Financial Freedom for Physicians in Ten Reliable Steps

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Financial freedom can be yours. 

There is a “best practice” for achieving financial independence.  It isn’t complicated.  It is simple and consistent.

Follow these steps and you will arrive at financial freedom.  This post was inspired by a Forbes article.

1.  Want it Bad

Great things don’t happen through random luck.  It may look like success is easy and automatic for some, but it isn’t.  

If you want to end up in a different financial place than you are now, you need to act.  You can’t act the same and expect a different result.  

What will motivate you to change your behavior?  You need a “burning platform.”  

Do you see the pain of your future life if you remain penniless and in debt?  

You may be dreading the next three decades of grinding at work. exhausting and stressful work on the treadmill of employment?  Good!  

Keep that image in mind and now make a better world for yourself in your mind.  The contrast has to be enough to fuel your desire and help you make the sacrifices ahead.

2.  Plan For Financial Freedom

I hate to plan.  I can’t predict the future well and I don’t budget.  

If you are goal-driven and money-motivated, you have me beat.  I am neither.  Even so, I realize that we all must have a plan.  

Especially if you want to be a “do it yourself” investor you need an ironclad plan.  

An IPS (Investment Policy Statement) acts as a guide path for your future money moves. You can rely on your IPS when times get tough or markets become turbulent. 

If you don’t have a financial advisor you will need to follow your plan. Use your IPS to talk yourself off the ledge during scary or confusing times.

3.  Have Some Cash

I have seen doctors act in panic after losing their job.  I finally realized why.  It is stressful to scramble to replace a six-figure income.  

If you have no emergency fund, this becomes much more urgent.  They often jump at the first job available to emerge from the crises even though it isn’t the best opportunity.  

They were living paycheck to paycheck.  How sad.  Don’t let that be you.  

Have 6 months to a year of expenses set aside. That must be liquid, riskless cash for the inevitable difficult times.

4.  Live on Less than You Earn

“If you cannot save money, then the seeds of greatness are not in you.” – W. Clement Stone.  

How true.  Before you invest, you must save.  How do you save?  

Simple: live on less than you earn.  Establish that habit and continue it forever.  Find a way to automate the savings so you never see it.  

You won’t have to use your self-discipline and make decisions with every paycheck.  It will be all done for you.  

You can use your willpower for something more important.  Like resisting that apple pie a la mode.

5.  Invest the Rest

Living below your means and saving isn’t enough.  You must get out of debt.  Then, you must buy assets.  

Assets will produce growth (capital appreciation) and income (dividends and interest).  Cash flow from investments gets reinvested. 

Living on less than you earn makes that possible.

The interest on the interest then grows faster.  Your money will start working hard for you.  You will enjoy the “miracle of compound interest.”

6.  Diversify Your Investments

Why try to find a needle in a haystack when you can buy the whole haystack?  You may choose to have some money in cash. 

Or even commodities, alternative investments, real estate, and bonds.  But most of your money should be used to buy shares in corporations.  

Businesses grow.  Businesses earn profits.  They reinvest that money or distribute it as dividends.  Either way you -as the partial owner- benefit.  

Don’t pick a few companies with good sounding names either.   Avoid individual stocks altogether.  

Buy them all.  You could buy some foreign stocks or stick to domestic.  Either way, choose broad low-cost index funds (such as total stock market or the S&P 500).

7.  Don’t Try to Time the Markets

Markets go up and markets go down.  In the short term, “they fluctuate.”  In the long term, they tend upwards – beating inflation.  

When you know the direction of the current market, you are delusional.  

I understand.  I have been there.  Even now I struggle with the stock values and keep saying, “There is a crash coming soon.” 

But then it not only doesn’t come, the bull charges higher.  Jack Bogle has spent decades as an investment professional.  

He doesn’t know anyone who knows anyone who could predict the timing of the equity markets.  You likely are not the exception that he is hoping to meet someday.

8.  Choose Your Friends Wisely

We choose our goals by those we choose as our friends and advisors.  We become very much like our 5 closest acquaintances.  

If they spend money like it grows on trees and makes careless financial decisions, you will too.  Beware.

9.  Have Multiple Income Streams

One income isn’t enough.  Even as a doctor.  

Yes, your job pays well.  Yes, it may be secure.  Still, you will have more security if you aren’t dependent on one stream. 

