You will have a finite, but an indeterminate number of years that you will practice dentistry. Whether you work until you die or become disabled, or quit because of illness or just plain burnout, you have a finite number of years to practice. It’s just that we can’t see how many years that will be as you start out on your career path.

Let’s say, however, that we could look into the future through a crystal ball, and in the ball, we see that you have 35 years to practice dentistry. That’s it, 35 years from the date you graduate from dental school until you fall over and die in the chair. There is no more time to practice, just those 35 years. Yes, dentists are mortal, and unfortunately, some of you won’t make it 35 years.

With that in mind, you have 35 years to earn money as a dentist. How much money you make during those earning years depends on the decisions you make now and in the future, and how well you use that time. Let’s say that a reasonable net pre-tax income for a dentist in today’s dollars is $300,000 per year. Over 35 years that equates to $10,500,000 (in today’s dollars) of potential lifetime net earnings.

Now, let’s say the first year after you graduate, you take a job as an associate and earn $60,000. Now you only have 34 remaining years left to make your $300,000 in earnings (remember, you only have a total of 35 years).

Guess what? You’ve just lost $240,000 in lifetime earnings because you gave up one earning year for $60,000 instead of earning $300,000 ($300,000 potential income minus the $60,000 received)! Your lifetime earnings have just dropped to $10,260,000 (in today’s dollars), from $10,500,000.

Think that sounds wrong? Suppose we take that $240,000 you just lost and see how much it would have increased in value if it had been invested in a tax-free annuity over those remaining 34 years, at a rate of 10% interest per year, compounded. Let’s be fair and take out the income taxes you would have paid on that original $240,000, which would have been approximate $60,000, leaving a net of $180,000 for investment. Over the 34 remaining years at 10% interest compounded, that $180,000 would have grown to $5,564,278. That means if you made a smart move and acquired a practice and earned $300,000 that first year instead of taking a job for $60,000, you would have had $5,564,278 more in your savings account 34 years later.

Okay, now let’s see what happens if you associate for two years, and the second year you earn $80,000. You lost $220,000 in today’s dollars ($300,000 potential income minus the $80,000 earned) and your lifetime earnings has just dropped to $7,455,000, down from our potential of $10,040,000. If you had earned that extra $145,000, then after taxes that $90,000 net, if invested in that tax-free annuity, would have grown to $2,319,135 at 10% interest compounded over the next 33 years.

In other words, in the first two years of work following graduation, you made $150,000 while losing $5,153,585 of lifetime potential savings in addition to the lost $310,000 of lost earnings. That neat little job doesn’t look so good anymore, does it?

Okay, so now you are going to think, "How can I make $225,000 my first year after graduation?" There are a lot of people who will tell you it's impossible; it can’t be done. From their perspective they are right, for they lack the foresight and understanding needed to make it happen. And believe me, they don’t want to see it happen for you if it did not occur to them.

If you think it can’t be done, then it won’t happen for you. Not everyone is willing to do what it takes to make good money in this profession. But some of you know that good things just don’t happen without trying to make it happen. It’s obvious that the decisions you make today will have a profound impact on your economic future. For those of you who want to make the most out of those finite number of years you have to practice, there is an answer, and AFTCO has it. Call AFTCO and ask to speak with some of our clients who are enjoying the financial rewards resulting from making good business decisions. Listen to their results. See for yourself what good decisions can do for you. It's time to call AFTCO at 800-232-3826 or visit our website at It's time to call AFTCO.

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