CandidatesEmployersNurse PractitionerPhysician AssistantSalaryStudents

If you are under 35, you are probably not saving a dime. According to a study by Moody’s Analytics, not only this age group not saving, their savings rate has dipped to negative 2%, meaning that they’re spending more than they have. This is the only age group that has a negative savings rate.

In contrast, workers between the ages of 35 and 44 have a positive savings rate of about 3%.

Millennials are struggling in spite of an improving job market, with an unemployment rate that dipped 3.9% in October overall and even lower for physician assistants and nurse practitioners.

Even with a low unemployment rate, millennials health care professionals often have a tough time making ends meet. Many have taken on hefty student debt to attain the skills they need to be competitive in health care.

“The millennials are waiting for those above them to either retire or die,” says Babson College finance professor Dr. John Edmunds. “But the baby boomers are not going to give it up that easily.”

So what is the best financial advice for nurse practitioners and physician assistants in the current economy? Here is some advice.

1. It is NEVER too early to save. Start saving and investing your hard earned dollars. “The financial side of being a physician assistant is rarely covered during PA school, which is unfortunate,” says Savanna Perry, a PA from Martinez, Georgia. “We’re fortunate to have great salaries, but we must plan for our own retirement.”

While many new to the profession have student debt, it is still possible to save. The key is to set aside some funds for saving instead of splurging. “When I graduated from PA school,” says Perry, “I would spend my money on anything my heart desired, and then use whatever was left for student loans or savings. Not my most brilliant plan.”

After a few months, she realized she was making a huge mistake and adjusted her priorities. She been investing regularly even since.

2. But still get rid of debt. In order to pay off your student loans AND save for retirement at the same time, you MUST avoid credit card debt. If you do get into debt, pay off the smallest debts first and working your way up to the larger debts so the momentum encourages you to reach your goals. “Luckily, I avoided credit card debt,” says Perry, “but that is a common problem for many students coming out of PA school and even practicing PAs.”

3. Know your worth. In order to have money you’ll need in retirement, you have to make as much money as possible during your working  year. Part of your strategy comes down to ensuring that you’re getting the money you deserve. Be strong in negotiations and asking for what you want. If you think you’re entitled to a raise because, then you need to ask for it. And even better if you can have raises built into your contract.

If you are not satisfied in how much you are being paid, it may be time to look for another job.  “Even if you love your position,” Perry says, “know the demand for your area and how other PAs are being compensated.”

4. Learn as much as you can about saving and investing. Find a mentor or advisor. That’s what Perry did. “I constantly try to get advice from family members who are dentists and physicians to see what they’ve learned about managing their finances.”