What’s the Difference Between a Pharmacy Job and a Career?

When you and I first started our journey as pharmacists, we were taught by academics about our prospects in the pharmacy industry. We were told that we would have clinical patient care jobs and that we would need to know things about medications to prevent poor outcomes.

We were given opportunities to present our knowledge to patients and help them one-on-one. I think most every pharmacist can remember the first time that they made their first difference in someone’s life—maybe you answered your first question about a medication or one of your relatives reached out to you about the 17 medications they were taking.

Whenever I talk to students about joining the pharmacy profession, I hear similar answers when I ask them why they chose this profession. It’s usually something to the effect of, “I went into a pharmacy and loved what I saw,” or something like, “I really want to make a difference in patients’ lives.”

I totally get that.

But what happens when these idealistic students get out into the workforce is dramatically different. In fact, an article from 2013 stated that a majority of pharmacists in the community setting want to quit their jobs.

New practitioners either get a residency or go straight into the workforce. Whatever path they choose, they usually come into their new job with all sorts of new ideas, passion and excitement about getting their career started.

Then, they experience what I like to call “career fatigue.” Because they are surrounded by patients, coworkers and bosses who tamp down their excitement and passion, they begin to become “adjusted” to how things “really are” in the workforce.

When they are surrounded by all that negativity, it’s understandable that new pharmacists would lose their excitement very quickly and experience burnout within just a few years of starting their practice.

Do you have a J-O-B?

When we started as students, we chose pharmacy as a career—not a job. Here are some of the qualities of a pharmacy job:

· You can’t wait until you shift ends—every single day.

· You can’t stand talking with co-workers and bosses anymore.

· You get frustrated easily when talking with upset patients.

· You’re so ready to quit, but you have no idea how you would transition into another pharmacy job that would provide you with the freedom you seek.

· You say to your friends outside of pharmacy that their job sounds super interesting and warn them against ever becoming a pharmacist.

· When you speak with interns who come to your store, you are pessimistic. You talk about how saturated the market is and how difficult it will be for them to payback their loans.

· You don’t do any extracurricular activities that are related to pharmacy because thinking about pharmacy more than you have to is painful.

· You haven’t updated your CV in more than five years, and it isn’t because you haven’t applied to a job—you just haven’t accomplished anything significant.

· You apply to more jobs that you can count and receive no response.

A job is something that causes stress, provides little fulfillment and isn’t indispensable to a company. The problem with so many pharmacy “jobs” is that you are dispensable. One great thing about our industry is that we have such a high starting salary; on the downside, the majority of pharmacists are replaceable.

It is a lot easier replace one pharmacist at a Walgreens in downtown Seattle than it is to replace someone like an architect.

Yes, both jobs have learning curves. And yes, both jobs require a period of adjustment. But overall, a pharmacist who has worked at any retail chain can figure out the system at any other retail chain with ease.

Because pharmacists often aren’t specialized in their own niche and don’t provide themselves with a career that makes them unique to a company, it’s relatively easy for companies to overlook us when we are applying to new jobs.

Having a job that is sucking the life out of you is difficult. It makes it hard to manage everything else in life, simply because you’re miserable. You spend the majority of your time thinking about what you’re going to do outside of your day job, and you spend your time away from your day job dreading your return to your day job. What an awful way to live!

To relieve the stress of how much your job sucks out of you, you begin to focus on things that bring you a little sense of relief and pleasure. I get lost in video games when I’m not fulfilled by my work. Other people turn to hobbies or more dangerous pursuits, like illicit drugs and alcohol.

If you hate your job, the idea of trying to improve yourself and your career situation by volunteering for an association—or even volunteering to stay late or take on an extra project at your work—probably sounds absurd. That seems like a path to more misery.

Your ability to tolerate your job is so low, that to even think about doing extra is painful. However, the pathway to a career involves a little bit of grunt work and sacrifice for a bigger payout.

What a career looks like

A career is work that gets you excited. When you are commuting to your day job, you think about all the fun things you get to do that day.

A career makes you feel satisfied. At the end of the day, you go home happy knowing that you accomplished something valuable.

A career has room for advancement, allowing you to see a clear path to where you want to go. It may not be managerial advancement that you want, but rather advancement in the kind of projects you are working on and influence you have in your workplace.

When you have a career, headhunters and companies are actively try to get you to work for them.

A career in pharmacy is possible. I’ve already hinted at how to get started in building your career, but it takes work. It’s not going to happen overnight.

It took me three years of hustling on the side to be approached by companies to consult for them.

In addition to building my own career, I’ve helped many other pharmacists find their paths to fulfillment by helping them to create the careers they want.

I know from experience that it is possible to do something you love while still pursuing a career in pharmacy, even if it is a non-traditional career. If you want to ditch your J-O-B and create a career that has you feeling excited to go to work every day, check out our non-traditional career summit. It’s free to register. Sign up now and take your first steps toward learning about an array of career options for pharmacists and making the transition to a career you love.

How One Pharmacist Published a Book—and Sold 700 Copies in 6 Weeks

Timothy Ulbrich is a pharmacist who had a big goal.

After working with his wife to pay off $200,000 in non-mortgage debt and creating a successful blog at yourfinancialpharmacist.com, Timothy knew that he wanted to share his message about personal finance with more pharmacists.

He started talking to lots of pharmacists and found out that, despite earning a six-figure income, many needed help managing their finances. He consistently heard pharmacists say, “I am living paycheck to paycheck.”

Timothy always says that he is a pharmacist by day and a financial nerd by night. Plus, he has a ton of personal experience with paying off debt and working toward financial freedom.

He could relate to what these pharmacists were feeling.

So, he decided to write a book.

His book, he decided, would be unlike any other personal finance book on the market. It would provide quality personal finance advice tailored specifically to pharmacists.

It would be exactly what pharmacy schools were NOT teaching.

And, it would focus on one of the things that resonated most with the readers of his blog: one of his most successful posts, entitled My Top 10 Financial Mistakes.

By his own admission, Timothy made some mistakes with money.

He wanted to prevent people from making the same mistakes that he did, and he figured that this book would be a great way to do it.

And that’s how the idea for Tim’s new book, Seven Figure Pharmacist, was born.

Setting a Goal

Timothy and his co-author, Tim Church, who is a pharmacist at the West Palm Beach VA, started outlining the book in summer 2016.

He and his co-author tag teamed the project and decided to emphasize the pharmacist perspective by including stories that are relevant to pharmacists.

They finished writing the book in six months (which Timothy said he would not recommend—a year or 18 months would have been much more comfortable considering that has a full-time job as an Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice and Associate Dean of Workforce Development and Practice Advancement at Northeast Ohio Medical University).

Because of his full-time job, the rigorous writing schedule was tough to stick to at times. But Tim got through it by creating a prioritized list of tasks and staying accountable.

Creating a Buzz

Timothy hired me as a coach to help him through the complex task of writing his book and figuring out the best way to promote it.

Because Timothy and his co-author decided to self-publish the book, they also needed to come up with a marketing and promotion plan.

Ultimately, Timothy and his co-author decided to take a grassroots approach to marketing because it seemed right for their audience and their brand. Eventually, Timothy began to see the power of that approach and began to maximize the tactics that were working well.

Timothy learned how to use social media platforms for optimal marketing, created a website, drove traffic to it, started a blog and booked speaking engagements.

His coaching experience helped him to prioritize more efficiently and to make the best possible decisions—which he believes led to a better end product.

Most importantly, Timothy grew more confident in his product and became more comfortable with selling it.

At first, he didn’t feel comfortable jumping on a Facebook live video and engaging with his audience with little preparation. Now, he is fine with it because he understands that video is more engaging for his target market than reading a blog post.

Also, Timothy understands the true worth of his book.

As part of their review process, Timothy and his co-author created a group of 50 pharmacists to give them feedback on the content, title and promotion plan.

One of Timothy’s former students was a part of that group. After reviewing one of the chapters, she told Timothy that she took a specific action based on what she read.

Timothy said hearing this news provided him with the assurance that the book was truly valuable and achieve its intended purpose, which motivated him to continue with the project when the going got tough.

The Final Product

Timothy and his co-author did a pre-launch in March 2017 and officially released the book on April 17, 2017. They sold more than 700 copies in the first six weeks.

They also went on the road to four Ohio colleges and the Ohio state pharmacy convention to promote the book—which they jokingly called their “Book Launch Tour.”

Timothy said he is hearing great stories about how the book has helped people relieve stress in their lives. He’s even had people tell him that they are taking the book on vacation with them.

As word starts to spread about the book, Timothy and his co-author plan to reach out to pharmacy schools about incorporating the book into their curriculum.

To find out how to order your copy of Timothy’s book, visit www.sevenfigurepharmacist.com. For more personal finance advice for pharmacists, you can also check out Timothy’s blog at yourfinancialpharmacist.com.

Tim and Tim are gracious enough to allow any reader from The Happy PharmD to get 15% off the price of any package. Just use the coupon code BARKER on their page.

Achieving financial freedom is a great goal for any pharmacist to have. If you want to learn more about how you and other pharmacists can create their best life and achieve career satisfaction and financial freedom, check out my website, thehappypharmd.com.

How Three Preceptors Used Their Experience to Help Pharmacists Obtain Residencies

Brandon Dyson is a board-certified, residency-trained pharmacist. He’s also a preceptor.

In March 2016, Brandon and fellow pharmacist Sam Oh launched a website, tldrpharmacy.com, which helps pharmacy students and practicing pharmacists by providing them with information and tools to become better pharmacists.

Among other things, the website offers a blog, professional development information and cheat sheets.

But as residency season 2016 approached, Brandon noticed a demand for information about the residency process.

Sure, he received questions from his followers, but he also received questions from his students. And many of them sounded terrified.

Brandon said that he remembered feeling that way, too.

When he thought back to his own experience as a prospective resident, he knew that there was a huge market for this information.

Statistics from the ASHP Resident Matching program show that of the 5,438 residents who participated in the matching program in 2016, 1,817 were not placed.

It can be tough to land any residency, Brandon thought, let alone the residency you really want. And he wanted to find a way to help students achieve their goals.

Writing the Book

After validating his idea with a test blog and an email to his followers, he decided to work with Sam to write a book.

Brandon and Sam’s goal was to write down all the things that they wished they would have known when they were applying for residencies and to share all the lessons they learned.

So, Brandon and Sam began outlining.

But because they were both balancing full-time jobs and families, they weren’t making progress as quickly as they hoped.

