HopingFM

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Sep 21, 2012
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Hi guys and gals,
I just graduated from residency and will be starting my new job in FM. My wife does not work at this time but will be doing so (she is a non-physician; once she starts work, anticipate 30-40k/yr for her). My salary will be roughly 248k/yr, anticipate losing half in taxes. I've been reading the WCI book @The White Coat Investor which has been helpful. I'm just feeling very...daunted with the task of paying back these loans. Any insight or advice is much appreciated. I am obviously in a lower bracket pay as FM...
Although I plan on refinancing the loans, currently they are at 7.375% interest rate through FedLoans. I went to an osteopathic medical school and am admittingly and slightly shamefully naïve with finances (WCI book good start), and my principal balance is 382k. I anticipate I will want to pay at least $3.5k/month, but it's looking more like $4k/month to pay back my loans in a timely manner. Will I still be able to max out a 401(k) for myself and my wife? What about insurances (life, disability, etc)? Rent is about $2k/month. My wife and I are not big spenders or expect grand things, but she has been so patient with me and I would like to take her on a vacation at some point (in fact we deferred our honeymoon due to residency demands)!
I know I can (and will have to) do this, but the knowledge is lacking and is overall daunting. Any advice or review of this info would be most appreciated.

p.s. Man, I just wanted to help people and take care of my family!:help:
 

RangerBob

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Sep 16, 2012
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If you end up losing half of your income through taxes then I think something is very wrong. Use paycheckcity.com to get a better idea of what your actual withholdings/take-home salary will be, but if you do your taxes right, you may pay much less. WCI has a few blogs about this. I would hope a worst case scenario is 33% in taxes.

If you're paying $4k a month in loan repayment and $2k a month in rent, that totals $72k per year. If you're taxed at 33%, that still leaves you with another $91k left over ($163-$72).

That should leave you with more than enough to max out on your 401(k), and to get life insurance and disability insurance. You should get both of them unless you have enough money saved up that if you died or became disabled that you would do fine (few people meet that criteria). You should apply for both insurances as soon as possible, as they only get more expensive with age. I have $1 million in life insurance right now as a resident, and I plan to increase that by quite a bit in the next year or two.

You should still have plenty left over for a vacation or two. You could probably throw another thousand or two towards your loans per month and still live very well. You could probably even pay $8k towards your loans each month--it all depends on the lifestyle you and your wife live, and whether you have any kids. It's really all about your perspective, and also trying to not ramp up your lifestyle too quickly now that you're an attending.

My wife and I owe a bit more than you (and her income will be similar to your wife's), and my income will likely be less than yours. My plan is to keep living the same lifestyle I have right now. We're quite happy with our lives right now, and we'd get much more happiness from getting rid of loans ASAP than from buying a fancy new car or a big house. Neither of us think we will ever want/need the fancy car, big house, or pricey vacations. If we keep that up it should help a lot to keep our spending in check.

The less you live on, the less you need to save for retirement--you're able to save more each year, plus you don't need to save as much to maintain the same standard of living since you're spending less.
 
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sweetlenovo88

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Apr 30, 2009
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Don't see what going to an Osteopathic school has to do with it since I went to one myself. I suggest you start listening to Dave Ramsey to develop a certain mentality that will help you pay those loans off quick instead of over 10/20 years. I paid off 350k in loans in less than two years and was done before my one year mark after graduating residency
 
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HopingFM

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Sep 21, 2012
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If you end up losing half of your income through taxes then I think something is very wrong. Use paycheckcity.com to get a better idea of what your actual withholdings/take-home salary will be, but if you do your taxes right, you may pay much less. WCI has a few blogs about this. I would hope a worst case scenario is 33% in taxes.

If you're paying $4k a month in loan repayment and $2k a month in rent, that totals $72k per year. If you're taxed at 33%, that still leaves you with another $91k left over ($163-$72).

