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Association of American Medical Colleges Tomorrow's Doctors, Tomorrow's Cures®

FIRST for Pre-health Advisors

Pre-health Advisors

Resources for staff who advise aspiring medical students

Budgeting Ideas and Tips

Living on a budget isn’t complicated, and as a medical student or resident, it’s 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: you don’t have to starve yourself, you just have to make sensible, responsible choices.

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 you time spent 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 shop can really add up. If you really must pay for coffee, consider opting for a smaller size or limiting yourself to plain drip-coffee options. 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 expensive, too.
Bag your lunch. Being short on time and having irregular hours will be less stressful if you have easy, healthy, home-made food with you. You’ll probably eat better in addi­tion to saving time and money.
Shop for groceries on-line. Or, if you go to the store, always bring a list to minimize impulse buying and time spent in the aisles. Shop smart. 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.
Shop smart. Join your market’s shoppers 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). And whenever possible, buy generic.
Take control of your credit cards. Don’t carry a balance on your cards, and 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 biller 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, buy a used bike.
Take public transportation. It may be more cost effective not to rely on a car at all. Public trans­portation will free you from paying for gas, maintenance, and parking. Many times, it’s actually a lot less stressful than driving.
Join a carpool. If you do drive—form or join a carpool. Save money on gas, parking, wear on your vehicle, and let someone else do the driving a few days a week.
Buy big items from online classifieds. Try Web sites like “Craigslist” for second hand or reduced prices, or “Freecycle” to find deals on free items.
Finally—every once in a while, live a little! Everyone deserves an occasional treat. Rely on the 30 minute rule: If you see something you “have to have”, wait 30 minutes, then if you still can’t live without it—go for it!

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.

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Medloans® Organizer and Calculator

Medloans Organizer and Calculator

Organize and track your loans, then view sample repayment scenarios with the Medloans® Organizer & Calculator, the only Web tool of its kind developed for medical students.