Physicians' FINANCE BLOOPERS

Physician's Money Digest, February28 2005, Volume 12, Issue 4

Physician's Money Digest

Doctors have plenty to worry about when itcomes to making sound financial decisions.Are you properly balancing your portfolio? Areyou and your practice safe from the devastatingeffects of suits—malpractice and otherwise?On the lighter side, wouldlike to hear readers' confessions of their greatestfinancial bloopers. Some examples:

  • Unknowingly investing in a scam
  • Purchasing money-pit real estate
  • Paying for contractors' services never received
  • Experiencing the consequences of anunbalanced portfolio

Physician's Money Digest

Upcoming prize:

We'll give you feedback fromone of our columnists on steps youcould take to remedy thesolution. And, to rewardthose brave enough to admitand have published (under a pseudonym)their worst financial blunder,has teamed up with thefixer-uppers at Black & Decker to offer the winner ahandy tool from their product line. 18-volt Rechargeable Lawn Care Center (12-inchTrimmer/Edger, 22-inch Hedge Trimmer, and Broom/HardSurface Sweeper; see image). Here's to some fix-itpatience rubbing off on your finances.

PMD

The following is a story provided by one of ourphysician-readers, "Dr. Smith," along with inputfor financial restoration from 's FinanceProfessor Tom Kosky, MBA, a principal of theAsset Planning Group in Miami, Fla, and professorof MBA programs at the University of Miami.

Physician's Money Digest

Note:

Send your name, address, and blooper story of 200words or less to Grace Henry at ghenry@mwc.com or, 241 Forsgate Drive, Jamesburg,NJ 08831. The advice given by columnists is generalinformation and is the opinion of the author. Seek professionaladvice for your specific financial needs beforemaking any decisions.

One-sided Family Finances

I married a nurse as a resident. Since she worked parttime,I gave her control of our finances. She was a goodnurse, taking appropriate precautions, and seemed to besavvy with consumer finance issues. However, she sustainedtwo significant, partially disabling injuries andbecame depressed. This led to an interest in the homeshopping network. She also put credit card applications(preapproved with 0% initial interest rates) in front ofme to sign "so we can transfer balances at no cost to us."

What I learned:

I didn't worry at first, since we didn't live extravagantly.I became suspicious when she was able toaccount less and less for where my $190,000 yearlyincome was going. She also assured me that her personalinjury lawyer would secure six-figure settlements forher injuries. A year later, I intercepted our mail and discoveredshe had used every cent to pay interest on a$160,000 balance she'd accrued on those credit cards.Tragically, she died from a myocardial infarction the nextmonth, and I never found out where most of the moneyand purchased items went. "My spousehandles the money" is not always the best way to go.

Physician's Money Digest

Restoration: Amost unfortunate situation for the physician whosespouse died saddling him with $190,000 in consumercredit card debt.

First of all, since Dr. Smith signed on the creditcards, he's going to be responsible for the repaymentof that debt. Depending on his current financial situation,if he is unable to pay down the debt, my suggestionwould be to go to some type of consumer counselingcredit service agency to work out a debt repaymentschedule that would assist him in debt consolidationand be able to negotiate a more favorableinterest rate on the repayment terms of that debt.

Second, I think Dr. Smith has learned his lesson thehard way when he made the comment, "My spousehandles the money is not always the best way to go."I could not agree with this statement more, especiallyin light of the fact that she maintained control of theirfinances after two significant injuries. In this day andage, where the average American consumer wields acredit card as Jesse James did a pistol, it is crucial in anyrelationship—spousal or otherwise—that both partieshave fiscal responsibility.

At the very least, in the fledgling stages of a relationship,couples must establish a monthly budget as amethod of having some type of accountability forwhere the dollars are going. This is particularly importantfor younger couples, who often have not amassedsavings and are saddled with many liabilities. Furthermore,partners should make a concerted effort to systematicallyset aside money every month earmarked forlong-term savings and other needs as they may arise.