Nurses graduate from their nursing programs with a plethora of medical knowledge. But most of these programs do not include financial management courses.
This lack of focus on the financial side of things can lead to nurses often getting overwhelmed as soon as they enter professional life and are hit with real-world economic problems.
And the inevitable financial pressure can add a lot of stress to the generally rewarding nursing profession, potentially making it less enjoyable.
Therefore, we believe it is important for nurses to understand financial management so they can take better control of their money.
In this article, we are sharing some practical financial planning tips that, if implemented successfully, have the potential to bring financial empowerment and economic stability to your busy nurse life.
Top Financial Planning Tips that You Can Start Implementing Today
Good financial planning is geared towards bringing you closer to your financial goals and empowering you to enjoy more financial freedom.
Here are some tips to help you build a financial plan that can lead to a more successful and less stressful professional life:
Financial Planning Tip #1: Potentially Save Money on Taxes
Knowing and claiming tax deductions may be able to help you save a portion of your money from taxation.
So, a great way towards better financial management is to understand tax write-offs and use them to your advantage.
But unfortunately, nurses (and all employed professionals for that matter) can no longer enjoy tax write-offs.
Let’s find out.
Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) 2017 and Its Effect on Nurses
Before the TCJA, employed nurses would claim all of their unreimbursed work-related expenses against their income. This could be used to reduce their taxable income, bringing down their tax bill.
But the TCJA canceled tax-write-offs for employed professionals.
Now, employed nurses can no longer get a tax deduction on scrubs, shoes, and other work-related expenses.
So, how can nurses save on taxes? We’ll discuss that in a bit. But first, let’s talk about an important factor.
Employed vs Independent Contractor Nurses
The TCJA 2017 affected employed and independent contractor nurses differently.
Employed nurses, those that work full-time at certain hospitals or other organizations file their taxes with a W-2 form. Independent contractors, on the other hand, are considered self-employed, and hence file their taxes via 1099. 
Therefore, while employed nurses can no longer claim tax deductions, there are some tax write-offs that self-employed nurses can benefit from.
Valid Tax Write-Offs for Nurses
If you are an independent contractor, here are some valid tax write-offs you can claim against your income:
- Home office write-off. If you have a home office, you can write off a portion of your rent or mortgage as a business expense.
- Business-related travel expenses. If you are a traveling nurse and your job requires you to travel far, you can write it off as a business expense. This write-off is only applicable if you travel longer than your average workday and rest away from your primary home. 
- Vehicle use expense. You can also claim vehicle fuel expenses for a tax deduction. Just keep track of your business miles and multiply it with the standard mileage rate set by the IRS.
- Medical equipment expenses. Being an independent contractor, you can claim the expenses on your medical equipment, like a stethoscope, scrubs, socks, etc. against your taxable income. 
- Cost of maintaining your primary home. Traveling nurses are required to maintain a primary home and can put down the cost of maintaining it as a tax write-off. 
- Being self-employed, you will pay self-employment taxes. You can claim half of your self-employment tax as a business expense. 
- You can also deduct your health insurance premiums from your taxable income and reduce your tax bill. 
If you are an employed nurse, you may not qualify for these tax-write offs. But if you are continuing your education after four years of undergraduate degree, you can benefit from programs like Lifetime Learning Credit and get some monetary support for your education, even if you are an employed nurse. 
Financial Planning Tip #2: Ask Your Employer to Reimburse Work Expense
According to a study  by Incredible Health, nurses may have to pay anywhere around $13,700 in on-site and off-site work-related expenses annually.
And since you can no longer claim these expenses against your taxable income, they are chipping away at your annual earnings.
Some hospitals provide scrubs for free and even help with childcare to increase employee retention and reduce stress.
Consider talking to your employer about reimbursing your on-site and off-site expenses so you can have more to take home.
Financial Planning Tip #3: Avoid Racking Up Debt
70% of all graduate nurses have student debt . And if you are among this 70%, you cannot afford to rack up more debt.
