America's Doctors Must Climb the $ Mountain

Physician's Money Digest, August15 2003, Volume 10, Issue 15

Most people, if they saw a truck coming at them, would move. But when the truck comes in the form of life's basic financial obligations, it's hard to avoid it. Wise physicians know—you get locked into a standard of living.


It's little wonder then that many of today's doctors have significant financial worries. Here's a sampling of life's daunting financial hurdles that regular, everyday doctors—that is, graduates, spouses, homeowners, consumers, parents, business owners, and taxpayers—must face:


$104,000—Average debt of a medical school graduate.


$150,000—Average cost to start a medical practice.

(National Association of

Healthcare Consultants)

$289,000—Average annual primary care medical practice overhead costs.


$23,000—Average cost of a wedding and honeymoon.

(Coldwell Banker)

$350,000—Average cost of a highend new house.

(US Labor Dept)

$25,100—Average annual spending (high-income families) on housing expenses.

(US Labor Dept)

$80,600—Average annual spending (high-income families) on household expenses.

(Consumer Reports)

$20,000—Average price of a new car.


$8400—Average credit card debt for a US consumer.


$249,000—Average cost to raise a child from infant to age 18.


$62,000—Average annual taxes (federal, state, and local) for a high income household.

(College Board)

$120,000—Average 4-year cost to send a child to private college.


Further complicating matters is that most doctors are very busy, like to live well, face income contraction, and lack basic personal money management skills. Just consider:


1.9%—Average annual salary increase for a primary care physician.

(National Association of

Healthcare Consultants)

53—Average workweek hours for a physician.

(Charles Schwab, Inc)

$2.8 million—Average savings a physician needs to reach a secure retirement.

(Prince & Associates)

84%—Percentage of physicians with no formal, detailed financial strategy.

(Physician's Money

Digest survey)

2%—Percentage of physicians who took business courses in medical school.

(Physician's Money

Digest survey)

97%—Percentage of physicians who are "worried"about their financial future.

Clearly, even hard-working doctors face huge potential money gaps. To help our readers properly scale the money mountain, we've instituted a regular section (page 23) on the fundamentals of debt and budget management.