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Calling all nurses: If you haven't begun saving for your retirement yet, here are some ways to save that can get you started.

According to the American Nurses Association, (ANA), the Washington D.C-based trade association for the nursing profession, there are about 2.6 million nurses in the U. S. Most of them employed, ( 2.2 million), female ( 95 percent), working full-time, and not participating in the retirement accounts their workplace offers.

"When you go into a hospital to work, you're handed an employment package. And if you're a typical nurse, you don't want to hear about retirement. What you want to know is how many nights, weekends and holidays you'll have to work, and, if you'll have to work Christmas this year, " says Shelia Roit, a senior political actions specialist and nurse, at the ANA. "So there are other priorities and retirement is not something we think about."

Along with not wanting to think about retirement programs, Roit said other reasons the r-subject gets avoided is because many nurses don't often stay at their jobs long enough to become vested in the plans offered them. Plus, many are single or single heads of households so saving has been difficult for them.

Kathy Smith, a nurse in Cannon Falls, Minn., knows how difficult saving can be. "After I started being a nurse, I had student loans to pay off and I had to climb out of the hole of being married. So I got out of nursing school in 1992 and wasn't able to even open an IRA until 1997."

In an effort to encourage nurses to invest for their retirements, Fidelity Investments Tax-Exempt Services Company, (FITSCO), has created a campaign focusing on the subject.

Laurie Cochran, a senior vice president of marketing at FITSCO, said that while the campaign was kicked off during National Nurses Week, May 6 through 12, it will be an on-going effort. "We don't see the same savings rate in the health care market that we do in some others and we've very concerned about that, " she said.

While the average nurse is 40 years old, in their prime savings years and with little in retirement savings accounts compared to other health care workers, nurses need to understand about long-term retirement savings are the importance of starting early. And, that it's possible to get started "even if you think there is not enough money to do so," says Cochran

To drive that second point home, FITSCO came up with some ideas on how to save a few bucks then show how small amounts of money can grow into big mounds of it over time. Below are some of those examples. Each assumes the money was saved, then invested into a tax-deferred account like a retirement account earning 8 percent per year and invested for 25 years:

  • Give up dining out once a week and save $25. At retirement you could have an additional $103,797.

  • Save $200 a year by not buying a new outfit, or cut out that second cup of coffee a couple of times a week for a savings of about $4 a week. That could bring you $15,791 at retirement.

  • Bring your primary shift meal to work twice a week, saving $10. That could add up to $41,519 at retirement.

  • Wash your car at home each month and save $12. That could mean $11,488 more at retirement.

  • Rent a video instead of going to a movie and save $10 a month. By relaxing at home you could have earned $9,574.

  • Invest in your workplace retirement account instead of buying that new CD for $15 each month and you could accumulate $14,360.

  • And, if you can even find $2 a week, that money could grow to $8,304 in 25 years.

Good advice, whatever your profession.

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