Being a female in a male-dominated industry is never easy. Take it from me as a female financial advisor for the last few decades. It doesn’t matter if it is nuclear research or plumbing. The stigma of women-led careers is often challenging to overcome. Luckily, more and more professional women are entering high-powered fields like medicine and continue to flip that false belief on its head.
Many people know the benefits of having a female physician, such as a more caring bedside manner. There is a similar benefit for women in knowing The Real Value of Working with a Female Financial Advisor: women are better listeners and women understand other women’s challenges.
One of the more exciting career choices is for women is becoming a doctor. While this may have been the “traditional” work of men in Western medicine, countless studies have shown that female physicians are just as good, and in many ways better, than their male counterparts.
A recent Harvard University study examined more than 1.5 million hospital visits. They discovered that patients with women doctors had lower rates of death and readmission within the first 30 days.
While all that is well and good, another critical achievement is essential. Besides conquering the world of medicine, women also need to showcase their higher earning potential can be leveraged for long-term benefits.
That is why my team at Meyers Financial has put together a critical list of tips to help women doctors ensure they have the monetary resources to maximize their career earnings.
Why Financial Planning is Critical to Women Doctors
A woman doctor is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, women doctors are more likely to make less money than men in the same field. On the other hand, they drastically improve patient outcomes because of higher patient skills and diagnosing abilities.
Women face many financial challenges as professionals or entrepreneurs—especially not when it comes to securing better financial planning strategies for themselves and their families.
Do you know the best way to avoid a financial crisis? It's simple: plan for it. This is especially true for women doctors, who face unique challenges that can lead to unnecessary stress and burnout.
Financial planning is a lifelong process that can help you achieve your goals in all areas of life—and it's important for everyone, including women doctors.
As you navigate the medical world trying to find new partnerships and skills, you need a solid financial foundation to avoid any pitfalls or risks that can crop up when dealing with health-related issues.
The good news is that a little preparation can go a significantly long way to protecting yourself. These tips should provide you with a better plan to avoid tomorrow's challenges.
Money Tips for Women Doctors
1 - Negotiate for Higher Earnings
Negotiating for higher earnings is one of the most important things you can do to ensure a secure financial future.
Before you start negotiating, you need to know how much money is appropriate and fair for your work. To do this, think about the quality and quantity of your work, as well as how long it takes to complete it.
Be assertive when asking for more compensation than what was initially offered or expected by others in similar positions at other institutions (e.g., clinics or hospitals). If someone offers a lower rate than what's typical for their field or what they consider fair compensation based on their experience level/specialty etc., then try not allowing fear of being seen as greedy to get in between yourself and getting paid what you deserve.
2 - Start Financial Planning Early
You should start financial planning as early as possible. This includes saving for retirement, paying off debt, and putting money away to buy a house. It can be tempting to wait until you have more money or are older before you start your plan, but that is the worst thing you could do.
You should also avoid waiting until things like having a family or getting out of debt before starting your financial planning. The truth is that small steps can make big changes in your life if they are done right away instead of later.
3 - Balance Life to Avoid Burnout
As a woman doctor, you know that your job is stressful. You are often up at all hours of the night and on call for emergencies. You have demanding patients who need immediate care, and they do not always understand why they have to wait. In addition, many doctors are also moms, so they face another challenge: balancing work and family responsibilities.
Women doctors can help themselves avoid burnout by having support networks in place before any problems arise. This might include having friends who understand what being a doctor entails or finding someone at work who can be there for you during difficult times. This kind of support system will help keep you from feeling overwhelmed as life gets busy.
4 - Protect Your Practice & Assets with Insurance
Insurance is a great way to safeguard your practice and assets. It can protect you from being sued, but also provide peace of mind by allowing you to sleep easier at night. Many types of insurance are available, so it’s essential to understand what they are and how they work.
Of course, you want malpractice insurance for your professional career, but you should also investigate life, property, liability, and any other insurance that protects your assets, so your family has the resources needed if you are in the hospital for a while or someone takes you to court.
5 - Spend Less than You Make
Financial planning is important, but it doesn't take much money to start. You can start by tracking your expenses, finding hidden sources of income, and cutting back some costs.
Track your spending habits and find ways to cut costs by eliminating or reducing unnecessary expenses such as eating out, shopping at expensive stores, or buying clothes that don't fit or match what you already own.
