Author Topic: Making the most of Med/Grad School  (Read 3358 times)

t-rymz

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Making the most of Med/Grad School
« on: May 05, 2016, 11:51:09 AM »
Soon I'll be leaving the workforce and starting an MD/PhD program in medical school. The program is funded and I'll be paid just under 30k per year for the duration of the program (about 8 years), plus they waive tuition/fees and provide health insurance. There's a big upside to this, namely, I'll graduate as a doctor with no debt. On the other hand, there's a large opportunity cost and with 30k income, there's only so much money I can save.

For those curious, part of the reason I decided to do the MD/PhD is because I figured if I FIRE'd in my thirties, I wouldn't want to hang out on a beach all day, and the what I'd really like to do most is medical/scientific research. Then I realized I didn't have to retire before doing research, I could get them to pay for it and start now!

What I am asking is, any suggestions for making the most of these years in med/grad school? I can sweep any spare money into a Roth, but I can't think of much more than that. Any suggestions?

Noodle

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Re: Making the most of Med/Grad School
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2016, 02:34:32 PM »
I think grad school is more about building the knowledge/experience bank than the money bank. It's also a great time to build frugal muscles because everyone is poor and you don't have time for frivolous pursuits like lounging around over spendy dinners. So financially, the biggest thing I would think about is trying to avoid the credit-card debt that builds up when you are exhausted and overextended--make sure you have cheap staples around so you aren't tempted to grab takeout when you get out of the lab at 11 PM, etc. Also, universities often have tons of discounts and freebies--my grad school had an ice rink where students could skate for free when the hockey team wasn't practicing, for instance. This may sound weird, but it might also be worth researching on-campus grad student housing even though people think of it as more expensive. I lived on campus my first two years (then was in a program based off-campus, with no housing nearby, so rented a place.) The cost was a little higher out of pocket, but not having to drive, provide furnishings, pay to socialize (ie, I didn't have to make social plans, I always had people to hang out with in the residence) ended up costing me less than being off-campus--I didn't have a meal plan. Plus the college had grad students and international students (who are often older) sharing the same residence so I met some fascinating people.

ReluctantMillennial

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Re: Making the most of Med/Grad School
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2016, 02:55:13 PM »
Soon I'll be leaving the workforce and starting an MD/PhD program in medical school. The program is funded and I'll be paid just under 30k per year for the duration of the program (about 8 years), plus they waive tuition/fees and provide health insurance. There's a big upside to this, namely, I'll graduate as a doctor with no debt. On the other hand, there's a large opportunity cost and with 30k income, there's only so much money I can save.

Don't have much advice about your money, but congratulations on getting into the program and finding a way to accelerate your FIRE in a way that will be fulfilling for you.  I wish you luck.  I knew a couple MSTP students when I was in grad school and I understand it's quite competitive and exhausting, but the knowledge you will gain is just incredible.  How awesome that you don't have to worry about losing out on money by leaving the workforce to pursue something you're passionate about.

Definitely echo what Noodle said, too.  Discounts abound for students.  One of my favorite things to do was listen to the Big Five symphony who played in the auditorium right across the street from campus.  $5 and $10 tickets!  Even if the symphony isn't your style, there are often ways to spend a few dollars and get an experience worth many times that.  Obviously you can't do that every night or you'll run out of money, but if you're on these forums I'm sure that's not a temptation you'll have.

MsPeacock

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Re: Making the most of Med/Grad School
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2016, 07:36:30 PM »
I had friends in grad school that got RA positions in the dorms and lived for free.

If you get your Master's along the way (my doctoral program awarded a non-terminal M.S. mid-way) you can get a teaching gig at a community college. This was my deal in grad school and I made about 3K extra per term - which is a ton of money when you are living on 30K per year.