Written by Jordan Fisher, PA-C
You’ve made it! An undergraduate degree, thousands of patient care hours, and 2+ years of grueling PA school are finally behind you. You landed your first job, worked two weeks, and are finally handed that first paycheck (Highest Paid PA Specialities). Congratulations! You earned it! But wait, what do you do with this new-found wealth?
The first step to take is immediately start your student loan payback (assuming you are like most of us and now have a large amount of student loans). You likely were taking advantage of the 6-month grace period post-graduation where you can defer loan payments. Though this is helpful, your loans are still accruing interest during this time so get on that horse and begin your payback. Setup automatic payments for more than the minimum payment to speed up your loan payback and save on loan interest. This monthly payment amount can always be changed if needed.
Does your employer offer you a 401k or other retirement account? If so, do they offer you a match on your contributions? If the answer is yes, you want to contribute enough to get the full match amount. This commonly amounts to around 3%-6% of your salary that you must contribute. Work with your human resources department to have this automatically deducted from your paycheck each month. WAIT! You’re not done. You have to actually invest that money. Look to put the money in an index fund such as a total market fund or S&P 500 fund. You can also do a target date fund, just make sure it is an index fund. These funds are commonly identified by their low expense ratios. If this all sounds like a foreign language to you then you have some reading to do! Check out https://jlcollinsnh.com and https://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com for more information.
If you are young and healthy, you may want to sign up for a high deductible health insurance plan (HDHP) at your new job. This will save you money, but also give you access to a health savings account (HSA). Again, the key here is young and healthy. Do not go for a HDHP if there is a chance that you will have regular medical visits or health expenses. If your employer offers an HSA, setup contributions to come out of your paycheck and invest that money (yes, this money can be invested) just like you did with your 401k. If your company does not offer an HSA, consider opening one with a brokerage like Fidelity.
The above recommendations take money directly from your paycheck, and the decision away from you. This is a powerful way to continually save. With this in mind, setup automatic transfers from your checking account to a savings account to build an emergency fund. The vast majority of Americans don’t have an emergency fund to even cover an expense of a few hundred dollars. It is a good goal to build a fund of at least one month of expenses. Setup a recurring, bi-weekly transfer and you will have this saved before you know it.
Setting up these simple, yet powerful automated processes will set you apart from your peers. It may sting in the beginning, but you have just lived the last number of years on a student budget. Keep this up as long as you can. Your future self will appreciate it!
Do you want more information on all this and much more? Check out www.panextsteps.com
Thanks Andrew Baker, PA-C, MBA – Founder of PA 4 Finance for this opportunity to help guide the next generation of physician assistants towards a fulfilling and financially successful career.
PA 4 Finance offers comprehensive financial solutions for PAs and anyone in the spectrum of becoming a PA. Contact us today for a FREE CONSULTATION