Doctors never have it easy. Your schedule is forever packed with staff, patients, insurers, and administrators from hospitals and clinics. This leaves very little time for you to spend with friends and family or to simply relax. With all this on your mind, retirement is probably one of the last things on your priority list, but it is fast approaching and you will need to prepare well beforehand to avoid a lot of hurdles in the future. There are some simple steps to take and snags to avoid after which you will be able to place yourself on the path to financial stability post-retirement:
Begin Saving Too Late
Student debt is a heavy drain on your resources, so it makes sense that you would want to pay off your loans and be debt-free as soon as you can. That said it can be easy to forget about the future in the quest to let go of the past. You need to save for retirement alongside paying off your loans because time is a very valuable asset in any planning situation. By spreading your savings out over a larger time period, you will be able to save a lot more, and also earn returns on your savings due to compounded gains. Savings are worth it, even if they make life a little difficult early on.
Not Taking Care of Your Ability to Work
Your biggest asset as a medical professional is the ability to actually work and discharge your duties. That will generate your livelihood and pay for everything from your lifestyle to your savings. The inability to work might put you in a very sticky situation. For surgeons, physical injuries to the hand, back, or nervous system could be career-threatening. Hearing loss or vision issues can impair the ability to work as well, alongside so many other common and uncommon issues. You can minimize or at least handle this risk better by getting a good disability insurance policy that will allow you to have a steady income if you run into misfortune. Risking it is a terrible idea, and a group disability plan might not be good enough. Subscribing to an individual policy will definitely be beneficial in the long run. You may seek professional guidance from experts who do financial planning for doctors so that your future is secure.
In addition to starting late with retirement savings, another common mistake among doctors is not saving enough due to frivolous spending habits. It is quite understandable that you want to spend on things when you are finally financially independent and earning well, but your spending habits in the 30s and 40s will determine how you spend the next few decades of your life, so it is important that you impose strict rules on your lifestyle. Set goals and follow-up. 15% is the bare minimum for a retirement account, but you should put in at least another 10% into a taxable account. That doesn’t mean you live an extremely simplistic life, but plan your expenditures and factor in major hits to your balance as well.
Financial planning is always a mundane affair and can be particularly uncomfortable if you are thinking about life after retirement because it involves a lot of sacrifices and difficult life decisions in a period where you thought you would be free to live on your own terms. That said if you are able to pull it off, you are assured of a steady and maybe even enjoyable life without any major issues that affect your lifestyle or mental health. The effort you put in is certainly worth it.