Author Topic: First real job - $51k/year, $100k school debt, how do I start?  (Read 7589 times)

bomgd3

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Hello everyone,
I've been reading MMM for several months now but never really had an income to save.  I will finish med school in May with $100k debt at 2.75% in an adjustable rate home equity line (thanks to my wonderful parents who gave me the line and helped pay the other $100k).  I have $5k in ETFs (60%), AAPL (20%), and F (20%).  I will be starting residency in New Hampshire with salary of just under $51k/year.

Currently I own a Honda Fit with 80k miles that I would love to replace with an inexpensive, safer, more comfortable car because the Fit is just miserable on the highway.  I will be driving 2.5 hours to visit my girlfriend and family in Connecticut probably at least once/month.  I'll be visiting Montreal and Boston fairly regularly, too.  I was looking into ex-rental Chevy Impalas or similar, which are around $12k.  The other option is to wear noise-blocking earphones on the highway, which I currently do.  I also own two bikes, and plan on biking to work whenever the weather permits.

So my question is, how do I start off?  My monthly take-home pay should be $3000-3200 if I'm using the online calculators correctly.  My school loans are at a very low interest rate compared to my classmates who are typically paying 6.8-8.5%, but the rate is adjustable so I suppose I could see a higher rate as the Fed tapers its stimulus (I am a newbie at economics - is my understanding correct here?).

Right now my plan will be to pay $1300 to loans per month, leaving me with 1700-1900 to live on.  I currently live comfortably on $1300/month ($550 rent/utilities) although my rent will likely be higher in New Hampshire, probably $800 ish.  I'm actually not sure if I have access to a 403(b) plan - I just matched yesterday and haven't had a chance to call HR about that.

My biggest questions are:

(1) Are my numbers correct in terms of take-home pay?
(2) Are there any major pitfalls to the adjustable rate home equity approach to student loans?
(3) Should I slow down my loan repayment since it is at such a low rate?  I can expect a big income boost after residency in 3 years, so my payments during residency won't make a massive difference in the loan but may make a big difference in my lifestyle here and now.
(4) Realistically, can I afford a cheap car assuming I can get $6k for my current car and $2k from parent's graduation gift, leaving roughly $4-5k financed by the home equity line?  Are there major hidden costs to car ownership in NH?  I understand that registration fees and property taxes are high, but can't find any good estimates of the actual cost.
(4b) What about the Ford Crown Victoria?  I understand they are ridiculously reliable and comfortable highway cruisers with good highway mileage.  What's the cheapest way to buy one of those?
(4c) What other car options are around $10-12k, and ideally less?  Needs to be low-ish mileage, like 75k or less.
(5) What about marriage?  Is that pretty much off the table for now, unless we go the courthouse route?
(6) What about a house?  I understand that very big down payments are the norm these days, so am I stuck renting until the end of residency?  It seems like a shame to spend such a big portion of my income on rent, rather than building home equity.  At the same time, I'm unfamiliar with the overall costs of home ownership in NH especially with regards to the harsh winters and old housing stock.

Thanks in advance for any info you fellow Mustachians can provide!
« Last Edit: March 22, 2014, 08:01:58 AM by bomgd3 »

Gimesalot

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Re: First real job - $51k/year, $100k school debt, how do I start?
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2014, 09:21:33 AM »
Here are some answers:

(1) Are my numbers correct in terms of take-home pay?  You can use Paycheckcity.com to estimate take home pay.

(2) Are there any major pitfalls to the adjustable rate home equity approach to student loans? The biggest is that interest rates will go up.  I don't think this will happen for a while, but it will happen before you pay off $100k.  Expect your payments to increase.  The second downside is that your parents are on the hook for the loan.

(3) Should I slow down my loan repayment since it is at such a low rate?  I can expect a big income boost after residency in 3 years, so my payments during residency won't make a massive difference in the loan but may make a big difference in my lifestyle here and now. One of the main points of MMM is to avoid lifestyle creep.  You say you are used to living on $1300 a month.  You are going to increase to $1700 - $1900 a month.  The answer to this question really depends on how important FI is to you.

(5) What about marriage?  Is that pretty much off the table for now, unless we go the courthouse route? This one depends on you.  Are you okay with a $3000 to $5000 wedding, or do you need to have a $30k wedding?  If you are okay with the lower amount, that is only a few months of saving.

