Managing Your Finances
October 5, 2005
Let's face it: it's hard being in residency. Not only are the hours long and the nights lonely, but the monetary compensation can be downright humiliating. Of course, after residency, physicians can potentially make millions (but only if they write books promoting bogus theories and unproven "alternative" methods for growing hair, losing weight, or reducing wrinkles, so that readers feel compelled to invest in co-branded monthly supplements until they either realize they've been duped, or they're broke - usually, both occur around the same time).
The point, though, is that you just need to make it through a few lean years to get to the "fatty" part of your personal and professional life. That means you'll need to make the most of what you've got, and learning to make informed decisions is an essential part of the process.
This issue, Q Fever!’s I&R correspondent, Dr. Karl Newman, gives us practical advice on: Managing Your Finances.
Boo-yah! Wassup 'homie'? You know, it sure is good to be doing these articles again. I've got all this bottled up kno'ledge inside, and it's got me feelin' kind of antsy, if you know what I'm saying!
So this time I'm here to expound a little on Your Finances. You may not have guessed it, but I was an Economics major at Hofstra - (I got my minor in Mis'behavioral Sciences!) In fact, I hadn't originally planned on going to med school at all. So what am I doing here in the medical field then? Lemme put it this way. You ever seen a video called "Naughty Night Economists 3"? Me neither.
Let's get started, shalln't we? The first thing that's important to do when you're dealing with your cash flow, is to:
1. Know Where It At.
Whatzatallabout? Simple. You can't organize your money, until you know where your money be!! This seems simple, but even third-year residents like my buddy Shubaum over in Peds can't always get it right. You need to know where it's coming from, where it's going, and most importantly, who has it. More than likely, it's not who you think it is! (Hint: it ain't your mamma!)
So the first step, then, is to get a computer. Why? You'll see why, later, but if you get over to Fry's right now, they have a sale or something. In fact, I'll meet you there. Hold on, I'll be right back ...
... cool. You know, you're a lot chunkier than I pictured.
Anyhow, next, ya gotta make a list of all your assets and liabilities. Assa-what? Lia-who?! Assets and liabilities, that's what! That's everything you've got that's good, and everything you've got that's bad, in two lists, one right next to the other.
For example, in your assets list, you could put, say, the contents of your wallet. No, not ON your list, you idiot, IN your list! Jeez, do I have to explain everything?!
Now, look around you. All that stuff in your apartment, or whatever hole you live in - that's all assets, too! Look in your desk. Pens? Check. Paper clips? Check. Rubber bands? Check. In fact, nothing's too big or too small to be considered an asset. (Unless it's actually worth nothing, so you can take that cat off there right now!!)
As for your liabilities, that's easy. Just take a good, hard look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself this: What is it about me that creeps the bejeezus out of people out so much? Is it the hair? Do I reek? What am I, some kind of monster?" You'll start to discover that you've got some serious character flaws - these are the types of liabilities we're talking about. Put them all on your list, and add extra pages if necessary.
Now, here's where the computer comes in. Learn how to design websites and stuff, and then set up a site for yourself, preferably using a domain name a lot like the name of the place you're working at, except with one or two letters changed. Like, you could do www.corneill.com, or www.stanfordunivershity.com. Then, put your assets and liabilities list on the homepage, along with a big picture of yourself - naked! Surf to this site at the next Grand Rounds using the laptop hooked up to the projector, and ... WHOOPEEEEEE! We're havin' some fun now!!!!
Now you're ready to move on to the next tip:
2. Know What To Do.
Now that your financial life's in order, how do you keep it that way? It's simple, if you know how! Otherwise, you can try my method. Do what "de guy dey calls Karl" does, so to speak!
See, what I mean is that it's important to keep your spending under control. You can't be blowing all your hard-earned cash on the kind of things you really want! Think of cash as "real money." This is the stuff you put under your futon, or inside your can of tomato sauce that's really a safe. (By the way, one great way to stash money and coins is by stuffing them into condoms and swallowing them, also known as "booty packing" ... though, for me, I gotta repeat it every 18 hours or so.)
Here's the secret. When you want to buy stuff, don't use "real money." Never use "real money." Instead, use credit cards! These can be an unlimited source of wealth, if you know where to find the best ones. And I'll tell you where to find the best ones: In your mailbox! Yup, all these companies are almost begging you to sign up for their cards, so they can give you the power to buy whatever you want! There might be a catch in there somewhere, but I haven't found one yet ... and, oh yeah, there's this other thing called your credit report, which you should really be checking every day. And just like in high school, a score of 100 is perfect! Mine's in the low 90's, which ain't so shabby - ain't so shabby at all.
HOLY AKAWAKAZAKI! That's all the time we've got for today! I sure hope you've learned something though - and it's never too late to start being financially indespondent. So I'll leave you with this little ditty my Mom taught me when she was but a teenager: "Money make dee world go roun', dat what Moses say, but money can't be hardly found, in de game dat wee folk play."
See you next time, and, till then ...
“Just tell ‘em Dr. Karl sent ya!”
Karl Newman, MD is a second-year resident in Internal Medicine. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Q Fever!, its editors, or its writers.
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