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New Year Financial and Personal Resolutions for Physicians

The new year is always a good time to reflect and set goals, both personally and professionally. On our online physician communities, we always see an uptick in posts about finances, getting side gigs started or growing side gigs, and self care and self improvement around this time. While we’ve covered the year-end financial checklist for physicians, we wanted to also help you put together your new year financial resolutions. Along with your financial goals, don’t forget to set concrete ideas in place for other aspects of your life as well, including your family, career, traveling, and more!


Disclaimers/Disclosures: This page contains information about our sponsors, as well as affiliate links, which support the group at no cost to you. These should be viewed as introductions rather than formal recommendations. We do not provide individualized advice and are not formal financial, legal, or otherwise licensed professionals. You should consult these parties as appropriate and do your own due diligence before making decisions based on this page.


New year's financial resolutions for physicians to maximize tax savings, wealth building potential & career


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New Year’s Financial and Personal Resolutions for Physicians


Here are our top resolutions for physicians to think about at the beginning of the new year: 


Resolution 1: Make a plan for your money


Committing to a plan for your money is the fastest way to achieve your financial goals, including saving for financial independence. If you didn’t have a chance during the holiday season last month, now’s the perfect time to check in on your current financial standing and make a budget


Sit down and check in on your accounts, and if you made goals last year, see how you stacked up on them. Ideally you do this more than once a year, but this is a great time to calculate your net worth to check in with your progress toward retirement. Some things to think about:

  • Did you save as much money as you hoped last year? What percentage of your income did you save (we recommend trying to save at least 20%, though we recognize that may not be possible depending on where you live and what your salary and expenses are).

  • How did your investments do, and how did that compare with overall average market returns?

  • Did you meet the financial goals you set last year, if you set any?

  • What did you learn about personal finance last year?

Once you have an idea of your current financial standing, set goals for your money for the upcoming year, depending on where you are in your financial journey. Some ideas for personal finance goals include:


If you don’t have a will or estate plan in place, make sure you include that as part of your money plan for this year. Estate planning and asset protection are critical planning steps for physicians to protect the money you’ve worked so hard to earn and accumulate. You don’t want the government deciding what to do with it. If you already have these in place, this is a good time to consider whether there’s anything you need updated based on changes over the past year.


Learn more


Resolution 2: Protect yourself from unforeseen disasters with an insurance check-up


Having proper insurance coverage in place is a critical part of protecting your financial assets. 


While health insurance and malpractice insurance are two obvious insurances we’re keenly aware of given our profession, there are other insurances just as important that physician often overlook or fail to update as circumstances change. 


Homeowners insurance, for instance, is something we typically only think about when buying a new house. You could be drastically overpaying or have insufficient coverage due to your house’s appreciation in the market if you haven’t shopped your home insurance policy lately.


At the beginning of each year, check that your insurance policies are current and note when your payments are due.  Also ensure that you’re carrying adequate coverages for what you need, as spending habits and net worth will affect your needs. Make sure your disability and life insurance policies reflect these. Also consider if you need more umbrella insurance to cover your (hopefully increased) net worth, as this will protect you from claims above the limitations of your current auto and homeowner policies.


Learn more


Resolution 3: Get ahead of tax season this year


Taxes are one thing that physicians know surprisingly little about, despite paying a lot of them!  If you haven’t checked out our taxes primer, this will go over the basics of what you need to know about tax brackets, deductions, tax credits, withholding, quarterly taxes, and more. It’s also a good time to think about how your accountant served you last year. If you’re going to make a change in who does your accounting, we recommend doing it early in the year, as accountants are generally stretched and don’t always take on clients close to filing deadlines.


Self-Employed Physicians

A hefty tax bill in April is never a fun surprise, especially if you’ve recently become a 1099 physician or picked up supplemental side gig income.


Self-employed physicians or physicians with self-employed income need to track and pay estimated taxes every quarter to prevent the IRS from assessing penalties and interest. If you didn’t make estimated tax payments last year, now is the time to assess the situation and get with an accountant if need be to minimize any potential penalties.


As a self-employed physician, you also have a lot of options to explore when it comes to tax deductions. Planning ahead for these deductions and keeping track of receipts/records throughout the year can save you a lot of searching when preparing your return.


Learn more


W-2 Physicians

W-2 physicians can benefit from this resolution as well by doubling checking their withholdings for their income for the previous year. If you’re forecasted to either have a high refund or have to cut a check to Uncle Sam for under withholding, now’s the time to update your withholdings for the current year. The IRS has a tax withholding calculator that can help you optimize your withholdings.


While W-2 physicians don’t have as many tax benefits as 1099 physicians, there are some tax breaks available to W-2 physicians. Now’s the perfect time to plan to maximize them.


Learn more on our tax strategy for the W-2 physician page.


Resolution 4: Optimize your investments portfolio


Investing questions are some of the most common we see within our physician Facebook groups. Whether you’re a resident preparing for your first attending position or a seasoned physician catching up to retirement planning, investing is one of the most significant ways to secure your financial future.


Getting started with investing

With so many options available between types of accounts and different investment classes, it can be hard to know where to start, especially with recent large fluctuations in the stock and housing markets. When in doubt, people tend to err on the side of caution and leave large amounts of their wealth in cash, which can rob their future of compounding growth.


If you’re new to investing, let this be the year you resolve to learn a little more about the fundamentals of investing. We can help!


Learn more about the basics of:


Discover the different types of investing accounts:


Optimizing what you have

Once you’ve opened your investment accounts, you want to optimize the contributions you make. If your discretionary income allows for it, we highly recommend maxing out your tax-advantaged contributions such as your IRA, 401(k), and HSA (if you qualify) every year. Many of these accounts can be set up for automatic withdrawals, either from your paycheck or your bank account. Automating your contributions is a great way to optimize your investing. Just make sure to automate the investing as well so your contributions don’t see in a money market or cash account for the entire year (or longer).


