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Here is Why if you work in Healthcare, You Need a Budget

With the rampant rise of healthcare burnout & the disappointing and inhumane state of the business of medicine, If you are not already keeping a close eye on how your money moves, you need to.

Getting a good feel for your patterns of spending and saving can unlock unexpected & priceless freedoms in your life.

The freedom to shift jobs, location and have more time to do more of the things that you hold dearest in your heart & make your bucket list come to life.

With many health care professionals still burdened with the immoral student loan debt, many members of the workforce are feeling trapped & betrayed by their careers.

For many, working in healthcare has become a dystopian nightmare.

It seems that people I speak with that work in healthcare right now are being stretched, overworked, overextended, and underpaid more than ever before.

So it is an exceptionally great time to sort your money out and get great with money if only to have enough of savings cushion to walk away from any unsafe or unsustainable situation.

The Life Benefits of Having a Budget

Imagine having the freedom to work your career on your terms?

Imagine having the option to take a break, work less, or even have the option to walk away if you wanted to?

I’m here to tell you it’s absolutely possible & you don’t have to wait until you’re in your golden years to do it.

Whether it is to confidently walk away from that toxic job, relationship, or living arrangement- You Need a Budget.

If you want to plan your bucket list, no matter how big or small, sooner rather than later- You Need a Budget.

Although most of us weren’t really taught how to take care of ourselves in a way that offsets the toll of working in healthcare, part of taking care of your wellness & longevity is financial housekeeping.

Taking impeccable care of your personal finances and doing it in such a way that your finances are completely in alignment with your life goals, is the ultimate form of self-care.

Moreover, allow me to introduce the following concept:

The better you manage your money, the more money you have

The more money you can keep long-term, The less you need to work.

The less you need to work the less you need to put up with systemic abuse working in healthcare.

Giving yourself the option to walk away will give you the freedom to choose whichever ways you wish to enjoy life more.

The more you enjoy your life and what you do with it, the happier you will be.

& isn’t that the point?

Budgeting Myths

No, you don’t need to make more money right now.

The biggest misconception is thinking that you need to make a lot of money and have a huge budget in order to have a need to organize it, but it could not be further from the truth.

When I had to take a sabbatical from work for being physically ill from extreme burnout as a PA in the pandemic, I was no longer able to work or contribute my income to our household, and my husband and I were forced to go down to 1 income.

Although financially we had been doing everything we were supposed to do like

Having an Emergency Fund,

Saving for retirement,

Making higher payments on student loans,

& Lived way below our means,

When taking a closer look at our ability to bankroll an indefinite hiatus from 2 incomes we were completely unprepared.

Not knowing whether we were going to survive financially and the fear that comes with not knowing what was going to happen by going down to one income caused us a lot of anxiety and angst.

I would even venture to say that, I probably should have taken time off a lot sooner than I did, I needed it, but I think my inability to get off the work hamster wheel and thinking not working because I was burned out was not an option, was probably what eventually lead my body to literally shut down and stop the madness.

This is when opening pandora's box of the state of our finances and budgeting every dollar became absolutely imperative.

Budgeting Basics

Simply defined a budget is simply a ledger of your expenses. It is a way to keep track of where your income goes using categories with the goal of predicting your expenses for more financial security and a clearer picture of your current financial picture.

The goal with choosing a budgeting style is to choose one that you can easily maintain long-term. Any budgeting is better than no budgeting.

Types of Budgets


When thinking of a traditional budget think primarily for the purpose of keeping track of stuff not to get overdrawn & having basic categories of your monthly expenses so you see where your money is going.

It’s probably exactly the first thing you picture when thinking of any type of budgeting. 👇

With traditional budgeting, you track every expense manually in a notebook or digitally with a spreadsheet, banking, or budgeting app.

Then & at the end of the month, you separate the expenses into major categories.

After a few months of doing this, you will get a good idea of what your average costs are and thus are able to predict future expenses.

Quick Pros & Cons of the Traditional Budget

This is a good budget for people with fixed income and expenses, however, it does not account well for the fluidity of money because if life gets busy & you don’t manually input your expenses or forget to do it one or several months- then you have to play catch up and its a pain in the butt, which may create too much friction for people to stick with it. With budgeting, the aim is to create a system you can easily stay consistent with but

Cash Only Envelope System

This is a really popular one- especially for beginners because of its simplicity.

  1. You pay for everything in cash.

  2. You buy a pack of envelopes and give every category in your budget an envelope.

  3. Take all the cash you’ll need for the month & set money aside in each category.

  4. When the money runs out of an envelope that’s it for the month.

Quick Pros & Cons of the Cash Envelope System

It’s great for people who really want to work on reeling their spending in, but not so great because it may be inconvenient this day in age because almost everything is acquired by digital payment. However one could also consider that a deterrent & a strategy to spend less.

