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Top 10 Financial Tips for Pharmacy Students

Most pharmacy schools don’t teach personal finance, so it’s up to you to set yourself up for success by taking control of your money while you’re still a student.

On average, today’s pharmacists graduate with over $170,000 in student debt.1 It’s not easy to figure out how to tackle this debt, in addition to other financial priorities like making a down payment on a house or planning for retirement. Most pharmacy schools don’t teach personal finance, so it’s up to you to set yourself up for success by taking control of your money while you’re still a student.

Here are 10 tips to get you started.

1. Create a budget

When you hear the word budget, what comes to mind? Eating ramen, living frugally, shopping at thrift stores? While none of these practices are bad practices (and can certainly help you save money), budgeting simply means creating a game plan for your money. A budget helps you plan your spending in advance, allowing you to direct your disposable income (money left over after paying bills) toward financial goals.

Developing a budget as a student is key to avoiding overspending and will help you minimize your debt. Your Financial Pharmacist offers a simple, free budgeting template. After setting your budget, consider using an app like Mint or EveryDollar to track your monthly progress.

2. Develop strong financial goals

Although you may not be making a lot of money as a student, consider having specific, measurable, and timely financial goals for savings, net worth, and debt repayment. Here is a basic framework you can use to set goals: By I want so that . To do this, I will <étapes que vous prendrez pour faire de l'objectif une réalité>.

3. Set up an emergency fund

Emergencies and unexpected expenses can happen at any time and quickly derail your financial plan, unless you have an emergency fund. A general rule is to have 3-6 months of expenses saved in an emergency account, but saving that much can be a challenge for students. Pick an amount you’re comfortable with so you don’t have to rely on a credit card to bail you out if an unexpected expense arises.

4. Minimie Credit Card Debt

Credit card debt is often the result of overspending or paying unexpected expenses. Establishing a budget and contributing to an emergency fund can help you avoid getting into credit card debt. If you have it, try to eliminate it as soon as possible and find a strategy that will help you avoid it in the future.

5. Calculate and track your net worth

Calculating and tracking your net worth is a quick way to analyze your financial health. Your net worth is your assets (the things you own) minus your liabilities (the debts you owe). Thanks to student loans, that’s probably going to be a big negative number for a pharmacy student, but don’t let that put you off! Remember that the trajectory of your net worth is more important than its current amount.

6. Develop a student loan repayment strategy

Considering that most new grads have well over $100,000 in student debt, it’s important to have a solid repayment strategy in place. Start by looking at the federal and private loans you have available to see what your current balance is and what it’s likely to be after you graduate. Familiarize yourself with loan repayment options such as civil service loan forgiveness, refinancing, and other repayment plans, so you’ll have a head start when you graduate.

7. Start educating yourself

You don’t need a master’s degree in finance to be successful with money, but it’s important to have a solid foundation that will help you make sound financial decisions and develop good financial habits. If you’re interested in resources created for pharmacists, check out your financial pharmacist’s book (Seven-Figure Pharmacist: How to Maximize Your Income, Eliminate Appointments, and Build Wealth), website and podcast.

8. Consider secondary hustle

Side hustles are ways to earn extra money beyond a full-time job, which for pharmacy students is probably just school. But you can turn your skills or your personal interests and hobbies into a source of income to reach your financial goals faster.

9. Start investing in your company’s 401(K), 404(B), or Thrift plan

When you’re mired in student loans and other debt, it can be hard to keep investing, and you may feel like you can put off your retirement savings for a few years. The reality, however, is that you should take advantage of compound interest, and the sooner you start saving, the better.

Pharmacy interns likely have the option of contributing to an employer pension plan. If the company offers a matching contribution, they give you free money. For most people, qualifying for the business match is the best option, even paying off student loans. The amount you save beyond the required minimum depends on your financial goals.

10. Configure Systems to Avoid Lifestyle Creep

The lifestyle change can happen even if you’re a college student who doesn’t earn the salary of a typical pharmacist. It is important not to fall into the comparison game with your peers. Spending money on vacations, decorating your apartment, or buying lots of clothes for interviews and conferences can cause you to rack up more debt.

Take steps to prepare yourself financially

As a student, there are many steps you can take to prepare yourself financially. For more tips, resources and information, visit your financial pharmacist.

You want to know more ? Listen to the Pharmacy Focus: Study Break episode with Tim Ulbirch.

Tim Ulbrich, PharmD, is CEO and co-founder of Your Financial Pharmacist. Since 2015, the company has been on a mission to help pharmacists achieve financial freedom through comprehensive, paid online financial planning services, 3 weekly podcasts, books, webinars, and many other resources.


American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy Graduate Student Survey: 2021 National Summary Report. Published July 2021. Accessed February 9, 2022. 07/2021-gss-national-summary-report.pdf

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