Some bloggers advise young physicians to continue living like a resident for five to seven years after taking their first real job. The strategy keeps a very tight rein on expenditures, allowing for significant savings which are directed to debt payments. This approach is simply an extreme version of the general advice to live within your means, with draconian measures to keep expenses very low for an extended period of time. As with all blanket advice, it works well for some, but not all. In particular, it’s easiest to implement for people who are single and have no dependents. Those who do have family obligations may find it impossible to live under such constrained circumstances for even a single year, let alone half a decade or more.
You don’t have to live like a resident to realize prosperity, but stating the obvious: the tighter your belt is hitched the sooner you can become debt free and focus more on building retirement assets.
I find a moderate approach is more palatable for young physician families: avoid large expenditures in the first two years after taking your first higher-paying job. Don’t purchase a home in the first year and absolutely do not purchase an expensive car! If you’ve taken a job in a new city, take a year or two to become familiar with all the desirable neighborhoods so that when the time comes, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision regarding home ownership.
Focus on running an efficient budget, making timely debt payments, and saving for a down payment. When you do buy a home, avoid trophy homes and zero down payment options because both obligate you to make higher monthly payments. Buying a starter home instead of a mansion will give you the benefits of homeownership without straining your budget. Spend five years building up equity in the starter home and look to upgrade when your debt picture has improved.