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Partners in Practice

February 17, 2017

Practice Tip: Start Building for Retirement Now


By: Stuart S. Shipe, DAOM, RPh

There are many rewards for being self-employed, such as the satisfaction in building a thriving practice, taking time off whenever you decide, or having potentially unlimited financial rewards for your skills as a physician. One of the most overlooked rewards that business owners envision but never plan for is retirement. A successful retirement begins with good planning, goal setting, and vibrant health.

A wise saying regarding business planning states, “If you don’t have a plan, then plan to fail.” Planning to retire is probably the furthest thing on your mind right now because for most of us, retirement seems so far in the future. How quickly the golden years seem to come, though, when you haven’t planned for retirement. What is your vision of retirement? Will you retire in your 50s? Will you keep on working into your 70s? What will keep you busy in retirement? Before setting any goals, it is best to envision where you want to be, what you want to do, and when you want to retire. You will work on the how of retiring next.

Once you have a vision of what your retirement looks like, it’s time to craft some realistic goals that are measurable. I always start my planning with my current picture. Namely, what are my current financial resources, and what financial expenditures do I foresee between now and retirement? You may have a savings account, own real estate, hold a whole life insurance policy, or have equity in your medical practice. Plan to retire on a fixed income. How much will that retirement vision of yours take to live comfortably? Although everyone has a different view on what is “comfortable,” I always hear from my patients who are retirees that it’s never enough. With that said, start early and pay yourself first.

Life is full of pleasurable temptations such as lavish vacations and toys like boats and cars that rob us of our retirement goals. Before you pay any bills, plan trips, or pull out the credit card to buy that big-screen television, make sure to deposit a defined percent of your income each paycheck into your retirement account. It is always best to “pay for play” with cash. Don’t finance your toys. Travel now while you still make an income rather than waiting to travel extensively in retirement. Plan mini vacations more often, and pay in cash for your trips. Have a savings budget for future large expenditures such as a child’s college education or wedding. Don’t forget to plan for postretirement expenses. It’s even important to budget for your funeral. It may seem like planning is so complicated, saving is too difficult, and temptations are exceedingly great. Perhaps you need some help in reaching your goals.

Financial planners can be your best friend in helping you reach your retirement goals. They have many financial tools that can assist in compounding your savings, such as individual retirement accounts, selfemployed plans, annuities, 401(k) plans, brokerage accounts funded with stocks and bonds, precious metals, and cash investments—to name a few. Look for individuals that hold either a certified financial planner (CFP®) or chartered financial analyst (CFA®) designation. These advisers have a fiduciary responsibility to their clients. Fee-only financial planners offer more protection from conflicts of interest than brokers.

It would also be unwise for you to entrust your entire life savings to an individual without a watchful eye. Perform periodic analysis of your investments with your financial planner to avoid losing everything. Track progress toward meeting your goals. Learn everything about your investments so you can take them over at any time without feeling like a captive of your own money.

There’s only one thing that a financial planner can’t help you with, despite the best advice. It is the one thing that prevents millions of people from enjoying their retirement. Poor health can rob you of enjoying all those hardearned savings, years of planning, and ultimately your vision of aging.

As physicians, we are routinely caught up with the hustle and busyness of helping our patients heal but rarely find time to heal ourselves. Many of us have watched our parents work hard their entire lives, saving for retirement and neglecting their health. They watched their parents save hard for everything they needed all the way back to the Great Depression. We hear many patients state, “If I could do it over again, I would take better care of myself.” They save their entire lives for retirement and then spend every saved dollar trying to get their health back again. That’s like climbing a steep cliff your whole life only to reach the summit and jump off. Why not reach the summit, plant your flag, camp out, and enjoy life?

Start your retirement now by planning well, setting goals, and maintaining vibrant health.

Dr. Stuart Shipe is nationally boardcertified as an acupuncture physician and Chinese herbalist. He practices primary care medicine in Stuart, Florida, using integrative medicine principles and hosts a weekly talk radio show that educates the public on natural medicine. To help acupuncturists thrive, he provides seminars for natural health professionals as a practice management consultant. Dr. Shipe is also a registered pharmacist who routinely provides continuing education lectures on natural medicine to biomedical professionals and serves as an assistant professor for the experiential Eastern/Western herbal externship for Nova Southeastern University College of Pharmacy and Palm Beach Atlantic College of Pharmacy.

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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.