8 Tips to Live on a Budget as a Medical Student

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I remember my college days when apart from fretting over my tough studies and schedule, I had to worry about staying on a budget and not spending excessively on minor, unnecessary things as I would generally do back when I was living with my parents. 

I’m sure you’ve come across this article after persistently struggling to live on a budget as a medical student but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! 

The tuition fee of Medical Schools is soaring high each year. Med students tend to opt for student loans during their academic years and often find themselves drowning in piles of debt as soon as they graduate. 

This usually happens when students do not accurately compute their expenses and move around a budget hence leaving no room for savings

Why is Budgeting Important for University Students? 

Budgeting is an essentiality that each student needs to follow for financial stability in the long run. It is an effective way to not spend too much or even too little. In short words, it helps you differentiate between your needs and wants

Needs include; paying for your rent or tuition or important books and supplies and wants to refer to spending on clothes you’d probably not wear or dining out at expensive restaurants time and again. 

As a student, you should be spending on things you really require. Spending lavishly is not an option while you’re in your college years as most of the students have limited funds. The advantages of budgeting for students include;

  1. Budgeting will save you from debts and the horrors of paying back! The more you save during your academic years, the quicker you’d pay your student loans back. 
  2. Budgeting will help you save and control your expenses. You’d get a better insight of how you can spend your money the way you want and still save some. 
  3. In case you find yourself in any sort of emergency or unforeseen expense, budgeting will surely prove to be beneficial. 
  4. It will help you cut down your unhealthy spending habits. You’d spend wisely and hopefully advise your friends to do so too!

How to Live on a Budget as a Medical Student?

It’s not going to be easy but follow these 8 tips for budgeting and you wouldn’t have to worry about exceeding your budget anymore!

TIP # 1: Make a Chart of your Expenses;

This is the first and foremost step you need to do before anything else. Unless you’re completely aware of all your necessary expenses, you’d never be able to live on a budget. 

Make a chart of all your expenses and calculate your monthly or yearly expenditure. 

Here’s an example for you;

Rent +Electricity+Heating$0.00
Books & Supplies$0.00
Internet & Mobile Network$0.00
Miscellaneous Expenses$0.00

Tip # 2: Find Cheaper Alternatives;

Whether it’s food, clothes, or transportation, look out for cheaper options that actually fit your budget. If one company sells a food product for say $3 and another recognizable company for $6 and both of them taste somewhat similar, you choose the cheaper option. Similarly, use cheaper public transport choices and save your money!

Tip # 3: Lookout for Perks and Discounts;

Back at home, we’d find it odd when our mothers would avail opportunities such as “buy one get one free offers” or various discount codes but this is one essential key for survival to live on a budget for med students.

Your debit and credit cards often come with perks that you can avail of at different outlets or discount offers at grocery stores. In some cases, some stores even offer student discounts!

Tip # 4: Get a Job;

Most parents send monthly allowances to their kids but sometimes it’s never enough. Do a part-time job or a small business and earn some extra cash.

This way you’d learn to be more independent and would be able to pay for your minor personal expenses from your own hard-earned money. 

Tip # 5: Cook Your Food!;

Rather than buying food from outside every other day, cook your food, it’s a lot cheaper. A study states that eating out is five times more expensive than cooking food at home!

Tip # 6: Borrow Books;

If you know your seniors, rather than spending on new books, you could always borrow them from your seniors if they’ll willingly lend them to you or you could even buy books from old books stores and s

Tip # 7: Treat Yourself;

Every once in a while, allow yourself to spend a little on ONE thing you really wish to buy. This is a great way for keeping your desires as well as your pockets satisfied! However, note that it is something affordable and does not intrude all your diligent budgeting efforts. 

Tip # 8: Make a Target;

This tip has always kept me on the right trail. Make a target that you’d save some amount of cash every month and at the start of each month, separate that amount of cash and keep it out of reach if possible. This definitely helps you to save up and alerts you to stay on budget. 

These are some tips that would definitely help medical students to live on a budget and survive their academic years without worrying about a shortage of finances. You need to give up some habits, inculcate some new ones and opt for alternatives wherever possible. 

Below you would find a table for the average estimated expenditure for medical students. 

*This will help you determine your annual average expenses and on these bases, medical students can establish a budget to live on. 

Tuition Year 1Year 2Year 3Year 4 
Local Students$51,400$51,400$51,400$51,400
International Students$57,900$57,900$57,900$57,900
Annual Expenses
Food $5500$5500$5500$5500
Personal Expenses$3000$3000$3000$3000
Books & Supplies$280$900$900$400
Medical Insurance$1200$1200$1200$1200
USMLE $645$645$895
Miscellaneous Expenses$1000$1000$1000$1000
Total Estimated Expenses for Local Students$73,425$73,425$73,675$73,780
Total Estimated Expenses for International Students$79,925$79,925$80,175$79,280

*All costs are estimated on an average basis


Budgeting can get tough but you can always seek assistance from financial advisors or even your friends and family who can help you stay on a budget.

Get a separate journal that includes all your monthly expenses; where you spend your money, the amount of cash you paid or received, the amount of all the bills, if you lent money to someone, or if you borrowed from someone, each and every expense should be included so that you can keep a thorough check and not exceed your budget.