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How to minimize debt in med school/residency?

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Nothing special you can do. Don't overspend, applies to all aspects of life. Try to learn how to cook if you don't already and do batch meals to prevent always eating out. Life related.  

In the first 2 years, theres not much reason to "have to" eat out alot. Treat yourself for sure, but you shouldn't "need" to buy lunch every day for example.  In clerkship, yes there are more times where you "need" to buy lunch/dinner. But often many rotations with smart planning and freezing, you can still have at least 1 homecooked meal (lunch or dinner) ready to go. Most hospitals have fridges/lounges, and very few rotations have you going non-stop without time to quickly eat for 10 mins. It may mean eating at odd times, yes, but its doable. 

Again, nothing special about medicine in terms of saving money. Don't go buying textbooks brand-new, or at all if you never would use them (most people dont). Dont buy a fancy electronic stethoscope(we will make fun of you), and dont overspend on vacations.

That said, you dont need to penny pinch and never eat out, or reward yourself either. But you also dont need to overspend on luxury condos,  excessive wardrobes because youre "in medicine" now.  

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1. Don't buy luxury things. Just because you have a LOC does not mean that you need to use it.  It's even better if you don't apply to it if you won't need it.

2. Spend your money only on essentials, and treat yourself only once or twice after exams.

3. apply to scholarships.

 

 

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To play devils advocate (and in actuality I’m not suggesting one way or another as only you know your financial situation), but even if you did spend more each year on a nicer living arrangement, car, clothes, vacation, a nice bag or whatever etc - your LOC might be 30-60K higher at the end. That sounds like a lot, but as a staff physician that extra 30-60K probably won’t make a huge difference. It all comes down to balancing what you are comfortable with and capable of in terms of expenses vs what you need to be happy, de-stressed and the convenience factor. None of us here can tell you where that sweet spot will be for you. 

But it if you really want to save money...

- downsize your apartment/house and get roommates or live with parents

- ditch the car and bike or take public transit or Uber

- map out what restaurants have chicken wing deals for dinner 

- only go for coffee when residents or staff are going too

- staycation on time off

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15 minutes ago, ZBL said:

To play devils advocate (and in actuality I’m not suggesting one way or another as only you know your financial situation), but even if you did spend more each year on a nicer living arrangement, car, clothes, vacation, a nice bag or whatever etc - your LOC might be 30-60K higher at the end. That sounds like a lot, but as a staff physician that extra 30-60K probably won’t make a huge difference. It all comes down to balancing what you are comfortable with and capable of in terms of expenses vs what you need to be happy, de-stressed and the convenience factor. None of us here can tell you where that sweet spot will be for you. 

But it if you really want to save money...

- downsize your apartment/house and get roommates or live with parents

- ditch the car and bike or take public transit or Uber

- map out what restaurants have chicken wing deals for dinner 

- only go for coffee when residents or staff are going too

- staycation on time off

My favourite tip: is map out what restraunts have chicken wing deals for dinner lol.

 

OP: I don't know how much debt you are in, but it would be wise to make a plan about when you will be able to debt free. Most people are able to pay their debt after 1 year or 2 of work.

 

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1 hour ago, ZBL said:

To play devils advocate (and in actuality I’m not suggesting one way or another as only you know your financial situation), but even if you did spend more each year on a nicer living arrangement, car, clothes, vacation, a nice bag or whatever etc - your LOC might be 30-60K higher at the end. That sounds like a lot, but as a staff physician that extra 30-60K probably won’t make a huge difference. It all comes down to balancing what you are comfortable with and capable of in terms of expenses vs what you need to be happy, de-stressed and the convenience factor. None of us here can tell you where that sweet spot will be for you. 

But it if you really want to save money...

