Being a Medic Doesn’t Have to Mean Being Broke

After reading some recent articles and seeing group posts about EMS wages, I’ve decided that the best Christmas gift we can give ourselves this year is some personal responsibility. At some point, we have to stop blaming others for our problems. If you accepted a job offer making any amount of money, then you have absolutely, 100%, no right to complain about your wages. Do I want to see our industry improve in the compensation department? Absolutely! But I equally want to see the workforce improve to match the desired wages.

Nobody tied our hands and forced us into this line of work. And NOBODY lied to us and told us that we were going to make a bunch of money either. So how can we possibly be mad at anyone but ourselves? This isn’t a perfect industry and it comes with a huge set of complications when it comes to money. But here’s the thing, I love this job. I look forward to showing up to work to do what I do. I know there’s plenty of others out there that feel the same way. The problem is, many of those people – myself included – have felt like they had no choice but to leave for higher wages in order to “stay afloat” or support their family. Is there anything wrong with trying to make more money? Absolutely not! But I think we have forgotten about the value of loving the work that we do.

The beauty of good money management, is that it gives us more freedom to do what we want in life, instead of what we think we “have” to do. For example, think about people that dedicate their lives to traveling overseas to help needy families or victims of disasters. Do you think they make good money doing it? Look at teachers. Do you know anyone that got into teaching to make tons of money? If you look at the big picture, we are just a small piece in a huge stack of professions – or callings, if you will – that don’t make much money. And yes, I just compared our profession to humanitarian work. Our job is to do good for society. Yes, we can complain that the people we serve don’t appreciate us, or maybe don’t even “need” us, but doing good deeds isn’t about the response, it’s about the intention behind it.

This job isn’t for everyone. There are plenty of us who’s hearts aren’t really in the profession. For those of us, it may be a bad career decision, or stepping stone to another profession. But for those of us that truly feel passionate about this field, it’s important to know that yes, you CAN survive and live a healthy and rewarding life.

So how do we accomplish this?

Living Within Our Means

This means budgeting and not spending more than we earn. It’s not rocket science. If you’re making $40-50K a year and you’re making payments on a $40,000 pickup truck, then you need to take a serious look at your financial priorities and really ask yourself what’s important in life. If your truck, boat, motorcycle, or jet ski is really where your heart is, then yes, you need to find a higher paying job, because you can’t support that lifestyle on this salary.

Does living within your means equate to never having the things you want? Absolutely not. It just means that you have to save and be patient. By doing so, you avoid the chains of debt, and trust me, that feeling is far greater than anything any material item will ever give you.

Create Other Sources of Income

I’m sure a lot of people read this title and couldn’t get past thinking that you have to have a second job to get by in EMS. For those of you that are still with me, hang in there, it will start to make sense.

One of the beauties of EMS – at least for many of us – is the schedule flexibility and number of days off. I work 24 hour shifts, therefore I only work 9-10 days a month. That means I have at least 20 other days to do what I want. For the longest time, I just jumped on the overtime bandwagon and blindly picked up extra shifts in a feeble attempt to keep my head above water. Well, by being intentional with my money and my overtime, I can greatly limit that and actually have a purpose for overtime shifts other than just paying bills. Now, I would be lying to you if I told you that I don’t still find myself needing extra shifts from time-to-time to cover expenses, but by budgeting and paying down debt, I have significantly reduced the need for it.

One of the things I have been working on in my spare time is starting a business, and yes, you’re looking right at it. As you can clearly see, I’m not exactly shoveling in the money. However, I have a huge passion for writing and being creative, so now I have the time to work on turning my passion into an investment in my future. You can do the same! Find your “dream work” and start working towards creating an income with it. What other line of work will provide you will full-time pay, full-time benefits and leave you with 20 days a month to work on building a business?

Of course, there is always the option of finding part-time work to help you achieve your goals. For me, I want to pay cash for a house and piece of property. By taking care of your monthly financial obligations with your full-time job, you can dedicate your part-time income to propelling yourself towards achieving your goals. This way, work doesn’t feel so much like work anymore.

Look at the Big Picture

Quit turning your life into a math equation. Yes, you can probably find a profession that makes more money and would provide you with the means to achieve your goals without having to create other sources of income, but would you truly be happy doing it? For me, I love EMS. If I never did anything else, I would retire a happy man. However, I’m also passionate about things like writing, playing music, and singing. So by working every day to make my financial situation better, I can work towards achieving my goals of paying cash for property, traveling and making a difference in this industry.

Imagine a life of no debt, enough money on hand to live for at least 3-6 months, and plenty of money left over every month to do what you’re passionate about? If you were in this situation, do you think that you would place more emphasis on hourly pay or quality of life?

Think about that for a while.

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