Have you resolved, year after year, to take control of your financial life? Working in the healthcare field keeps physicians and facility staff busy year-round and leaves little time to assess your money affairs.

If 2014 is the year you’d like to actually follow through with that resolution, set aside some time to answer the following questions to jump-start the process. If you have a spouse or partner, work through the questions together.

1. Where do I stand financially right now?

This question demands the most honest answer possible. When the bills are being paid on time and there is usually enough money in the bank, it’s easy to ignore issues such as lingering credit card debt or skimpy retirement funds.

Pretend you’re completing a loan application and make a list of all of your current assets and all of your current liabilities. Assets include cash on hand, investment accounts, retirement accounts, real estate, significant personal property, etc. Liabilities are credit card debt, mortgages, car notes, outstanding educational loans, etc.

Assets minus liabilities equals net worth. That, coupled with whether you’re earning enough to meet personal expenses, is where you stand financially.

2. How much does it cost me to live?

An oldie-but-goodie book that discusses calculating what it actually costs to live is “Your Money or Your Life” by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. The focus of the book is on achieving financial independence, and one of the exercises recommended is tracking everything you spend over a period of time to get a reality check on where all of that money actually goes.

The idea is not to deprive yourself or follow a strict budget, but simply to understanding spending habits. Once you see how and where you’re spending, you may or may not choose to make adjustments. In terms of answering this question, the value of the exercise is getting clear on your actual expenses.

3. What major expenses are coming up over the next few years?

As you review your financial picture, try to anticipate what might be coming up in the way of large expenditures. For example, college tuition for children, a significant home improvement or maintenance project, replacing an automobile, or a much-needed extended vacation.

Decide how you’ll set aside money so that these expenses don’t strap you financially when they roll around.

4. Am I set for retirement?

The vast majority of Americans do not have nearly enough money set aside for a secure retirement. As a physician earning far above national averages, hopefully you’re doing better in this regard than the masses. If not, let 2014 be the year you start to turn this around.

Talk to your financial advisers (see No. 6 below) about what you need to do to make sure you’re setting enough money aside each year toward retirement and enjoying the tax advantages of doing so now.

5. Am I adequately insured?

Use the new year as an opportunity to evaluate your insurance policies and determine if adjustments need to be made. Review auto, homeowners, health, disability, life and professional liability insurance. Get new rate quotes while you’re at it. You might be able to save here and there on policies or by bundling certain ones.

6. Am I satisfied with my financial advisers?

If so, great. If not, the beginning of a new year is a good time to make a break and hire a new dream team. Experienced, ethical and savvy accountants, financial planners and money managers can be a godsend for busy physicians and healthcare professionals.

 

Written By Karen Childress

Karen Childress is Colorado-based a freelance healthcare writer. Read more of her work at www.karenchildress.com.

 

abeo

abeo Management Corporation (abeo) serves as a leading source of revenue cycle management and practice management with a specialization in anesthesia. The company leverages its people, processes, and software to serve independent practices, surgery centers, hospitals and healthcare systems with a scope of services that include billing, coding, transcription, practice management, and business consulting.

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