rates are so confusing!

Ok, I have some stupid questions from a newbie to the travel nursing industry.
1. There are so many ways these agencies quote a rate. How do they come up with a lower figure if you pay your own housing, etc.
2. some of them quote you a rate including the stipen and it appears that it is much larger paycheck. (example: 36 hour guar. taxed $22/hour plus stipen = $50/hour) how do they come up with that?
3. Why do some say if they give you a mileage reimbursement they do it on each check like at $1.60/hour and then some give it up front and others tell you they give 1/2 up front and 1/2 at the end.
4. Some tell you they don't give a completion bonus, because in the end it all comes out to make your hourly pay less.
Sorry for all the questions, but I fell like a drowning rat with all these different ways to quote rates.
Thanks for any advice! 

Feb 23, '07I hear what you are saying. Since I like to shop around for a company to get the best deal, this is how I ask the recruiter to give me their offer. I just ask for everything wrapped into an hourly rate. It makes it much easier to compare companies. You can do it to. Say a company offers you $32 an hour, 1800 stipend, 1000 sign on, and 1000 completion.
Just do the math. you get 1800 a month for housing. Take 1800 X 12(months in a year) = 21600 divide this by 52(weeks in a year)= 514.38 divide this by 36(hours in a work week)= 11.53 this is what your stipend is as an hourly rate.
A sign on is easy. You just take $1000 divide by 13 (weeks)= 76 divide by 36 = $2.13 an hour
I like them to max out the stipend to save on taxes. 
Feb 28, '07I agree it sometimes seems confusing, which is the reason you have to get out a pen and a piece of paper and work the math so you can determine for yourself which route leads to the most money in your pocket.
Some agencies will manipulate the money so that you get a lower hourly rate but a higher taxfree per diem. Some agencies will not offer a bonus but pay a higher taxfree per diem. Some agencies will quote a inflated hourly rate and purposefully neglect to tell that it includes all overtime and bonuses, or that you will have to pay for your own housing and travel out of it. Some will quote superhigh completion bonuses, but do not tell you about all the terms and conditions attached to it. And, some agencies will just plan rip you off if they know you don't know any better. It varies.
You have to know what questions to ask to get to the bottom line. Its different for everybody, but I agree with Medic that the best route to go is to max out on the taxfree money. This may mean a lower hourly rate but you end up with more $$$ in your hands because you pay less taxes. 
Mar 5, '07To add to the questions, so if you maxed out asmuch on the stipend end, lets say $1800 for housing but got housing for $1000, you keep the remaining $800 ? I know this sounds stupid but I'm new to travel too and want to try it out.
Thanks,
MsP 
Mar 5, '07I am finding myself sticking w/local agency Nursing more and more. The Travel rates are getting too low and the per diems still don't equate to the $$$ I make with what I'm doing right now. The difference allows you to travel for fun instead of working for less.
I had my tax preparer do the numbers and there is a huge difference. The worst offender is Calif. They don't give you back all the State taxes they drag out of your check. I was so surprised considering comparing the high end of local agency salary vs. high end travel pay with per diems. I live in Fl. so that plays a huge part in all of this.
For me, I am surprised that travel nursing is actually a lose lose situation. 
Mar 8, '07I agree with you. Trying to desipher all the different ways agencies quote pay can be quite exhausting. If you go to the Proffesional Association of Nurse Travelers at http://www.pantravelers.org/ you will find a paycheck calculator there. This calculator canfigure out the bottom line for any deals the agencies quote you. This way you can see what one agency offers in relationship to others all on equal grounds. It takes a little time to understand the calculator but it is a great toold to deciphering agency rate quotes.

Mar 8, '07I am sorry that you have not found travel nursing profitable as well as fun. I myself have a different experience. I too am from FL. Last year I made over 3X the pay I was receiving in FL. I was able to max out my 401k max out my IRA, go to Italy for 2 wks and still have $8,000 in savings.

May 9, '07Quote from Medic15251I hear what you are saying. Since I like to shop around for a company to get the best deal, this is how I ask the recruiter to give me their offer. I just ask for everything wrapped into an hourly rate. It makes it much easier to compare companies. You can do it to. Say a company offers you $32 an hour, 1800 stipend, 1000 sign on, and 1000 completion.
Just do the math. you get 1800 a month for housing. Take 1800 X 12(months in a year) = 21600 divide this by 52(weeks in a year)= 514.38 divide this by 36(hours in a work week)= 11.53 this is what your stipend is as an hourly rate.
A sign on is easy. You just take $1000 divide by 13 (weeks)= 76 divide by 36 = $2.13 an hour
I like them to max out the stipend to save on taxes.
MEDIC 15251 You seem to be good with numbers..and i totally suck at trying to figure out anything...can you PM me? i'd like to compare different offers from different agencies but i am so confused about all the different rates etc...thanks!