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50 Secrets to Maximizing Your Travel Nurse Salary

You likely chose travel nursing because of the adventure and the unique opportunities to go places. But at the end of the day, you work hard for the money. Here are 50 ways to make your paycheck go the extra mile.  

Landing the highest pay rate

  1. Poll your fellow nurses to find out what specialties and hospitals pay the best.
  2. Pick a city known for paying its nurses well.
  3. Upgrade to a high-paying specialty like neonatal, psych, or ortho.
  4. Investigate the different pay scales from city to city across your desired work state.
  5. Get a certification that will boost your income.
  6. Check out overtime rates and choose contracts that fit your bill.
  7. Find out which hospitals offer primo rates for night shifts.
  8. Take all the holiday shifts you can.
  9. Ask your recruiter if any hospitals are offering crisis rates.
  10. Ask about all types of bonuses you qualify for: sign-on, referral, extensions, etc.

Keeping a gig on the side

  1. Let your agency know you’re available for per diem shifts.
  2. If you have a permanent home, rent it out or use Airbnb to help offset some expenses.
  3. Moonlight as a home health nurse.
  4. Look into freelance health writing.
  5. Become an immunization nurse for flu shot season.
  6. Be a telenurse.
  7. Work as a medical transcriptionist.
  8. Do medical coding.
  9. Find part-time work at a nursing home.
  10. Be a First Aid Instructor.

Getting the most out of your housing stipend

  1. Determine how much space you really need and consider downsizing your travel housing.
  2. Consider an RV or an extended stay hotel.
  3. Live in a place that costs less than your housing stipend.
  4. Find another travel nurse at your hospital to be your roommate.
  5. Pick a state that has lower housing costs, such as Indiana or Kansas.
  6. Travel to places where you have friends and family with spare rooms.

Maximizing your tax-free income

  1. When comparing contracts and packages, keep in mind your housing and travel reimbursements are tax-free.
  2. Make sure you have properly established your tax home.
  3. You’ll do better financially if you establish a tax home in a place with a lower cost of living.
  4. If you’re a travel nurse with a tax home in a high-cost area, consider moving.

Saving money on the road

  1. Check out the tools that will help you plan a road trip on the cheap.
  2. Ship your stuff early to avoid high-priced shipping fees for waiting until the last minute.
  3. Get your car checked out and prepped before you leave. It could save you hundreds or more by preventing an expensive emergency that may be looming.
  4. Clean out your car. Excess weight decreases your miles/gal.
  5. Get a tire gauge and keep your tires properly inflated — this maximizes your miles/gal.
  6. Pack a cooler with snacks and food for the road to avoid overpriced gas station grub.
  7. Use cruise control when you can — this too improves fuel efficiency.
  8. Find cheaper alternatives to hotels.

Budgeting wisely

  1. Use online budget tools to stay on track with your spending.
  2. Clip coupons: paper or digital.
  3. Join a skillshare and get your yard work done in exchange for CPR lessons.
  4. Shop in the bulk section or at club stores like Costco and Sam’s Club.
  5. Say no to big ticket items that are outside your budget.
  6. Look at the smaller ticket luxuries (that daily latte) you can cut back or live without.
  7. Consider a carpool or rideshare.
  8. Take advantage of public transit when you can — a round trip could cost you far less than gas and an hourly parking fee.
  9. Live somewhere that’s walking distance to work, the grocery store, or other stores you frequent to save on fuel and parking.
  10. Bonus: Walking/taking public transit will limit your purchasing because you can only carry so much. Extra bonus: We know you’re on your feet all day, but you get to be outside in the fresh air and away from the hospital smells.
  11. Use Groupon, Living Social, and other similar offers to save on fun and food. (Bonus: These are great ways to investigate a new place and meet people with similar interests.)
  12. Two words: thrift stores. Don’t have time to hunt for bargains? Consider online thrift shops like thredUP.

Looking for more on money? Check out our complete guide to travel nurse salaries.

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