That should leave you with more than enough to max out on your 401(k), and to get life insurance and disability insurance. You should get both of them unless you have enough money saved up that if you died or became disabled that you would do fine (few people meet that criteria). You should apply for both insurances as soon as possible, as they only get more expensive with age. I have $1 million in life insurance right now as a resident, and I plan to increase that by quite a bit in the next year or two.

You should still have plenty left over for a vacation or two. You could probably throw another thousand or two towards your loans per month and still live very well. You could probably even pay $8k towards your loans each month--it all depends on the lifestyle you and your wife live, and whether you have any kids. It's really all about your perspective, and also trying to not ramp up your lifestyle too quickly now that you're an attending.

My wife and I owe a bit more than you (and her income will be similar to your wife's), and my income will likely be less than yours. My plan is to keep living the same lifestyle I have right now. We're quite happy with our lives right now, and we'd get much more happiness from getting rid of loans ASAP than from buying a fancy new car or a big house. Neither of us think we will ever want/need the fancy car, big house, or pricey vacations. If we keep that up it should help a lot to keep our spending in check.

The less you live on, the less you need to save for retirement--you're able to save more each year, plus you don't need to save as much to maintain the same standard of living since you're spending less.
Thanks for the reply and insight. I am trying to utilize the site you gave. I'm just not sure for "Gross Pay" if I should be combing by total pay from half a year in residency, and then the 4 remaining months of this year as an attending, or do I just base it on the gross pay of the attending contract (it became confusing when it asks for gross salary YTD because I am unclear as this is assuming I was under the attending salary which I am not yet). I played with the calculator some, and it broke down as follows (I did zero allowances; trying to figure out my W-4 as well, and added a $1000 federal withholding (and am now wondering if this was annual or per pay period?!):
-Your Paycheck Results
  • Bi-weekly Gross Pay $9,538.46
  • Federal Withholding $3,093.52
  • Social Security $591.38
  • Medicare $138.31
  • California $746.35
  • SDI $85.85
-Net Pay
  • Net Pay $4,883.05
-Calculation Based On
  • Check Date 08/16/2016
  • Gross Pay $248,000.00
  • Gross Salary YTD $0.00
  • Pay Frequency Bi-weekly
  • Federal Filing Status Married
  • # of Federal Allowances 0
  • Additional Federal Withholding $1,000.00
  • State for withholding California
  • Additional State Withholding 0
  • Additional Allowances 0
  • Regular allowances 0
  • California SDI true
  • Supplemental Type NONE
  • Exempt State false
  • Filing Status M
I'm confused as to why the Gross Pay Bi-Weekly does not equate to the $248k Gross annual? Look at that Federal withholding (yikes)! If I went with the above numbers, Net is about $9,766.10/month; so it really does look like it's 1/2?! It's just my wife, our little dog and myself at this time. Subtract 4k (loans) and 2k (rent), that leaves about 3766.10 leftover which is slightly over $45k; this is about slightly more than what I made as a PGY-3 after-tax; in perspective though, that means I am able to live in an apartment my wife and I both adore (about $600 more/month than previously, which was about the average for our no locale after I compared), and I am jumping from paying the minimum of my loan repayment requirement under IBR to almost ten times that amount (assuming I want to pay it all off within a ten-year period). Wife will be working eventually but not yet. So that number seems fairly low when I want to max out 401(k) and get disability and life insurances as well.

Anything I should correct in the calculator? Outside of the above goals (401k, insurances, paying loans), my main "wants" are getting a new car and taking my wife on a vacation or two; at some point I want to figure out saving for a house, but with the above calculations, I'm a little hesitant. As you can tell by now, finance causes some anxiety; give me medicine any day.
 
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HopingFM

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Sep 21, 2012
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Don't see what going to an Osteopathic school has to do with it since I went to one myself. I suggest you start listening to Dave Ramsey to develop a certain mentality that will help you pay those loans off quick instead of over 10/20 years. I paid off 350k in loans in less than two years and was done before my one year mark after graduating residency
Sorry, I meant no offense; osteopathic school is what's given me the ability to see patients and help my community so I am very thankful for that; I meant only that, on average, osteopathic schools have higher tuition rates than allopathic schools; however, I also am at fault obviously for poor financial planning.

