How to Keep Yourself From Falling Over the Financial Cliff with the Rest of the Profession

by Rebecca on February 23, 2014

Cliff FallA very disturbing study was just released addressing the financial status of the profession and as you may have expected, the results are not good.  You can view the white paper that was just presented at NAVC here.

There were many disturbing trends they found but these are the some of the findings that should be very concerning to all of us.

 “There is widespread concern over personal financial condition.  Less than half of the veterinarians who are owners, and less than a third of associates, rated their personal financial condition “well”. “

 “22% of the practice owners carried student loan debt, with an average balance of $66,110.  49% of associate veterinarians are carrying student loan debt, with an average balance of $112,082.”

 “For some associates debt servicing requires nearly 40% of their monthly income.”

 “A very large number of veterinarians, especially those not doing well financially, are not at all confident in their ability to manage finances.”

These statements should have all of us very concerned.  The problem is most people have been sitting around with their head in the sand (which seems to be something our profession is very good at doing) or waiting on the veterinary schools or the AVMA to change what is happening to our beloved profession.

The only one that can change your future is YOU.  If you are waiting for the “powers that be” to make positive change-good luck!

Luckily changing your future is simple.  Simple BUT not easy!  You MUST learn about personal finance and you MUST get out of debt as quickly as possible.  I know you are thinking that is impossible BUT it is not.  Being debt free is the only thing that is going to give you options and freedom.

Coming out of veterinary school, I knew absolutely nothing about finances.  I made plenty of mistakes, but I was so fortunate to have learned about Dave Ramsey from a veterinarian who I worked with.  Listening to Dave’s radio show made me realize that there was a different way to handle my finances and shockingly enough it was not what the “financial experts” would have you believe.

New graduates are coming out of veterinary school with an average of $150,000 in student loans.  I was fortunate to have very little student debt, BUT thanks to APPLYING the principles Dave Ramsey teaches, my husband and I were able to pay off our $300K home mortgage in 7 years.  I also run my business debt-free.  I am not telling you this to be bragging, but instead I want you to understand that YOU too can get out of debt.

Getting out of debt quickly is not easy and you will have to sacrifice some things now in order to get it done, but taking 30 years to pay off your debt is honestly just plain stupid.  As a wise man once said, the borrower is slave to the lender, and I bet you feel just like that when you are paying all those loans every month.

If you are serious about changing your financial well being then leave me a comment below and you will be entered to win a copy of Dave Ramsey’s “Total Money Makeover which we will give away on March 15th.

If you are a practice owner, I strongly recommend his CORE Financial Wellness program that you can offer to your entire team.  This program will benefit not only you and your doctors, but also your support staff who often are struggling just to get the bills paid each month.

I obviously don’t receive anything from Dave or his team for recommending his products, but if you take what he offers and APPLY it- you too can be free from the mountain of debt AND change your family tree!

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Billy Richardson February 23, 2014 at 9:25 am

Rebecca, I couldn’t have said it better myself! I’m tired of hearing the doom and gloom and whining about student debt in the veterinary profession. I am one of those associates who graduated with $130,000 in debt with $90k being student loans. I too found Dave Ramsey and we paid it off in 4 years! Yes, it took sacrifices along the way. But following Dave’s principals changed my family’s life and gave us hope for a brighter future. Now, I lead Core Financial Wellness among our three hospitals in hopes to help our team.

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Rebecca February 23, 2014 at 9:34 am

WOW that is awesome Billy! I have another friend who is over half way there in about 4 years! It is possible and completely doable if you are willing to sacrifice now to enjoy the rewards later!

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Vet Changes World February 23, 2014 at 11:55 am

It is very challenging. I was lucky enough to have parents who encouraged me to get a business degree in addition to my biology degree prior to veterinary school, so I was at least more well informed than most when it came to our debt. I think we’ve talked about Dave Ramsey before and I definitely will plan on checking out some of his books. “Your Money Or Your Life” is also a good one.

I think we have to do a complete overhaul from before students even get to veterinary school, to universities, to industry, to make a difference across our profession.

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Rebecca February 23, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Your parents were very wise! I am glad you have another recommendation for people too- good for all of us to gain as much financial sense as we can. Thanks for commenting!

