Embarking on a career in medicine is a noble and fulfilling pursuit. However, the burden of medical school loans? Not so fulfilling.
When you start earning as a doctor- it doesn’t matter if you’re making a neurosurgeon’s or a pediatrician’s salary. Paying off the loans and putting money towards savings can become increasingly overwhelming. However, with the correct amount of planning and strategy, you can try to pay off these loans quicker and start putting towards savings sooner.
Tips To Help You Pay Off Your Loans Quicker And Save More
Understand Your Loans
Before diving into repayment strategies, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of your loans- the interest and the total amount of money you need to pay. It’s also necessary to determine the type of loans you have—federal, private, or a mix of both.
Federal loans often offer more flexible repayment options, including income-driven repayment plans and loan forgiveness programs. Knowing the details of your loans will help you make informed decisions and better strategize toward loan repayment.
Create a Budget
Budgeting is the cornerstone of any successful financial plan. You should start by noting your monthly expenses, including rent or mortgage, utilities, groceries, insurance, and the minimum loan payment you can make.
Allocate a portion of your income toward loan repayment (and savings if you can). Creating a budget will help you track your spending, ensure you make timely payments, and prioritize saving whenever possible.
Explore Loan Forgiveness Programs
Depending on your career path and specialty, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness programs. Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is an option for healthcare professionals who work for qualifying government or non-profit organizations.
Additionally, some states also offer their loan forgiveness programs for doctors. Take the time to look up these opportunities to potentially reduce or eliminate a portion of your debt. If you want, you can get assistance from financial advisors who specialize in medical school loans.
Consider loan refinancing if you have high-interest loans. This process involves obtaining a new loan with better terms to pay off your existing loans. This isn’t always the best option for financial security but if you’re really struggling to make ends meet and accumulating a tonne of debt in the process, you can try it.
While refinancing can lower your interest rate and reduce monthly payments, be cautious if you have federal loans, as you may lose certain borrower protections. Take expert advice before opting for refinancing since it just puts you in a vicious cycle of loan payment.
Prioritize High-Interest Loans
If you have multiple loans, pay off ones with the highest interest rates first. This way you can minimize the overall interest you’ll pay over time, bringing down the total cost of the loan.
It’s best to continue making minimum payments on all your loans while directing extra funds toward the high-interest ones.
Make Extra Payments When Possible
Whenever you can, try to make additional payments toward your loans. Even small extra payments can make a significant dent in your principal balance and shorten the loan term. It also reduces the amount of interest you’ll end up paying over time.
Windfalls, tax refunds, work bonuses, overtime salary, or extra income from side gigs can all be put toward your loans to expedite repayment. Alternatively, you can invest some of your salary and use those profits towards extra loan payments.
Live Below Your Means
While it may be tempting to upgrade your lifestyle the second you start earning a reasonable income, try to put it off for a while. Living below your means is a powerful financial strategy.
Try to stick with low-rent or less mortgage living options, don’t upgrade your phones or cars often, and allocate a specific amount that you can spend towards luxuries like dining out. For the first few years you’re earning, try to stick with the basics and save whatever you can to help you in the long term.
Becoming a doctor is often the life goal for a lot of young people, but the burden of medical school loans can be daunting for most. However, it’s important to understand that with the right amount of planning and sacrificing a bit- you can pay off your debt quicker and start putting money towards saving sooner than you think. Be sure to start this journey as soon as you get your first paycheck and you’ll be financially stable in no time!