(6) What about a house?  I understand that very big down payments are the norm these days, so am I stuck renting until the end of residency?  It seems like a shame to spend such a big portion of my income on rent, rather than building home equity.  At the same time, I'm unfamiliar with the overall costs of home ownership in NH especially with regards to the harsh winters and old housing stock. Renting is not necessarily "wasting money" and paying for a house is not necessarily "building equity".  You should use the New York Times buy vs. rent calculator to see if it really makes sense. Remember that the cost of buying and selling a house is huge, not the down payment but the fees.  In order to make it worth the cost, you really need to plan on living in a house for more than 5 years, if not 10 years.

warfreak2

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Re: First real job - $51k/year, $100k school debt, how do I start?
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2014, 09:44:58 AM »
(3) Should I slow down my loan repayment since it is at such a low rate?  I can expect a big income boost after residency in 3 years, so my payments during residency won't make a massive difference in the loan but may make a big difference in my lifestyle here and now.
Normally you should pay off higher interest loans first, and if a loan is at a very low interest rate, investing might be preferable. However, this is a loan to your parents, so I'd prioritise it over investing. They were kind to offer you the loan, and you're shifting risk onto them, so it would be fair to take that burden off them, as and when you're able to.

kimmarg

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Re: First real job - $51k/year, $100k school debt, how do I start?
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2014, 09:48:49 AM »

Currently I own a Honda Fit with 80k miles that I would love to replace with an inexpensive, safer, more comfortable car because the Fit is just miserable on the highway.  I will be driving 2.5 hours to visit my girlfriend and family in Connecticut probably at least once/month.  I'll be visiting Montreal and Boston fairly regularly, too.  I was looking into ex-rental Chevy Impalas or similar, which are around $12k.  The other option is to wear noise-blocking earphones on the highway, which I currently do.  I
parent's graduation gift, leaving roughly $4-5k financed by the home equity line?  Are there major hidden costs to car ownership in NH?  I understand that registration fees and property taxes are high, but can't find any good estimates of the actual cost.
(4b) What about the Ford Crown Victoria?  I understand they are ridiculously reliable and comfortable highway cruisers with good highway mileage.  What's the cheapest way to buy one of those?
(4c) What other car options are around $10-12k, and ideally less?  Needs to be low-ish mileage, like 75k or less.

4c) I'd recommend a Honda Fit ;)
Seriously why do you want to get rid of the fit? After much research  I just  got one and I love it. Big factor in NH (I'm next door in Maine) for a car is how it handles in snow. I cringed at the idea of a chevy impala. I can picture you doing circles on I-89. I got snow tires for the Fit and it's handled well through everything and still getting around 38mpg in winter. I expect to do better in summer. 

How a car handles in snow is huge here. You don't need AWD but you DO need to plan for snow. I'm assuming a resident can't just call in and say "I'll be in later when it stops snowing". Yea it might be an bit loud on the highway. Maybe have it serviced?

LouisPritchard

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Re: First real job - $51k/year, $100k school debt, how do I start?
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2014, 09:50:54 AM »
(3) Should I slow down my loan repayment since it is at such a low rate?  I can expect a big income boost after residency in 3 years, so my payments during residency won't make a massive difference in the loan but may make a big difference in my lifestyle here and now.

Get rid of that debt as fast as possible. You should avoid lifestyle creep but it won't get easier after you get married and start having kids.

(4) Realistically, can I afford a cheap car assuming I can get $6k for my current car and $2k from parent's graduation gift, leaving roughly $4-5k financed by the home equity line?  Are there major hidden costs to car ownership in NH?  I understand that registration fees and property taxes are high, but can't find any good estimates of the actual cost.

Sure, go ahead and get into more debt by borrowing against your parents house to buy a depreciating, rolling piece of sheet metal. (does this not sound as absurd to you as it does it me?)

Keep driving the Fit until the wheels fall off (probably at least another 120K miles before it's dead, by then you should be out of residency and can afford to pay cash for a nicer vehicle.


(5) What about marriage?  Is that pretty much off the table for now, unless we go the courthouse route?

Weddings are one of the biggest wastes of money IMO. Mine was on a public beach and costs us around $5K for everything. If she'll go for the courthouse go for it otherwise look at state/public parks and other nearly free venues and just have a party.


