Paying Off Dental School Debt

Paying off dental school debt is a process that is timely but rewarding.
A guide to paying off dental school debt in a responsible way.

Nowadays, the average dental school graduate will face over $261,000 worth of debt. If you’re like I was, you may have put those troubles to the back of your mind for the duration of your dental school education, but when you begin to approach life after dental school, that’s when you will really start to think about the debt you’ve accrued. As someone who has gone through this, I want you to take a deep breath and follow these tips if you find yourself struggling with dental school debt problems.

Start Off with a Financial Plan
The first thing you’ll want to do is create a financial plan. Jot down your debt, your likely earnings, what your estimated monthly expenses will be, and so on. Use these numbers to determine what and how much leftover money you’ll have each month. You can use this plan to determine how much you can spend without going over budget.
Don’t Pour It All into Your Debt
While it may be enticing to just start throwing wads of cash at your debt when you realize how much money you’ll be making, you may forget about several other important aspects. You never know what life is going to bring you. Yes, it’s a cliché, but it’s one that rings true. One of the things you’ll want to do is keep money set aside in an emergency fund in case something unexpected happens. Also, I recommend putting money into a retirement account at a young age. The earlier you start, the larger the dividends will be.
Don’t Rush into Major Purchases Either
When you’re just getting started out, you may be tempted to buy a new house or make some other extravagant purchase. That can wait as well. Starting out at your new job should be a time to get established with your financials. Wait a few years before purchasing your dream home and take this time to pay off some (or even all) of your debt and start out your retirement accounts.
Take a Job That You Love
Perhaps most importantly of all, I recommend that you take a job that you love and find enjoyment and fulfillment in. Throughout my career and now as chairman of Heartland Dental, I can certainly say that I wouldn’t be as happy and satisfied as I am now if I forced myself to work at a job I didn’t love. Money can help, but it can never solely create happiness. If you love the way you make money, you’ll be set for life!

Rick Workman, DMD

Founder, Former CEO and Active Chairman, Heartland Dental

Rick Workman, DMD, graduated from Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine in 1980. After starting his own practice, he set out to create a world-class dental support organization that would relieve the management burden for dentists by offering them an array of non-clinical administrative support. Today, Heartland Dental is the largest dental support organization in the country. In addition to being the founder of Heartland Dental, he is also the past president of the Association of Dental Support Organizations. To read more about Dr. Rick Workman, click here