6 - Build a Strategy Based on Your Needs
Think of a financial strategy as the blueprint for your finances. It’s what you do before you build anything, and it should be tailored to fit your unique needs. As a female physician, you are going to have different financial roadblocks compared to your peers, friends, and family. This is why we at Meyers Financial continually advocate for women to get started early with an unbiased third party with the experience and skills to help build a long-term strategy.
7 - Get Out of School Debt Quickly
Getting out of school debt quickly is critical to your financial health. It’s important to have a good credit score and to have savings set aside in case something goes wrong with your practice. But the most important thing you can do is start saving for retirement as soon as possible.
There are several ways to do this, but one way to help you get started quickly is by paying down your student debt early on. Whether using the snowball method or basing payments on mathematical logic, you want to aggressively attack this debt.
8 - Create an Estate Plan
Once you’re done with retirement planning, it’s time to tackle your estate plan. As a doctor, you likely have a lot of assets that need to be protected in the event of your death. This can mean setting up a trust for your children or other dependents.
You may also want to consider leaving the bulk of your estate to charity—or at least some portion of it.
9 - Account for Gender Pay Bias
In the United States, women earn roughly 77-79 cents for every dollar that men earn. The gender pay gap is real and can be frustrating to women trying to make their way in the world of medicine.
As if this weren't bad enough, there's even more reason for concern: women are less likely than men to negotiate their salaries when they start working at new jobs. If you are not going to actively pursue those higher-paid positions for whatever personal reason, then you need to account for the difference in pay by adjusting your budget and insurance premiums.
10 - Stick to Your Budget
In addition to your salary, you have student loans and other types of debt to pay off. You need a budget that includes all your expenses and income, including the money you will be saving for retirement, health insurance premiums (if not covered by the hospital), dental plan or alternative coverage, car payments (if necessary), groceries, and nutritional supplements.
Once you've established how much money comes in each month and how much goes out each month—and made adjustments where necessary—you can start sticking to it! This will involve more than just crossing off items on a list every week. It requires self-discipline and perseverance so that, over time, it becomes second nature to live within your means instead of buying things when they aren't needed.
11 - Take Risks & Build Confidence
The world is full of risks, but you can't become a leader if you're afraid to take them. As a doctor, your job is all about risk management—and you must learn how to manage those risks and move forward confidently.
Take small steps at first by testing out new things in areas of your life where there’s less downside (like trying new investments). Then slowly build up your courage until you are ready for more considerable challenges (purchasing a home).
12 - Educate Yourself on Investments
If you want to grow your money, investment is an excellent way to do that. Investing is not just for the rich. It is for everyone. There are many ways to invest your money: stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate, and more.
The critical lever to creating wealth is time. You want to get started with investments as quickly as possible and let them mature in advantageous ways.
13 - Guard Yourself against Marital Power Struggles
One of the most common challenges for women in medicine is dealing with power struggles that come from being married to someone who doesn't understand or appreciate what you do. Some men might not even be aware there's a problem, but you know it's there because it's causing tension and friction between the two of you. They may feel threatened by your career success, while they struggle with their own failures at work or school.
Marriage is supposed to be a partnership—not a dictatorship—where both partners share responsibilities equally in running their household and raising their children. Unfortunately, when one person makes more than the other, it can lead to issues. Have weekly meetings or “check-ins” with your spouse to go over your finances and anything else happening, so you stay on the same page and feel supported.
14 - Get Aggressive About Your Financial Well-Being
Don’t back down! You have worked so hard to be a leader in medicine. You can apply that same dedication to be fluent in financial planning.
Call Our Team Today!
We hope that by reading this article, you have gained some insight into the financial planning process for female doctors. We know how stressful it can be to manage your finances, so we want to help you save time and money. The tips we’ve outlined will help you take control of your financial future and ensure a long-lasting career as a physician.
Our team at Meyers Financial works hard with women throughout all industries to uncover those personalized financial plans to ensure your well-being well into the future. Give us a call today, and let’s find a strategy that works with your needs, career, family, and goals.
Lillian Meyers CFP®, CDFA®, EA is a Financial Planner for Women in Sonoma, California helping clients live their best life through the use of financial planning, investment management, and other sophisticated financial options.