(6) What about a house?  I understand that very big down payments are the norm these days, so am I stuck renting until the end of residency?  It seems like a shame to spend such a big portion of my income on rent, rather than building home equity.  At the same time, I'm unfamiliar with the overall costs of home ownership in NH especially with regards to the harsh winters and old housing stock.

My advise is to rent something cheap until you know for sure that you're going to live in that area for 10+ years. I've rented then owned and am back to renting. While I could pay cash for a house at this point it's jut not worth the trouble for less than 10 years for me. Even if the value goes up it's eaten up by maintenance, improvements, and that 6%-7% transaction fee that you have to pay to sell it and the 1% closing fees to buy, in the short term. I don't plan to buy again until I'm living in the location I want to retire in.

Hamster

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Re: First real job - $51k/year, $100k school debt, how do I start?
« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2014, 09:52:55 AM »
I understand that very big down payments are the norm these days, so am I stuck renting until the end of residency?
I would argue that 20% downpayments have been the norm for a very long time, other than the big messy time that we went through recently. Lending with low/no downpayments is part of what created the real estate bubble since many people could buy houses without the means to pay for them,  and then the bust since buyers had no skin in the game and walked away when prices fell.

That said, there are many ways to buy with lower down payments.

If you really do want to buy, look into:
1) FHA and NewHampshireHousing Authority. Based on resident income and location of your purchase, you may qualify for a very low downpayment option with governement support. Interest rates will likely be a bit higher than if you had a sizeable downpayment, though.

2) Physician Loans. Bank of America is offering them again (they stopped for a while during the market crash), and I think a number of other lenders are back in that market as well. They typically offer low down-payment mortgages with no PMI. See http://www.physicianbanks.com/. Free registration required - reportedly to keep the banks themselves from harrassing the owner of the site.

Also, as ohers have said, renting isn't necessarily a bad thing - it really depends on circumstances.

There should be a 403 plan through your residency program. I think that is pretty standard since you will be an employee of the University/Hospital. Definitely take advantage of it to the extent that you can. One of the mistakes Drs make is not saving during residency, since there is a much bigger paycheck on the horizon.

Just curious what specialty you matched in if you want to share.

Also, why are you buying AAPL - 20% of your savings in one company seems out of balance.

Janie

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Re: First real job - $51k/year, $100k school debt, how do I start?
« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2014, 10:29:57 AM »
Here's a link to the rent vs own calculator mentioned by the poster above.
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/business/buy-rent-calculator.html

I would keep the Fit, invest the generous graduation gift, and leave the home equity line alone.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2014, 10:37:40 AM by Janie »

lizzzi

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Re: First real job - $51k/year, $100k school debt, how do I start?
« Reply #7 on: March 22, 2014, 10:48:38 AM »
Just a thought--in a pinch--as a physician, if you can't get  out of your driveway and get to work in a bad snow situation, the police department will probably be able to come pick you up in some kind of AWD vehicle and take you in to the hospital.

CarDude

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Re: First real job - $51k/year, $100k school debt, how do I start?
« Reply #8 on: March 22, 2014, 11:07:09 AM »
From the car safety perspective (because that's what I do), if you're looking for something safer yet still affordable, you can pick up a 2008 Accord for around 11k with 100k miles that will be safer than your Fit and both safer and more reliable than any Crown Victoria. Depending on the year, you could probably sell your Fit for around 7-9k, meaning you could have a much safer and equally reliable vehicle for between 2 and 4k. To me, it's worth it, especially since you seem to value safety and rack up the miles in driving.

Oh, and I wouldn't ever, ever, ever borrow money for a car. If you're making 51k a year and can't save 2-4k in a few months, you need to spend more time reading PF literature (MMM, ERE, YMOYL, etc), and less time thinking about cars, houses, marriage, or anything else, as you're not going to learn to manage money any better when you're earning a full physician's salary if you don't learn it when you're earning a resident's salary.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2014, 11:12:57 AM by CarSafetyGuy »

Cpa Cat

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Re: First real job - $51k/year, $100k school debt, how do I start?
« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2014, 11:50:27 AM »
Having a small wedding is the best decision I ever made. We got married for under $500

We actually did get married in a church - for free because we knew the pastor - and had 8 people at the wedding, then went to dinner after at a casual Mexican restaurant. My dress was $35 off the clearance rack. Our rings were our biggest expense (plain white gold - no engagement ring). With the money we could have spent, we put a downpayment on a home.

