The Unifi Bank Calculator: Doctor Interviews

Editorial Team

The Unifi Bank Calculator is a tool we’ve created to show you how much “free banking” really costs. It’s important to know how much money you’re sacrificing by leaving it in a low-interest checking or savings account.

Incredibly, the average young professional loses over $1,500 a year by banking with the Big Banks.

Of the 12 major banks in the US, the average checking account only pays 0.03% in interest, while the average savings account isn’t much better at 0.05%. On top of that, two of the banks offer zero interest on their checking accounts and two others have the same minuscule rate for both checking and savings!

Overall, the average checking account’s annual interest rate in the U.S. is 0.06%. That’s 6% of a penny for every dollar. One penny. Meanwhile, the banks are lending out these funds at anything between 3% for a mortgage to up to 12% for personal loans. Your money should work for you, not the bank.

The average doctor leaves medical school with a student debt bill of $232,300. That kind of staggering debt can make the idea of financial planning terrifying. But young, high-earning professionals should have access to a bank that works for them. We spoke with four early-career doctors who had just tried our Unifi Bank Calculator — all four were shocked by the real cost of “free banking.”

Interview #1

Dr. Nathan S. is a Resident Physician in Boston, Massachuesetts. He has a promising and lucrative career ahead of him, but he doesn’t have time to develop his financial literacy, let alone make critical financial decisions. Like most doctors, he’s shouldering a ton of student debt, waiting for his earnings to spike at the conclusion of his residency.

Nathan knows his finances are important. He wants to establish passive income sooner rather than later. But the taxing realities of a career in the healthcare industry are working against him. The systemic issues of the banking industry aren’t helping either.

How do your calculator results make you feel?

They make me feel like I am missing out on passive income.

Does it make you want to switch banks?

Maybe, depending on how much effort that would take.

What, if anything, frustrates you about personal finance?

How much time and effort it takes to master it. I know it’s important, but I really value my limited free time.

What would relieve any of your financial frustrations or stress?

If someone else could manage my money for me. Or if there was a way to easily review the financial decisions I need to make. Much of my financial stress centers around the fact that finance is not my expertise, and I worry that I am missing out by not being more financially savvy.

How much, if any, student debt do you have? How are you planning to manage that?

$200,000

Nothing specific besides expecting my income to increase enough for me to be able to pay it off.

Do you use credit cards or debit cards to pay for expenses? Why?

Credit cards, to build credit.

Do you invest? How do you feel about investing? If you don’t invest, what’s stopping you? If you do, what inspired you to invest?

No, but I feel like it is something I want to do in the future when my loans are paid off. But, as of right now, my loan burden is stopping me.

Do you have any specific financial worry or challenge that you face because of your profession?

Physician salaries are inherently tied to healthcare politics. I worry that a drastic change in US healthcare policy could significantly decrease physician salaries. My generation of physicians has paid substantially more money to attend medical school and a decrease in potential earnings would affect us significantly.

What does “smart money management” mean to you?

It means being able to make money passively. It’s not just about the amount of money you make; the amount of time and effort you expend to make that money is equally important. Smart money management is all about protecting your assets while investing in ways that gain you money without having to expend extra free time doing so.

Interview #2

Dr. Sam M. is a PharmD based out of San Francisco, California, working for a multi-billion dollar biotechnology corporation. He is on his way up the corporate ladder and makes a healthy income, but he feels frustrated by the banking industry. He wants a consolidated overview of his finances, but he doesn’t have the time to create a spreadsheet snapshot. On top of that, like his peers, Sam has to deal with a sizable chunk of student debt, which is stunting his current earning power.

After seeing his bank cost calculator results, Sam wasn’t pleased. His paltry interest rate is stunting his passive income, so much so that he’s leaving tens of thousands of dollars on the table.

How do your calculator results make you feel?

The calculator results made me feel like I’m leaving a lot on the table.

Does it make you want to switch banks?

Yes, it actually does.

What, if anything, frustrates you about personal finance?

I don’t like having to keep track of multiple bank accounts in different spaces. Different login information. Different passwords. I don’t really have a clear snapshot of my overall financial situation, unless I take the time to put it all together in an excel spreadsheet.

What would relieve any of your financial frustrations or stress?

Better/less time-consuming/more effective budgeting for normal day to day expenses.

How much, if any, student debt do you have? How are you planning to manage that?

I have >$100k in student debt. I knew this was a factor in my career decision, so my salary offsets that very well. I don’t have a lot of stress about it, but I am planning to pay off my loans aggressively. I have federal loans only, so I don’t plan to refinance the loans, given the security in being able to defer with the federal student loan program.

Do you use credit cards or debit cards to pay for expenses? Why?

Mostly credit cards. I like the idea of earning points/miles on my everyday purchases. As long as I pay my balance every month, I don’t incur interest. It’s like free money.

Do you invest? How do you feel about investing? If you don’t invest, what’s stopping you? If you do, what inspired you to invest?

I invest moderately. I like the idea of investing more, but I don’t want to actively manage my investments.

Do you have any specific financial worry or challenge that you face because of your profession?

