10 Financial Tips for Allied Travelers
Look online and you’ll find an endless number of financial tips, both good and bad, alleging to help you with money management. As a travel allied healthcare professional with limited time for—or interest in—finances, how do you sift through all the noise?
In this blog, I’ll boil down 10 of the best financial tips for allied travelers, whether you need to get out of debt faster or manage investments smarter.
Financial Tips For Better Financial Health
Just like your physical health, the health of your finances is determined by how well individual systems work together to support the whole. To be financially healthy, you need more than a flashy investment strategy. All your money systems—savings, debts, and everything in between—need to be in good shape to support your overall financial health.
So let’s start with the basics:
1. Follow A Budget
Making a budget is the first step toward sustainable money management. But you can’t stop there. The neatest budget in the world won’t do you any good if you never abide by it.
That’s why YNAB (You Need A Budget) was created. With YNAB, you’ll assign a job to every dollar before it comes in, instead of tracking where it’s gone after the fact.
A budget like YNAB’s puts you in the driver’s seat of your spending. But by no means is it your only option for high-quality, highly effective budgeting software. Check out this post for some of the best apps for making—and following—a successful budget.
2. Track Your Numbers
Besides tracking your spending, you need to keep an eye on all your numbers, such as your net worth, credit score, and retirement accounts. Like a BMI quotient, these numbers depict your financial health in broad strokes, so check them at least once or twice a year.
To track everything in one place, I use Personal Capital, an app that syncs all of my financial accounts, including banks, investments, and lenders. You don’t need to obsess over these numbers and check them every day—in fact, I wouldn’t recommend that. But unless you know generally where you stand, you’ll have a hard time hitting your savings goals, paying off your debts, or making the most of your investments.
3. Automate Your Money
Sometimes, there are just too many numbers to both track and manage. That’s where automating your money comes in. By setting up recurring transfers from your checking account to your savings, you can build up a nest egg effortlessly. Other automations, such as credit card payments and student loan payments, will ensure you don’t miss a deadline and incur a hefty fee.
There are many other ways to automate your money so I won’t spend too much more time on it in this article. But for further reading on automatic financial systems (and a whole host of other insights), I recommend reading I Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi. For tips on maintaining a balance sheet and monitoring cash flow, check out the financial health playlist on my YouTube channel.
4. Pay Yourself First
One of the strategies you can implement automatically is paying yourself first—ensuring a cut of every paycheck goes directly to your savings and investments. Try to save 15–20% of your income; the return will be worth it.
Besides your savings, you can pay yourself first by contributing to a retirement account such as a 401k, 403b, or IRA. And don’t forget to check whether your employer will match your contribution, which is free money you won’t want to leave on the table.
5. Create An Emergency Fund
Part of that 15% of your income to save every month should go towards an emergency fund if you don’t have one already. After falling on hard times, you’ll be glad you have a stash of cash to use instead of a line of credit.
For a true emergency fund, aim to save 3–6 months of expenses. A dual-income family might be comfortable with 3 months of expenses, but a single-income household should squirrel away at least 6 months of expenses in the case of sudden unemployment.
That means, if you’re a single allied professional spending $3,000 each month, you should try to save about $18,000 for a 6-month emergency fund. And if you don’t know how much you spend every month, then go back to item #2: Track your numbers!
6. Diversify Your Income
Another way you can protect your income is by diversifying its source. Side hustles, weekend work, and freelance jobs are all ways to diversify where your money comes from while also picking up extra cash.
As an allied healthcare professional, diversifying your income might resemble working multiple part-time jobs instead of a salaried position or picking up home health shifts on the weekends. But if you’re tired of trading hours for dollars, consider adding a passive income stream instead of a second job. Renting out a room is one way to do this, but you can also earn passive income through your own blog or YouTube channel. Read more about how to create a blog here, and you can get started in no time.
7. Strategize Your Student Loans
Alas, student loans—the bane of higher education. But your financial health need not suffer at the hands of your student debt. In fact, sticking to a budget, paying yourself first, and seeking out new sources of income can all help you get ahead on your student loan payments.
