In this VETgirl online veterinary continuing education blog, guest bloggers Tom Seeko and CJ Burnett* discuss 9 painful mistakes veterinarians make with money. Please note the opinion in this blog are the expressed opinion of the authors and not directly endorsed by VETgirl.

December 2021

Mistakes HURT! Or they will eventually. Reflecting and examining common mistakes others make could help you understand what’s causing financial tumors to grow on your balance sheet. Here are 9 common financial mistakes to avoid but few know about…

First, not being crystal clear on what you ACTUALLY want.

Ask yourself, “If I were to fast forward time and imagine it being a year from today, looking back over that last year, what would need to happen for me to FEEL/SEE that I am making progress?” When we ask for someone’s “Reasons for Planning” they often say things like, “have $20,000 in my checking account” or “pay off my student loans.” But they aren’t reflecting on the potential deeper reasons why. For instance, the person that says they want $20,000 in their checking account should ask themselves, “why EXACTLY do I want that?” It could be rooted in feeling SAFE if an unexpected life event comes up or it could be some superficial reason like, “that’s what my dad tells me to do.” Either way, exploring and reflecting deeply on what you want, and why, is important in finding that motivation that makes the hard stuff easy!

Second, not saving enough.

Although, not saving enough is the result of a deeper cause: our decisions and habits. So, don’t be fooled! You probably have more control over this than you realize. Not saving enough can lead to burnout in many since they are always working but never seem to have “enough.” Some people believe it’s because they don’t have enough income. Whereas that is the case in some circumstances, in our experience, this is only true for a very small pool of veterinarians. There are two types of “saving.” “Saving to spend” and “saving towards assets that generate income.” Most people “save” money and then spend it. We see very few people saving money intentionally to build assets that generate income they don’t have to earn! When you master this skill and your assets are now producing income FOR you, you don’t have to work as hard to earn the income you need to live the life you want.

Budgeting can help initially but often only goes so far. We help hundreds every year find ways to save more money without having to count every penny.

Third, saving too much!

This is a mistake because some might have too much cash for the unexpected AND they have enough cash to pay for all upcoming planned expenses. Any cash above that amount is what we call “dead cash.” Consider putting it to work for you!

Fourth, blindly following what others do.

If someone says they are putting money in a 401(k) you should ask them “why?” because most will give you a surface level answer. Take time to research and understand WHY people do the things they do with money. You’ll find that the majority make decisions without fully knowing the impacts of their decisions short or long term. Do what makes sense for you and don’t follow the herd.

Fifth, not being curious enough.

Take control of your finances by educating yourself. Read books, watch YouTube University, and attend seminars and webinars on financial topics. You may not understand everything at first. Pick one new thing each day and learn how it works. Within a year you’ll surprise yourself! Everyone ends up somewhere, some end up somewhere on purpose, some on accident. If you don’t take control of your money, your money will always control you.

Sixth, buying different insurances that don’t protect you like you think.

Details matter when it comes to insurance. Some of the best questions to ask insurance agents are…

“What am I not asking you about that I should know about? Please help me understand my coverages and use stories so I can get a clear picture as to what exactly is covered under my policy.”
“What are the most important parts of my policy and why?”
“Are there other policies that cover more and how much are those costs?”

Seventh, a “willy-nilly” approach to paying off student loans.

What we’ve seen is that some pay them off too fast and some too slow. Very few of them look at an amortization chart and walk through the details of their decisions when examining everything else at the same time. Recognizing that every financial decision you make is connected to ALL the aspects to your financial picture is key to creating full holistic strategies on building your net worth. Should you pay off your student loans? Yes. How? It all depends. Review your “Reasons for Planning” and dig deep to make sure that there aren’t other priorities that you should be focusing on before making additional payments to your student loans.

Eighth, a misunderstanding of how taxes work.

Whether a relief vet, business owner, or associate, it’s vital to understand the basics of what goes on your tax return. Even something as simple as marginal rates and your effective taxes. There is a lot to cover here, but I will say to start with understanding the different numbers on your last 1040 filing and then proceed using the advice from mistake number five! Oftentimes people will make their decisions solely around the tax code when their understanding could be flat out wrong.

Ninth, blindly trusting professionals.

Accountants, attorneys, financial advisors, and other professionals are very good people. The problem is some might only provide advice to one part of your life or they may not spend the amount of time needed with you to build a plan and pull all the pieces together. When planning the goal should be to design something that works under the most circumstances even when life is not quite going your way.

*Tom Seeko and CJ Burnett are Registered Representatives and Financial Advisors of Park Avenue Securities LLC (PAS). Securities products and advisory services offered through PAS, member FINRA, SIPC. Financial Representatives of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America® (Guardian), New York, NY. PAS is a wholly owned subsidiary of Guardian. Florida Veterinary Advisors is not an affiliate or subsidiary of PAS or Guardian. Tom’s California Insurance License #0K79676 CJs #0K79676. Florida Veterinary Advisors is not registered in any state or with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as a Registered Investment Advisor. The individuals associated with Florida Veterinary Advisors do not maintain specialized licenses or qualifications for the financial services provided to veterinary professionals. 2021-129902 Exp 11/23

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