Instead of waiting until their book was finished to get feedback, they offered an incomplete version of their book to their email subscribers at a very low price. Much to their surprise, about 15 people purchased the book.

Selling these few initial copies helped the pair to become more motivated; they knew that they had to meet certain deadlines in order to provide these buyers with content in advance of important events in the residency timeline.

Although Brandon and Oh were excited to complete the book, they knew that they were going to need some extra help. They brought in Stephanie Kujawski, another residency-trained pharmacist and preceptor who is a frequent contributor to their website.

The three authors found that their writing styles were very compatible, which helped to establish continuity and flow throughout the book.

Another benefit of having three authors was that there was a higher chance that another author would be interested in writing about a topic you didn’t particularly like.

“Sam was super into writing about how the match actually works, but I didn’t want to touch it,” Brandon said. “It helped to have someone else available to write that part.”

Publishing the Book

After months of work, they digitally published their book, Mastering the Match: How to Secure a Pharmacy Residency, in March 2017.

They presold the book to a select audience at a discount, but missed the 2017 residency season. However, this allowed Brandon, Sam and Stephanie to incorporate the valuable feedback they received into the digital edition in time for the 2018 residency rush.

“The book will tell you how to make yourself the most attractive candidate you can be,” Brandon said. “Obviously, we can’t guarantee a match, but prospective residents will feel a lot better after reading it.”

Achieving the Goal

Brandon’s main goal is to help students feel less confused and more confident going into the residency process. He wants students to feel like they can accomplish their goal of landing a residency—and that they are worthy of the opportunity.

Brandon said that what makes the book especially valuable is the perspective of the authors. All three authors have been through the residency process and ended up matching with their No. 1 ranked program. They all ended up working at the residency facility after their program was complete and are now preceptors.

The book also focuses on common mistakes that prospective residents make, such as not answering questions, failing to ask questions about the program and choosing the wrong topic for their presentation.

“You have one chance to make a first impression, and you are going up against 100 people for two or three residency slots,” Brandon said. “You really have to shine and put your best foot forward.”

Although the book is geared toward P1 – P4 students, the chapters on interviewing, presentations and cheat sheets on interview questions could benefit almost anyone.

Some schools are great at preparing students for residency and others are not, Brandon said. His book is intended to help fill these gaps and help students to stand out.

“Everyone has research and a publication on their CV and everyone’s GPA is above 3.5,” Brandon said. “All residency candidates look the same on paper, so you need to stand out by being yourself.”

And Brandon’s book aims to give prospective residents the confidence to be comfortable doing just that.

If you are thinking about residency, Mastering the Match: How to Secure a Pharmacy Residency is the book for you. If you are looking to express yourself and do something you love while still pursuing a career in pharmacy, check out my conference on non-traditional pharmacy career paths.

How A Pharmacist Turned Her Passion into a Secondary Income

With our ever-changing pharmacy job market, decreasing pharmacist job satisfaction and lack of employment variety, what pharmacist has the time to think about doing different things with their life?

My answer: Every. Single. Pharmacist.

Unless you are completely satisfied with all aspects of your work, your personal life and your finances, you should always be looking for new opportunities that might help you to achieve your goals.

Maybe you’re like Dawn, who is a pharmacist by day and has a full-time job that involves weekend shifts. On top of that, Dawn has a two-hour commute.

Creating a secondary income for someone like Dawn is very difficult. She barely has time to herself, and on top of her other responsibilities, she also is taking college classes at night.

Maybe you’re sick of your job and want a change of pace. Maybe you want to make a few extra bucks on the side. For Dawn, it was a desire to break free from the mundane.

When I first met Dawn, she was interested in generating extra income on the side using an MTM business model. She joined our course, The Side Hustle Fast Track for Pharmacists, went through all of the lessons and still had her heart set on creating a MTM business.

Although MTM businesses are a valid model for any pharmacist to pursue as their side income, they do have their innate problems, including time commitment, calls out to patients and documenting.

With Dawn’s busy schedule, it would have been nearly impossible for her to make any sort of money by calling patients at 8:30 p.m.

Feeling Stuck

Dawn was stuck. She felt that she couldn’t move forward with any of her ideas, and pursuing something such as an MTM business was daunting and overwhelming to her.

She was doing everything she could to get ahead with her finances, such as budgeting, making smart decisions and cutting living expenses, but she still wasn’t making any progress toward building a side business—or creating freedom in her life.

That’s when Dawn and I started talking.

Finding a Passion

After thinking through all of the hurdles that she would have to overcome in order to start an MTM business, Dawn decided to try to find a new side hustle idea.

I started our coaching sessions by asking dawn questions about what she really loved doing and who she would most like to work with.

Like many pharmacists, she defined herself as the typical Type A personality (maybe you recognize this trait in yourself).

Dawn loves details—and all pharmacists know that the devil is in the details.

I came to find out that Dawn really enjoyed the detail-oriented work involved in writing and editing.

What Are You Doing for Free?

A question I love to ask pharmacists who don’t have a side hustle yet is, “Are you doing anything for anyone for free?”

As pharmacists, we tend to dismiss our side hustle ideas by telling ourselves negative things such as, “No one would ever pay me for that.”

We tend to believe that because we aren’t a professional outside of pharmacy, our service isn’t of enough value to charge actual money. So, we don’t even consider helping people with non-pharmacy related issues as an option for a secondary income.

When I asked Dawn what she was doing for free for others, she told me that she was editing foreign exchange students’ papers at her night school. She was doing this for free and had been doing so for many months.

I stopped the coaching session right there.

I said, “Dawn, you have your side hustle.”

Although Dawn was a little timid at first, I challenged her to charge the next student a fee for reviewing his or her paper.

Impostor Syndrome

When someone becomes an entrepreneur, at one time or another they always wonder if they are really worth what they are being paid.

This is completely normal.

You can blame your parents, your upbringing, your school, bullying, or self-doubt, but sooner or later nearly every entrepreneur asks themselves, “Is my service really worth this amount?”

I was no exception when I got started as an entrepreneur.

I remember sweating on a phone call asking a potential client to pay $37 a month for my consulting services. Now, I laugh about it.

I was undercharging so much because I put so much pressure on myself to get this person to just say yes to my services.

Dawn took me up on my challenge and charged the next student a fee. The student paid her immediately, and within a few weeks she had her client list filled.

As of this writing, she is editing 2-3 papers per week and charging $45 for each review.

You might be saying to yourself, “Well, I could make that much money or more if I went and got a second job as a pharmacist.”

That may be true, but do you really want to go work for another pharmacy and go through the process of interviewing?

In this job market and economy, becoming an entrepreneur is actually a safer bet than getting another job.

Hard to believe? Well, here’s why.

When you are an entrepreneur, you rely on multiple people to pay you for your services. So, if you lose one contract, you still have other clients that will continue to pay you. But when you only work for one person, losing that one contract would put you in financial peril.

If you are ready to take the leap like Dawn did and get your side hustle started, I encourage you to check out my course, The Side Hustle Fast Track for Pharmacists.

Or, if you want to start a side-hustle​, and have questions, feel free to book a call with me!

The course includes three modules with a total of 60 lessons to walk you through the process of unleashing your inner entrepreneur. If you sign up using this link before July 1, you will receive two free individual coaching sessions with me.

With the right tools, it is very easy for pharmacists to get on the path to financial freedom by taking their already-developed skills, expertise and passion and turning it into a secondary income. Visit my website, www.thehappypharmd.com, to learn more about how pharmacists can create the life they want.


How One Pharmacist Became a Holistic Health Coach and Herbalist

When she was in pharmacy school at St. John’s University in Queens, Marina Buksov was very happy with her studies and excited to become a pharmacist. Then, something changed.

As she was considering her options after pharmacy school graduation, she started to feel nervous because none of them appealed to her.

After deciding not to pursue several fellowships, Marina accepted a full-time offer from a small, local pharmacy where she already worked. Unfortunately, that offer fell through because the owners decided to sell the pharmacy.

She started looking for random jobs and eventually ended up at a natural pharmacy. She had always been interested in herbal and holistic medicine, so this job was a good fit for her.

“My philosophy is to do no harm and start with the least harmful treatment and go up from there,” she said. “I use lifestyle, diet and herbal remedies whenever possible.”

An Early Interest

Marina said that she has been interested in holistic medicine ever since high school. When she went to the doctor for her own medical issues, she was shocked by how many medications her doctors wanted to prescribe.

But it wasn’t until her pediatrician took the time to counsel her about her diet that all her issues finally went away.

After taking alternative medicine courses as part of obtaining her pharmacy degree, Marina decided that she wanted to obtain additional training in using natural remedies and nutrition to help her patients.

She took a course at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in clinical nutrition and began studying at Arbor Vitae Traditional School of Herbalism in New York.

She also started her own health and wellness business, Raw Fork, to help her share her knowledge through blogging, offering health coaching services and selling holistic health products. On the site, she offers some of her own herbal tea blends to treat conditions including low-functioning immune system, sleep problems, cough and stress.

Promoting Wellness

Although Marina believes in promoting wellness through the use of natural and holistic remedies, her pharmacy school training has taught her that pharmaceutical medications can save lives, especially in emergency situations.

However, she believes that many chronic conditions don’t have to be treated with medication. Allergies and autoimmune disorders are a few examples of conditions that can be treated safely and holistically.

After all, herbs have been used to treat medical problems for centuries, Marina said. In fact, she noted that 70 percent of today’s medications—or the ideas for them—come from herbal remedies.

But perhaps most importantly, Marina said she helps her patients get in touch with their bodies and find a connection to their own healing.

“Patients can listen to doctors, pharmacists, health coaches and herbalists, but healing really starts with self-care,” she said.

Herbal medicine also is about connecting to the land, she said, and is much more intricate than finding one solution for an individual health problem. When it comes to using herbal remedies, her advice is always “start low, go slow.”

Many health problems can be traced to harmful behaviors or foods that people in our society routinely consume—and they can’t be solved with capsules that come from strange places, she said.

“People need to get to know their medicine,” Marina said. “In herbalism, the taste, texture and feel are very important.”

Making the Transition

In order to make time to pursue her passion of holistic healing, Marina had to transition from full-time to part-time pharmacy work. And because Marina lives in Brooklyn, earning enough to keep pace with the high cost of living was a big factor to consider.

Thanks to the many self-improvement books and tapes Marina has read and listened to over the years, she said she didn’t hear the fear of failure; instead, she made a plan.

She calculated her expenses and figured that she could try working part-time for six months or a year. If things weren’t working out, she could always pick up an extra pharmacy shift or two and fall back on her savings in an emergency.

