Goal number 1, survive sleep deprivation. By now you have settled in to your first year of residency. Clinic, rounds, journal club, all of that takes up most of your time, and the other part is spent sleeping or out with some friends. At this point, your finances have been put on the back burner and you have come to the conclusion, “I will get to that later.” Perfect, get to it later, but do these things first…
Financial Goal #1 – Save $2,000 into a savings account. Begin to save $200 per paycheck before you even think about spending money somewhere else. That should be at a minimum.
Financial Goal #2 – Figure out what it takes to live. This is your burn rate and will be one of the most important numbers to know FOREVER. Accept it, whatever number it is. Once you do that, you can do something about it.
Financial Goal #3 – DON’T BUY A BRAND-NEW CAR! If I had a penny for every resident or recent grad who bought a new car because they “needed” or “deserved” a new car, I would have pennies for days. You don’t need a brand new car. Get a used car, one that gets you from point A to point B. Get a new car a year or two after training is over and you are an attending.
Financial Goal #4 – Don’t fall to the scams. You are now a “physician” and unfortunately, physicians get blindsided and taken advantage of because A) they make good money, and B) most are financially illiterate (harsh, but true). Don’t refinance your loans if you are going to do PSLF. Don’t buy a new home if you are going to move in 3 years. Don’t sign up for that card or loan because it is for “physicians.” REMEMBER FOREVER – The BEST investment is in yourself. That’s why you are in mounds of debt. You are investing in your earnings potential for the future. Don’t fall prey to the “hot new investment” that everyone is talking about. By the time you hear about it, it’s probably too late.
Financial Goal #5 – Get on an Income-Driven repayment plan for student loans.* PAYE, REPAYE, IBR, ICR. Each of those plans allows you to qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Even if you “plan” to refinance later, it may be a good idea to get three, four, or five years of qualifying payments under your belt just in case you decide to stick it out for a fellowship and as an attending at a non-profit later. One other caveat, you must work at a non-profit organization which is classified by the government as a 501c (3) organization. If you have a question about if your employer or hospital qualifies, email me at email@example.com and I can easily look it up.
Financial Goal #6 – See if you qualify for disability income insurance (if you haven’t done so already). As a physician, you understand that illnesses and injuries don’t discriminate. Young, old, rich, and poor people walk into or are taken to the hospital every day. Earlier in 2017, both of my parents were rushed to the hospital due to totally random events. Neither of them has had any health issues in the past. You have made an investment in yourself that is going to allow you to make millions of dollars over the course of your lifetime – that is worth protecting. If you want to look at a bunch of different options, shoot me an email and we can start exploring.
Life Goal #1 – Exercise, Exercise, Exercise. The freshman 15 was, is, and will always be a thing. Just because you’ve survived 3 freshman years (high school, undergrad, and medical school), doesn’t mean you are going easy breezy through the 4th “freshman” year. You are now older which means you need to take better care of your body and be diligent and efficient in your workouts. On mornings that I don’t go to the gym (lack of time or motivation), I do a 7 minute workout to get the blood flowing and body moving. Thirty seconds of each – jumping jacks, wall sits, push-ups, running in place, crunches, step ups, squats, dips, planks (best exercise for entire body), side planks, push-ups and rotations, and lunges. Do that 2 to 3 times each morning you “can’t” go to the gym. (I got this from Tech Insider on Facebook). No Excuses.
Life Goal #2 – Abs are made, where?? In the kitchen! That’s right, D-I-E-T makes all the difference in the world. A friend of mine wanted to lose some weight here in 2017 so he hired a personal trainer, after a few months he had lost a little bit of weight, but not enough to warrant the hefty price tag of the trainer. He spoke with someone else about his nutritional habits, they made a few tweaks, and BOOM! He started to shed the lbs. Fruits (non-sugary), veggies, proteins, fiber, and limiting the sugars and carbs will have a huge impact. Just be conscious about what you are putting in your body. It may save your life.
Life Goal #3 – What you feed your mind, you will become. Do you hang around the physician or resident that is always complaining, or do you spend time around people who lift you up? What do you read? Are you doing what inspires you? Learn from successful physicians. What do they do to have balance in their lives? How do they deal with difficult co-residents/workers? How do they stay inspired on difficult days? You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.
Life Goal #4 – Travel. Wait what?!? That’s right, hustle hard and then reward yourself. Go full speed, laser focused on becoming the best “you,” and then go reward yourself with a trip somewhere. Don’t go spend a week in Tahiti or something crazy like that where you drop a couple grand, but go do something fun with your co-residents. You are stuck with those people for the next few years, might as well get to know them and have a good time, right?
Life Goal #5 – Find your passion and be laser focused. If it is your passion, you will be thinking about it even when you don’t mean to be thinking about it. You will be thinking about innovation in the workplace, you will see inefficiencies, you will notice mistakes and how to avoid them, you will recognize patterns in your life and how to be better. You are on this Earth because you beat the odds – 400 trillion to 1. Now beat the odds again and don’t become average.
Everyone has different goals in life; everyone has different things that are important to them and things they value. Don’t take these as the end all be all. This should help guide you to figure out what you are truly capable of in life. For most people, this means changing your habits, changing your behavior, and changing your attitude.
If these tips were helpful, share with others in your program. Your comments, feedback, and input are encouraged.
*Guardian and its subsidiaries do not issue or advise with regard to student loans.