Author Topic: Getting through med school with minimal debt.  (Read 4995 times)

Brett

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Getting through med school with minimal debt.
« on: March 25, 2012, 07:18:39 AM »
This started as a conversation on the 'Who know's about your mustachianism thread' (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/forum/ask-a-mustachian/who-knows-about-your-mustachianism/) and I've continued it here to stay on topic.


I work in a hospital and a couple weeks ago, I heard two of the older doctors talking about winding down I can distinctly remember one of them mentioning how he'd love to retire, but he needs the money he's making to cover his house note, car note, and various other miscellaneous consumer decisions of the past that he is now paying for. That had quite an impact on me and helped steady my resolve in FI. It was further bolstered by the conversation I've had with several of my med school friends about how their studies are going and inevitably going over how they'll be paying off their student loans for decades. And finally, I read the book The Millionaire Next Door in which the authors chronicled their conversations and meetings with several millionaires and professionals. The book was also packed with stats. By and large, all professionals (except for teachers/professors) tend to earn less than their parents who were in similar fields. If their parents were actually millionaires as well (even if not one of the "professional" fields), a good number their professionally employed children never ended up as millionaires again. They found this because of what we all know as lifestyle inflation and the attitude that your SO has: "I make _____ a year so I can afford to lavish myself and I'll always have enough money to spend on x, y, and z". At that rate, life passes by faster than initially assumed and our med student friends are that old doctor from the beginning.
Fortunately for you, the FI light has been introduced to you. If you can set up even part of your expenses to be covered by alternative sources before the end of med school, you'll be well on your way towards a much happier time than most of the people in your cohort. While your colleagues are weighing their residencies based on the pay package offered, you can look at some on areas that actually interest you without much regard to the money. Then provided your SO doesn't hinder your progress, you should easily be able to replicate MMM's timeline and achieve a FI lifestyle that easily passes an average family living on $40k (2012 dollars), at which point you can easily inflate your lifestyle via cash or continue to have more money than you know what to do with. At that point, opening your own practice depends less on how well it will do because you won't depend on it for your life.
But I think you've already seen that vision and are excited by it and just want him on board with it too. I recommend you start in the present. For a special events or whatever, model to him that lifestyle that you want. I'm sure he'll consider you one of his prime targets for spending, so if you keep telling him that you want a less flashy lifestyle but not sending hints if/when he tries to provide one, he may not get the message correctly. Instead of buying him something when society says you should be, make it for him instead. After awhile, he should start to get the message. Then of course, MMM has just started another series on getting the SO on board and he has some other ones on the subject as well. BNL and a couple other bloggers also talk about the same issue, so look around to show him that you're not just going crazy and trying to spoil all the fun.

What a kick-ass response, thanks. Obviously as a mustachian I think it's freaking absurd that any doctor could ever not be FI within a decade at least of med school. I think I am making some headway with FI for the SO (so many abbreviations). I think the way it will end up being managed, unless my 'examples' to him don't have the desired effect will be that, household expenses aside, we'll manage our money largely independently agree on a set savings rate (which will hopefully be greater than the average, then he'll follow a Ramit Sethi style plan while I'll be taking a mustachian approach.

The great thing for me being in the UK, is if I go to med school on a graduate program I'll "only" have to pay one years tuition, the rest are covered by the NHS. Plus living expenses and (assuming I can figure out a way to minimise the loans I take out, which are government run, rather than bank loans thankfully) I should "only" incur another 20k of debt for med school. Ideally I'll have living expenses covered through savings or other income, and I'll leave with 10k of extra debt. My parents want to help with tuition etc, but I'd rather not if I can get around it, especially because I am sure they'd be taking equity from their house to do it, which they haven't paid off yet so I don't want to add to that.

My interest in growing vegetables, is expanding into general gardening (thanks to my mum and a friend wanting help in their gardens, plus my cousin expressed interest in help). It occurred to me this could be useful for generating income - helping people set up organic gardens that produce food plus are beautiful, a worthy investment at any point in time, but especially now. I'm not sure how much interest there would be in the general population, but could be worth a look. This would probably be too time intensive to do during medical school, but for the next couple of years at least could make a great evening and weekend earner to help save up, plus it doesn't feel like work to me since I love getting dirt under my nails and being outside.

Would love to hear from any doctors, hospital workers or med students on this, plus anyone who's using garden work as an income stream.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2012, 07:20:38 AM by Brett »

HeidiO

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Re: Getting through med school with minimal debt.
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2012, 02:35:41 PM »
I think setting up people's gardens  and teaching them to garden is a fabulous idea for a way to make money.
  At least over here (in the US) a lot of med students live more like they are middle class than students.  They are planning on making so much money the loans won't matter.   I also see very new docs w/ their sports cars, houses that cost 5x what mine does, and frequent exotic world travel.  Those things look fun, and I understand the idea that they "deserve" them - they work ridiculously long hours.  But they are setting themselves up for a lifetime of working those long hours.
   As someone who has wanted to early retire since before I was working, med school didn't make sense to me.  If this is your passion, great.  But there are other ways to be a healer.  I chose nursing.  2 years of community college (after I got a BA in philosophy) that cost $660 plus books.  Much less status of course.  And of course I work with some obnoxious docs - but so do they! I don't think my working conditions are worse than the doctors I work with.  I would say I probably like my job more than many of the docs I work with.
  If your goal is ER, extended schooling may pay off with more pay when you do get your career, but you really have to weigh all those years in school.  Unless being a doctor is your calling - then do it.  But I see people who do it more for money and status, and they don't look like they are that happy.
Heidi

