Hey look! A red Ferrari just passed me on the interstate. It must belong to a doctor right? Lol, as a med student that is not what comes to my mind – he must be in business or something other than healthcare. While it is true that some physicians own Ferraris, the vast majority of them are 30 years old when they get a real job and have between a quarter and a half a million dollars of debt. Many of them don’t finish paying off the debt until retirement and most of them make significant lifestyle sacrifices to pay it off sooner. So owning a Ferrari is more of a dream at this point in the healthcare game.
My husband and I don’t dream of fancy sports cars, but we do dream of financial freedom and are putting thought and action into minimizing debt repercussions. Below are a five ways we work to be good stewards of our resources and, hopefully, have at least a nicer house than our 20 year old remodeled mobile home, a family, and some baby goats:
You probably heard this one coming. BUT it is still super important! If you don’t know how much you’re spending there is no way of setting limits on the debt you are accruing. We set budgets for 6 months at a time and focus less on weekly budgets. The weekly budgets were a little too restrictive at some points when there were weeks we wanted to spend more on fun activities versus weeks were we were drowning in neuroanatomy lectures and didn’t spend on anything. Find what works for you and stick to it.
Okay, I know this one sounds boring but it’s how you achieve number one; especially if you’re married. Good communication is crucial for any couple and we specifically set aside time (usually there is food involved) once a quarter to evaluate past spending, current financial status, what our budget needs to be next, how much we will need to take out in loans next borrowing cycle, etc. It’s amazing! No more fear, no more worrying about how deep we are digging our selves in the hole and we trust each other implicitly because everything is on the table. A benefit of these meetings is we also discuss which credit card to prioritize that quarter based on what cash back rewards are being given. If you are disciplined and pay off your cards monthly, credit cards offer valuable cash back in the long term – make it work for you!
The memes never end for people going grocery shopping and then being too tired to cook when they get home so they go back and buy take-out. Meal planning simplifies the equation so you have the freedom to have something in the crock pot while you’re out grocery shopping for the next week and wa-la dinner is ready when you get home. It only takes about 15 minutes a week to meal plan and saves you time in two ways: 1) you don’t have to think about about “what’s for dinner tonight” and 2) you don’t wander around the grocery store aimlessly trying to find things that look good. Meal planning saves money because you also are not buying non-essentials. Oh and did I mention that you also eat at home more (which is cheaper) and have options to choose more nutritious foods than the burrito you ordered at Taco Bell last week? Get a fun notebook and get after it!
I also use the Ibotta app to help with coupons and additional discounts. Definitely recommend it with the simply caution that, like other coupons, just because something is a good deal doesn’t mean you’re saving money if you never buy that product anyway.
Coffee at Home:
Seriously, it’s not hard to make it at home. I am a huge fan of lattes myself but we only go out for those on special occasions. Our school generously provides coffee that we drink most days and then on weekends or days we need extra coffee we use a French Press and whole beans (from Walmart people, before someone gets excited we’re buying expensive stuff on a how-to-save-money post). French Press coffee is great, if you have never tried it and have endured life with a Keurig allow me to introduce you to a serious upgrade. Keurig’s do not make coffee, they make something liquid and dark that sometimes has caffeine – not to mention they are expensive and gross inside. Anyway, we do sometimes study at coffee shops to take a break from studying at home or school but we also limit these trips and buy the cheap stuff.
The Do I Need It Trick
Medical school and other types of financial binds like to show you how much you want. All. Of. The. Time. However running out and buying a new cranberry colored purse because the 1st three leaves of fall fell is not wise when you don’t have a real job. We have resorted to asking ourselves the “do I need this now” question when we have wants. Some wants need to be taken care of simply for sanity’s sake. Christmas and anniversary are still real times that should be celebrated. You have to decide what celebrate means in your book though, how much you actually have to spend to keep someone happy, and how much you need to spend to keep yourself happy. In that vein of thought, what are your opinions on thrift stores and why? I absolutely LOVE thrift stores and consignment shops and even garage sales. Use the cheap prices to your advantage! Recently I discovered ThredUP, an online thrift store. Check it out, it’s phenomenal and has 30% off your first order! Coming in the future soon is a post on the philosophy of minimalism assessing it’s pros and cons. For now though, remember that often less is more and you don’t need the newest phone, clothes with tags, or Sephora to keep up with the times.
How do you save money for your future goals? 🙂