Doctors Renée and Nii Darko pursued the medical field to help save lives and to make their immigrant parents proud. However, the couple initially wasn’t aware of the dent the pursuit would make in their pockets.
“When we finally got married, we put our expenses together and found out we were broke,” Dr. Nii Darko told Entrepreneur. “We didn’t grow up anywhere near doctors, so we didn’t know what their salaries were. We didn’t know that our debt was going to be multiples of that salary. And there weren’t many doctors really being open and honest and talking about this stuff.”
He continued: “So we decided to start listening to some podcasts. But the blogs, the YouTube videos that were out there, they weren’t really of people who either looked like us or who worked in the physician spaces like us. It was almost like doctors were kind of struggling in silence. So we started watching those videos and blog posts and started realizing the same principles that worked for them can start working for us.”
To pay off their $800,000 debt, the New York natives shared that they swore to not create any more debt, stick to a budget, take out cash for specific expenses, do locum work outside of their permanent jobs, and create a joint account to ensure they weren’t aimlessly swiping their cards.
Following their debt experience, the Darkos took action to help others in similar situations who looked like them. They launched their podcast Docs Outside the Box to discuss topics such as student loans, investing, and medicine. The overall mission is to teach fellow physicians how to properly handle their finances.
Dr. Renée’s Tips For Those Looking To Clear Their Debt
“Number one, realize that you actually can pay off the debt,” Dr. Renée Darko said. “I think your mindset is really important. Number two, be very strategic about the ways that you can get rid of the debt. You don’t have to pay off every debt by literally just paying out of pocket. You could sell something if you’re an accidental landlord, you could sell that property. Number three, there are other financial priorities that you also need to pay attention to — consider saving for retirement, still invest your money, you know, do those things as well. Because once you get out of debt, you are still going to be in a place where you need to invest, and you need to plan for retirement. So don’t ignore those things.”