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Target date investment funds are an increasingly common option in many employer retirement savings plans (such as 401ks and 403bs). Yet despite their prevalence, not everyone understands exactly what they are and how they work, so this episode is dedicated to a deeper dive. We start out by explaining what target date funds are, switch gears to discussing the pros and cons of them, and finally wrap up by sharing our overall perspective on the people/situations for which they do and don’t make sense. Our goal is to provide a framework for evaluating whether or not target date funds may be right for you. Resources & People Mentioned Podcast episode #3: The 80:20 Rule of Investing Podcast episode #19: The “Other 20%” of Successful Investing Download our guide: The Toolkit for Optimizing Your Finances as an Employed Physician Download our guide: The Financial Checkup Connect With Trent and Andrew https://mdwmllc.com  Follow on LinkedIn Follow on Facebook Subscribe to The Physician’s Guide To Financial Wellness on Apple Podcast, Spotify, and Google Podcast
While retirement (or financial independence) projections are a cornerstone of any comprehensive financial plan, not everyone understands what goes into them, the different ways to run them, or how to interpret and make sense of the output. In this episode, we start by providing a high-level explanation of retirement projections, then proceed to do a deeper dive touching on these different items. Our goal with this episode is to help you understand the ins and outs of retirement projections so that you can better leverage and interpret them within the context of your own financial plan. Resources & People Mentioned Download our guide: Retirement Timeline – Key Dates & Opportunities Download our guide: Retirement Checklist – A Guide to Planning for Retirement Connect With Trent and Andrew https://mdwmllc.com  Follow on LinkedIn Follow on Facebook Subscribe to The Physician’s Guide To Financial Wellness on Apple Podcast, Spotify, and Google Podcast
While it’s not the most exciting topic to discuss, long-term care is an important one given how common long-term care events are and their ability to impact a retirement plan due to their potential cost. In this episode, we start out by providing some background and overview of long-term care and some of the numbers around frequency and cost. Based on that, we explain why it’s important to have a plan for how to protect against long-term care risks. We then wrap things up by talking about the different options for how to actually protect against this risk (which at a basic level is either buying insurance, self-insuring, or some combination of the two) and discuss some of the pros and cons of each option. Our goal is for you to come away with a good understanding of this planning area and which approach to protecting against long-term care risk is right for you based on the specifics of your unique situation. Resources & People Mentioned Download our guide: Retirement Timeline – Key Dates & Opportunities Download our guide: Retirement Checklist – A Guide to Planning for Retirement  Genworth long-term care cost calculator   Connect With Trent and Andrew https://mdwmllc.com  Follow on LinkedIn Follow on Facebook Subscribe to The Physician’s Guide To Financial Wellness on Apple Podcast, Spotify, and Google Podcast
Whether we like it or not, money tends to be an emotional topic and each of us has our own relationship with money based on our personal life experiences. When managing your finances, one of the best things you can do is to minimize the amount of stress that money adds to your life. With that in mind, this episode is dedicated to sharing tips and suggestions for what you can do to improve your relationship with money. We discuss giving yourself a cushion and living within your means, understanding the purpose of money, understanding your personal money script (and that of your spouse or partner), having a money plan that you understand in your own terms, finding the right balance between preparing for the future while enjoying things along the way, and more. Resources & People Mentioned Download our guide: The Toolkit for Optimizing Your Finances as an Employed Physician Download our guide: The Financial Checkup Connect With Trent and Andrew https://mdwmllc.com  Follow on LinkedIn Follow on Facebook Subscribe to The Physician’s Guide To Financial Wellness on Apple Podcast, Spotify, and Google Podcast
It’s not uncommon to find yourself in a situation where you have a lump sum of cash (from selling a home, an inheritance, savings having built up in the bank, etc.) that you want to invest but are having trouble deciding whether to do it all at once or in a gradual manner. It can be easy to get hung up on this decision, especially if you don’t fully understand the pros and cons and each approach and how they apply to your situation. And in fact, the uncertainty can often become enough of a roadblock that it leads to inaction and that money just sitting there (or even continuing to pile up as you save more). Therefore, this episode is dedicated to sharing some perspective for how to think through the decision and decide which approach is right for you.  Resources & People Mentioned Podcast episode #3: The 80:20 Rule of Investing Podcast episode #19: The “Other 20%” of Successful Investing Podcast episode #30: How to Manage the Emotions of Investing Download our guide: The Toolkit for Optimizing Your Finances as an Employed Physician Download our guide: The Financial Checkup Connect With Trent and Andrew https://mdwmllc.com  Follow on LinkedIn Follow on Facebook Subscribe to The Physician’s Guide To Financial Wellness on Apple Podcast, Spotify, and Google Podcast
