Nurses: It's Time For Your 2017 Money Checkup!
Looking to meet or exceed your financial goals for 2017? Here are some techniques and websites to help you budget and manage your money in 2017!
Repeat after me: "Money is a tool."
As part of our toolkit, it's something we can gain competency in managing, just like other tools we use in our nursing practice!
First, a couple of disclaimers:
1. I am not a financial adviser, nor a financial expert. I have had life experiences not unlike many of you: putting a spouse (and 3 kids!) through college; divorce, the stock market crash and caring for elderly parents
2. Today I am writing from a woman's perspective. This is not because I don't respect the experiences of my male nursing colleagues. This is just the lens through which I see the world.
Women are working and earning more than ever before, and, because women tend to live long lives, they have a better-than-average chance of inheriting assets or a business at some point.
Let's consider these facts from the Department of Labor:
- We now account for more than half of U.S. college undergraduate and graduate students.
- We make up roughly half of the U.S. workforce.
- Our average incomes have increased 91% from 1970 to 2010.
- More women now out-earn their husbands.
These ongoing shifts in education, employment, earning power, and wealth ownership present challenges and opportunities that we must ALL learn to integrate with our hopes and goals for ourselves AND our loved ones.
Yes, you read that right...our loved ones.
Sometimes parents ask their adult children for money, as they struggle with the financial stress of debt, a job loss or the rising cost of retirement living. For those of us with elderly parents, 76% of adult children say they are providing them with financial assistance, according to Pew Research
YOWZA...that is NOT something I planned on...did you?
The Time is Now
Fidelity conducted a poll which revealed more than half of the nurses surveyed said they "lack confidence in making financial decisions". The primary factor being that they did not have time to focus on it.
No matter the stage of your career, it's time to start caring for yourself. As the saying goes, "If you don't look after yourself, no one else will."
What was that I said? Yourself? Who's that? You are so busy caring for your patients, family, and friends; you forgot about YOU!
We owe it to ourselves to be smart with our money. Here are FIVE ways you can get started today!
1. Pay Yourself First!
Sounds simple enough, but so many people don't put money away each month.
One of the greatest mistakes we make is living paycheck to paycheck, without respecting ourselves and our future first...by saving.
Take the first step by saving for a rainy day fund that covers 3 – 6 months of expenses. Then, start researching mutual funds so you can earn interest and that sweet financial manna known as compound interest.
2. Put as Much into Your 401K as Possible
If you work for an employer that provides ANY percent match for your 401k contributions, that's FREE MONEY, folks! Go after it! Even if you don't get a match from work, try to max out your 401k or IRA...or put away as much as you can. This money goes into your 401k or IRA tax-free, which means all that extra tax-free money can grow and earn interest over time. ( PS...Remember, I'm not a financial expert!) Read more on the IRS website: 2016 Retirement Account Contribution Limits.
3. Follow the Money
If you love numbers, this is a piece of cake. For those of you a little less enamored by numbers (like me)...this may sound awful. I have found one of the best ways to set up & follow a budget is to make it fun! Here are two tools you can use....for FREE...that I have found helpful. Try them both and see which works best for you.
Dave Ramsey's EveryDollar Tool - You can budget from your computer, iPhone or Android device with this cloud based tool. It tells you where "every dollar" is going. Try it for a few months to see if you guess correctly. Success Tip: It takes a little while to get organized at first. The extra time spent organizing will pay off! At the beginning of each month, you will be ready to take it on because you have already planned it out.
Mint - This is another great free tool to help manage your finances. And yes, there is an app for your phone! A word to the wise: don't focus so much on achieving the zero budget as much as the every dollar tool.
4. Learn a New Skill & Monetize It!
If you are not making enough money at work or dream of one day owning your own business (a risk that could pay off handsomely), learning a new skill can increase your value to your employer or give you something you can build your business around.
Feel like it's hard to stand out in the nursing crowd? What about leveraging your clinical expertise and your love of writing into a new gig? (hint. hint)
A Nurse who can also write clear and compelling articles about say...orthopedic surgery...or carpal tunnel syndrome...? That's a nurse who could leverage their expertise to ask for a raise OR set up a lucrative side gig as a freelance healthcare writer!
5. Start a Money Club
Twelve years ago, I found myself going through a divorce after 20 years of marriage. Talk about something that messes with your finances!!! Nurses honor...it took me at least 2 years to recover financially! While spending hours researching on the internet, I found an amazing website that not only armed me with the facts which allowed me to negotiate my own divorce settlement, but literally changed my financial life. It's free and designed to help you succeed and prosper. (and yes, GUYS...you will find it equally valuable!)
The non-profit Women's Institute for Financial Education (WIFE.org) is on a mission to empower women to deal more effectively with money. Trust me, this website is AHHHHmazing! From 21 day Debt Makeovers to financial calculators and online support, the founders have thought of it all! One of the most innovative features is The Money Club.
Founders Candace Bahr and Ginita Wall have an aggressive goal: to have a million women actively involved in Money Clubs across the country. They have complete resources to start your own Money Club and lead your group on the road to success.
All you need to do is gather together a group of friends or colleagues who are interested in improving their financial lives. You can begin with as many people as you feel comfortable with, and add more people as you progress.
Starting a Money Club is FREE & easy. Check out these simple instructions.
Will You Take Action Today?
The power to change your financial life is in your hands. Each journey begins with a first step. I'm curious, what small step will you take today?
Don't Forget to Check out these AWESOME Resources:
A Financial Check Up for Nurses
A Budget Guide for Every Income: Infographic
Money Matters: A Guide to Teaching Finances to ChildrenLast edit by Joe V on Jan 2, '18
About Carol Bush, RN
Carol is Content Strategist, Writing Coach and Owner of The Social Nurse. She is a founder of The Healthcare Writers Network. She has over 30 years experience as an Oncology Nurse & Clinical Consultant and is a graduate of the Mayo Clinic Social Media Residency. Carol followed a circuitous route to a career in oncology nursing. Her first undergraduate degree is in Ag Journalism. A nursing degree followed 10 years later, after three children and an unknown number of pizza suppers. She lives on a suburban Kansas 'Ranch' with her sweetheart, Don. She enjoys gardening, cooking, and stalking her young adult children via social media.
Carol Bush has '30 and counting!' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'Oncology, Telehealth & Entrepreneurship'. Joined May '16; Posts: 16; Likes: 37.Jan 6, '17Male here, this advice is helpful regardless of gender and/or sex. Financial planning for the future is something I don't hear about a lot, but it has grown to be on my mind as I near the big 30.
I use the Mint app! It's so helpful to make budgets and set goals. For me, that's saving for a down payment on a house.
Mint is a great tool to help you become (more) mindful about where you're spending your money so you can get an idea of what's a necessity and what's a need in your daily spending. A cliche example is how much money you spend on all that dang Starbucks! Coffee for me is sort of a necessity and a need... So I've compromised after I saw how much I spent. I now use caffeine tablets I got on and use the Kureg at work.Jan 6, '17Great advice. Nursing is my second career and I'm not sure what I was thinking when I was in my 20's but I guess I thought I would never ever ever age! Who knew it would happen to me?Jan 8, '17I am JUST RECENTLY really digesting how vital financial planning is to successful living and peace of mind, thank you!Jan 17, '17Saving is so important as Carol said. Take advantage of employer matching funds if your employer offers it. You won't regret it.
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