Financial Planning for Young Physicians

18 Feb 2014
By Christina Cellini, MD, FACS, FASCRS
Financial planning is something that gets overlooked during medical school and residency (likely because you probably don’t have much of it!). Before you know it you are an attending and making a real salary for the first time and its imperative to learn how to spend and invest wisely.  I reached out to my personal accountant Paul Visca, CPA in Rochester NY, as to what is advice he would give to young professionals.  Here are his pearls of wisdom: 
  1. Save for retirement. Begin as early as possible. Take full advantage of a company’s retirement plans. The earlier you start the more time will be available to take advantage of compounding. Money doubles every 7 years at 10%.
  2. Take control of your finances through self-education. Read investing literature as much as possible. Learn the basics. The biggest hurdle I’ve seen is a complete lack of knowing investment “jargon.” Even if you hire a financial planner, knowing the terminology is powerful.
  3. Start saving for kids college early. Again the power of compounding comes into play here. 529 plans are great vehicles for this.
  4. Live below your means!! Especially if debt is involved. Save monthly.
  5. Books to read to help achieve these goals – I particularly like books by John Bogle (founder of Vanguard Funds). 

I would also add to hire an accountant to help you with your tax returns if you don’t already do so. These get significantly more complicated to do once you are in a higher tax bracket and things like houses, cars, spouses and kids are involved. The small price tag of doing so significantly pays off in terms of what you end up paying the government otherwise. Finally, below are two articles that are found on the web that detail some of these points.
Both can be accessed for free online, but registration to the site is required.

Dr. Christina Cellini is an Assistant Professor of Surgery and Oncology at the University of Rochester Medical Center in the Division of Colorectal Surgery.

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