While it’s not always the most exciting topic, estate planning is certainly one of the key areas of financial planning. However, despite its importance, not everyone understands the value of estate planning or its relevance for people beyond just the ultra-wealthy. In this episode, we provide an introduction to estate planning. We cover the basics and key documents involved, explain why estate planning is important, outline the process of actually implementing an estate plan, discuss how estate planning changes over time and when to consider updating your estate plan, and finally wrap up by sharing what to expect when it comes to working with an estate attorney, both in terms of the experience and cost. Resources & People Mentioned Download our guide: The Toolkit for Optimizing Your Finances as an Employed Physician Download our guide: The Financial Checkup Connect With Trent and Andrew https://mdwmllc.com  Follow on LinkedIn Follow on Facebook Subscribe to The Physician’s Guide To Financial Wellness on Apple Podcast, Spotify, and Google Podcast
Your tax return contains a ton of valuable information that can be quite helpful with it comes to tax planning and managing your finances. The problem is it’s not the most intuitive document and extracting that valuable information can be difficult to do. In this episode, we walk you through a checklist for reviewing your tax return. We go line by line, explaining the key items, how to find and interpret the useful information, and some of the important things to check on your tax return as they pertain to your overall finances and potential planning opportunities. Our goal is to help you decipher your tax return so you can use and apply the valuable information it contains.  Resources & People Mentioned Podcast Episode #23: 5 Strategies for Tax-Efficient Charitable Giving  Download our guide: The Toolkit for Optimizing Your Finances as an Employed Physician Download our guide: The Financial Checkup Connect With Trent and Andrew https://mdwmllc.com  Follow on LinkedIn Follow on Facebook Subscribe to The Physician’s Guide To Financial Wellness on Apple Podcast, Spotify, and Google Podcast
Roth IRA conversions can be one of the most valuable tax planning strategies in retirement. While we’ve touched on Roth IRA conversions during previous episodes of the podcast, in this episode we do a deeper dive. We explain what a Roth IRA conversion is, why you would want to consider making one in the first place, what to be aware of from a tax perspective and factors to consider before making one, the key windows where Roth IRA conversions are the most impactful (and what to be aware of during each window), and wrap up by sharing some perspective on how to view Roth IRA conversions within the context of your overall financial plan. Resources & People Mentioned Podcast episode #15: How to Minimize Your Tax Bill in Retirement Podcast episode #35: Explaining Social Security and How to Maximize Your Benefit Download our guide: Retirement Timeline – Key Dates & Opportunities Download our guide: Retirement Checklist – A Guide to Planning for Retirement Download our guide: How to Create a Paycheck in Retirement Connect With Trent and Andrew https://mdwmllc.com  Follow on LinkedIn Follow on Facebook Subscribe to The Physician’s Guide To Financial Wellness on Apple Podcast, Spotify, and Google Podcast
For most people, your home is the single biggest purchase you’ll ever make and is one of your most valuable assets. However, despite it being so important, not everyone knows how to look at it within the context of their overall financial life and plan. In this episode, we start out by explaining how your home works as an investment and a source of wealth, and how it grows over time. We then discuss how to think about converting that value into something you can use (if you want to). Finally, we wrap up by talking about how to view your home as part of your overall financial and retirement plan, some of the different roles it can play, and why each might be attractive to you.  Resources & People Mentioned Podcast episode #33: What to Know About Mortgages and Refinancing Download our guide: The Toolkit for Optimizing Your Finances as an Employed Physician Download our guide: The Financial Checkup Connect With Trent and Andrew https://mdwmllc.com  Follow on LinkedIn Follow on Facebook Subscribe to The Physician’s Guide To Financial Wellness on Apple Podcast, Spotify, and Google Podcast
When it comes to investing, there are very few “free lunches.” Asset location is one of them. In basic terms, it’s a way to improve your after-tax investment return (the one that matters) without taking on more risk, by simply being strategic about which investments you hold within which accounts, based on their unique tax treatment. In this episode, we walk through the different investment account types (Roth, pre-tax, and taxable) and explain how to think about which investment to own in each.  Resources & People Mentioned Podcast Episode #5: The 80:20 Rule of Investing  Podcast Episode #19: The “Other 20%” of Successful Investing Download our guide: The Toolkit for Optimizing Your Finances as an Employed Physician Download our guide: The Financial Checkup Connect With Trent and Andrew https://mdwmllc.com  Follow on LinkedIn Follow on Facebook Subscribe to The Physician’s Guide To Financial Wellness on Apple Podcast, Spotify, and Google Podcast
