Why Financial Planning Matters to You

Why Financial Planning Matters to You

a stack of pennies with a small leafy plant growing out of it for financial planningFinancial planning takes time and effort, but the end results of a good financial plan can be life changing. Planning for your financial future–both immediate and long-term–might not be as fun as planning or other things  in your life, but the investment in your time will reap real dividends in both money and stress reduction.

Pablo Oliva, a wealth advisor with Northsight Wealth Management, LLC, says that financial planning isn’t something that only wealthy people need. “In short, everyone needs some kind of financial planning,” he says. “I always think of financial planning as having a game plan for every dollar you touch. Knowing where your money is going and how it can be used in a future date to buy a home, pass on a legacy, or pay for college are all parts of the financial planning process.”

Oliva, who frequently works with nurses, says that financial planning is not a one-and-done task, and that it can change depending on your own path. “Financial planning is a multi-step process that involves investments, risk management, estate, and tax planning,” he says. “The complexity of the financial planning process increases as our family dynamics change, assets grow, and needs change, but the fundamentals remain the same.”

And a financial plan isn’t always an intricate or involved process, but it will take some thought so you can consider what you’ll need funds for–with  retirement planning, college and higher education planning, debt management, and estate planning some of the common topics in financial planning.

The first place to start, says Oliva, is with a budget because that familiarizes you with how your savings, spending, and income all converge. “Knowing how much money comes in and how much money goes out is the foundation for creating a positive cash flow,” he says. “Sticking to a budget creates healthy money habits, which translates to saving for a big purchase, saving for retirement in a 401(k) or IRA, and planning for the unexpected, amongst other goals.”

Does even thinking about a budget unnerve you? As Oliva says, knowing about your own money is better than not knowing. “I am a firm believer in self-education,” he says. Sometimes, a cultural aversion to talking openly about money can have a huge impact on how folks think about financial planning. If you don’t feel up for the challenge, then getting professional help, even just to get you started, is probably helpful. It’s important to find the best professional if you choose that route. “Financial planning is something that anyone can do, but most elect to partner with someone to ensure all topics are covered,” he says. “As clients, we should all conduct due diligence on whom we entrust our financial futures and sometimes our life savings.”

Once everything is documented, you might be surprised to see where you are. “Most clients we work with are in a better position than they think,” he says. “Realizing the need to plan for 20+ years in retirement can be mind-boggling, but with the help of the right professional, most guesswork can be removed and realistic goals and expectations set. We understand that everyone sees money differently, and most changes are broken up into smaller, realistic goals over a reasonable period of time.”

If getting your financial life in order seems entirely out of reach, take some tips from  how you’d plan a trip. You don’t just walk out the door and go somewhere–you plan the time of day you’ll travel and the route you’ll take while adding in time for unexpected stops or weather snafus. You’ll probably look for the most efficient and cost-effective route. Then you might think of the expectations you have for the trip.

“A good financial plan is a roadmap to achieve what is important to each individual,” says Oliva. “The plan should also consider roadblocks and delays along the way and require periodical updates. Each financial plan is different based on the individual or family needs and should also change as their needs change with time.”

A legal disclosure from Northsight for this interview: Investment advisory services are offered through Northsight Wealth Management, LLC (NSMW), a Registered Investment Advisor. Northsight Wealth Management, LLC will only provide investment advisory services in jurisdictions where it is registered as an investment adviser or exempt from registration. Insurance products and services are offered and sold through individually licensed and appointed insurance agents. NSWM does not provide legal or tax advice.

Is Your Tax Refund Working for You?

Is Your Tax Refund Working for You?

If you are one of the many Americans whose savings plan has been impacted by a smaller-than-expected tax refund this year, it might be a good time to consider changing your financial planning approach.

Lots of people consider the tax return windfall they get every spring as an unofficial savings bonus. In reality, it’s a poor way to save money. The government ends up having your money until you file your taxes. That money does nothing for you while the government holds it. It’s not earning any interest, and it’s not being used to invest in any kind of growth fund.

A more sustainable plan is to make a better estimate of your tax withdrawals so you can retain control of that extra money. You can decide how to invest it so you earn money. Even if you are only earning a small amount, the funds are gaining something they otherwise would not.

Whether you are a new employee just signing up for your withholding or a long-term employee ready to make a change, it only takes filling out one form, the Employee’s Witholding Allowance Certificate or W-4, to change your withdrawal amounts. If you are unsure of how many deductions to claim, you have lots of options to learn about how to handle your money.