Brett

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Re: Getting through med school with minimal debt.
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2012, 02:57:19 PM »
I think setting up people's gardens  and teaching them to garden is a fabulous idea for a way to make money.
  At least over here (in the US) a lot of med students live more like they are middle class than students.  They are planning on making so much money the loans won't matter.   I also see very new docs w/ their sports cars, houses that cost 5x what mine does, and frequent exotic world travel.  Those things look fun, and I understand the idea that they "deserve" them - they work ridiculously long hours.  But they are setting themselves up for a lifetime of working those long hours.
   As someone who has wanted to early retire since before I was working, med school didn't make sense to me.  If this is your passion, great.  But there are other ways to be a healer.  I chose nursing.  2 years of community college (after I got a BA in philosophy) that cost $660 plus books.  Much less status of course.  And of course I work with some obnoxious docs - but so do they! I don't think my working conditions are worse than the doctors I work with.  I would say I probably like my job more than many of the docs I work with.
  If your goal is ER, extended schooling may pay off with more pay when you do get your career, but you really have to weigh all those years in school.  Unless being a doctor is your calling - then do it.  But I see people who do it more for money and status, and they don't look like they are that happy.
Heidi

Thanks Heidi. It frustrates the hell out of me, because I would like to just work and save money etc, I have considered the other healthcare options extensively! I've decided on pursuing a whole bunch of different careers but ultimately always came back to wanting to be a doctor. It is a real passion of mine, and as much as the money and status might be great, for me it's really about the people. I want to be able to travel abroad with charities and not worry about the costs etc, which for me is a massive attraction of FI. I'm not really looking to retire early, just to be able to be do-gooder while minimising the cost to people I'd have to work through. Nursing, (which I really doesn't get the credit it deserves) while very satisfying, I'm sure, and tempting because it would cost me nothing at all in tuition or living expenses, just lacks what I want I think. Perhaps it's a bit of narcissism but I really want the mystery/diagnosis aspect and doing the work, possibly surgery to fix people.

As for the gardening type business, I did think that it would be better to be teaching people the skills and setting them up rather than constantly going back and doing work with them being out of the process. I think people would appreciate everything that comes from the garden much more if they're involved in it.

dancedancekj

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Re: Getting through med school with minimal debt.
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2012, 08:47:51 PM »
If you point out that he still has a while to go before he even starts earning money (I'm assuming he's still in med school and hasn't started residency yet) and that his student loans may likely be close to 7%, and show him the math, he might start singing a different tune if you point out given his current financial habits he would have to practice until 70.

I've been practicing less than a year, and although I discovered MMM a little bit before I graduated, I know that I need to achieve FI/ER simply because of my profession alone. Since I'm a dentist, I rely on my hands, eyesight, and fine motor skills. I am healthy and young, but as the years go by, I know that my eyesight will get worse, my hands will get shakier, I might develop some sort of back or neck pain from chronic work, or insurance companies will keep paying less and less, or malpractice insurance will skyrocket, or any number of possibilities that might drastically decrease my ability to earn an income. Not to mention that it's popular notion to treat doctors or health care professionals with disdain, mistrust, and outright hatred nowdays, and despite my love of people and genuine care for my patients, I know I don't want to deal with complainypants for the rest of my life.

Doctors can get some really good benefits towards loan repayment if they enter areas of public health - Indian Health Services, or the National Health Service Corps sites in particular. A lot of my classmates also decided to go into the air force - after 4 years of service, they are technically debt free. There are some options out there, but they are obviously not without sacrifices, and given that the average medical student in the US is accumulating $250-400,000.00 of debt at the moment, any help towards repaying loans should be considered.

Brett

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Re: Getting through med school with minimal debt.
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2012, 01:51:24 PM »
If you point out that he still has a while to go before he even starts earning money (I'm assuming he's still in med school and hasn't started residency yet) and that his student loans may likely be close to 7%, and show him the math, he might start singing a different tune if you point out given his current financial habits he would have to practice until 70.

I've been practicing less than a year, and although I discovered MMM a little bit before I graduated, I know that I need to achieve FI/ER simply because of my profession alone. Since I'm a dentist, I rely on my hands, eyesight, and fine motor skills. I am healthy and young, but as the years go by, I know that my eyesight will get worse, my hands will get shakier, I might develop some sort of back or neck pain from chronic work, or insurance companies will keep paying less and less, or malpractice insurance will skyrocket, or any number of possibilities that might drastically decrease my ability to earn an income. Not to mention that it's popular notion to treat doctors or health care professionals with disdain, mistrust, and outright hatred nowdays, and despite my love of people and genuine care for my patients, I know I don't want to deal with complainypants for the rest of my life.

Doctors can get some really good benefits towards loan repayment if they enter areas of public health - Indian Health Services, or the National Health Service Corps sites in particular. A lot of my classmates also decided to go into the air force - after 4 years of service, they are technically debt free. There are some options out there, but they are obviously not without sacrifices, and given that the average medical student in the US is accumulating $250-400,000.00 of debt at the moment, any help towards repaying loans should be considered.

I think that part of the problem is that he wants to practise until he's ready to retire, I think for me the practical aspects of having the funds to not worry about if something ever did happen to him that meant he couldn't practice is the area I might sway him on. I'll definitely have to do the math and show him, hopefully the numbers and facts will be more persuasive. I appreciate the advice there on benefits etc, however, and I'm sorry I should have made it clear to save your time, we're in the UK so those specific examples don't apply to us. You have given me the idea to look into that sort of thing over here though. The cost of med school in the US is insane! It doesn't come close to that over here, even though tuition just tripled for anyone starting university this year. Assuming a student took out the full amount of loan available, which he did, the cost would be around 40, 000. With the tripling of tuition that's risen to around 65,000