Also, very impressive accomplishment!
 
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HopingFM

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Sep 21, 2012
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So I re-did the calculation without adding $1000 federal withholding (which looks like it was per pay period and not annual), and this changed net-pay to 5883.05 per pay period (which is twice a month).
 

RangerBob

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Sep 16, 2012
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So I re-did the calculation without adding $1000 federal withholding (which looks like it was per pay period and not annual), and this changed net-pay to 5883.05 per pay period (which is twice a month).
Yes, that was the main thing I noticed about your calculation. That number looks much better, though the taxes are still pretty high (it looks like you're calculating for CA--that's one reason... I used to live there and love it, but you do pay to live there--mostly in taxes, property taxes, and cost of a new home...)

I forget how to calculate allowances. If it's the same thing as your W-2 then it's either a 1 for your wife or a 2 for you and your wife. I think I usually left that at a zero.

Most likely you'll be able to deduct a lot more (especially mortgage interest in CA...), plus a lot of things like health insurance will be pre-tax, so you're total tax burden will hopefully be lower than the ~40% that it looks like paycheckcity calculated for you.

Typically when I used paycheck city I was just trying to get a general guesstimate of what my total expected future take-home would be over the course of the year, so I just calculated income/taxes based on being paid annually. I don't believe that should change taxes for any reason, but it did make things a little simpler.

Another good source for lifestyle adjustments/ways to save money is http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/. He has a very different approach than WhiteCoatInvestor, but I appreciate it because it advocates learning to be happy with less, keeping your expenses down and avoiding materialism. WhiteCoatInvestor teaches you a lot about finances, how to invest, how to protect your assets, etc. MrMoneyMoustache teachers you more about a way of living in my mind, but it's certainly not for most people.
 
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sweetlenovo88

10+ Year Member
Apr 30, 2009
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You'll be getting a refund if you itemize. State tax is deductible and your 401k contributions (18000 max) are nontaxable. Plus any other deductions. Make sure to optimize your taxes. If you can have some self employment income coming in so you can deduct more for retirement and self employment tax will be low because SS tax was maxed out at your job (w-2)
 
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HopingFM

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Thank you both, will keep those things in mind. Really appreciate it.
 

The White Coat Investor

Practicing Doc and Blogger
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Hi guys and gals,
I just graduated from residency and will be starting my new job in FM. My wife does not work at this time but will be doing so (she is a non-physician; once she starts work, anticipate 30-40k/yr for her). My salary will be roughly 248k/yr, anticipate losing half in taxes. I've been reading the WCI book @The White Coat Investor which has been helpful. I'm just feeling very...daunted with the task of paying back these loans. Any insight or advice is much appreciated. I am obviously in a lower bracket pay as FM...
Although I plan on refinancing the loans, currently they are at 7.375% interest rate through FedLoans. I went to an osteopathic medical school and am admittingly and slightly shamefully naïve with finances (WCI book good start), and my principal balance is 382k. I anticipate I will want to pay at least $3.5k/month, but it's looking more like $4k/month to pay back my loans in a timely manner. Will I still be able to max out a 401(k) for myself and my wife? What about insurances (life, disability, etc)? Rent is about $2k/month. My wife and I are not big spenders or expect grand things, but she has been so patient with me and I would like to take her on a vacation at some point (in fact we deferred our honeymoon due to residency demands)!
I know I can (and will have to) do this, but the knowledge is lacking and is overall daunting. Any advice or review of this info would be most appreciated.

p.s. Man, I just wanted to help people and take care of my family!:help:
People like you are the main reason I started my website. You just wanted to be a doc, have a reasonable lifestyle, and take care of your family. You just did what you thought you had to- D.O. school, paid for on loans, take care of family, again on loans, FM residency and now it's time to pay the piper. Unfortunately, paying the piper will eat up a massive portion of your income, such that it is possible you would have been better off financially not going to medical school at all.

