Why A Kitchen Reno Is Not Happening Any Time Soon

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

Sometimes, this space is as much for my readers as it is for me – a place where I can store letters to myself or record the reasoning behind this experimental project which I call life. Today, it serves as the latter, although my readers may find the value in it too; A kind note to myself as to why a kitchen renovation is not in the cards in our near future, and why that is perfectly okay.

I toyed with the idea of re-doing our kitchen in December, after visiting a few friends who underwent just that. Their pretty white cabinets and shining appliances made an impression on me and had me stumbling down a rabbit hole of quartz countertops and custom-made wooden doors. In my musings, I mulled over all the flaws of our tiny kitchen space – the creaking faucet that is sure to break any minute now, the super thin metal sink banged up from carelessness, the water-logged floorboards caused by a leak every time we ran the dishwasher left undiagnosed until three plumbers later, the oven that clicks without a fan in the rear, the plastic microwave with its sticky hooded vents, the peeling panels stickered onto the laminated cabinet doors and the crusty chipboard slowly giving up underneath these fake countertops – all the things that my dream kitchen did not have.

My consideration even went so far as physically going to Ikea, planning a kitchen with a consultant, getting quotes from the third party counter-top company and the installation crew, and coming up with a game plan to ensue renovation at a moment’s notice. As usual, my husband gave me pause and we agreed to dog-ear the project and revisit at a later month.

During which, all the things I love about the kitchen re-surfaced. I had already written another note to myself about How to Fall In Love with a Kitchen but forgot it in the midst of celebrating all the newness of our friend’s “new” home. Which goes to show that sometimes, we need reminders of our love, such as that which I hold for my own space.

How it was my own bakery for a year of my life, how I know exactly the way my breads will turn out in this faithful oven of mine, how the light hits the fake-wood and adds a soft glow to my mornings and late afternoons, how the countertops never cause me worry and allow me to thoughtlessly spill sauce that would certainly stain marble and leave hot pans unattended which would certainly burn wood, how the kitchen fridge holds enough food for the three of us, how my dishwasher keeps my hands from drying out in the winter time, how we eat breakfast and prep meals around the free wooden island that came with the house and those fold-up-Ikea chairs, how there is just enough room to store all our belongings, how a cabinet in particular holds the exact dimensions needed for my beloved KitchenAid Mixer, how there is a very specific counterspace wide enough to house our espresso machine and coffee grinder, and how it brings me so much joy to stare at my kitchen from the couch, thanking my lucky stars that we get to call this abode our home.

With all of this recognition for our kitchen’s enoughness comes the flaws of doing a renovation. Redoing a kitchen would definitely put us behind on our loan repayment journey, which serves as our number one priority and biggest goal. Redoing a kitchen would take away time from our daily lives, as well as erase my bakery’s memories. Redoing a kitchen will unlikely bring us lasting happiness, as I continue to spill sauce on new countertops and drop things in a new sink while relearning the workings of a new oven. Lastly and most importantly, redoing a kitchen is not exactly what we are about.

In an effort to practice gratitude for what we already have, to live freely from working 9-5, and to live purposefully and to the fullest, I have decided after much consideration not to tackle the kitchen renovation. And while Instagram will feed me mementos as to why renovation is a must, I will be baking away in this darn kitchen, grateful for it supporting all my culinary endeavors, forgiving my experimental failures, and hosting my favorite people while learning and relearning the beauty in the aging of things and the growing of ourselves.

Other reminders and related posts:

How I Made $550 in October 2020 Blogging From Home

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more. 

I started blogging right after graduating from dental school without ever thinking I’d earn money from it. At the time, I turned to this blog as a place to record my daily life. Ever since teenhood, I have kept some sort of journal or diary, which has evolved over time from paper to Xanga to Melodramatic, and now onto WordPress. For almost twenty years, I’ve processed information through writing, but never once did I think I would earn money from it.

It’s been three years since owning this site but I am happy to say that it is now getting a little bit of traction and has started to earn me a little income. If I wasn’t working as a dentist during the day, I could see how this could become a steady day job. Still, even with my day job, it had turned into a fun side-hustle for me. I decided to log my earnings for my own personal tracking but also to share publicly how much one can make blogging from home.

