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Dear Nurse MER,
I have one more year of nursing school. I am excited, but also terrified because I am about to be in so much debt.
College has been way more expensive than I thought. Do you have any advice for a new nurse struggling with finances?
I like you already. You’re smart and thoughtful. This is a major concern that most new grads try desperately to avoid. Your trepidation is understandable. It’s a sad thing that young people do not leave university feeling free—student loans weigh you down. Luckily, there are steps you can take to make sure you’re paying off your loans the right way.
I cannot stress enough how important it is that you focus on paying off your debt. Could you move back in with your parents while you gain experience as a new nurse? There are so many new grads rushing to gain independence, but living with your parents, even for just a year, can save you some serious dough. Plus, what’s the rush? Adulthood is coming either way. Rent is basically money you are throwing to the wolves. Instead, you could keep those thousands of dollars to pay off loans or save in a retirement fund. Amazing! Plus, you’ll be able to focus on your new job instead of paying bills.
You must learn to use money to your advantage. It may be enticing to buy a new car or expensive purse or designer leather shoes, but if you can use these first years as a new nurse to max-out your retirement fund, pay off a hefty chunk of your students loans and start saving (or ideally diversifying) your investment portfolio, you won’t be sorry.
I hear my nursing coworkers use the adage, “You only live once, I need this new [insert unnecessary material of your choice].” This is not true. I urge you to pay attention to your day-to-day spending habits. Starbucks does not deserve your well-earned dollars and those daily lattes add up both in monetary and caloric terms. Bring your lunch. Do you really need to see that $15.00 movie or does it suffice to snuggle up with your sweetheart once it comes out on Netflix? There are so many ways to save.
When you’re 30 years old, debt-free, taking a two-week vacation to Europe and buying your first property, you’ll see what I mean.
Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in your Twenties and Thirties by Beth Kobline was one book that helped me learn to navigate my finances (I was terrified at first, too). Please take it out from the library (time to get a library card–buying books is WAY too expensive) and let this be the start of your path to financial freedom, confidence and success.
Got a question for Nurse MER? Leave it in the comments below and she might answer it in a future article!