Inflation has reached 8.5 percent, which is the biggest high in over four decades. As costs continue to climb, a recent Bankrate poll indicates that three out of four Americans are experiencing financial stress due to high inflation. Since costs are unpredictable right now, and travel pay can vary as well, it’s important to have a good handle on your budget. Here are some Fusion Marketplace tips for how to budget with inflation.
Maximize your travel nurse pay package
During inflation, it’s helpful to take a look at your pay package and see where you can maximize your salary. Every part of your pay package serves a purpose and understanding your travel nurse pay breakdown is key to making the most money possible. For instance, you should be taking advantage of tax-free income if you qualify for it. And if you don’t qualify for tax-free income, you should be negotiating the highest traveling nurse pay rate possible. Prioritizing where certain aspects of your pay package fit into your budget will help you use it most effectively during inflation and reach your money goals. Here are some areas of your pay package you can strategically use during inflation.
Healthcare travelers can earn sign-on, completion, referrals, and renewal bonuses. Since this money isn’t built into your normal salary, you should take the opportunity to put this extra money toward paying off debt or start saving. If you have high-interest debt like credit card or student loan debt, consider tackling that first. Any low-interest debt like mortgages or car loans isn’t as big of a priority, and you should consider saving before making additional payments on this debt.
If you don’t have any debt to tackle, work toward building up an emergency savings fund if you don’t already have one. An emergency fund is meant to cover three to six months’ worth of expenses in the event you need extra money quickly. Saving money is important as a travel nurse since your pay varies and you want to be able to afford to take breaks between assignments and be prepared if pay rates fluctuate.
Some staffing agencies will offer reimbursements for licenses, certifications, physical exams, immunizations, or healthcare travel expenses. When signing a new contract, make sure you’re taking full advantage of any reimbursements available to you and negotiate any out-of-pocket fees. You want to make sure you keep as much money in your pocket as you can during inflation. Remember, reimbursements are in the “nontaxable” section of your pay package, which makes utilizing this money even more beneficial.
While your first thought during inflation may be to pull back on your investments or stop contributing to investments completely, it’s important that you keep contributing to these accounts. If your agency offers benefits like a 401k, continue contributing to those accounts as much as you can. Financial advisors say one of the worst things people saving for retirement can do is stop putting money aside to help pay for increased costs now.
“Twenty years from now, things are going to be twice as expensive,” Misty Lynch, a certified financial planner with Walpole said. “Don’t stop investing. It is one of the only ways that has been proven to fight inflation.”
Another area in your travel nurse pay to inspect is your overtime rate. Working overtime as a travel nurse can help you make some extra cash and negotiating your overtime rate can help you make sure you’re optimizing your time and cash flow. Legally, your overtime rate must be at least 1.5 times your base pay. Negotiate in your contract for a higher overtime rate, especially if you anticipate working a lot of extra hours so you can make more money during inflation.
Extend your travel nursing contract
Although it’s not technically part of your pay package, extending your contract can sometimes help you make more as a healthcare traveler. You can often negotiate higher pay for an extension, and you can usually decide how long the extension will be, so you don’t necessarily have to sign on for another full 13 weeks. You can also ask for a week off in between your current travel nurse assignment and extension so you can still take a break to recharge. Just be sure you’re not staying in any one place too long, so you don’t lose your tax home.
How to budget during inflation
While you should already be budgeting to help you manage your finances and travel nursing pay, it’s a good time to create a budget or refresh your current one so that it best serves you during inflation. Budgeting doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to purchases or services that bring you joy though. It just means being mindful of where your money is going and finding areas you can save money while prices are higher. Take these steps to make your budget work for you during inflation.
Track your spending
As you start different contracts, you may find your income fluctuates. That’s why it’s so important that you allocate your salary wisely and know exactly where your money is going. Tracking your spending is the best way to know what recurring bills you have, when bills come out of your bank account, and what your daily spending habits and travel expenses look like. One way to track your spending is to use Mint. This app connects to your bank accounts and allocates each purchase to its spot in your budget, so you know at any given time how much money you have left to spend in certain categories. Paying close attention to your funds throughout the month will help ensure you’re not spending more than your earning and you’re meeting all your financial goals.
Investigate how inflation affects you
Inflation is costing the average U.S. household almost an additional $300 per month. So, as you sit down and reevaluate your current budget, try to identify where exactly inflation is impacting you the most. These are the areas you’ll want to concentrate on decreasing as much as you can. For example, about 75 percent of the inflation is affecting food, energy, and housing. Grocery prices rose 1.4 percent in February alone and represented an 8.6 percent increase over the last year. Energy prices also rose about 3.5 percent in February, which was driven by the surge in gas prices. To figure out how much inflation has impacted your bottom line, compare how much you currently spend on groceries, gas, restaurants, clothing, and entertainment to what these items cost two years ago.
Consider cost of living
A big area that may be affecting your finances is your travel assignment location’s cost of living. If you’re traveling to a city with a higher cost of living, that is obviously going to impact your budget, specifically your housing costs. Consider traveling with a friend or finding a roommate for sharing housing expenses in these cities. You can also ask your agency if they have any negotiated discounts with local hotels or ask hotels if they’re offering any discounts to travel nurses. Additionally, you may be able to leverage the length of your stay to find the best possible deal with hotels or rentals. There are also housing sites for travel nurses you can use to find the best housing deal and Fusion Marketplace can also help you find housing while on assignment.
If you want to be extra strategic, now is the best time to take an assignment in rural healthcare. The demand for rural travel nurses is high which means you can find high pay, but also benefit from the low cost of living in these areas. The increased income and decreased prices will allow you to soften the impact of inflation and helps with saving money.
Find ways to save money
Making cuts in your budget doesn’t mean getting rid of fun purchases like coffee or drinks with friends. There are a lot of ways you can save without making sacrifices in your daily life! For instance, buying generic products instead of name brands could save you 30 percent at the grocery store. Being prepared with a meal plan before grocery shopping also helps you buy only what you really need for food (plus a few fun extras, of course).
You can also save on gas by being strategic with the use of your car. If you have a list of errands to run, do them all in one trip and plan to do them when there isn’t a lot of traffic. Another way to save money while on assignment is to find free activities to do during your time off. Visiting a park, museum, hiking trail, or local event is a great option that is usually free. There are also a lot of free apps you can download that offer discounts like:
Billshark: negotiates lower prices for recurring bills and cancels any unwanted subscriptions for you.
GasBuddy: finds the lowest prices at gas stations near you.
Honey: (Google Chrome extension) automatically searches the internet for valid coupon codes at checkout.
Groupon: offers discounts in whatever location you're in
Hopper: searches for deals on flights and hotels, then watches these deals and alerts you of any changes so you can buy at the best time.
Use Fusion Marketplace to find high-paying jobs
Ultimately, the best way to help your bank account during inflation is to increase your income, and one of the best ways to do that is to find high-paying travel jobs on Fusion Marketplace. Our online job platform allows you to search easily for and compare travel jobs from multiple agencies. Plus, we offer travel nurse jobs with pay listed, so you never have to wonder what a new assignment will pay before you apply. Our pay transparency also gives you the ability to compare pay packages and know exactly what your travel nurse pay breakdown is, so you can make the most money and tackle inflation. When so much in the world is out of your control, Fusion Marketplace empowers you to take control of your career and achieve your travel dreams.
Inflation can be overwhelming, but by making the most of your healthcare travel pay package, being strategic with your budget, and using Fusion Marketplace to compare jobs, you can stay ahead of rising expenses. Create a profile and start searching for travel jobs today!