Marlon T. Wesh
5 Mistakes Most Travel Nurses Make When Planning For Retirement
Updated: Nov 13, 2021
The biggest fear people have about retirement is “Will I run out of money?” The fear of not having enough money to last a retirement period is the main reason why most people work so long into their senior years --- and it is a justified fear.
The problem is most people don’t understand what they ACTUALLY need to make work “optional” so they end up sabotaging their chances of a satisfactory retirement.
Here are 5 Mistakes Most Travel Nurses Make When Planning For Retirement
1. Travel Nurses Don’t Know Their Number
Most travel nurses start saving and investing because they know it’s a good thing to do. Fewer nurses start with a concrete goal in mind i.e. “I need $2.5 million to make work optional for a period of 30 years.
While I’ll never tell you that you should stop saving or investing until you have a concrete goal in place, I’d strongly recommend that you figure out that goal pretty quickly or you’ll risk wasting a lot of money and time on an inefficient financial strategy.
An inefficient strategy could look like saving too much money in cash for emergencies instead of exploring how insurance can shift that burden from you. It could look like investing in a vehicle that ties up your money when you need it the most and now you’re sitting on your hands waiting for it to become available.
The solution is to first get crystal clear on the type of lifestyle you want in retirement, find out how much that lifestyle will cost you on a whole and year to year, and then select strategies that satisfy your growth and time requirements.
2. Travel Nurses Over-Rely on Investing
This isn’t your fault. Investing sounds sexy and so much attention is paid to it in movies, articles and every other type of media that exists. There’s a reason for that. Investment companies like the fees they get to charge based on that activity.
The problem with over relying on investing is it paints an incomplete picture of what you need to be prepared for retirement. For example, could you use a hammer to push a screw into a wall?
Well sure… but a screwdriver would do a better job, and save you from potentially ruining your wall.
When it comes to planning for your retirement it’s more important to determine what your obligations will be in retirement, how your expenses will change as you age and figure out the options available to you to meet each one of those needs. Often, investing higher amounts and more frequently will be the answer. But, there are MANY other options to achieving a goal that doesn’t necessarily require investing and that may have a more optimal outcome.
Figure out the goal and then pick the right tool to get the job done.
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3. Travel Nurses Don’t Have a Practical Way to Measure Their Net Worth
Everyone wants to feel good about themselves and the financial progress they’ve made. But when dealing with your retirement, TRUTH is more important than vanity.
I agree that Net Worth is an important number to know because it provides a perspective of your wealth by subtracting your liabilities from your assets. But the big problem with only measuring your wealth with Net Worth is that the average person preparing for retirement has about 70% of their net worth tied up in the primary residence; which isn’t a very “truthful” number to use to project living without having to work.
The alternative is to create a liquidity plan that details how much cash you’ll have available each year to fund your retirement needs.
4. Travel Nurses Underestimate Healthcare Costs
Studies show that a relatively healthy couple can expect to spend more than $400,000 on healthcare costs in retirement. If you’ve saved $1.5 million for retirement that’s more than 30% of your nest egg gone to healthcare expenses. That’s why simply focusing on the “balance” of your retirement or investing accounts is not good enough to determine if you’re ready for retirement.
You need to be able to account for healthcare expenses in three stages of retirement: early retirement, mid retirement, and towards end of life. Each stage will require different liquidity needs that can be met through a wide range of strategies. Underestimating the drain that healthcare costs have on your retirement would be foolish. Plan for it.
5. Travel Nurses Don’t Understand Taxes
Most people who’ve been investing for retirement can explain to you that an IRA allows you to save pre-tax dollars and a Roth IRA allows you to save after-tax dollars. But that’s usually the end of their understanding about taxes and how they affect their retirement.
Apart from available cash on hand, taxes are the number one factor that determines when you can retire and what kind of lifestyle you can expect in retirement. Only playing by the rules that the IRS “advertises” is for suckers.
You need to be able to read between the lines of what the IRS would “prefer” that you did and what is legal and fully within your rights to keep more of what you make.
If there’s a theme across these 5 Common Mistakes it’s this. Planning for retirement is way more complicated than being successful in the stock market. It takes a broad and deep knowledge of finance, tax law and strategic planning to make sure you are prepared to live the life you want to live on your own terms.
Marlon is a licensed financial advisor at weshfinancial.com and is known as "The Travel Nurse Financial Advisor". Marlon specializes in helping travel nurses crush their financial goals by helping them optimize taxes, accelerate retirement savings, and maximize their investments.