Now that remote work seems to be in the near future for many, I do think that blogging is a good option for people who wish to work from home. Likewise, it is an opportunity to be your own boss and have your own space. Since you are writing your own content, you have the flexibility to work whenever you want to, which I know can be a good or bad thing. Of course, you can always practice habits that will separate work from home. Lastly, this is a great hobby or job for creative people. You have autonomy over how to execute your ideas and thoughts, making this a very freeing experience for those who don’t quite fall neatly into a traditional work environment or big company hierarchy.

But first, how did I start to monetize the blog?

If you are new to blogging, you may not know that you can earn income from owning such a space. I certainly didn’t. But then I took this course called Making Sense of Affiliate Marketingand it changed my life.

Related Posts:

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate Marketing is working with brands that you love in order to spread the word about their products and in return receiving commissions for any referred patrons. Sometimes these are physical products from almost any company you can think of. Other times, they are intellectual products such as courses or services that help improve other people’s lives. The best part is that you don’t have to “sell out” to do affiliate marketing. You don’t have to scheme or cheat people. For me, it’s really just promoting companies that I believe in. For example, the companies I choose to partner with are those that promote sustainably sourced products using fair trade and ethical factory conditions. I like to promote small name businesses trying to create social or environmental impact. I try to keep it to an exclusive few even though I’ve been approved for over 2,000 different companies (so far).

There are a few nuances to affiliate marketing and I didn’t know much about it prior to the course. But the course helped me to learn A LOT and it’s just another case of “you don’t know what you don’t know.” You could learn it all yourself, but it’s hard to without a guide to get you through the basics.

I highly recommend this course if you wish to monetize your blog but don’t know where to start.

Extra Income Report

Now, onto the numbers. In October 2020, I made $550in extra income.

Of that, this is the breakdown:

  • $500 is from sponsored posts. I count the monetary value of products that I receive as “income”. I do not accept products for review without first learning about the company and product. As a minimalist, I also only look for products that we currently need. I am honest in all my product reviews and list both pros and cons because I want to be as helpful to the consumer and the company, both.
  • The rest of the income was due to affiliate link commissions.

This was the highest income earning from the blog this year! So far, since March of 2020, I have earned $2328!!

I know it doesn’t seem like much, but as something I do for fun, I think it’s a nice little additional income. Over time, I hope to continue posting more income reports. Maybe it will help others looking for a side-hustle get a feel for whether blogging could become an alternative for them.

As always, my goal with this blog is to promote intentional living. Writing is a way to create a lifestyle that is in tune with what you want to do. Sure, it may not be the perfect job, but if working from home and having flexibility help allow you to live your dream life (one that includes traveling the world or becoming a stay-at-home parent), then I hope this space brings you that value.

If you are interested in starting a blog, I use WordPress. Feel free to sign up using my affiliate link.

If you already have a blog, I want to refer you to the course that helped me monetize mine. It’s a really great starting point. It’s called Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.

Holiday Pet Prep Starts Now

This blog post is in affiliation with Rover.com, a platform that connects dog owners with dog sitters. I, myself, am a dog sitter at Rover and this hobby-turned-side-hustle is one of my additional sources of income!

I consider the advent of Halloween as the official beginning of the holiday season. Every year, I make a conscious effort to make the holiday time a slow one. It’s a time of joy, but also becomes a time of great stress … hence the word effort.

Planning ahead helps alleviate the fervent rush and allows for greater enjoyment during this time of year. While it is challenging to plan for gathering head counts this early in the year, one of the things you can do today to lighten your to-do list for the holidays is to plan for your pets.

When you have a dog or cat, you have a family member. While considerably less work (at times), a pet can feel like having a small child in the house, especially dogs. You have to schedule your day around their needs and make sure they are being well taken care of.

It may be difficult to prepare a supper for ten if you have to walk the dog in between turning on the oven and stirring the soup. Also, that friendly wagging tail may get in the way of entertaining guests. Unless you are certain that all guests welcome pets, you can’t be too sure how your pet make others feel. Lastly, gathering around the table is certainly less enjoyable with a slobbery beggar putting their paws on your fancy linen tablecloth, yanking at your fine china and ruining your hard work.

All of this, of course, is the best case scenario wherein you are hosting at home. What about holiday vacations? Or when celebrations are being held at a relative’s abode?

The fact is, we have busy lives that sometimes cannot involve our loveable pets; and as much as that saddens us, we must leave them at home.

So, what do you do when you’re gone longer than preferred? You find help and Rover is a great source.

