MORE Personal BUDGET Rules for Doctors

Personal Physician Budgeting Rules


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Budgeting is probably one of the greatest tools in building wealth. However, it is also one of the greatest weaknesses among physicians who tend to live a certain lifestyle. This includes living in an exclusive neighborhood, driving an expensive car, wearing imported suits and a fine watch, all of which do not lend themselves to expense budgeting. Only one in ten medical professionals has a personal budget. Fear, or a lack of knowledge, is a major cause of procrastination.

The following guidelines will assist in this microeconomic endeavor:

  1. Set reasonable goals and estimate annual income. Do not keep large amounts of cash at     home, or in the office. Deposit it in a money market account for safety and interest.
  1. Do not pay bills early, do not have more taxes withheld from your salary than you owe, and develop spending estimates and budget fixed expenses first. Fixed expenses are usually contractual, and may include housing, utilities, food, telephone, social security, medical, debt repayment, homeowner’ or renter’s insurance, auto, life and disability insurance, and maintenance, etc.
  1. Make variable expenses a priority. Variable expenses are not usually contractual, and may include clothing, education, recreational, travel, vacation, gas, entertainment, gifts, furnishings, savings, investments, etc.
  1. Trim variable expenses by 10-15 percent, and fixed expenses, when possible. Ultimately, all fixed expenses get paid and become variable in the long run.
  1. Use carve-out or set-asides for big ticket items and differentiate “wants from needs.”
  1. Know the difference between saving and investing. Savers tend to be risk adverse and     investors understand risk and takes steps to mitigate it.
  1. Determine shortfalls or excesses with the budget period.
  1. Track actual expenses.
  1. Calculate both income and expenses as a percentage of the total, and determine if there    is a better way to allocate resources. Then, review the budget on a monthly basis to determine if there is a variance. Determine if the variance was avoidable, unavoidable, or a result of inaccurate assumptions, and take needed corrective action.


How to budget for medical expenses


Verify Your Budget and Follow a Financial Plan

The process of establishing a budget relies heavily on guesswork, and the use of software or “apps”, that seamlessly track expenditures and help your budget and your financial plan become more of reality. Most doctors underestimate their true expenses, so lumping and best guesses on expense usually prove very inaccurate. Personal financial software and mobile phone applications make the verification of budgets easier. Once your personal accounts are setup, free apps like will let give you a detailed report on where your money is going and the adjustments you must make. Few professions make larger contributions to the Internal Revenue Service than physicians and the medical profession. It is very important to categorize different budget categories not only to be proactive about your expenses, but also to accurately reflect the effect your different expenditures have on your real savings capability. All expense dollars are not equal.

For example, a mortgage payment, which is mostly interest expense in the early years, is likewise mostly tax deductible. Spending money on your family vacation is typically not tax deductible. Itemized deductions, which are deductions that a US taxpayer can claim on their tax return in order to reduce their Adjustable Gross Income (AGI), may include such costs as property taxes, vehicle registration fees, income taxes, mortgage expense, investment interest, charitable contributions, medical expenses (to the extent the expenses exceed 10% of the taxpayers AGI) and more.

Employing a qualified certified medical planneR® that utilizes a cash-flow based financial planning software program may help the physician identify their actual after-tax projected cash flow and more accurately plan their future.

ASSESSMENT: Your thoughts are appreciated.

Comprehensive Financial Planning Strategies for Doctors and Advisors: Best Practices from Leading Consultants and Certified Medical Planners™





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