Locum tenens professionals make good money. It’s a well-known fact in health circles and a leading motivator for medical personnel who decide to work as locums: Whether you broke into healthcare for the money or a chance to help people, the chance to earn extra income with a flexible schedule has undeniable allure.
For part-timers, who may work anywhere from several shifts a month to the occasional holiday assignment, the potential for supplemental cash opens up several intriguing questions. Where should the money from your locum assignments go? How can you use it beyond the usual food-mortgage-bills requirements? Whether you’re considering making a switch or you’d just like some ideas on what to do with your locum cash, here are four ideas designed for part-timers:
1. Pay Your Student Loans Faster
Student loans are the ultimate double-edged sword for healthcare pros. Yes, they may represent the only reliable way to attain that high-level medical degree (and all the knowledge and opportunities that come with it), but monthly payments can quickly become a burden when loans cost an average of $34,000 to almost $54,000 a year.
Considering this, paying down student debt is one of the smartest ways to use cash from part-time locum assignments. This move can be especially impactful if you deploy one of several student loan repayment strategies as you go: Contacting a lender to demand any overpayment goes to the principal on a loan instead of the interest, for instance. With the amount you can make from even a single locum posting, that sort of big-chunk overpayment can result in earlier due dates and less interest paid overall, and nobody’s complaining about that.
2. “Frivolous” Purchases
While there is something to be said for prudent financial decision making, there’s also the idea that you worked hard to get where you are — and continue to work hard by taking locum assignments on top of any existing full-time role.
As such, part-time locum work can help you sate those less-than-responsible purchasing urges without the usual guilt. If you’re the financially responsible type, you could make it a numbers game, with a set percentage of your payments going to a fund you can spend on anything you want, no questions asked (or buyer’s remorse allowed). By the same token, you could use the same chunk to save for a larger purchase you wouldn’t consider otherwise, like a down payment on that car you’ve always dreamed of owning. However you do it, consider using some of your locum cash to line your pocket — you’ve earned it.
3. Private Practice Saving
You already know locum tenens is a great first step to a private practice, with benefits that go above and beyond a standard full-time role. Along those lines, the cash you make as a part-time locum can be a huge help if ownership plans are in your future.
This point’s important because of the immense financial responsibility even a small practice can represent: $70k–$100k, according to some sources. With student loans and other cost-of-living factors, saving an amount big enough to take a dent out of that figure — which naturally scales with the size and scope of the facility — can take years, particularly if you wish to make a significant difference in the amount you must finance. In all, it’s yet another factor making locum tenens an excellent steppingstone to ownership.
Vacations are an absolute necessity in a field fraught with burnout and mental/emotional toil. This is a serious concern, particularly in a working world where over half of employees don’t take all the vacation time their employers provide, and part-time locum cash can help you kick the solution into overdrive.
Consider all the ways a vacation can put a dent in your pocketbook. Eating out every day, flight and hotel rates, car rentals, and event admission fees all add up. A mere $100 a month — a pittance compared to the rate you’ll make as a part-time locum — can be $1,200 extra for that end-of-year break. Instead of going the cheap route or guilting yourself for overspending, wouldn’t it be nice to have that kind of go-money on hand for your trip? Working as a part-time locum can get you to that point year over year — and bring you back to work even more refreshed than you would’ve been. When you look at it that way, saving your locum cash for a little added luxury is less of a splurge and more of a necessity.