I took a different approach - that $40k (approximate gross base pay of my residency) is a lot more than I have ever made as a student, even with excess loan money. I've lived on much less then, and I felt I could do quite a bit with the extra, even if cost of living were to be higher. This turned out to be true. To give a brief overview of my situation, I currently rent a 3-bedroom house by myself, outright own my car, and have two large dogs. These, along with utilities, are my largest fixed expenses. My rough monthly fixed-expense budget follows:
My biweekly checks have been hovering around $1300, so for the sake of simplicity, I'll estimate net income at $2600/month. This has changed recently with a larger contribution to my 403(b) retirement plan, but is close enough for this assumption to hold true.
$2600 - $1885 = $715 each month of excess. Wow!
Now, this doesn't include any discretionary spending, but $715 after the bills are paid for my base pay is certainly enough to work with. It isn't quite enough to hit my goal of raising $10,000 to fund flight training, though.
Thankfully, I have been blessed with a hard work ethic and moderate bootstrapping skills. My residency program offers plenty of optional extra shifts at pharmacist rate (>$50/hr) but limits us to 2/month. I've been trying to max out on those. Extra income: $600/month
We have a partnership with the local university, and I have been used my tutoring experience to continue in a very well-paid position there for a few additional hours of my time each week. My earnings here will likely go down as I have many more responsibilities in the residency this month, but for the 6-months just ending:
Extra income: ~$400/month
I keep the thermostat at the extremes of my comfort zone, so my electric bill has ALWAYS been below my budgeted value.
Extra savings: $50+/month
I work on my car as much as I can to keep it running. The water pump had a leak a few months ago, so I replaced it. The repair took about 2 hours and cost me approximately $150 for the parts. What would I have paid a mechanic? Likely $400+.
These are just a few of the ways I have been able to make this dream of flight training attainable during a time when I did not think it was possible. My impression of a resident salary was "just enough to get by." That is not true, and I have more time than I thought I would have (as long as I keep my nose to the grindstone). When I first moved I was scared due to all the expenses creeping up around me, but after I bought the lawn mower, dryer, and other incidentals, I was set and started seeing my net worth climb back toward black.
Even beyond those incidentals associated with the cost of moving, I took 2 flights, paid back $1500 in loans, and attended a large conference that cost >$1000 overall. Despite these expenses, I was able to save over $6600 in 6 short months.
Without those incidentals, I would be looking at around $10,000.
In 6 months.
On $23,000 of net income.
I'm going to be a pilot.