Did you know that many graduating medical students have debts that look more like mortgages than student loans? In fact, there is data that indicates that financial considerations and debt are now either "very" or "most important" factors in determining the career paths chosen by 32% of first-year medical students in Ontario.
While Quebec students have the lowest rate of debt across the country, this is still a very real concern for most McGill medical students and residents. Here are some savy tips to take control of your finances...
- Develop an annual budget. Very simply, this is your expenses contrasted against your income and it is worth putting this into a database at least every year. Better yet, try to make a multi-year financial plan. If you are a senior student or resident, working part time is simply not an option so your income potential can become stagnant.
- Use your budget wisely. Just crunching the numbers is not enough! You should try to stick to balancing your budget or every year, you will spend a litlle more than you make and this is where bad habits begin. The ideal budget is one that allows you to at least pay interest (and hopefully, some capital!) on your debts and that allows you to save up for emergencies and the occasional spontaneous treat.
- Borrow only what you need. This is really important! As a physician in training, banks will be more than happy to increase the limits on your credit line or credit card. Resist! Contrary to belief, money does not grow on trees and every cent will need to be payed back with interest.
- Properly time your withdrawals. Many students do not realize the charges they pay for overdraft payments or late fees. You can also save on interest by choosing installment payments instead of lump sump payments for bigger items.
- Reduce the amount borrowed when possible. Try to put money down on your credit line instead of leaving it in a chequing account even if you forsee needing the money in the near future. This will reduce your interest payments significantly.
McGill's Scholarships & Student Aid Office is here to help you manage the money you need for your degree. Find information about government aid, McGill loans & bursaries, and our ‘Frugal Scholar’ Money Management Program & Toolkit, or student [dot] aid [at] mcgill [dot] ca (set up a budget counseling appointment with a Financial Aid Counselor).
Office of Scholarships and Student Aid
Contact: Cara Piperni, Director
Tel.: (514) 398-6013/6014
E-mail: cara [dot] piperni [at] mcgill [dot] ca