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A Path to Financial Freedom, for Doctors

By September 13, 2021 October 7th, 2021 No Comments

Earning a high income, unfortunately, does not automatically translate into wealth. While you, as a doctor, have worked incredibly hard to achieve this career and the higher income that comes with it, you still have work to do if you intend to retire early, and retire wealthy. 

I’m here to help you achieve financial freedom in this brief guide. I’m going to just lightly explain the general steps to achieving financial freedom here. There are of course many complexities I could get into. If you have specific questions, please feel free to schedule a phone call and I’ll be happy to help.

Before we start, you’ll need to create a budget and track your expenses. You are in control of your money, not the other way around. And that begins with understanding where it’s going and how you’re using it.

Step One: Pay off your Student Loans and all other debts.

Before you start thinking about retirement, or investing, or even your first home, pay off your debt. Yes, all of it. We’re trying to achieve financial freedom, and being chained to a monthly bill (and worse, interest) is NOT freedom. 

In your early career, aggressively pay down your debt so that you can start building real wealth. Make sure you and your partner are on a team and are both ready to tackle debt. Here’s a tip: start with the smallest debt. Interest does not matter here. Have $2000 on a credit card? Focus on paying that off before you tackle your $20,000 car loan or your $80,000 student loans.

Step Two: Emergency Fund

Congratulations! You’re debt free! What a wonderful feeling. 

Make sure to celebrate this milestone and realize the commitment you’ve already made to financial freedom. You are on your way to retiring on the beach. 

What’s next? Building your emergency fund. An emergency fund is 3-6 months of expenses saved and ready in case of an — you guessed it! — emergency. Emergencies like medical bills, job losses, car damage, etc do happen and we need to make sure you don’t need to get back into debt in order to navigate them. 

If you own a practice and your income fluctuates, make sure to have at least 6 months saved. If you are an employee with a more stable and recurring income, 3 months will suffice.

Step Three: Buy a house

Now that you’re out of debt and have an emergency fund, we can start thinking about buying a house. Save between 10% and 20% to put down on your home to get those monthly payments as low as possible.

Step Four: Invest

Financial books and gurus recommend investing 15% of your income, however, most doctors are not only capable of saving more, they have to if they’d like to retire with the same lifestyle that they become used to in their working years. It’s easier to save 20% of half a million dollars than it is to save 15% of $30k. 

Step Five: Diversify Your Investments

There is a right way to invest and certain products will suit your situation better than others. Make sure to discuss your options with a financial advisor who can guide you in the right direction here. I’m happy to help you with your investment strategy if you’d like to schedule a call with me. In general, you MUST be diversified. Reduce your risk by ensuring you hold different asset classes.

Step Six: Save for your children’s education (Optional)

Remember how hard step one was? If you have college-bound kiddos, you might be considering saving for their education. If so, now’s a good time to start.

There are lots of great account types that can help maximize your savings. Look into your options and make sure to pick the savings accounts that best suit your situation. I have an article on types of education savings accounts if you’d like to learn more.

Step Seven: Pay off your mortgage

You’re ready to get rid of that last big monthly bill and move another step closer to financial freedom. Paying off your mortgage is a huge achievement! Make sure to celebrate your hard work! 

Step Eight: Continue to build wealth

Use that mortgage payment money to continue building wealth through contributing to your investments. Avoid spending too much on depreciating assets like cars and boats and opt for better investments like real estate. 

Step Nine: Giving back

By now, if you’ve followed the steps, you’re debt free, and have a couple million saved. 

Congratulations! You’ve achieved financial freedom. You may be inclined to give back to your community, causes you’re passionate about, or your family. Consult your advisor on which donor-advised funds (DAFs) you may want to contribute to and how to set up a trust. 

Read more about my Strategy

Get started on your path to building wealth. You are on track to become a very wealthy individual. You should be very proud of your success thus far. Make sure to surround yourself with professionals who recognize your hard work and are ready to support you throughout your career. They will also need to have your best interest in mind. Feel free to reach out to me at theo.desmulier@raymondjames.com or by phone (407) 478-0374 with any financial questions.

With the high-income doctors enjoy, there’s no reason you shouldn’t retire with financial freedom. 

Please let me know if you have any questions or are seeking financial advice. You can schedule a quick phone call with me or simply send me an email. 

Any opinions are those of Theo Desmulier and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse the opinions or services of Dr. James M. Dahle, MD . Like Traditional IRAs, contribution limits apply to Roth IRAs. In addition, with a Roth IRA, your allowable contribution may be reduced or eliminated if your annual income exceeds certain limits. Contributions to a Roth IRA are never tax deductible, but if certain conditions are met, distributions will be completely income tax free. Raymond James and its advisors do not offer tax or legal advice. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional.