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Working more in the beginning to knock of student loans

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  • Working more in the beginning to knock of student loans

    Colleagues (dentist) and I have had the conversation of working more in the beginning of one's career to knock off student loans versus enjoying life some... I have friends who make the argument that you have worked so hard, you need to enjoy life when you are young. You only have one time being in your 20's and 30's. When you have 200-400,000 in debt, those old habits of studying until you drop, or doing as much as you can to eliminate debt is human nature - at least to me.

    I work in a very high volume office and after 4 days the body takes its toll on the back and mind. One could add a weekend shift and make about $200/hr for 4-6 hours (production based), or enjoy that Saturday morning. My significant other is one who rather pay off the loans in sane process and keeping to our routine; I, on the other hand, have the kamikaze approach. She also works her tail off, and treats more patients than I do in a day, so I understand where she is coming from. Doing the calculations, paying off these loans with the ASAP approach, would have the loans paid off in 4-6 months sooner. In our case we'd be done in 20 months versus 26 months. What is y'all's approach to this age old situation? We are in the position where we need to eliminate some of the debt to purchase an office(s), just due to the large monthly payments. We have no kids, and live like residents too. I feel for those coming out in more debt and wish they knew the sacrifices that they will need to do.

  • #2
    There's no right or wrong answer here. The question is personal. I chose to work early and often when I finished anesthesia residency. I never turned down a call shift, and didn't take a week off until I had been working for about 10 months. Ten years later, I'm in a much better position financially, and take 10 weeks off per year.

    If I were you, I'd take more of the kamikaze approach as long as you remain relatively happy. If you start to dread those Saturday shifts, back off them. With a high dual income, the debts will be taken care of before too long either way.



    • #3
      I would recommend knocking out the debts ASAP.  The difference of 20 months vs 26 months isn't too great, at least you are not dragging them out for decades.  Now is the time to get back to zero before kids and other major life events/expenses come up.  I know people want to enjoy life when they are young but I prefer to enjoy my entire life, not just my 20's.  You can work a few weekends and still have time for a vacation or two to keep your balance.

      Financial success needs a good foundation and the sooner you get that foundation laid, the better off you will be.  As you get older,  you might not have the physical ability to work extra and obligations around kids will fill up a calendar very quickly.

      I am more of an example of what not to do.  We became overindebted early and then got caught when we sent our children to private school and they started doing more activities.   In hindsight,  I wish we had eliminated our student loan debt and other debts ASAP.   I still try to pick up an extra shift here and there but the free weekends and evenings to do this without collateral damage are now more limited.

      Hope this helps,

      Dr. In Debt.



      • #4
        I think you have to watch the burnout meter on this one.  The difference of 6 months is not quite the same as comparing 1-2 years vs 10 with some sort of extended payback.  If I understand your post correctly, you work 4 days a week and have a 3 day weekend every weekend?  I personally would not kill off 3 day weekends for 20 months, especially if it was a day in the middle of your 3 days off.  I beg my schedulers to lump my shifts and never have alternating single days on and off.  For me it is the need to wake up, not go to work and then go back to bed without thinking about work the next day.  But as POF said, you can always try it and back off if you don't like it.  When I first started with my private EM group I committed to 16 9/10/12 hour shifts per month (fairly low volume).  When the group was short on providers I let them bump me up, then bump me up thinking I'd get ahead on loan payments etc.  There was definitely a limit, and I hit it at 19 shifts a month.  Now I'm down to 15 on average and will keep it there until loans are paid off because I don't feel stressed at this level and I can pitch in for an extra shift if something goes wrong.

        You will always have some goal that will benefit if you work more whether it be the goal of a positive net worth, student loans repayment, mortgage elimination, first million dollars, business investment, early retirement, etc.  If you have a discrete stopping point then great, go for it.  Just don't get working so much that you don't enjoy life.


