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Financial advice as I begin med school?

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  • Financial advice as I begin med school?

    I am 24 and married. I work in research and my wife is a nurse. I will start medical school this coming July and I have been trying desperately to pay off my student loans before I have to take out more. I have 21k remaining in my loans to pay off. I try to put 100% of my paycheck to my loans and we live off of my wife's paycheck. Constantly stressing about money and the ability to pay these loans is making both of us truly miserable. I get aggravated anytime she goes shopping because I feel like we need to just buckle down and pay our debt. She is 100%in on wanting to get my debt down before I start med school, but it is beginning to wear on our marriage as I feel like we can not enjoy ourselves at all. We spend very little money outside of rent and bills, and the constant stress of finances is starting to drive me crazy. I know i need to tone it down on being so strict with our finances but how can i? How can i find some sort of balance so that we can actually enjoy our lives as well?

  • #2
    Need more info...

    What is your income together now and hers alone while you are in med school?  What is your monthly budget?  How much will med school add to your debt?  How much do you budget for fun each month?  You know, it's okay to budget for some enjoyment, like maybe a date night at least monthly, right?

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    • #3
      Tough situation. I think you both need to step back and look at the big picture. Let me see if I can help.

      # 1 Your marriage matters more than this debt or what you do with your finances this year. One house, one spouse. You are at the beginning of a very long tunnel. There is a light at the end of it, and that light is the good life. However, that light is this year + 4 years of med school + 3-7 years of residency/fellowship training + 2-5 years of living like a resident to pay off the debt away. So over a decade. You need to be in for the long haul. Both of you.

      # 2 Habits matter more than dollar figures. She can help you not be too cheap. You can help her not be too spendy. Find a careful balance.

      # 3 What you do with your spending now doesn't matter all that much. What really matters is what you do with your spending your first year out of residency. Start planning now for that time period and work toward it so when the big money comes in, you hit the ground running.

      # 4 Congrats on getting into medical school. Not an easy accomplishment. There isn't much you can do about finances in medical school. If she works that will help a ton. If she works at the hospital and you get a tuition discount that will help a ton. If you guys can minimize how much new debt you take out, that will help. Choosing a specialty you can practice for a long time will help, especially if it isn't pediatrics or family practice. For heaven's sake if you like orthopedics and pediatrics equally, do ortho.

      # 5  There's really nothing magic about paying off your current debt before starting school. It's great, but don't go donate plasma to do it. The truth is that 15 years from now you can make more in an hour than you spend on groceries in a month now. You will be able to pay off the debt if you combine an attending income with a resident lifestyle for a few years after residency. We look back on some of the cheapskate things we did back then and wonder why we were so friggin cheap. It seems so silly now. Habits are good, but moderation in all things.
      Helping those who wear the white coat get a fair shake on Wall Street since 2011

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      • #4
        Mrs. WCI says, "Set aside some money that she can spend without having to justify every penny of spending to you, some allowance money. If you keep stressing out your marriage, you're not going to have a paycheck to live on during med school! You're in this for long haul so you need to find a balance you can maintain for 7+ more years."
        Helping those who wear the white coat get a fair shake on Wall Street since 2011

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        • #5


          I get aggravated anytime she goes shopping because I feel like we need to just buckle down and pay our debt.
          Click to expand...


          Unless she is extravagant and spendthrift do not do that. That will lead to you getting apart. Look at it from her side. She works hard as a nurse. She should have some money to spend on herself. Why should that be used to solely to pay your student debt.

          A happy wife is truly a requirement for a long lasting happy physician marriage.  

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          • #6
            Best financial advice for beginning medschool...

            Get divorced ASAP, before she starts supporting you in medschool.  Then start medschool.  Meet new wife in medschool, preferably much smarter than you, who will make more money than you.

            :lol:

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            • #7
              Dr. Mom, I make $17/hr (so roughly 35k/year) and she makes roughly 45k/year. I got into my state school which is fairly cheap (29k/year) and I am really hoping for some scholarships as my scores are very competitive, but we shall see about that. We do of course budget for some enjoyment, but during that  time all I think about is the money we are spending. I know it's a terrible mindset to be in, I'm really working to strike that balance.

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              • #8
                I really appreciate all the responses (except craigy lol). I do not come from much money and having debt just feels so scary to me. I know that is something I will certainly need to get over though! Haha

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                • #9


                  but during that  time all I think about is the money we are spending.
                  Click to expand...


