Disposable income is the difference between the income you receive in your pay packet and what you have to spend to live. Many factors affect your disposable income, and you need to consider them all when you are assessing a nursing employment contract.
One of the scariest things about moving your nursing career overseas is the feeling of uncertainty when it comes to accepting a contract. Many questions go through your head, is this enough money? How much will it cost to live? Will I have enough to send home?
When looking at an employment contract for a nursing job abroad it is very easy to focus on the salary you’ll be receiving and judge the medical recruiter’s offer on that basis alone. However, should you fall into this trap you could be robbing yourself of some very attractive opportunities…
If you want to send money home, or have enough money to travel with and take advantage living in another country, then it is not the salary offered that you should be looking at when deciding if a contract is worth signing or not. What you need to be considering is the amount of money you will have left over at the end of the month, or your disposable income.
Firstly, and probably most importantly, the cost of housing in the area where you will be nursing will have serious impact on how much money you have left at the end of the month. To find out how much accommodation will cost you – use the power of the internet. You can Google something like ‘1 bedroom apartment Albany New York’. And take a look at what is on offer with the letting agents that come up. Alternatively you can try to find the name of a local newspaper and check the classified section for ‘Apartments for Rent’.
You may find that accepting a nursing job in an area which has a low cost of housing, or one where housing is included will result in you having a higher disposable income, even if the salary figure is lower than you are being offered in other places.
The second highest expense would probably be your food bill, and the cost of food can vary drastically, even within a country. The cost of food includes your groceries that you bring home and cook for yourself, and also the food and drink that you purchase while you are out. To find out how the cost of food will affect your budget you can again use the power of the internet. Many restaurants now have internet sites and you can even check out their menu and the cost of things like their set meal.
Of course there are some exceptions to this rule. If you are only going to shop at large chain stores and eat at restaurants like McDonalds then your cost of living will be largely unaffected by your food purchases because these companies generally set one price for across the country.
Now, between countries, that’s different. You can actually use McDonalds to help you compare the cost of living between two countries. Each year economists work out the Big Mac Index which compares the cost of living in a number of countries and shows the information as how much a Big Mac costs. So the USA has a Big Mac cost of a dollar and places like Sweden have a higher Big Mac cost, but countries where it is cheap to live, like Indonesia, have a Big Mac cost of less than a dollar. It is a very rough guide to the cost of living in different countries.
Lastly, when working out your disposable income remember to use your take home pay when you work it out rather than your salary pre-tax. Unless you are nursing in the United Arab Emirates or Saudi Arabia you probably will not receive a tax free income.