- Because nurses are some of the world's greatest heroes...
Training to be a nurse or studying for further qualifications while you work in nursing, is a wonderful thing. A career in nursing is fulfilling, exciting, and fantastically rewarding. As a nurse, you’ll face stressful and emotional times, certainly, but you’ll always know that you are helping people and making a positive difference in the world. But there’s no denying that studying is expensive.
Most students are forced to work while they study. But with clinical placements and hectic schedules, you’ll be limited. You won’t be able to work too much, and you certainly won’t want to jeopardize your studies, your mental health, or your future career by neglecting your education to earn more money.
The good news is, there are plenty of ways that you can save money and plenty of reasons why you should.
Why It’s Important to Save Money
Before you start thinking about how to save, it’s important that you understand the benefits. Yes, saving money means that you can manage your finances without worrying about how you’ll pay the bills, but there are more benefits than that. Here’s a look at some of them.
To Prepare for the Future
Most students are guilty of just thinking about the here and now. You might know that you want to work as a nurse, but do you know where you want to live? Or what kind of lifestyle you’d like? Saving money now and getting into good habits that you’ll be able to stick to throughout your working life means that you’ll be able to do things like buy a home and car and start your working life on the right foot.
To Avoid Long-term Debt
On average, students leave college with nearly $30,000 of debt. Many are still paying this off years into their career, taking cash out of their paycheck to cover their tuition from years ago. Some never manage to pay off their debts.
Saving money as a student and finding ways to earn more means that you can minimize your debts and stay on top of any that you do have, avoiding the risk of long-term debt that just keeps on growing.
A Chance to Learn About Money
At school, we learn a lot that we don’t need. Things that we never think about once we’ve left school, and never need in our adult lives. Unfortunately, we don’t learn some important life skills, like how to manage our money.
Learning to manage your money when you are studying, when you don’t have much of it, and you have to make sacrifices and hard choices, gives you the skills and knowledge that you need to manage your money for the rest of your life.
You’ll Be Able to Cover Unexpected Expenses
Things have a habit of coming up at the worst possible times. Unexpected expenses hit when our finances are at their worst. Having some money set aside means that you are always prepared and never caught out.
Money Gives You a Backup Plan
If you’ve got money in the bank, you always have a backup plan, whatever happens in life. It’s good to have this safety net.
You’ll Be Prepared for Holidays
While holidays like Christmas aren’t unexpected, somehow, we never seem to be prepared for them. More people get into debt around big holidays than at any other time. Being good with money, being able to live within your means, and having some saved means that you can always cover the holidays.
Money Gives You Options
Many nurses at some point decide to move into a specialty or take on a new role. Having money in the bank from the beginning of your career means that you’ve always got options if you want to take time out to study, invest in your career or seek a new challenge. A popular option for nurses is looking at how to become a FNP. Working as a family nurse practitioner offers flexibility and a chance to move up the career ladder, and having saved money at school means that you’re already in a better financial position.
Of course, saving money also means that you’ve got options while you are at school. You can enjoy yourself without worrying about how you’ll pay bills or buy food.
Saving Money Reduces Stress and Protects Your Mental Health
Financial worries are one of the leading causes of depression, stress, and other mental health issues. We worry about money, and these worries can affect our day-to-day lives, as well as leading to something more serious. Being in debt and worrying about money can affect your studies, your relationships, and your career. Learning how to save, and how to make good choices with money reduces the risks of these kinds of stresses.
With all of that in mind, here’s a look at some of the best ways that student nurses can save money while they study.
Start Meal Planning
Aside from tuition fees and rent or other housing costs, food is probably one of your largest expenses. The good news is, by planning and shopping more carefully, you can save a fortune on your food shops without sacrificing tasty food or good nutrition.
Perhaps the best way to save on your grocery shopping is by getting organized. Sit down before you hit the store and prepare a meal plan for the week ahead. Plan as much as you can, including meals, snacks, and anything else that you need.
Then, look through your cupboards to see what you need to buy before writing a detailed shopping list. When you get to the shops, stick to your list, and only buy what you need.
Buy Reduced Food
Most stores reduce produce when it nears or reaches its sell-by date or if the packaging is damaged or it’s otherwise not perfect.
This food is usually perfectly safe to eat, and if you freeze it as soon as you get home, it can last for a lot longer.
Find out when your local stores reduce food (some do it first thing in the morning, others towards closing time) and make sure you time your shopping trip to make the most of the reduced food available.
Try Cheaper Ingredients
Branded food is usually much more expensive than stores’ own options, and in most cases, it tastes near enough the same.
