You have a unique financial situation. Your cash influx may vary from month to month or from gig to gig. You might deal with different rates, salaries, and bonuses throughout the year. So, it’s super important for you to remain on top of your personal finances. Here are some travel nursing finance hacks that can help.
1. Track your spending
The #1 way to remain ahead of the game financial is to remain aware.
Your spending will likely fluctuate from month to month.You may spend more when you’re traveling to a gig than when you’re working. And you may spend the most in between gigs, when you’re out having an adventure. You need a firm idea of how you spend in all of these different situations.
Whatever tool you choose — from pen and paper to the mobile apps below — be sure to track your spending thoroughly. Track your funds with the same precision and dedication that you monitor your patient’s vitals. This is the foundational step that will help you forecast into the future.
- Understand your financial needs before you negotiate your next contract.
- Get a picture of exactly where your money goes.
- Identify any areas of waste or excessive spending.
- Prepare a realistic budget.
- Set achievable savings goals.
2. Keep a personal budget
Once you have a good idea of how you spend your money, it’s crucial to set a personal budget. As a travel nurse, your monthly income may fluctuate, so make sure your budget fits the range of salaries that you accept.
These tools will help you create an ideal budget. They will also make tracking your daily spending a breeze.
- Mint comes as close as possible to automating your spending tracking. It syncs with your bank account and provides you detailed information on your spending. This makes it easy to set spending goals and caps and highlight opportunities to save.
- YNAB (You Need a Budget) simplifies the budgeting process. Rather than budgeting on future income, it starts with the income you’ve already earned. This helps you ground your spending expectations in reality and give every dollar you earn a job.
- Goodbudget takes the tried-and-true envelope method of budgeting and moves it into the digital era. Each spending category gets its own virtual envelope, which helps visualize and regulate spending.
3. Be a penny pincher
Always be on the lookout for ways to cut back. From finding the cheapest ways to travel to picking the most cost-effective housing option, you can make a hobby of making your compensation package last and last.
Here are some tools to help you in your quest for the best deals:
- Honey automatically searches websites to find the best deals and coupons to save you money. It will pop up whenever you are about to make an online purchase and let you know if there’s any way to save a few bucks.
- SnipSnapIt combines an online coupon collection with a printed coupon scanner, so you can handily keep all of your discounts in one place.
- LivingSocial and Groupon are great sites to uncover local deals as you explore new towns on your gigs. They provide deep discounts for everything from movie tickets and massages to Burmese food and bungee jumping.
4. Set clear savings goals
Most people aren’t putting away enough money for a rainy day. Setting strong saving goals helps protect your future. And as with any goal, you want to keep your savings goals SMART:
- Specific — define very clear savings goals for each kind of savings you are striving towards: retirement savings, emergency savings, nest egg savings, etc.
- Measurable — analyze your progress within each of your savings categories.
- Action-oriented — tie your savings goals to actions.
- Realistic — make sure your saving goals are within your means.
- Time-based — set monthly, annual, and longer-term savings goals.
It may be helpful for you to commit to saving a certain aspect of your compensation package for each gig. For example, if your staffing agency reliably provides bonuses, putting all your bonuses into savings could be an easy way to work towards your goals.
Here are a few savings tools to help you along the way:
- Digit is great if you have trouble saving money. It will dip into your checking account and squirrel away a little money every few days, if you can afford it.
- TipYourself helps you remember to pay yourself. This handy virtual savings app lets you take a bit off the top whenever you get paid, so savings always comes first.
- Acorns invests your spare change into a diverse option of stocks. Whenever you make a purchase, it rounds up and uses the change to make you a bit of money.
5. Get an accountant who specializes in contingent workers
You can go far on your own, but when it comes to squaring away the complex world of travel nursing taxes, it’s best to get an accountant who knows the ropes.
- Ask your agency for recommendations of skilled accountants who have helped their contingent staff out before.
- Talk to your fellow travel nurses at each gig to see what local accountants they have worked with.
- Contact TravelTax to ask for recommendations and guidance.
Looking for more on travel nursing finances? Check out our blog on everything you need to know about travel nursing compensation.