Why Budgeting Is a Critical Skill Every Travel Nurse Needs

Written by Health Providers Choice on Wednesday, September 27, 2023 Posted in On the Job

nurse-budget

Many unique considerations come with a travel nursing career. Most of these factors also have financial implications. Among the most valuable skills a travel nurse can develop are a budget-focused mindset and the ability to manage their finances — both on assignment and between them.

Let’s explore the basics of budgeting for travel nurses and the importance of this skill for those who plan to be travelers.

Creating a comprehensive budget

Financial preparedness is key when you’re embarking on new adventures. The first step in getting prepared is creating a well-structured budget.

Begin by assessing your personal financial goals and needs. Identify short-term goals, like taking a post-assignment vacation, as well as long-term goals, such as buying your first home. Another goal should be establishing an emergency fund to pay for unexpected expenses. Plan to save a set amount for these goals each month.

Next, it’s time to crunch the numbers. Calculate your average monthly income by considering your hourly wage, stipends, per diems, and other compensation. List recurring expenses like housing, utilities, loans, and insurance. Factor in travel-related expenses, such as transportation and meals. Add your savings goals to the mix, including emergency fund contributions. Finally, allocate a portion of your income toward nonessential expenses.

With a better understanding of your monthly finances, you’ll be able to plan ahead. Set aside a portion of your income for taxes and retirement. If you carry debt, make a repayment strategy. Also, put money toward building your savings and investment portfolio to create a safety net that grows with each assignment.

Revisit your budget with every new assignment. As your pay structure changes, your spending and savings should change accordingly.

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Tips for financial management on the road

A budget serves as your financial ideal, but the reality of your finances may not be so straightforward. While you’re on the road, you’ll need to plan ahead and manage your money to avoid costly challenges. To start, build savings to cover upfront costs associated with traveling and getting settled. Then, use the following tips to stay financially stable:

  • Maximize travel benefits. Before booking any travel, look into rewards and discounts you’re eligible for through credit cards, associations, or staffing agencies. To get around your new city, use public transportation or carpool with coworkers.
  • Choose housing wisely. Research housing options to determine what’s most cost-effective, including agency-provided apartments, stipends, and alternative choices like RVs. Cut costs by getting a roommate and opting for furnished housing.
  • Eat healthily on a budget. Avoid dining out and cook at home instead. Meal planning can help you trim grocery costs and save time.

Managing financial challenges and uncertainties

Even with a budget, unexpected challenges can arise. To cover gaps between assignments, prepare a contingency plan by setting aside a portion of your earnings. Supplemental income opportunities like per-diem shifts or remote nursing consultations are great buffers.

When it comes to emergency financial preparedness, secure comprehensive insurance coverage, including health insurance and liability protection. Pair insurance plans with a well-maintained emergency fund for an extra safety net. You might also consider working with a professional financial advisor who specializes in travel nursing intricacies. They can help you manage investments and tailor retirement plans for your lifestyle.

Even if personal finance doesn’t come naturally, budgeting is a critical skill to cultivate. Thankfully, numerous apps, websites, books, and other resources are available to help you manage your finances. It won’t take long to see the benefits of good budgeting, and you’ll feel good about spending and saving responsibly while you focus on your travel nursing career.

Have questions about how stipends, per diems, premiums, and other contractual factors might affect your budget? Your Health Providers Choice recruiter is always happy to answer questions about your assignments and their financial considerations. Let us help you feel confident in your budgeting — one assignment after the next. Contact us online or call 888-299-9800 to learn more.

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About the Author

Rose Torrento

Rosemarie Torrento has worked in health care for more than 26 years, beginning as a registered nurse in 1988. Early in her nursing career, Torrento worked as a freelance contract nurse before accepting a position in nursing administration. During her 17-year tenure in that role, she oversaw nursing employment and travel nurse contracting at a Level 1 Trauma Hospital in Michigan. Understanding the challenges travel nurses faced, Torrento founded Health Providers Choice Inc. (HPC) in 2003. Through Torrento’s extensive experience and her role as President and CEO, HPC provides travel placement of registered nurses and allied health professionals to hospital systems nationally.