Financial Wellness

Budgeting for Time Off: Financial Tips for Contract Workers

Ky Arnold
January 16, 2024
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While everyone has different goals and desires, I think It’s safe to say that most travel nurses and health professionals value flexibility and freedom! But how do we budget appropriately for this freedom? How do we set ourselves up for success to ensure we get the time off we want and need?

Optimizing your finances, growing wealth, and budgeting for time off as a contract worker can be broken down into 3 easy steps - 

  • Setting money goals
  • Calculating your needs
  • Automating your plan

I'm Ky Arnold, nurse and co-founder of InvestHealth. With nearly a decade of experience in nursing, leadership, and telemedicine operations, I've seen firsthand the impact that financial stability can have on healthcare professionals. Not only does it alleviate financial stress, but it also fosters mental health improvement and sparks innovation in healthcare delivery. My mission with InvestHealth is to empower you, the backbone of healthcare, with the knowledge and network to take ownership of your financial future. Let's embark on this journey together to create a financial framework that supports your professional flexibility and personal prosperity.

In This Article:

Let’s dive in!

How do I set money goals as a contract healthcare worker?

This is a super easy and fun question to answer! You’ve probably heard the saying before, “start with your WHY.” Think about the reasons WHY you want more money. Is it for more time, freedom, opportunities?

Use these prompts to help establish what’s important to you and what you’re working towards:

  • I will donate more money to ___
  • I will spend more time with ___
  • Hobbies I will focus more on ___
  • Places I will travel include ___
  • I will give back and support the healthcare industry by ___

Next, establish some short, mid, and long term goals around your WHY.

Examples of each may include:

  • Short term - traveling, building your emergency fund, buying a car
  • Midterm - increasing investments, saving for wedding, paying off student loans
  • Long term - buying a home, retirement at a certain age, becoming debt free

If you outline your WHY and establish some money goals, you’ll be far ahead of many contract workers who desire to better manage their money. But don’t stop here! Let's move onto the next step.

What's the best way to calculate how much money I need to take time off and meet my goals?

A little math can go a long way! Let’s break down our monthly pay, emergency fund goal, and discuss a sinking fund strategy.   

Let’s say you make $5,000/month. Experts recommend building that first $1,000 of savings, then increase to 3-6 months of your income! 

So based on this monthly salary, your emergency fund should have anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000. Where you fall in this range is based on your lifestyle, medical conditions, debt, family size, etc. Important to note - you will not pull from this emergency fund in between each contract. This is strictly for emergencies and to give you peace of mind! 

For vacations and time off between assignments, create a separate fund to put money towards. Let’s say you want to take a month off in between your next assignment. With burnout at an all time high in healthcare, you should!  If you make $5,000/month and want to maintain that same lifestyle, set aside $5,000 + the cost of your trip! Let’s say that totals $7,000 and you want to take time off 7 months from now. You will need to set aside $1,000/month! 

But what is the best way to set aside money for emergencies and time off? The answer is “sinking funds!” A sinking fund is a fancy term for a savings account designated for a specific money goal. Examples of sinking funds may include that vacation fund, new car fund, wedding fund, and more! 

Now let’s assess our spending and put together a plan so we maximize the amount we can put towards time off and our goals!

How can I create the best financial plan for my unique situation?

We have established our WHY, money goals, and know about how to budget for emergencies and time off. For the final step, let’s see how we can cut expenses, automate our money, and put it all together in our personalized plan. 

Start by outlining your spending and cutting expenses. People tend to over complicate cutting expenses, but when you pair it up next to the goals you’ve set, it gets easier! 

Cut your spending on things that don’t bring you true value, and spend on things that you value most. 

Now that you have cut expenses, it’s time to automate your money moves. If you haven’t already, set your income to auto deposit into your checking account. Next, pay yourself first!  Do this by setting up automatic transfers from your checking account and into your emergency fund, sinking funds and investment accounts. Finally, autopay all of your expenses and debts. 

Outline everything we have learned to start your personalized plan! Write out your WHY, money goals, emergency and sinking funds, your expenses and finally your automations. The most important thing healthcare professionals can do after setting up a financial plan is maintaining it! Revisit it monthly, track your spending so old habits don’t come back, and always prioritize yourself and your time off!

Empower Your Financial Journey & Explore New Opportunities

Budgeting for time off as a contract worker may seem like a daunting task, but as we've discovered, with a few simple steps, you'll achieve the financial flexibility and freedom to take time off whenever you please!

As travel nurses and allied health professionals, continual learning and financial empowerment are key. Seeking out additional resources, engaging in online communities of peers, and constantly growing our knowledge base helps to reach our professional and personal goals. 

Your journey towards financial stability and professional growth can be further enhanced by exploring new opportunities. Whether you're looking for a change in scenery, seeking different clinical experiences, or aiming for better financial rewards, exploring open travel jobs might be the next step in your professional journey. Dive into a new adventure, find your next role, and continue to empower yourself both financially and professionally!

Ky Arnold

Ky Arnold is an accomplished nurse and co-founder of InvestHealth, bringing nearly a decade of experience in nursing, leadership, and telemedicine operations. His passion for financial wellness and innovation in healthcare delivery drives his commitment to empowering healthcare professionals through InvestHealth, a digital financial wellness platform on a mission to to give every healthcare professional the network and knowledge they need to take ownership of their financial future. Ky believes in the transformative power of financial stability for healthcare professionals, seeing it as a catalyst for mental health improvement, decreased financial stress, and increased innovation in healthcare.

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