- downsize your apartment/house and get roommates or live with parents

- ditch the car and bike or take public transit or Uber

- map out what restaurants have chicken wing deals for dinner 

- only go for coffee when residents or staff are going too

- staycation on time off

Coffee is a big one. You can easily make a cup of nice joe in the morning effortlessly - I have an automatic coffee machine that I start up in the morning as I wake up. I take my shower and it's ready to go. You can pick up some nice beans without breaking your bank. This is my morning routine at least :) 

For food, I use a base like lentils, or quinoa, and then add different stuff for each day of the week, like chili-oil grilled chicken, rosemary-rubbed chicken, etc. I eat out Thurs/Fri b/c by that point I would be pretty sick of making or eating home-cooked foods. 

EDIT: I always found that some med students see the LOC as a license to spend. It is not and banks do a good job convincing you that you can spend it on whatever you want. My LOC advisor even mentioned that I should use the money to go on vacation or buy a car if I don't need it for school! Eat well, live humbly, and treat yourself once in a while :) Even when you are an attending, it is advised that you "live like a resident" for 2-3 years and be aware of lifestyle creep.

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3 hours ago, la marzocco said:

For food, I use a base like lentils, or quinoa, and then add different stuff for each day of the week, like chili-oil grilled chicken, rosemary-rubbed chicken, etc. I eat out Thurs/Fri b/c by that point I would be pretty sick of making or eating home-cooked foods.

Yummm. This is probably the most appetizing meal prep menu I've seen on here thus far.

Carry on.

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I feel like it can be kind of difficult socially...to be trying to be frugal, when a large number of your classmates are well off and live a certain way. Feels like half of my class are away on some resort for march break. Which is why I'm glad I don't have any friends.

I recommend anyone trying to save money to start by keeping track of their spending for a couple of months. Every dollar. Then see if there are any surprises ("I spent $100 on shitty Tim Horton's food this month?!") and where you can trim a little fat off. Being X dollars in debt as a medical trainee is not inherently a bad thing, but ending up with am amount of debt that you didn't see coming/avoided facing throughout your training/are too overwhelmed to handle is.

On most days I bring my own tea bags and eat my meal-prepped food. Social drinks and food is a big one that adds up (sometimes I eat a meal before going out because I don't want to pay $20 for the privilege of eating shitty pub food).

 

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5 hours ago, la marzocco said:

Coffee is a big one. You can easily make a cup of nice joe in the morning effortlessly

You know, I thought the same thing to myself, but now I have 4 ways of grinding coffee and 6 ways of making it and have spent thousands and thousands on coffee gear. I'm crazy though.

OP, don't sweat the small stuff and most expenses you have are easily manageable when you graduate. 

Everyone here is focused on spending less & being more frugal. But it's not fully about spending less or "getting more for your money". It's about being more deliberate and intentional with how you spend. Think deeply & truthfully about whether or not you need something, whether or not whatever you're spending money on brings you fulfillment or joy, and whether or not you truly can't find another way to make it happen in a more cost-effective manner (which may indeed be more fulfilling as well, such as cooking at home).

But the reason why I discourage people from simply being essentialist and spending less and less is because there are plenty of things that, for you (not necessarily for others) are wholly worth spending more, even 'a lot' of money on, regardless of what other people think. That can include good food, vacations, a car, even luxurious things if it's done with mindful moderation and brings you true joy.

Don't worry about spending less. Worry about spending better.

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17 minutes ago, cleanup said:

You know, I thought the same thing to myself, but now I have 4 ways of grinding coffee and 6 ways of making it and have spent thousands and thousands on coffee gear. I'm crazy though.

OP, don't sweat the small stuff and most expenses you have are easily manageable when you graduate. 

Everyone here is focused on spending less & being more frugal. But it's not fully about spending less or "getting more for your money". It's about being more deliberate and intentional with how you spend. Think deeply & truthfully about whether or not you need something, whether or not whatever you're spending money on brings you fulfillment or joy, and whether or not you truly can't find another way to make it happen in a more cost-effective manner (which may indeed be more fulfilling as well, such as cooking at home).

But the reason why I discourage people from simply being essentialist and spending less and less is because there are plenty of things that, for you (not necessarily for others) are wholly worth spending more, even 'a lot' of money on, regardless of what other people think. That can include good food, vacations, a car, even luxurious things if it's done with mindful moderation and brings you true joy.