Retiring earlier than the “traditional” retirement age brings with it a number of unique factors and considerations. In this episode, we dive into five of the most important areas to address if you’re planning to retire early, and what’s unique about these compared to someone who’s retiring a decade or more later. Specifically, we cover health insurance (including the important period between retirement and Medicare at age 65), cash flow considerations and the rules for withdrawing from various investment accounts (including which ones have more or less flexibility), safe withdrawal rates, and strategy from withdrawing from your accounts (while also balancing tax and other considerations), how to view your investment allocation and the difference between retirement and financial independence and making sure you know exactly what you’re retiring “to” before making the transition.  Resources & People Mentioned Podcast Episode #15: How to Minimize Your Tax Bill in Retirement Podcast Episode #35: Explaining Social Security and How to Maximize Your Benefit Download our guide: The Financial Checkup Connect With Trent and Andrew https://mdwmllc.com  Follow on LinkedIn Follow on Facebook Subscribe to The Physician’s Guide To Financial Wellness on Apple Podcast, Spotify, and Google Podcast
When it comes to taxes, a key distinction to make is the difference between tax planning and tax preparation. Tax preparation is a reactive process that primarily consists of reporting what has already happened in the prior tax year to understand your tax liability and whether you’ll receive a refund or owe taxes when you file your return. Tax planning, on the other hand, is a proactive process that involves looking at your overall financial situation, your goals, and your expected future path, to figure out what you can do proactively to minimize your tax liability, not just in a given year, but more importantly throughout your entire lifetime. Keep in mind that just because you have someone preparing your tax return, don’t assume they’re also doing proactive tax planning for you.  Resources & People Mentioned Podcast episode #3: 6 Ways to Save on Taxes as an Employed Physician Podcast episode #15: How to Minimize Your Tax Bill in Retirement Podcast episode #23: 5 Strategies for Tax-Efficient Charitable Giving Podcast episode #27: The Key Questions You Should Ask a Financial Advisor Download our guide: The Toolkit for Optimizing Your Finances as an Employed Physician Download our guide: The Financial Checkup Connect With Trent and Andrew https://mdwmllc.com  Follow on LinkedIn Follow on Facebook Subscribe to The Physician’s Guide To Financial Wellness on Apple Podcast, Spotify, and Google Podcast
When it comes to investing, one of the principles for success is to avoid letting your emotions creep into your decision-making or behavior. Apart from maintaining a proper perspective about how the stock market has historically behaved, one of the best ways to do this is by proactively engaging in “lifeboat drills.” These involve imagining the next stock market pullback, or bear market, and thinking about how you would feel (or be inclined to react) in light of your situation, your investment temperament, and your goals. Doing this can help you put together a playbook in advance (even if that playbook is ultimately to do nothing), so you aren’t left making reactive decisions in the moment when emotions are involved.  Resources & People Mentioned Podcast episode #5: The 80:20 Rule of Investing  Download our guide: The Toolkit for Optimizing Your Finances as an Employed Physician Download our guide: The Financial Checkup Connect With Trent and Andrew https://mdwmllc.com  Follow on LinkedIn Follow on Facebook Subscribe to The Physician’s Guide To Financial Wellnesson Apple Podcast, Spotify, and Google Podcast
One of the common questions we hear is how (or if) you should change your investments over time, especially as you get closer to retirement. Most people know the way they invest in their 50’s and 60’s should probably be different than the way they invested in their 30’s, but aren’t sure what this looks like in practice. In this episode, we tackle this question and share our thoughts. We cover the principle of matching your investments with your time horizon, discuss sequence of returns risk and how to protect against it, and share a framework for how to think about the right investment mix for you, particularly as you get closer to retirement and needing to withdraw from your investments to fund your lifestyle. Resources & People Mentioned Podcast episode #5: The 80:20 Rule of Investing  Download our guide: The Toolkit for Optimizing Your Finances as an Employed Physician Download our guide: The Financial Checkup Connect With Trent and Andrew https://mdwmllc.com  Follow on LinkedIn Follow on Facebook
