[Editor’s Note: We’re a little over two months away from announcing winners of the annual WCI Medical School Scholarship and we need judges and donations! If you want to be a judge, send an email to [email protected] with the words Volunteer Judge in the subject line. Katie and I will match any dollar donated up to $50,000. The more you donate, the larger the prizes will be! Thanks for all you do to pay it forward.]
Click Below and Donate Today!
#livelikearesident to promote this. If you’d like to play along at home, submit your picture and name here.
Join With Us!
Today I’d like to highlight thirteen of you in a post. I hope it not only gives those who have paid off their student loans a pat on the back, but also inspires those of you who have not yet done so to “Git er done!” Let’s get started!
Axelsons Pay Off $415K in Student Loan Debt!
First up is Daniel and Anna Axelson.
The Axelsons paid off $415K over 2.5 years after getting out of training. How did they do it?
My wife and I collectively had over $400,000 in medical school debt. For our first 2.5 years out of training, we paid our modest bills, retirement accounts, and then every spare penny (including bonuses!) went to debt reduction. We made a budget and stuck to it, and knew exactly how much we could afford to put to loans each month – thus it was easier to make sure we did so!
Congratulations Anna and Daniel!
Dr. Palastro Pays Off $230K!
Next, we have Wendy Palastro.
Dr. Palastro paid off $230,000 in student loan debt over six years. Her tips?
- Frequently refinance to lower rates
- Pay extra to the loan regularly
- Track payoff progress and celebrate milestones
- Listen to podcasts and audio books about finances for ongoing inspiration
Congratulations Wendy! Well done.
Team Brown Pays Off $75K!
Next up is David Brown and Company.
$75K might not seem like much to today’s graduates, but these folks didn’t waste any time getting rid of it. They paid it off just one year out of training. If you can pay off $75K per year, your student loans won’t last very long either. How did they do it?
- Cheap medical school
- Frugal living
- Completing medical school and residency in relatively low cost-of-living areas
Keeping your debt down sure makes it easier to pay it off. Congratulations to the entire Brown family!
Dr. Sheth Pays Off $192K!
Our next contestant on #livelikearesident is Dr. Pooja Sheth.
Dr. Sheth paid off precisely $192,925 in student loans over just sixteen months. Here’s how she did it:
I made student debt payoff my first priority after completion of fellowship. My mother had done me a great favor during residency by taking out a home equity loan on her house and paying $117k of my student debt since she had a better interest rate than what I was paying. When I became an attending I felt even more motivated to pay her back quickly (including interest. The $193k includes paying her back). My husband and I are pretty low maintenance people so keeping a resident lifestyle after fellowship wasn’t too difficult for us, and so we have saved and continue to save aggressively with our one-income household.
The first step is facing the music. Pour yourself your beverage of choice, sit down with your partner, and add up all your debt on one sheet of paper. Yes, to the dollar. It worked for this couple and it can work for you. Congratulations to Pooja, her partner, and her mother!
Dr. Hussain Slaughters Debt!
Perhaps our most impressive example today comes from Syed Asad Hussain.
$200K is about the average debt for MD school graduates these days, and that is what Dr. Hussain had. What wasn’t so typical, however, was the fact that he (and his fine family) kicked the tar out of their debt in JUST SEVEN MONTHS! Very impressive. How did he do it?
- Moonlighting in residency
- Living like a resident
- Aggressive contract negotiation (negotiating higher income)
- Resident spouse (2nd income)
Maybe it’s easier to live like a resident when at least one of you is a resident, but it’s still no small feat. Congratulations Syed!
Dr. Taylor Pays Off $311K!
Let’s get back to some above-average loan burdens. Next up is Jonathan Taylor.
I tell people to get their loans paid off within 5 years of leaving training, and these folks made it. They paid off $311,000 in student loans in 4.5 years. Here’s the story:
We tried to make it a visual experience and set tangible goals. We filled a glass vase with 311 marbles, and moved over one marble to the empty vase with each 1k payed off. Also, we set a monthly amount above the minimum payment that we would send in each month. Some months we could not meet that amount, but we made sure to catch up the following month. The yearly bonus went directly towards the student loan. A key thing was to make sure we enjoyed life in the midst of the journey by traveling every few months and doing some low cost home improvement projects. Our goal from the beginning was to have the student loan paid off before we had kids, but we had about 90k left when we discovered we were pregnant. We buckled down for the last 8 months, and by God’s grace, we sent in the last payment 17 days before our daughter was born.
Congratulations to all three of you and nice work in the final sprint.
Dr. Ross Crushes $420K!
Next up, Matthew Ross.
I get emails all the time from people who owe $400K+. I tell them to do what Dr. Ross actually did:
- Dave Ramsey
- Creating a debt payoff chart
- Everything over 10k in my account immediately went to debt
- Don’t get accustomed to big income
The result? Debt-free in just 2 years and 8 months. Congratulations Dr. Ross!
Sazamas Sprint For Two Years!
Our next contestant is Dr. Alan Sazama.
