End of Year Strategies: Back to the Future, Part I


No matter how well you did in pursuit of your 2016 goals, don’t let that affect your goal-setting for 2017.

The old adage is that you can’t know where you’re going unless you’re very clear on where you’ve been. This is as true for dentistry as it is for your financial pursuits. We write often about the importance of measuring actual spend versus what you budgeted, and viewing investment returns versus what you projected. But there’s more to an end of year review. Let’s take a look at a few additional things you should be considering as we near the end of the calendar year.

Let’s include this caveat, though: No matter how well you did in pursuit of your 2016 goals, don’t let that affect your goal-setting for 2017. Certainly, your progress from this year—or lack thereof—should inform your pursuits in the New Year. But just because you didn’t meet all your financial goals in 2016 doesn’t mean you shouldn’t set aggressive goals for next year, and then do everything you can to meet them.

Face that albatross head on. We all have that one thing that we know we don’t do well. For me, it’s sticking to my budget. For you, it may be impulsively moving investments around, or not putting enough aside for your future self, or not addressing your debts head on. Whatever your biggest issue is, identify it and look it right in the face. Chances are, the fear of tackling that one albatross may have reverberations across your financial planning goals.

You may not kill the albatross on the first shot, but you also may not necessarily need to. Sometimes, just the act of acknowledging your biggest financial weakness can be an important first step. Solving the issue may be less important than simply making progress toward solving the issue. Don’t let the size or severity of the albatross fill you with fear. 2017 is a new year. You’re the same investor, with more experience!

Plan to max out your retirement plan contributions next year. If you are a dentist at a large practice or are running your own practice, chances are you have some sort of retirement plan established, or at the very least, you are contributing to an individual retirement account. If you do absolutely nothing else during the end-of-year season or in all of 2017 to take control of your finances, set up your payroll deductions to max out the contributions to this plan. If you don’t have a retirement plan set up for yourself or your employees, that should be your albatross!

In part 2, we’ll look at two more must-dos for your personal finance, plus one for your practice.

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