Financial Literacy, put simply, is knowledge about how to manage your money. It sounds simple enough, but statistics show that more than half of the country is currently in debt. As nurses, not only do we struggle with the day-to-day costs of living, we have extra costs as well. We may have memberships to the American Nurses Association (ANA) or other professional nursing organizations, plenty of scrubs to get through extra shifts, stethoscopes and other essential tools, and a high probability of student loan repayment looming over many of our heads.
1. Know Where You Stand with Money
Knowing where you stand with money is an important first step to financial literacy. It is essential to understand why you handle money the way that you do, and to acknowledge that your past and personality play a big role in gaining control of your finances. Not only will financial literacy help you personally right now, but it will also become a valuable skill that translates professionally. Whether you become a unit director, a hospital administrator, or continue working as a floor nurse, financial literacy is a crucial skill worth mastering both personally and professionally.
2. Your New Best Friend: The Budget
Being financially literate translates directly to management and administrative skills while simultaneously being personally useful. In fact, financial literacy is ingrained throughout all of our daily practices. Think about it: as floor nurses we use these skills when we minimize supply waste by only using necessary supplies. When addressing unit needs, unit directors or managers must also stay within a budget. Administrators must prioritize which endeavors to pursue so that they too can stay within a budget. Can you guess the foundation of financial literacy yet? That’s right, it’s a budget. There are many great budgeting apps and worksheets out there, but a budget will not work unless you use it. It’s like working out. The more you do it, the easier it becomes to stay dedicated to it.
3. Increase Stability with an Emergency Savings Account
Now that your budget is under control and you’re feeling more confident with monetary choices, an emergency savings account can provide stability and reduce stress when unexpected events pop up. Imagine having the freedom to transition to your dream job without the worry of missing any of your bill payments or going into debt. This is possible with emergency savings. Ideally, the goal is to save enough money to cover your expenses for six months. This can dramatically reduce the stress of car troubles, medical expenses, and any other unpredicted circumstances. You will feel so much better having that stability to back up your budget.
The Best Decision
There is a meme going around Facebook that I’m sure many have seen by now that reads, “Nobody claim 2022 as ‘your year.’ We’re all going to walk in real slow. Be good. Be quiet. Be cautious and respectful. Don’t touch anything.” Following this advice in terms of financial literacy means that preparing a budget, staying devoted to that budget, and building an emergency savings may be the best thing you will do all year.
Make your New Year’s resolution about being more intentional with money. It will be far more rewarding than losing a couple of pounds at the gym. Your family, your career, and your bank account will thank you.
Courtney Edmonson, RN is a registered stroke nurse. When not writing or nursing, she is spending time with her family, cooking, or writing to-do lists. She looks forward to continued success in both nursing and writing.