Try the cheapest, budget option of everything that you can. If you don’t like it, give the store’s standard option a go. If you still don’t like it, try the store’s luxury own brand offering, only buying branded if you genuinely don’t like the cheaper choices.
When it comes to saving money on food, your freezer is your best friend. Freeze food that’s close to its sell-by date to make it last longer, cook in bulk and freeze portions and even freeze leftovers to use up again another day. Reduce food waste as much as you can, to save money and protect the environment.
Up Your Packed Lunch Game
Eating out is lovely, but it’s expensive and should be saved for treats and special occasions if you are trying to cut back and save money. Lunch is a big problem for most students. Grabbing a quick sandwich and coffee might not seem like a big deal but you’d probably be shocked by how much you spend on these sandwiches over a year.
Instead, up your packed lunch game. Try some different sandwiches, prepare interesting salads and try new snacks and drinks.
Prepare a Budget
Nowadays, most of us are good at checking out banking apps regularly. While this is a good thing, and it helps you to be more aware of what you’ve got available, it doesn’t help you to see what expenses you have coming, and it doesn’t necessarily make it easier to manage your money.
Sit down with that banking app and map things out. Use a simple spreadsheet to track what you spend and when. This makes you more aware of what you are spending, as well as making it easier to see when your money leaves your account and spot patterns. If you notice that a lot of your expenses leave close together, contact providers to change payment dates.
Look at Student Travel Deals
Travel can be another significant expense, especially if you live far away from school or your clinical placements or you travel home to visit friends and family frequently.
Look into student travel deals, discounts, and cards to make savings, start walking when you can, and ask your college about travel reimbursement options when you are on placement.
Ask for Student Discounts
Everything from high-street clothes shops to restaurants and travel providers offer student discounts. But they don’t all advertise it. Look online or ask in-store to see if the places you shop at offer any discounts.
Only Buy What You Need
Before you make a purchase, whatever it is, ask yourself if you really need it? Yes, treats are okay sometimes, and sometimes, for your mental health and happiness, you do need to buy something for yourself just because you want it. But be mindful of your spending and get into the habit of thinking before you shop.
Second-hand shops, yard sales, charity stores, and online selling apps and shops are great places to buy most things. If you need something, check out second-hand options before rushing in to buy new.
If you do need to buy new, make sure you shop around first. Compare prices, look for deals, discounts, and sales and do some research before making a purchase.
Save What You Can
When money is tight, saving is hard. But it’s still a good idea. Save what you can, when you can, and remember even small amounts will add up over time. If you struggle to save, try using an app to automate the process.
Cook with Friends
Cooking together is a great way to spend time with your friends and family. You’ll save money, learn a fantastic new skill, and get into better habits when it comes to food and drink.
Start Enjoying Nights In
Nights in can be just as fun as nights out. They are also safer, cheaper, and a great way to have proper conversations with the people that you love. Explore fun ways to enjoy time at home with your friends and family, including board games and movie nights.
Cancel Some Subscriptions and Memberships
Most of us have at some point been guilty of paying for subscriptions and memberships that we no longer use, or don’t make the most of, because it’s easier to just keep paying. Have a look at the things that you are paying for and ask yourself if you really need them. Cancel as much as you can for big savings.
Switch Some Providers
Electricity, gas, water, the internet, and other supplies are crucial for modern life, especially when you are studying at home. These are expenses that you can’t avoid, but you can reduce them. Take a look at what you are spending now and compare prices. Try to do this once a year to make sure you are always getting the best deals.
Don’t Buy What You Can Borrow
When you need something, find out if you can borrow it before rushing out to buy your own.
Join the Library
You might do a lot of your research online, but books, for both research and pleasure are still important. Joining the library is a great way to save money on both.
Sort Out Your Inbox
How many times a day do you get an email offering you a great deal? How often do you click on them? Your inbox is a constant source of temptation. Unsubscribe to avoid this pressure to spend.
Sell Old Textbooks
Once you’ve finished a project or class, see if you can sell your books to younger students either in your school or online.
Shop with Cash
Research shows that we’re more likely to spend when we don’t need to, or more than we need to when we shop online, and also when we shop in-store with our cards. There’s a part of our brain that doesn’t think we’re spending money when we don’t see cash. It all seems more real when we’ve got cash in our hands. You are more likely to spend responsibly when you spend cash, instead of using a card.
Saving money, reducing your outgoings, and building a savings pot while you are studying can be hard. But it’s well worth it, and you might find that it’s the smaller changes and cutbacks that make the biggest differences. As long as you stick to them.