can you live "comfortable" on a Nurses Salary

  1. This is a question for those who are already Nurses...... Can you really live comfortable on a Nurses' Salary????? When reading this website and I hear alot about being a Nurse. But noone has ever made any "positive" comments on the pay of Nurses. At work, I hear alot of the Nurses saying. If only they paid me more. If only I had more money. Or I have "got" to pull an extra shift for me to have a good paycheck. I am currently in Nursing School and I am just assuming that when I graduate I would be able to live "Comfortable" off of a Nurses" Salary and I know it depends on your area as far as pay. My question again is ... Can you really libe "comfortable" off a Nurses' pay or am I assuming wrong!!! Comfortable meaning a "nice" home "nice car etc...etc..Any comments would be greatly appreciated!!!!
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  2. 20 Comments

  3. by   suzanne4
    Yes, you can live very comfortably, you are able to travel often, if you can get away. You can have a nice car and nice home, but again this depends on where youlive. If you live in NYC, your salary won't pay for an apartment in a very luxurious neighborhood, but in many other areas it will. But there is always going to be something else that you want or need................


    It also greatly depends on who you are taking care of..if it is just you, no problem, but if you are the sole-breadwinner for a family of four and want to pay for braces, and many extra school activites for the kids then things can get tight.
  4. by   VivaLasViejas
    We have a saying in our family: "When we were on welfare, we had nothing. Now we make $65K a year and we STILL have nothing.....only more expensive nothing!" :chuckle

    It seems that no matter how much money one makes, the "needs" always expand to fit (or exceed) the available funds. When we had an income of $8,000 a year, we "needed" food, a roof over our heads, a car........now, we "need" the occasional dinner out, the big house, two cars, two phone lines AND a cell, cable and DSL, exercise equipment, several DVD players, etc., etc.

    What I'm saying is, "comfortable" is a relative term, and yes, you can be comfortable on a nurse's salary.......but it helps if your needs are fairly simple, you have a partner who also works, and you're not raising a houseful of kids! By all appearances, we've achieved the American dream, especially when you consider our humble beginnings at the bottom of the socioeconomic food chain. However, we have NO savings, we rent our home, and we have only another decade or so of full earning power left. If we'd gotten started when we were still in our 20s, we'd be in a lot better shape, but we didn't, and we both expect to be working well into our "golden years".