Also, not everyone is comfortable having a lot of cash around.

The Big 3 budget

Grant Sabatier from Millenial Money describes this budget as the no-budget, budget. This is because it focuses only on 3 categories of expenses, which account for the majority of personal expenses according to personal expense metrics.

Studies show that most Americans typically spend the most money on 3 main categories, with the following correlating percentages:

Housing 24%

Transportation 18%


According to Grant, if you just focus on keeping these under control it will have the largest effect on your budget to where the rest isn’t as important.

Quick Pros & Cons of the BIG 3 Budget

This is a great one for those looking to significantly reduce the bulk of their monthly costs.

We did a variation of this when looking to significantly cut our expenses by getting rid of our leased cars & buying an older model for cash. We also cut our food budget by 70% by meal planning, eating at home & stocking up when our favorite stuff went on sale. It made a significant dent in our expenses which increased our savings rate that allowed us both to take a sabbatical at the same time, not just me. It really opened our eyes to the power of budgeting and what is possible.

Other strategies in this budget are downsizing your home, renting a room, house hacking, eliminating commuting by moving closer to work and preparing food at home & using couponing apps.

The major con is that there is a risk of overspending, if you’re not careful, things can slip through the cracks by not keeping track of other categories, but I found that if you prioritize getting good with these 3 categories, you will naturally get curious about the others & begin to manage those too, especially if you have success with the Big 3. At least that was my experience.

50/20/30 budgeting AKA the Balanced Money Formula

Similar to the Big 3 Budget, this one is based on 3 main things, but this time its percentages and not categories.

This no-budget, budget focuses:

  • 50% of your income on needs

  • 30% on wants and

  • 20% on savings

Quick Pros & Cons of the 50/30/20 Budget

This budgeting style can work well for those who find categorizing tedious or causing too much friction to be consistent. However, much like the Big 3 Budget, it’s not hard to overspend here if you’re not careful. Also, as you become savvier, your financial goals become more refined over time you may find that if you increase your savings rate by >20% you can retire a lot faster! Of course, that depends on your investment strategies and other assets.

20% savings rate is fine to start out but as you become more and more refined in your goals, especially if you are pursuing complete Financial Independence & retiring early or FI/RE, the more your savings rate increases, the faster you can get there.

Zero Based Budget

Zero Based budgeting literally means budgeting every single dollar you earn until there is $0 left to budget.

According to YNAB, A zero-based budget means that you allocate all of your budgeting dollars to different categories.

If you have $100 to budget, you might budget $50 to food, $25 to clothing, $15 to toiletries, and $10 to entertainment. You now have zero dollars left to allocate (and later spend). If you decide you want $15 for entertainment, then you had better pull $5 from one of those other categories.

In short, you give every single dollar a job as soon as the income hits your account.

It’s also a way to help you develop the habit of paying yourself first, or allotting money to savings before you have a chance to spend it.

The cash envelope system is a type of zero-based budget.

So you can physically separate the cash into envelope categories like in the cash envelope system,

or you can simply use an app to digitally earmark the categories into digital envelopes like I do by using the YNAB app.

I am partial to the YNAB (you need a budget) app because I have had a lot of success staying consistent with our budget.

Quick Pros & Cons of a Zero-Based Budget

The major downside to using zero-based budgeting is the learning curve.

It took me several explanations, you-tube tutorials & months of trying it on for size before I started to get the hang of it.

The biggest caveat I found was the concept of your bank account balance rarely matching your zero-based budget balance.

If you’re doing it right your zero-based budget running balance will most of the time be much lower than your running balance in your bank accounts? Especially at the beginning of the month when you allot money to each category until you’re at zero.

As the month progresses and bills start to get withdrawn from your account your true balance & your budget balance start to approximate each other. The goal is to have them match at the end of the month after you have paid yourself and all the bills have been paid.

If I lost you don’t worry lol, it's completely normal. Since I’m the one who does our finances my husband still glazes over whenever I try to explain to him why we actually have a lot less money than our bank accounts suggest.

The major pros are that it's hard to ever be overdrawn, & it makes saving & financially planning long term easier once you get the hang of it.

Take-Home Points

Whichever style of budgeting you decide to use, what is important is that you can

  1. Easily maintain it

  2. Have a clear picture of how your money is moving so that you can put it to work in ways that optimize your life and happiness.

Any budget is better than no budget.

Even if it takes you a bit to get the hang of it, it’s always worth it so that you can plan to fund whatever lights you up inside.

From vacations to house projects to taking a long break from working- it has been all possible because of budgeting.



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