I embarked on my financial journey after I graduated nursing school in 2010. I wanted to get a job in the city I went to nursing school in because I had fallen in love with the city and had a great community of friends. Part of me still would love to live there, and I sometimes wonder what my life would look like if I had found my first nursing job in that city. I really wanted to be in the ICU because I had done my senior capstone rotation in the ICU and thought it was interesting. I graduated nursing school when the economy was still lagging and hospitals weren’t hiring new nurses as quickly as I had previously heard. I didn’t work during nursing school, so once I graduated, I needed a job ASAP. I remember spending whole days applying for almost every job in the area. I would look at a map and figure how far I’d be willing to move from the city and then look for the hospitals in that area. I had a couple of interviews in my city but none worked out. I thought I had a job on an oncology floor but I really struggled with the peer-based, situational interviewing. I am terrible to this day with coming up with scenarios and stories on the spot. I didn’t get a call back.
A Degree but No Job
At this point my bank account was getting pretty low. I only had enough money for one more month of rent. So I increased the intensity of my job search. I was getting pretty discouraged because I had a nursing degree, yet no interest in hiring me. All throughout school we heard about the great nursing shortage, but here I was 2 months into the job hunt without any real prospects. I even applied at a temp agency to work manual labor, so I could pay my bills. I never heard back from the temp agency either. I finally had a great interview at a smaller town 1.5 hours from the city for an operating room nurse job. I wasn’t interested in the operating room but at this point I needed a job. The interview was basically a meet-and-greet interview with a verbal commitment to stay for 2 years if I was hired. Shortly after that interview, I got a job offer and so I began my career as a perioperative nurse in 2011.
Personal Finances for Dummies
During those first couple of months out of nursing school, I had a lot of free time, so I read books and of course did job searching. The book that guided me in the financial direction I am going today is Personal Finance for Dummies. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to learn the basics of managing your personal finances. I actually find most of the For Dummies books a helpful introduction to topics I’m interested in learning about. Personal Finance for Dummies talked about budgeting and investing among other topics. My money and finances were a little bit fuzzy. If I had money in the bank, then I could afford to do stuff like eating out or buying something. I had gotten into kiteboarding during nursing school which in hindsight was a poor financial decision as I was using student loan money. I needed to develop financial goals and Personal Finance for Dummies helped clarify some of this. I tried to use Mint without much success. It wasn’t until late 2014 that I actually learned to budget with the program YNAB.
A Revolutionary Change
Tracking my spending with YNAB was revolutionary. I always had a rough idea about how much I was spending and saving, but I couldn’t put a month to month dollar amount on my cash flow. YNAB changed this in that it forced me to account for every dollar I had. I realized just how much money I wasted over my first couple of years out of nursing school especially when I was a travel nurse. Had I started budgeting right away out of school, I’m sure I would be much further ahead in my journey to financial independence. The second concept I learned right out of nursing school during my downtime reading was the basics of investing and saving, but that will be another post for another week.