After putting in so much hard work (and money) into graduating from nursing school, you’ll be happy to know that working as a professional nurse can be a really fulfilling experience, both emotionally and financially.
With being done with school and the added benefit of job security, your spending may go a bit overboard in the initial months until you realize you need to start saving for rainy days.
Now, we know saving for your future needs is less attractive and in many ways more overwhelming than spending on your current wants.
This raises the question: how to save money as a nurse and develop healthy financial habits.
To help here’s a list of personal finance tips you need to get on the fast track to saving money.
*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. For more info, please see my disclaimer.
Money-Saving Tips for Nurses
1. It’s All about Budgeting
Budgeting is a great way to manage your money and ensure a certain percentage of your income goes to your savings.
Dave Ramsey has stated that:
“A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.”Dave Ramsey
One of the popular budgeting methods is the 50/30/20 budget. The 50/30/20 budget consists of allocating 50% of your income to necessities, 30% to your wants, and 20% to savings (source).
We have a calculator below to give you an idea of what we mean. Enter your monthly income and the calculator will divide it up between the 3 categories.
The 50/30/20 Budget Calculator
You can switch things up, of course, according to your financial goals and feasibility.
As you begin your journey of smart money management, make sure you put your savings in a high-yielding savings account to enjoy the benefit of maximizing your money.
If you don’t know where to begin or how to start budgeting here are some helpful resources:
- 10 Important Budgeting Tips for Nurses (an article we wrote that goes into more details on budgeting)
- Use budgeting software tools like:
- Read helpful budgeting books like:
- Broke Millennial: Stop Scraping By and Get Your Life Together by Erin Lowry
- How to Manage Your Money When You Don’t Have Any by Erik Wecks
- The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
- The One Week Budget: Learn How to Create Your Money Management System in 7 Days or Less by Tiffany Adiche
- Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not by Robert Kiyosaki
2. Automate Your Savings
Thanks to modern technology, you can now easily find an app or a bank account that puts the hard work on autopilot for you.
What do I mean by automating your savings?
You do this by setting a certain amount of money from your current checking account to be transferred automatically to a separate savings account.
The benefit of automating your savings is that you reduce the chances of unintentionally (or intentionally) forgetting.
Besides, you won’t feel like you’re sacrificing your wants by making the conscious effort of putting your money in a no-withdrawals-allowed account every month.
You can set up a savings account at another bank and have the money transferred there from your checking account.
The benefit of setting it up at another bank from your primary bank is that you won’t see the money regularly and hopefully it will decrease the chances you’re going to spend the money.
If you need help finding some high yield savings account you can check out CIT Bank.
Automate Your Saving Using Acorn
Another way to automate your saving is by using Acorns.
Acorn is a service that securely connects to your bank through your credit and debit cards.
As you spend Acorn will round up your spare change and automatically invest it for you.
Related Article: Can a Nurse Become a Millionaire?
3. Cut Down Your Grocery Expenses
Now that you’ve started earning, you may be surprised to realize how much you actually spend at the grocery store every month.
Grabbing items from every other aisle and dumping them into your grocery cart feels so gratifying until you realize you ended up blowing your budget yet again – an unavoidable practice for the past several months.
After deciding to switch on your money-saving mode, you should start by saving some bucks on grocery items.
A little homework before paying a visit to the store can do wonders for effective money management.
Plan your meals on a weekly basis and make a list of items you really need in your pantry before heading out.
Also, try going grocery shopping alone or at least without any kids to ensure you stick to your list.
If you’re someone who simply can’t resist buying extra items in the store, you should consider trying a grocery pickup service or grocery delivery services so you get what you need at home.
Another great option is to use meal prep delivery services like a
Cut Back on Your Spending By Having Your Groceries Delivered
While meal prep delivery services like Blue Apron can be more expensive than if you actually bought the food yourself they can be cheaper than dining out or overspending at the grocery store.
They deliver the ingredients you need to cook the food to your house.
4. Go for Smaller Servings When Dining Out
Eating out every day or even most days of the week can be a major blow to your bank account.
However, the need for saving money doesn’t mean you can’t dine out at a good restaurant or enjoy your social life like you always have.
It just requires you to spend smart so you don’t compromise on the fun!
From now on, whenever you go out to eat, make it a habit to order smaller servings. Stick to appetizers or share an entrée with your dining partner to save money.
An example of this would be let’s say your friends wanted to go out to the bar or have a night out on the town or something of that nature. Instead of not going because of the money you could spend, you go anyway.
Just order small portions or appetizers to save money. To help with feeling hungry eat before going out.
5. Cancel Automatic Subscriptions and Memberships
Netflix, Spotify, gym membership (that you never use), cable – how many subscriptions like these are you paying for that you haven’t used in months?
Make a list and cancel all subscriptions that you don’t really need.
Moreover, don’t forget to turn off the ‘auto-renew’ option when you buy a subscription for one-time use only.
I’m not a big fan of this but another way I’ve seen other people save money is by sharing subscriptions between family members or friends.
6. Try Cutting Down on Energy Costs
You may have never thought about this but making a few minor changes in your home and lifestyle can help you save money on your electric bill.
For example, make it a habit to take shorter showers and switch off lights and appliances when not in use.
In addition to this, stay on top of your home maintenance by fixing leaky pipes, installing LED light bulb dimmer switches, and washing your clothes in cold water.
I had a water pipe issue with my toilet a while back. I ignored it for about a month thinking it wasn’t going to be that big of a deal.
