The Nihilists from The Big Lebowski, Saying "We believe in nothing, Lebowski, nothing." Don't be a money nihilist.

Why Doctor Finances are Different: The Drawbacks

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Doctor finances are different. You’ve got drawbacks, and you’ve got gifts. Here’s how to make the most out of them.

Listen to Audio Version (3:38)


Part 1 of a 3 Part Series: The Drawbacks (minor hiccups, really)


1) Late Start

You start late.  What do I mean by that?  Well, most of your non-medical AKA “Civilian” peers graduated from college at age 22, then got jobs and started earning money.  Even if they went to grad school, they still started their jobs around age 25.  


You, on the other hand, graduated from college at 22, then went to med school, and graduated at age 26.  But instead of getting a good job and earning, you started residency, where you made a pittance and worked yourself to the bone.  And you did this for anywhere from 3 to 10 years, meaning that you didn’t start earning your professional level income until age 29-39.  (And if you were a non-traditional student like me, you started even later.) Meanwhile, your undergrad and med school loans kept accumulating interest.


So why does this matter?  Well, if you start earning and investing at age 22, you will have more time in the market, (or whatever investment you choose), which means that there is more time for your money to grow.  This means you can invest a smaller amount of money to earn a larger return.  


Let’s not kid ourselves, unless you go into finance, 22 year olds are not making bank.  But they don’t need to.  If you save 10% of your income and invest it, even with a small income, that extra time in the market will earn you more with less.  And most 22 year olds aren’t graduating college 6-figures in debt.  They’ve got debt, but it’s usually not that bad.  


When you’re a resident facing 6.8% interest on $250k in loans, you’re inclined to get cracking in repayment, which, even with income based repayments, doesn’t leave much on an income of $55k. There’s a reason they offer loan forbearance during training—loan payments are hard to afford! So you’ve got the double whammy of aging without investing AND student loan interest piling up.



2) Debt Load


You start your professional life with a debt load the size of a mortgage— or two. So you’re behind the 8-ball before you even begin.  This is fucking demoralizing discouraging to say the least.  6-figures of debt weighs on you, especially when your net worth isn’t just zero, it’s negative.  


When I say debt weighs on you, I mean, it can actually feel like a physical weight on your shoulders.  Like you got a lead anvil perched up there. 


6-figures of debt plays all sorts of mind-fuckery and tricks and headgames with you.  You feel done before you even begin.  You feel overwhelmed, hopeless, like there’s no end in sight.  You may panic.  Maybe you become a nihilist—what’s the point? I’ll never pay it off anyway, might as well buy that Lambo. 


3) You don’t care about money.


You’re not supposed to care about wealth, and you don’t really. “I went into medicine to help people, not to get rich.” Since you went into medicine to help people, you’ve come to believe it’s not right to want to make money as well.   Since when are the two mutually exclusive?  It’s time to take out the mind trash and dump this old crappy belief that is not serving you in the least. Same goes for “If I wanted to deal with money, I wouldn’t have gone into medicine.” Sorry, I’ve got news for you— whether you like it or not, you’ve got money.  You can nurture it or ignore it, but I recommend the former.



In Part 2 of Why Doctor Finances are Different, you’ll learn about your personal finance gifts (AKA Money Superpowers).


Stop feeling overwhelmed and start taking action with the Money Med School FREE Guide to Getting Started with Your Finances. Take control of your money without dying of boredom!

5 yellow rubber duckies, all in a row, to illustrate the concept of "get your financial ducks in a row". Three are facing left, the second to the left duck has sunglasses on and a stethoscope, and is facing the reader. This duck is a cool, calm and collected doctor duck who has taken control of it's finances with Money Med School teaches simple personal finances for doctors.