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Shana February 23, 2014 at 11:52 pm

I’ll just throw something out there on the concept of paying down all of the debt as fast as possible….with a real financial planning strategy, it doesn’t always make the most sense to pay off ALL debt ASAP. When we look at the low interest rate on our mortgage compared to the higher interest rate on our investments, we are honestly not in any rush to pay off the mortgage. Should the financial climate (and/or tax laws) change, then we will reconsider. However, there is something to be said for making sure to begin investing in retirement plans, other long term investments, etc instead of paying all money strictly towards debt. Once you pay off a loan, you can’t get it back in a time of financial emergency (usually). However, investments can be chosen to be relatively liquid. I realize that for some they feel a shadow hanging over them until debt-free, and student loans are different than home loans, but for those willing to have a plan that is a little more multi-faceted, a careful look at all items in the black and red can be helpful. (Of course, this does NOT apply to high interest loans, credit card debt, etc)

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Rebecca February 24, 2014 at 6:28 am

Thanks for commenting!

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Kim Hosking February 24, 2014 at 6:56 am

Thanks for the time you give to better the profession, Rebecca. I will check out this book. It is wonderful having someone out there so commited to EVERY challenge / aspect of veterinary medicine. Inspiring. Thanks!

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rebecca February 24, 2014 at 7:06 am

Thanks for commenting Kim! I got your email and will be in touch later today- crazy weekend! I LOVE veterinary medicine and the people in it. Literally have been around it my entire life since my dad is a veterinarian- just to great of a profession to not speak up!

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Marie February 25, 2014 at 10:32 pm

What exactly is the CORE financial wellness program? I went to the web site and watched the short video and was not sure how it worked? I would love to be able to offer something to my employees and also to my adult children. I see how difficult it is to make ends meet and how the majority of my employees and relatives live from paycheck to paycheck. I think people have not been taught how to handle their finances.

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rebecca February 26, 2014 at 5:15 am

CORE is the new finanacial peace university that is tailored for the work place- you could also do FPU but obviously some businesses would prefer to use something besides FPU- I will shoot you Billy’s email address because he is doing it at his hospital and I am sure he can give you the details

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Dan February 26, 2014 at 9:01 am

All right. At the risk of sounding ignorant, Im going to step out on a limb here. Dave and his principles are great. Im still head scratching at Billy, $130k in 4 years…I guess he can scream Freedom! My question is this. Chris Locurto just did a recent podcast on starting out debt free. His premise, start small and work up. Well, I don’t have a taco business to move from a cart to a truck to a leasehold. You cant start a practice on a card table in your living room. Everyone else screams borrow, lease it, use credit. What about a practice purchase? The answer for most is to contact BOA Practice Soln and let them solve your dilemna. So what do you recommend? Thanks

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Rebecca February 26, 2014 at 9:37 pm

Dan- great comments and questions. Billy is a friend of mine so he did do it- worked his tail off to make it happen for sure!

Here is my take on owning a practice and again it is my opinion but I think it is first important to at least be out of debt as far as student loans and credit cards etc. I would HIGHLY recommend doing due diligence making sure the market you are looking at is a good one then I would lease space in a strip mall/professional center. I have a number of friends who have done that and are doing very well. I also know people who have built multimillion dollar hospitals and are really struggling. I mean struggling to the point they have cashed in retirement etc to keep it afloat. I think we are fed a bunch of hog wash by journals like vet economics about these beautiful amazing facilities- dont get me wrong they are nice and we like doing surgery in them with my mobile surgical practice but they are NOT necessary. You want people to come to your hospital for you and your team not because it is the most beautiful hospital. The thing I have never understood is most practices charge about the same within reason so why would you want a less profitable hospital with a ton of overhead vs a nice, clean facility that gets the job done but doesn’t break your back in the process.

I personally would be wary of working with a big bank on anything- I certainly think some debt will have to be taken on BUT no more than necessary and pay it OFF.

I hope that helps and lets continue the convo- you can sign up for our closed facebook group if you would like.

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Dan February 27, 2014 at 10:31 pm

Thank you

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Ginger March 9, 2014 at 8:06 am

Great info! Thank you for encouraging us to be better Rebecca! I believe that in this society (and profession), some debt is difficult to avoid– ‘it takes money, to make money’, right? However, I think the key is how quickly and efficiently we get out of that debt. Also, it is important to make good financial decisions at the beginning– make sure the debt will reap more than sowed once it is all paid off (as soon as possible). I’m excited to look more into CORE Financial Wellness. Thanks again!

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Rebecca March 9, 2014 at 8:13 am

Totally agree with you Ginger! That is the key NOT taking years and years to pay off!

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apertura de puertas vallcarca September 24, 2014 at 11:53 pm

Greetings! This is my 1st comment here so I just
wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I really enjoy reading your posts.

Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that deal
with the same topics? Thanks a lot!

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