Rover is the nation’s largest network of pet sitters and dog walkers. They offer a ton of different services to help you give your pooch the attention and care they deserve when you are unable to. Sitters such as myself are true animal lovers with amazing customer care you can trust.

To avoid any unwanted surprises, I would start booking for your pet now. I would personally love to watch your pet and if you are new to Rover, you can take advantage of the following offer: $20 OFF your first Rover booking using code: SAMANT24058. You can find me here.

On the contrary, if you have no plans for the holidays, perhaps you would like to earn extra income being a sitter on Rover.

To hear more about my experience as a Rover sitter, check out my previous post here.

The Ever-Growing List of Ways to Earn Extra Income

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

There are two paths to growing wealth: spend less money, and earn more money. I have already addressed the former in my Ever-Growing List of Things I’ve Given Up in the Name of Frugality. It’s about time I address the latter.

I am ALL about the side-hustle. I have spent the last fifteen years of my life working multiple part-time jobs and creating side hustles. I had three jobs in Undergrad at the same time, and worked after school in dental school. Job titles that I’ve held include Jamba Juice worker, Jamba Juice Training Mentor, Banana Republic Visuals Specialist and Retail Associate, Dental Assistant, Private tutor, Tutor at a tutoring company, University Librarian, Rover Dog-Sitter, Baker at Rye Goods, Owner of Aero Bakery, Dentist, and Blogger. I have earned extra money writing entire websites as well as guest-writing for people, being a “lab-rat” for all sorts of University research studies, baby-sitting, baking treats for parties, and other random title-less positions.

I know COVID-19 has caused many people to lose their jobs. I hope this post finds you, somehow. There are endless ways to earn money. There is no reason to stick to what your degree or license is on. Many jobs require very little experience, and honestly most of what I did I learned along the way. I had no culinary degree and yet I reached out to a bakery via Instagram and asked for work. I took the only shift available (the early shift from 2am to 6am) and balanced it with my 5-day-workweek as a dentist. From there, I learned how to open my own bakery and manage that from the comforts of my home.

Likewise, I had only lived with my family dog for four years, but I deemed myself good enough for dog-sitting. I simply applied on the Rover App which only required a few lines of information and a few essays as to why I would be a good fit.

I have never changed diapers in my life but I sure as heck volunteered to babysit. I used to dabble in writing and somehow, I was paid to write all of the content of an entire website at the age of 20. No one gave me permission to create a blog, or be on podcasts, or half of the other things I ended up doing. But I did them, and you can too. All you need to do is throw yourself out on a limb, ask people around you how you can be of service, and give yourself the permission to try, and fail, and grow. You need to be vocal, confident, and trusting of your skills and talents. I believe every person has a long-list of things to contribute, and by offering to do so, we not only make ourselves richer but those around us richer too.

Onwards with my ever-growing list of ways to earn extra income.

