Earning a living as a travel nurse or allied health professional gives you the opportunity to earn a healthy income while making a difference and seeing more of the world. Wouldn’t you like to make the money you earn work for you? If so, you’ve come to the right place. The following real-world advice will help you make the necessary changes and investments to maximize your earnings and build wealth as you work to further your career.
Analyze Your Financial Vital Signs
When taking charge of a new patient, one of your first responsibilities is to take vital signs to analyze the patient’s state of health — such as their temperature, blood pressure, and pulse. This same level of analysis should be performed on your finances to gain an accurate picture of your current financial state.
To begin, gather your checking, savings, credit card, and retirement statements. Include any investment portfolios and insurance policies you may hold. To ensure nothing gets overlooked, list all the information on a spreadsheet that allows you to see all your accounts at a single glance.
You are also encouraged to use software that makes organizing your finances a breeze. A program like Mint.com can help you track your financial accounts and budget in a single location, but a spreadsheet is also sufficient.
Once you have an accurate representation of your baseline financial status, you need to formulate a plan to maximize your assets and build upon the wealth you currently have.
Automate Financial Transactions When Possible
You should always be paying your bills on time. Traveling to new areas, getting set up, and working a novel schedule every few weeks can lead to forgetfulness. Before you know it, your credit card bill is late, which can affect your credit score.
To prevent getting tagged with late fees, and to keep your credit score from plummeting, automate all transactions if you can. Most accounts you have, from your credit cards and cell phone to your energy and water bills, offer an autopay function. Activate autopay on all accounts that you are able to, making sure the minimum payment is at least offered on all credit card payments.
As far as credit cards are concerned, the best case scenario would have you paying the full balance on all cards each month. But as long as the minimum payment is paid, your credit score should remain in good standing.
Aside from credit card and utility accounts, another solid idea is to set up automatic contributions to a Health Savings Account (HSA) and 401(k). You can use this same strategy to make payments on your student loans.
By automating payments, you don’t have to worry about your bills getting paid as you follow your career roadmap. Auto payments also set you up to develop the responsible habits necessary for financial success.
Shed Pointless Bills
When setting up automatic payments, you may come across a bill you don’t really need while on assignment. The gym or tanning salon in your home city are two examples of bills you may be able to postpone or cancel while traveling. Doing away with these expenses temporarily can help you minimize your expenses while working your next travel nurse or allied assignment.
Aim for Goals and Stick to Them
When creating financial goals, it is important to be mindful of impulse spending. Traveling for your job can make it easy to want to overspend when shopping, dining out, and going on recreational excursions. Sure, you want to see all the new areas have to offer — and you are encouraged to live a fulfilling life — but staying focused on your financial goals will serve you better in the long run.
Create a spending and savings strategy that is conducive to your financial goals. First, you have to decide what those goals happen to be. Are you saving for a house in the next year or two? Are you hoping to pay off your car or student loans? Whatever objective you see in your mind’s eye, determine how much you will need for that goal to transpire, and stick to your plan, no matter what.
How do you reel yourself in when you know you’ll want to make the best of a new travel nursing or allied health assignment? Create a budget for your bills and for things like clothes shopping, eating out at restaurants, or seeing the sights. That way you can still live your best life while also saving for a better tomorrow.
Track Your Expenses
In addition to your automated payments, you are going to have day-to-day expenditures that will get away from you if you are not careful. Purchases like gas and food along with small items like water or energy drinks can quickly add up. To ensure you are not overspending, download a smartphone app that can help you track these expenditures as they occur. If you have established a tax home, some of these expenditures may qualify as non-taxable items. Make it a habit to list any non-taxed expenses on your spreadsheet at the end of each day or by week’s end to allow for proper finance management.
Search for Travel Discounts
As a travel nurse or allied pro, you may qualify for exclusive discounts on hotels, resorts, airlines, rental cars, and even amusement parks. You never know when you can save until you start searching around. Conduct an online search before you travel on assignment. To ensure no stone gets left unturned, call around and speak to the management of any airline, hotel, taxi company, and other organizations you may come across on your travels to ensure you are taking advantage of all the discounts available to you. These savings can quickly add up, allowing you to keep more of your hard-earned money while traversing around the country.
Save a Bit of Each Paycheck
We have covered how to minimize spending. Now it’s time to focus on saving. You are recommended to stash away at least 5% to 10% of your take-home pay into an interest-bearing savings account. If you are still early in your career, these savings can be used for unexpected expenses. You can refer to it as a rainy day fund. Examples include auto repairs or medical costs. As your career matures, you should focus on keeping this money as an investment for your retirement. The best case scenario would involve you working with a financial planner to help you maximize your savings and make sound judgments regarding your financial future.
Contribute to Your 401(k)
Another way to save for the future is to continuously contribute to your 401(k). If your employer offers a match, contribute up to that match, as free money never hurts. Be mindful that investing in your 401(k) is not always beneficial. The administrative fees are traditionally higher than you would face opening an IRA (individual retirement account). Those fees can chip away at your investment returns. 401(k) retirement accounts also typically have limited investment options. That means you could potentially miss investment options that could earn you higher returns. Still, if your travel nurse or allied travel agency offers a retirement match, take advantage of it. If you have money left over and want additional retirement savings, consider opening an IRA account.
Open and Contribute to an IRA Account
You have the potential to earn big with tax and liquidity benefits that come with contributing to a Roth IRA account. Contribute up to your IRA limit. You’ll be thankful you did when it comes time to hang up your scrubs.
Do Your Own Taxes
Calculating your taxes can quickly grow confusing as a travel health professional. Moving from state to state requires you to know the income tax rules and to file individual returns for each location. Still, if you can learn the ropes, you can save big when it comes time to file your tax returns.
To make the process easier, keep all your receipts. By now you should be tracking all your expenses in a smartphone app or with a spreadsheet. Back up your expense recording with receipts for things like dining, uniforms, utilities, fuel, and other expenses while traveling. If you plan to claim exemptions, you should have receipts handy in case you are ever audited. Keep the slips of paper in a shoebox or scan them to keep digitized copies in the cloud. Make sure you file on time to receive any refund you may be owed sooner than later.
Choose the Best Travel Nurse or Allied Health Agency
Travel nursing and allied healthcare agencies offer a variety of important benefits. Some agencies cover all of your travel expenses but not all of them do. Choose an agency like award-winning Prolink to ensure all the benefits you earn help to bolster your financial goals.
Prolink offers the most competitive salaries, benefits like health, vision, and life insurance, and a 401(k) retirement account that you qualify for on your first day. We offer exclusive travel nursing and allied health job opportunities with prestigious medical facilities around the country and can help you find a job fast. Get started by filling out our easy application form.