Are Doctors Rich As The Public Thinks?

are doctors rich

Are Doctors Rich As The Public Thinks?

are doctors rich

It seems as if the general public tend to assume that certain professionals are always well off. [You know what happens when you ASS-UME, right? :)]

This could be anything from an attorney, doctor or engineer.

But when a group of doctors were polled and asked, “Are doctors rich?”, you’d be surprised to learn that almost 70% said the public’s perception of their profession is false.

emergency funds

Dr. Ed Leap, ER physician, agrees with this statistic in an article he wrote in the Emergency Medicine News.

He states that there’s a general perception that the public automatically associates someone with an MD as having “Mucho Dinero“.

They don’t understand that many doctors enter medical school with hundreds of thousands of dollars of undergrad debt. Couple that with the skyrocketing costs of medical/dental school plus a late career start which makes it difficult to ever get ahead of the eight ball.

They’re always behind.

Leap also points out that doctors typically have a high overhead and pay close to 50% in taxes (state, local, federal, sales). Also, they have to pay for all of the insurance that most of us need (life, health, auto) plus other mandatory costly plans such as malpractice insurance.

His point is that becoming a “rich doctor” continues to get harder all the time for the up-and-coming “rich doctors” as previously discussed.

He ends his article with this statement:

We can put off the discussion as we have been for years, but the fundamental issue is this: To keep practicing medicine as it is, physicians will need to be paid more money or be required to pay less in education and in practice.

Otherwise, rich doctors (who are also smart doctors) will start to do the math. And when they do, they’ll realize that they simply can’t afford to do it anymore. Being rich is rapidly becoming just too expensive.”

His outlook for us doesn’t seem too promising.

Should You Have Been a UPS Driver Instead?

Med School Insiders performed an income analysis between a physician and UPS driver. By the way, the video creator is a physician.

Here’s the Youtube video with the explanation below:

Let’s take a look and then you decide if you should be asking yourself, “What can BROWN do for you?” 🙂

In the analysis, they made the following income assumptions:

  • Primary Care Physician (PCP) = $217,000
  • Specialist = $316,000
  • UPS Driver = $74,000

Also, they factored in that the average doctor attends:

  • 4 years undergrad training
  • 4 years medical school
  • 3-7 years residency

Don’t forget about student loans!

They assumed an average of $185,000 of student loan debt.

Compound interest

They figured that each individual saved $5,500/year with an annual 7% return.

Doctors started saving later in life, roughly 10-12 years after the UPS driver began saving due to their lengthy education requirements.

Who’s better off financially?

UPS drivers working only 40 hours per week are better off financially, ahead of both PCP’s and specialists, until the age of 34.

Working longer hours

If a UPS driver works the same hours as a physician, it takes longer for physicians to catch up.

They made the assumption that overtime for a UPS driver = $45/hour.

You can see from the above graphic that it takes specialists until the age of 41 to catch up with UPS drivers.

Even worse for PCP’s, it takes them until the age of 53 to catch up financially (35 years after high school).

Bottom line

After his detailed analysis, his conclusion is this:

Don’t become a doctor for the money.”

If you were to ask him, “Are doctors rich?”, I guess he’d answer, “It depends on what stage of their career they’re in.”

High Earning Potential

Even before you became a doctor, you were probably aware that medical professionals typically have a high earning potential.

  • Maybe that was the ONLY reason you chose your field?
  • Maybe you wanted to help sick people and make a difference?

It doesn’t matter.

Your personal preferences are just that…personal.

Once you completed all of that hard work and received your first check, reality probably began to sink in to just how high your earning potential really was.

Damn, I’m never seen so many zeroes in my life!!!!!!”

are doctors rich

But does that automatically ensure that you’re going to be rich?

Having a good income and being rich are two different things.

Being “rich” can mean different things to people.

For our purposes today, let’s consider that a rich doctor is one that has a high net worth instead of only focusing on the income.

Income vs Net Worth

how to become wealthy

Just because a doctor makes bank, it doesn’t automatically guarantee a high net worth.

Income is what you earn while net worth is what you OWN.

Big difference.

 

 

Net worth formula

Assets – Liabilities = Net Worth

In the book, The Millionaire Next Door, the authors stated that the best indicator of someone’s wealth was their net worth. So we’ll go with that for our purposes today.

Their research found that high income potential doctors were some of the worst accumulators of wealth.

When they compared them to others who earn similar incomes, doctors tend to have a smaller than expected net worth.

Their conclusion was that no matter what income someone earns, making accumulating wealth a priority helps ensure that a high net worth is possible.

It’s safe to say that if you make $300,000 a year and spend $25,000/month (like many doctors), becoming rich isn’t a priority.

Are Doctors Rich?

So the million dollar question is….are doctors rich?

Well it depends…

White coat investor

If you subscribe to Jim Dahle at the White Coat Investor, he’ll tell you that no, doctors aren’t rich due to 6 reasons:

#1 Get a late start

#2 High student loan debt

#3 Inadequate savings

#4 Failure to insure against a financial catastrophe

#5 Inappropriate investment plan

#6 Excessive investment costs

My Thoughts

emergency fund

In general, I feel that anybody living in the U.S. is rich compared to the rest of the world.

Americans live in the GREATEST country on the planet and for that reason, yes, we’re rich beyond belief.

With that being said, let’s take a specific look about what I feel and know about doctors and their finances.

Are doctors rich compared to the rest of the world?

Yes.

For the most part, they’ll always have an above average income and for this reason will be “richer” or “wealthier” than most.

Are they as rich as they should be?

No!

If I’d have to choose a reason why then I’d say it’s #5 on Dr. Dahle’s list above, “having an inappropriate investment plan”.

Even though doctors have a high income, far too many have inappropriate investment plans for future wealth.

Think about it. If someone makes $250,000 a year, lives below their means and invests conservatively in an index fund, then there’s no reason why they shouldn’t become rich.

They should also have extra money to invest for passive income in order to give them the option to retire early.

Unfortunately most don’t follow this type of advice and spend more than they earn.

What do you think?

Are doctors rich?

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2 comments

  • Ryan

    Assume (to make an Ass of U and Me)

    I just discovered your site, spent the last 45min reading through some of the previous posts. I really enjoy the site so far.

    As a DDS seeking early retirement in the next couple years I can attest to both being fortunate and being accused of being rich. In truth, we’ve worked at keeping lifestyle creep to a minimum (my wife and I) and increasing our income. In comparison to most professions we are definitely very lucky in terms of income potential, but the core principles can apply to almost anyone.

    I will say the debt “new” dentists start with now is quick shocking. If my kids were to go dental (7th and 4th grade now) and the current schooling costs continue to rise at the current rate it could cost between 1M to 1.4M if they become Dentists. Yikes.

    Thanks again for putting this site together, I look forward to catching up with the rest of your previous content.

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