Prior to starting internship and residency, I knew that I had a shortened time frame of 6 months in which to contribute to my 403(b)/401(k), since I would only start earning a salary around July 1 of that year. I also knew that residency would likely be the only time in my career that I would be able to contribute to a Roth IRA (other than the backdoor Roth IRA that I later learned about) and so I definitely wanted to max that out as well. The only problem with such lofty goals is where the money would come from.
In 2011, when I started residency, the annual contribution limit to my 403(b) was $16,500, and the Roth IRA contribution limit was $5,000. You have until the end of the calendar year to contribute to the 403(b), whereas you have until April 15 of the following year to contribute to the Roth IRA (e.g. you have until 4/15/18 to contribute to 2017's Roth IRA). I wanted to contribute as much to my 403(b) as possible in this short time, with a limited salary. My gross salary for the year was approximately $25k, and I wanted to put $16.5k into my 403(b). That left a gross income of $7.5k, or approximately $6k after tax to live off of for six months. How can one live off of $6k for 6 months with a rent of close $925 a month? Turns out, it is really freaking hard.