As a travel nurse, you already know how to combine your passion for exploration with your desire to care for others. In fact, you’ve made a career of it.
But travel nursing also pays well—in fact, many earn significantly higher salaries than their stationary counterparts. Aside from allowing yourself to splurge on a tasty meal after a tiring shift, this increased income puts you in the perfect position to enhance your personal freedom by achieving complete financial freedom, too.
For travel nurses, personal finance management doesn’t have to be as taxing as a twelve-hour shift in the ICU. Instead, tune into these simple tips to start spending and saving your hard-earned salary wisely.
#1 Set Clear Financial Goals
With some extra money in your wallet, you’ll want to ask yourself, “What do I want to do with it all?” That’s because the first step toward success in personal finance is to have a clear vision for your financial future—both in the short and long term.
Whether you’d like to put some money aside for an upcoming trip or you’d prefer to set yourself up in a stable position to take on a car loan, be specific about your objectives. Beyond that, you’ll want to make sure your goals are:
Consider what exactly financial freedom means to you, write your financial goals down, and decide how you can meet the objectives you’ve outlined on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis. From there, you can start building a clearer roadmap that’ll guide every financial decision toward your ultimate destination.
#2 Create an Expense Report and Monthly Budget
One of the first moves for becoming more financially literate is creating a thorough budget report for your life as a travel nurse. As with any other sort of budget, make a list of everything you spend money on in a given month, whether you’re actively making an income or taking some time off. While doing so, consider some expenses that may be unique to your travel nursing lifestyle, such as:
- Transportation as you hop from one placement to the next
- Furnished housing
- Licensing fees if you plan to specialize in a particular field
- Commuter expenses such as daily gas mileage, subway cards, or bus passes
Be sure to talk to your employer about opportunities for travel or housing stipends. If you can manage to have all or part of those major expenses covered while being a healthcare worker, you’ll be left with a higher income surplus to allocate elsewhere in your budget.
#3 Look for High-Paying Opportunities
Do nurses get pensions? Yes they do, but there are other ways for you to earn more income. Other than looking into side job for nurses, securing a higher salary as a registered nurse will enable you to tiptoe a bit closer to ultimate financial freedom, right? While this may not always be the case, it could be a solid start—especially if your income surplus isn’t as high as you’d like it to be. Instead of crossing your fingers and hoping for a raise, try taking one of the following steps to give your paycheck the boost you’re looking for:
- Pursue additional certifications – If passion alone isn’t guiding you in the direction of a more specialized nursing career, try doing some research on the most lucrative fields within the industry. Psychiatric nurses, nurse anesthetists, and certified nursing midwives, for example, tend to rank highest in terms of pay. These specialties require advanced degrees, which means additional schooling. However, ICU, ED, and OR specialities tend to be higher paying nursing jobs that don’t require higher degrees.
- Take your skills to a high-need region – Areas in which nurses are in short supply could be willing to pay travel nurses top dollar to help them fill in the gaps. Plus, in addition to an increase in salary, you could find yourself in an ideal position to negotiate a sizable signing bonus.
#4 Pay Down Your Loans
Chances are, obtaining your nursing degree wasn’t an expense-free endeavor. If you’re proud to have your degree in hand but are already starting to feel bogged down by the weight of student loans, it’s best to address them as soon as you can—especially if many of your loans come hand-in-hand with high interest rates.
If you’ve got some wiggle room in your budget, you might consider using part of your income surplus to make larger monthly payments instead of the bare minimum. Other strategies for tackling student loan debt could include:
- Consider student loan refinancing with a single private loan provider
- Searching for nursing positions that qualify you for student loan forgiveness programs
- Minimizing unnecessary expenses—at least until you can make a sizable dent in your debt
#5 Invest Your Savings Wisely
Wondering how to make more money as a travel nurse? Saving a portion of your income could be a top priority for you—but how much is enough? While you’re free to save as little or as much as you’d like, experts recommend setting aside about 20% of your earnings. So, if you’re bringing home $1,500 each week, $300 should go elsewhere for safe keeping.
Consider storing your saved earnings in places such as:
- A high-yield savings account for emergency funds or future purchases
- Stocks or ETFs (exchange-traded funds)
- A Roth IRA (individual retirement account) account
Each of these options allows you to make money on your investments, either through annual percentage yields from the bank, price appreciation of your stocks, or retirement savings that aren’t taxed upon distribution.
Why Should Travel Nurses Be Skilled in Financial Literacy?
With these tips for personal finances for nurses, you’re ready to outline a financial plan that works for you. But before you start tackling your budget and settling on your goals, you’ll want to consider the why behind it all.
Sure, financial literacy is a skill set that any adult should have a grasp on, but it’s even more essential for travel nurses who are working under short-term contracts. Though several expenses that come with travel nursing jobs may be covered by your contract providers, travel nurses still have to save enough to cover the time spent in between contracts, as well as their future retirement.
This is why financial literacy—and careful financial planning for nurses—is crucial.
Host Healthcare: Supporting Travel Nurses in Their Financial Journey
Now that you’re equipped with a few helpful hacks, it’s time to put your financially savvy ideas into action. With Host Healthcare, you can take the first step toward aligning your financial goals with your professional ones. We match experienced registered nurses with their ideal healthcare communities and provide packages with benefits that help make nurses’ personal finance plans a reality.
We offer our travelers housing assistance, 401k matching, full medical, dental, and vision benefits, and more. Freedom and comfort is Host Healthcare’s ultimate goal for travel nurses everywhere. Apply today.
Hannah Wilson, BSN, RN, CCRN
Nursing Specialty: M/SICU, PreOp
I began my career as a new graduate nurse in an M/SICU where I ended up working for 5 years, one year of which I was a Team Leader. In January of 2020, I took my first travel nursing position in a Burn ICU. After 13 weeks there, I spent the next 14 months in a couple of Medical/COVID ICUs in CA where I primarily cared for COVID patients. After 7 years in the ICU, I needed a change and took a permanent position in PreOp in September of 2021, which is where I currently work. Being a nurse have given me so many opportunities and has taught me more than I ever thought it could – I can’t imagine doing anything else!
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