Organizations like the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors offer consumers resources to help find what they need. You might just need some advice on how to use your money wisely instead of getting a lump-sum tax refund. Or maybe you’d like to know your options on how to do that and also use your latest pay raise to start or add to a retirement plan. Often a fee-only advisor, who will not earn any commission on products or services, will discuss the best options for your personal situation.

The Financial Insdustry Regulatory Authority website contains valuable information about investing, understanding certain financial brokerage processes, and the difference between financial products and professionals. Websites like The Motley Fool, Kiplinger, or Bankrate give both novice and advanced consumers information they can use. Whether you need information on multiplying your savings for retirement, figuring out how much you can afford for a mortgage, or consolidating your credit card debt, you can get reliable, accurate information if you know where to look.

Once you are armed with information, you can decide if hiring a professional is your next best step. Generally a few hours with a fee-only advisor will pay for itself several times over. They can help you save thousands of dollars while also showing you how to take steps to grow your money, too.

While that boost of cash at the end of tax season is welcome, with a little planning, you can make it even better. And the more control you have over your own money, the better off you will be.

Five Ways to Make More Money

Five Ways to Make More Money

According to the 2017 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report, the median nursing salary for RNs is $70,000. But sometimes, regardless of the size of your paycheck, you need more money.

How you decide to drum up extra income depends on your skillset, time, and monetary goals. Here are five ways to boost your income:

1. Write nursing content.

Do you enjoy writing? Why not get paid for combining your nursing experience with excellent writing skills to create content for an array of online and print outlets? Freelance writers control their calendars and select their clients. One resource for aspiring nurse writers is https://healthcaremarketingnetwork.com, which a nurse co-founded. You could also consider blogging for MinorityNurse.com.

2. Work per diem shifts.

Per diem nursing offers a higher hourly pay and a flexible work schedule. Did you know some nurses even fly to California, the top state for nursing pay, to work a short time before returning home? Earlier this year a photo of a nurse’s pay stub went viral for showing over $19K earned in two-weeks on a per-diem basis. (San Francisco is the highest paying city for registered nurses, according to the BLS.)

3. Tutor nursing students online.

Work with a variety of students in your best subjects. Set your own hours and rate (most tutors charge between $30-60 an hour). Provide customized and personalized tutoring to help nursing students with classes or prepare them to take the NCLEX.

4. Give flu injections.

Doctor’s offices and special clinics need nurses to administer flu vaccines to children and adults during the 2018-19 flu shot season. Nurses also provide education to patients and caregivers about immunizations vaccine and side effects. The peak season for flu shot clinics is between August and January.

5. Earn your BSN degree.

Nearly eight out of 10 employers prefer to hire nurses with a bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN) degree as entry level employees, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. A BSN opens the door to more opportunities for advancement in an evolving health care environment. BSN programs also help students strengthen their skills to pursue advanced nursing degrees. And, aside from career mobility, research shows patient care improves with BSN nurses.

Is making more money as a nurse one of your top priorities? Do you have other suggestions? Share your ideas below!

The Caregiver’s Guide to Planning for Retirement

The Caregiver’s Guide to Planning for Retirement

As a nurse, you spend most of your life taking care of others — but who’s going to take care of you when it’s time to retire? A Fidelity Investments Money FIT Nurses Study revealed that 56 percent of working nurses don’t feel confident when it comes to financial planning. The same study found that 41 percent of nurses who don’t have confidence about financial planning cite lack of time to focus on financial goals as the reason. Cultural differences and language barriers can further stand in the way of working nurses as they strive to save for the future.

It’s tough being a nurse because you’re pulled in different directions every day, but taking the time to put your financial ducks in a row for retirement will pay off big when it’s time to hang up your scrubs for good. Here’s how to get started or bolster your savings efforts while there’s still time.

Know the Lingo

There are several programs that can help you save for retirement. These include 401(k)s or 403(b)s in the case of tax-exempt workplaces, like hospitals; IRAs; and Flexible Spending Accounts. If you don’t know the difference, now’s the time to learn the language of personal financial planning.

IRAs, which stands for individual retirement accounts, are funded solely by you whereas 401(k)s are funded partially by you. Employers typically offer matching 401(k) plans. For example, if you elect to contribute 5 percent of your earnings to a 401(k), your employer may match that rate, netting you an extra 5 percent in savings for retirement. In 2017, you can contribute up to $18,000 to a 401(k) account if you’re under age 50. You get an extra $6,000 if you’re older than 50.

