This article covers the personal finance basics for optometrists and optometry students. In the vlog episode linked below, we cover the seven steps to getting your finances in order. You can also download
our free student loan payoff and investment calculators.
Setting the foundation with financial goals
As an optometrist, it's important to know that personal finance begins with understanding your financial goals. Following these seven basic steps will ensure you check all the boxes in priority order without missing a critical piece of the financial puzzle.
- An investment spreadsheet that will make it simple to understand how much money your investments can generate.
- A student loan payoff spreadsheet that will make it simple to understand how long it will take you to pay off your student loans, and the risk vs. reward of investing instead of paying loans.
Why is it important to learn personal finance basics as an optometrist?
Decisions you make today can have major ramifications for the future. Before you begin working on your personal finances (or your business finances), you need to start setting goals.
Everyone will have different goals when it comes to finances, and what that looks like is based on what you envision your life to be. If you haven't read our 27-page ebook
dedicated to finances and optometry student loans
, that is a great place to start!
Here are a couple of simple fundamental concepts about personal finances to get things started:
- Income is not just from your paycheck. Income can come from a variety of places like stocks, bonds, affiliate programs, etc. Don't just think you are limited to income from your primary paycheck!
- There are no right or wrong investment strategies; however, taking a conservative approach to investing can be advantageous to ensure you avoid taking major losses from more risky endeavors. Check out portfoliocharts.com for ideas!
7 steps for creating a financial plan for optometrists*
1. Set realistic expenses and goals.
Think about where you want to be in life when you are 40 years old, 60 years old, 80 years old, and 100 years old! What you envision your life to be like at various points in time will impact your financial goals. "Living like a student" is something we hear often. It might not necessarily be the best way to live.
2. Build an emergency fund.
This can vary from person to person, but some advisors recommend having between 3 to 6 months of living expenses saved up in the event of an emergency. Check out savings account options that may give you extra interest on your holdings. Some Ally Bank savings
accounts return 1.8%. (Disclosure: No association or affiliations to disclose.)
3. Put money into employer-matched funds.
Some optometrist employers
might offer you the opportunity to participate in a 401k or other retirement savings account. You need to take advantage of this free money! Keep in mind the tax implications of Roth vs. Traditional Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) if that is an option.
4. Pay down high, then moderate interest loans.
Credit card debt typically will cost you the most in terms of interest. Pay this debt down first. The higher the interest rate on the loan, the more damage it can cause you. Knock out the high interest loans and then attack the low interest loans.
You should research the "avalanche vs. snowball method" of paying debt. The compounding interest on high loans will absolutely bleed you out. We created a compounding calculator tool you can use to understand this better. You can download it for free at the bottom of this page—just select the Personal Finance Calculator!
5. Contribute to your retirement.
You might be doing some of this already in your 401k. There are other avenues of investing for retirement, like a Traditional or Roth IRA. What to invest in? That is a challenging question to answer. If you are looking to minimize risk, index funds are a great place to start.
The ability for money to grow over time by compounding is oftentimes regarded as another wonder of the world! If you want to know how long it will take to double your money, you can use our loan repayment spreadsheet (built into the Personal Finance Calculator
) for this as well!
6. Save more for retirement.
Have you noticed a common theme here? Understanding how much you need for retirement is an important consideration. There are other forms of investments, whether by investing in a company, creating your own company, or investing in real estate.
7. Continue saving.
Saving for retirement is obviously important, but it is important to save money for short-term ventures as well. That might be using money to purchase cars, take vacations, or other items that you find pleasure in!
How can optometrists start financial planning?
We created customizable personal finance tools
to help our fellow colleagues! Like everything else, understanding personal finance involves learning. There are a few tools that you can use to help you in goal-setting and understanding finances more effectively.
- Cash flow planning
- Loan interest calculator
- Investment rebalancing/analyzer
Using these tools can provide you with an overall snapshot of where you stand financially and understand if you are on pace to achieve your goals.
How to use the financial planning tools from this article
- Loan Repayment Calculator: This tool will allow you to understand how compounding interest is affecting your loan balance, and your ability to pay off a loan in a given time period.
- Investment Calculator: This tool will allow you to understand how an investment will perform over time in the market, along with any additional growth you can hopefully expect to see.
You can tailor those financial tools to represent your specific situation, and better understand what you need to do in order to meet the financial goals you set. You can also set the stage to see how investing an extra $10,000 into a retirement fund in your first year out of school as opposed to putting it towards your student loans might change your financial picture in the long term!
You would be truly amazed at how small changes can have a major impact on your student loans and investments.
A guide to personal finance basics for ODs
Set financial goals
- What are your life goals?
- How do those goals impact your financial goals?
- When should you start setting these goals?
- What does your life look like X years from now?
- Why is goal setting so important?
Create a financial plan
- Generate income sources.
- Take advantage of retirement accounts.
- Save extra for retirement.
- Set up an emergency fund.
- Save money for short-term expenses.
Understand compounding interest
- This is one of the most critical concepts to understand.
- It applies to both your loans and investments.
- Invest or pay off student loans? Which is better, 1 or 2?
- Utilize our customizable calculator.
- Start investing early
Harness the power of investing early
- What are the best investment vehicles to use?
- Roth vs. Traditional IRA—which is better?
- Understand how index funds work.
- Know what $5,000 today means 10 years from now.
- Leverage tax savings techniques.
Download the customizable financial planning tools here!
Download the customizable financial tools!
We've got you covered—understand how to manage your student loans, investments, and compounding interest with these tools!
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