Objectives. To examine personal financial management among residents to answer three research questions: do residents make reasonable financial choices; why do some residents not save; and what steps can be taken to improve residents' personal financial decisions. Methods. Portions of the Federal Reserve Board's Survey of Consumer Finances were modified and piloted to elicit demographic, expense, saving, and income data. The final questionnaire was completed by 151 urology residents at 20 programs. Results. Comparing residents with the general population in the same age and income categories, the median debt/household income ratio was 2.38 versus 0.64. Residents had greater educational debt, greater noneducational debt, and lower savings. Resident participation in retirement accounts was 100% at institutions with employer-matching 401k or 403b plans, 63% at institutions with nonmatching 401k or 403b plans, and 48% at institutions without retirement plans for residents (P = 0.002). Fifty-nine percent of residents budgeted expenses, 27% had cash balances below $1000, 51% had paid interest charges on credit cards within the previous year, and 12% maintained unpaid credit card balances greater than $10,000. The median resident income was $38,400. Conclusions. A significant minority of residents appear not to make reasonable financial choices. Some residents save little because of a failure to budget, indebtedness, high projected income growth, or insufficient attention to personal financial management. Residents save more when they are eligible for tax-deferred retirement plans, particularly when their institution matches their contributions. Many residents would benefit from instruction concerning prudent financial management.
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