5 Ways to Maximize Your Resident Salary

The average resident’s salary is just over $57,200 according to the most recent Medscape Residents Salary and Income report. And, while many families in America live on that annually, residents are in a unique situation.

For example, residents have to start repaying their student loans during residency. Many residents also have little time to cook meals from scratch. (They’re often on the doughnuts from the nurses station diet.) Plus, if you have children in residency, there’s often not much money left over after paying for childcare expenses.

So, I thought it might be helpful to write about 5 ways to maximize your resident’s salary or add to it. Below are some ideas.

1. Enroll in an Income Driven Repayment Plan

Most residents will not be able to make a standard payment on their medical school loans during residency. However, you can enroll in an income driven repayment plan.

The monthly IDR payment is usually $0 for the first year of residency because most residents do not generate income their last year of medical school. However, if you did make an income, you can use this calculator to see what your approximate payments would be.

I recommend a enrolling in an income driven plan over forbearance, preferably REPAYE, because that plan includes a three-year interest subsidy period on subsidized loans and 50% subsidy on unsubsidized loans. (If you have questions about this, you can always contact me.)

2. Reevaluate the Car You Drive

I recently wrote a post on how to buy a car and the negotiation tactics I recommend my clients use to get the best price on a vehicle.

If your car is too expensive, it might be time to reevaluate what car you should drive. After all, you don’t spend a lot of your time in the car. You’re in the hospital for “80” hours a week.

So, if you’re driving a car with a high monthly payment, it might be time to consider trading it in for something less expensive. This could free up hundreds of dollars a month since the average car payment in America is over $500.

3. Pick Up a Side Hustle

I know you don’t have a lot of time for extra work during residency. Some programs will allow you to moonlight and some won’t. If your program won’t, you can always consider other avenues to make money.

I know someone who is a family medicine resident in Connecticut, and she drives for Uber to make extra money when she is off of work. Sometimes, just an extra $100 a month from ride sharing, raking a neighbor’s leaves, or tutoring at the local high school can be enough to relieve financial tension.

4. Negotiate Your Bills

You’d be surprised how much money you can save by simply calling and negotiating your regular bills. Take an hour or two on your day off and call your cable company, your car insurance company, your credit card companies, and anyone else you think might negotiate on price.

If you have credit card debt but you pay your bill on time each month, usually credit card companies will lower your interest rates if you ask. This could save you money every month. Additionally, by calling your car insurance and cable companies and asking, “What types of discounts do you currently have?” you might be able to lower your bill.

5. Stock Up On Groceries

I know you don’t have a lot of time to cook from scratch, but I know one resident who spends two hours every Sunday making food for the entire week. Even if you don’t want to do that, you can buy protein bars in bulk or other food that can easily fit in your white coat pocket.

Planning ahead like this can prevent late night runs to get fast food when you’re on call or going through the drive through on the way home because you’re starving. Sure, you’ll need to do that some days but if you can reduce the amount of food you purchase each month, that can definitely improve your bottom line.

Ultimately, there are many ways to make the most of your resident’s income. In general, by being aware of your spending and expenses, you’re far more likely to live within your means. If you can do that in addition to negotiating some of your monthly bills or picking up a side hustle, you’ll be well on your way to maximizing the income you do receive.

Of course, if you have any questions about your student loan repayment plan, credit card debt, or money management in general, all first time consultation calls with me are free. You can sign up here.