  • Start a blog. I use WordPress as my hosting site and I started this blog for free. I first learned I could earn money for this blog through this course: Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. I then turned the blog into a business site which costs a yearly fee, but the money you earn from your blog can easily offset that fee. I would highly recommend growing your e-mail list via ConvertKit so that you can reach even more people.
  • Create an E-Course. I created my first E-Course called Mastering A Budget. My course is FREE but for those looking to sell their courses, I highly recommend Teachable. It is such an easy program to use, and I know many people who have earned hundreds of thousands of dollars via Teachable. Write E-courses on things you care about or know a lot about. Trust that what you have to teach people is valuable!
  • Save electricity. We participate in OhmEvents and shut down our electricity during high-usage times. The first month, we earned $80. The second month, we earned $70. You can earn over a thousand dollars a year saving electricity. It can even pay for your utility bills for the year! Sign up using my affiliate link to OhmConnect and start earning now. If you use my affiliate link to sign up, you will automatically earn $20!
  • Pet-sit. There are many apps from which to pet-sit, but the one I use and recommend is Rover. You can choose to dog-sit either at the pet’s home or your home, walk dogs, or just swing by and check up on dogs! Getting paid to play with pets is the best!
  • De-clutter your stuff and sell them on Poshmark. I recently discovered Poshmark and have had high success selling my things on this platform. I make about $50 a month selling things on Poshmark. It’s also a good place to shop responsibly and frugally (see my previous post here).
  • Baby-sit. There are many parents who need baby-sitters. Especially now that WFH is more common. Over-whelmed, over-worked, and over-extended parents need a break! Guess who can offer their services…
  • Clean Homes. If you know how to clean, then you have gold on your hands. I know many people who hire others to clean their homes for them on a weekly basis. If you don’t mind getting on your hands and knees and you like to work in solidarity, then perhaps cleaning homes is the right gig for you. Plus, nowadays, professional cleaners are much needed! Turn on a Spotify playlist and get to work.
  • Drive for Uber or Lyft. After your day shift, drive in the evening for one of these companies. I heard that certain nights and weekends are popping. My brother did this for a while during his year between undergrad and dental school. He mostly drove around the city that he already lives in. It’s a great gig for night owls.
  • Deliver food via PostMates, GrubHub, or Amazon (Whole Foods). Food delivery has become increasingly popular and there is prestige to becoming a Whole Foods delivery person (I hear there’s a daily waitlist!).
  • Create Websites. Know a little bit of code? Understand the basics of websites? It’s okay. I didn’t either but look at me now! I am not tech-savvy. I have problems when my phone updates. And here I have built this space from scratch. Offer your services to someone who is just starting their business. I am sure they have a lot of other things to worry about. Create their website, learn along the way, take their feedback, and keep tweaking.
  • Be a photographer or videographer. Nowadays, almost anyone can turn these hobbies into a real job – that earns decent income! You can sell your pictures online so that others can print them and frame them around the house. Or you can shoot for events or companies. Just ask around. There are many people who need professional pictures. It is the digital age, after all.
  • Tutor. I used to tutor high school level math, Spanish, biology, and chemistry. I do think that everyone has something to offer. Tutor music, dance, finance, basic life-skills. Hold virtual classes via Zoom. Do something fun, like teaching a class on how to make a latte. Or how to tend to plants. Do a workshop of calligraphy – and make it a series! The word is at your fingertips.
  • Lead Yoga and Gym Classes. My best friend is a yoga teacher for CorePower Yoga. And although gyms are closed now, you can always make yoga videos on Youtube and get paid after a certain number of views. Or you can host a Zoom meeting and have people tune in. Charge them a registration fee and give them access to your Zoom room after they’ve paid. It doesn’t have to be a work-out class in person.
  • Be a professional de-clutterer or home organizer. People are stuck in their homes. They have turned their attention to long-ignored spaces. (I know I have). The de-cluttering craze has gone viral (was it not already?). But many people give up half-way through because of the rigorous process and the overwhelm. I have a friend who started a business that helps people de-clutter their homes. Consultations via Zoom or Facetime are easy to set-up. Help people create the ideal WFH spaces.
  • Work Part-Time at a Grocery Store, Bakery, Restaurant, Hotel, Coffee Shop, Retail Store, etc. This one ends up being the hardest gig to land in 2020. Who knew? But as the economy reopens, be prepared. Keep an eye out. You’ll likely have to play the numbers game and apply to as many opportunities as you can, but don’t give up!

Over time, I will add to this ever-growing list. Feel free to chime in!

Related Posts:

How I Made $369.18 in September 2020 Blogging From Home

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more. 

I started blogging right after graduating from dental school without ever thinking I’d earn money from it. At the time, I turned to this blog as a place to record my daily life. Ever since teenhood, I have kept some sort of journal or diary, which has evolved over time from paper to Xanga to Melodramatic, and now onto WordPress. For almost twenty years, I’ve processed information through writing, but never once did I think I would earn money from it.

It’s been three years since owning this site but I am happy to say that it is now getting a little bit of traction and has started to earn me a little income. If I wasn’t working as a dentist during the day, I could see how this could become a steady day job. Still, even with my day job, it had turned into a fun side-hustle for me. I decided to log my earnings for my own personal tracking but also to share publicly how much one can make blogging from home.

Now that remote work seems to be in the near future for many, I do think that blogging is a good option for people who wish to work from home. Likewise, it is an opportunity to be your own boss and have your own space. Since you are writing your own content, you have the flexibility to work whenever you want to, which I know can be a good or bad thing. Of course, you can always practice habits that will separate work from home. Lastly, this is a great hobby or job for creative people. You have autonomy over how to execute your ideas and thoughts, making this a very freeing experience for those who don’t quite fall neatly into a traditional work environment or big company hierarchy.

But first, how did I start to monetize the blog?

If you are new to blogging, you may not know that you can earn income from owning such a space. I certainly didn’t. But then I took this course called Making Sense of Affiliate Marketingand it changed my life.

