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Ep 146: Prepare your finances for the Strike

Tommy is joined this week by Dr Cyra Asher to talk about how to prepare your finances for the upcoming Strike. 

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Music credit: MetzMusic on YouTube.

Summary of the episode…

The BMA have announced a 72-hour walkout for junior doctors on March 13th, 14th and 15th. 

Nearly 98% of those who voted, voted “yes!” to a strike, demonstrating how ready we are to fight for our pay and working conditions. 

Here Tommy and Cyra discuss what Cyra and her partner have been up to in preparation for the upcoming strike. Both Cyra and her partner are foundation year 2 doctors, making a base salary of £34,012  a year (£16.40ph) before any weekend or night premia. Cyra has no OOH work in any of her remaining 8 months of F2, so her monthly take-home salary is approximately £1,800 after PAYE, NI, pensions contributions and student loan payments. This is also after she has claimed tax relief on her BMA, GMC and Royal College Fees. Her partner will also be making the same in the remaining 4 months of his F2 year due to being on his GP block. As such, the strike not only poses a risk to their finances in the short-term but has major implications for them in the medium term. 

Cyra is both a Chartered Accountant and a Doctor, so she and her partner have taken a range of steps to build a strike fund. 

Change in shopping and cooking habits:

Finding the supermarket or food shopping set-up that works for us helped us keep our bills under control, whilst making a concerted effort to cook more meals at home helped us save money buying food in the hospital canteen. Cyra explains how they swapped to Aldi as their preferred supermarket, as they found the quality and price was the best value for them. They also used the Roasting Tin cookbooks to batch cook healthy meals that they could take into work the next day. The biggest step was deleting the Deliveroo and UberEats apps on their phones. Eating out is very expensive and it very quickly adds up. 

It is difficult to quantify the exact savings but it made sense that eating out less, eating more homecooked meals, with ingredients from a cheaper supermarket, helped the bank balance. 

Automatic Savings:

Cyra explains how she and her partner have Monzo bank accounts. These allow you to create “pots” where you can regularly save money and deposit “round-ups” from your regular spend. They put £50 each fortnight into their savings pots, which is set up to happen automatically. By doing this, they have gotten used not having that £100 per month available, however, they have the flexibility to access that pot or delay a transfer if they need that money at short notice. 

Locums:

Cyra calculated that she would need to do 2 locum shifts per month to make up the lost earnings from the strike (and from not having evening and weekend premia for much of her F2). Tommy explained how he went hard with locums in his youth and, in hindsight, should he have taken more time to enjoy some free time. Locums are certainly not as well-paid as they used to be. The BMA rate card provides locum rates for junior doctors, which feel far above what is negotiable. Tommy explains how he attracted a £75/hr rate when he did locums in A&E, whereas the going rate for F2 locums is £35-£45 at the moment. Cyra’s approach to locum shifts is to book them when she knows her partner is not free. That way, they can maximise their little free time to visit family and friends. 

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