Diverse Perspectives & Advocacy

Nurse Entrepreneur: Daniel Diaz

The Trusted Team
February 7, 2019
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At Trusted, we’ve been lucky enough to partner with Daniel—OR nurse and founder of NewGradNurseHelp.com—to bring his expertise and knowledge to the Trusted blog! This nurse entrepreneur considers himself a ‘giant tech nerd’ and has been one since he was a kid.

In between reading books and blog posts, listening to audiobooks and podcasts, or hanging out with his wife watching their favorite shows (shoutout to Billions, Handmaid’s Tale, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel!), Daniel loves thinking about ways that us nurses can use technology to make our lives better.

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Why nursing?

I grew up in a family full of doctors and nurses so medicine has always been a strength of mine. I thought I was going to follow in my dad and grandpa’s footsteps in becoming a physician. However, along the way I realized that their quality of life wasn’t the best. It was also becoming harder and more stressful to be a good doctor every day.

I realized that with nursing, I could have the best of both worlds. I’d still utilize my talent for medicine and get the soul satisfaction of helping people. At the same time, there’d be a boundary between work and home. Unless something is urgent or goes horribly wrong on a shift, when nurses clock out, they typically won’t receive phone calls about their patients. On the other hand, a doctor has to be responsive 24/7 – otherwise, lives can be at risk. While it’s amazing what doctors do every day, I knew that the MD life wasn’t for me. Recognizing that fact before I went down the med school path was the best decision I’ve ever made.

What sparked your interest in finances?

Fun fact: I played online poker for a living to help pay for nursing school back in the day! Through that experience, I gained an appreciation for looking at the world in the context of “expected value”—essentially figuring out what the “average” result would be when considering the many different ways a situation could play out—and using that to my advantage. Poker is a great microcosm for personal finances and life in general. You make decisions and sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t, often for reasons completely out of your control.  You just have to try to do the best you can and hope that it all works out.

And how has that interest impacted you as a nurse and nurse entrepreneur?

Working as a nurse, I’ve had the unfortunate experience of seeing a lot of death. I’ve seen the 35 year old teacher with aggressive brain cancer who’d give anything to have another day.  I’ve seen the 96 year old grandma surrounded by family who wasn’t scared of death because she lived a happy life. And I’ve seen the 70 year old guys who’ve lived a life full of regret.

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When you talk to all of these people and ask them what they’ve learned as they approach the end of their journey, none of them talk about money.  No one says, “I wish when I was 30, I pulled a few extra all-nighters to get that deal done” or “I wish I worked harder to get that promotion that I was passed up for”.

They all told me they wished they’d spent more time with their family.  They wished they did more of the things they enjoyed. They wished they’d traveled more, laughed more, been more kind to those around them—and more importantly, to themselves.

As a nurse entrepreneur, that’s what ‘personal finance’ means to me. It’s about having the freedom to do the things that really matter to you, free of the constraints that come with stressing about work, rent, and the bills.  People should be free to find joy, love, and passion for their in this crazy short experiment called life. And mastering our own personal finances is the shortest path to achieving those goals.

What would you consider your proudest financial accomplishment?

Being able to detach yourself emotionally from the numbers is critical in the game of finances.  I’ve lived through the dot-com bubble bursting, the 2008 housing collapse, and the value of one bitcoin rocketing up from $300 to $20,000 and then crashing down to $3500 today.

Investing is such a roller coaster. When things are good you feel like, “Man…I’m the smartest person alive!” Yet when things are crashing you think, “The world is out to get me.”  

Something I learned from poker is that the high you get from winning is always less impactful than the lows you feel from losing. It’s easy to remember all the hands where I was unlucky, but much harder to remember lucky hands. The only thing you can do to beat that instinct is to avoid making emotional decisions when it comes to money. I feel like I’ve been able to avoid making major mistakes during financial booms and busts—that’s my proudest financial accomplishment.

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What do you wish the world knew about nursing?

So many things. I wish people knew how hard it was to be a nurse. That we aren’t simply the doctor’s handmaids or a pain med dispensing hotel concierge service. Being in the hospital is a scary experience, and it’s always important to ensure that patients’ medical needs are met. But patients considering the needs of fellow patients can go a long way—especially if the issue that we’re being called for isn’t all that urgent, like replacing a remote control.

Nurses must juggle these responsibilities in addition to dealing with the sadness and guilt of losing someone under our care. And then we have to dust ourselves off and come back tomorrow. I wish more of the world knew that and cut their nurses slack sometimes.

What do you wish us nurses knew more about regarding finance?

I wish nurses knew that it doesn’t take as much money as they think to do the things they’ve always dreamed of doing. And as a nurse entrepreneur, I wish nurses knew how critically important it is to start investing as young as possible. If you can save 50% of your take-home pay starting at age 20, you’ll be wealthy enough to retire by age 37. If you already have some assets now, you’re even closer than that. If you can save 75%, your working career only needs to be 7 years.

Obviously, these are high numbers and are difficult for most people to achieve. The main takeaway is that you can easily retire early by setting aside 20-30% of your pay. Have you ever tracked your spending on luxury items like new phones or Starbucks coffee? It’s not too big of a stretch to save that money and get closer to living the life you’ve always dreamed of. Why wait?

Want more? Check out Part I & Part II of Daniel’s Finance Series!

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