Matt from A Financial Savvy Doc doesn’t remember the exact moment when his parents discussed finances with him. But he does remember a few words his father often mumbled during Matt’s high school days.
Those words made an impact on the young man. “I recall hearing my dad mumble from time to time ‘if only I’d have known this sooner‘ or ‘if only I’d have invested sooner than I could…'” says Matt. “It really hit me. I don’t want to look back and say, ‘if only’, I want to look back and be amazed by what I have achieved and have no regrets.”
His father’s words gave him an “unquenchable desire” to learn about finances and money management. This continued as Matt attended undergraduate school. During that time, he studied exercise physiology at Brigham Young University – Idaho. He also worked two jobs. Matt refused to graduate in student loan debt.
“Graduating college with student loans, for me, simply wasn’t an option,” says Matt. “My parents always advised me that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to, even in the financial world. I didn’t want that burden over my head. I have read about others being able to do it, I just had to make it a reality for myself.”
During his undergrad years he worked two jobs. He worked as a tutor for $10.50 an hour for the university, teaching anatomy and physiology. He also worked as a Spanish customer service rep at a company called Melaleuca.
“I had many long and rough nights,” remembers Matt. “Working at Melaleuca, I was required to work the last three days of the month. For some reason those days were the busiest. I had to go to work between 3-4 p.m., and I worked till midnight. That lead to many long nights.”
Matt graduated in 2015. He married and worked for a year so his wife could graduate in 2016. In 2017, Matt was accepted into dental school. Unfortunately, he took out student loans to cover the exorbitant costs.
“Currently, just two semesters in, I have $72,000 in student loans,” says Matt. “And this is strictly for tuition cost. By the end of the four years we will be looking at close to $400k in student loans.”
But that doesn’t stop him and his wife from saving and investing money. “My wife’s employer has a matching 401(k),” says Matt. “We don’t want to miss out on free money, so we contribute until the matching has been maxed. We also saved an emergency fund during my undergrad and that one year I had off before dental school.”
And they make tremendous personal sacrifices. Matt works a few side gigs when he has time — something his fellow dental school peers marvel at, considering their massive work load. They also live frugally.
“We don’t have as much ‘fun’ as other people,” says Matt. “I realized this when we were at a party with my colleagues and they asked where has been our favorite place to eat since we moved? It’s been two months since we moved, and we have only been out to eat once. And that’s because we had a buy one meal, get one meal free coupon.”
Matt has a little more than three years before he graduates. He told me that this semester, his net worth is now in the negative for the first time in his life. He says, optimistically, “It’s not that much though: I’m minus $10,000.”
I asked Matt if he could take time from his busy schedule and give me a few financial tips. He happily replied:
- I’m going to state what my parents stated. You can achieve anything you set your mind to.
- Don’t wait for a new week or a new day to start a goal. Set a goal and start working toward that goal in the very moment that you set it.
- Every little bit matters. Start small and continue to make small contributions. Stay consistent.
Take Matt’s advice, and with luck, maybe the words that his father used will never pass your lips — “If only…”