Packing up your belongings and driving miles from home to take a travel nursing assignment can be expensive. Even with a mileage reimbursement, costs can add up quickly. Avoid paying extra on your assignment with the following tips:
1. Use apps to save (and buy cheaper) gas. While you’ll probably incur the majority of gas costs initially driving to your travel assignment, it can be costly to drive back and forth between work — or take short road trips on your days off. Save at the pump by using GasBuddy, an app that lists current gas prices, so you can compare stations close to you before filling up. And keep your tank fuller longer by using an app like GoogleMaps or Waze to find the shortest, least-congested route.
2. Ask friends for help when you travel. One of the benefits of traveling throughout the country on assignments is that you make friends everywhere. When you take a new assignment, call, email or even send a Facebook message to a friend who lives in that area to get tips on housing, must-see areas and even low-cost public transportation, if it’s available. Friends can check out potential apartments for you, should you choose a stipend instead of company-provided housing, help you get settled and give you recommendations on affordable places to buy groceries and gas. Be sure to return the favor or at least have your friend over for dinner to say thank you so you continue to cultivate the friendship.
3. Pack your own meals. Eating a couple meals per shift in the cafeteria, even if you choose the least expensive options, can add up quickly. Save on food costs and pack your own meals and snacks. You can purchase items in bulk, such as granola bars and string cheese, and prepare quick items like sandwiches or salads a few hours before your shift.
4. Pay for internet, not cable TV. Most furnished apartments do not include a TV, which means you’ll have to pack your own — and cable service is extra. Save money by bringing a laptop and streaming movies and TV shows through services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus or iTunes. Many networks upload new episodes of their TV shows a few days after they air on television, and you can watch them free online. If you’re a movie buff and can’t live without the classics that are harder to find online, bring a CD case full of your favorite DVDs and Blu-rays. It’s easy to pack and won’t take a lot of space in your car.
5. Keep as many items paperless as you can. If you still receive a monthly credit card statement or various utility bills in the mail, it’s time to make a change. Opting into emailed statements instead of physical copies can save you money in the long run, as overcharges and missed payments can rack up quite a bill. It’s also faster (forwarding mail can take weeks), better for the environment and safer to receive electronic statements.
How do you save money as a travel nurse? Tell us in the comments below!