Every time I go to a wedding, I thank the powers of be that we made the decision we did. What a bunch of hassle and expense.

I once had someone tell me that now that my husband made some money, I should make him "upgrade" my wedding ring to something with diamonds. I almost vomitted. My wedding was special because my marriage is special and my wedding ring is special because it's the ring I got married with! Diamonds and flowers and all of that BS isn't what makes it special.

So my advice - get married if you want to get married. Avoid lifestyle creep and you'll have your debt paid off in no time. Balance the low interest rate against the emotional burden of being in debt. Also - either pick up life insurance or make it a priority to pay off the money your parents have out. Don't burden other people with your debt.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2014, 11:52:57 AM by Cpa Cat »

TomTX

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Re: First real job - $51k/year, $100k school debt, how do I start?
« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2014, 05:27:31 PM »

(5) What about marriage?  Is that pretty much off the table for now, unless we go the courthouse route? This one depends on you.  Are you okay with a $3000 to $5000 wedding, or do you need to have a $30k wedding?  If you are okay with the lower amount, that is only a few months of saving.


Ha! I had a sub-$500 wedding. With lots of people, and a grocery-store cake. It was great.

Admittedly, inflation-adjusted it's closer to $800.

TomTX

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Re: First real job - $51k/year, $100k school debt, how do I start?
« Reply #11 on: March 22, 2014, 05:35:13 PM »

(6) What about a house?  I understand that very big down payments are the norm these days, so am I stuck renting until the end of residency?  It seems like a shame to spend such a big portion of my income on rent, rather than building home equity.  At the same time, I'm unfamiliar with the overall costs of home ownership in NH especially with regards to the harsh winters and old housing stock. Renting is not necessarily "wasting money" and paying for a house is not necessarily "building equity".  You should use the New York Times buy vs. rent calculator to see if it really makes sense. Remember that the cost of buying and selling a house is huge, not the down payment but the fees.  In order to make it worth the cost, you really need to plan on living in a house for more than 5 years, if not 10 years.

WTF?

Buying a house for 3 years of residency?!??!? That's patently insane. Without considering the huge time sink and financial risk involved, you will be throwing away something like 10% of the value of the house in frictional costs from the transactions.

The residential house-selling industry is rigged. They siphon huge amounts of cash out of every standard (realtor-brokered, mortgage financed) transaction.  They are the ones who are behind the whole "renting is throwing money away!!!1111" meme - which for most Americans, is totally false.

Yes, owning a house can be great - I own one. But you need to be sure that you are going to be settled in an area for a long time (like 10 years) before you even consider buying a house.

Plus, you will be immediately succumbing to lifestyle inflation. Rent a cheap 1-bedroom apartment. Keep your lifestyle down, pay down your debts and start building your retirement accounts.

TomTX

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Re: First real job - $51k/year, $100k school debt, how do I start?
« Reply #12 on: March 22, 2014, 07:33:48 PM »
Having a small wedding is the best decision I ever made. We got married for under $500

We actually did get married in a church - for free because we knew the pastor - and had 8 people at the wedding, then went to dinner after at a casual Mexican restaurant. My dress was $35 off the clearance rack. Our rings were our biggest expense (plain white gold - no engagement ring). With the money we could have spent, we put a downpayment on a home.

Dangit! I'm used to being the one with the "cheapest wedding dress" story. But it was $99 on the clearance rack...

kimmarg

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Re: First real job - $51k/year, $100k school debt, how do I start?
« Reply #13 on: March 22, 2014, 07:45:20 PM »
Just a thought--in a pinch--as a physician, if you can't get  out of your driveway and get to work in a bad snow situation, the police department will probably be able to come pick you up in some kind of AWD vehicle and take you in to the hospital.

This is rediculous! There are probably hundreds of hospital employees and a few tens of policemen.

