Of course, don’t pay down debt that you expect someone else to pay off for you. If you anticipate being directly employed by a 501(c)3 (nonprofit) employer after residency, then enroll in and start making payments in an approved income-driven repayment program, like REPAYE, to maximize the amount you may be able to have forgiven, tax-free, through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Private employers may also be willing to pay off some or all of your debt. If you anticipate paying off your loans yourself, then making extra payments is certainly a good use of disposable income. The decision of whether to invest or pay down debt, barring a few extreme situations, has no correct answer—only a correct answer for you. Given the limited disposable income and all the great uses of it for the typical resident, it seems unlikely the best use would be to pay down mortgage debt.
Explore This IssueACEP Now: Vol 37 – No 08 – August 2018
The most important financial task for residents, at least after acquiring basic insurance policies like disability insurance and, if someone else depends on their income, term life insurance, is to develop a written financial plan for what they will do with their first 12 monthly paychecks after residency. The habits put in place during this most important year of a physician’s financial life will largely determine the financial pathway for their remaining five to seven decades.
While your primary focus during residency should be learning to become a compassionate and competent emergency physician while maintaining your wellness and that of your colleagues, it is also the time to begin laying the foundations of financial success. You can do this by becoming financially literate and making smart decisions about housing, spending, saving, and investing.