My Financial Journey – Part 1

I embarked on my financial journey after I graduated with my nursing degree in 2010 and found my first nursing job. I wanted to get a job in the city I went to nursing school in. I fell in love with that city and had a great community of friends. Part of me still would love to live there, and I sometimes wonder what my life would look like if I had found my first nursing job there. I really wanted to be in the ICU.

I graduated nursing school when the economy was still lagging, and hospitals weren’t hiring new nurses. I didn’t work during nursing school, so once I graduated, I needed a job ASAP. I spent whole days applying for almost every nursing job in the area. I would look at a map and figure out how far I’d be willing to move from the city and apply for nursing jobs around that radius. I had a couple of interviews in my city but none worked out.

I thought I had a job on an oncology floor but I struggled with peer-based, situational interviewing. I am terrible to this day with coming up with scenarios and stories on the spot. I didn’t get a call back.

A Nursing Degree but No Job

By this point, my bank account was getting pretty low. My financial journey was off to a rough start. I only had enough money for one more month of rent. So I increased the intensity of my job search. I was getting discouraged because I had my hard earned nursing degree, yet no employers interest in hiring me.

Throughout school we heard about the huge nursing shortage, but here I was 2 months into the job hunt with my nursing degree without any real prospects. I even applied at a temp agency to work manual labor, so I could pay my bills. I never heard back from the temp agency either.

I finally landed great interview in a smaller town 1.5 hours from the my city as an operating room nurse. I wasn’t interested in the operating room but I needed a job desperately. My interview was basically a meet-and-greet interview with a verbal commitment to stay for 2 years if I was hired. Shortly after that interview, I got a job offer, and so I began my career as a perioperative nurse in 2011.

Personal Finances for Dummies

During those first couple of months with a new nursing degree in hand, I had a lot of free time, so I read books and of course did nursing job applications. The book that guided me in my financial journey is Personal Finance for Dummies. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to learn the basics of managing your personal finances and clarify your financial journey. I find most of the For Dummies books a helpful introduction to topics I’m interested in learning about.

Personal Finance for Dummies talked about budgeting and investing among other topics. My money and finances were a little bit fuzzy. If I had money in the bank, then I could afford to do stuff like eating out or buying something. I got into kiteboarding during nursing school, which in hindsight was a poor financial decision as I was using student loan money.

I needed to develop financial goals for my financial journey and Personal Finance for Dummies helped clarify some of this. I tried then to use Mint without much success. It wasn’t until late 2014 during a travel nursing job that I discovered the power of budgeting.

The Revolutionary Financial Change

Tracking my spending with my budgeting program, YNAB, was revolutionary. I always had a rough idea about how much I was spending and saving, but I couldn’t put a month to month dollar amount on my cash flow. YNAB changed this as it forced me to account for every dollar I had. I realized just how much money I wasted over my first couple of years out of nursing school, especially when I was a travel nurse.

Had I started budgeting right away out of school, I’m sure I would be much further ahead in my financial journey to financial independence. I not only learned about how to budget but also the basics of investing and savings.