Will You Be Ready For Life After Dentistry?
Now for the hard reality: Longer lifespan brings with it greater economic needs. For instance, according to this New York Times article, the average couple retiring today can expect to spend in the neighborhood of $240,000 on health care costs alone in their post-retirement years.
That figure becomes pretty distressing when I see that about 90 percent of the dentists over 55 who come to my Transitions workshops have saved $300,000 or less, meaning that most of them are on a path to bankruptcy within a few years of retirement—even after accounting for the sale of their practice.
In fact, according to stats the ADA released a few years ago, only about six percent of dentists retire with enough to maintain the lifestyle they have created for themselves. And remember, we’re talking about people who are among the top earners in society.
So how do you get yourself into that exclusive “Six Percent Club?” There are three key steps to follow:
1. Pursue excellence at all levels. That means clinical excellence, which is about continual education and growth so you can do more, value excellence, which is about getting more patients to say yes to what you can do, and economic excellence, which is about optimizing practice protocols to give you the right cash flow for today and tomorrow.
2. Develop a strategic spending plan, not a budget. A budget is a restrictive way of looking at things. I’m talking a spending plan where you allocate your resources in the right way. A plan that makes paying toward your future a priority, through your retirement plan and investments, as well as through strategic reinvestments in the practice that increase its value and its ability to support you.
3. Create a calendar plan that works for you. Time is just as important as money, and the right calendar plan should support your ultimate goals. That means spending the right proportion of time working in the practice, on the practice, and outside of the practice. Those proportions will change over the years. And if you do it right and create the mix that feels comfortable, you may find that you want to continue in the practice well into “retirement.” (And it may not just be you that wants that. I can recall having wives offer to pay me if I could advise their dentist husbands on how to practice at least part time, so they could get them out of the house for awhile.)
But if it’s a matter of working about 80 days a year, doing the cases you love, in a practice you love, and earning enough to keep you economically healthy throughout your life, who wouldn’t want that? You’ll stay young forever.