Well, let’s just say I changed my mind when my water bill came back at almost 3x the usual amount. – Moral of the story, fix leaky pipes.
That being said, many companies have now introduced energy-efficient appliances to help you save money.
So keep that in mind the next time you need to buy an appliance.
If you don’t own your own home then the next time you’re renting an apartment or a house check and see how energy efficient the property is.
See if you can get a copy of the past utility bills (source).
7. Don’t Buy What You Can Borrow
Just because you need a kitchen appliance to bake or a gardening tool for some yard work doesn’t mean you should go to the store and make an expensive purchase right away.
Especially if it’s something you’ll probably only need for just an hour or two, and might only use a couple of times a year.
Think of a friend, family member or a neighbor who could lend you the required item instead – and help save your money!
Related Article: Personal Finance Tips for New Nurses
8. Unsubscribe from Emails
Email marketers know exactly how to tempt and get you to open your wallet by bragging about flash sales and offering exclusive coupons.
They may even offer you gifts from your favorite store – anything to lure you into making a purchase!
If you know you can’t resist shopping when you hear about a sale or shopping offer, then make sure unsubscribe from all your marketing emails.
Don’t fall into the trap
Not only will this help you save a lot of money but it will also make your inbox much less cluttered than before!
9. Time All Your Big Purchases
Of course, there will come a time when you have to make a major purchase for a home appliance, furniture, or electronics.
It’s not bad to buy an expensive product as long as it is of high quality.
Just make sure that these big purchases are always planned beforehand.
This will ensure you have enough money saved up for the purchase and it won’t result in financial struggles.
Besides, major purchases should never be made hastily.
Think it through and map out the purchase to make sure you’re completely satisfied with investing your money in the product you’re going to buy.
10. Avoid Online Shopping
As they say, online shopping is not for the faint of heart.
Once you start browsing an online shopping site, you can spend hours and hours looking through different categories of products while imagining yourself using them.
For one, you should avoid shopping for things online. And when you do find yourself placing an order online, avoid creating an online account for saving your billing details.
The mere effort of entering your shipping address and credit card information on each order can reduce your chances of making impulse purchases.
Not shopping online might be unrealistic for some. But what you can do is set a limit on the amount of money you’ll spend without a cooling period in between.
So for example, you could set your limit at $500. So for a purchase that’s greater than $500 you have to give yourself time to really think about the purchase.
I think you’ll find once you give yourself the time that purchase “you MUST have” might end up not really being that much of a necessity.
11. Benefit from a Retirement Savings Plan
If your employer offers a retirement savings plan, like a 401(k) and you’re not taking advantage of it, you’re missing out big time!
The next time you go to work, talk to someone from the HR department about setting up your account.
Just a heads up, you should make sure your debt profile is clear (except the mortgage) and you have a three to six-month fully-funded emergency fund before you start saving funds for retirement (source).
If your company offers a match you really should try to take advantage of that.
Don’t just stop there you can also save and invest for retirement by using an investment broker like Ally Invest.
12. Start Preparing Your Meals at Home
Eating out or ordering your meals online may seem like a convenient option but considering the amount of money that goes into it, it’s not worth it!
Make it your New Year’s resolution to prepare your meals at home.
Let’s face it, you could buy your weekly grocery items for the same price as a couple of dine-outs.
Once you start preparing and eating your meals at home, you’ll see your savings piling up every month!
13. Sell the Nursing Books That You Haven’t Used or No Longer Need
Go through your stuff and see if you have any nursing or medical books that are as good as new and consider selling them online.
This will help you earn a few extra dollars for your budget while also clearing some space in your room.
A good place to sell your books online would be Amazon.
14. Rent a Room with Your Friends or Fellow Nurses
If you live alone a very viable option is to consider looking for roommates who you can share living expenses with.
Honestly, I don’t like this option. I think there’s a lot of hassle that comes with it. But I have several friends who do this and the amount of money they’re saving is ridiculous.
You’ll definitely find a couple of nurses who work in the same hospital as you or some close friends who are willing to shoulder the rent with you.
15. Use Cash Whenever Possible
Research shows when you use cards (credit cards, debit cards) you’re more likely to spend more money than if you use cash (source).
There are several theories on this such as (source):
– Credit card shoppers focus more on the “benefits” or “rewards” of credit cards.
– People are just not noticing they’re spending more with credit cards.
Regardless of what the reason is there’s definitely something to using cash to pay for purchases.
I know, I know. Using cash is in many ways not as convenient as just using your card, but you’ll save so much money by doing so.
If you’re not going to give up credit cards than at least make sure you’re using a credit card that gives you good rates such as these cards.
16. Refinance Your Loans
If you’re like most you probably have loans. Whether its car loans, student loans, or mortgage loans, payments can be a major hindrance to saving money.
One way to potentially manage this besides paying off the loans and being debt-free (primary goal) is to refinance the loans.
What is loan refinance?
Loan refinancing is what borrowers do when they take out a new loan to pay off another loan/s. The primary goal is to lower interest rates and/or the amount you’re going to repay.
If you want to find out more about loan refinance or you want to see if you qualify check out SoFi.
As a side note if you have a lot of student loans and you want some options on paying off loans from nursing school check out the linked article.
Saving money every month while working as a nurse will help you accomplish your life goals while still giving you a cushion for when life throws lemons at you.
Follow the tips we mentioned above to help you manage your money while enjoying your life to the fullest!