Financial Freedom Starts Here
How to Get Started?
You may be overwhelmed with the prospect of developing a comprehensive financial plan for your future. Your head is crammed full of medical facts and procedural knowledge.
It is challenging enough to learn billing, contracting, CME, safety protocols, risk management, and coding. Medical school and residency did not prepare us well for the challenges of the “real world.” It would be great to delegate our financial issues to a “financial planner.”
Conflicts of Interest
But I advise against that. There are too many conflicts of interest and incompetence to make that a safe approach. At a minimum, you will need to understand and be actively involved in what your “money guy” is doing on your behalf.
Even if you find an ethical and knowledgeable financial planner with minimal conflicts of interest, chances are they will not serve all of your needs. Few financial planners understand the unique challenges of being a physician.
And few have a vast and thorough knowledge of all aspects of financial planning. They tend to come from a tax background. Or an investing background. Or they are strong on insurance options, but not other areas.
You Can’t Ignore Your Money
So, what is a doc to do? You worked too hard to just ignore this important area. If you don’t make your money work hard for you, you will need to live from paycheck to paycheck until you physically can’t do it anymore. That is not what you want, is it?
It should be easy to reach Financial Freedom by Fifty. Then you will not have to worry about money. Work how you want to. Cut back your hours. Drop call. Stop doing high-risk procedures. Change careers or stop working entirely. It will be up to you. Not your employer.
You Need a Plan
How will you know the important areas of personal finance? How will you make a plan for you and your family? Where is the path to Financial Independence? What components must be present in your plan?
Learn from Someone Who Did it!
I have been in your shoes and asked me those same questions. I started out destitute and deep in debt. Without even making money the top priority I achieved Financial Independence within 17 years of starting work as a doctor. So can you.
One Word Covers it All
To make the key components memorable, I made a mnemonic. Each letter of the word DESIRES stands for a key to financial success. Learn these lessons and you will be able to carry them around in your head. You can do this. It is a lot easier than memorizing the brachial plexus or the Krebs cycle and you mastered those.
Dream & Dump Debt
The path from high school to a medical career is linear. A lot of work is involved. And maybe some help from others and luck.
But it is a well-worn path. Get great grades. Do well in math & science. Write a personal statement. Volunteer. Get good recommendation letters. Ace the MCATs.
Once admitted to medical school the curriculum is fairly set. Maybe you can choose an elective or two, but most of the time is filled with requirements.
Once you match with a residency your work duties and knowledge base will be prescribed for you. A fellowship requires additional time to absorb new skills and knowledge. Then you finish. Done.
Congratulations! Finally, the formal education path has ended. That feels great. But now what? Where do you go? What is required of you? How will you learn and who can you trust? Those answers are not so clear.
It is time to Dream. Dream of your future. What do you want from your life? You won’t hit a target unless you aim for it. You can have everything you need and most everything you want, but you need to be clear.
Would you like European vacations? Early retirement? Vacation home in Florida? Private schools for the kids? Be clear and specific.
As blogger/podcaster Paula Pant says, “You can afford anything, but not everything.” And not all at the same time. So your priorities need to be clear.
Debt is a monkey on your back. The average debt load getting out of training has exceeded $200k. A 2020 Medscape survey showed 24% to have $300K or more in student loan debt.
Starting a practice may require more debt. And so may buy a new car. And buying a house for your family. Even without credit card debt, you may feel like you are drowning. And you are.
Those interest payments suck money out of your life that would otherwise be used for spending now or investing in your future.
$200K loan at 6% requires $1,000 a month or $12K a year just in interest payments alone. You can dump that debt. I will show you how.
Almost all doctors make a very generous income. Salaries are routinely in the top 5%. But there are also doctors in the same specialty who make $50K more than their peers. How? Why?
They may have more training or work harder. Other times they have a better payer mix or contract. They might have negotiated a “sweetheart deal” for themselves.
Sometimes getting more benefits or fewer work hours comes down to simply asking for it. In the right way. At the right time. I will show you how to optimize your negotiation skills and how to understand your employment contract.
You may want to have a “side gig” too. Or a separate business that you grow with your career. Thousands of doctors have done just that. You could too.
After completing training, we are ready to spend. Big time. We are now a “rich doctor.” Everyone seems to expect us to live and spend like a “high income” person. We may have a long-suffering spouse who has been living like a college student for way too long as well. Enough is enough.
“It isn’t how much you make, its how much you keep that counts.” So true. If you spend every penny you will never develop wealth. You can’t earn your way out of all financial problems, no matter how high your earnings.
So, you need to save. But how much? And what if you run out of money each month as it is? How can you set yourself up for success without feeling like a miser? I will show you a painless way to make saving automatic.
Spending more is not always better. Especially if that extra spending does not bring you an extra boost in your happiness. Some spending improves your well-being. Other spending does not. How do you know how much to spend and on what? I will guide you on wise spending to get the most “bang for your buck.”
Doctors are not known to be great investors. Quite the opposite. There are many reasons for our lack of investing success. A few of those are as follows.
We get a late start on earning and want a high return to make up for the lost time. Why should we settle for average returns? We have been above average in a lot of ways for our whole life. How hard can this investing thing be, right?
We do not know much about investing but we know we are smart and have overconfidence. We are very trusting of other “professionals.” We have high amounts of work and stress and little sleep.
That makes us impatient when doing our “due diligence” around investing options. We are susceptible to peer pressure and compete with peers who have done well financially.
Saving and investing will get easier and easier as you practice and develop your career. One key to success is to reinvest any interest, dividends, or profits from investing. That way your investment will fuel more investing.
Your money grows more money without decreasing your take-home pay. It will rapidly build your income streams and assets. This compounded growth only happens when you reinvest. If you siphon off the income and profits and spend it, you won’t get ahead.
I will show you how to set up an automatic system for reinvesting. You may want to consider investment real estate as a way to grow your wealth and income in a stable, tax-advantaged way. I will share how real estate investing has fueled my financial security over the last two decades.
Establish a Defense
Growing your wealth is important. But all the results of your efforts could be destroyed quickly. How will you prevent that?
You must take measures to defend what you worked so hard to achieve. Fortunately, there are established, powerful tools to protect your assets. Keys to a strong defense include asset management, ownership structures, legal protections, insurance policies. Do you know which policies are critical and which are entirely optional? I will guide you to success in this area.
Secure Your Future
When will you be financially free? If your medical career changes for the worst would you be able to cut back or quit and still maintain your lifestyle? If not, when will you get to that point?
If you become disabled or not around for your family, how would things go for them? Would they have a bright future despite your loss? Do you have your will, estate, power of attorney paperwork in place? Have you thought through your inheritances, estate plans, or charitable donations? Plan for significant wealth. Plan what you will do with that wealth. Let’s build a path for you – together.