Open and fund your IRA in 15 "simple" steps [Certain Times]

One in four physicians spend at least 20 hours a week doing paperwork, according to Medscape’s recent survey. And I’m guessing that’s why many physicians, maybe you too, have such a hard time getting on track with their personal finances.

This week I got email from a physician family who said, “So truth is we have been on a standstill. Implementation [of the plan I wrote for them] is something that is hard to get to.”

After all, implementing a financial plan takes a ton of paperwork and it also means you have to make some difficult decisions.

To see what I mean, let’s take a look at something “simple” like opening an IRA.

Here are the steps:

  1. Decide which financial institution to use. There are hundreds to choose from. Should it be your bank? Your local insurance guy? That creepy stockbroker dude who is literally knocking on your front door? Or a discount brokerage firm somewhere “in the cloud”?
  2. Get the paperwork *and* make sure you get the right forms.
  3. Fill out the paperwork. Scratch that. Find TIME to fill out the paperwork.
  4. Make the confusing “Roth versus Regular” decision. Thanks Congress...
  5. Decide how much to invest and don’t go over the limit.
  6. Choose your beneficiaries. Try not to think about dying.
  7. Ask yourself what happens if you AND your spouse die while trying not to worry about what happens to the kids, and get back to filling in the beneficiaries.
  8. Cut a check… and remember to sign it.
  9. Mail everything in before the deadline.
  10. Remember to tell your tax guru that you did all this.
  11. Wait for the account to open. And wait some more.
  12. Set up online access... and keep track of one more password.
  13. Log in to your account.
  14. Choose an investment. Will it be mutual funds, stocks or bonds? And if it’s mutual funds will it be open-end funds or exchange-traded funds? A stock fund or a bond fund? Or a little of both… but how much of each? US or international? Small cap or large? Paper or plastic?
  15. Place a trade. Never done that before? Good luck getting help from the company that’s got your IRA.

And last but not least: remember to do a bunch of this stuff again next year and the year after that.

Medscape goes on to say that the most satisfying part of being a physician has to do with “gratifying relationships with patients” and “being very good at what you do” while a tiny fraction of doctors—only eleven percent—said it’s about the money.

I know you’re not surprised by this and I’m not either, so here’s my point…

If you have a choice between (a) doing something you love, like treating patients and being good at it, or (b) filling out paperwork and being overwhelmed by it, you’re probably going to go with Option A.

And then all that “financial stuff” silently but steadily drifts down to the bottom of your to-do list until one day you wake up in your late 40s to realize your kids are ready to start college, the tuition bill is coming due, and you’re barely just starting to save for retirement, which is just a decade or two away.

Let me tell you, it doesn’t have to be like this.

In fact, don’t even have to hire a financial advisor to solve the problem.

But you do need an accountability partner: someone in your life who will:

  • educate you
  • push you to get stuff done
  • encourage you to stay on track

And maybe even fill out the paperwork and make a bunch of the overwhelming decisions for you.

Sure, this person might be a financial advisor, but it could also be a parent, your spouse, a colleague or close friend. Whoever it is though, make sure they have your best interest in mind.

Then, if you let them help, you just might find yourself back on track toward financial security.

Wishing you the best of the coming summer.

W. Ben Utley CFP® Physician Family Financial Advisors Inc. Call: 541-463-0899 Be certain.™

PS: If you’re ready to get on track for retirement and college but you don’t have an accountability partner,,raise your hand by hitting the “reply” button and I’ll do my best to reach out to you.

PPS: Thanks to Jeff who pointed out the Medscape survey.