                  You need to relax. You've got a long road ahead. The money will take care of itself in the end. Don't ruin your life before it even begins.
                  Erstwhile Dance Theatre of Dayton performer cum bellhop. Carried (many) bags for a lovely and gracious 59 yo Cyd Charisse. (RIP) Hosted epic company parties after Friday night rehearsals.

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                  • #10
                    Thanks CM, I truly am working on it.

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                    • #11
                      Seriously that $21k of debt is peanuts compared to your medschool debt and then what you'll be making in the future.  It'll all work out.

                      Not worth the stress.

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                      • #12
                        I appreciate that, Craigy. It just seems like a mountain right now.

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                        • #13
                          Another one that votes for you to chill out

                          Honestly you're going to make your wife miserable if you fixate so much on money and debt at this early point and you may put your marriage at risk

                          You got accepted to Med school. Imo that nearly guarantees you'll be fine (I say that because with hatred of debt, I doubt you'll ever spend your way into issues)

                          But it looks like you recognize the issue .. good luck. Enjoy the fact you guys have done so well to this point, that you have each other, that you're young. Enjoy the journey.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Focus on what's important.  Outside of marriage and physical health, the only thing that matters is getting a ridiculously high score on step 1.

                            Please take this in the helpful spirit it is intended-

                            you and wife need to be on same page.

                            you guys are young.  there is nothing better than being young and healthy.  don't waste time being young worrying about crap that is outside your control.  the debt is outside your control.  spending is not.  try not to get caught in absolutes.  don't dig your heels in.  if your wife needs a new purse, then support her.  if you want to save money, she can support you.  decide what your priority items are together.  i personally would try to have a fancy vacation during your last summer vacation of your life next year.  i think anyone may benefit from a course to maximize step 1 scores, so include that in the budget.

                            long term planning can include some predictable parts-if you know you are going to be primary care, you won't have to worry about excess interview costs.  if you want to be a dermatologist then you need to plan for a lot of 4th year interview costs for your budget.  but i personally don't think you should worry about the cart before the horse.  try to be more balanced.  stress is a part of life.  although the stresses seem insurmountable now, i assure you that they will only increase with time (as will your ability to cope).   but unfortunately the part that you are stressed about is completely outside your ability to control--and appears to be affecting your relationship with your biggest supporter and friend.

                            you don't need to get 100% efficiency with money to be wildly successful.  you don't even need 90%.  most physicians do fine without even paying attention.  it's just here that you get a weird cross section of physician population that is hyper efficient.  some might argue we are not maximizing happiness, particularly if we are not focused on early retirement.

                            best of luck.

                             

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                            • #15




                              Dr. Mom, I make $17/hr (so roughly 35k/year) and she makes roughly 45k/year. I got into my state school which is fairly cheap (29k/year) and I am really hoping for some scholarships as my scores are very competitive, but we shall see about that. We do of course budget for some enjoyment, but during that  time all I think about is the money we are spending. I know it’s a terrible mindset to be in, I’m really working to strike that balance.
                              Click to expand...


                              So, if you were my son (BTW one of mine is your age in med school, but not married yet) I would tell you to Chill Out!  You guys are doing awesome.  Sit down with your wife and really discuss priorities and understand where she is coming from. Let her help you develop a financial plan together to get your stress under control. Don't let money control you.  You control it.  Your relationship and your peace of mind come first, always.  So here's how I see it...

                              1.  Learn now to live off her income entirely.  Save up your salary to get a good buffer/emergency fund going into med school.  Save for a trip together or some other biggish splurge that you can both look forward to.  Use some to pay off loans if you must, but be more reasonable.

                              2.  With your state school being $29K/year, you only have to look at Direct Loans which max at $40,500 per year.  So you don't even have to take out the whole amount.  With your wife's salary, you can limit it to tuition, fees, and books.  So let's say $32K/year x 4 = $128K.  Throw in your undergrad loans and some capitalized interest and you'll be about $160K.

                              3.  When you hit residency, you'll be getting paid probably around $50K which will easily double the budget you guys live on in med school with her salary.  You can address starting some loan repayment then.  She can drop back some hours if desired.  You can increase your lifestyle a little.

                              4.  When you start practice, you knock out the rest of the loans in 1-3 years by continuing to live like you did in residency.

                              See, not really so scary when you put it in perspective.  Try to enjoy the time together before med school starts so you head into med school with the relationship bank full.  Congratulations on getting into med school and finding your life partner already.

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