Financial Advice for Medical Students by Joe Baxter
Financial Advice for Medical Students
The financial decisions you make now as a pre-med or medical student may bless you with long lasting benefits or curse you with far reaching consequences. Don’t fool yourself, the choices you make now as a student can affect your ability to take that nice vacation or buy that dream home some years in the future.
The smart financial decisions you make now will affect you later. Below are some considerations that will help you in making sound decisions now that will benefit you later.
Spend money in the right places. There are places where you can and should skimp, and there are places where you should definitely spend your money, even to the point of hurting. Below is a list of things not to do:
- Don’t limit yourself to just a few schools because of the expense of applying. Apply to enough schools that you plan on having to turn some down come interview time.
- Don’t wing it on your MCAT. Take a practice or prep course.
Choose an inexpensive medical school. Did that catch your attention? The fact is the majority of medical schools in this country offer a fairly similar education. Much of your education in medical school will come from what you teach yourself and from your exposure to various residents or doctors. If possible, choose the relatively inexpensive state school. Also remember that the cost of your education should also factor in your cost of living expenses. Therefore keep in mind that a school in an expensive city with a high cost of living will ultimately cost you more than a school in a cheaper city.
Choose a residency in a low rent district. The pay for a residency is about the same across the board, so choose one in a town where the cost of living is lower. In an expensive town you won’t be able to support yourself, whereas a residency income in a cheaper area will help keep you afloat and out of extra debt.
Keep a part time job. You are disciplined, smart, and disciplined. Put that discipline to use and make time for a part time job. It can actually be done.
Split costs with roommates. Share the costs of living by having roommates. If you are married this is the time for your spouse to provide for the costs of living expenses.
Learn to save. As a medical student this isn’t a problem. But think about your future. By the time you finish with school and enter practice you will have about thirty years to save up for retirement. Most people have forty. This is sobering and should further stiffen your resolve to keep your debt as manageable as possible now. You don’t want to find yourself foregoing years of retirement investments to pay off loans amassed over the course of your schooling.
Keep in mind that it’s easier to be poor now while you’re young than it will be once you have a career and family. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can splurge now and pay for it later when you have that career. The more debt you come out of your education with, the more limited your future practice choices and specialty options will be.
You’ve gotten this far in your studies partly due to your self-discipline. Apply that same mentality to your financial choices as well.