Let’s get the obvious out of the way-I am not a financial expert. However I believe there are four universal concepts when it comes to student finances:
Everyone’s finances and goals are different.
Everyone should KNOW their finances and goals.
Everyone can do better.
Nobody is perfect.
Perhaps having a vague goal of the future is what is keeping from you from really planning your money out. Or maybe you feel that your debt is scary and ignore it. Or just simply think, “That’s future *your name here*’s problem.” However, what I, and almost everyone who touches finances, believe is that the time is now to work on your own debt and finances. Really, the time was yesterday but you’re here now and that is what matters.
And because of concept #1 above, instead of espousing advice from professional sources, I decided that I would tell my financial story. I recently crossed the six-figure debt threshold and I honestly think that if I didn’t look at my loans every semester, I would be in a far more anxious state than I am now. I conceptually knew I wasn’t going to leave Regis University under $100,000 in debt but seeing my debt slowly rise helped replace concept with reality. That reality motivated me to look at ways I can take control of my debt. Which brings me to FitBUX.
After hearing a few podcast from the CEO of FitBUX, Joseph Reinke on PT Pintcast and The Knowbodies, I decided to sign up with them. FitBUX is a service that is specifically geared towards physical therapists and their school debt. After answering some questions, from “Total Amount of student loans” to “Did you ever run marathons?” they calculate your FitBUX score. After you receive this score, you get assigned a FitBUX Coach where you and your coach will go over different options to pay off your loans. For myself, my coach said I have a fairly unique situation.
After graduating, I hope to get into an Orthopaedic Residency program and then open up my own clinic soon after that, which brings me to the second part of concept #2. Because I know what I want in the foreseeable future, I can plan my debt strategy around it. My coach told me that a FitBUX score tells
"Really, the time was yesterday but you’re here now and that is what matters."
you how many things you can focus on during your earning years such as: pay off your debt quickly, buy a house, have a child, and/or save for retirement. With my score and goals, my options are pretty limited but it helps focus me now so that I can set myself up for the best possible scenario.
I first created my own budget in Excel in four month intervals focusing on these five things:
Misc. Expense (lovingly called my "Oh Shit!" Fund for whatever comes up)
Recently I have made the switch over to Mint.com because it gives a snapshot of every credit card and banking account I have out there. From there, I set up similar budgets and track my expenses every week. One important thing to note; buckle down where you can but not at the expense of your own sanity.
I remember one night at 2am (where I tend to do most of my accounting [re: meltdowns]) I somehow decided that I was spending TOO MUCH on groceries and therefore I CAN SOLVE EVERYTHING by buying way less. So the next day when I went shopping, I really made an effort to pinch every penny I could. And I did. However, I soon became even more anxious and depressed than the night I came up with this bright idea.
I love to cook, and by limiting myself to only buy sale items or ingredients to maximize how many nights I can eat the same thing, cooking became too utilitarian for me. I simply didn't enjoy what I was making. I knew then that I just couldn’t tamp down all thve expenses I could for my groceries: I am going to buy sesame seed oil if I want to goddamn it! So while I believe everyone can be a little better in their finances, nobody is going to be 100% efficient. You just have to make sure you make the effort to budget and that takes looking at your finances.
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