This list serves as a financial checklist for the busy medical student, but can be certainly applied to other student roles where income is limited or non-existent:
- Be aware of the true amount of student loans you really need to borrow. Federal student loan amounts are often based from anticipated tuition and living costs of a certain institution. You might not need the full amount depending on your spending habits. Look into the cost of books and food/entertainment. You might not need to borrow the full amount. Any unused money is basically your unused emergency fund that you’re paying interest on. Not the worst thing in the world to have a 6% interest loan sitting around, but you could do without it if you are careful.
- Live modestly. A relatively large group of my medical school class took a trip to Costa Rica during spring break. I’ve seen some classmates fly to Europe for a long weekend. Fiji or VOSS bottled water? If you can afford it, great. Don’t convince yourself (or let others convince you either) that you can afford it if you really can’t.
- If you need extra money and are willing to work, consider being a tutor or utilize any of your skills that can translate into higher pay.
- If you have family who are willing to “match” your part-time income, put your taxed income into a Roth IRA. In fact, if you have excess funds from your student loans for daily living, put your secondary income into a Roth IRA. This concept is always debatable, but paying a 6.8% simple interest loan in exchange for decades of tax drag-free investment is worth the trade-off.
- If you or your spouse has income and will be filing taxes, go ahead and pay down some of your student loan interest (up to $2500). It can be itemized during tax season for an income reduction. When you become a hotshot attending and make a gazillion dollars, your income will be too high to make that deduction. Continue doing so during residency if you can.
Any more to add to the list? Comment below!