At your current interest rate, in order to pay off your loans in 10 years, you will need to pay $55K a year, or about $4600 a month or so. Personally, I think 10 years is WAAAAYYYYY too long to carry on medical school debt. So that leaves you two options.

# 1- Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Hopefully you have been in IBR, PAYE, REPAYE the last 3 years (probably not with your luck). If so, if you go to work for a 501(c)3 (again, your new job probably doesn't qualify with your luck) then your loans are gone in 7 more years.

# 2- Refinance them, live like a resident for 5 years, and pay them off. You won't get a great rate given your huge debt to income ratio, but I bet someone will refinance you. Maybe at 4% on a 5 year variable.

I don't know any residents with $2K a month rent, so you've already upgraded from a resident lifestyle. It will be hard to cut back. And you haven't even gotten important insurances yet.

But try to make things look like this:
Gross income $290K. If you bust your butt, maybe you can get that to $350K.
Maybe $90K toward taxes. That leaves $260K.
Maybe $50K toward retirement accounts. That leaves you $210K
Live on $75K. That leaves you $135K a year to put toward your loans. They're gone in 3 years.

That leaves you with just three tasks:
#1 Get your income to $350K. That means some moonlighting/locums etc.
#2 Refinance the loans
#3 Figure out how to live on $75K a year. 1/3 of that is already gone with rent, so you'll need to be reasonably thrifty to make it work. But that's $75K after taxes and retirement savings whereas the average American household is living on $50K including taxes and retirement savings, so it can certainly be done.

I would be very proud if I were you to have your student loans paid off in 3 years. Heck, it took me 4 to clear my "student loans" with Uncle Sam.
 
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HopingFM

5+ Year Member
Sep 21, 2012
32
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People like you are the main reason I started my website. You just wanted to be a doc, have a reasonable lifestyle, and take care of your family. You just did what you thought you had to- D.O. school, paid for on loans, take care of family, again on loans, FM residency and now it's time to pay the piper. Unfortunately, paying the piper will eat up a massive portion of your income, such that it is possible you would have been better off financially not going to medical school at all.

At your current interest rate, in order to pay off your loans in 10 years, you will need to pay $55K a year, or about $4600 a month or so. Personally, I think 10 years is WAAAAYYYYY too long to carry on medical school debt. So that leaves you two options.

# 1- Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Hopefully you have been in IBR, PAYE, REPAYE the last 3 years (probably not with your luck). If so, if you go to work for a 501(c)3 (again, your new job probably doesn't qualify with your luck) then your loans are gone in 7 more years.

# 2- Refinance them, live like a resident for 5 years, and pay them off. You won't get a great rate given your huge debt to income ratio, but I bet someone will refinance you. Maybe at 4% on a 5 year variable.

I don't know any residents with $2K a month rent, so you've already upgraded from a resident lifestyle. It will be hard to cut back. And you haven't even gotten important insurances yet.

But try to make things look like this:
Gross income $290K. If you bust your butt, maybe you can get that to $350K.
Maybe $90K toward taxes. That leaves $260K.
Maybe $50K toward retirement accounts. That leaves you $210K
Live on $75K. That leaves you $135K a year to put toward your loans. They're gone in 3 years.

That leaves you with just three tasks:
#1 Get your income to $350K. That means some moonlighting/locums etc.
#2 Refinance the loans
#3 Figure out how to live on $75K a year. 1/3 of that is already gone with rent, so you'll need to be reasonably thrifty to make it work. But that's $75K after taxes and retirement savings whereas the average American household is living on $50K including taxes and retirement savings, so it can certainly be done.