Although Marina knew she was choosing a non-traditional pharmacy path, she found inspiration in her close friend and fellow St. John’s pharmacy graduate, Christina Tarantola.

Christina, along with pharmacist Adam Martin, created The Fit Pharmacists, which offers holistic and lifestyle coaching for clients and teaches pharmacists how to include nutrition and alternative medicine into their practice.

With Christina leading the way, Marina knew that she could make a difference for her patients by providing holistic pharmacy services.

Making a Difference

Marina went from feeling frustrated with her pharmacy career options to feeling like she could really make a difference for her patients.

Before finding her niche in holistic pharmacy, Marina said she felt like her actions were dictated by the prescriptions doctors wrote and the medications that insurance covered. And she often didn’t agree with either.

Now, Marina feels like she can make a difference for her clients because they actually listen to her—not their doctor or insurance company. She said that her pharmacy degree combined with her knowledge of herbs and education in nutrition helps her to understand the full spectrum of health.

She plans to continue making a difference by working on her business website, cultivating her list of online followers, teaching online and local courses, and reaching out to more people to promote the benefits of herbal medicine.

She also plans to explore herbalism as it relates to female health and fertility. She has met many women in the field of holistic medicine and is considering the possibly of opening a birthing and nutrition center in upstate New York for women and babies.

For more inspiring stories about pharmacists who are creating the careers and lives that they want, visit our success stories here.

How a Pharmacist Can Write a Children’s Book

Note from Alex: 
This is a guest post from Thomai Dion, PharmD. I first met her months ago thru her website, performed an interview with her on my podcast Pharmacy Life Radio and learned about she quit pharmacy to spend time with her family and pursue her dream of becoming a published author. She recently told me how she published multiple books on Amazon and her website, and knew others would be interested how to publish their own books. My recommendation, take notes! 


My name is Thomai and I’m a mom and pharmacist with many interests. I enjoy participating in a slew of activities, from writing to gardening, running to painting. One of the things that I enjoy doing the most (although admittedly never anticipated embarking on before having kids) is creating children’s science books. Since becoming a mom and discovering how inspiring it is to witness my own little one’s natural inclination to learn, I’ve created my “Think-A-Lot-Tots” science book series for babies, toddlers and kids, all of which can be found on Amazon. These books began as a way to teach my child about the world around him and have since expanded into an entire collection revolving around biology, chemistry and medicine. How does one even approach trying to teach biology to a baby, though? Aren’t topics like chemistry all about molecular structures, complicated facts and an onslaught of numbers? I would argue that although this is perhaps the perception of “science”, it is not actually its definition.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines science as “the state of knowing” and a “department of systematized knowledge as an object of study.” In other words, science isn’t strictly limited to numbers, facts and figures; rather, it’s a process by which we learn. Childhood in and of itself can also be considered a learning process; every teachable moment, each experienced one at a time, allows us to understand our world. What’s more is that the beautifully one-worded inquiry of “Why” that is so often asked by the youngest of children is actually the foundation to all learning and, in turn, all of science. Children are perfectly positioned to learn, submerged in the process of science and education throughout their growing years and overall childhood. With this in mind, it is not about “if” we can teach science to babies, toddlers and children, but rather, “how”. Understanding this makes the idea of creating a children’s science book much less intimidating and also highlights how valuable a resource like my Think-A-Lot-Tots collection can be.

If you have an interest in creatively sharing your science background in hopes of exciting and inspiring a little one out there then you’ll enjoy the rest of this post! Here I outline the 5 steps I’ve developed and routinely apply while writing my “Think-A-Lot-Tots” series. I’m going to use my recently released book “Counting Atoms and Elements 1 Through 10” as an example. First and foremost, let’s start with the most important aspect of wanting to write a book for kids:

1. Write because you like to write.

When we envision ourselves as an author, there’s always the inkling of hope that perhaps everyone in the history of everyone will be absolutely smitten with our work because, clearly, it is amazing. And your work may truly be amazing, but the possibility of stardom should not be why you start writing and cannot be why you continue. The best way to embark on writing (or with any project) is because you simply enjoy doing it. Do it because you are passionate about it. Do it because of the difference it could make for a family, for the impact it could have on a child’s willingness and curiosity to learn. Whatever you do though, don’t do it just for the money.

2. Identify a foundational topic of learning that all children are taught.

And I don’t mean one that is necessarily science-related. Children learn about basic concepts first such as colors, shapes and numbers. For my “Counting Atoms and Elements” book, I chose to focus on numbers and counting as my foundation.

3. Draw a connection between that foundational topic of learning and a scientific concept.

You have a basic idea of what you’d like your book to focus on! Great! How do we tie that to science, though? We’ll have to think about how concepts are introduced to children and, in turn, how they are taught. For example, children learn to recognize articles of clothing through pictures, vocabulary and the experience of dressing (shirt, pants, socks, shoes, etc.). A similar strategy is also employed when teaching about, say, shapes. We identify shapes within our everyday objects alongside pictures and words (circle, square, triangle, etc.). We may also playfully “search” for them during our daily routines, (a circle sign, a triangle roof) allowing the child to “experience” the concept of shapes too. In both of these examples, the overarching teaching strategy is drawing connections! Make the scientific concept you have in mind relatable to what the child may already be experiencing and learning. For “Counting Atoms and Elements”, I decided to correlate each of the numbers 1 through 10 with the quantity of protons, neutrons and electrons found within an atom. I use simple pictures, basic scientific vocabulary and allow the child to “experience” the topic of numbers / concept of atoms by counting each and every proton, neutron and electron throughout my book.

4. Repeat, repeat, repeat!

You’ve identified your book’s foundational topic and you’ve drawn a connection between said topic and the science you’d like to further teach. Excellent! Now do it again. And again. And again. Splice out examples throughout your book so that the same connection is made over and over for the reader. In my “Think-A-Lot-Tots: The Animal Cell” book as well as “The Neuron”, I name each and every part of the cell in a similar way while drawing analogies between that “part” and an item the child may already be familiar with. (The dendrites within a neuron look like little trees; the myelin sheath is like a necklace). For “Counting Atoms and Elements”, I repeat the same cadence with each number introduced. “This atom has 1 proton, 1 neutron, and 1 electron. It is Hydrogen! This atom has 2 protons, 2 neutrons, and 2 electrons.” Etc.

5. Simple sentences and colorful illustrations.

Just because I may be writing about something scientifically complex does not mean it must be taught in a complicated way. To clarify further – My “Think-A-Lot-Tots” books do not strive to make an expert of the reader; rather, they work to introduce an idea and potentially spark an interest for more learning as the child grows. As a result, my books are a starting point to learning and my writing is simple. My sentences are succinct with only one or two present per page. I still make a point to include scientific vocabulary, though. My toddler learned the word “mitochondria” at 3-years-old through my books and I couldn’t have been more proud as he exclaimed it repeatedly while running through our kitchen. (We are still working on “inside voices”, but at the same time I won’t argue if he wants to loudly sing about the endoplasmic reticulum or nucleus). For “Counting Atoms and Elements”, I name each element within the periodic table from 1 to 10 (Hydrogen, Helium, etc.). It’s important to keep concepts as basic and understandable as possible, but it’s also important to include key scientific vocabulary and build upon that learning whenever the opportunity presents itself.

And there you have it! My 5 key takeaways to effectively writing your own children’s science book!

Thomai Dion is a pharmacist and mother to (soon-to-be) two inquisitive and analytical thinkers. She obtained her doctorate from the University of Rhode Island and believes it is never too early to start learning.

“Think-A-Lot-Tots: Counting Atoms and Elements 1 Through 10” is now available online at Amazon.com along with her other books within her collection. To learn more about Thomai’s work and to stay updated on the latest news, you can visit her website and sign up for her newsletter. You can also reach out to Thomai at tdthesciencemom[at]gmail[dot]com and follow with her through social media:

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Why Pharmacists’ Salaries Are Decreasing: A Conspiracy Theory

I recently spoke with a pharmacist who wanted out of her retail pharmacy job. Aside from the typical complaints about retail pharmacy, such as bad hours and being poorly treated, she said,

“Everyone knows pharmacist salaries are going down. We are being replaced by machines.”

Her statement struck me for two reasons. First, it was very matter-of-fact. Second, this pharmacist seemed to have accepted that this was the future of pharmacy. Although I disagree with this particular pharmacist’s sentiment about the future of the profession, it did make me wonder whether there is a conspiracy at work in the pharmacy industry.

Before we get started, here’s a disclaimer: The pharmacy conspiracy theory that I am about to present to you has not been validated. It is the simply product of my analysis of industry trends, my personal experience and my knowledge of the pharmacy job marketplace.


Let’s Go Back in Time

You are probably aware that pharmacists are seeing a decrease in salaries and flattening pay over time. However, this wasn’t the prediction for the future of our industry.

In 2000, the Pharmacy Workforce Center released a report stating that there will be a huge demand for pharmacists in 20 years due to rising health care costs and an increase in the aging population. This group tried to read the signs and anticipated that the future demand for pharmacists would far outpace the supply.

Now, a short 17 years later, the supply of pharmacists has exceeded the anticipated demand. This has had multiple effects on the job economy for pharmacists, including:

· Fewer available jobs, especially in urban areas

· Elimination of signing bonuses

· Decreased benefits

· Decreased actual salary/wages

· Decreased offered salary/wages, especially for new graduates

· More part-time jobs such as floater positions, for which reduced benefits are offered

· Flatter salaries over a 10-20 year period

Despite all this, I maintain that pharmacy is still an excellent profession to get into, only if you take control of your career and do not expect to be handed a job. However, our industry is not without its problems. And, although some pharmacists are looking for a way out of the industry, I don’t believe it’s necessary to run for the hills just yet.


Who Benefits From Changes in the Pharmacy Marketplace?

Let’s think for a moment about who is benefiting from these changes in the marketplace. Certainly not the pharmacists, who are seeing lower pay, reduced benefits and flatter salaries during the course of their careers.

It’s the pharmacy executives, business owners and stockholders.

Allow me to explain: Hiring a pharmacist is a big deal because it costs lots of money. If you think about the average salary for a pharmacist plus benefits, you are going to pay well over $140,000 a year in any state in the U.S. If you run a business such as a retail pharmacy chain or a hospital, the easiest way to boost profits is to create systems that help you to eliminate costs—and pharmacists are a HUGE cost.

If you are a pharmacy executive who is responsible for hiring pharmacists, would you prefer to have more applicants or fewer applicants for your new pharmacy jobs? Of course, you want more applicants. The more applicants you have, the more qualified potential employees you can find and the less you can offer to pay. Why? Well, because more people are desperate for the few available jobs you have, especially if your business is located in a choice area.

