Kat graduated from PA school is 2014. Her first job was in Primary Care for the first 6.5 years of her career. Over the last 15 months, she has worked in outpatient Psychiatry. Her current role has multiple psychiatric conditions and more sick patients than she was used to seeing in her previous role. Kat is current working 35 hours per week which gives her tons of flexibility!
Student Loan Debt in 2014: $126,000
Motivation to Pay Off Student Loans
Kat was “completely financially illiterate” at the time of graduation from PA school. It was her understanding since her husband paid the bills, he must have everything under control and be financially literate. During this time, Kat was rather “gung-ho” to aggressively pay off her student loans. She began meeting with a “financial advisor” shortly after becoming a PA. Unfortunately, she was rather misadvised in multiple regards and encouraged to NOT pay off her student loans. The financial advice given to her was not fully accurate for someone with a PA salary and $100k+ of debt. This is all too common!!!
For the next few years, she was not doing the right things with her money. Lifestyle creep set in, and her student loans piled up. Financial Independence (FI) has since become her way of life! She and her husband have chosen this lifestyle to have more control over when and how much they would like to work. Kat’s current job has empowered her to work when and how much she wants during the journey to FI. Freedom of time and financial decision making is her catalyst to become debt free!
Paying Off Student Loans
Kat has a payoff date of April 2023. Currently, she is paying much more than her monthly payment to eliminate her loans by next year. Concurrently, she is investing as well. There are various ways to eliminate debt and still invest. Taking advantage of investing in the stock market at an early age is a must! Waiting to invest until you are completely debt free is risky and, not advisable (unless you are Dave Ramsey). Personal finance is personal! Be cautious of blanket financial recommendations given by others. Over generalizations of what you should be doing with your time and money are traps and don’t account for your unique lifestyle, priorities, career, and personal goals.
At the time of graduation in 2014, Kat’s first job paid $85,000. She increased her income over the next several years. During this time, she was paid salary then strictly RVU. Prior to the pandemic, she was making $156,000 via the RVU reimbursement pay model. She found it was very taxing to endure this high patient volume with high patient complaints long term. Her current mental health job working 35 hours per week pays $139,000. Nice job navigating such a good salary on a 35-hour work week!
Even though Kat already feels a sense of being free upon complete payoff of her debt, her journey created a mindset of freedom to work when she wants and not be trapped. More intentional, aggressive investing is on the horizon when her loans are officially paid off. Additionally, planning for children and the numerous additional expenses associated with parenting is being considered.
Advice for Students and Practicing PAs
Kat has quality recommendations for those struggling to pay off their debt. She realizes the importance of eliminating debt, investing, and living a life without being constrained by debt and work. It is not easy to quickly pay off debt, invest and avoid overspending while still enjoying your career. If it was, then EVERYONE would do it! We all know most people have a spending problem and keep their loans around for way too long…
· Budget: Track you spending for at least three months. This uncovers unnecessary spending and illuminates how you can better save or put money towards debt.
· Prevent lifestyle creep: Getting your first job as a PA is just the beginning. Bonuses, raises, side gigs all increase overall income. Put your hard-earned money where it belongs, not some spur of the moment purchase that won’t provide any joy or long-lasting personal fulfillment.
· Prioritize your values: Everyone needs a hobby or an activity that makes them most happy. Just like others on previous episodes of the #PADEBTSERIES, you do not have to sacrifice what brings you joy to become student loan free. Prioritize your spending so you can still do what you most enjoy. You may need to be creative in order to manage your lifestyle, but trust us when we say, it is possible!
· Consider Financial Independence (FI): This provides complete control over life and work. Once you have paid off your debt and have increased your saving rate, years go by and one day it will be up to you to decide when and how much to work. The freedom to choose when to work and not because you have too is a dream for many. Work optional? Sign me up! Your journey has already started. It is up to you to decide which pathway you will go down.
Kat is the owner of PA the FI Way. She hosts a podcast and has created social media sites in to provide discussions and assistance for anyone who wants to pursue FI. The PA the FI Way podcast can be found on any major podcast player, or can be found here: pathefiway.com/podcast. Travel hacking blog post: http://pathefiway.com/how-to-utilize-travel-rewards-for-free-travel/. Travel hacking podcast episodes are episodes 22 and 47.
Reach out to Kat via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.