I would be very proud if I were you to have your student loans paid off in 3 years. Heck, it took me 4 to clear my "student loans" with Uncle Sam.
Thanks for your recs! Although I did do IBR during residency for the three years, the job I signed up for will not apply towards PSLF as you said. I may not be able to get some locums based on my contract (I will be an employed physician), but I believe I can do Urgent Care work (so all money made from this will go towards paying down the loans). I'm searching around for my refinancing options; First Republic website states it is capped at $300k; I'll check SoFi, and then keep looking for other options.

Does anyone utilize credit cards to pay the loans at lower rates? Is this a risk and can hurt my credit score?
 

Plastikos

10+ Year Member
Jul 3, 2005
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Thanks for your recs! Although I did do IBR during residency for the three years, the job I signed up for will not apply towards PSLF as you said. I may not be able to get some locums based on my contract (I will be an employed physician), but I believe I can do Urgent Care work (so all money made from this will go towards paying down the loans). I'm searching around for my refinancing options; First Republic website states it is capped at $300k; I'll check SoFi, and then keep looking for other options.

Does anyone utilize credit cards to pay the loans at lower rates? Is this a risk and can hurt my credit score?
What rate are you getting with a credit card that is less than a refinance rate? If you're thinking of doing some 0% switching around balances etc...thats probably not worth it overall. Carrying any sort of balance would negate any benefit so Im unsure of your plan here.
 
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HopingFM

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Sep 21, 2012
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Nothing specific. I was just inquiring to see if I was missing any strategies. At this point I might refinance with SoFi; variable is lower at about 4.1% and fixed was 6.1%... I'm just worried about market trends that might affect the variable so leaning towards the fixed with plans to pay $4k+ per month.
What rate are you getting with a credit card that is less than a refinance rate? If you're thinking of doing some 0% switching around balances etc...thats probably not worth it overall. Carrying any sort of balance would negate any benefit so Im unsure of your plan here.
hing
 

mgdsh

10+ Year Member
Mar 15, 2007
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Nothing specific. I was just inquiring to see if I was missing any strategies. At this point I might refinance with SoFi; variable is lower at about 4.1% and fixed was 6.1%... I'm just worried about market trends that might affect the variable so leaning towards the fixed with plans to pay $4k+ per month.

hing
If you think you'll be able to pay them off aggressively 4.1% variable is pretty reasonable. The Fed is chicken **** (and for a fair number of reasons, but largely related to causing a repeat of 2008 and impacting currency swaps). Global central banks have rates at or near 0 and that's not changing anytime soon.
 

sweetlenovo88

10+ Year Member
Apr 30, 2009
338
329
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Attending Physician
People like you are the main reason I started my website. You just wanted to be a doc, have a reasonable lifestyle, and take care of your family. You just did what you thought you had to- D.O. school, paid for on loans, take care of family, again on loans, FM residency and now it's time to pay the piper. Unfortunately, paying the piper will eat up a massive portion of your income, such that it is possible you would have been better off financially not going to medical school at all.

At your current interest rate, in order to pay off your loans in 10 years, you will need to pay $55K a year, or about $4600 a month or so. Personally, I think 10 years is WAAAAYYYYY too long to carry on medical school debt. So that leaves you two options.

# 1- Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Hopefully you have been in IBR, PAYE, REPAYE the last 3 years (probably not with your luck). If so, if you go to work for a 501(c)3 (again, your new job probably doesn't qualify with your luck) then your loans are gone in 7 more years.

# 2- Refinance them, live like a resident for 5 years, and pay them off. You won't get a great rate given your huge debt to income ratio, but I bet someone will refinance you. Maybe at 4% on a 5 year variable.

I don't know any residents with $2K a month rent, so you've already upgraded from a resident lifestyle. It will be hard to cut back. And you haven't even gotten important insurances yet.

But try to make things look like this:
Gross income $290K. If you bust your butt, maybe you can get that to $350K.
Maybe $90K toward taxes. That leaves $260K.
Maybe $50K toward retirement accounts. That leaves you $210K
Live on $75K. That leaves you $135K a year to put toward your loans. They're gone in 3 years.