Here are my 3 tips for paying off student loans faster and smarter:
- Live like a student until you’ve paid off your debt.
- Choose an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan for your federal loans.
- Refinance any private loans to a lower interest rate.
And if you decide to refinance, I recommend Splash Financial. This small online marketplace coordinates with banks, lenders, and credit unions to find you the lowest rate possible for your student loans.
What About Loan Forgiveness?
A discussion about student loans wouldn’t be complete without a word on loan forgiveness. Although it sounds like a dream come true, loan forgiveness can keep PTs in debt for decades, leaving them with a tax bomb on the “forgiven” balance. However, my exception to this cautionary tale is the PSLF option or Public Service Loan Forgiveness. If you have a colossal amount of debt and work in the public sector, then PSLF may be right for you. Just mind its web of red tape, from verifying your employer to ensuring you make regular, qualifying payments.
8. Focus On Time In The Market, Not Timing The Market
If you’re interested in the stock market, don’t be tantalized by speculation. A windfall return isn’t nearly as common as you may think, and even Wall Street’s highest-paid investment managers have trouble beating the market.
Instead, invest your money in funds that will capture the market’s wins and losses over time. Mutual funds, index funds, and ETFs are all much safer, smarter choices for your financial health. I always say, to focus on time in the market, not timing the market. The latter is a huge roll of the dice and could cut your investment returns in half.
9. Keep Your Life Insurance Policy Simple And Separate From Investments
One of the wisest things you can do for your financial health is to maintain a sound life insurance policy. Life insurance incurs relatively little upfront expense but can pay huge dividends to your loved ones.
There are two basic types of life insurance: term and whole (or permanent). If you want to keep your finances simple and smart, buy term insurance—and the sooner the better.
A term life insurance policy lasts for a set amount of time—the “term” of the policy, which is usually just 10 to 20 years. So if you die during that term, your life insurance will kick in and cover your beneficiaries; and if you outlive it, you’ll have relatively little loss in return for a decade’s peace of mind.
Whole life insurance plans, on the other hand, are notoriously expensive and confusing. These plans don’t expire before you do, and many are sold with retirement savings built in.
Don’t fall for it. Keep your insurance boring, and don’t let a pushy salesperson pressure you into adding investments to your insurance. Instead, browse the offerings on Term4Sale.com, where you can find an inexpensive term life insurance policy without getting entangled in a whole life insurance mess.
10. Be Leary of Financial Experts
That comes to my last bit of financial advice: beware the “financial expert.” Such a ubiquitous term is meaningless, considering it comes with no credentials or standards. Next time you come across the advice of a “financial expert,” ask yourself: What are their motives? What’s their experience? And sometimes most tellingly, What are they selling?
Not all financial advisors have your best in mind. You’re safest consulting a Certified Financial Planner™ professional, who has a fiduciary responsibility to act in your best interest. As a CFP™ professional myself, I always make sure I don’t recommend something unless I wholly believe in it—especially when it comes to big financial moves like investing.
Finally, as you pursue financial health, make sure you pace yourself. Wealth takes a long time to build, and if an investment scheme sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Remember, financial health isn’t determined by how boldly you can throw caution to the wind and take a big risk. It’s defined by how all the components of your personal finances—savings, loans, insurance, investments, and retirement—work together to provide a safe and secure future for you and those you love.
Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only, you should not construe any such information or other material as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice. There are risks associated with investing in securities. Investing in stocks, bonds, exchange-traded funds, mutual funds, and money market funds involves the risk of loss. Loss of principal is possible. Some high-risk investments may use leverage, which will accentuate gains & losses. Foreign investing involves special risks, including greater volatility and political, economic, and currency risks and differences in accounting methods. A security’s or a firm’s past investment performance is not a guarantee or predictor of future investment performance.
Tim Fraticelli is a Physical Therapist, Certified Financial Planner™, and founder of PTProgress.com. He loves to teach PTs and OTs ways to save time and money in and out of the clinic, especially when it comes to therapy documentation or therapy continuing education. Follow him on YouTube for weekly videos on ways to improve your physical and financial health.