I met a recent dental school graduate looking for a practice to buy. He was married and had one child and a second on the way. He was trying to decide what area he was interested in purchasing a practice and he felt compelled to explain to me that “the money was just not that important.”

What he meant to say was that, in the process of selecting a practice, money, or how much money could be made in the practice, was a secondary consideration. This, of course, is a mistake. Not that money should be the driving factor when selecting a practice. It’s just that money is important, and its importance should always be understood.

I asked the young doctor, “How many years do you plan on practicing dentistry?” His reply was thirty to thirty-five years. “And how many years do you plan on living?” I asked. He was somewhat taken back by this question but replied that he didn’t know.

“Do you think you could die or become disabled, or possibly become too ill to practice before thirty or thirty-five years?” I asked. He replied, “I guess I could.”

“Do you have a crystal ball that you can look into and see that you are going to be willing and able to practice dentistry for the next thirty or thirty-five years? If you do, then you have no problem, and you are correct, money is not that important. If you don’t however, then it is crucial.”

You don’t know how many years you will have to earn a living practicing dentistry, so the ability to make money now while you can is imperative. You have an indeterminable, but finite, number of years to practice dentistry. It may be thirty or thirty-five years, or it may only be five years. The point is you don’t make plans for the future based on living and working for thirty-five years. If you are smart, you plan your life as though you only have five or ten years.

Financial security and how soon you can achieve it is the most important factor when planning your future, and that planning process can never start too early. Financial security is having enough money to weather any unpredictable future storm, so to speak. If you have a family to support, then you have to think about how they will survive economically should something prevent you from practicing. You plan for the future by considering worst case scenarios, not the optimistic best cases.

Financial security will not be achieved through a casual indifference to financial matters. A practice opportunity should be viewed for its earning potential every bit as much as any other consideration. From a financial security standpoint, it should be the most important factor.

The more money you earn now, the greater the chance you will have to achieve financial security in your professional lifetime ultimately. Your practice years are finite, and they may number five, ten, twenty or thirty years. You just don’t know, but it only makes sense to make the most of them.

Dentistry is not a fun business; it is hard work. You got into dentistry to make a healthy living and to provide financial security for your loved ones. Don’t cop out by saying that money is not important unless you are already wealthy. In that case, you are right; it’s not important to you.

But if you are one of those new doctors who is not rich, then judge all practice opportunities, not so much from a cost perspective, but from its present and future income potential. The more money you can earn in the shortest time possible should always be of prime importance when considering practice opportunities. You and your family deserve no less. Mistakes are costly and unnecessary, and few doctors can afford them. It's time for you to call AFTCO at 800-232-3826 or visit our website at www.aftco.net for more information.

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