That leaves you with just three tasks:
#1 Get your income to $350K. That means some moonlighting/locums etc.
#2 Refinance the loans
#3 Figure out how to live on $75K a year. 1/3 of that is already gone with rent, so you'll need to be reasonably thrifty to make it work. But that's $75K after taxes and retirement savings whereas the average American household is living on $50K including taxes and retirement savings, so it can certainly be done.

I would be very proud if I were you to have your student loans paid off in 3 years. Heck, it took me 4 to clear my "student loans" with Uncle Sam.
The site and book are great. This is solid advice. The OP can do this. Once you start you will be so motivated and maybe obsessed (like I was) and they will be gone even faster. I was even more screwed than the OP because I have bad credit due to divorce and could not refinance away my terrible rates. 6.8% made me mad and 8.5% made me furious. I also had a year off before residency allowing an extra year of compounding on top of a four year residency. The decision you make now can affect the rest of your financial life. Hit the dirt running and stay focused and they will be gone in no time.
 
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HopingFM

5+ Year Member
Sep 21, 2012
32
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Yeah, the more I go over my options, the more I am leaning towards re-financing at the variable rate, and get in extra urgent care shifts and put all of that in addition to my planned 4k/month towards the loans. Thank you all for your advice and input!
 

mostwanted

Senior Member
15+ Year Member
Jul 24, 2004
272
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People like you are the main reason I started my website. You just wanted to be a doc, have a reasonable lifestyle, and take care of your family. You just did what you thought you had to- D.O. school, paid for on loans, take care of family, again on loans, FM residency and now it's time to pay the piper. Unfortunately, paying the piper will eat up a massive portion of your income, such that it is possible you would have been better off financially not going to medical school at all.

At your current interest rate, in order to pay off your loans in 10 years, you will need to pay $55K a year, or about $4600 a month or so. Personally, I think 10 years is WAAAAYYYYY too long to carry on medical school debt. So that leaves you two options.

# 1- Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Hopefully you have been in IBR, PAYE, REPAYE the last 3 years (probably not with your luck). If so, if you go to work for a 501(c)3 (again, your new job probably doesn't qualify with your luck) then your loans are gone in 7 more years.

# 2- Refinance them, live like a resident for 5 years, and pay them off. You won't get a great rate given your huge debt to income ratio, but I bet someone will refinance you. Maybe at 4% on a 5 year variable.

I don't know any residents with $2K a month rent, so you've already upgraded from a resident lifestyle. It will be hard to cut back. And you haven't even gotten important insurances yet.

But try to make things look like this:
Gross income $290K. If you bust your butt, maybe you can get that to $350K.
Maybe $90K toward taxes. That leaves $260K.
Maybe $50K toward retirement accounts. That leaves you $210K
Live on $75K. That leaves you $135K a year to put toward your loans. They're gone in 3 years.

That leaves you with just three tasks:
#1 Get your income to $350K. That means some moonlighting/locums etc.
#2 Refinance the loans
#3 Figure out how to live on $75K a year. 1/3 of that is already gone with rent, so you'll need to be reasonably thrifty to make it work. But that's $75K after taxes and retirement savings whereas the average American household is living on $50K including taxes and retirement savings, so it can certainly be done.

I would be very proud if I were you to have your student loans paid off in 3 years. Heck, it took me 4 to clear my "student loans" with Uncle Sam.
WCI, is it better for the locums income to be 1099 vs W2. Let's say his base is 300k and pulls in another 50k locums, can he shelter that 50k completely if it was 1099?
 

ThoracicGuy

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Jun 11, 2013
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WCI, is it better for the locums income to be 1099 vs W2. Let's say his base is 300k and pulls in another 50k locums, can he shelter that 50k completely if it was 1099?
1099 work allows you to open an individual 401k. You are still limited to the total amount of $18000 between that 401k and the 401k/403b plan at the other job. But with your individual plan, you can put an additional about 20% of profits into that account. As well, you can put more deductions into that income if you'd like to bring things down as well.
 
