Can I retire by age 50?
The answer is a firm maybe
Andy Upchurch, RHU, REBC
WHAT WOULD HAPPEN if you were to ask a large room of people the following
question: “Would you like to be wealthy?” An overwhelming number would probably
raise their hands. But after laying out the requirements to obtain wealth and asking the
question again, fewer hands would go up. The moral of the story: While most would like
financial success, few are willing to put in the work, effort, and sacrifice necessary to
achieve it. This is why the answer to the question posed in this article’s title is maybe.
Over the past 25 years of working with dentists on their
financial health, I’ve come to appreciate certain things
about them. One of the things I love is that they generally
share a basic philosophy with me: begin with the end in
mind. I say this because, as the title to this article suggests,
many dentists begin with plans of ending their careers on
their own terms at an “early-ish” age.
Before we get into the behaviors that both aid and hinder
progress toward this elusive goal, I would ask that you
change your vocabulary. Your goal is to achieve financial
independence. “Retired” carries such finality! Maybe you still
want to practice a little dentistry, own a few practices, or
begin down an entirely new path. You want the choice to
do these things, without regard to financial implications.
In a word, you want true independence.
But if you’re going to be successful, you need to know
these four enemies of financial freedom. Let’s look at each
one and how to avoid it.
Reckless purchases are near the top of the list when it
comes to outlining the pitfalls to financial independence.
As I’ve heard Brian Cogan with Bank of America’s Practice
Solutions Group say, “High levels of credit card debt, high
car payments, and a multi six-figure home mortgage are
very telling to a loan underwriter.”
Unfortunately, the story these habits tell doesn’t always
have a happy ending. It makes conventional financing
with competitive terms harder to come by, and in turn,
difficult to make other financial goals a priority.
I get it. You put in four years of undergrad and four
years (at least) of dental school. Then, when you finally
receive a decent paycheck, you want to flex your new-
found spending muscles. But resist the temptation to
overspend. It’s OK to reward yourself, but temper this
impulse with your long-term goal for early financial