Tips from the Learn & Earn Gang

September 16, 2008
Physician's Money Digest, February28 2003, Volume 10, Issue 4

• We all agree—a financially sound marriage is a healthy marriage. Just as wechoose growth companies to invest in with little or no debt, we strive in our personallives to live debt-free. Living beneath our means is desirable and admirable.

• Creating and sticking to a budget is essential. Just as the business plan providesstructure and guides decision-making for quality companies, a personalbudget is absolutely necessary in order to achieve financial goals—no matterwhat the salary level.

• Both individuals in a medical marriage have to be on the same page with financial goals. Bimonthly "budget summit" meetings can actually be enjoyableover a glass of wine and a meal at a local restaurant. Even if the nonmedical spousephysically writes all the checks (and most of us do), the process feels shared equallyif both partners are in agreement with the short-term and long-term goals.

• We love the adage, "Pay yourself first." All of our spouses work so hard forthe good of others. We want to ensure that their well-earned retirement will befun and worry-free. To accomplish this goal, we take advantage of today: Wesave 3 months' salary in a liquid state for emergencies, maximize 401(k) deductions,and set aside an amount from every paycheck for personal investment(regardless of the market). In addition, we have found that charitable contributionsprovide much needed tax breaks for physicians.

• Surround yourself with the best CPA, estate planner, and lawyer you canfind. A medical couple has to rely on the advice of the best in these fields withtax laws constantly changing. Each member of our club has a thorough will andstrives to update it regularly with their spouse.

• We educate ourselves about investment instruments such as individualstocks and mutual funds. In doing so, we feel more in control of our financialfuture. And when you feel in control, the role of a financial planner becomesmore of a partnership than a dictatorship. Best of all, our spouses are justthrilled—shopping for stocks to diversify a portfolio has all the components oftraditional retail therapy.