You’ve passed the USMLE, matched, and are now officially a resident. Congratulations! As you navigate this exciting time, you owe it to yourself to take the steps needed to feel financially secure as you work towards becoming a practicing physician. Since it’s no secret that residents have to work within a limited budget, check out these financial planning tips specifically for medical residents.
Paying for goods and services in cash could be a good way to prevent overspending. You know exactly how much you have to spend and can purchase items within that amount while avoiding credit card interest and merchant fees. However, if you do need to rely on credit cards, make them work for you. Choose a credit card that offers cash back bonuses or points that can be used towards preferred vendors or even a (well-deserved) vacation. And remember, always use your card responsibly.
Paying retail can be a drag, so check if your favorite brands and services offer discounts for medical professionals. Need comfortable sneakers while doing your rotations? Many sportswear brands offer healthcare worker discounts. Parents kick you off the family cell phone plan because you’re an “adult” now? Many major cell service providers also offer discounts for medical professionals. Before making a purchase, it’s worth seeing if discounts are available. Less money spent on necessities equals more money available for leisure and savings.
Creating a budget is the only way to truly keep track of your spending and set aside money for savings. You may be surprised at how much you’re actually spending when you tally it up in the end. Use a budget calculator to help bring visibility to your spending habits and adjust it accordingly to fit your lifestyle and goals. If you need help deciding on which budget is best for you to follow, check out popular strategies such as:
Renting a place on your own can be pricey, and eating out all the time isn’t a great option when you’re trying to save money. Instead, consider getting a roommate to split rent and household expenses such as groceries and utilities. This is also a great way to connect with other medical professionals in the area who may become mentors or friends during residency.
Most of us have subscribed to streaming services or any number of subscription boxes (for better or worse) that cost money every month, but how many of us actually use them? Look at your subscription services and see if any can be shared or swapped with friends or family. Then, ask yourself: “Do I really need to pay for this service?” If the answer is no, cancel it.
Financial planning for medical residents is manageable. Finding discounts, following a budget, getting roommates, and paring down recurring costs can significantly boost your savings. Being proactive about your finances now can help you achieve financial freedom in the future.