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Money Matters: Unlocking Financial Literacy as a Medical Resident

Money Matters: Unlocking Financial Literacy as a Medical Resident

July 06, 2023

Embarking on a journey in medicine is exciting, but it also means facing unique financial challenges. As a medical student or resident, it's essential to develop some financial know-how to handle your money wisely. 

This post dives into three high-level key aspects of financial literacy: budgeting, insurance, and retirement planning. By grasping these concepts, you'll be on your way to building a solid financial foundation for a successful future.

Budgeting: Budgeting is the secret sauce to financial stability. As a medical student or resident, keep these budgeting tips in mind:

  1. Know Your Income and Expenses: Figure out how much money you have coming in every month from income, scholarships, grants, part-time gigs, etc. Then, identify your essential expenses like tuition, rent, utilities, and groceries. Tack on your less essential expenses like gym memberships and dining out, and you’ll have a good baseline for your budget. There are budgeting-specific apps, but a Google Spreadsheet is also a simple way to keep track of your monthly budget.
  2. Create an Emergency Fund: An emergency fund is money you set aside for unexpected expenses, like car repairs or a pet’s illness. Start by saving whatever you can, while working your way up to a fully funded emergency fund that can cover three to six full months of your expenses.
  3. Tackle Your Debt: Med school and residency often mean hefty student loans. Develop a plan to manage your debt responsibly. Look into income-driven repayment plans, loan forgiveness programs, or refinancing options to ease the burden over time. Many people have success with Dave Ramsey’s Debt Snowball for organizing and paying off debts from multiple sources. 

Insurance: Insurance acts as a safety net, protecting you from unexpected financial hurdles. Consider the following insurance types :

  1. Malpractice Insurance: Medical malpractice insurance shields you in case of a lawsuit related to medical negligence. It is often provided by the group or hospital that employs you, but you may need to seek out coverage if it’s not offered or you open your own practice.
  2. Disability Insurance: Your ability to earn an income is one of your most important assets. Disability insurance pays you if you're unable to work due to illness or injury. Residents should be looking for own-occupation coverage that protects you in your specific speciality, and a policy that moves with you if you change jobs. Many doctors have group coverage as an option from their employer, and choose to add on an individual policy to fill in the gaps of the group coverage.
  3. Life Insurance: Life insurance provides essential protection if anyone relies on your income. Term coverage is the least expensive the younger you are, and can help your family pay their mortgage and expenses should you ever pass away. 

Retirement Planning: Starting early with retirement planning offers significant benefits. Consider the following:

  1. Employer-Sponsored Plans: A 401(k) is a benefit that’s sponsored by your employer. The money you save is taken out of your paycheck and then invested within the retirement plan. Because the money is typically contributed before taxes are taken out, it can lower your current taxable income. Contribute at least the amount that your employer will match and increase your contributions as your income allows.
  2. Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs): Traditional IRAs are retirement plans that allow your money to grow, tax-deferred, until you reach retirement age. They are similar to a 401(k), but they are not sponsored by your employer and have more flexibility in where your money is invested. Everyone can open a traditional IRA and there are yearly contribution limits. If you have a 401(k) from an old employer, you can often roll it over to an IRA to have better consolidation and control over the account.

Financial Literacy for Medical Students and Residents

By understanding budgeting, insurance, and retirement planning, you can build a strong financial foundation. Take the time to learn about these topics, seek advice from financial professionals when needed, and make informed decisions that align with your financial goals. With a solid financial footing, you can focus on your medical career with confidence, knowing that you're also setting yourself up for a prosperous financial future. 

If you have any questions about financial planning while in residency or medical school, don't hesitate to contact us. We specialize in helping medical professionals navigate their unique financial situations and can help equip you with tools necessary to make informed financial decisions that align with your long-term goals.