Before you start making pharmacy executives the enemy, take a moment to sympathize. These people are running large, multi-million-dollar companies and part of their job is to figure out how to make the businesses profitable. And, like the rest of us, pharmacy executives receive rewards if they succeed at their jobs.

So, is it any wonder why pharmacy executives want more pharmacists in the job marketplace?


The Conspiracy Theory

What if pharmacy executives supported (even financed?) the Pharmacy Workforce Center’s 2000 report stating that there will be a huge need for pharmacists in the future? What if there is a bigger reason why pharmacy executives support new pharmacy schools that are popping up all over the country? What if these new pharmacy schools aren’t really intended to meet a demand, but instead to decrease salaries?

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

What we do know to be true is that many pharmacy schools receive funding from retail pharmacy chains. ​

But no matter what thoughts you have about big pharma, executives and ivory towers, you should remember that this isn’t the end of the world. The pharmacy profession will still exist in the future.

Although the pharmacy model may change, I believe that pharmacists will still have jobs because there always will be a need in the marketplace. No matter how many machines are made to perform some of our technical duties, no machine can take the brain of a pharmacist and help people the way that a human pharmacist can.


What You Can Do

Here’s your call to action: Don’t take this lying down.

Whether or not my conspiracy theory is true, you need to take charge of your career. You should be upset by the fact that salaries and benefits for pharmacists are down and full-time jobs are being turned into multiple part-time positions to keep costs low. Take that emotion and turn it into useful action, rather than spending time complaining about things outside your control.

Don’t be a victim and blindly accept what other people say will happen. Now is the time for you to take back your career and improve your circumstances. Here are a few ideas to help you get started:


· Network, network, network. Go to your next state conference and talk to the big players in your area’s pharmacy industry. Find out if you can help them or volunteer your time. This could lead to a new (better) job.

· Learn a new skill. Acquire a new skill and offer to provide it to other companies. Enjoy working with computers? You never know when a company may need a pharmacist with an information technology background. Have a knack for marketing? Offer to help a pharmacy or health system expand their social media presence.

· Develop skills outside of pharmacy. Fuel your creative energies in your spare time by creating a side hustle that you enjoy. Write a book, build websites, do voice-over acting or try your hand and blogging. In addition to giving you the flexibility to one day leave the pharmacy industry, you can make some extra cash.

· Create value at your job. Make personal and professional development your priority. Create new opportunities for your employer to make money, then ask for a promotion or a raise.

Gone are the days when pharmacists graduate from college, have a great job handed to them and continue to earn easy raises and promotions for their entire career. We live in a new era where pharmacists are having a hard time finding a full-time job.

If you want to maintain your standard of living or generate additional income, you have to take charge of your career, your finances and your future—starting today. Whether you decide to start a side hustle or hope to transition out of the pharmacy profession for good, check out our free PDF, “8 Ways for Pharmacists to Make Extra Cash with No Investment Costs.”

Whenever you feel tempted to give in to the belief that your job will be taken by machines in 10 years, remember that there is no replacement for caring human interaction in the pharmacy profession—and that only you can control your future.

53 Side Hustles Any Pharmacist Can Start Today

No matter what stage of life you are in, you should have some financial goals. As a pharmacist, you make a large sum of money—and you shouldn’t waste it.

You may have heard the saying, “With great wealth comes great responsibility.” So true. However, I also believe that great joy can also come with great wealth.

With this wealth, we can do so much good. Some pharmacists want to make even more money so they can do even more great things.

For those of you who want to build some serious wealth, a side hustle is a great way to get started. To get you motivated, I wanted to share some ideas that you can pursue outside of your day job to bring in extra cash.

I’ll be honest: Some of these ideas won’t make you too much money, but others have the potential to grow into a job that could eventually replace your full-time income. So, in addition to providing the positives of each idea, I’ll also share the potential pitfalls with you. Remember, not every side hustle is right for everyone.

I recommend you bookmark this page so you can come back to it later.

Here are my 53 ideas to help you start your side hustle today:

1. Public speaking

As a pharmacist, you have a unique position that allows you to speak and provide education to other people. Whenever I want to make some extra cash, I reach out to my network of doctors, pharmacists, nurse practitioners and physician assistants to see if anyone wants to learn more about anticoagulation, which is my specialty area. Just by giving updates to other medical providers, I can make an easy $400 to $800 for one speaking engagement.

My friend Donald Kelly of thesalesevangelist.com is a phenomenal speaker who travels across the country to speak to all sorts of audiences. He gets paid thousands of dollars to speak, on top of being reimbursed for travel expenses. Speaking is something that has no upper earning limit. People such as Bill Clinton and Mark Cuban are paid literally tens of thousands of dollars to speak in front of audiences for just a few minutes. Now, I’m not saying that you can get to that point easily, if ever, but you can head in that direction.

You don’t have to talk about healthcare topics, either. You can speak about anything. I was once paid to talk about creating mastermind groups. You can also be paid to speak online.

Pros: The beauty of speaking is that after you create the content, you can deliver it over and over again to different audiences.

Cons: Public speaking is feared by some and avoided by many, so you will have to get over any fears you may have before standing in front of an audience. Also, some pharmacy organizations have the attitude that because you are helping the profession, you shouldn’t be paid (which I think this is BS – you should be paid for your knowledge and expertise!).

Action Step: If you are afraid of public speaking, the best way to face your fears is to join your local Toastmasters group. Then, reach out to your network and see if anyone wants to learn more about your specialty area (pharmacy-related or not) and start creating content.

2. Teaching courses

If you’ve ever felt like you have the heart of a teacher but didn’t pursue it because you didn’t think you met the qualifications for an academic position, it is possible to teach on your own terms. If you have expertise in anything or have accomplished something special, you are qualified to teach.

You can make tons of money teaching courses online. To illustrate my point, go on Udemy and pick a random course that costs $20. Most of these courses have thousands of students—do the math.

Pros: You don’t need a resident certification to be qualified to teach something online. You don’t need more publications, more credentials or more education to teach. Col. Sanders didn’t go back to school to get an MBA to launch Kentucky Fried Chicken, after all.

Cons: Creating and marketing a course takes time, and you may need to pay for a service or website to help you get started.

Action Step: Picking something you are good at and create a course using a service like Teachable. Then, sell your course on websites such as Udemy and profit insanely from what you already know.

3. Video editing

Video editing is a fun skill for the meticulous person. Let’s face it: Pharmacists are typically Type A, perfectionists who are highly detail-oriented. When you edit video, you are putting together the pieces of a very complicated puzzle and every second counts. Think about all the editing that is required for every 15 second commercial that you see on TV. Those editors are paid thousands for each commercial.

Pros: In my opinion, pharmacists are built for the details and video editing is that kind of job. If you have a nice camera and a lapel mic, you can do just about anything for any local business.

Cons: You spend a lot of hours looking at the computer, and it can be hard to estimate how long each editing job will take you.

Action Step: The best way to get started in a business like this is to do it for free. You could easily get started by editing video together for small companies in your local area. After you have a few testimonials under your belt, you can go out there and start charging.

4. Photography

If you have a knack for creativity and design or have ever thought, “Boy, I really love taking photos,” this is a great and easy side-hustle for any pharmacist. I did a photo shoot a few months ago and I was talking with my photographer about herself and her business. I found out that she was actually a nurse in a past life. She found that she enjoyed being a nurse, but she loved the creative nature of being a photographer more. She was able to hustle on the side doing photoshoots for weddings and graduations and built it up to a full-time business.

Pros: You can schedule appointment-only shoots for graduation, baby or engagement photos around your full-time job. Although investment costs are high, you can make your money back quickly.

Cons: Weddings could be hard to do depending on the kind of pharmacy shift you have. The investment costs for photography also can be prohibitive—a really nice camera costs $500-$600.

Action Step: Start taking photographs for free or at a deeply discounted rate and build a portfolio that you can show to prospective clients.

5. YouTube

Could you imagine getting $36,000 per week? I couldn’t. However, one young YouTuber, Ryan’s ToysReview, makes exactly that and he’s five years old. The model is simple: Create content, promote ads, get views and make money. The majority of YouTube channels that are out there create a partnership with YouTube to allow ads to be placed on their videos. In exchange, they receive a portion of the profits.

The way to get to hundreds of thousands of views is by niching down and creating content consistently. One of my favorite channels is The Nerdwriter, who is a blogger who writes about nerdy things—from tropical house beats of Rhianna to Lord of the Rings battle philosophy. He not only uses ads from YouTube, but he uses a platform called Patreon where people pay him a monthly subscription to support him to create more content. When I last checked, he was making more than $4,000 per month to produce his content.

Pros: If there is a subject that you love to talk about, it should be fun and easy for you to create content that is funny, interesting and engaging.

Cons: You have to be very focused in a niche. You have to choose something that you love talking about and talk about it until you are exhausted. And, you have to get an insane amount of views in order to make money from YouTube. Working as a YouTube blogger has a bad connotation that might lead others to believe you don’t work at all or are some sort of weirdo. Just ask PewDiePie, one of the most popular YouTubers, who is known as kind of a weirdo online and probably works harder than you do.

Action Step: Pick something that you have loved for 10-15 years, whether it is woodworking, playing guitar or a certain type of fiction genre, and run with it.

6. Writing

I am very partial to writing as a side hustle because it is how I got started. Essentially, I created content that I turned around and sold to websites. It’s something I still do, and I love getting paid to write content. If you feel like you are a writer and always have been, this is an amazing way to make some extra money—you get to do what you love and get paid to do it. This daily hustle eventually led to me paying off my house 27 years early, and there is no shortage of people online who promote the writing side-hustle.

Pros: Everyone has an hour at the beginning of their day to wake up earlier and write. There also are hundreds of courses you can take to teach you how to write great content and headlines and make more effective pitches.

Cons: It takes practice, diligence and constant work to improve your craft and it can be frustrating and difficult to get started. You will be rejected a lot. Here’s how things will be until you get your first paying gig:

  1. Write.

  2. Pitch your article to websites that will pay.

  3. Fail.

  4. Pitch again.

  5. Fail.

  6. Pitch again.

  7. Repeat.

Action Step: Pick a subject area that you like and know a bit about. Then, write some content. Don’t give up after the first “no.” Keep trying and keep pushing. Remember, even J.K. Rowling was rejected several times before Harry Potter was accepted.

