3 Reasons Nurses Don’t Talk about Finances

Where are all the nursing professionals who are talking about personal finances and financial independence? In the last year as I am transitioning in my nursing career to a nurse practitioner provider, this is a big question in my mind and a huge reason I launch this blog. I enjoy the excitement and energy of the FIRE movement.

Despite being a huge part of the labor force, I rarely hear about nurses pursuing personal finances much less financial independence. I found a couple of nurses blogging about financial independence, but they are not active blogs. 3 reasons why nursing professionals don’t talk much about financial independence are their lower financial profile, the finance gender bias, and the lack of nursing financial community.

1) Nurses are not major financial targets

The average nurse makes $68,450 while the average physician makes $196,380 in 2016 according to US News Money. The financial industry is well aware of this difference and targets professions that have a higher salary.

The median income for the average full-time US employee was $49,791 in 2016 according to the Census Bureau. Nurses do okay financially for themselves but would not be considered a high-income earner like a doctor. With the rise of nurse practitioners, the finance industry will probably have a greater interest in the nursing profession. For the most part, financial sharks have ignored us. This is both a pro and a con.

Pros of lower financial profile

As a benefit, the finance industry has not sold us tons of financial products. The financial industry is huge, and they live off of selling financial products. They may genuinely want to help you succeed with your finances, but at the end of the day, they exist to make money. This is how business works. This has primarily been targeted towards high-income earners like doctors and lawyers.

Nurses do not generally have financial planners and accountants in their lives because we are generally not too profitable to them. Nurses usually don’t have the extra money laying around to hire an accountant or financial planner. Of course, there are exceptions and plenty of nurses have financial professionals in their lives helping manage their finances. Having a financial professional is not bad. I am a nursing professional who thinks every nurse should have trusted financial professionals in their lives, but they must be the right kind of financial professional.

Cons of lower financial profile

As a negative, not being a major financial target means nurses aren’t forced to think much about money and personal finance. Many nurses are great with their money. I know a nurse in her twenties who has zero student loans, has paid off her car, and has invested tens of thousands of dollars already. She is hacking the nurse pay scale by travel nursing and working per diem. But she is the exception.

Most of us get caught in the consumer culture by living paycheck to paycheck and buying the latest stuff with the extra money. Credit card debit looms over us, a car payment bogs us down, and those student loans seem impossibly large. We can’t ever seem to get ahead with our money. Because we’re not high income earners and not targets of the financial industry, we’re never forced to think about the possibility of financial independence and retiring early.

Instead we accept a pay scale that sucks and slog through 35+ years of nursing work. No wonder nurses move around so much and often burn out. They haven’t been forced to consider how they might become financially independent and retire early.

2) The Finance World is Male-Dominated

Women primarily make up the nursing profession. Men primarily make up the financial industry. I don’t have hard numbers, but as of 2018 this male/female difference is pretty obvious. The trickle down effect has been that money and finances especially investing seems a male dominated conversation. This is a gross generalization with countless exceptions.

Money and investing is NOT a male-only topic nor should it ever be. There is something wrong when the top 15 wealthiest people in the world are all men, and the average male to female billionaire ratio is 10 male billionaires to 1 female billionaire. Maybe part of the lack of nursing professionals pursuing and talking about financial independence and personal finance could result from gender bias in the financial industry.

The FIRE movement has several women who are leading the way, and this is exciting! In fact, Vicki Robin is a founder and leader in the FIRE movement with her classic book Your Money or Your Life. Change in the financial world is happening from the ground up starting with innovative, average income earners like nurses!

3) Nurses don’t have a great financial community

Doctors have a plethora of high quality, well-written blogs about financial independence and personal finance for doctors. I enjoy reading their blogs and articles. At the end of the day, doctors and other high income professionals still make significantly more than even the average nurse practitioner provider. Their experience of pursuing financial independence for a nurse is much different. Nurses often get paid differently than doctors and other high income professionals. Most nursing professionals do not need to do backdoor Roth IRAs or are accredited investors with the same opportunities.

Nurses have only a handful of articles about personal finances for nurses and a few blogs that discuss personal finance for nurses as a side topic. Why is this? Probably partially because the FIRE movement is so young. 10-15 years ago few people dreamed of retiring early. If you made an average salary, you definitely didn’t dream of financial independence or early retirement because we were always under the impression that it was impossible.

Budgeting and paying off debt have always been around but learning that it is possible to become financially independent on a nurses salary and embracing that exciting lifestyle has yet to take off as it has with doctors. We lack a vibrant community of nurses passionate about financial independence. Let’s change this!