Budgeting Ideas and Tips

Living on a budget as a medical student or resident is an essential step for minimizing the debt you’ll face upon entering repayment. Try to think of a budget the same way you’d think about maintaining a healthy diet: make sensible, responsible choices and you’ll reap the benefits.

Save Money and Time

Join a cooking co-op or cook several portions at once to freeze for a later date. A cooking co-op is not only a more social way to spend your meal, but it saves time cooking. You may even get a few new recipes or meal ideas.

Make your own coffee or tea and buy a thermos. You’ve probably heard this before; endless cups of coffee from a coffee shop can really increase expenses. If you really must pay for coffee, consider opting for a smaller size or limiting yourself to plain drip-coffee instead of fancier drinks. Your wallet and your waistline will thank you.

Never buy bottled water. Not only are all those bottles terrible for the environment, but they’re also expensive.

Bag your lunch. Being short on time and having irregular hours will be less stressful if you have easy, healthy, homemade food with you. Not only will you save time and money, but you may also eat better.

Shop smart.  If you buy your groceries online, you may save time. If you go to the store, always bring a list to minimize impulse buying and browsing time. Join your market’s “shopper’s club” to take advantage of weekly specials. Design your menu based on weekly sales while taking advantage of manufacturer’s coupons (available online as well as in the paper). Whenever possible, buy generic brands.

Take control of your credit cards. Try not to carry a balance on your cards; this will save you money. Additionally, use credit cards that don’t charge an annual fee.

Avoid late fees. Pay your bills on time and online. Late fees add up and they may have a negative effect on your credit rating. If you do miss a payment, call the creditor and ask to have the late fee waived.

Avoid ATM fees. Try to bank locally and use your bank’s ATM for cash withdrawals.

Buy used books. There are numerous websites where you can buy, sell, or even swap books. If you and your friends need the same books or several titles, try buying your purchases together to save on shipping or even qualify for free shipping.

Bike to school/work. If your climate, schedule, and location are suitable, bike to school/work. It helps you keep in shape and it is less costly. To save even more money, buy a used bike.

Take public trans­portation. It may be more cost effective not to rely on a car at all. Public trans­portation will alleviate the expenses of buying gas, maintenance, and parking. It might actually be less stressful too!

Join a carpool. If you do drive—form or join a carpool. This will help you save money on gas, parking, “wear and tear” on your vehicle, and also allow you to share the driving  responsibilities with others.

Buy big items from online classifieds. Try websites like “Craigslist” for second hand or reduced prices, or “Freecycle” to find deals on free items.

The 30 Minute Rule: If you see something you “have to have” wait 30 minutes, then if you still can’t live without it—make the purchase.

Think About It...
Decide what makes sense for you. If you live more responsibly now and make smart choices about how you spend your money now, chances are, you’ll be paying a lot less when you enter repayment.

Small changes can make big differences over time.

Financial Information, Resources, Services, and Tools (FIRST)

MedLoans® Organizer and Calculator (MLOC)

young couple calculating budget
The MedLoans® Organizer and Calculator was developed to assist medical students and residents with managing their education debt.

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Get practical information on budgeting, money management, credit, debt management, scholarship searches, and more.

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Washington, DC 20001-2399