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Retirement Savings: What Are You Afraid Of?


Physicians have to conquer some of the most complex sciences known to man in order to become a doctor, yet many allow shy away when faced with the much-less-complex topic of retirement savings.

If you are a regular reader of Physician’s Money Digest, you’re probably a doctor. That means that at some point in your early life, you had an interest in science and biology. You looked at your career roadmap, spotted 4 years of undergraduate education in high level courses, another 4 years of medical school, a minimum of 3 years for a residency, and a few more years if you chose to pursue a specialty, the daunting possibility of not getting to be a full-fledged physician until you were in your mid to late 20s, and said: “Where do I sign up for that?”

Yet, when it comes to saving for retirement or managing your finances, many surveys find that the number one concern of many practicing physicians is retirement planning. You conquered Biochemistry and Human Anatomy, but index funds put you in a panic?

Fear is often driven by the unknown. Conquering your fear of retirement savings means going into those unknown spaces and learning. Here are a few places to start.

You are here!

You are already reading Physician’s Money Digest. What a great place to start! Now, check out our sections on lifestyle, practice management, and particularly personal finance, investing, and saving for retirement. Most of the articles on this site are customized to physicians exactly like you, who want to learn more about saving for retirement but don’t know exactly where to start.

Take It a Little at a Time

Have you ever walked up to a craps table in a casino, looked at the dozens of different bets available to you, and then wandered away, completely intimidated? First-time players should always start with a few simple bets, ask questions of the dealers, observe other players, and learn the payouts and win conditions. Breaking it down step by step is how we learn just about everything.

Your medical school study didn’t involve learning about everything all at once, and neither should your introduction to finance. Learn a lot about a little, or a little at a time about a lot, but pick a few things you’d like to be better versed in, and start with those. It could be index funds, lifecycle funds, mutual funds, stocks and bonds, or annuities, or any of a hundred other investment vehicles. Get a primer here, at the very good web site Investopedia, or CNN Money, or even the new blog Two Cents from Gawker Media, and learn a little bit at a time.

Don’t Just Learn—Put Your Learning Into Practice

Of course, just learning about investment strategies isn’t enough. You have to put that learning to some use in establishing your savings goals and your portfolio strategy. Consider working with an advisor, talk to your family about overall goals, and consider all the options available to you. But as I’ve covered many times in this space, the greatest sin for investors is doing nothing at all.

The law of inertia works both ways—objects at rest tend to stay at rest, yes, but objects in motion tend to stay in motion. Get into motion by overcoming your fear. Finance can’t hold a candle to Biochemistry in terms of overall difficulty!

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