The budget and life of a resident physician often leave little room for wants and free time. My budget before I started moonlighting and other means of income was only $200 of discretionary income which is a frightening low cushion. I was able to make some extra money in residency by using some of the methods as below. Of course not all of these methods may be an option for you, however, if so they are good ways to increase disposable income.
Methods to Earn Extra Income During Residency
- My program was gracious enough to offer internal moonlighting opportunities. This meant that I did not have to obtain my own extra malpractice insurance. However, I did have to obtain my own full medical license which in Texas meant an upfront cost of about$2,400. Moonlighting was the largest contribution to obtaining extra money during residency. Overall, I was able to complete about 28 shifts for a total of $28,000 pre tax. Definitely a huge help. If I could go back in time, I would have started moonlighting earlier. Not only did this help financially, I felt much more competent after several shifts as I was acting as an attending on my own while admitting patients. In my opinion it was a valuable learning experience and it also helped that I was compensated very well.
- Credit Card Reward Programs
- Many credit cards offer no annual fees and up to 2% cash back. My average spending on my credit card per my account was $1,400 / month over the past 3 years (I was able to put a lot of my monthly costs on credit without a fee such as electric + internet + parking). This gives me $28 cash back each month, or a total of $1,008 over the course of residency. I paid the bill each month and never carried a balance. Take advantage of cash back cards if possible, but pay off the balance monthly.
- Bing Rewards
- Setting Bing as my search engine while signed into a Hotmail account has given me points for each search that I preformed. These points can be cashed in for amazon rewards and as such it appears that to date since residency started, I cash in $150 in rewards. Not bad getting money for the searches that I was doing anyway.
- Paid Surveys
- There are numerous sites online that will pay you for surveys. I have heard that years ago, the pay was quite good. I will say that I have been using Opinion Site and have only obtained $50 over the past year and a half. There is a website that has reviewed the “Top Ten” survey websites which might be worth a try. Overall, my experience has been that the surveys are quite long (15+ minutes) and the payout is very poor (several dollars per survey). I stopped responding to some surveys as some only paid $3-5 for 30 minute survey. Medscape and Doximity also have paid surveys, however, as a resident I did not receive any. Maybe they will start sending me some now that I am an attending? I have been using google play survey which I have to date $43.68 in rewards. I have used this to subscribe to magazines and newspapers such as New York Times.
- Sell Items No Longer In Use
- Each year I advocate for a “Spring cleaning” in my house and clean out items that I no longer use. I have taken items to businesses for donations that I can write off on my taxes if I’m unable to sell them on craigslist. Overall I estimate that I made $500 back from selling items that I no longer had a use for. What an added benefit to de-clutter the house :).
- Sell study guides you personally made
- If you have a talent or desire to teach others, then why not try to get paid for some of this tutoring. One of the women in my residency makes study guides for herself and loved to teach students. She put up flyers in the medical school for those who wanted tutoring for the specialty she was in and had a couple people sign up. Every other Thursday she had a session and made some money on the side by tutoring and selling her study guides as a bonus.
- Health Insurance Kickbacks
- Our residency health insurer had several competitions where anyone in the college was able to compete for prizes. Some of these prizes were an iPad, a Fitbit, or gift cards. Competitions ranged from who could lose weight during the holidays to the person who walked the most per day as documented on a Fitbit. I entered a few and never won, but several people in my class won hundreds of dollars while becoming more fit. Take advantage of these competitions if offered at your program.
Though residency it appears that I have made an extra $29,708. This money was applied towards my student loans and savings for emergency fund for my transition from resident to attending. Making extra money during residency always comes at a price and many times that price is your free time. For this reason I chose not to include ride sharing (Uber, Lyft) as a method to make extra money. There are numerous blogs that describe that pay per hour after deducting for expenses is quite low. As a resident, it is highly unlikely that one has enough time to drive around the city all day when that time could be better spent on other wants such as relaxing. Resident physicians already have so little that many find these methods not worth the hassle, however, some require little to no effort such as the Bing Rewards program. Overall, its up to each individual how badly the money is needed vs the sacrifice of giving up ones free time.
Do you have any other ways that you made money during residency on the side?