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It’s easy to let things like retirement planning slip through the cracks when you’re a busy medical professional. You’ll have plenty of time to take care of that later, right? But then, suddenly, those golden years are staring you in the face, and you realize you’re not as prepared as you’d intended.

The good news is that retirement planning doesn’t have to take more than a few minutes once you get started. Instead, it becomes part of your daily financial habits, ingrained in your spending and saving.

Still, getting started can be the challenging part. As someone with a medical degree, though, you have the intelligence and savvy to learn the basics, and we’re here to help make the path to a comfortable retirement easy with these simple financial planning tips.

1. Saving Comes After You’re Debt-Free

The first crucial tip is the most important yet the most easily misunderstood. Many people think they need to start investing in a portfolio as soon as they earn an income. But then they spend money they don’t have on goods and services they don’t need, accruing debt that counteracts the profit they may have made on their investments.

The key to successful financial planning is based on a foundation of debt-free living. If you can’t afford to buy it without going into debt, do you really need it?

The exceptions to this rule, of course, are major life milestones, such as medical school, buying a house or starting a private clinic, and unexpected healthcare bills. However, with good planning, you can prepare to expect the unexpected — and pay for it, too.

Aside from those massive investments, use any surplus money you have each week to pay off your interest-bearing debt. Once you’ve handled expenses such as credit cards, auto loans, and other creditors, you can start the lucrative journey of making your money work for you.

2. Have a Savings Strategy

Before you try to figure out how much money you need to allocate to savings, you should first determine the amount you need to retire in the lifestyle you prefer. This strategy lets you work backward, taking into account a total annual income multiplied by your average time in retirement, then divided by how many active work years you reasonably have ahead of you before you hang up your proverbial stethoscope.

The challenge to this strategy is that you must also consider things like inflation, cost of living adjustments, and health care or long-term care needs. Because of the many complications, it’s wise to hire a financial planner that specializes in physician retirement, like OJM Group.

In the meantime, educate yourself on the various types of plans you could invest in that will bring you a passive income, such as:

  • Employer-sponsored plans that take money from your paycheck and deposit it into an account for you (think: 401[k]),
  • Independent retirement accounts (IRAs) that are set up by you, and you deposit earnings into them,
  • Hedge funds, stocks and bonds, and similar investments

Each type of portfolio plan has its own set of pros and cons. Talk to your financial planner about the potential for earnings, how long you will need to keep your money in the account before you’re penalized for removing any, and if the income/earnings are tax-deferred or untaxed.

3. Protect Your Assets

You’ve worked hard for your money, but as a doctor, there’s always the chance that outside events such as a malpractice lawsuit or your health ailments can take it away.

Complete financial planning includes protecting your assets with insurance coverage. Your auto, malpractice, and home insurance are required by state law or your mortgage company. However, other policies are optional and essential in your profession.

Consider protecting your assets by boosting your malpractice and auto insurance coverage well beyond the state requirements. Check out your health policy and ensure it includes coverage for some of the most expensive medical conditions, like cancer and heart attacks. Look for exclusions, and see if you can find supplementary policies that cover those gaps.

How will you or your family pay your bills if you cannot work? Short- and long-term disability coverage are often overlooked, inexpensive policies, but when you need them, they can be life-savers. Ensure your policies cover at least your essential bills in case you’re out of work due to a health condition.

And, of course, no financial portfolio is complete without life insurance. As a physician, consider investing in whole instead of term coverage, as your insurance premium becomes an asset instead of a liability, and should remain stable throughout your life. A term policy will end at some point, and you’ll need whole insurance anyway, but by then, it will be more expensive and less of a long-term asset.


Financial wellness is nearly as important as your overall health, and as a physician, you understand this better than many people. No matter how busy you are, once you get your retirement plan in place, it becomes a simple part of your life. It’s as easy as paying off your debt and staying debt-free, investing in the right savings portfolios, and protecting your assets with insurance.