7. Medical writing

Although this may sound similar to writing, I made this its own category. As a pharmacist, you are a highly trained professional. Medical writing involves talking specifically about any topic related to medicine, not just any subject at all, as in general writing. When you do medical writing, you come from a place of expertise and knowledge and should be paid accordingly for your work.

Pros: Every health care system needs content to educate their consumers, so there are many high-paying jobs available for qualified medical writers with advanced degrees.

Cons: The subject matter usually isn’t the most exciting thing in the world, and you might get tired of writing about medical topics after working at the pharmacy all day.

Action Step: Create a profile on upwork.com and start bidding on medical writer jobs.

8. Transcription

Just about anyone can learn to be a transcriptionist, but because of your advanced pharmacy knowledge, I recommend that you specialize in medical transcription.

Pros: The work doesn’t take much thought and is easy to do. All you really need is a set of headphones, a laptop and the ability to type quickly.

Cons: The work can be mindless and a bit boring, depending on the subject matter. It also doesn’t pay very much, even for medical specialists. As a pharmacist, I think there are easier ways for you to get started hustling at a higher price point.

Action Steps: Reach out to your network to see if any medical providers could use your help. Or, contract with a medical transcription service who will provide you with assignments.

9. Voice acting

For the creative and theatrical pharmacist, voice acting is a great way to get paid to speak. I started voice acting three years ago and found that it was fun to do. It fed my urges to act, and my first job was using my ATR2100 microphone to record myself talking about a Chinese conference.

Pros: I got paid $10 for two minutes of talking. You may scoff at the idea of getting only $10—but that’s $300 per hour, and it even led to more gigs.

Cons: This side hustle will not work for you unless you have a good voice.

Action Steps: Buy a microphone and start looking for gigs on upwork.com.

10. Kindlepreneur

A good friend of mine named Dave Chesson coined the term “Kindlepreneur.” He created a website around the idea that people can make money by writing books and selling them on Amazon. I created a few books, Hang Out and Grow Rich and Master the PCAT Essay Book, and I receive around $100 per month because of it.

Pros: If you have a big dream to publish a book, you could place it on Amazon and get paid for it.

Cons: It’s not that easy. A rule that I learned early on is that 20 percent of the battle is creating the content, 80 percent is marketing. After you create a book, if you don’t have a following no one will ever hear about it or find it. You have a lot of upfront work to do if you take this path.

Action Steps: Start writing while simultaneously building a following of people who might be interested in your book.

11. Consulting

Consulting is a great side hustle option for those who are experts and have accomplished a great deal in their career or in life. Anytime you have expertise and knowledge, you can be paid as a consultant to teach others what you know.

Pros: Consulting is a great side gig because it is typically not something that requires full-time attention; usually, it is something that can be done on this side in the mornings or one day a month. Consulting isn’t just limited to business pursuits; you can also offer consulting services in other areas, such as fitness or home organization.

Cons: If you don’t have any expertise or if you are new to a field, you will have a hard time selling your expertise to other businesses. It can also take a while to get your first customer.

Action Step: Because getting your first customer can be tough, you may have to provide your service for free to someone. After you get a great testimonial, you can approach other businesses to ask if they would be interested.

12. Coaching

Have you ever thought that our education system is broken? Me too. One of the reasons why I think it is broken is because we teach kids the answers, rather than how to find the answers. Coaching empowers people to make decisions for themselves rather than just be handed answers. Coaching helps people overcome the obstacles in their path.

If there is something significant that you have accomplished in your life, congratulations! You are qualified to be a coach. Coaches typically hold weekly meetings with their clients via phone or video conference and may provide email support. Most coaches charge about $500 per month, although some can charge $1,800 per month or more.

An important point I want to make here is that a coach is not a consultant. A consultant shows you the map and says, “Go that way.” A coach holds up a mirror and says to the client, “Is this who you want to become? If not, how can we get you there?”

Pros: You can become a coach for just about anything, including parenting, career, health or organizational skills. All you need is some personal expertise, a website and a willingness to help others—no need to get a coaching certification or additional degrees.

Cons: Like any other service-oriented business, it takes time to build up a good reputation.

Action Steps: To get your coaching business off the ground, offer your services to one person for free. If you have a friend or acquaintance who wants to run a 5K, organize their home or get a promotion, ask if you can help them achieve that goal. After you provide above-and-beyond value and service, be sure to get a testimonial that you can show to your future clients.

13. Building websites

Building websites is a skill that easily can be learned. If you're a pharmacist or a pharmacy technician, you have the technical skills necessary to learn how to build a simple website—and companies will pay anywhere from $10,000 to $40,000 for web design services. However, you could start off small and only charge a few hundred dollars for a simple website for a small business in your local area. Website development is really not that difficult, especially if you are good with technology. Simple websites with five pages can put a few hundred bucks in your pocket.

Pros: By watching a few tutorials on YouTube and learning a bit about hosting and WordPress, you could have a website up within a few hours. Plus, you can work from home whenever it is convenient for you.

Cons: This is not a good choice if you struggle with technology. Also, you may have to spend some time learning the process before you get your first client.

Action Step: Take a cheap or free course to help you get started with web development.

14. Manage social media

If every business has a website, then every business likely also has a social media presence. Whether the business uses Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn or Twitter, the business will usually have someone who manages their social media by posting, Tweeting, communicating with customers and creating content for blogs and contests online.

Pros: You can turn your expertise in something that you probably do anyway in your personal time into extra cash. Many of these gigs are posted on Fiverr and Upwork, so it is easy to find jobs online.

Cons: Although blogging is a popular form of social media, I don’t usually recommend it as a first route for starting your side hustle. Here’s why: Because blogging highlights passive income, it takes a long time to build your following and make money—making it very easy to give up on before your first earnings arrive.

Action Step: Create your profile on Upwork and Fiverr and begin bidding on social media management jobs. Or, reach out to your network to find out if anyone you know needs help promoting their business on social media.

15. Sell on Amazon or eBay.

Selling stuff is one of the easiest things that you can do as a side hustler. It is a no-brainer to go to garage sales in your local area and buy lightly used items to sell for a higher price on EBay, Craigslist or Amazon.

Baby items, such as seats and strollers, are a great place to get started—parents are always looking to get rid of the items, so they are usually willing to part with them for a few bucks and people who need them are happy to get any kind of discount off the retail price, even if the item is lightly used. Books (either your own or ones that you find at garage sales) are another great place to get started with selling online.

Pros: This method gives you a quick return on your money and works especially well if you live in a metropolitan area. As your online sales business grows, you can even train other people to find specific items for you at garage sales and pay them for helping you out.

Cons: This is hard to pull off if you're in a rural area. Also, you have to have the patience and time to hunt for the items.

Action Step: Set up accounts on Amazon, Craigslist and EBay and head out to garage sales in your area this weekend.

16. App development

If you like working with technology, there is a lot of money to be made in app development—and, you get paid whether the app is a success or not. You could dream up a useful tool to sell online and get paid over and over again or develop something that you sell to a local business.

Pros: There is lots of money to be made if you have the skills. There are also a number of training courses available online.

Cons: If you don’t already have the skills, it may take some time and money to get up to speed.

Action Step: Check out an online course to learn about app development.

17. Cooking or baking

If you love to cook or bake, you could sell delicious meals or home-baked goodies to individuals and organizations. I can guarantee that there are busy parents in your community who would pay for a night off from cooking or businesses that would pay for treats that are delivered to their worksite.

Pros: If you already have the skills and the recipes, it would be very easy to get started. You could also do the food preparation on weekends and evenings.

Cons: It might be hard to land your first client. And, you may not have enough space in your home kitchen to handle high-volume food preparation.

Action Step: Offer to provide a free meal or dessert to a business or family in your area.

18. Running errands

If you have a couple hours to spare on a weeknight or a Saturday, you could help busy people run errands. Many people in your area would probably pay for someone to grocery shop for them or pick up dry cleaning on a weekly basis.

Pros: If you enjoy being out and about, this is a good task for you. Also, you might be able to accomplish some of your own errands at the same time.

Cons: This service would be a luxury for most people, so you would have to make sure you are marketing to people who would actually pay.

Action Step: Start advertising your services in your community where busy people with disposable income would be looking.

19. Accounting services

Pharmacists with an accounting background—or pharmacists who are good at math—could help small businesses in their area with bookkeeping tasks. If you are working for a small business or an online company, you may be able to work remotely at night or during the weekends.

Pros: Providing accounting services could be a great way to broaden your horizons and brush up on your math.

Cons: You should avoid preparing taxes or doing other complex accounting tasks unless you have the appropriate qualifications.

Action Step: Familiarize yourself with Excel and dust off your calculator. Then, start to look for want ads online.

20. Mobile car wash/detailing

Dirty, grimy cars are everywhere—including in your very own neighborhood. You could help busy people save time by providing a mobile car wash/detailing service.

Pros: This business would have low startup costs. Plus, you could market to large groups of clients in neighborhoods, at malls, schools or sporting events.

Action Step: Make up some flyers and post them anywhere that cars like to gather.

21. Computer tutoring

If you made it through pharmacy school, you have basic computer literacy skills that you could teach others. If you are an expert in any software of hardware specific to the pharmacy industry, you could provide training to other area pharmacists. Or, you could offer general tutoring services to the public.

Pros: Believe it or not, there is a large segment of our population that needs help figuring out how to operate a tablet, install a printer or use Gmail. You also may be able to create courses or provide video tutorial sessions.

Cons: Many clients would probably want to meet with you face-to-face—videoconferencing would probably be tough for someone who can’t set up their computer.

Action Step: Reach out to your network and see if anyone needs help learning new pharmacy software or hardware. Or, start advertising your services around town.

22. Cover letter and resume assistance

Put your pharmacy experience to use by helping your colleagues or new graduates prepare resumes and cover letters. Your feedback could help someone to land their dream job—how cool is that?

Pros: Because the payoff for landing a new job is so high, you would likely have many pharmacists who would seek your assistance. And, although there are many general resume services available out there, you could tailor yours specifically to pharmacy careers.

Cons: It will take some time to build your business, as you will probably gain a large number of clients through word-of-mouth. Also, it can be tough to offer constructive criticism on a resume and cover letter without knowing much about the applicant’s job history, personality and experience.

Action Step: Offer to help a friend revise his or her resume for free in exchange for a recommendation to other pharmacists.

23. Online customer service

Many companies now employ customer service representatives who work from home and handle incoming chat or phone requests.

Pros: You can work from home and set your own hours. Also, the work doesn’t require much thought.

Cons: This line of work typically doesn’t pay very much and you may occasionally have to deal with angry or difficult customers.

