Tips From Current D.D.S. and Dental Hygiene Students

Fiscal Literacy: Managing Your Money Wisely

Posted by Lauren Arguelles on July 18, 2018

As you make plans to enter dental school, it is important to maintain good financial habits. The cost of a dental education depends on many factors, but the bottom line is that with advance planning, dental school is an affordable and worthwhile investment. Lauren Arguelles, a third-year dental student at the University of Florida College of Dentistry, has some words of advice and thrifty tricks for individuals applying to dental school and newly enrolled students seeking guidance on costs incurred before and during dental school.

Make a Budget

This may seem obvious as the first topic of advice, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to create a budget. Committing to a budget is more difficult for some than others. Those prone to overspending should try putting money for expenses such as rent and groceries into a separate bank account to ensure funds for living expenses are “untouchable.” Monitor your monthly expenditures to make sure you stay under your maximum, which can assist with sticking to your budget successfully. It is important to strike a balance between frugality and indulgence.

Take Advantage of Good Sales for Scrubs

We all constantly see the fancy, expensive scrubs in commercials all over Instagram, but let me be the first to tell you: It’s not worth the money. Scrubs are like any piece of clothing that needs to be replaced. During my second year, I replaced several of my scrub tops because they were getting old. Most of us live off student loans while in dental school, so using loan money to replace terribly overpriced scrubs is not worth it! Most online or brick-and-mortar scrub stores have sales, so take advantage of them. Purchasing your scrubs during the summer blowouts before each academic year is probably the most frugal way to buy them. I don’t own a single pair of scrubs that I didn’t buy on sale, so don’t go with the hype of getting the best brands. Just make sure the material is stretchy and comfortable, because you will be living in these clothes 24/7. 

Meal Preparation > Restaurants

Pinterest will become your best friend during dental school. If you aren’t a big fan of cooking or spending time in the kitchen, find easy meal prep solutions that you can box up on Sunday for the rest of the week. Meal prepping will not only help you stay on top of your budget, but there’s also an incentive to improve your health, especially during exam season. Having balanced meals already prepared and ready to eat will reduce impulsive takeout purchases while engrossed in those study sessions.

This is applicable to coffee too! Invest in a coffee maker, such as a Keurig, to conveniently (and inexpensively!) make yourself coffee in the morning while getting ready. The coffee at school can be severely overpriced—due to obvious supply and demand. Bringing your own mug from home will not only save you money but also time waiting in line.  

Don’t Break the Bank

When you start applying for loans, you’ll see there are many different kinds. Many schools let you take out up to the total cost of attendance (COA), which includes expenditures for laptops, books, housing, etc. Unless you absolutely need to purchase a new laptop for school, try not to max out your loans. Borrow only what you need for that semester. The extra money is not needed and, in the end, will increase your total repayment amount unnecessarily. It all adds up.

We are embarking on a rigorous and expensive doctorate program. At the end of the day, these loans are still going to be hefty in addition to day-to-day expenses. It is our responsibility as students and possible future business owners to occasionally take a step back and re-evaluate our finances. Remember, you are not in this alone, as we are all going through the same struggles. So breathe, because we all are in this together. 

About Lauren Arguelles:

Lauren Arguelles

Lauren Arguelles 
Third-year dental student 
University of Florida College of Dentistry




Lauren Arguelles is a third-year dental student at the University of Florida College of Dentistry. She was originally born in Havana, Cuba, and lives in Hialeah, FL, with her family when she’s not at school in Gainesville. Lauren has enthusiastically served on the ADEA GoDental Advisory Group as a dental student representative in 2018.


In her free time, Lauren is an avid lover of traveling to new places with her family and friends and scuba diving off the piers in South Florida.