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I graduated nursing school in May 2018 with $112,398.82 in debt (read about my debt story). Realizing this, I immediately made three very important goals for myself:
- Pay off all of my credit cards
- Build a real savings (see how I built up a $1000 emergency fund in less than 4 weeks!)
- Go back to school for my BSN
The first and most important was getting my debt under control and I knew I could do it pretty easily by how we as nurses are paid. Most importantly, I wanted to do this without consistently working overtime or extra shifts.
I work with several nurses who routinely work 5-7 shifts in a row due to their financial circumstances. But the burnout that could quickly come was not of interest to me, especially as a brand new nurse.
I want to enjoy my job, not hate it by the end of my first year and want to move onto something else.
With a little strategy and working with (not against) how my employer structures our pay along with scheduling my shifts appropriately, I have been able to bring in over $400-$500 of extra income per check without working a single 12hr shift of overtime.
And I am going to fill you in on how I am able to do this…
1. Shift Diffs + Working Premium Pay Shifts
Now this isn’t something you necessarily do because most hospital already offer shift differentials for working nights, weekends, and holidays.
Here is a breakdown of the shift differentials my hospital offers, for example:
- Evening: $1.50/hr
- Night: $4.25/hr
- Weekend Evening: $3.50/hr
- Weekend Night: $3.50/hr
These hourly rates are added onto my base pay. I already work nights which automatically adds $4.25/hr to every shift I work. I generally try to pick up shifts on weekends as well which adds an extra $7.75/hr to my check!
If I work a Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night for two weeks, my take-home pay will significantly increase in comparison to working a Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.
Moral of the story? Work your three shifts during a weekend you don’t have any plans if your hospital will pay you more to do so!
2. Add Unused Holiday Hours to Your Check
Unfortunately, where I work we are not paid time and a half for holidays. Instead, we are paid straight time with the holiday time itself added to a bank for us to use at our discretion when we want to.
During the months of October-December, we are given a huge dump of holiday time amounting to about 60 hours of pay. Per policy, we can add 8 hours of holiday pay to our timecard per week.
Each week I would work my 36 hours but add an additional 8 hours per week of holiday time. This added a pay increase of 16 hours on my checks. This adds up and is a great way to boost your bi-weekly pay check amounts.
3. Take Classes Offered Through Your Work
We often get emails for a free class, seminar, or training to better our practice. These classes are most times not required, but you are paid for them.
I’ve taken several 2-4 hour classes to enhance my practice as a nurse. Once the class is completed, I go into my timecard and add in the time I was in the class. I will be paid for this class time on my next check.
You don’t have to be a slave to the overtime grind if you’re willing to sacrifice by working a few more weekends than usual, creatively using any holiday pay or other extra pay you’re given, and attending a class two!