Healthcare professionals require a lot of training and education. It’s not an easy job (as you know), and when you get home from a long busy day on your feet, the last thing you’re going to want to do is crunch numbers.
You take care of people all day, so caring for yourself—especially financially—might feel tedious but it’s wholly necessary. When your money is right, your stress levels go down and your overall health improves.
And considering most residencies last anywhere from three to eight years, you’re not likely to make a six-figure salary common among physicians for up to a decade. That means money management is a vital skill for you.
So we’ve put together a few tips and tricks for financial wellness for these years you’re working toward your big payoff: finally becoming a physician.
Tips for budgeting on a resident’s income
Be realistic. Be strict with your budget. Bring your lunch (or breakfast, or dinner): Fall in love with peanut butter and jelly. Tell your friends you’re on a tight budget and let them know you’re not able to go out for expensive dinners and drinks. Let them treat you occasionally, if that makes you feel good.
If you’re in a big city, roommates are likely necessary. But even in a smaller city, going in on a two-bedroom with someone else can be a big relief on rent. Look for places near your residency so you can walk; with all of today’s services—grocery delivery, Uber, ridesharing—you can likely live without a car, which will cut down expenses like parking, gas and car insurance.
How to get a good savings account going
We know. Saving? On this tight budget?
As a resident training to be a physician, you have some expenses you’ll want to prepare for. Board and licensure exams and certification come with fees, and it’s wise to hire a healthcare attorney to look over your contracts and documents when you go for your first physician’s position.
Every little bit helps. A change jar. A literal piggy bank. A savings account linked to your checking that you put $25 into every two weeks. Even $10 is something. Seeding (or feeding) a savings account is essential to continuing down your career path—moving to a new state, for example, may require another exam or certification and cost more money. So make saving a priority and you’ll be a much happier person in six months, a year, five years.
Like with a savings account, putting even a tiny amount of money into your retirement is crucial. If you have just $5 at the end of the month to contribute, do it. Get in the habit of saving for your retirement; once it’s on autopilot, you’ll easily save a good nest egg for yourself over the course of your flourishing career. It may feel difficult now, but by the time you’re a fully licensed and practicing physician, you’ll be adding bigger sums to a growing account that will ensure safety, comfort, and happiness for the last decades of your life. Do your future self this favor!
Consider financing options:
The deal with credit cards
Because your budget is tight, you might be tempted to start charging up a credit card. You’ll pay it back later, right?
Don’t fall into that trap. Having a credit card is a good idea—building good credit is a great idea—and that means paying off the full balance of your credit card each and every month. Look for cards with low interest rates, no annual fees, and rewards. Rewards can be especially helpful for every day spending or traveling. Check out BHG’s credit cards that offer rewards.
If you’re sticking to your budget and charging on your card each month, you should have enough in your paycheck to pay off the balance. This will keep you credit-card-debt-free as you build the good credit you’ll want when it comes time to buy that car, rent that apartment on your own, or even buy your first house. So make a careful decision about which credit card you sign up for.
If you’re contending already with credit-card balances, student loans, or other debt, you may benefit from consolidating all of your payments into one with a debt-consolidation loan.
With a personal loan to lump together all your payments, you may find monthly relief and end up paying less in interest. You could have fewer and lower monthly payments, an overall lower interest rate, and your credit score could improve.
Once you become a physician, you may have already developed these saving habits so it you may have the money to buy a house or focus on bigger expenses once you are finally making the physician salary.