Therefore, avoid debt traps like credit cards and consider paying in cash or with debit cards whenever you can.
Direct a portion of your monthly income towards paying off your debt as soon as you can to help gain back your financial freedom more quickly.
There are many ways you can pay your debt.
You may want to work with a financial professional to build a debt pay-off strategy that aligns with your financial situation and brings you closer to a debt-free life.
Financial Planning Tip #4: Pick Up Side Work
It is true that nurses are busy professionals. But there is certain side work that even busy nurses can pick up to make some extra cash each month.
Here’s a list of things you can do – as a bit of side work – and to gain more control over your financial situation:
There are many freelance jobs that nurses can pick up in between shifts. If you have a knack for writing, you can become a health and medical writer, put your medical knowledge to use, and potentially earn some money doing it.
Being a nurse, you already have medical knowledge and know how to develop health and wellness. You may be able to monetize these skills by offering health consultations.
A health coaching job comes with flexibility. You can take as many clients as your schedule allows and work with them to earn some extra cash.
One thing to note though, you may need a nurse coach certification . So, consider that before you go in.
Become an Immunization Nurse
Immunization nurses work seasonal jobs and are hired mostly on the onset of flu season, or as recently, during the Covid vaccination drive.
Immunization nurses can easily earn anywhere between $20-$30 per hour  and enjoy greater flexibility.
Depending on your work schedule, you might pick up shifts at immunization clinics and supplement your fixed income.
Consider Medical Transcription
Medical transcription is another job option that you can pick up while working as an employed nurse.
Medical transcriptionists can earn around $15/hour in the US . The job does not require additional knowledge and builds on your existing medical proficiency. There are even entry-level transcriptionist jobs that don’t require a proper certificate .
These are just some common jobs available on the side, which offer good flexibility to fit in your busy schedule and don’t require additional education.
However, please keep in mind that the purpose of side work is to give you financial freedom and provide overall stability in your life. If that comes at the cost of your mental or physical health, it’s worth reconsidering.
Talk to a Financial Professional
Financial planning is a complicated yet critical activity. Planning your personal finances is an important step to finding monetary freedom, reducing your fiscal stress, and providing yourself a cushion to fall back on in crises.
But with limited time, debt from higher education, and expertise that is focused outside of financial management, nurses often struggle with finances. This can lead them to feeling stressed at work and bearing a financial burden that may seem impossible to resolve.
Working with a financial professional can help you uncover ways to bring down your tax bill, pay off your debt in the most optimal way, and diversify your income without burning out.
At Dayton and Sydney, our financial strategists have experience in handling finances for professional nurses and healthcare individuals. You can reach out to us to discuss your goals and explore a financial plan tailored to your unique monetary situation.
This information has been obtained from outside sources and is provided for general informational purposes only. Please be advised that this document is not intended as legal or tax advice. Accordingly, any tax information provided in this document is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer. The tax information was written to support the promotion or marketing of the transaction(s) or matter(s) addressed and you should seek advice based on your particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor. Equitable Advisors, its affiliates and financial professionals do not provide tax and/or legal advice.
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2“Top 10 Write Offs for Independent Contractors”, Anonymous, KPMGSpark, January 16, 2020.
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11 “Are Hospital Issued Scrubs a Thing, or Do You Have to Buy Your Own?”, Anonymous, Silver Lining Scrubs, January 28.
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13“How Much Do Nurses Have in Debt?”, Ada Do, Snowball Wealth, February 20, 2019.
14“How to Become a Nurse Health Coach (Plus Primary Duties)”, Indeed Editorial Team, Indeed, May 7, 2021.
15“How Much Do Immunization Nurse Jobs Pay per Hour?”, Anonymous, Zip Recruiter.
16“How Much Do Medical Transcription Jobs Pay per Hour?”, Anonymous, Zip Recruiter.
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