Related Posts:

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate Marketing is working with brands that you love in order to spread the word about their products and in return receiving commissions for any referred patrons. Sometimes these are physical products from almost any company you can think of. Other times, they are intellectual products such as courses or services that help improve other people’s lives. The best part is that you don’t have to “sell out” to do affiliate marketing. You don’t have to scheme or cheat people. For me, it’s really just promoting companies that I believe in. For example, the companies I choose to partner with are those that promote sustainably sourced products using fair trade and ethical factory conditions. I like to promote small name businesses trying to create social or environmental impact. I try to keep it to an exclusive few even though I’ve been approved for over 2,000 different companies (so far).

There are a few nuances to affiliate marketing and I didn’t know much about it prior to the course. But the course helped me to learn A LOT and it’s just another case of “you don’t know what you don’t know.” You could learn it all yourself, but it’s hard to without a guide to get you through the basics.

I highly recommend this course if you wish to monetize your blog but don’t know where to start.

Extra Income Report

Now, onto the numbers. In September 2020, I made $370 in extra income.

Of that, this is the breakdown:

  • $333 is from sponsored posts. I count the monetary value of products that I receive as “income”. I do not accept products for review without first learning about the company and product. As a minimalist, I also only look for products that we currently need. I am honest in all my product reviews and list both pros and cons because I want to be as helpful to the consumer and the company, both.
  • The rest of the income was due to affiliate link commissions.

I believe that September was an average month. So far, since March of 2020, I have earned $1778!!

I know it doesn’t seem like much, but as something I do for fun, I think it’s a nice little additional income. Over time, I hope to continue posting more income reports. Maybe it will help others looking for a side-hustle get a feel for whether blogging could become an alternative for them.

As always, my goal with this blog is to promote intentional living. Writing is a way to create a lifestyle that is in tune with what you want to do. Sure, it may not be the perfect job, but if working from home and having flexibility help allow you to live your dream life (one that includes traveling the world or becoming a stay-at-home parent), then I hope this space brings you that value.

If you are interested in starting a blog, I use WordPress. Feel free to sign up using my affiliate link.

If you already have a blog, I want to refer you to the course that helped me monetize mine. It’s a really great starting point. It’s called Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.

How I Made $288 in July 2020 Blogging from Home

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.  I started blogging right after graduating from dental school without ever thinking I’d earn money from it. At the time, I turned to this blog as a place to record my daily life. Ever since teenhood, I have kept some sort of journal or diary, which has evolved over time from paper to Xanga to Melodramatic, and now onto WordPress. For almost twenty years, I’ve processed information through writing, but never once did I think I would earn money from it. It’s been three years since owning this site but I am happy to say that it is now getting a little bit of traction and has started to earn me a little income. If I wasn’t working as a dentist during the day, I could see how this could become a steady day job. Still, even with my day job, it had turned into a fun side-hustle for me. I decided to log my earnings for my own personal tracking but also to share publicly how much one can make blogging from home. Now that remote work seems to be in the near future for many, I do think that blogging is a good option for people who wish to work from home. Likewise, it is an opportunity to be your own boss and have your own space. Since you are writing your own content, you have the flexibility to work whenever you want to, which I know can be a good or bad thing. Of course, you can always practice habits that will separate work from home. Lastly, this is a great hobby or job for creative people. You have autonomy over how to execute your ideas and thoughts, making this a very freeing experience for those who don’t quite fall neatly into a traditional work environment or big company hierarchy. But first, how did I start to monetize the blog? If you are new to blogging, you may not know that you can earn income from owning such a space. I certainly didn’t. But then I took this course called Making Sense of Affiliate Marketingand it changed my life. Related Posts:

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate Marketing is working with brands that you love in order to spread the word about their products and in return receiving commissions for any referred patrons. Sometimes these are physical products from almost any company you can think of. Other times, they are intellectual products such as courses or services that help improve other people’s lives. The best part is that you don’t have to “sell out” to do affiliate marketing. You don’t have to scheme or cheat people. For me, it’s really just promoting companies that I believe in. For example, the companies I choose to partner with are those that promote sustainably sourced products using fair trade and ethical factory conditions. I like to promote small name businesses trying to create social or environmental impact. I try to keep it to an exclusive few even though I’ve been approved for over 2,000 different companies (so far). There are a few nuances to affiliate marketing and I didn’t know much about it prior to the course. But the course helped me to learn A LOT and it’s just another case of “you don’t know what you don’t know.” You could learn it all yourself, but it’s hard to without a guide to get you through the basics. I highly recommend this course if you wish to monetize your blog but don’t know where to start.