On a related note, think carefully about your health care needs in retirement, especially if you’re not quite ready for Medicare, which starts at age 65. A high-deductible health plan paired with a health savings account may help you keep monthly premiums low while allowing you to save for unexpected medical emergencies. Understanding the different benefits and drawbacks to retirement saving options can be confusing, so it’s wise to talk to a financial adviser about your choices before committing to just one plan.

Start Right Now

You don’t need to set aside thousands of dollars right away. Make small changes, and focus on simple, achievable steps so that you can reach big milestones later. Here are a few simple ways to improve your saving habits:

  • Start planning – today! Writing down your savings goals is the first step to implementing them.
  • Focus on eliminating debt – you can aim to get each credit card paid off individually, try transferring your balances to one card, or negotiate lower interest rates.
  • Cut back on unnecessary expenses – can you eliminate some small charges here and there, like a Netflix or Spotify subscription? Are you sure you’re getting the best deal on your cell phone bill? There’s more than one way to whittle down your monthly discretionary spending, so it can pay to get creative!

Nurses may tend to think less about their own future and more about the immediate needs of their families, such as paying tuition for adult children or taking care of elderly parents. However, you can’t take care of your loved ones if you don’t have any funds after you retire. Estimate how much you’ll need to live on comfortably once you stop working, and build a plan based on that figure.

Find a Support System

It’s critical to find a financial adviser who can guide you through this process. There’s no need to settle either. Seek out recommendations, do some digging and interview prospective advisers with the same scrutiny that you’d use to find a lawyer or doctor. A good financial planner will help you sort through your current finances, identify areas that need improvement, set up a solid retirement plan and answer your questions as you go. Look for advisers with the right credentials too, such as those certified by the Financial Planning Association.

Don’t let unfamiliarity about financial planning keep you from living the retirement life that you’ve earned. As a working nurse, it’s important to find a financial adviser who understands your unique needs and can get you on the right track. Start early, do your homework and be diligent about saving. Your post-retirement life will thank you!

6 Budgeting Tips for Per Diem Nursing

6 Budgeting Tips for Per Diem Nursing

Per diem nursing offers a lot of benefits including scheduling flexibility, professional development, and the chance to earn extra money with shifts. But one of the downsides to nursing on a more contractual basis is trying to budget for a fluctuating income.

Sounds impossible to make a reliable and respectable budget if you don’t know how much to count on? It’s daunting, but not impossible.

Here’s how to do it.

Figure Out Your Expenses

Just like with any budget, you need to figure out how much you spend every single month. Gather figures for all your bills and include everything. That means figure out how much you pay for food (and that means lunches out at work, coffees to go, or pizza pick ups), all transportation (gas, car insurance, car payments, bus or train passes, parking fees, etc.), housing (rent, mortgage, any insurance, and all utilities), phones, entertainment (yes, Netflix counts), clothes and personal care. One of the easiest ways to do this is to save every single receipt and bill throughout a month or two and then simply add it all up.

Figure Out Your Income

Once you have seen what your expenses are, you can determine how many per diem slots you’ll need to fill to make enough to live comfortably. Judge how many assignments you can get and figure out if they are shifts you are willing and able to do.

Build a Cushion

Between the income and the expenses falls a very important area for people who do contract work. Building a cushion, what most financial experts refer to as an emergency fund, is crucial for contractors. It’s not really an emergency fund for you, it’s a real life fund for times when contracts dry up. You can count on times when the work seems endless and the times when the work opportunities are pretty scant. Building up a fund so you have money to cover yourself is essential. Most experts suggest having a fund equal to several months worth of expenses (since calculating your expenses was your first step, it’s not hard to get this number!).

Get Insured

If you aren’t covered by health insurance through an agency or a family member, make sure health insurance isn’t something you take a chance on. As a contractor, one health emergency can eat through your financial cushion instantly and leave you in a really scary mess. The same advice goes for making sure your car insurance covers you in case of accidents. If you ever need it, you want to have it.

Take Advantage of Extra Work

One of the best things about per diem work is that you can often take on extra shifts to help yourself out financially. If you are able to, take on some shifts and sock away the earnings when it comes your way. Don’t stuff your schedule so full of work that you are neglecting your health or making yourself stressed. But if the extra work comes your way and it suits you, per diem nurses can make some extra money easily.

Plan Your Work

If you plan to take jobs that are close to home, you can strategically save on transportation costs and your own time. Although many people don’t consider commuting a flexible option, per diem nurses can. And if you can take assignments that bring you new skills and a new setting, you’ll be making a financially sound and strategic career move.

Per diem nursing offers some great financial benefits – you just have to plan your budget carefully.