Your Online Financial Toolbox

May 20, 2016
DMD Staff

Technology can help you budget, save, and invest for your future. Here is a look at some of the online tools that can help you achieve your financial goals.

Being a dentist comes with many challenges. Not only are you likely carrying a heavy patient load, but if you’re running your own practice, you’re also the leader and boss of your staff. (You should add CEO to your title!) Technology can help your practice in many ways, from advanced electronic medical records to virtual educational conferences. Beyond your practice, though, electronic tools can also contribute to your overall financial health. For the busy dentist, technology can be a real time-saver.

Let’s take a look at some ways you can use technology to budget, save, and invest for your future. As a bonus, we’ll look at some ways to market your practice using technology.

Your Financial Check-Up

The best investors keep a good handle on where their money is, at what rate it earns, and how much they’re paying in commissions and fees. But even the savvy struggle at times to keep up with exactly how their investments are performing. Have you ever tried to actually calculate your investment returns? Do you double-check that what you’re paying in management fees is the right amount? Do you carefully look through all those investment statements, including the footnotes in 6-point font?

There are several online tools that can help—and many of them are available for free. These tools can link to any investment account, including retirement accounts, and track performance, asset allocation, and fees. Tools from Morningstar, Google Finance, and investment providers such as Fidelity and Vanguard make it much easier to not just view your performance, but to assess and potentially change how your assets are allocated.

Are you working within a budget? If not…why not? Budgets aren’t just for those living paycheck to paycheck. Online tools and budget planners, including Mint and many others like it, can be tailored to your individual needs can break down your spending patterns and help you set savings targets.

“Clicking” Coupons

People used to clip coupons, but today, we click them instead. The Internet is a smorgasbord of sales, coupons, printable or scannable 10% off slips, and other deals on everything from restaurant meals to hotels to sporting events.

Bonus: While we’re on the subject of coupons, have you ever considered offering an electronic coupon to better market your practice? Your competitors have. Online coupon companies such as Groupon include discounted services on teeth cleaning, dental exams, and other services that add patients and drive business. As more and more consumers do their business electronically, you may be missing a significant marketing and patient-generating opportunity

Make New “Friends”

The impact of social media sites on personal relationships is endlessly debatable and can be spun any which way you like. But for the purposes of this article, this means liking (fan clubs), friending (Facebook), or following (Twitter) businesses, fan clubs, and products that you frequently enjoy. If, for example, the local cigar shop or national retailer you always frequent has an online club, you may have unique access to special deals or products that the general public doesn’t. Customer loyalty plays both ways, so many companies give their most fervent supporters access to great deals. One quick caveat: try to limit the number of mailing lists and organizations you support, or your e-mail box could soon become so overwhelming that you’ll miss the special offers that are most important to you.

Bonus: Is your practice active in social media? Do your patients like and interact with your Facebook page? Do you maintain a Twitter account? You don’t have to have as many followers as Taylor Swift to make an impact on your business. In the paragraph above, you’ll see some ways that local businesses engage potential customers. You can use those same strategies to grow your patient base, increase the frequency of visits, and promote some of the services you provide.

A Final Word

When engaging in social media or using electronic financial tools, always practice good password protection and safety. Don’t log-in to any electronic account from a publicly accessible computer, don’t tack on to an unknown wifi account, and always be on the lookout for scams. Be careful responding to offers sent directly to you, as many savvy scammers will use some pretty intricate tricks to get you to share personal information or buy a product that never arrives. Always deal with sites you know and trust, and if you’re ever unsure, do the old-fashioned thing and use that old rotary phone you keep around for sentimental reasons before clicking.