Becoming a rich doctor: having the winning mindset.

mindset of a rich doctorI don’t have a bone with pick with the wealthy, but wealth can help you and your heirs get ahead in life.  Tennis lessons. Music tutors. Private schools with other like-minded peers. Connections that can get you into high places. Wealth is not a bad thing.

 

Most physicians in the United States are considered “wealthy” too. Not Sultan-of-Brunei wealthy, but comfortable-upper-middle-class wealthy. We have a relatively good earning potential despite the length of training we incur.  Despite the similarly long number of years we spend perfecting our trade, there is still a wide income range across medical specialties. Some doctors will definitely become “wealthy” faster than others.

I previously wrote about becoming a rich doctor through building a strong offense through multiple income sources. I think that these remain strong tenants in maximizing our worth, but the appropriate mindset allows you to keep what you earn and build your wealth through passive means.

 

A winning mindset to wealth should include retention of wealth.

 

You keep what you don’t spend. This is part one of the winning mindset. Whatever you retain can be used to work for you. Your army of millions of pennies can be put to work with almost no effort in an interest bearing fund. If you want more potential for reward with higher risk, use a P2P lending mechanism or simply the index market. If you want to  manage your financial minions actively, you can invest in other means like real estate. No matter what you do, you still need to be able to retain that wealth to grow for you.

Understand what you really need to be happy.

 

We all have material desires to a certain degree. The goal in wealth accumulation and financial freedom is not to restrict these desires, but to actually assess what we actually need. Having that nice $120,000 AMG in the garage does you no good if you only drive it on the weekend and still pay thousands of dollars a year for maintenance. Could you have done without it, and turned that $120,000 into $240,000 in 7 years?

I see plenty of wealthy people, especially doctors and lawyers, who seem unhappy. Are they unhappy that their jobs consume so much of their life but they are loathe to quit because it pays so well? Are they unhappy that the other partners in their practice make so much more money than they do? Are they just unhappy people?

Clearly the lack of money is unlikely the cause of their unhappiness. This is a situation that you don’t want to get yourself into. Most of us really have never thought about what actually makes us happy. It doesn’t really matter either if you’re a hotshot neurosurgeon or a physician’s assistant—if you don’t really have a strong grasp on your needs, you will spend down your income and risk being unhappy in the process.

How to figure out your key to happiness.

 

What do you actually need to get you through the day? Does that daily Starbucks coffee actually make you happy, or does that just get you through a 10-hour workday? Would you be happier if you got to ride your bike to work everyday? Do you prefer to spend your day tending to your garden? Typically that core set of needs will not cost you millions. MMM is able to pare down his family spendings down to $25,000 a year. Where is your number?

What is your magic list of happiness?

(Photo courtesy of Flickr)

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  • PhysicianOnFIRE

    No magic list, but we spend 2.5 to 3 times MMM. That’s still less than most physician families, but it seems to be the sweet spot for us.

    Cheers!
    -PoF

    • Smart Money MD

      We’re probably more like 4-5x MMM now. Compare that to 1/2x MMM when I was a resident. Currently tweaking my expenditure tracking on Personal Capital to see where the sieve is in the savings.

      • I hope you find it! If we had a mortgage, we’d be closer to where you are, depending on the size of the mortgage. Having 0 rent or mortgage helps keep the budget in check.

        • Smart Money MD

          Our mortgage alone is nearly $50k annually. I’ll probably start a series of posts of where our excesses end up. Prepare to be disgusted!

  • First visit I think! What would you attribute the reason for the rise in personal finance websites written by doctors? Aren’t y’all going to be top tier wealthy after a long enough time? Or has there been some type of structural shift (wage decline due to gov’t regulation) and a surge in bankruptcies etc?

    Sam

    • Smart Money MD

      Thanks for visiting Sam!

      I think that one of the reasons for the rise of these doctor-written websites is generational change. Most doctors don’t have the time to venture into blogging despite all of the good reasons that you have listed on your website throughout the years. Currently the most active of the doctor finance websites are written by Emergency Room physicians and an Anesthesiologist, both of whom have occupations that have limited shift work hours (Many or even the majority of Emergency Room docs I know work fewer than 36 hours a week).

      http://smartmoneymd.com/41-of-all-doctors-have-less-than-500000-in-savings/

      Doctors aren’t as wealthy as you think!