Visit our IRS updates to contribution limits page to check the current contribution limits for accounts. For 2024, the contribution limits are:

  • Employer-sponsored retirement plans: $23,000 employee contributions across all 401(k), 403(b), and eligible 457(b) plans; $69,000 annual additional limit (including employer match/contributions, etc.)

  • IRAs: $7,000 annual contribution across all accounts (includes traditional, Roth, and backdoor Roth)

  • HSAs: $4,150 for self-only coverage; $8,300 for family coverage

* There are catch up contributions allowed for older individuals, depending on the type of account


You’ve got a plan for your money that includes contributing to your retirement account(s)—now what? Strategically investing is one of the main pillars of investing for retirement. Making sure you’re optimizing your contributions is another.


If you’re new to investing, a target-date index fund can be a great starting point while you work your way through our recommended reading for investing. We like the three-fund portfolio for its relative simplicity, but you can make your investment strategy as simple or complicated as you like as you learn more.


Learn more about


Rebalancing to stay on track

Once a year, it’s a good idea to check your current asset allocation and see how it compares to your target allocations, such as the three-fund portfolio splits. Depending on how your specific funds performed throughout the year, you might have a skewed allocation from the different gains or losses.


The beginning of the year is the perfect time to rebalance your portfolio while you’re already updating your net worth calculation and automatic contributions to your accounts. If you have a significant portion of your portfolio that isn’t in tax sheltered accounts, be careful as this can create a tax bill on any capital gains realized from selling shares to rebalance.


A financial advisor can both help you with your rebalancing and develop a comprehensive financial plan if this is the first year you’re focusing on your investments.


Learn more about


Resolution 5: Challenge yourself to grow


Motivational quote by Richard Branson on the importance of continually challenging yourself.

Whether you’re a resident preparing for your first attending position out of training, a physician looking for a career shift or growth opportunity, or a retired physician wondering what comes next, a new year is a great time to assess your career and entrepreneurial goals and chart a path to reach it. Your goal might be as simple as finding an assistant to help find a better work/life balance or as complex as starting a medical practice. Or you might want a side gig to help with the financial resolutions above while allowing yourself to expand your knowledge and skill set.


No goal is too big or too small, so long as it aligns with your personal and financial New Year's Resolutions.


Graduating residents and fellows

If you’re preparing to graduate this year and find your first attending job, congratulations! What an exciting time. We know searching for your first job can be stressful as well, so we have resources to help you prepare ahead of time.


Resources for graduating residents


Practicing physicians

Don’t stay stagnant! Make sure you take the time to look at your compensation from the previous year, and see if there’s anything in your contract that needs to be renegotiated. Whether that’s financial or professional, you won’t get anything if you don’t ask for it. Make a list of goals that you would like, whether that’s more time for administrative tasks, higher reimbursement per RVU, or otherwise, and prepare yourself for the contract negotiations. 


You can check how you’re doing compared to other physicians in similar fields and locations through our group compensation databases.


If you’re not happy at your current job, be intentional. We see so many physicians thinking about leaving medicine to retire or take a nonclincial job, but there are lots of options aside from leaving medicine.


Physicians exploring new side gig opportunities

Side gigs are built into what we do. There’s no one-size fits all. So many opportunities exist depending on your speciality, your unique skills, and your interests.


The biggest hurdle in starting a side hustle? Deciding to do it! With so many options, it can be hard to pick one. Don’t let analysis paralysis hold you back from following your passion. You can start many side gigs with little to no startup costs, allowing you to get a feel for the opportunity without a huge investment up front. If it turns out that particular side gig isn’t the right fit, continue to explore other options that are.


Learn more


Resolution 6: Self-care


As trite as it sounds, you really do need to take care of yourself if you want to be successful both personally and professionally. Being intentional about how you structure what little free time you have so that you can focus on your own health and well being is important. Things you may want to do, and resources we have to help:


  • Set fitness goals for yourself, no matter how big or small. Make sure you stick to them - we know better than most the importance of maintaining your health, yet we often don’t do what we tell our patients to. If you need workout shoes, check out our merchandise perks! For example, we often have perks with Allbirds embedded into our Allbirds affiliate link, including a standing one for free socks if you add them to your cart in conjunction with a purchase of shoes!

  • Eat healthy! Create a plan to avoid take-out by finding some easy recipes that you can make despite your busy schedule. We have a lot of these threads on Physician Community that you can search!  Alternatively, try out a healthy food delivery service like Thistle (PSG affiliate link, gets you $120 off your combined first 5 weeks of orders, then 10% off future purchases)

  • Plan some vacations! We’ve got some growing resources and perks for travel on our new travel page!

  • Make some time for reading. So many of us loved to read before life got crazier, but reading is a great way to feel like you spend time on things outside of medicine and are always learning (which most of us nerds love!). We have some recommendations for both fiction and nonfiction books based on our community recommendations.

  • Make a list of people you want to make sure you stay connected with and create a plan for staying connected, even if it’s just to send an occasional text message. Relationships matter and are great for your personal health. Set time for date nights with your significant other, if applicable. This is perhaps the best financial investment you can make! 

  • Look good, feel good! Check out our merchandise discounts, including many on scrubs!


Conclusion


While we love all of the resolutions outlined above, you don’t have to do everything at once. We just find that being intentional goes a long way towards your financial and personal success, and encourage you to take this time to figure out what would make the new year your best year yet! If the list above overwhelms you, go slow. Pick the resolution that feels the most important to you and start there.


If you need help along the way, make sure you reach out to our physician communities for advice, support, and inspiration.


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