“Let’s Talk” is a series of conversations with industry thought leaders on topics surrounding the business of dentistry. Designed as part of the “Business Brush-up” initiative by Treloar & Heisel, it provides education and ideas for soon-to-be dental grads, and recently graduated dentists or specialists, as well as anyone who feels like they could use a business brush-up.
In this edition of “Let’s Talk,” Christian Pearson, national director of dental partnerships at Treloar & Heisel, Inc., shares highlights from a conversation with Matthew Krieger, DMD, a practicing oral and maxillofacial surgeon in Dallas.
Dr. Krieger is a featured guest at our upcoming webinar on Jan. 29.
Christian Pearson: You are best known as the author of “Broke Doctor” blog. Why did you start this blog?
Dr. Matthew Krieger: After finishing residency and starting practice, I quickly realized that many of my friends and colleagues felt the same financial stress that I did due to large student loans and practice expenses. I felt like many of us were making a good income, but we were still worried about our financial well-being.
Understanding that many new doctors, like myself, felt a bit hopeless and lost with finances, I wanted to create a blog that shared my journey with others. I wanted them to know that many of us are in similar financial positions, and there are steps we can take to improve our finances. The blog chronicles my journey and the steps I am taking to better my financial position as a doctor. I started “Broke Doctor” to help transform broke, stressed doctors into wealthy, focused doctors.
I enjoy writing about money management, budgeting and getting out of debt. I’m not a finance expert, so the blog is written from my viewpoint based on life experiences, my own studies and my own failures. I am not here to tell other doctors what to do, but rather to inspire them to take the first step in gaining control of their finances and to have hope that mounting student loan debt can be conquered.
Why are you passionate about personal finance?
In becoming a dentist, I accrued a lot of debt, as have the majority of my colleagues. I never cared much about money management as a dental student or resident. I felt that I would make so much money that it didn’t matter. And so I kind of lived however I wanted to live, buying whatever I wanted, thinking it would all work itself out. I was hugely mistaken.
I witness this in my work on a regular basis. What happened as a result?
When I left residency, I continued to pile on more debt, and I opened a practice with a large practice loan, which was difficult and stressful to manage on top of my student loans. I felt overwhelmed and lost a lot of my joy for practicing surgery. I knew nothing about starting to save for retirement, and it was not even on my radar. I was just surviving.
Although I have moved on from that practice, I was fortunate to have had a great business partner who built a successful practice and is now doing well. Yet I think both of us would agree that in the beginning, we could have done things differently from a financial standpoint and made our lives much less stressful early on.
If there was one message you could give to students, what would it be?
Don’t try to keep up with the “Doctor Joneses.” So many of us feel that we need a certain car or a certain home, and we spend money we don’t have because we have to look the part of a doctor, even if we are fresh out of dental school. Many dental students and new graduates can relate to this feeling. Right out of dental school, though, is not the best time to buy the luxury car or to take out a huge loan to start a practice. I want those things too — one day. But I’m learning to exercise patience while I pay down my student loans and begin to save some money so that I can actually afford the life I want. Piling on more payments is the last thing we should do as new doctors.
What is your current personal financial goal?
When my wife and I got married almost two years ago (she also is a dentist), we had a combined $700,000 in student loans. Our primary goal is to whittle that down because it’s crippling. Over the past two years, we have paid down almost 30 percent of our debt. Our combined loan balance is now about $498,000. Still not insignificant, but we are slowly making a dent in it. We want to be done with those loans in the next two to three years, we want to start focusing on investing for retirement, and we want to enjoy living a life without so much financial stress. We are being disciplined now so that later, we can have all the things we want. Learn more about Dr. Krieger’s story when you sign up for the webinar, “Financial Lessons Learned the Hard Way: A Conversation with ‘The Broke Doctor,’” to be held Jan. 29 at 7:30 p.m. CST.
This content is sponsored and does not necessarily reflect the views of ASDA.