Q&A: How to pay down debt

Paying off student loan debt is addressed

A: The biggest challenge for many young physicians is deciding between paying off debt and saving for retirement. The average student loan debt exceeded $154,000 in 2008.

Maximizing a retirement plan right away, with 15 percent of your income set for retirement and long-term goals, is the best place to start. It's also wise to establish an emergency fund, with up to 10 percent of your income going into it each month until the amount is enough to pay for six months of expenses.

Many recent graduates fall into the trap of pricing their lives for perfection, without allowing for any mishaps in the future.

Answers to our readers' questions were provided by Bryan Place, CFP, founder of Place Financial Advisors, Manlius, New York. Send your money management questions to memoney@advanstar.com (please include your regular postal address).