Becoming a nurse takes dedication, long hours, and hard work. As a Black nurse, you’re saving lives and paving the way for future generations of young African-American girls to follow in your footsteps. That’s something to be proud of!
But we also know nurses don’t get paid nearly enough for their worth. With the pay gap and other roadblocks, building up your coins can be a challenge.
That’s why having a solid financial plan is key.
Here are 10 money moves for you – or any other Black nurses you know – to get your finances in order and set you up for success.
1. Know Your Worth and Earn Your Due
First things first, know your worth! Black people make up 12% of registered nurses in America, yet studies show we get paid nearly 5% less than the average nurse’s salary. It’s time to speak up and advocate for fair pay. Don’t be afraid to negotiate your salary and raises annually or when taking a new position. Research national and local average salaries and arm yourself with facts. Seek jobs at hospitals or clinics that pay equitable wages without racial bias. You earned your nursing degree and skills. Make sure you get paid what you deserve.
2. Budget Like a Boss
Next, make a detailed budget and stick to it. As a nurse, you may deal with fluctuating shift work, overtime, bonuses, and varying paychecks. Having a budget keeps your finances on track month to month. Be honest with yourself about needs versus wants. Categorize expenses like housing, transportation, utilities, groceries, debt payments, and discretionary spending. Budgeting helps you align expenses with your income and values. It also makes it easier to spot areas to save, whether that’s bringing lunch to work or cutting back on takeout.
3. Build up an Emergency Fund
Life happens! Having cash reserves means you won’t go broke if you get hurt on the job, have unexpected medical bills, or need car repairs. Try to build up an emergency fund with 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses. Opening a separate high-yield savings account makes it easier to stash cash for a rainy day. Set up automatic transfers from each paycheck until you reach your emergency savings goal.
4. Destroy Your Debt
Get serious about chopping down debt, especially high-interest credit cards or payday loans that cost you a lot in interest. Make debt payoff a priority in your budget. If you have heavy student loan debt, look into income-based repayment plans that tie payments to salary. Every dollar you can free up from payments boosts your financial health. Destroying debt improves your credit score and gives you more cash to save and invest.
5. DIY Cooking Saves Dough
Let’s be real, hospital cafeteria food is convenient but way overpriced. Eating out all the time also adds up. Meal prepping at home saves you money and helps you eat healthier. Take advantage of days off to batch-cook meals and snacks to pack for work. Make big pots of staples like rice, beans, and chicken. When grocery shopping, compare prices and buy ingredients in bulk when on sale. Plus, bringing your own meals means you won’t be tempted by vending machine snacks on midnight shifts.
6. Start Saving for Retirement
With hectic nursing schedules, it’s easy to put off saving for retirement. But thanks to compound growth, starting early – even if it’s just small contributions – makes a huge difference long-term. Take full advantage of workplace retirement accounts like 401(k) plans, especially if your employer offers matching contributions. Increase your contribution rate every time you get a raise. Supplement with IRAs once you’ve maxed out workplace plans. Automate contributions so you “pay yourself first” and build up that retirement nest egg.
7. Insure Yourself
Protect your most valuable asset – you! Make sure you have adequate disability insurance that replaces income if you suffer a serious illness or injury that prevents you from working. Also, get sufficient term life insurance – at least 10 times your annual salary – so your family would be financially provided for in the worst-case scenario. Check if your employer provides coverage and supplement if needed.
8. Build Generational Wealth
Once essentials are covered, invest extra income in stocks, real estate, or starting a side business to build wealth. As a nurse, you can pick up overtime or part-time gigs for extra cash to invest. Be mindful of higher taxes on that overtime income. Also, consider setting up trusts to pass wealth onto future generations or funding college savings accounts for any kids, nieces, or nephews you may have.
9. Network with Your Squad
There is strength in numbers! Join professional groups like the National Black Nurses Association or the National Association of Hispanic Nurses. Check for regional chapters and industry networking groups. Surround yourself with a supportive squad that shares career tips and job contacts. Explore collective investment groups like EquityNoire to boost buying power. Find a financial advisor who understands your cultural experience. Your community uplifts you and opens doors.
10. Lift as You Climb
As you move up, bring others along too. Once established, pay it forward by volunteering to mentor student nurses or speaking at high schools. Donate to nursing scholarships and programs supporting minorities in healthcare. Supporting the next generation keeps the career pipeline flowing. Share your wisdom and connections freely.
Stay encouraged, sis. With grit and smart money moves, you can achieve your big goals and build the financial future you deserve. Now go out there and slay! The world needs more empowered, financially savvy Black nurses like you.