“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” —Joseph P. Kennedy
As a wife to a resident and mom to three little ones (two born during medical school, one born during training), I've always had to stretch money to last us as long as possible. So, the common luxuries of life, like multiple streaming services, HomeChef subscription boxes, and a yard company to do our yard work just weren’t in any conversation we had as a family. Unless, you know, there happened to be a “first month free” situation, which of course meant dipping into that free offer and then canceling immediately after it ended...
Once, in residency, I cleaned out our closets and sent out emails to a group thread inviting everyone to come shop my closet. I charged most things at $1 per item, and $5 per item for more expensive items. I made $200 in my living room right then and there from my friends. The point is, there are always ways to earn some extra cash, and sometimes, they are right in front of us.
Now, we all know that it can be a tight budget during medical training. And frankly, that is so exhausting.
It gets old just watching your bank account go from not that much money to even less money. Especially if you add kids into the mix. Not to mention, living on loans can add a whole other layer of stress.
So, to help out those who may be in a similar situation, here is a little list of tips to help add an extra buck or two to that bank account, one day at a time.
Tip #1: Sell, sell, sell
If you have something of use in your possession and you are getting rid of it, chances are that you can sell it instead.
Facebook Marketplace, Mercari, ebay, and Poshmark are all good places to start. You can also sell items to consignment shops or consignment sales...especially kids clothes! Don’t be afraid to sell something for $5 online thinking it won't add up. Twenty things sold for $5 turns into $100 pretty quick. I recently changed out our cabinet handles and was going to give the old ones to Goodwill. Instead, I listed them on Mercari for $20 for the lot, and to my surprise, they sold immediately.
Also, nobody said you can’t get stuff for free and sell it. So if someone is giving something away and you can give it a little TLC and turn it into more money…do it!
Tip #2: Practice the once-a-week rule
Make and stick to a once-a-week splurge rule.
This means that, once a week, you can go to your favorite place to eat out, or grab pizza, or maybe do a night in with a little bit better food than you would normally grab. Keeping to this once-a-week rule is a good way to save for that special moment and avoid spending extra cash here and there, which can add up quickly.
For example, during residency, my family and I loved going to this little pizza joint nearby. It was $15 for a large pepperoni, and although that felt like a splurge, it was something we would look forward to all week!
Every budget is different, so for you, the rule may need to be every other week. But either way, following a version of this rule that works for you gives you something to save for and keeps the budget in check, unlike multiple $10 trips to Starbucks. This simple tip will help you save money in the long run while still feeling like you get to indulge in nice things like eating out!
Tip #3: Work from home
No matter your level of training or education, there are always opportunities to work from home.
Upwork is a great place to start. You can create a profile and do all kinds of different work, all online. You pay for credits (don’t worry, they are super inexpensive...like one buck) and then apply to open jobs using those credits. Some jobs just entail posting and scheduling images on social media, or finding images on the internet for companies. A buck worth of credits allows you to apply for up to 20 different positions.
Another work-from-home opportunity is transcribing audio to text. This blog post offers some tips for this type of work and lists sites that are hiring.
If you aren’t in a position to do online work, think about what skills you might have that you could use to bring in extra income.
During my husband's training, I was able to babysit here and there for extra income. You could sign up to do the same on bambino or care.com. Another option is just to put it out there that you are available to friends and neighbors for babysitting. You will be surprised to find out who might need you!
One other idea. By working for Validately, I was able to pay for our online streaming subscriptions during residency. They would email me opportunities like every five minutes, so beware of email overload if you sign up for this. Through this website, though, you sign up to test new websites and apps for companies. You just have to qualify to test the app or fall into the category of user they're targeting. Every test run you do gets you $10-70 dropped right into your PayPal or other account of your choice. So easy!
Medical training is a long, long journey. And yeah, yeah, I know you’ve heard that already. But sometimes it helps to know that others who’ve got your back are out there. And that would be us….the other medical spouses. I really hope this helps!!
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