Action Step: Check out online job boards to see what companies are hiring and how much they pay.

24. Pet care

If you like animals, you could start a business providing pet sitting or dog walking services. Almost every pet owner uses this service at least once in a while, even if it is just when they go on vacation.

Pros: People love their pets, so they are usually willing to pay for someone trustworthy to keep an eye on them.

Cons: Some pets are friendly and some pets are not. Also, you will probably have to scoop poop at some point.

Action Step: Ask friends, neighbors and co-workers if they could benefit from your pet sitting services.

25. DJ-ing

If you’re up to speed on the latest tunes or know how to work some turntables, you could consider DJ-ing for weddings and special events—or even at your local bar or club. You don’t have to invest in crazy amounts of equipment right away, either. You could start by attaching your iPod to a set of high-quality speakers.

Pros: If you have an outgoing personality, this could be a fun and creative way to make a few extra bucks.

Cons: DJ-ing is on the decline thanks to the availability of music online. And, startup costs can be prohibitive if you go the turntables route.

Action Step: Build a playlist that includes classics and current hits while simultaneously looking for individuals and establishments that could use your services.

26. Graphic design

Graphic design services are always in demand if you have the software skills and eye for design. Whether your local entrepreneur needs new business cards or a company from halfway across the world needs a new logo, you can make some serious cash.

Pros: Graphic design allows you to express your creativity.

Cons: Good design is not as simple as it looks, so you may have to take classes to learn more about design principles before you get started. You may have to invest in graphic design software, too.

Action Step: Check out 99designs, Crowdspring or DesignCrowd and begin bidding on projects.

27. House sitting

Keeping an eye on someone else’s house while they are away has to be one of the easiest things to do to make extra money. Most people are OK with you continuing to work at your full-time job while house sitting, and many only need you to stop by once or twice a day to pick up mail, turn on some lights, check for packages and make sure nothing is amiss.

Pros: This is about the easiest work you can possibly do.

Cons: Overnight house-sitting stays can cause problems if you have a family or work an odd shift. Also, if something goes wrong while you are there, you will probably have to help the owners deal with it.

Action Step: Advertise your services through friends, family and co-workers who can vouch for your trustworthiness.

28. Interior decorating

If you work in a pharmacy and are addicted to HGTV, you probably know all about how to make spaces functional and attractive. You could provide interior design services to businesses or individuals in your area.

Pros: Interior decorating could be a fun job if you like to shop, enjoy being creative and have some knowledge of design concepts. There are also nearly no start-up costs involved.

Cons: You may have to meet with clients during business hours, which could be tough if you work day shift.

Action Step: Read a few books on design concepts and check out some interior design galleries online (there are plenty for commercial and residential spaces). If you can’t find any clients right away, you could offer to style a friend or relative’s space for free.

29. Modeling

Are you easy on the eyes? If so, you could make some extra cash by modeling. Sometimes, local photographers are in need of subjects to strike a pose for advertisements.

Pros: What could be easier than sitting there looking good?

Cons: It might be hard to connect with the right people to help you land jobs. This also works much better if you live in an urban area.

Action Step: Get some professional photographs taken of yourself and reach out to local photographers and advertising firms to see if they need any volunteers.

30. Moving service

Strong pharmacists who don’t mind carrying other people’s stuff can make good money helping other people move. You can offer your services at night and on weekends and wouldn’t even need to own a truck—you could just help people carry things.

Pros: This is great exercise and will help keep you in great shape. Bonus points if you live in a college town.

Cons: You would not want to attempt this if you have back problems or any physical limitations. Also, this is not the most glamorous, high-paying work.

Action Step: Start advertising your services locally by contacting real estate agents and/or landlords who would be inclined to pass along your information to their clients.

31. Event planning

If you love to plan and organize, put your skills to good use by offering party or event planning services. Most events are scheduled on weekends or evenings, and you would probably only have to make a handful of phone calls during business hours. You could specialize in large events, such as weddings or corporate gatherings, or smaller events, such as bridal/baby showers or birthday parties.

Pros: People will pay good money for someone to take on the stress of planning their special event.

Cons: Depending on the shift you work, weekend or evening events could be a problem.

Action Step: Start by offering your services for free to a friend or relative who is planning an event and get a great testimonial.

32. Personal training

If fitness is your passion, you could provide either online or in-person personal training services to clients. If you go the in-person route, you could easily fit it into your schedule because most people work out in the early morning or after work. Online personal training can be done anytime.

Pros: This is a great way to turn what you already know about fitness into some extra cash. No need to obtain a pricey certification, either.

Cons: It will take you some time to find clients and build a reputation.

Action Step: Start by helping a friend or co-worker achieve some fitness goals and check out online personal training offerings to get an idea about costs, etc.

33. Podcasting

If you have a subject that you are passionate about and a unique angle, podcasting can be a great creative outlet for you. And, if you are able to attract a large following, it can translate into some serious sponsorship dollars.

Pros: Podcasting can be done on your timeframe and with very little upfront investment.

Cons: It takes a lot of time and a really unique angle to create the following you need to earn serious money.

Action Step: Check out some articles online about how to build a successful podcast and buy a high-quality microphone.

34. Proofreading

For pharmacists who love to read, proofreading is an awesome way to make extra money. Whether you focus on fiction or medical content, you can easily set up shop on Upwork.

Pros: Proofreading can be done remotely and requires almost no investment costs.

Cons: Depending on the type of jobs you are looking for, you may need to have some knowledge of AP or AMA style. Also, you will spend a ton of time reading on the computer.

Action Step: Create an Upwork profile and decide which area you would like to focus on (novels, medical content, etc.).

35. Sports officiating

Recreational sports leagues are always in need of referees and umpires. If you enjoy sports and have some knowledge of the game, you can earn some extra cash officiating in the evenings and on weekends.

Pros: Depending on the sport, you can get some good exercise while officiating.

Cons: Angry fans and difficult coaches can make the job significantly less fun. You may also have to go through a certification process and/or get child abuse clearances if you are working with children.

Action Step: Reach out to local recreational leagues and see what steps you would need to take to get started.

36. Selling hand-crafted items

Are you crafty? Do you enjoy making unique items? If so, you could set up shop on Etsy and sell your unique handmade items worldwide.

Pros: If you are naturally crafty, this is a great creative outlet.

Cons: There aren’t many cons here. You may find that your business takes off faster than you thought, causing you to be overwhelmed with orders. But, there are lots of options for hiring help, if necessary.

Action Step: Figure out what you can make that could be sold and see what other similar products are out there to help you establish your prices.

37. Selling on Fiverr

Fiverr is a great way to sell your side-hustle services, whether you decide to take up graphic design, web design, writing, editing or virtually anything else. There are lots of articles out there on how to start your side hustle using Fiverr.

Pros: Fiverr is easy to set up and can get you the exposure you need to make your side hustle profitable.

Cons: The risk of underselling yourself is high, as many people offer their services very cheaply.

Action Step: Figure out what you could sell and set up a profile on Fiverr.

38. Marketing services

Many small businesses don’t have the staff or expertise to do all their own marketing. If you have expertise in this area, you could offer your services locally or online and help businesses make a plan to put their best foot forward.

Pros: Many small businesses will pay good money for this service because it is way cheaper than hiring a staff member.

Cons: In order to be successful, you will have to demonstrate marketing expertise. It will also take time to find clients.

Action Steps: Create a profile on Upwork or Fiverr, or reach out to local small businesses that could benefit from your services.

39. Fitness instructor

Whether you enjoy aerobics, yoga or cardio kickboxing, becoming a part-time fitness instructor is a healthy way to earn some extra cash.

Pros: You can get fit while earning extra money. And, most classes are held in the early mornings, weekends or evenings, so you could surely find something to fit your schedule.

Cons: You may have to obtain certification to teach on your own dime (although some gyms may offer to pay for all or part of your certification).

Action Step: Reach out to local health clubs to see what their instructor needs are and research the costs associated with obtaining the necessary certification.

40. Translation/interpretation

If you know a second (or third!) language, you could create a killer side hustle providing translation or interpretation services. Translating documents would be a great way to work remotely on your own schedule.

Pros: This would have super low start-up costs and would not require any additional knowledge or training. There are tons of jobs available on Upwork.

Cons: Although translation would be easy to do, providing real-time interpretation services would probably be difficult around your full-time work schedule.

Action Step: Build a profile on Upwork and start bidding on translation jobs.

41. Tutoring

Put that Pharm.D degree to use by offering tutoring to pharmacy students. Thanks to videoconferencing, you don’t even have to live in a college town to make this work. You could also tailor your tutoring services to your pharmacy specialty area.

Pros: You are using knowledge you already have to make extra money, and you could provide services on evenings or weekends.

Cons: It might be tough to get broke pharmacy students to pay you a decent rate for your services.

Action Step: Advertise where pharmacy students congregate, either online or at a local pharmacy school.

42. Vehicle advertising

If you drive a lot, you could earn up to $500 per month by putting advertising “wrap” on your car. Talk about passive income!

Pros: You have to do next to nothing to earn extra money each month.

Cons: If you live in a rural area or don’t drive very much, you probably wouldn’t find too many companies that are interested in advertising on your vehicle.

Action Step: Visit Wrapify and see how you can get started.

43. Vending machines

Vending machines are a great way to make passive income. And, depending on the extent of your vending empire, you could potentially hire someone to fill the machines and handle any problems that may come up.

Pros: This is a great way to generate passive income and requires little work each month. Vending machines are also pretty cheap to buy.

Cons: This can be a difficult business to get started, mostly because you have to find a place to put your machines.

Action Step: Check the classified ads in your area to see if anyone is selling a vending machine business or cheap vending machines.

44. Virtual assistant

Virtual assistants (VAs) provide administrative support to clients from home. Depending on the amount of flexibility you have and the hours you are available to work, you can choose to set up shop on your own or sign up with established VA companies such as Belay or Fancy Hands.

Pros: For the most part, VA work is easy to do and easy to find—and it can be done at home.

Cons: Because it work is so easy, it really doesn’t pay that well.

Action Step: Create an Upwork profile or sign up with an established VA company.

45. Lawn mowing service

If you enjoy working outdoors, cutting lawns in your neighborhood is a great way to make some extra money—especially if you own a riding mower. You could start small by offering to cut lawns while people are on vacation, or look for more regular work on a weekly basis.

Pros: This is easy work and there are plenty of potential customers out there.

Cons: It is not glamorous work and doesn’t pay that well.