Extra Income Report

Now, onto the numbers. In July 2020, I made $288 in extra income. Of that, this is the breakdown:
  • All $288 is from sponsored posts. I count the monetary value of products that I receive as “income”. I do not accept products for review without first learning about the company and product. As a minimalist, I also only look for products that we currently need. I am honest in all my product reviews and list both pros and cons because I want to be as helpful to the consumer and the company, both.
I believe that July was a little low since I published half as many posts as June and May. Yet I received 800 more views than a normal month which shows that this blog is growing. I know it seems like not much, but as something I do for fun, I think it’s a nice little additional income. Over time, I hope to continue posting more income reports. Maybe it will help others looking for a side-hustle get a feel for whether blogging could become an alternative for them. As always, my goal with this blog is to promote intentional living. Writing is a way to create a lifestyle that is in tune with what you want to do. Sure, it may not be the perfect job, but if working from home and having flexibility help allow you to live your dream life (one that includes traveling the world or becoming a stay-at-home parent), then I hope this space brings you that value. If you are interested in starting a blog, I use WordPress. Feel free to sign up using my affiliate link. If you already have a blog, I want to refer you to the course that helped me monetize mine. It’s a really great starting point. It’s called Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.

The Real Reason Doctors Can’t Pay Down Their Student Debt

I was sitting at work once (and many times after), talking to colleagues of mine who were all in their early thirties – fairly young by doctor standards. We were talking about student loans (what else?) and how steep the price has become to get an education (in this case dental, but it applies to education in general). We were going through our numbers and they were going through their excuses as to why it was impossible in their situation to pay down debt. Of course, me being me, I gently stated the obvious which was that the real reason doctors “can’t” pay down their student debt was because they thought they deserve more than everyone else.

This statement may hurt many doctors’ feelings, but actually, it’s true.

For example. I had one person complaining about drowning in student debt. He blamed it on the kids and the fact that he is a single income household. Fine. But he also just bought a brand new Tesla SUV. He gets a nanny to watch his kids so that it’s easier on his stay-at-home wife. He gets help (did he say $100k a year??) from his in-laws that is budgeted for the kids. His dining out bill is $800 a month. But he can’t afford his student debt.

Another person also bought a brand new car after graduation, enrolled his 6-month old in Montessori private school, took wild vacations (without travel hacking!), and bought a grand house for their family of three.

Yet another person owns two medical-grade massage chairs in his home, bought his girlfriend a Tesla, and drops $10k on trips around the world.

What if I told you that this story is repeated many times over? I have spoken with my fair share of indebted graduates, especially after releasing my own personal story with ChooseFI.

They all wish to banish their student debt. They also don’t wish to do the work.

Here’s the thing I see most often with doctors. They work very diligently to get through school. They do anything to get to their dream career, including taking out a huge sum of moolah (hell, I did too).  They sacrifice the best of their young years. They put off buying a home, earning money, and settling down. Then graduation hits and they think, “I’ve made it.” For a brief second, they breathe a sigh of relief thinking it’s all going to be worth it.

So they buy a new car to celebrate. Then they buy a home or a practice. They go out every weekend for food. Sometimes they dine out a few times a week! They want to live in affluent communities. They want to go on vacation. They throw themselves a dream wedding. They buy nice clothes and expensive Figs scrubs. But more than all this are the little purchases. They want the daily coffee, the trinkets from the $5 section in Target, the happy hour events, the spin class – you know, the harmless stuff.

They become obsessed with the high-life and quite quickly, they refuse to give it up. 

And if you think I’m being extreme, I’m not.

Because when I graduated, I wanted all these things, too!

The most excruciating part about facing my student debt, the part that nearly killed me, was realizing that after every sacrifice and sleepless night, after giving up the best of my youth, after working three jobs during school, after wracking my brain on ways to extend $40 for another week, after being a model student, the good daughter, the most loyal employee, the most valuable I could be to the community – the work was still not done.

And when I tell new grads coming to me for advice on making loans disappear that they have to use their beat-up high-school ride, possibly move-in with their parents or take on a roommate, cook dinner every night, manage a budget every week, wear their same scrubs from dental school for five more years, and try their darndest to travel for FREE – well, their faces fall and I can see the disappointment plain as day scrawled on their furrowed brows.