The Sazamas owed $230K, but wiped it out in just two years while she was in school. How did they do it? The usual formula:
I set a goal of two years to pay off my loans and stuck to it. My group was short staffed so there were extra shifts to pick up. I bought a cheaper house in a low cost of living state with small mortgage payment. Drove an older used car. My wife and I still did some fun things and took a trip or two, but primarily lived like we did when we were living on her High school teacher salary while I was in training. We didn’t eat at fancy restaurants, we shopped bargain racks, and made a priority to putting extra money towards our loans. I did work quite a bit extra but this was easy for me coming out of residency. Having a goal made it easier. I had a target to shoot for. Thankfully, by sticking to it, my wife and I paid off our 230K of loans combined. (Wife is a PhD student). I submitted my last school loan payment on my 2 year anniversary of my start date as an attending, hitting my goal! Now, I’ve backed down my work hours and turned my attention to saving, and enjoying life a bit more without the burden of student loan debt! It can be hard to #livelikearesident but it’s so worth it!
Instead of telling yourself the ways your situation is different from those of all these folks, look at all the ways your situation is similar. Do what they did and enjoy the benefits. Congratulations Alan!
The Wrights Did Not Live Like a Resident
Next up is Taylor Wright. He and his wife paid off $240,000 in 3.5 years. They didn’t even have to live like a resident to do it.
My wife and I kept our ten year old paid for cars, I worked nights and weekends at a side job, we made our loan payments at the beginning of each month the day I was paid, we kept track of where we were compared to an amortization schedule, and kept to our residency budget plus a 50% raise so we felt like we had moved up a lot.
Congratulations Dr. Wright!
$350K Smacked Down By Dr. Rivello!
George Rivello is our next winner.
Dr. Rivello is a man of few words, but he did manage to pay off the precise sum of $350,786.43 in just three years. How? Three words:
Brown bag lunches.
I suspect there was a little more to it, but either way, well done. Congratulations George!
Lisa Paid It All Off!
Lisa is a bit anonymous today, but she still has an impressive story. She paid off a $350,000 student loan, a $215,000 house, and a $21,000 used SUV just six years out of residency.
I graduated in 2013 and got bad financial advice from an insurance salesperson. Started my own practice in 2016. Recognized the bad advice in 2017 when I discovered WCI. Started reading financial books (Simple Path to Wealth and WCI Financial Boot Camp.) Started tracking our budget and aggressively paying off debt for my husband and myself in 2017. Became debt free in 2019, started investing in a taxable account January 2020 – right at the peak! Also maxing out our retirement accounts as of 2019. I just wanted to say thank you to WCI for opening my eyes to bad advice and helping me find a better path to financial freedom.
Well done, Lisa!
Dr. Hargett Is Living Her Best Attending Life!
Damayea Hargett is the next contestant on #livelikearesident.
She paid off $260,000 in two years. Here are her tips:
Refinance loans. Pay off all high interest credit cards ASAP. Modest housing, don’t buy a new car, avoid shopping and splurging on material things. Use a CPA–the less you pay Uncle Sam, the more you can pay to your loans. Consider a financial advisor (that’s who set me on my path). Use a spending tracking app like Mint. Get and use a good rewards credit card and pay for EVERYTHING with it and have autopay setup monthly to avoid interest. Use those rewards to travel. Make a monthly budget- stick to it. Reward yourself for following through. Set a payoff timeline- mine was 5 years but then I got addicted. Instead of going shopping I’d get excited at the end of the month on how much extra I could pay off. Have an accountability partner who checks in on your progress and also reminds you of your goals, your why and points out when “your tryna ball out”.
After fellowship I splurged a little–had a nice rental, massages and salon visits monthly, took family on vacation and consistently ate out. I got a financial advisor who had me track ALL expenses for 3 months and pointed out how much I was spending on useless stuff with my “disposable income”. I immediately moved to a much cheaper & smaller place, cut out most luxuries (no blowouts, massages, dog grooming, subscriptions, cable, gym memberships). The exception was travel(paid for with credit card points) and the occasional eating out with friends ( which earned rewards with every meal/drink). I then dumped ALL of my disposable income at the end of each month into my loans. Once I was debt free I felt relieved and now am living my best attending life. I lived like a resident for six years already- so adding two more was not that hard and well worth it. Some would say invest instead of paying off loans but psychologically I needed to be free so paying it off was what I chose and I have no regrets.
Congratulations Dr. Hargett!
Dr. Boyle Gets Out From Under $470K
Our winner of the biggest debt paid off award today is Craig Boyle. With four kids of my own, I have a pretty good idea where that debt came from.
Dr. Boyle paid off $470K in just 5 years, 4 months. His tips:
Consistently higher payments, and every bit of extra money towards loans. That means signing bonuses, holiday bonuses, moonlighting, unexpected increases in pay. Honestly, every extra bit. Also, Don’t take out any other debt besides a mortgage. No cars, no credit cards, nothing else.
Congratulations Dr. Boyle!
The Common Denominator
Lots of lessons to learn here, but I think a common theme can be seen. All of these docs (and their families) made wiping out their debt a major priority in their lives. Whether they spent one year or six years paying it off, they prioritized becoming debt-free over a lot of other good things they could have done with their money. Congratulations to all of you!
All of these docs made wiping out their debt a major priority in their lives…They prioritized becoming debt-free over a lot of other good things they could have done with their money. Congratulations to all of you!
If you would like to celebrate your debt pay off with us, leave your name, story, and picture at https://www.whitecoatinvestor.com/debtfree and let the entire WCI community share in and be inspired by your achievement.
What do you think? What do you think is the key to success in paying off student loans quickly? Comment below!