Action Step: Create a simple flyer and distribute it to your neighbors advertising your services.

46. Snow removal service

If you live in an area of the country that is prone to lots of snow, consider starting a snow removal company on the side. If you already own a snow blower, there are probably quite a few people in your neighborhood who would gladly pay for some help digging out after a big storm.

Pros: If you already have a snow blower and use it for your own property, the start-up costs are next to none.

Cons: This will not work if you live in a warmer climate. Also, even if you live in a colder climate, the income can be inconsistent. No snow means no work. This is also very physically demanding work and will require you to be out in the cold.

Action Step: Just as you would with a lawn mowing service, create a simple flyer and distribute it to you neighbors advertising your services.

47. Child care

Parents have a hard time finding quality, reliable babysitters—and when they find one, they are usually willing to pay. Why not fill that need in your community by providing child care help to families on evening and weekends?

Pros: All it takes is a connection with one nice family, and through the beauty of word-of-mouth, you will have a booming business in no time. Also, there are no start-up costs for this.

Cons: If you know nothing about or don’t like kids, this is not a good choice for you. Also, you will have to deal with messes, snotty noses, diapers and general stickiness if you are going to be in contact with little ones.

Action Step: Find one family (preferably with civilized children) and offer to provide your service for free in exchange for a recommendation to other families.

48. Music lessons

If you are a musical pharmacist, offer to provide music lessons to youngsters in your area. Whether you sing or play another instrument, parents will be more than willing to sign their kids up for affordable, low-pressure music lessons.

Pros: Lessons will usually be held on evenings or weekends (outside school hours) and are usually only 30 minutes long for little kids. At $15 for a 30-minute lesson, you could make more than $100 in a couple hours.

Cons: You would either need to travel to students’ homes or have a space in your home where you could provide lessons. Also, you may need access to a piano or other instrument—and, of course, some musical experience.

Action Step: Ask local parents if they might be interested in music lessons for their kids and offer a free trial lesson.

49. Refreshment sales

Selling refreshments at youth sporting events, yard sales or other community gatherings is a great way to earn some extra money. You don’t have to buy a food truck right away, either. Filling a couple coolers with bottled water and soda and selling bagged snacks can be enough to get you started.

Pros: Start up is easy and it doesn’t take much effort to make a profit.

Cons: You would probably need to get advance permission to set up shop.

Action Step: Visit your local bulk-buy superstore and stock up on soda, water and bagged snacks. Then, brainstorm a list of places in the community where your customers congregate and get permission from the property owners.

50. Selling fresh produce

Do you enjoy gardening and have the space to do it? If so, you could set up a mini “farmers market” selling produce that you grow yourself. Tomatoes, fresh flowers, cucumbers, herbs, onions and potatoes are popular sellers that are easy to grow.

Pros: Selling your extra produce will keep it from going to waste.

Cons: Cultivating a garden takes lots of time and space.

Action Step: Plant a couple extra things this year and see if you can harvest enough to sell to other people.

51. Review products

Companies like Vindale Research will pay you to take surveys and review products online.

Pros: This is easy and can be done at your convenience.

Cons: The online survey world is rife with scams, so be careful to thoroughly check out the company—and don’t pay any money upfront. Also, you could probably make much more money with another type of side hustle.

Action Step: Sign up with a couple survey companies and start answering questions.

52. Selling stock photography

New blogs and websites are born all the time, and they all need stock images. Taking pictures of simple items and uploading them on stock photography websites such as ShutterStock is an easy way to make money over and over again.

Pros: You don’t need to be a professional photographer—all you really need is the ability to take quality photos.

Cons: Most sites pay between 25 cents and $3 each time one of your images is downloaded, so you won’t build wealth very quickly this way.

Action Step: Start coming up with ideas for stock photos, take some pictures and upload them to the site of your choice.

53. Real estate

Investing in real estate can be a huge money-maker. You could choose to purchase and rent commercial/industrial or residential real estate or buy bargain properties and flip them for a profit.

A pharmacist actually shares her story on how she fell into real estate and renting on The Happy PharmD. Check it out by clicking this.

Pros: The returns on investment can be huge with real estate.

Cons: Real estate can be risky and requires a large amount of start-up capital. Also, being a landlord can be difficult, particularly with residential properties. Flipping, though lucrative, can take quite a bit of work and know-how.

Action Step: Get your investment funds ready and start working with a real estate agent to find properties in your price range.

As you have probably noticed, there are side hustle options that fit every budget, every area of expertise and every schedule. All you really need to get started is a little motivation. If you are serious about building your side hustle, I’d be happy to help. Feel free to book a call with me.


How This Pharmacist Started in Real Estate and Renting Properties

NOTE FROM ALEX: This is a guest post from Sonia Amin, PharmD. Sonia was a part of my class Side Hustle Fast Track for Pharmacists and shared with our class how she started her side income of renting and real estate. I'm a sucker for learning more about investment strategies, so I asked her to share her story here! Enjoy!


The term real estate investing can either give the sentiment of a road to great wealth or it could bring feelings of apprehension and uncertainty. For me, it was quite the latter. However, after eight years of my husband and I, being landlords, I can say, although it has been quite stressful at times, there is money to be made and the long-term goal of having passive income is a reality that can be accomplished by anyone willing to put the work in!

How It All Began

My journey into real estate investing was one initially, not by choice. Funny enough, one of our first rental properties, was actually the home my husband lived in prior to us getting married. The home was purchased towards the end of the market peaking and we would have taken a severe loss had we sold it when we were looking to relocate.

It was quite devastating to watch the value of that home go from $200,000 to $250,000 all the way down to $60,000 at one point.

Talk about a great time to buy an investment property!

Why do I bother to mention this unfortunate situation? It's the reality we all can face when it comes to the uncertainty of the real estate market, the stock market, or anything in life, for that matter. We cannot control things that are out of our power. But we can control how we decide to approach and deal with things like this.

Looking At the Whole Picture

With real estate investing, being pragmatic in how a property is evaluated and planning for the ups and downs of the market are essential. And I won't pretend that's all I do.

I mean, I pray a lot.

I mean, A LOT!

That property was obviously not purchased with the intent of renting it out. However, from that time on, I have learned so much of what to look for in a property and evaluating it based on the current market along with looking at it for what it could be in case the market fluctuates, whether up or down.

The Current Approach

Since then, we have added a couple more rental properties to our portfolio. Now, when I look at potential investments, I evaluate them quite differently. I will do a return on investment (ROI) calculation looking at the potential of it being a flip (this can be more difficult to find and being a conservative investor, I'm not as willing to take larger risks) or a rental property.

The main difference between a possible flip and a potential rental is that more money and time may be needed to update a property to be flip-worthy, versus, typically minor renovations can be done to have the home rented out quickly. This would also just depend on your area and what typical buyers and renters are looking for.

In the area we normally do our investment search in, homes that sell quickly are move-in ready with granite counters, updated fixtures, stainless steel appliances, and have nice curb appeal. However, when getting a property ready to be rented, those things are all great if they are already in place, but putting money into granite counters, high-end appliances, or things of that sort is typically unnecessary - at least in the area we choose to purchase in.

I add that disclaimer because every market is different and the more time you spend looking at houses and seeing which ones sell/rent and for what price, you'll be able to come up with your own evaluations.

Of course, renters would also like nice fixtures and upgraded appliances, but they are many times more willing to forego those perks for their temporary residence. They may be more focused on the layout of the home, how spacious it feels, whether the backyard will work for their children, etc. Basically, is it a nice, clean home, in a good location that meets their needs?

Managing the Day to Day

More recently, I have taken a step back from looking into additional real estate as much. I am a mom with two little ones and they are my heart and focus these days. I still manage our rental properties in that I handle the day to day issues such as maintenance requests, showing the property to get it rented, meeting with contractors, or even working on minor maintenance issues myself.

Typically, a handyman is hired for most jobs but there are times that I know it's something simple that I can take care of myself. For example, we received a letter last week from the HOA of a home we own regarding the appearance of the garage. Admittedly, it was looking a bit rusty.

Luckily, this home is only about 5 minutes from where I live so it's convenient enough for me to go and fix it myself. I sanded down all the areas that had rusted and sprayed a new coat of paint on.

Good as new!

Something I would encourage those who think of themselves as not the "handy" type, is that there is so much information on the internet to help you. It's quite possible to learn how to do things that normally would require a professional. Specifically, my favorite thing to use is YouTube. It's one thing to read about how to fix a garbage disposal that's jammed, but another to see someone do it in a quick video! Then, you can decide if it's something you want to/can do yourself or if it's something you rather have a professional do.

There are several factors that could play a role in whether you hire a professional. The work could be dangerous, too difficult to do, or you simply don't have the time to get it done.

Another reason I like to do my own research is that I like to have a baseline knowledge of the issue when speaking to the contractor. This way they know that they aren't talking to someone who is completely clueless.

For example, if an air conditioner is running but the air blowing is not actually cool air; there could be a variety of reasons this happens. Doing my own research and having that knowledge beforehand is a good way to make sure whoever you are speaking with has narrowed down the issue to the few things you found as well. Of course, they are the professional, and they may just as well find something completely different, but it doesn't hurt to do your own research.

Want to Learn More?

If you happen to be interested in dabbling in the real estate market, there are a plethora of books available that help the beginner investor. One such book is The Million Dollar Real Estate Investor by Gary Keller. This book gives clear steps as well as checklists and charts that can be easily used and implemented.

In addition, a great resource I highly recommend is www.biggerpockets.com. There, you will find an entire community of people willing to help answer questions and a wealth of information for any stage you are at. If you have a question, it's more than likely been asked and answered on their forum.

It's a Long-Term Goal

Now having gone through the ups and downs of being a landlord, I still would like to purchase a few more investments at the right time. As I mentioned, the long-term potential to have passive income is phenomenal.

It does take time, patience, and perseverance just like anything worthwhile. And there can be quite a bit of competition depending on your region of the country. You may also find a decrease in the number of homes available now compared to months/years past. However, I am always keeping my eyes and ears open for the next gem to pop up. You just never know when the right rental property might present itself.

GUEST AUTHOR: SONIA AMIN, PHARMD

Sonia Amin, PharmD, received her B.S. degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition and PharmD from the University of Florida. She then completed an ambulatory care residency and received her teaching certification. Dr. Amin has worked in academia, ambulatory care pharmacy, and community pharmacy. She currently works as a MTM Pharmacist and is dedicated to helping people live healthy lives.

