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    Debt management tips for ODs

    New York City—The burden of student loan debt is one of the hottest topics in the optometric community. Catherine Dimon, CFP, of Morgan Stanley shared her advice for debt management for young optometrists at Vision Expo East.

    According to the American Optometric Association, it’s not unusual for optometry students graduate with more than $200,000 in debt. That means today’s young ODs are probably going to be paying off their loans for a long, long time.

    More from Vision Expo East: How ODs fit into the future of online refraction

    Know where you stand

    The first step to debt management is knowing where you stand financially.

    “It sounds very basic, but we do this with everyone—you have to get organized,” says Dimon. “And the more educated you are, the more empowered you are.”

    Here’s what you need to do:

    • Pull your credit report

    • Make a list of all of your loans

                • Amounts due

                • Monthly or minimum payment obligations

    • Interest rates

    • Get on a budget

                • Balance your income against your expenses to know if you need to keep a firm grip on your spending habits

    Dimon recommends creating a financial dashboard using an Excel document. On the document, create a balance sheet, create a budget, review cash flow, and prioritize your goals. This process will help you make better financial decisions by understanding how much is coming in and how much is going out.

    More from Vision Expo East: How to make the most of the medical model

    “Most people think they have a pretty good idea about what they’re spending, but when you put pen to paper, it’s a completely different story,” says Dimon.

    In addition to working on paying off your debts, Dimon says you should prioritize building three to six months worth of savings that could help you get by in case of emergency, such as unemployment or a health problem.

    Next: Refinancing your student loan

    Colleen E. McCarthy
    Colleen McCarthy is a freelance writer based in the Cleveland area and a former editor of Optometry Times. She is a 2010 graduate of the ...

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