In our last post, we laid out five common reasons why dentists may fear retirement. Delaying retirement due to an underlying concern can end up being problematic in the long-term. You risk missing out on time with your family, opportunities to travel or fulfill other goals, and enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle without the hectic pace of dental practice ownership.
If you’re delaying retirement not out of fear, but because you truly enjoy dentistry and want to continue practicing as long as you can, look for future insights on our blog about alternative transition plans.
The reasons why some dentists put off retirement (when they do want to retire) can be summed up into three main categories: Financial, Emotional, and Professional.
Money is top concern for anyone considering retirement. As a dentist, you’ve spent a career in a high-earning position. As a practice owner, you’ve likely had more opportunities than most to save money. Whether that’s true for you or not, addressing financial concerns can help ease your worries about retirement. There will always be unexpected events throughout our lifetime, but plan ahead and you can anticipate many of your retirement expenses, like:
This is the number one reason many people stay in their jobs: health insurance for either themselves or their families. It’s common for health plans in retirement to be $600-$900 a month or more with steep deductibles on top of that. Weigh your options and work with a professional to point you in the right direction so you have all the available resources to make informed decisions.
In addition to health insurance, unexpected medical costs are sure to come up. Maybe it’s an accidental fall, needed dental work, or a chronic health condition. Either way, building in a cushion for these types of expenses is something to think about. And healthcare costs will rise as you get older; work with a financial planner to estimate these costs ahead of time.
Paying off your home should be a priority before retirement. Even then, there are maintenance and repair costs, homeowner’s insurance, and property taxes. Will you remain in your existing home, downsize, or sell your home and rent? These are all questions you’ll want to know the answers to.
A car payment and car repairs and maintenance are other top cost centers. Will you want to own a new car with a warranty, and make higher monthly payments? Or will you drive a slightly older car without any payments, but with the risk of paying for unexpected repairs?
Many retired dentists want to travel. If this is you, be honest about your expectations: do you want to take big, expensive trips or do you want to enjoy long weekends at nearby locales? Either answer is correct and knowing which one best suits you will allow you to better save and prepare. Many retirees fall into the trap of underestimating their travel costs in the first few years and end up spending more than they wanted to.
This is a harder area to prepare for. Most often, we find that the emotional impact of leaving dentistry is best addressed by your peers. Seek out the message boards on Dentaltown or talk to retired dentists in your area. Read books on the subject. Find other online or in-person groups where you can talk to similar people who have been where you are, and have valuable experience to share. Your dental broker can be a good sounding board and support coach, but nothing really replaces the feedback of hearing from another retired dentist.
When the desire to keep working is strong, consider alternatives to a full retirement, like volunteering, practicing dentistry part-time, or becoming an adjunct professor at a dental college. You could also move into consulting. Either of these options would allow you to stay on top of your skills, keep your mind active, and maintain a flexible schedule on your terms.