How to Live Like a Pharmacy Resident after Residency

Do you remember the moment in pharmacy school when you had to convince yourself that all this effort and energy was earning worth six figures in the future? Remember the moment when you had to cajole yourself to study for another few minutes for that chemo exam by saying to yourself “six years, six figures, six years, six figures …”?

Pharmacy is a wonderful profession for making a living. Yes, we do have our downsides and our problems. But overall, we are paid very well for the work that we do.

There are too many pharmacists who are miserable at their jobs, living paycheck to paycheck and wondering why they made the decision to join this profession. Some feel trapped, like they can’t escape their day job. They can’t even think about taking a day job that would pay them half of their salary—say $60,000—in exchange for a happier life.

I once met a pharmacist who truly did not like what he did on a day-to-day basis (You could say he hated his job). I found out that he had a passion for painting. He loved to paint, not just his own drawings, but also painting houses. Yet he decided that it was better for him to be miserable at his job and earning six figures instead of taking a job he loves that pays less than half of what he currently earns. He would say, "I don't have a choice. I have to do this job."

This kind of lifestyle is something we do not promote at The Happy PharmD. We take a simple approach when it comes to money management. What follows is a philosophy and techniques to use money to create a lifestyle that is fulfilling—call it “lifestyle designing,” if you will. Here are three worldviews that will guide the rest of our discussion:

Minimalism

Minimalism purports that in order to be truly happy, we don’t need to fill our lives with stuff. We don’t need a better home or a better car or the next and newest gadget to fulfill our desires. Minimalism states that you only need the bare essentials to live a fulfilled and happy life; in fact, the less you have, the less distracted you are. And, the more focused you are, the more fulfilling your relationships will be.

Minimalism isn’t just about money. It’s about all of life, including your eating habits, exercising, what kind of car you buy and what kind of job you take.

I was first truly introduced to this approach to life when I read the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo. In this book, she talks about how creating a lifestyle in which you are truly decluttered helps you escape from the busyness of life.

A Long-Term Money Perspective

Another definition for wisdom is delayed gratification. If you are a parent or have a young child in your life, think about how that child acts when he or she wants something. Children want everything RIGHT NOW, right? It can’t be later, it can’t be in two minutes—it has to be NOW!

Here is a picture of my daughter crying because I told her I would get her pajamas “in a minute."

Children live in the here and now. They have a hard time conceptualizing the future. As adults, we’re taught this concept primarily through education. We go through education for a majority of our lives to prepare for our career. We are forced into this way of living because it’s what everyone does—and the government mandates it—but really, it’s a long-term perspective. 

We are investing time now educating ourselves to achieve a degree, in hopes that it will pay off later. This is the same concept as pharmacy school: The median pharmacy student debt in 2016 is $150,000, and students pay that money (or incur that debt) in order to eventually reap the benefits of the pharmacy profession—and along with that, the salary of a pharmacist.

I take the same approach when I think about how I want to live my life and the investments I want to make. I try to adopt the mindset of long-term thinking when it comes to my money. I think about things like early retirement. I have no desire to work a 40-50 hour work week for the rest of my life in order to “do the things that I want to do” when I am 62. I’d rather live the minimalism lifestyle now so that in the future I can do the things I want to do with the time that I have—we’re not guaranteed life, so I don’t want to hang all my hopes on a retirement that may never come.


In fact, if you’re the kind of pharmacist who hates your job and are still working there every day, why are you suffering now? You don’t have to be a pharmacist for the rest of your life if you hate what you do. You can find a way to escape.

However, if you find yourself with an extravagant lifestyle and living paycheck to paycheck, you will never escape the endless cycle that is your life. You live paycheck to paycheck buying things you don’t need to impress people you probably don’t like—and you’re forced to work at a job that you hate. This is truly a miserable existence, and I want to encourage you to make small changes today to move away from that.

The long-term perspective we have on money is to use the majority of extra income to invest in things such as Roth IRAs, 401(k)s and business ventures so that we can retire early. My wife and I have adopted this mindset and we are aiming to retire by the time I turn 37. Will I actually retire from pharmacy when I turn 37? Probably not. But if I wanted to, I could. If we want to take a two-month sabbatical to Europe, we can. If I want to go part-time as a pharmacist, I can.

This is the lifestyle we want to create—a lifestyle of freedom as opposed to a lifestyle of being trapped.

Debt Kills

Debt keeps you trapped. Imagine if all of your debt payments—mortgages, car payments, cell phone payment plans—were gone. How much extra income would you have per month? Take a moment and calculate it.

Finished? Good.

Now, imagine that you have that money in your hand.
Every.
Single.
Month.
What would you be doing with it? How would you spend that money? Would you save? Would you travel?

Guess what? If you are in debt, the reality is that your debts entrap you. Not only do debts keep you trapped, they fool you into thinking that you are getting a good deal. A $100,000 home at 4 percent interest over 30 years does not cost you $100,000. It actually costs $171,869.51.

Debt traps you and makes you a slave to a monthly payment. And, debt increases over time. What makes me so mad about my college loans is that every month I had to pay $500, and only $240 went toward paying the principal. The rest went toward interest, or, as I like to call it “stupid tax” (because I felt stupid for having to pay it).

Techniques and Strategies

We talked about the philosophies that inform our decision-making. Now let’s talk about the money-saving techniques you can use to live like a resident even after you are done with residency:

1. Low cost of living

When I graduated from high school, and the majority of my classmates said that they wanted to live near the big city. I thought the same thing when I was in high school. I thought I would never move back to my hometown, but that’s exactly what I did.

I received a great offer from a hospital during my residency to live in my hometown with a great salary and benefits. One reason why I chose to live in my hometown was because of the low cost of living. Houses here are extremely cheap, and to get a 2,000-square-foot home for less than $100,000 isn’t unheard of—in fact, it’s common. If you live anywhere near the big city, you’d be hard-pressed to get a two-bedroom, one-bath home for under $100,000.

Cost of living influences what you can do with your buying power. Buying power is the extra income you have to pay off your debts. Another great thing about rural areas is that you might find additional benefits or even higher salaries because few professionals wish to live in these places. I was lucky enough to be offered college loan repayment as part of my current position. I would have never found this had I applied in an urban pharmacy setting.

2. Low expenses

After you start receiving a salary of $115,000 out of nowhere, it can be very tempting to adopt an extravagant lifestyle. After you have all this money, businesses will find ways to allow you to spend it on anything from a nicer home to a nicer car to fancier groceries. Ultimately, we believe that we don’t need those things in order to be happy. What makes us really happy is having the bare essentials and having great friends and family.

When I was a resident, my wife and I figured out that our bare minimum expenses totaled around $1,600 per month. Yes, that includes things like food, rent and insurance. After transitioning from residency to full-time pharmacist, our expenses did increase. We bought a home, which had a higher mortgage payment than our rent, and we also had to start paying off my student loans. After we transitioned, we kept our expenses around $2,500 expenses per month. This allowed us to use about $3,000 per month as our buying power, and we paid off a car loan, my wife’s college loan, my loans, and our house. In fact, we paid off our house 27 years early. Now we have all this extra income to use as we wish because we kept our expenses so low.

3. A cheap house

It pays to buy a cheap home. If I could do this again, I would buy a really cheap duplex and rent out the top. I would do this because it would create extra income for our family over time. The other tenants’ rent would pay for the mortgage, so we literally would be living in a home for free. This is a great strategy for any resident who eventually wants to build multiple streams of income—and multiple streams of income is the way to achieve the freedom lifestyle.

4. Rent, don’t buy (at least at first)

I recommend that most residents and new pharmacists rent. If you don’t know for sure that you are going to stay in an area for at least five years, you shouldn’t buy a home. The hassle, the payments and reselling the home are too much to take on if you aren’t committed to staying in one area for a while. Based on current statistics, people transition from job to job much more quickly than they did once upon a time. There’s no reason for you to settle down and buy a home if you can rent—at least temporarily.

5. No new cars

A new car is one of the worst investments you can make. Why? As soon as you drive the car off the lot, it loses approximately 10 percent of its value, according to CARFAX. Its value significantly depreciates over time and you can’t get that value back. You can save significant amounts of money by getting a quality car with a few years and miles on it.

6. Nix subscription services

Let’s face it. You don’t need Netflix. You don’t need Hulu. You don’t even need Internet, truthfully. People have been living without these things for thousands of years. However, if you are like me and you feel like you have to have Netflix because you love a certain series, join in with other people. Make a family plan so that the cost of these services is cut in half, at least.

7. Low-cost phone

Did you know that with Google’s Project Fi, you can spend about $25 per month for cell phone service? Yes, you read that correctly. One line = $25. Technically, you don’t even need a fancy cell phone. You can get a TracFone and be OK; you just can’t do all the cool things like play Angry Birds or surf the Internet whenever you please.

Habits of the Happy PharmD

Committing to these changes is difficult. I won’t sugarcoat: If you are trying to make these changes overnight, it won’t be easy. It’s like a smoker trying to quit cold turkey. These are a few habits I recommend that you adopt so that you can see the full benefit of these changes over time:

1. Monthly budget meeting

Whether you are single, married or in a relationship, a monthly budget meeting can help you review your expenses and make necessary adjustments as you go along. A monthly budget meeting involves you (and your partner, if applicable) sitting down and going over your expenses and your budget. Although I am not a huge fan of a budget, it’s extremely important for you to know how much you are spending on things each month so you can keep track of your expenditures and hopefully, keep them low. This isn’t a huge commitment and should take about an hour of your time.

One of the best ways to track your expenses without having to create a giant, ugly spreadsheet, is to use my favorite money management tool, Personal Capital. Personal Capital is a free tool that connects you to all of your financial accounts and tracks expenditures that you make.

2. Continue the hustle

Residency felt like I was extending school another year for significantly lower pay—I still had to hustle, complete extra projects, work late and live on a tight budget. What I recommend is not adjusting to your new pharmacy salary. I see a lot of people who finish residency adjust to “normal” life and stop pushing themselves.

One of the best ways to become a minimalist and apply that long-term approach to money is to continue the hustle by going above and beyond your job and creating an extra revenue stream through real estate, consulting or another side business. You can use this extra income to save for the extra things you want in life (or pay off debt, I paid off $50K in 2015 using this strategy). By hustling outside of your job, you create a drive and energy for you to push. I found that whenever I didn’t have a hustle—something on the side that I was working on—I found myself getting lazy at home and at work.

By following these tips and strategies to live like a resident, you can set yourself on a path to happiness and fulfillment. I know this sounds difficult, and you will definitely have some bumps in the road. But whenever the going gets tough, just imagine how great it will feel when you find personal and financial freedom.