What if someone is trying to dry up that stream? 

Administrators, CMS, and insurance companies have increasing clout and power over your income.  

Take matters into your own hands by being less dependent on your paycheck and W-2 income.  I make more from investing than from my work as a doctor.  

If my paycheck stopped, I would be fine.  

Can you say the same?  If not, get to work on this.  Today!

10.  Insure Against Catastrophe

Insurance is there for you.  Take advantage of it.  We tend to get annoyed with insurance companies because they can be difficult to deal with.  

They have paperwork for us to fill out.  They have claim forms, premiums, and multiple steps.  That’s partly why we should limit our interaction with them.  

Save your blood pressure.  Don’t spend your life on hold waiting for your “claims representative.”  

Use insurance only for protection against catastrophic losses. 

Risks include a house fire/flood, employee lawsuit, disability, or death.  This doesn’t include a crack in the glass of your iPhone screen or a defective printer toner cartridge.  

Trivial insurance policies waste your time and money.

What do you think?  Are these reliable stepping stones?  

Have you walked on this path?  

Are you financially free or on your way to there?

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  1. Psy-FI MD said:

    A great basic tenet list of how to become financially successful. I love how you put behaviors and mindsets that will keep you on the path!

    July 17, 2019
    • Thanks, Psy-Fi MD,

      If you get your head straight, the rest will follow.

      I grew up around poor, uneducated people. Few had any hope.

      I started reading inspiring books and thinking about what could be possible in my future.

      Through vision, grit, work, luck, help from others, and the good fortune to be in the USA, here I am. Living the dream. Literally.

      July 17, 2019
  2. 10 RELIABLE steps?? Don’t you think it would be good click bait if you said EASY instead of reliable?

    This, Wealthy Doc, is where you shine. Good advice, fair and balanced, without promotion or monetary compensation! Choose your friends wisely indeed!

    July 17, 2019
    • FiPhysician,
      Yes, I’m still not very good with the clickbait thing. I have found the steps reliable, but not necessarily easy. So I’m comfortable with this title.
      Thanks for the compliment. My goals are more around teaching and helping others than making even more money for myself. I already did quite well in that department.

      July 17, 2019
    • Bill Yount,

      You are smart to focus on Multiple Streams of Income.

      Too many doctors have only one source: their job.

      Not only are they too dependent on one source. It is the worst kind of income there is: W-2.

      Good luck with growing your assets. I try to have at least 7 streams at any give time. A recent survey showed that was average for the wealthy.

      July 17, 2019
  3. Great list. I’m going to add it to the first Fawcett favorites since I returned from the Camino. If people would just follow this list, they would do great.

    Dr. Cory S. Fawcett
    Prescription for Financial Success

    July 17, 2019
    • Dr. Fawcett,
      Thanks for your comment and for adding it to your Fawcett Favorites!

      July 17, 2019
  4. xrayvsn said:

    10 proven steps for sure.
    It seems so easy reading them but in actuality it is so much harder to implement.
    Just like in any 12 step program, the first one is to recognize that you indeed have a problem.
    Unfortunately many physician’s don’t see they have a spending problem because the money coming in so great.
    Essentially you can cash flow any whim or desire you have.
    While this leads to in the moment happiness it does nothing for long term financial headway.
    Then they often realize too late the errors of their ways and have to either work well beyond normal retirement years or assume a much lower lifestyle, one that they have not been accustomed to for decades and will likely be a difficult transition to say the least.

    July 17, 2019
    • Xrayvsn,
      I couldn’t have said it better myself. Thanks for the insightful comment.
      I sometimes wonder how much good I’m doing with this blog. The big spenders who don’t know they have a problem are likely not reading this post.

      July 17, 2019
  5. Gasem said:

    The best part? You stuck to the knitting and didn’t stray into artificial formulas and RE mantras. You’ll never know what is enough until you actually analyze what you will need post W2. Rich happens through years of consistency and discipline

    July 18, 2019
    • Gasem,
      So true.
      Thanks for the comment.
      Your posts really helped me see that truth.
      Thanks for encouraging me to use Mint!

      July 19, 2019
  6. Simple (though not easy), direct and effective. If only all doctors could chose this path and get to FI much faster. Maybe it will help with the current epidemic of burn out amongst doctors. Thanks Wealthydoc for a great post.

    July 19, 2019

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