Update on the Blog:
Started: February 2018
Articles Written to Date: 15
I started the Debt Wise Dentist blog in February of this year with the intention of sharing some of the financial obstacles my wife and I have experienced post-graduation. As we are both full-time dentists, we wanted to start modestly by committing to writing one post each week. We’ve been away for several weeks (as mentioned by the one and only White Coat Investor in his recent blog post), but we are certainly not done. We’ve covered topics concerning student loan management, expectations out of dental school and considerations prior to pursuing a career in dentistry.
There aren’t enough dentists talking about the nonclinical aspects of the profession. We learn the basics of diagnosis and treatment planning in school, but what about the basics of tackling student loans or running a business? For many new graduates, it is often difficult to find pertinent financial advice. How should we be managing our student loans? What common money mistakes are young dentists making? And so many other questions that we haven’t necessarily been equipped to answer straight out of dental school or residency. We look forward to exploring these questions (and more) as we navigate our path towards financial independence.
Student Loan Update:
Refinanced in March 2018: $525,245
Still owe as of July 2018: $468,961
We’ve made progress on paying our student loans, but with a couple of caveats: 1) My wife emptied her entire personal savings account (approx. $30K), and 2) nearly her entire paycheck goes directly to student loans each month. That means living solely on my income for housing, food, transportation, entertainment, etc.
My wife and I have a very aggressive approach to paying off student loan debt. We are committed to utilizing several techniques to tackle debt. Perhaps the two we follow best are working more and living below our means. We both work 5-6 days per week and continue to live “like students.” While, collectively, we have never made more money per month than we do right now, we have also never spent as little. We live happily and comfortably, but certainly not the life that most would assume of a two-dentist household.
Financial Struggles of The Debt Wise Dentist
My wife and I did not delve much into financial discussions until we were married in the latter part of 2017. At that time, we were obligated to have a discussion on spending. We had to come to an agreement about our financial goals. We were also obligated to consider how much our spending and personal financial habits could affect the future of our family.
Lifestyle inflation is a real struggle.
After 9 years of schooling for my wife (undergraduate, dental and a one year residency) and 11 for myself (undergraduate, dental and a three-year residency) we were ready to reap the benefits of our investment. For her, she imagined having a nicely decorated, fully-furnished home without relying on IKEA. For me, I imagined the ever cliché, luxury vehicle with performance package. For the both of us, annual international travel and multiple weekend trips throughout the year.
In reality, over the last year, we have utilized a black folding card table I’ve retained from college as our primary eating surface. We drive the same two modest vehicles we had years ago with no plans for upgrades. And we have yet to take our honeymoon or any leisure trip since we’ve been married. On the weekends, we frequent Costco for “eat-out” lunches ($1.50 hotdog and drink combo) and buying in bulk. For entertainment, we rely on an HBO GO account we do not pay for (courtesy of my in-laws) rather than going out for movies. Neither my wife nor I can remember the last time we went out shopping for clothes. That being said, life is good. We are happy. But we’re still trying to find that work-life balance.
Finding Balance for the Debt Wise Dentist
Just recently, after months of debate, my wife convinced me to invest in our health by purchasing a gym membership. And surprisingly, in the same month, we also decided to take time off for a honeymoon later this year. Both are unnecessary expenses I would have vetoed two months ago. However, over the last several months, we have learned a lot about our finances and how to keep ourselves motivated with some money spent on “fun”. We can still eat cup of noodle and hit up Costco for free samples, but we can also have a date-night at least once per month. We can still Netflix and chill on the weekends, but we can also meet up with friends at a bar for drinks. Ultimately, while finances should always be considered, they should also not prevent us from having different experiences.
Really, we are finding our way like most other young people today. We will continue to learn as we grow and we look forward to sharing our experiences.