New Year, New Approach? Shifting Your Financial Mentality

By: Todd Doobrow, CFP

Your life as a doctor is complex in many ways.  It started with dental school – additional years of training accompanied by hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans. 

And as can be expected the focus of your classes was clinical; doctors get very little business training. Upon graduation, starting salaries crush those of the typical undergrad yet doctors have many more obligations to juggle.

Student loan repayment, numerous insurances, continuing education courses, and, of course, discretionary purchases.

What if the key to succeeding financially isn’t in skipping your daily coffee, but in thinking about your finances differently?

How to Have a More Successful Financial Situation This Year

No matter where you are in your career, shifting your financial mentality and beliefs is often the first step to a more successful, more enjoyable financial situation.

1. Ditch the Budget

Have you ever met a doctor who sticks to a strict budget?  Most doctors work hard and when they want to do something, they do it.

If you want to go out for dinner on the 28th of the month I highly doubt you are going to pull up your spreadsheet to see exactly what is left in your “dining out” bucket.

And what happens when you overspend on something; are you willing to cut back in another area to make up for it?  Probably not. 

Budgets are great in theory but, for high-earning doctors, they often serve little beyond a “one and done” exercise. 

Instead, working on a “pay yourself first” methodology for all of your savings needs allows you to ditch the budget and keeps you on a more predictable path to success.

2. Write Down Your Goals

How many times have you said you wanted to do something or go somewhere, only to forget it minutes later? We do it dozens of times every week but a limited number of these ideas come to fruition.

When we take time to write our goals and desires down, our brain processes their importance differently than just saying it out loud. 

Whether it’s a note on your bathroom mirror to see every morning, or a personal journal you keep in your desk or car, the chance of success increases greatly when you put pen to paper.

3. Get a Comprehensive Financial Plan

Doctors’ assets often reflect their complex lives – retirement accounts, insurances, student loans, mortgages, practice and personal real estate, and countless others. 

And many doctors are saving for retirement through company-offered plans, hopefully maximizing their benefits.

But when we ask if they are on track to reach both their long and short-term financial goals, the common response is “Well, I’m saving $X per month, so I guess so.”

That’s the equivalent of you asking a patient if they have any cavities, and they tell you they brush and floss so “I guess not.”

A proper financial plan not only helps you contextualize the information you want to know but often uncovers crucial topics you may not have considered. 

Many doctors share their investment returns with us; few can elaborate on estate planning, tax mitigation strategies, or asset protection plans.

In Conclusion

The way you think about your finances is just as important, if not more, than how you deploy your capital.

When it comes to assets most doctors do not have a capacity issue, but rather a priority issue. 

Rethinking your financial planning process from start to finish will hopefully provide clarity and reduce stress, allowing you to turn your focus where it should be – your patients, family, and loved ones.

Photo by Marek Levak

Todd Doobrow, CFP

Todd Doobrow, CFP

Todd Doobrow is an independent Certified Financial Planner® fiduciary and founder of Curato Advisory, who has worked with dental and medical professionals, and their teams, for more than a decade. Not only does he see the life of a dentist first-hand as his wife practices Periodontics and Implant dentistry, but he has entrenched himself in his clients’ practices with a voracious focus on financial efficiency. He can be reached at or 205.778.2020.