Written by Lucy Peters
Around one in five Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and around 85% of them report feeling stressed about money at least sometimes, according to a survey by Propeller Insights. For 52% of healthcare workers belonging to Generation Y (i.e. those born in the 1980s and 1990s), personal finances are actually the top source of stress. Research by Emerging RN Leader suggests that around 20% of nurses have more than one employer, and many work full-time in two different clinics or hospitals. Much of the problem is driven by student loans. The median loan amount racked up by graduate nurses hovers between $40,000 and $54,999. This is a big burden to start one’s career with, and indeed, one that can be hard to eliminate in just a few years. How can employers reduce the burden on these and other workers, so they can have the future they deserve after so many years of service?
Financial Stress Is Not Exclusive To Nurses
Employers should offer financial advice to all workers on staff – including doctors, despite their significantly higher salaries. For one, physicians can feel stressed by the fact that their pay is often linked to productivity metrics. Others can enjoy relative stability, yet lack the financial literacy they need to protect themselves against financial fraud or to ensure they have enough saved for retirement. Financial literacy training can help all medical professionals ensure they have enough to live on when they are older. It can serve as a guide so that they are better able to spot scams aimed at older workers and dubious investment opportunities that can destroy years of savings.
Older people may not be aware of the steps they should take to stop the unauthorized use of credit cards. They may also need help with understanding issues like bank and card fees. Financial elder abuse does happen, far more frequently than is discussed on the media. Research indicates that increasing age makes people more vulnerable to financial scams. Health workers therefore need to ensure that their finances and investments are being overseen by trusted professionals. New investment opportunities should be sifted through with a fine-toothed comb and run by trusted financial advisers.
Employers should provide nurses and doctors with financial courses covering basics such as budget creation, minimum savings percentages, and saving for retirement from day one. A study by EBTS found that not even 50% of healthcare employees budget their finances or have a savings plan in place. Employees should be provided with technology that make financial tasks easier. Apps like Mint and You Need a Budget can easily be linked to their credit cards so that they can easily identify where their money is going at the end of the month.
Using these apps helps them clearly see how everything from that daily cup of gourmet coffee to dining out twice a week or more can hamper their ability to make decent savings from week to week. Literacy sessions should also cover topics such as loans and credit, how to pay debts off quickly and efficiently, and how to improve credit reports. Finally, staff should be introduced to different ways to start saving for their retirement today. This can include pension plans, offered by some private employers.
Battling financial stress begins by taking a proactive strategy to debt and spending. The first step for healthcare professionals is to analyze their own spending patterns so as to work out how to find the amounts they need to build a healthy savings nest. Employers should also provide financial training, so that employers can avoid stepping into financial pits – including credit debt, high-interest mortgages, and potentially problematic pension plans.