March 13, 2023

10 Smart Money Moves Nurses Should Make in a Recession

10 smart money moves for nurses in a recession

Nursing is a relatively recession-proof occupation. In fact, during the Great Recession (2007-2009) overall employment substantially declined, while nursing saw steady and robust growth. Still, nurses are not entirely immune to the effects of a struggling economy. 

Inflation has caused skyrocketing prices of everything from eggs to gasoline. Banks are getting stricter about lending money, and many households are affected by job losses. 

It's time for nurses to think about protecting their finances and take steps to safeguard themselves from the effects of an economic slump. Here are ten money moves to help nurses navigate an economy in recession.

1. Make Sure You Have an Emergency Fund

During times of economic uncertainty, it's more important than ever to have an emergency fund. This is a savings account you can tap into if unexpected expenses arise. Think of it as insurance for a rainy day. 

You should aim to have at least 3–6 months' living expenses put away in an easily accessible account. That way, if unexpected expenses arise, you won't have to depend on credit cards or loans to get by. 

If you don't already have an emergency fund, start building one today. 

2. Earn Extra Income

While many households are feeling the squeeze of inflation, many nurses have opportunities to earn extra income. Now’s the time to take advantage!  

There are several ways you can earn extra income as a nurse: 

  • One option is to pick up overtime shifts. 

  • Another is to take on travel assignments, which often pay more than staff nursing jobs

  • You may be able to find short-term (13–16 month) contracts in hospitals near you. To find out more, contact a travel nurse recruiter.

  • You could also start a side business or "side hustle" for extra income, such as selling handmade crafts, pet sitting, or tutoring. 

  • Pick up per diem shifts either with your current employer or contact a local travel nursing agency to inquire about per diem. 
  • Join the gig-worker economy as a nurse, there are many apps now that allow nurses to pick up shifts on an as-needed or per basis. One example is a nurse-owned app, CareRev.

These are all flexible ways to earn extra income to help you build up your emergency fund or pay down debt. 

3. Maintain (or Build) Your Credit Score

Your credit score shows your creditworthiness and can impact your ability to obtain loans, credit cards, and rental agreements. Credit scores also factor into your financing terms. 

To build or maintain your credit score, keep your debt-to-available-credit ratio low, as this ratio can negatively impact your credit score. If you’re in good financial standing and regularly pay off your monthly credit card bills, you an request an increase in your credit limit to help improve your ratio. 

You should also monitor your credit report for errors and dispute any inaccuracies you find. There are many ways to get a free credit report, and there are also apps for monitoring changes. 

4. Stay on Top of Student Loan Debt

Student loan debt can be overwhelming, but there are ways to manage it. Consider refinancing your loans or paying them down aggressively to reduce your monthly payments and save money in the long run. 

Your student loan servicer may be able to offer a better repayment plan to fit your financial goals than the one you are on. Consider contacting your loan servicer to discuss your options.

5. Stretch Your Dollars Further

To make the most of your money, look for ways to stretch your dollars further. For example, you can earn rewards points, travel miles, and even cash back from credit cards. Nonetheless, be sure to pay off the full balance each month to avoid interest charges. Otherwise, you'll incur interest and pay more in the long run. 

You can also look for discounts on everyday purchases, such as groceries and household items. Many companies offer deals specifically for nurses.

Coupons are another great way to stretch the dollar. Many stores now have mobile apps that let you download digital coupons, and there are also apps like Honey that automatically apply coupons for you. Additionally, apps like Fetch and iBotta let you upload receipts for items you buy to earn points, gift cards, and cashback. 

6. Get Rid of High-Interest Credit Card Debt

With rising interest rates, avoiding high credit card debt is more important than ever. 

If you have credit card debt at a high-interest rate, consider transferring the balance to a lower-interest account or taking advantage of new credit card offers. As a result, you will save on interest charges and can pay off your debt more quickly.

7. Roll Over to a Roth IRA While the Market is Down

A Roth IRA is a type of retirement account that lets you contribute after-tax dollars and grow your earnings tax-free. Rolling over your 401ks or other retirement accounts to a Roth IRA while the market is down can save you money and allow those funds to grow tax free from here on out.  

During a market downtown, the value of your investment accounts will likely be lower. That means you will pay less in taxes to convert the account. 

8. Manage Your Budget

It's important to look at where your money is going. Creating a budget to maximize your household's finances is essential during a recession. 

Prioritize necessary expenses, such as housing, food, transportation, and healthcare. Then, cut back on unnecessary ones, such as dining out and entertainment. 

You can also look for ways to reduce your fixed expenses, such as refinancing your mortgage or negotiating your cable bill. 

If you don't like to haggle, consider using a bill negotiation service like Billshark, BillCutterz, or Trim. These companies may charge a percentage of the savings or a flat rate to negotiate a better rate for you. 

If you want to call your service providers and ask for a deal yourself, published this script you can try.

Say: "Hello, I'm reviewing my XYZ bill and noticing it's getting expensive. I want to remain your loyal customer, but something has to give in my budget. What can we do to lower these costs?"

9. Maximize Your Compensation

If you can’t increase your salary as a nurse, make sure you're taking advantage of all the benefits your employer offers, such as education allowances, 401k match programs, and other perks in your benefits package. 

If you need clarification on what your company offers or it's been a while since you checked, speak with someone in human resources to find out what you are eligible for. 

10. Look for Student Loan Forgiveness Options for Nurses

As a nurse, you may qualify for student loan forgiveness programs. These programs can forgive part or all of your student loan debt if you meet specific eligibility criteria. Look into these programs to see if you qualify. 

You can learn more about student loan forgiveness options for nurses online or call your student loan servicer.

Next Steps

Although nursing is a relatively stable profession during a recession, you can still take steps to protect your finances in uncertain times. 

Feeling anxious during a recession is natural, but remember that you control your budget, bills, and money moves. By following these ten tips, you can navigate an economic recession a little more successfully.

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