PA Debt Series, Episode #2 – Meredith Mohr, PA-C
Meredith is a full-time PA working in Addiction Medicine throughout Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania. Meredith has been a PA for 4 years and works for Addiction Recovery Systems and the Recovery Centers of America.
She was able to pay off all of her student loans in 16 months after graduation! At the time of graduation in 2018, student loan debt: $64,000
Motivation to Pay off Student Loans
Meredith was a nontraditional PA student when going back to PA school in her late 30s. She has always been a frugal person. Prior to even beginning PA school, she had already paid off her home mortgage! This afforded her experience with paying off loans quickly!
Immediately after PA school, Meredith felt “I had already paid enough for PA school and did not want to pay the interest as well”. Given her frugal lifestyle and knack for saving, she did not have to take out additional loans to provide living expenses, which decreased her overall debt burden. Also, she was able to pay for some of her tuition as well.
Paying Off Student Loans
Starting hours/week: 40-45 hours/week
Starting salary: Steady income throughout payoff period
During her payoff period after PA school, Meredith continued to worked basically the same amount of hours per week. With very minimal fluctuation of her hours and pay, she paid off $64,000 in just 16 months! She was very focused to do this and made the necessary lifestyle adjustments to pay HUGE amounts of excess loan payments. She closely monitored the loan website waiting for the number to finally hit $0. Paying off her loans provided her with a HUGE relief!
Once again, Meredith is debt free and now has a great salary as a PA! Immediately after paying off her loans, she felt like there was an “expansion of opportunities”. She was previously putting so much money towards her loans but now she has the ability to choose where her money is going. No longer is there worries about paying for anything or dumping so much extra of her hard earned money towards her loans!
Meredith has since been maxing out her employer 401(k) and all the other tax advantage investment accounts. She is now enrolled in the Doctorate of Medical Sciences Program at the University of Lynchburg. She has been paying tuition as she goes, without additional loans or debt. She is now able to advance her degree without debt holding her back! Prior to starting this doctoral program, she spoke to many other PAs who wanted to get their doctorate but felt they “could not take on more student loans”.
Congratulations to Meredith for striving to get her doctoral degree while being debt free! This is truly a rarity and amazing accomplishment!
Advice for Students and Practicing PAs
Listen up pre-PAs!
Meredith believes the best time to think about PA school loans is before starting PA school. For those planning to go to PA school, learn to live a frugal lifestyle. Be able to save money to pay for living expenses so your loans will be less. The less you have to take out in loans, the easier it will be to pay them off. This may mean taking a gap year (or more) in order to appropriately prepare.
Live like a student during PA school! “When you have a week off, don’t take a trip to Acapulco. Be the person who stays home instead.” The biggest really PAs can not pay off their student loans rapidly (or save/invest for that matter) is a SPENDING PROBLEM! Continue to live frugally. Remember, you are a student and living off loans, not making any income!
Be sure to track expenses! Meredith uses an excel spreadsheet. There are also free apps to track expenses and learn to budget. Think about what you are spending your money on and if it was in line with your values, priorities and goals in your life. Did you really get joy from this expenditures? While you are tracking expenses, think about how nice it will feel after paying off school debt and how many things you will be able to do without debt!
Lastly, Meredith believes long term diversity of investments is important. Each individual has their own story and a unique background. Interest rates of loans, income, age and current stock market valuation may need to be considered when deciding what to do with excess money. Meredith believes once student loans are paid off, it gives you freedom to decide when and where to put your money!
We hope you all enjoyed this episode! Feel free to contact Meredith Mohr on LinkedIn
Look for the PA Debt Series, Episode #3 next week!
Check out the PA 4 Finance website for more information about becoming financially literate, growing wealth and making the most out of your hard earned money! Email Andrew@PA4Finance.com for any additional questions or to inquire about PA 4 Finance’s services.