If you’re a nurse practitioner student, pinching pennies is likely part of your MO. With student loan payments looming and school stress taking hours out of your employment potential, nurse practitioner students must learn to cut a few corners to accommodate a student budget. Avoid surviving on ramen at the end of each month with these essential secrets for stretching your NP student budget.
1. Stop Priming – Now!
Admittedly, I’m an Amazon Prime aficionado. And, admittedly, it’s crushing my credit card statement one speedy delivery at a time. Convenience purchases add up quickly and are made without much forethought. More than likely, most of what you’re ordering or purchasing you don’t actually need or worse even want. Keep convenience apps off your phone and steer clear of the mall. Before you buy, think over your purchase for a few days or more depending on its significance. Do you really need the item in question?
2. Choose Your NP Program Wisely
Tuition isn’t the only cost you should consider in selecting your nurse practitioner program. Cost of living is a very real thing and a total budget wrecker. You will pay dearly for attending a nurse practitioner program in a hip city like NYC or Miami where monthly rent payments can cost thousands. Student loans typically don’t take cost of living into account. Choose the location of your nurse practitioner program carefully so you can avoid taking on added debt and experience greater financial freedom.
3. Track Every Dollar
Small daily expenses add up. Where is your wallet leaking? Purchasing a $3 cup of coffee here and a $5 sandwich to-go there mean more than you think. Track the dollars you spend using an online system like mint.com. Sync your monthly budget with the system so you receive notifications when you spend above your limit. Most likely you won’t miss these small purchases making this an easy way to save.
4. Don’t Delay Finding a Clinical Site
Clinicals are the core of the nurse practitioner education. Unfortunately, a lack of preceptors often leaves NP students scrambling to find a mentor. A lengthy commute or even travel to another city or state may be necessary if you can’t find a preceptor in your area, either of which weights heavy on your credit card bill. If your NP program leaves the responsibility for finding a clinical preceptor to students, begin the task STAT so your extra dollars aren’t guzzled away at the gas pump.
5. Plan Meals and Snacks Ahead
Don’t you hate that feeling when you’re sitting in the middle of an afternoon class or clinical day and realize you are starving with two hours left to go? Don’t get stuck with hunger pains between classes that leave you heading for the coffee shop or convenience store. A $3 coffee and a $3 cookie later, you’ve blown your diet and budget goals.
Packing a lunch and snacks to fuel you throughout your day confers huge savings. Additionally, plan dinners ahead to have convenient at-home meals on hand. Dining out is an expensive way to feed yourself. If you’re craving a social gathering, take turns cooking with a group of friends, pack a picnic, or eat in then head out for drinks later to keep your social budget in check as well.
6. Modify Subscriptions
What does your cable package look like? Your cell plan? Recurrent monthly expenses are a pain to reevaluate (I would actually pay not to speak with a Comcast representative), but cutting back on monthly bills adds up. Turning your heat down a few degrees in the winter may save you 20 bucks a month. Downgrading your cable subscription might save you $50. Before you know it, you’ve socked away $1,000+ by simply making a few phone calls and minor sacrifices.
7. Pass on Unnecessary Loans
No one enjoys sacrifice. Life as a student can be difficult enough without giving up small luxuries. Taking out additional loans to finance a leisurely lifestyle may seem attractive now, but you’ll regret it later. Trust me.
8. Cut Out School Supplies
Fresh school supplies look great on your desk, but let’s be honest – you’re really only using your laptop. There’s no need to purchase a ‘Back to School’ Kate Spade spiral notebook set you won’t use simply to gaze at its glistening cover and crisp pages. Skip out on the decorative folders and binders. Books required for only a short period of time or for a single project may be rented or checked out of the library. Books, school supplies and study essentials aren’t cheap. Spend wisely.
9. Ask for Student Discounts
As a nurse practitioner student you may be an adult but that doesn’t mean you need to forgo student pricing. Many local retailers give students a break. Before your next purchase, whip out your school ID and inquire about a student discount. Check for online coupons and discount codes before you buy to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible on purchases.
How do you stretch your NP student budget?
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