<soapbox> If YOU take a job that required you to get to work in any conditions then YOU need to ensure you can do that. Your coworkers will be stuck picking up your slack at work while you can't get in. </soapbox> I have a coworker with a crappy car that gets stuck. We all get annoyed. Sure once in a blue moon something happens and you're late. It snows 5 months a year in NH, but not being able to make it into work should be a once a decade event. Get snow tires. The honda accord is fine too.

bomgd3

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Re: First real job - $51k/year, $100k school debt, how do I start?
« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2014, 09:28:55 AM »
Thanks so much for the thoughtful advice everyone!  This forum is great.  I used the income calculator and it came to $3100/mo on average.  Judging from the numbers, buying a house definitely doesn't make sense so I will just look for reasonably priced rentals.  It's nice to know that physician's loans are back, though - I'll file that bit away for the future.

As for the car issue, some of you guys seem to be frothing at the mouth a bit.  I know that MMM "hates" cars but each person has unique needs, and cars do have a purpose.  Yes, they depreciate, but I need one to get around as I noted in my original post.  The Honda Fit is a terrible highway car and that is likely to be the majority of my driving.  It's also not particularly safe (although yes, very good in the snow but that was never my issue).  Given my low income, however, I will prioritize paying off loans and look for an inexpensive car once I have a better handle on my monthly budget.  I'll stick with earplugs for now.

As for marriage, well, that was some really helpful advice.  I never thought of the more budget approaches to weddings like doing it in a public park (beautiful parks are plentiful in NH) and other ideas.  Will spend some more time looking into those options.

Emg03063

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Re: First real job - $51k/year, $100k school debt, how do I start?
« Reply #15 on: March 23, 2014, 10:32:52 AM »
As for the car issue, some of you guys seem to be frothing at the mouth a bit.  I know that MMM "hates" cars but each person has unique needs, and cars do have a purpose.  Yes, they depreciate, but I need one to get around as I noted in my original post. 

Is the location of your residency not served by busses, and is there not workable housing available in walking or biking distance of your place of employment?  Unless the answers to both of those questions is yes, your car is a want, not a need.  I'm not saying you'd shouldn't have one, but recognize it for what it is.

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Re: First real job - $51k/year, $100k school debt, how do I start?
« Reply #16 on: March 23, 2014, 02:55:33 PM »
Given my low income, however, I will prioritize paying off loans and look for an inexpensive car once I have a better handle on my monthly budget.  I'll stick with earplugs for now.

You can do as you please, but it would be kind to your future patients to realize that $51k is not a low income by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, half of every family in the country makes less *combined* than you'll be making as an individual.

bomgd3

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Re: First real job - $51k/year, $100k school debt, how do I start?
« Reply #17 on: March 23, 2014, 03:37:39 PM »
[edit] I will ignore the pedants.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2014, 03:39:26 PM by bomgd3 »

Gray Matter

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Re: First real job - $51k/year, $100k school debt, how do I start?
« Reply #18 on: March 23, 2014, 03:50:53 PM »
[edit] I will ignore the pedants.

(That's not really ignoring them.)

gobius

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Re: First real job - $51k/year, $100k school debt, how do I start?
« Reply #19 on: March 24, 2014, 01:10:29 PM »
Your estimate on income is close.  I came out of school making $53K/yr and was taking home $3,200/mo.  I don't know your state tax situation and that was 6 years ago so your federal tax rate is a little lower than mine was.  That was also after I paid health insurance and other benefits.

I live in the Midwest so I don't know cost differences, but I think you could flip those two numbers (live on $1300/mo and pay the rest toward loans).  My rent + utilities out of school was $450-470/mo ($350/mo less than yours) and I was living on about $1,100/mo.  That included driving 350 miles/week to work and back (gas was $4/gallon getting 27 miles/gallon and I was too dumb to think of carpooling).  That was costing $200/mo + misc costs, plus I was driving to see my long-distance girlfriend about once every 6 weeks and driving to see family 4 hours away every month or two.  I think you have room in your budget but don't know your situation.  Perhaps you can find someone who is willing to rent a room to you.  If it's in a college town you will find lots of people willing to do this; I did this once.

If you are wanting under 75K miles and a decent price, I repeat others' recommendations of an Accord.  But why not find something with 100K+ miles and known for reliability?  An Accord or Civic is a good example; they will get you over 200K miles most of the time.  When I was car shopping I saw good Accords and other Japanese small cars for $5-8K.  I actually bought a 2002 Mazda Protege with 140K miles for $2500.  I don't know enough about a Fit, but if it's just the noise that's the issue I would just use earplugs; just don't offer to drive anyone around ;).  You're getting great mileage.