Only thing is, I can’t tell if the disappointment lies in the fact that they have to continue living like a college kid for ten more years or if the disappointment lies in me – because I wasn’t the magic genie they wanted that would grant them their wish.

I can tell you how to repay your loans. You just might not like it.

99% of graduates with more than $350k of debt choose to stay with loan forgiveness. Probably because it hurts the human psyche too much to know that everything you’ve done thus far is not enough.

Becoming a doctor does not end the day you graduate. Not for me. It ends the day everything you need to become a doctor is behind you. Loans included.

Not everyone thinks this way, though. Many people truly believe that the hardship stops the day you get the degree. Ahhh, time to sit back and enjoy the benefits of all our hard work. But how can that be when you don’t even know what a hard-earned dollar looks like?! What makes you better than the rest of ’em?

I know I’m making enemies here but I must pose the question. If not I, who will?

I don’t blame the docs. They were merely children when they signed their lives away for a chance at the American Dream. I blame our upbringing for creating the expectation that a doctor’s life is a rich and easy one. I blame the institutions that are set in place that allow universities to charge this much money to get educated. I also blame lending companies who are handing out loans this large. Child robbery, that’s what I call it.

I implore to all the existing doctors that make it seem like being a doctor is easy. How will we ever change the trajectory if we keep implying to young ‘uns that pursuing this career path will mean they won’t have to work hard for the rest of their life. How will they realize and make an informed decision when the time comes?

I know the real truth.

That behind the facade of wealth is an increasingly long list of medical professionals patiently waiting 25 years for loan forgiveness to hit. Behind every confident thrust of the credit card is an avoidance technique that makes life a bit easier to live. Behind all our heroics and saving lives lies a coward afraid to face our social responsibility to pay back debt that we chose to take out. And behind every accomplishment lies a lifestyle creep that is avalanching too fast out of our reach, propelling doctors further forward towards an unsustainable way of living.

The real reason doctors “can’t” pay back student debt is because they won’t.

They choose not to work hard anymore. It isn’t burn-out, although that stuff is real too. It’s the social expectation that a doctor’s life is breezy. The mindset to pay back debt just isn’t there. Many cannot accept that graduation is not the end-game. They think they already won.

There will be excuses. I don’t buy any of it.

There will come a day when I will finish my loan repayment journey, and people will think it’s a miracle. They’ll think I was one of the lucky ones, rather than a penny-pinching maniac. Perhaps the stars aligned and the pandemic gave me this “unique” ability to pay back loans faster because I was not being charged interest for six months. My parents must have helped me out. An investment strategy probably worked out for me but not them. I can’t wait to see the excuses they make. But none of that will be true.

My current car is a high-school ride that I’ve had for 13 years. The passenger’s rear-view mirror doesn’t match, because when someone broke it (probably to re-sell it), I didn’t want to pay an extra $60 to get one that was white when the stock color was black. Mike even helped me put it on the car myself because I didn’t want to pay a service fee at the auto shop. My neighbor came out of his garage this past week and looked at me funny when he saw me physically hand-washing my car. He said, “That’s … nice…” and walked away slowly.

I sometimes have to wipe graffiti off my windows, because I chose to live in a lower income neighborhood so that I could buy a business storefront AND a dwelling at a very low price. Last Friday night, it was getting ratchet at the club next door since they moved the party outdoors due to COVID restrictions. I’ve had to run away from my own home before when the riots first started and they fired fireworks at the cops.

I spent a third of last year working midnight shifts. I still wear my USC scrubs that I was forced to buy upon entering dental school in 2012. I run with the Nike’s that my husband bought me as a gift when I was attending dental school so that I could “be cool”. They used to be orange but now they’re mostly black. I sell my de-cluttered stuff on Poshmark. I research heavily in order to travel the world for FREE. I come home from work to work. I still actively budget every week. I aim to spend only $200 a month in groceries for the two of us and $150 a month in dining out. I created a lifestyle where my job is three blocks away, to reduce the gas I have to buy. TO REDUCE THE GAS I HAVE TO BUY. I spent my last birthday repainting our bathroom. We spent Mike’s birthday picking up birthday freebies. Heck, even our cat was free.

Do you know the real reason THIS doctor can pay off student debt?

Hard work and a willingness to.

It’s not rocket science.

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