• Margaret Curtis, MD

Why We Need to Understand Finance

Updated: Jan 30, 2019

I am a pediatrician, married to a urologist, and a mother of three. My husband and I are therefore in the middle of a complicated and fortunate Venn diagram:

Venn diagram: dual physician, low earner/high earner, parents outnumbered by kids

I wouldn’t change a thing. I have, however, learned a great deal about finance, money management and careers to keep this train on the tracks. A few things I have learned:

Everyone Needs To Understand Personal Finance

Very, very few people can afford to spend blithely and let the saving part manage itself, and you are not one of them. Being a doctor, being married to a doctor, being a single doctor – none of these let you off the hook.

Even if you are partner to a financial whiz, you need to at least know where your money is being kept and what the overall goals are. The only thing worse than being a wealthy high-flier who spends her way to bankruptcy, is being the partner of this person.

Physicians Need to Understand Personal Finance

Doctors are famously bad at managing money. This is well understood by the financial community, who see doctors as both affluent and naïve. All physicians have a big old target on their back that financial professionals can see a mile away, that reads “I have debt, high income and no time or energy to devote to figuring out my personal finances”.

Women Physicians Need To Understand Personal Finance

Many very smart people have written about women in both finance and medicine. Whether women physicians need different financial advice deserves its own blog post – actually more than one.

We are demographically different: we are younger, more likely to be married to other physicians , to work in lower-paying specialities and to work less.

Many women feel they have been socialized and educated to avoid handling their own money, and are put off by the hypercompetitive world of finance. (Forgive me for generalizing. If you are a woman and a physician who is relentlessly confident, astute and cuts through financial prospectuses with an intellectual razor blade, I want to interview you). Many men feel this way, too. But because I am a woman and a physician, this is the perspective I use.

The good news is that good money management skills are the same for everyone, regardless of gender. Compound interest doesn’t care who you are, and retirement plan contribution limits apply to everyone the same.

Get out of debt, save for the future, get a great job: you can do all of this. You have done harder things already, probably today.

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