        • #5
          Part of "live like a resident" is "work like a resident." Get intense now. Trust me, your 40 something year old self will care just as much (if not more) about having time off as your 20-30 something self. You do have to watch the burnout meter, but make hay while the sun shines.
          Helping those who wear the white coat get a fair shake on Wall Street since 2011


          • #6
            Me: Physician married to Dentist (recent grad)

            Dentists, unlike physicians, do not have to do a residency and when they do a residency they are often for only 1-2 years. So my recommendation to dentists is to treat those 3-5 years after dental school like a residency where you make $120,000-150,000 but live like a resident including some 6 week days.  While dentists make less coming out, they do have a 3-4 year head start on physicians to make some money to start paying on loans. Many physicians as residents work 60-100 hours per week for 3-7 years making $50,000.  You have the option to increase work and increase pay unlike these residents, so my recommendation is work like a physician resident and get those loans paid.

            The other thing is that many dentists in associate positions or corporate positions are unable to request more hours because of non-competes and not enough work. So you are in a fortunate position where you can ramp up your work especially before kids. Also when it comes time to buy a practice, you may work more and not get more money if you are trying to establish yourself. Right now you can work more and get more money so it seems like this is the time to do those extra Saturdays.

            Best of luck!


            • #7
              Agree with WCI.

              Make hay. Get ahead. Be smart which it sounds like you are.

              I screwed up by working hard just to spend hard (thought working extra shifts to pay for down payment on cabin was smart at time!) money went where it shouldn't.

              Too me it goes to that collateral damage argument. If the spouse doesn't mind and you don't have kids that need dad or mom at home than I would go for it

              But sounds like you're fine either way!


              • #8
                Live AND work like a resident.  Don't think Ive seen that mentioned specifically before.

                Of course it might be better said work like a (surgery) resident..


                • #9
                  Agree with everyone else, get that cheddar now! I'm in my early 30s and like some have said, I try to pick up extra shifts whenever I can. You aren't "giving up your 20s & 30s" by working a Saturday morning a couple times a month or staying a couple hours later during the week. The theme I hear from my older partners is that working hard will never get easier as you age. Use the energy you have now to get ahead financially so that as that energy wains, you have the financial foundation to dial back to a more flexible work schedule.


                  • #10
                    Another vote for working more now to pay off the loans sooner. You'll be glad when they're gone and won't remember having worked those few Saturdays.

                    Also doubt you'll get much sympathy from this crowd on having to work a whole 5 days a week. I would argue that dental school is less rigorous than medical school, and then you go into practice instead of having 3-7 years of grueling, backbreaking indentured servitude. I got 4 days off a month for 3 years my first 3 years in residency, and averaged close to 90 hours per week (yes my program knowingly violated duty hours) those 3 years. So when I "only" had to work 65 hours a week as a chief resident, moonlighting every Saturday morning at the VA for an extra $1000-1200 to fund Roth IRAs and kids' 529 plans was like vacation.

                    Also, do you think you'll want to work harder in a few years if kids enter the picture? Or should one of you become disabled?

                    This thread has made me feel much less badly about only taking one extra day of call per week to pay off my loans more quickly and get a head start on supercharging my retirement savings.


                    • #11
                      Do it now while you're younger. Work extra, pay it off. It will feel good and you'll be so glad you did.


                      • #12
                        I agree with doubling down and doing extra shifts to get ahead of debt and jump start savings.

                        Use your energy and enthusiasm when you're young. It looks good for groups with partnership tracks and is much easier before kids. Even once you have kids, you have 1-2 years of holidays before they really can keep track so it is easy to pick up extra money shifts (spouse permitting).


                        • #13
                          If you think you can pay off your loans in 26 months without working Saturdays, I would not work any extra Saturdays.


                          • #14
                            Work smart. Personally I would do every other. Sometimes you need a break. I do agree you would rather have your workload going down so start above the average so you can get to below average. Six months faster is not going to change your financial picture that much. A healthy work ethic that lasts longer than 2 years will.