    So if you're smart, you'll get your degree while you're young and start saving as soon as you get your first job. Nurses' pay, while not as high as it should be, IS pretty good, especially when you take into consideration that the entry point is still an associate's or technical degree, and many people with bachelor's or master's degrees earn far less per hour than we do. I make almost $27 an hour, which is a high wage for my part of the country; by comparison, a social worker with a master's earns less than $35,000 a year, and a teacher with 5 years' experiences makes around $38-42K annually. So I don't exactly feel as if I've been given a dirty deal. Still don't make enough to afford the good life, though
  5. by   NursesRmofun
    That is a very difficult question to answer and a lot depends on what a person wants. If you want a million dollar house and you are the only person working or single, no....you probably can't get it on a nurses' wages. Now, if you want a nice apartment or a nice middle-class house, you can probably get it being a RN. If you are a RN and have a working partner/spouse, all the better for the finances, of course. Some areas are more expensive to live in and it is better to live in the suburbs, like Suzanne said about NYC.
  6. by   RNKitty
    I have worked in WA, NY, and CT. I figure that nurses make the cost of living where ever they go, but they may not be able to actually afford their own house, depending upon the area they live. You can definitely "make it", but our family is relocating to a part of the country where our first home will only cost $145,000, not $350,000. We only drive one car, we don't eat out a lot, and we do hikes and library trips with the kids instead of Disneyland. My dh is giving up a corporate career for us so we can move to a more affordable area, and ironically the wage in CT for a nurse with 6 yrs experience is $29, and the counterpart in WA is $26. However, it goes WAY farther in WA.
  7. by   traumaRUs
    It all depends on where you live and what you spend your money on. Hubby and I live very comfortably (large home), vacations in the caribbean twice/year, cars paid for (both 2001 models), we owe no bills except my current student loan and we do what we want. However, we struggled for years raising two children, but now we reap the rewards of living lean for a few years. However, I'm a firm believer that happiness is what you make of it. My family is very lucky to be healthy, have jobs we are happy with and wonderful kids. We are truly blessed.
  8. by   Rustyhammer
    I'm comfy. I have a modest 2400 sq ft home on 5 acres. We still owe 8 years on the house and land. We have a total of 5 vehicles all paid for. We take a vacation or two a year. We don't like credit cards but if we use them we pay them off at the end of the month. We like to think we manage our money well and thus stay "comfortable".
    I should say we were "comfortable" when we were making $3.80 and hour also.
    -Russell
  9. by   zambezi
    I also feel that I make a comfortable wage (though it seems tight right now because I have a fair ammount of debt to pay off). I just bought a brand new home in august, and a brand new car when i graduated about two years ago. So I only have 29.5 years to pay off my home and three left on my car, as well as some school loans. I have a couple thousand in my retirement. I am 25, so I think that I am doing ok (but I can't wait to pay off that debt!!!!) I am married but husband makes less than I do. We have what we want at this point. The cool thing with nursing is that you can work more or less if you need/want to. I work with someone a couple of years older than me enough lucky to have money...she works four nights every two weeks or so and has some extra spending money, money for her kids retirement, etc. I personally am planning to pick up some per diem shifts with an agency so I can make a crack into our debt...it sucks to work more but I would feel more comfortable it if started paying it off. The cool thing is that in nursing I have the flexibility of being able to work more or less in accordance with my needs and wants.
  10. by   CaterpillarGirl
    Quote from RNKitty
    I have worked in WA, NY, and CT. I figure that nurses make the cost of living where ever they go, but they may not be able to actually afford their own house, depending upon the area they live. You can definitely "make it", but our family is relocating to a part of the country where our first home will only cost $145,000, not $350,000. We only drive one car, we don't eat out a lot, and we do hikes and library trips with the kids instead of Disneyland. My dh is giving up a corporate career for us so we can move to a more affordable area, and ironically the wage in CT for a nurse with 6 yrs experience is $29, and the counterpart in WA is $26. However, it goes WAY farther in WA.

    What part of Washington are you moving to that has homes for $145,000? If I could find a house for that cheap I might consider staying here.
  11. by   canoehead
    You can always get lots of overtime if you want to save up for something special.
  12. by   mrdoc2005
    A good point to add is that you will have a job waiting for you after school. I have a friend with an engineering degree and it took him 7 months to find a job. Plus he had to relocate and leave his wife here while she finished school. I will say he did start about 3000 more than I will as a nurse but I am not so sure if it really is more with the cost if living.
  13. by   RNKitty
    Quote from DieTryin'
    What part of Washington are you moving to that has homes for $145,000? If I could find a house for that cheap I might consider staying here.
    Spokane. You can get homes for $50-$90,000, but not in the best school district. We bought a 35 year old home in a nice neighborhood in the best school district. Yes, some of the new homes cost $200,000 to $300,000, if you want the debt, but we can walk to the grocery store, the church, the library, the roller rink, the schools, and the bus-line. We can live on less, have more time for family, and not be a slave to debt (Our only debt now is the house). We aren't going to rush to pay it off, because we want to work less and enjoy our kids while they are young. You can work 60 hours a week and have oodles of money, but it won't buy you time with your children once they are grown and gone!
  14. by   Shotzie
    For a long time I made more money than my husband did. He eventually passed me up when he changed careers and I dropped down to part time to stay home w/ the kiddos. Now I am in management as is he, our kids are just about grown and the house is mostly paid off.
    Nursing has always paid me a good wage --- but I also negotiated a good wage whnever I changed jobs. I would have people tell me that hospitals set the salaries and there's no "wiggle room". But I have been able to negotiate the salary up for my last 4 jobs. The one I'm in now, I was even able to negotiate the salary title to a higher salary.
    You just have to stick to your guns and prove your worth to them.

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