You mentioned that you wouldn't have much paid off after your residency; I beg to differ. If you pay $1300/mo for 3 years you will be down to $60K at the end of your residency; 40% is pretty good.  If you bump that up to $1800/mo, you will get it down to $40K.  When you're making your full salary, you can continue paying that amount and have it paid off in 2-4 more years while investing the rest, or pay it off even faster.

I would also repeat others' recommendation to rent, unless you want to buy something small/cheap near your job and rent out rooms to keep out-of-pocket low.  It'd probably be easier to just rent though.  What about renting a 2-BR with someone?  That's usually cheaper per person than a 1-BR apartment.

Whether you should invest or not is a little more complicated since your parents are on the hook as well.  Personally, I would want to relieve their burden ASAP, even if that means I don't build a nest egg as quickly.  Your parents already fronted you for part of the other $100K and are saving you a lot of interest; as others said, you are leveraging your investing with "their" money.  Think about this: you would be paying 2.5x the interest on your loan if you got it at 6.8%.  From my spreadsheet that is over $300/mo interest difference.  Your parents have given you a pretty sweet deal; in your situation I would be trying to pay them back ASAP to return the favor.  Now, if they have $10M in the bank, that may be another story.  I'm also not considering retirement accounts; since those have annual limits you could perhaps put a little into a pre-tax account (I wouldn't even do Roth IRA's right now since you are paying taxes up-front anyway).

Not only that, but in 3 years that interest rate could rise.  That's just my thought, but I'm more debt-averse.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: First real job - $51k/year, $100k school debt, how do I start?
« Reply #20 on: March 24, 2014, 03:40:07 PM »
Since your student loans are to a very generous family, despite the low rate, I'd pay them off ASAP.

In fact, I'd avoid a lot of the travel you'd mention until I was free and clear. Don't eat out. Don't do a lot of things. That's a pretty incredible gift you were given. Don't be a dick.

If the car is only worth around $6K I'd keep it and suck it up. In 10 years when it's still running just great, you'll be bragging about how cheap your car needs have been. But I'm a guy who thinks cars are pretty dumb, and only to be used when absolutely necessary.

In what universe does the Crown Victoria get good highway mileage? I almost taught my goblins a new word when I read that, lol.

Abe

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Re: First real job - $51k/year, $100k school debt, how do I start?
« Reply #21 on: March 24, 2014, 04:01:18 PM »
Congratulations on matching! I'm 4 years into my residency so can give you some advice in regards to finances. Feel free the message me if you have residency-specific questions I may be able to answer.

Your estimate on take-home is accurate.

Your hospital likely has a 403(b), but most do not provide matching contributions to residents (except in NYC with unionized programs).

Regarding loans, I advise paying back an amount that you can tolerate while living comfortably. If you only have $100k in debt, you should be able to pay it off very quickly after finishing residency. Just keep living like a resident for a few years. Most of my friends who are now attendings did so, and they will be debt-free in 2-3 years.

For 3 years, I recommend renting. A mortgage will be mostly interest during that time, so you will actually have little equity beyond the down-payment when selling. Then you have to deal with selling the house while looking for jobs and possibly moving far away. In the long run, the savings will be negligible and hassles of maintaining a house more stress. For example, imagine finishing a 24hr call and coming home to a toilet leaking.

bomgd3

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Re: First real job - $51k/year, $100k school debt, how do I start?
« Reply #22 on: March 24, 2014, 04:07:47 PM »
Thanks Abe - I'm super excited to move on with my life and finally end 20 years of formal schooling!  Based on my current expenses and take-home pay estimate, $1300 should be a comfortable monthly payment.

Thanks for your excellent advice, Gobius.  Given the advice of various forum members and my own gradual acceptance of the hard budget numbers, I will stick with my Fit for the time being.  I might revisit the issue in a few years, certainly once I have a better idea of monthly living expenses and am further along (if not done) with residency.

Goblinchief - My folks are doing fine financially and loaning me money from their home equity line costs them nothing.  I'm not sure how eating out (modestly), traveling (modestly), or "doing things" would make me "a dick".

I believe I have the info I need.  Thanks again to all who provided helpful and non-judgmental advice.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2014, 04:09:52 PM by bomgd3 »