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About to start medical school in a month, any tips for me?

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  • About to start medical school in a month, any tips for me?

    Back story, I have about 50 grand in debt from undergrad and my girlfriend does as well. She is already graduated and working as a registered nurse making about $55,000 per year. My medical school has two years with 3 semesters ($45,000) and 2 years with 2 semesters ($30,000). I will recieve a $5,000 dollar grant per year for school to bring the total tution debt after 4 years 130,000. Her and I will take out as little additional loans for living expenses while i'm in school. My current job allows me to work from home and I have it set up to work from home a few hours per week (4-8 hours) or however much my schedule permits to get some extra money (I estimate around 300 a month). I am driving my older car which is paid off and we have managed to pay off my girlfriends car loan during my year off. Do you have any advice for me before I begin this journey and how I can position myself the best economically?

  • #2
    Do Roth IRA each year for you both where you have earned income.

    Best economic decision you could make, however, is to study hard. And when you think you’ve studied hard keep studying.

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    • #3
      Find cheap rent in a reliable place. Save up for 4th year interviews so you don't have to take out extra loans. Crush step 1.  AMCAS is discussing making Step 1 less important, but I doubt that'll happen in 2 years. If you choose family or peds or psych (typically lower step score threshold), do it because you like it, and not because you have to.

      Keep one hobby that you like to do regularly and make time for it.

      Try to volunteer in a shelter/free clinic to learn to use a stethoscope and do an exam. Touch a patient every once and a while that isn't apart of an OSCE (or whatever they call clinical exams).

       

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      • #4
        This would be when I start residency as well I assume? I should try to max out the roth IRA then? I've heard of doing something called a backdoor Roth by investing in a traditional IRA and then converting it to a Roth, does that make sense to do as well. I concede I am not too familiar with the IRA process at this stage. I do have some funds allocated in a SEP IRA already through my previous employer.

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        • #5
          no, do Roth IRA now if you have income and can afford it.  your 40-50 year old self will thank you...but don't entirely spite your 20 year old self (or however old you are).

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          • #6
            "Do you have any advice for me before I begin this journey and how I can position myself the best economically?"

            Honestly, the best economical decision you could make would be to do something other than medical school. Sounds like you're looking at around 200k in total loans by the time you finish school. You're at least 7 years from your first attending job, maybe 10 or more depending on which specialty you choose. While nobody knows with certainty, it's more likely than not that the average physician will be making less a decade from now then they do today. You'll probably have less autonomy then, too. From an economic perspective, there are probably better choices for your future.

             

            "I should try to max out the roth IRA then?"

            Yes. But you need earned income for that. If you were married, spousal income would suffice, but you said girlfriend, not wife, so that doesn't count.

            "I’ve heard of doing something called a backdoor Roth by investing in a traditional IRA and then converting it to a Roth, does that make sense to do as well."

            You only need to go through the hassle of the backdoor Roth when your income is too high to contribute directly. You won't be there for a while.

            "I concede I am not too familiar with the IRA process at this stage."

            No better time to start learning more than right now.

            "I do have some funds allocated in a SEP IRA already through my previous employer."

            Convert those over into a Roth at a point when you anticipate you'll have your lowest taxable income. You'll pay tax on whatever you convert, but it's better to do that when your rate is low (like when you're a student with minimal income). You need to get that SEP cleaned out such that you can do the backdoor roth in the future.

             

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            • #7




              Back story, I have about 50 grand in debt from undergrad and my girlfriend does as well. She is already graduated and working as a registered nurse making about $55,000 per year. My medical school has two years with 3 semesters ($45,000) and 2 years with 2 semesters ($30,000). I will recieve a $5,000 dollar grant per year for school to bring the total tution debt after 4 years 130,000. Her and I will take out as little additional loans for living expenses while i’m in school. My current job allows me to work from home and I have it set up to work from home a few hours per week (4-8 hours) or however much my schedule permits to get some extra money (I estimate around 300 a month). I am driving my older car which is paid off and we have managed to pay off my girlfriends car loan during my year off. Do you have any advice for me before I begin this journey and how I can position myself the best economically?
              Click to expand...


              Generally keep finances separate until married then combine them. Imagine if your girlfriend pays your way through school and then you break up. Or you pay off her car and she walks out the next day. So my advice to each of you is different and would again be different if I knew you were going to be together the rest of your life and could safely now combine finances.

              The general rule is live as frugally as possible and rack up as little debt as you can. Chances are your new debts have higher interest rates than your older debts and are less likely to be subsidized, so concentrate on not taking out new debts rather than paying off the old ones.
              Helping those who wear the white coat get a fair shake on Wall Street since 2011

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              • #8
                Ace step 1

                 

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                • #9
                  “Her and I will take out as little additional loans for living expenses while i’m in school. ”
                  Why does she need a loan?

                  “I have it set up to work from home a few hours per week (4-8 hours) or however much my schedule permits”.
                  Your schedule in MS is booked. Step 1 is the first measurement point officially. Mean time you need to ride to the “top” in terms of grades, true learning and observing or shadowing oe researching as much as possible. Jobs and life will need to be deferred as much as possible.

                  “we have managed to pay off my girlfriends car loan during my year off.”
                  It’s a long time. Keep finances separate until a marriage. Best interest of both of you.
                  Good luck.

