Develop good financial habits as a medical student

Develop good financial habits as a medical student

Develop good financial habits as a medical student

You may want to consider the Scotia Professional Student Plan , which is available to medical students. It offers a line of credit of up to $350,000 with an interest rate of prime minus 0.25% (2.45% as of ), as well as a chequing account, credit card fee waivers and other benefits for medical students.

Budget wisely

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One of the most crucial things is to budget effectively. Generally, about half the cost of medical school is directly related to education, while the other half comprises basic living expenses. This piece of the financial puzzle can be challenging and may seem daunting.

The cost of tuition and living can vary significantly. For example, medical students at the University of Saskatchewan pay almost double the tuition that University of Manitoba students pay (about $17,000 and $9,000, respectively). Another thing to think about is that it will generally cost more to live in a big city than in a small town.

Wherever you end up, accurately assessing the costs of medical school and living is one of the first steps in the budgeting process.

Building a budget starts with an honest assessment. It’s important to realize you cannot just take the amount of your funding and divide it by the number of years of medical school to cover all your annual expenses. The final years are more expensive than the first ones because they require travelling for CaRMS interviews (for your residency placement), electives, exams and more.

Using a credit card instead of cash can help you keep track of all the money you spend. The earlier you start keeping track, the more prepared you’ll be when it’s time to budget for your semester expenses.

A credit card is also a responsibility. Be sure to pay off your balance at the end of the month – in full. It’s never a good idea to borrow money directly through your credit card that you can’t pay back at the end of the month because the interest rates on your credit cards can be upwards of 20%! .

Remember that you must pay interest on everything you borrow. So the best practice is to borrow only as much as you need.

Consider the sources you’re drawing from. If you earn a grant, scholarship or bursary, or if some of your loans are interest-free, be sure to spend that money before you borrow funds that you’ll have to pay interest on.

Anticipate major looming costs. Large expenses like tuition, books and exams can put a dent in your bank account, but they’re foreseeable and manageable with proper planning. Fees for overdrafts on your bank account are the last thing you want to deal with during medical school, so stay on top of upcoming expenses.

Sadly, even if you budget properly for your first year of medical school, you might find yourself feeling suffocated by rising costs throughout your education. Having (and, most importantly, sticking to) a budget will be critical in preparing you for those rising costs.

The best practice is to complete your application at the same time that you apply for government grants and loans

The habits you’ll develop by sticking to a budget will serve you well throughout your life, particularly during your residency.

Throughout residency, you may need more financial support. After you graduate from medical school, next up is residency, during which you get to practise medicine under the supervision of senior practitioners while earning a salary. A residency normally takes four or five years, though some practice areas (like family medicine) have shorter residency periods. In some programs, like those that are competency-based rather than time-based, the residency period may not be known in advance.

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