Don't worry about spending less. Worry about spending better.

I agree re: intention matters and can be a great guide in money management. However, money management is something that many do not have a good grasp on (esp 20 yos..) so some hard and fast rules that do not greatly compromise happiness or utility would not necessarily be a bad thing. I love photography and spend $$$ on lenses etc. Likewise, if you are coffee aficionado, coffee gear etc may be an area that you are willing to spend more on as it brings more happiness/utility. To each their own. But, I do see value in some quick and dirty tips that do not greatly compromise happiness. 

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7 minutes ago, la marzocco said:

I agree re: intention matters and can be a great guide in money management. However, money management is something that many do not have a good grasp on (esp 20 yos..) so some hard and fast rules that do not compromise happiness or utility would not necessarily be a bad thing. I love photography and spend $$$ on lenses etc. Likewise, if you are coffee aficionado, coffee gear etc may be an area that you are willing to spend more on as it brings more happiness/utility. To each their own. But, I do see value in some quick and dirty tips that do not compromise happiness. 

Oh sure. It's a way to bootstrap financial independence. Things like "Never buy coffee out," "Only eat out twice a week," and intentional budgeting.

Just don't want people to get the wrong idea and run too far with it. What we do, and do not, spend on, needs to be very intentional, as with anything else in life.

And you and I both on the camera gear. I have many expensive hobbies & interests! But they all bring me joy and I am focused and careful with how I invest my time & money in each.

Also the leather boot theory of socioeconomics really rings true here. Don't cut costs where it won't treat you well in the long-run. Do good research, think long & hard, and often the best purchase for you ends up not necessarily being the most economic one.

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I think it is good to be on the frugal side financially. The amount you use in your LOC compounds that loss during your long training time. Many physicians find that they don't enjoy their work that much. However, due to their spending habits earlier they are trapped in medicine in order to service their lifestyle. 

I think given the number of people I've seen have these midlife crises that it is better to be on the safer side. 

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become ur classes supplier for drugs...coke and ecstacy are incredibly popular amongst the "cool" kids of med school who finally start partying once theyre in their late 20s. 

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On 3/11/2019 at 7:38 PM, blah1234 said:

 Many physicians find that they don't enjoy their work that much. However, due to their spending habits earlier they are trapped in medicine in order to service their lifestyle.

So much of this. Spend as little as possible so you can bail the fuck out ASAP if needed. 

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3 minutes ago, JohnGrisham said:

Aka dont get a mortgage too early!

Some of the mortgages I see my friends take out once they become staff are absolutely insane. I honestly wonder what will happen if interest rates double. 

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16 minutes ago, blah1234 said:

Some of the mortgages I see my friends take out once they become staff are absolutely insane. I honestly wonder what will happen if interest rates double. 

Kind of curious how big you'retalking?

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1 hour ago, PhD2MD said:

Kind of curious how big you'retalking?

 

1 hour ago, blah1234 said:

Some of the mortgages I see my friends take out once they become staff are absolutely insane. I honestly wonder what will happen if interest rates double. 

My cousin is almost done with his residency and he just recently got a 1.5 M house , but both him and his wife are going to be working physicians very soon. 

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On 3/11/2019 at 4:53 PM, cleanup said:

I have 4 ways of grinding coffee and 6 ways of making it and have spent thousands and thousands on coffee gear. I'm crazy though

It’s funny how we all seem to end up spending more than we anticipated. 

I’m living on less than 1200 dollars a month for myself, but I also have a horse who costs me about 700 bucks a month. I love him dearly, but he’s hours away from me so I only see him on holidays. Unfortunately, he also has an injury which makes him un-sellable or leasable. 

So, I spend like 90 bucks a month in groceries, have no car, and spend as little as I can. I could have gone to a school in another province for like a third of what I’m paying now, but I decided to pick a city I thought I’d like (and that I’d be able to get home from in case of emergency). Was it my best choice? I don’t know. But at some point, sometimes it’s worth picking happiness over money. 

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