decision on becoming a travel nurse is there are a lot of possibilities where you can go. The world is your oyster. Not to mention that you will have a choice on thousands of job openings with better pay. Now that you are looking at a better set of compensation, you will develop a formidable enemy which is yourself. The reason being is it is easier to find yourself in dire financial situations if you do not manage your finances accordingly. Unfortunately, this is not something that is considered common knowledge.  Some of you may already be breezing through this post, but give it five minutes, this can be the reaffirmation that you need to start making better decisions. First let’s look at the common pitfalls that could leave you under crushing debt:

Getting a new car

  • Now hold on, I am not saying you are not allowed to get a new car. Remember that rates change based on need when it comes to contracts…so what you are making now is not necessarily what you will make for the upcoming contracts.  Don’t calculate your payment budget based off of the income of your current contract.  All I am saying is let us try to be wise about it. Not because your salary can cover the monthly payment on the car, it would be a good buy.
  • What would be the wise option? Do you really have to get it brand new? Can you still squeeze in a couple thousand miles more on your current one? Is there a used car option?
  • Do your research online on your best options. There are hundreds of websites you can go to which allows you to check your options on car ownership without having to wander into a used car lot or dealership. Do note that 80% of the time, the decision is heavily affected by the sales representative.

Nightlife and Partying

  •  Now again, I am not saying that you do not go ahead and enjoy yourself. In fact, I highly recommend that you blow off some steam with a night out on the town,  just try to be reasonable about it. Going out can be expensive and the credit card debt can mount pretty quickly. If you do find yourself going for the night out, be responsible and set a budget for the outing.

Needs versus Wants

  • Overindulgence is a very common pitfall when it comes to losing money fast. Be wise when it comes to spending your money. It’s very easy to spend on things like eating out compared to preparing your food at home.
  • Consider a more economical option for your daily drink. You might be surprised how much one can save if you avoid those fancy drinks you get from Starbucks. Make a treat of it once in a while if you like…rewarding yourself is always a good thing!

Impractical accommodations

  • As much as we would like to live large, we still need to really ground ourselves and live according to our means. Rents can really eat up your salary if you don’t find something that is more reasonable.  Shop around for practical (and comfortable) living accommodations for your assignments.  Sites like hotels.com, priceline.com or airbnb.com can let you shop around and compare prices / amenities.  They also provide reviews from past travelers, so you know what you are looking at.

Absence of budgeting

  • If you do not have an existing budget, you will be surprised how much you have spent on something that you could have gone without. Discipline yourself to keep a set budget on a week-to-week basis. This way, whatever you receive on top of your regular pay can be considered your savings.

Loans

  • One of the more common sources of debilitating debt is credit card debts. There are also some who take advantage of loans because they’re confident with the better rates that they will be receiving.  Be mindful that these need to be paid back, in a timely manner…with interest!

Now that we have seen the pitfalls, what can we do to really maximize our earnings?

Budget your Earnings

  • Start your budget working with your regular pay. Do not count potential overtime or holiday pay. Anything you get on top of your regular pay should be considered savings.
  • Aside from your regular savings, make sure you set aside an amount in case of emergencies. Do note that facilities have the right to cancel your shifts, so unless it is stipulated in your contract that you are guaranteed your hours, then you should not assume you are. Feel free to revisit your contract and check.

Prepare your own food

  • You will not believe how much you can save if you prepare your food at home. That is why I would advise you to invest in an accommodation that has a kitchen. Learn how to cook and save a substantial amount of money. Do your grocery shopping and you can prepare your food for the whole week.

Drop the fancy drinks

  •  Explore cheaper options for coffee or tea or whatever drink that gets you going first thing in the morning. You need to realize that your fancy frappe with extra whipped cream is not necessarily an essential. Stick to a basic cup for your day to day and treat yourself to a fancy cup occasionally as reward.

Stick with the Essentials

  • It’s easy to get lost in thinking that everything is essential like everything else that has been mentioned above, however being frugal is something that one ought to really consider picking up as a habit. Take a step back and be honest with yourself with which things are something you can live without.

Set a separate bank account for savings

  • It will help if you can really take out your savings instead of leaving it in the same account. It will be much easier to save the amount you intend to if you do not have direct access to it the same way as you do with your regular funds.
  • This is where a savings account would come in handy. Coordinate with your bank to as much as possible disable online transfers out of the savings account. This way you can make your deposit and forget about it and work on the remaining funds you have set for yourself.
  • Set an automatic deposit onto your savings account. This way, when your pay comes in, you will only have to look at your checking account which has your budget for the week.

Minimize carrying cash

  • Use your debit card when making transactions. It is much easier to make impulsive purchases if you have cash on hand all the time. That is why I would always recommend using your debit card instead because most essential purchases are done via debit card.
  • One thing you need to be careful with when using your debit card is make sure that you have funds in them before you go about using it. Do not rely on schedules of your pay and assume they have been credited into your account. There are several ways for you to check your balances. You now have online and phone options. Both are fast and efficient ways to confirm your actual balance.
  • Avoid utilizing your overdraft services. Banks would advertise this as a feature of their checking accounts but in truth, these are traps meant to leave you in debt. Take note that some banks would charge up to thirty-five dollars overdraft… per transaction. Even if you go over two cents from your actual balance, they would let your transaction go through but the charge will be applied. Please make sure that you disable this “feature”, so a transaction just gets declined if you do not have the funds.

Do not keep your credit card on your person

  •  Self-control can be a lengthy discussion but the best way to help yourself is to eliminate the temptation of being able to use your card readily. One common tip is to allow yourself to mull over the plan to make the purchase for a day or two. Before you know it, you would have changed your mind over it.

Co-signing

  •  I am not saying this is bad. I just have seen my fair share of individuals who ended up in debt because of co-signing a lease or a loan where the primary/principal borrower ghosted out on payments and the co-signee is left with the responsibility.

More money does not have to mean more problems.  Making sound financial decisions can be a challenge for all of us at times, however, you can definitely be successful if you know what to do and what to avoid. Think about how hard you had to work to get those funds into your accounts. It is really easy to lose it all and be left with nothing if you are not careful. I have seen travelers who got a bit crazy over the pandemic when they got the crisis rates and ended up in worse financial standing than before the pandemic started, despite working hard with really good rates. Pamelas List is committed to helping our travelers make sensible and responsible choices with their finances by offering support.  Ask your recruiter for help if you notice you may need a bit of advice or ideas on how to manage your money.

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