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The White Coat Investor

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WCI, is it better for the locums income to be 1099 vs W2. Let's say his base is 300k and pulls in another 50k locums, can he shelter that 50k completely if it was 1099?
No. If he maxed out a 401(k) at the regular job he can put $10K into an individual 401(k). The other $40K is "unsheltered."
 

ThoracicGuy

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No. If he maxed out a 401(k) at the regular job he can put $10K into an individual 401(k). The other $40K is "unsheltered."
Though he could also just put in enough on his W2 401k to get any match offered and use an i401k to sock away the rest, but it'd still not protect all $50k and in the end wouldn't really make much difference tax-wise.
 

keifernny2

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I always thought that the preferred retirement method in this situation were to do primary W2 job, maxing 401k (and wife doing the same), and then for 2nd job work 1099 with a SEP-IRA up to 50k.

The only catch (and reason why I haven't done this yet), is that I think the existence of a SEP-IRA eliminates the ability to do a backdoor Roth.
 

Plastikos

10+ Year Member
Jul 3, 2005
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I always thought that the preferred retirement method in this situation were to do primary W2 job, maxing 401k (and wife doing the same), and then for 2nd job work 1099 with a SEP-IRA up to 50k.

The only catch (and reason why I haven't done this yet), is that I think the existence of a SEP-IRA eliminates the ability to do a backdoor Roth.
You dont have to do the SEP and can set up an individual 401k, but honestly even with a SEP its not that bad as its better to fill up deferred space first when possible.
 

hatfielj

New Member
10+ Year Member
Jan 8, 2006
25
4
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Here's my advice. I am 5 years out of residency and had a similar financial situation as you when I started working (only about 250k in student debt though) and pretty much the same salary. I'm married without kids as well. This is what I wish I would have done the first year I started working. I've spent the last year finally getting my financial situation under control and I've since managed to pay off 150k in high interest rate student loans. The rest of my student loans are 2.6% so no need to pay those off immediately. (now I'm saving a lot). I feel a million times better now. Having all that debt over my head for so long was miserable!!

1st- Save up about 6 months worth of living expenses as an "emergency fund" This is to prevent you from ever needing to go into any more debt in case unexpected expenses come up. It also gives you a piece of mind knowing that even if you lost your job or ability to work you'd be okay for some time. This is a very important step in my opinion.
2nd- Learn to budget carefully. Set up your paychecks so that money gets automatically withdrawn from each check and placed into separate savings accounts for things like loan repayment, personal expenses (vacations), etc. Pretend like the money you're saving isn't even there and learn to live off a much smaller portion of your paycheck. I wouldn't pour too much cash into your retirement accounts until you get a handle on your debt. I would recommend putting in just enough to get the company match for now. Once your debt is gone you can start pouring lots of cash into investment accounts.
3rd - Get yourself some good disability insurance. Its a big piece of mind as well. You can do term life insurance as well so your wife will be taken care of if anything were to ever happen to you.
4th - Get rid of any credit card debt immediately and stop using your credit cards unless you have cash to pay them off immediately each month. I use a delta skymiles card for everything we buy so I can use the points for flights. However, I always pay off the balance each month so I never get charged any interest.
5th - Start attacking your student loans each month. Start highest interest rates first with the smaller balances so you can start seeing some loans disappear. Its very satisfying when you do. Think of it as investing. Your interest rates are really high. You need that gone asap. Its like investing and getting a 7% return. You're increasing your net worth every time you pay off a loan.

The first year will probably be spent getting steps 1-4 together. After that your loans will start to go away quickly if you can resist the urge to upgrade your lifestyle. Even that extreme amount of student debt could disappear in 3-4 years if you're really good at budgeting and working extra.

And don't work too much! Remember to take time off and enjoy life so you don't get burned out!
 
Jan 10, 2017
32
8
Live like a student for another few years and put every single possible penny into those loans. Pay it all off asap. Then get to real investing and retire early.