I’m slowed down financially by my student loan burden for the next few years, but overall I feel that my profession provides a secure stream of income, and I have a strong sense of job security, in general.

What does “smart money management” mean to you?

“Smart money management” sounds like managing money in a way that is efficient, maximizes profits/savings, and is low-maintenance.

Interview #3

Dr. John P. is an Optometrist in Memphis, TN. He recognizes he’s fortunate to not have student debt, but he’s still not comfortable with money management — even though he majored in finance as an undergrad. John desires more clarity and certainty, but isn’t sure where to start.

One place to start might be his bank. John’s calculator results were eye-opening and unacceptable.

How do your calculator results make you feel?

They definitely opened my eyes. The amount of money lost over years added up a lot more than expected, especially considering I haven’t had the opportunity to save much at this point.

Does it make you want to switch banks?

Yes, 100%. I don’t even know where to begin when attempting to pick another bank, but losing that kind of money isn’t acceptable in the long run.

What, if anything, frustrates you about personal finance?

The biggest frustration, to me, is that the average person isn’t taught much, if anything, about personal finance before they’re thrown to the wolves. While I may be part of the medical field now, I previously got a degree in finance, and I still don’t feel very comfortable about personal finance, so I can only imagine what those who have zero background must feel.

What would relieve any of your financial frustrations or stress?

A bit more certainty, which I know is almost impossible, in my future financial situations. A lot of the financial frustrations and stress stem from the lack of true understanding of all of the options available between savings, investment, retirement, and loans.

How much, if any, student debt do you have? How are you planning to manage that?

Luckily enough, I don’t have any student debt.

Do you use credit cards or debit cards to pay for expenses? Why?

Most of the time I use a credit card for expenses, such as food, gas and rent. This is because I’ve had help with these expenses with the goal of building my credit score. When doing things like going out to dinner or spending time with friends, I limit it to my debit card because this is the money I’ve earned from working.

Do you invest? How do you feel about investing? If you don’t invest, what’s stopping you? If you do, what inspired you to invest?

I do invest, though I haven’t paid attention to my investments as much as I should recently. I think it’s extremely important to invest and to set yourself up for hopefully an easier retirement and to provide a bit more financial stability in the future.

My parents have always talked to me about the importance of investing along with trying to diversify your portfolio, so it’s always felt important to me. I’ve also seen what various forms of investing can allow one to do, if they have the means of doing so.

Do you have any specific financial worry or challenge that you face because of your profession?

One major worry and challenge associated with my profession is the varying insurance companies and compensation plans that they adhere to. Many companies change their policies every year, and because of this my profession is seeing a major shift in the way we practice.

What does “smart money management” mean to you?

The first thing that came to mind was preventing impulse decisions with my future financial endeavors/decisions. This ranges from simple grocery shopping to also determining major investment opportunities. I hope to have others who I trust to discuss major financial decisions in the future, so I can gather all info possible before making a decision.

Interview #4

Dr. Matthew B. is a Resident Physician in Charleston, SC. Matthew is a busy individual, so it’s hard for him to prioritize his personal finances. He wishes he had a compact and simple money management platform. Hefty student debt plagues Matthew’s current financial profile, preventing him from making long-term investments. This hindrance is a big source of stress in his life.

Matthew lives a frugal lifestyle to work to pay down his outstanding loans. But his bank cost results made him realize how much passive income he was missing out on. It dawned on Matthew that if he switched banks and maximized his interest income, he could save a boatload of money — like, literally the cost of a boat.

How do your calculator results make you feel?

I could buy a very nice boat with the money I would have lost over 20–30 years. It seems irresponsible to lose that much money by not taking advantage of interest.

Does it make you want to switch banks?

It does.

What, if anything, frustrates you about personal finance?

Managing my personal finances can be time consuming, something that is difficult to accommodate for most busy individuals. It’s difficult to maintain a sense of clarity when attempting to track all of my finances and trying to determine the best way to manage them.

What would relieve any of your financial frustrations or stress?

A more compact method of financial management would relieve some of my frustrations regarding finances. Knowing where my money is going and what it’s earning, without having to spend a significant amount of time on it would be great.

How much, if any, student debt do you have? How are you planning to manage that?

I have about $140,000 in student debt. I plan to pay that off as quickly as possible by living frugally until those debts are paid off.

Do you use credit cards or debit cards to pay for expenses? Why?

I use a credit card but pay it off each month as if it were a debit card. I don’t want to amass credit card bills but appreciate the free points I can accrue by frequently using a credit card.

Do you invest? How do you feel about investing? If you don’t invest, what’s stopping you? If you do, what inspired you to invest?

I don’t currently invest due to a lack of time and liquidity. I am certainly interested in investing in the future.

Do you have any specific financial worry or challenge that you face because of your profession?

Student debt is unfortunately closely associated with my profession. I’m concerned that I will spend the first decade of my career trying to pay off my student debt, and that that will inhibit me from making any long-term investments.

What does “smart money management” mean to you?

“Smart money management” is a method of management in which an individual budgets their finances and effectively invests, earning income with minimal effort from the investor. It also involves avoidance of unnecessary risks involved with investing.