Budgeting Tips for Per Diem Nurses


Whether you’re working as a per diem nurse or regularly staffing a unit, a budget is a smart tool in your financial arsenal. Although some think using a budget to manage their expenses leaves them a little extra for miscellaneous charges or entertainment, a budget actually gives you more freedom than struggling from month to month to pay the bills. Budgeting allows you to create a spending plan and it ensures you’ll have enough money for the things you find important.

Following a budget, also called a spending plan, will keep you out of debt or help you find your way out if you’re currently in debt. As a per diem nurse, your income is fluctuating, and in order to effectively create a spending plan that will meet your needs, you’ll want to follow a few important steps.

Figure Out Your Expenses

Anytime you create a spending plan, it’s important to know exactly how much you spend each month. You can do this all at one time or use a diary over a month to track expenses for food, transportation, housing, entertainment, and miscellaneous expenses. One way to do this, without gathering all your bills together, is to go through your checking account and any credit cards you normally use to pay these bills. From there, it’s easy to create a simple spreadsheet where you record these expenses for one month and total it up.

Calculate Your Monthly Income

Based on your current monthly expenses, and anything you anticipate spending in the near future, you can determine how many per diem shifts you’ll need to work in order to live comfortably. Since you have complete control over your schedule, and therefore the amount of money you make, if you’re not earning enough to cover your expenses, make a plan to work more shifts to increase your income.

Protect Your Future

No matter how steady the income seems now, there may be some months when the number of shifts offered declines. Having an emergency fund will help you get through the leaner times when income is reduced. Keep this fund separate from your normal savings and retirement funds. Many financial experts recommend having an emergency fund equal to six months of your regular earnings, so you can cover expenses if your income falls or you get sick or injured. Additionally, carrying disability insurance helps get you through any potential financial hardships in the event you get hurt on or off the job.

Now, as you move forward, you’ll want to create your nursing schedule with your current cost in mind. As a per diem nurse, you are in full control of when you work and when you don’t work, which means you can choose to take jobs close to home to save on transportation but may also choose jobs further away to gain greater experience. With proper planning and a spending plan in place, per diem nursing income can cover all your expenses and build a savings account for you. Additionally, per diem nurses enjoy both a lifestyle they desire and all the benefits of taking control of their future.

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