It’s common to accumulate one or more old retirement accounts throughout your career. Perhaps you have a 403b from residency, another 403b from fellowship, and now a 401k with your current employer where you plan to stay. Regardless of how it happens, having old retirement accounts “floating” out there can be frustrating, not only from a logistical standpoint but also from the perspective of trying to coordinate and manage your overall financial situation. In this episode, we walk through your options for what to do with old retirement accounts. We cover the pros and cons of each and share the perspective you need to figure out which option is right for you. Resources Download our guide: The Toolkit for Optimizing Your Finances as an Employed Physician Download our guide: The Financial Checkup IRS Rollover Chart Connect With Trent and Andrew https://mdwmllc.com  Follow on LinkedIn Follow on Facebook Subscribe to The Physician’s Guide To Financial Wellness on Apple Podcast, Spotify, and Google Podcast
For anyone with a pension benefit through their employer, you know how confusing it can be trying to understand the value of your benefit and comparing the different options for how to collect it when you retire. In this episode, we share some background on pensions, talk about how the pension system has changed over time, and break down the various pension options and how to think about each. Specifically, we provide a framework for making the biggest pension-related decision, which is whether to choose a lump sum payout or an annuity. Resources & People Mentioned Podcast episode #12: How to Create a “Paycheck” in Retirement  Download our guide: The Toolkit for Optimizing Your Finances as an Employed Physician Download our guide: The Financial Checkup Connect With Trent and Andrew https://mdwmllc.com  Follow on LinkedIn Follow on Facebook Subscribe to The Physician’s Guide To Financial Wellness on Apple Podcast, Spotify, and Google Podcast
While unfortunately there’s no silver bullet to avoid paying taxes entirely, there are a number of things you can do to reduce the amount of taxes you do have to pay. In this episode, we share our year-end tax planning checklist and walk through some of the different areas to consider and specific strategies you can implement. We cover employer retirement plan contributions, Health Savings Accounts, 529 college savings plans, charitable giving, and backdoor Roth IRA contributions. Resources & People Mentioned Podcast episode #4: The Best Way to Save For College As a Michigan Physician  Podcast episode #23: 5 Strategies for Tax-Efficient Charitable Giving  Download our guide: The Toolkit for Optimizing Your Finances as an Employed Physician Download our guide: The Financial Checkup
Social Security can be a confusing topic with a lot of moving parts and options, scary headlines about its future, and generally speaking a great deal of misinformation and misconceptions. In this episode, we provide a comprehensive overview of Social Security. We explain what the system is and how it works, talk about the different claiming options and how to think about which strategy is right for you and address some of the common misperceptions about the Social Security system and its sustainability. Resources & People Mentioned Downloadable Guide: Setting up a My Social Security Account Downloadable Guide: Applying for Social Security Podcast Episode #15: How to Minimize Your Tax Bill in Retirement  Download our guide: The Financial Checkup Connect With Trent and Andrew https://mdwmllc.com  Follow on LinkedIn Follow on Facebook Subscribe to The Physician’s Guide To Financial Wellness on Apple Podcast, Spotify, and Google Podcast
Managing your cash can be a tricky balancing act. On one hand, you want to make sure you have enough for any potential near-term needs and to help you sleep well at night, while on the other hand, you don’t want to keep too much when you know you could be doing other, more productive, things with it. In this episode, we share our approach for managing cash. We cover the entire process, from figuring out how much to keep (between your emergency fund, any cash earmarked for near-term goals, and what “feels good”) to figuring out what to do with the cash you do decide to keep on hand.  Resources & People Mentioned Download our guide: The Toolkit for Optimizing Your Finances as an Employed Physician Download our guide: The Financial Checkup Connect With Trent and Andrew https://mdwmllc.com  Follow on LinkedIn Follow on Facebook Subscribe to The Physician’s Guide To Financial Wellness on Apple Podcast, Spotify, and Google Podcast
When it comes to mortgages and refinancing, there’s no shortage of details and questions that come up. How much should I put down for a down payment? What length of mortgage should I choose? Should I do a variable rate or fixed rate? Is it better to escrow property taxes and insurance or not? How do I know whether or not it makes sense financially to refinance my mortgage? In this episode, we dive into these questions (and more), providing a full rundown of everything home financing-related and sharing tips and guidance for how to approach the various decisions that come with it. Resources & People Mentioned Download our guide: The Toolkit for Optimizing Your Finances as an Employed Physician Download our guide: The Financial Checkup Connect With Trent and Andrew https://mdwmllc.com  Follow on LinkedIn Follow on Facebook Subscribe to The Physician’s Guide To Financial Wellness on Apple Podcast, Spotify, and Google Podcast
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