In our previous blog posts, we discussed the challenges that women in dentistry face when preparing for retirement. But what can female dentists do to take control of their long-term financial security?
No matter where you are in your career – just out of dental school or an established professional – you can take steps to safeguard your financial future. We’ve compiled ten action items that you can customize and apply to your own life circumstances. Some ideas are “set it and forget it” while other tips require more effort. Both types of strategies are valuable and can be set into motion with the help of a financial planner who’s familiar with dentistry and the unique needs of female entrepreneurs.
Ten Tips for Smart Retirement Planning
- Start Saving. Get in the habit of putting away money into a basic retirement plan, even if your partner already has one. Depending on your circumstances, we usually recommend a SIMPLE IRA, an SEP IRA, a Solo 401(k), or a Roth IRA. Our next blog post will dive deeper into each of these strategies.
- Self-advocate by asking for a retirement plan if your practice doesn’t offer one. Or, if you own the practice, investigate beginning a plan. Think of it as part of your total compensation package. If you feel undervalued as a junior dentist, you can shop other dental practices and compare their benefits.
- Participate in the retirement plan your dental practice offers. Women are less likely to enroll than men, and when they do participate, they often contribute a lower percentage of their income than male counterparts. A dental CPA can make sure you meet matching criteria while simultaneously reducing your taxable income. Make catch-up contributions if you are age 50 or older.
- Invest in an HSA account, if available. This has the potential to be a triple tax break, and the account can be used now to pay for medical expenses or later as retirement funds. See your accountant for more details.
- Write down your retirement goals. Then use an online calculator to estimate how much you need to save in order to make your dreams into your reality. Include employer-sponsored plans and personal savings in your numbers.
- Consider the financial trade-offs when thinking about caregiving options. How will taking time out of practicing dentistry to care for a child or an ailing relative impact your financial future? Are you prepared either way?
- Discuss your household budget and retirement strategy with your partner. Be involved and communicate often.
- Network with women dentists through an organization like The American Association of Women Dentists. You can also search for women dentist groups on social media for a more informal approach. This allows you to be proactive and find out what other female dentists are doing.
- Be prepared for emergencies and unforeseen circumstances like disability, divorce, or loss of a spouse. Half of Americans retire before they thought due to health concerns. You don’t want to be caught off-guard.
- Think about hiring a financial planner. She can help you make informed decisions about retirement investments and help minimize tax obligations.
Which one of these tips might work for you? Even a few small steps can add up to greater financial security faster than you think. A dental broker can introduce you to qualified financial experts and tie in your retirement goals to the future sale of your practice, too. Contact N/L Transitions or call us at 410-453-5500 to talk about a retirement plan that fits your lifestyle.