Working as a nurse is highly rewarding, and not just emotionally. Nurses are in high demand right now, and for that reason, it’s a well-paying career with plenty of growth opportunities compared to other professions.
But before you can get to the point where you’re making big money as a nurse, you’ll probably need to spend a lot. Attending nursing school alone is no cheap feat; tuition fees can range anywhere between $40k-$100k each year, not to mention the amount of money you’ll need to spend on uniforms, books, transportation and your living costs as a student.
But the good news is that no matter how far you want to get as a nurse, there are plenty of great tips, tricks and savvy strategies to help you save more money along the way.
Studying online is becoming a top choice for aspiring nurses because it’s so flexible. When you study online to become a nurse, you don’t have to set time aside to attend classroom lectures; you can do all that side of things at home on your own time, giving you more time to earn money and gain valuable work experience that’ll help you break into the healthcare world. You’ll likely still need to attend placements and some exams, but in general, the degree will be more self-led.
Some online nursing degrees even have cheaper tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts, but even if you’re not saving money on tuition, think about everything else you’ll be able to save on – just gas alone for getting to class could rack up hundreds or thousands of dollars a year, depending on how far from campus you live. You can study at pretty much every level online, too – get your BSN and then go on to study one of these online masters of nursing programs, which can be easily fit around your work as a registered nurse.
Get Second-Hand Textbooks
The price of nursing textbooks can add up quickly when you buy them from the school bookstore, thanks to inflated retail prices on the books. You might think that there’s no way out of paying these prices because you need the textbooks to complete important parts of your program, but the good news is that you can save some money. Consider:
- Downloading the textbooks instead of getting the print versions; if there’s an e-book available, it’s usually much cheaper than a hardback or paperback – but ebooks don’t take up any physical space on your bookshelf!
- Organizing a book swap event with other students from your program; if you’ve got a book that you no longer need, you could swap it with somebody who’s got a book that you need and they have finished with.
- Buy books from other students – ask students in the years above if they’ve got any textbooks from your year that they’ve completed and don’t need anymore. Chances are that they will, and they’ll be willing to sell them to you at a reduced price. When you’re in your final year, you can sell your textbooks on to students in the years below, to make money for more.
Save on Your Nursing Uniform
Nursing placements are a crucial part of studying to become a nurse, giving you practical, hands-on experience to make sure that once you graduate, you’re ready to hit the ground running in your new career. But you’ll require a uniform, and uniforms can be fairly expensive, especially if you purchase them from whatever scrub stores your school has partnered up with. It might be convenient to get them from there, but you’ll pay the price – quite literally. Instead:
- Find out which style of uniform is required and look it up online to compare the costs. There are plenty of nursing uniform and scrubs eCommerce stores that sell what you need at much cheaper prices.
- Find a scrubs store that offers a student discount. Just make sure that whatever brand you buy from, it’s got a good reputation for high quality. You’re going to be wearing your uniform a lot, so the last thing that you want is to have to replace it not long after buying it.
Save on Nursing Supplies
To complete your clinical placements, you’ll need a good nursing supply kit – but this is just another cost to add to your already growing list of expenses. As with scrubs and books, it’s best to forego whatever company your school has partnered up with; you can usually save a decent amount of money by spending some time doing your homework to find the cheapest deals.
Some of the main things you’re going to need in your supply kit include:
- Blood pressure cuff
- Utility bag
- IV starters
- Pen and paper
- Bandage scissors
Check with your school before you buy, as different schools have varying requirements and some of the items mentioned above might be supplied for you. You can search online for complete nursing supply kits, or purchase each item that you need individually. Make sure that you’re purchasing from stores with a good reputation for high-quality nursing items – and be sure to ask about a student discount.
A good way to cut down the total cost of becoming a nurse is to be savvy with your everyday expenses. Food, in particular, can quickly start to drain your bank account, especially if you decide to eat at the campus cafeteria or the hospital restaurant with fellow students or colleagues one too many times. Convenience foods can be a nice treat, but if you start to rely on them, they’ll damage your wallet – and your health and physique too.
Instead, set aside some time each week to prepare your own food; if you’re pressed for time during the week, an hour or two on your day off to batch cook some meals that you can freeze and reheat later in the week can make a world of difference to how much you spend. Getting into nursing school was hard enough; now you’ve got to deal with the mounting costs of becoming a qualified nurse. Keep these tips in mind, and your budget will thank you!