Congratulations on graduating from veterinary school! Now that you have completed your education and entered the workforce, it's time to start thinking about your financial future. In this blog post, we will discuss some important financial planning considerations for the first 5 years after graduating from veterinary school.
Establish an Emergency Fund
One of the first things you should do after starting your first job is to establish an emergency fund. This fund should contain at least three to six months' worth of living expenses, which will provide you with a cushion in case of unexpected expenses or a job loss. Having an emergency fund in place can help you avoid going into unnecessary debt and provide peace of mind.
To achieve your financial goals, it is essential to have a basic understanding of budgeting. Creating a budget will help you track your income and expenses, identify areas where you can cut back on spending, and ensure that you are living within your means. There are many online resources and apps available to help you create and maintain a budget. A couple of helpful calculators can be found on our website under “Personal Finance Calculators” at: https://www.r2financialstrategies.com/financial-calculators.
The best financial plans are only as good as their weakest link. In many cases, these weaknesses exist where people fail to protect themselves against unexpected financial risks. Basic protections that every doctor should establish and maintain throughout their career include: Professional Liability & License Defense, Long-Term Disability, and Life Insurance.
Other coverages which may be beneficial depending on your specific situation are: Short-Term Disability, Student Loan Disability, Critical Illness and Professional Overhead Expense coverages.
Student Loan Repayment
As a new graduate, you are likely to have student loan debt. It is important to create a plan to effectively manage and reduce this debt as soon as possible. The AVMA provides helpful resources for loan repayment strategies at https://myvetlife.avma.org/current-student/your-financial-health/loan-repayment-strategies. Additionally, you can use the student loan repayment simulator at www.vinfoundation.org/loansim to explore different repayment options and determine which one is best for you.
Depending on your long-term goals, it may be advisable to pay down debt aggressively or focus on lower debt payments and increased savings for start-up capital should your goals include buying or starting a practice.
Starting to save for retirement early is critical for your financial future. Even small contributions made early in your career can have a significant impact due to the power of compound interest. If your employer offers a retirement plan, make sure to maximize any employer match that may be available. If you do not have access to an employer plan, you can utilize Roth and IRA options for retirement savings.
By establishing an emergency fund, creating a budget, maintaining proper insurance protections, and having a plan for student loan repayment and retirement savings, you can set yourself on a path to a successful financial future. As a new graduate, you have many opportunities ahead of you, and by focusing on your finances early on, you can set yourself up for long-term financial success.