The reality is the majority of nurse anesthesia students will have to finance their education due to the huge expense of CRNA school. Therefore, getting your finances in order prior to CRNA school is important.
The great thing is getting your finances under control doesn’t have to be difficult because as you know working towards becoming a CRNA is already difficult enough. But by learning how to manage your finances this will in turn help you during and after CRNA school as well.
But before you can do that. You must track your spending. Basically, where’s your money going each month? Most people think their main issue with money is they just don’t make enough to pay their bills, but actually they just don’t know where their money is really going!
Importance of tracking your spending
You need to figure this step out first so you can create a realistic budget. And the only way to do this is by knowing where you spend your hard earned money.
- You quickly determine your current situation. Knowing exactly where you stand financially can be tough to look at but it’s critical to know where you stand prior to applying to CRNA school. Here are a few questions to ask yourself. Do you have low debt compared to your income? Do you have enough savings to cover unexpected expenses or emergencies? Do you make regular contributions to your retirement? Do you regularly put money into your personal savings account?
- You avoid or pay off debt and save money for CRNA school. One of the best parts of tracking your expenses is you will likely stop spending money on unnecessary things. This in turn will allow you to get rid of debt and also save money for CRNA school.
- You become more disciplined and self aware of your finances. And believe me, this will come in handy when you are in CRNA school and unable to work. You will quickly find out you can’t live like you did as a critical care nurse and you must be frugal during those 2- 3 years.
So let’s get rid of unrealistic budgets and begin planning for your future as a student registered nurse anesthetist.
Ways to track your spending
Before going any further, you need to gather all your bank statements and receipts from the previous month. Give yourself plenty of time for this initial step. All this information will be entered into a spreadsheet or paper expense tracking sheet.
You can find a ton of them by doing an online search or by using a spreadsheet like this. Or if you’re like me then you love to track everything electronically. Here is a short cut and it takes a fraction of the time when using paper and pen. Use Mint.com which automatically analyzes your spending and ALL your financial accounts for FREE.
- Use a budgeting template, or a site like Mint.com. This site does all the heavy lifting for you once your financial accounts are synced to your Mint.com account.
I know this will sound old school, but writing everything out involves a higher level of thinking. And before you know it you begin processing the information differently. You actually begin brainstorming ways to manage your spending or money better.
- Next, choose a simple budgeting method. First, you want to keep budgeting simple. That’s the only way you will be successful at it. So, here are some of the most common and easy ones I have used.
- The 50/30/20 budget. Here you allow up to 50% of income for your needs. Leave 30% of your income for wants. And put 20% of your income towards savings and debt repayment.
- Zero based budget. This is a budgeting method where your income minus your expenses equals zero. It keeps you aware of how your money flows in and out. Basically, all your money has a destination. Here’s how to create one.
- Envelope budget system. This is what I used to pay off debt after graduating from CRNA school. It’s a way to track exactly how much money you have based on the categories you set. Each envelope represents a category. Once you spend the budgeted money in the envelope you can’t purchase anything else from that category. Although you can take money from another category if you have no other choice.
- Stick to the process. The hardest part is just trusting the process of tracking your spending and following a budget. Here are some ways to do that:
- Stay disciplined
- Set up auto draft
- Use an electronic system like Mint.com
- Learn to say no to others
- Live within your means
- Log everything you spend
If you are worried about not being able to work during CRNA school and living off student loans, then you need to do everything in your power now to better manage your finances. Just by tracking your daily expenses, you will see you have more control of your finances than you thought.
The entire process will help you become more financially savvy, fix old spending habits and create better ones. These new habits will then follow you into CRNA school and beyond. It will ultimately improve how you manage money.
Just remember you can afford to go to CRNA school but it will take some work on your part. So get started today by finding an expense tracker or budgeting tool you like. Then choose a simple budgeting method and finally just stick to the process. A realistic budget will help you gain a better understanding of your finances and set you up for success as you pursue a career in nurse anesthesia.
P.S. Be on the lookout for the opening of CRNA Chase ACADEMY to all members soon. There we go a step further and help you realize you can afford CRNA school in addition to creating your financial plan.