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                  • #10
                    Presumably you are going to med school because you want to study medicine and be a doctor, not because you think it is the fast track to wealth.  If that is true, work on keeping living expenses as low as possible and focus on what kind of doctor you want to be.  Maximizing career longevity will likely be more financially beneficial than maximizing yearly income and burning out early, as well as more beneficial for your long term career satisfaction.  You actually don't have much time in med school to decide what specialty to pursue before you have to make a decision so keep an open mind and really take advantage of every opportunity to explore all the options.  There are subspecialties in medicine that I'm still learning about 16 years after graduating from med school.  Don't work extra from home unless the work recharges you or something--those 4-8 hours a week will be important for exploring those options in addition to doing well in school, studying hard for step 1, and recharging your battery and taking good care of yourself.   And definitely keep your finances separate until you get married--your GF shouldn't need to take out any loans for living expenses but you will.  If she wants to pay for your expenses, either let her put the amount in a side fund that she can use to help pay off the loans after you get married, or get married now if you are both sure you are committed for the long haul.

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                    • #11
                      Investing in yourself by studying to keep as many options open is the most important thing. Sounds like you’ve got a good head on your shoulders so you’re going to be fine.

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                      • #12







                        Back story, I have about 50 grand in debt from undergrad and my girlfriend does as well. She is already graduated and working as a registered nurse making about $55,000 per year. My medical school has two years with 3 semesters ($45,000) and 2 years with 2 semesters ($30,000). I will recieve a $5,000 dollar grant per year for school to bring the total tution debt after 4 years 130,000. Her and I will take out as little additional loans for living expenses while i’m in school. My current job allows me to work from home and I have it set up to work from home a few hours per week (4-8 hours) or however much my schedule permits to get some extra money (I estimate around 300 a month). I am driving my older car which is paid off and we have managed to pay off my girlfriends car loan during my year off. Do you have any advice for me before I begin this journey and how I can position myself the best economically?
                        Click to expand…


                        Generally keep finances separate until married then combine them. Imagine if your girlfriend pays your way through school and then you break up. Or you pay off her car and she walks out the next day. So my advice to each of you is different and would again be different if I knew you were going to be together the rest of your life and could safely now combine finances.

                        The general rule is live as frugally as possible and rack up as little debt as you can. Chances are your new debts have higher interest rates than your older debts and are less likely to be subsidized, so concentrate on not taking out new debts rather than paying off the old ones.
                        Click to expand...


                        Yes yes yes.

                        You need to have completely separate finances from your gf.

                        Functionally you are roommates and should interact with money as if you are. If you want to combine finances that's awesome, there's almost certainly a court house within 20-30 miles and I bet both of your parents will be excited!

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                        • #13
                          Don’t combine finances. If she wants to buy dinner when you go out because she makes money and you don’t, fine, but don’t combine finances. Med school changes a lot of relationships. Not saying y’all won’t make it through it, but there’s not a ring on the finger. And I don’t mean wait until you’re thinking about getting married, or engaged. I mean married. Seriously, this spells catastrophe.

                          As far as academically, don’t do anything. Don’t study now. Don’t worry how. Just enjoy your freedom. Like will be forever changed in a couple months. Relax!

                          As far as financially, as someone said above, your best investment is you. You need to get through medical school with the minimal amount of debt. You should meet with whomever helps with financial aid and see if they have any other scholarships available. Tell them whatever other schools you got into and what they offered you - probably too late to matter, but won’t hurt. I got a few $500-10k scholarships each year that we’re someone unexpected. In total, was probably 25-40k. Certainly didn’t cover all tuition, but everything helps.

                          Keep your living expenses low. I mean low low. Entertainment for you is Netflix, a frozen pizza and a 6 pack of bud light, not a dinner, a movie and stop at the craft beer pub - and that’s a splurge. Vacation is going only when your parents are treating or you’re staying on a buddy’s couch. You’ll have a lot of temptations, especially with a girlfriend who has a salary and can work extra. You have no idea how much $250k is now, and I know it doesn’t seem like a huge difference, but getting out with 50k less, or even 20k less is huge.

                          I lived super cheap in medical school - I went to every free meal I could, lived somewhere awful, didn’t take vacations, splurging was a case of cheap beer and a football game or state park. Went on walks or coffee dates. Cooked at home. I can’t tell you how happy I am I did that. I’m 1 year out as an attending. I’m debt free, have an emergency fund, a job I love, was able to pursue a fellowship (instead of being immediately pushed into the workforce), were saving 30% of our income for retirement and saving for a house aggressively (7k this month and last). I had a job offer for 100k more than I make now, didn’t take it because I had an offer in a city I love, working less, working with people I like doing a job I can’t believe I have. I’m going to take my wife and kids out to eat tonight. Do you know where we’re going to go? Wherever we want.

                          Be patient. Do things in the right order.

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                          • #14
                            Convert that SEP to a Roth IRA in whatever amounts lead to zero tax. You get a $12k standard deduction so at least this can be converted annually provided you have no additional income. Adjust accordingly. You can still do the Roth IRA on top if this, which is not affected by your conversions from the SEP. It would if you were doing back door conversions and just had the SEP funds sitting there. But hopefully by the time you are doing a backdoor Roth your SEP will already be converted.

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                            • #15
                              Skip all the lectures you can, if you are a non-auditory learner such as myself.  Assuming your school doesn't require them.  Study instead independently more efficiently.

                              Don't skip your clinical rotations obviously.  Don't flunk out of med school.  The examples I know of were due either to extreme laziness or severe personality issues.

                              As noted, ace STEP 1

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