How junior medical practitioners can plan early for a better return on life

EARNING your M.B.B.S., M.D., B.D.S. or D.D.S., depending upon the naming convention of the medical school that you are attending is a lengthy, expensive and challenging process.

Whether it is a personal calling or a calculated financial gain, doctors and dentists spend many years in school – only to work long hours, deal with high levels of stress or having to put their skills to their highest uses in potentially life-changing situations – when they start their career.

One nice trade-off for that high bar to entry is that doctors and dentists tend to be high income earners who gain more and more autonomy as they progress in their careers.

Nevertheless, younger junior doctors and dentists who have yet to draw six-figure income need to build strong saving, spending and investing habits early in order to enjoy those benefits later.

Here are three reasons how a financial life plan can help younger doctors and dentists boost their quality of life and retirement nest eggs.

Achieving balance in life and spending goals

Dr Selina Dang

According to Glassdoor and, the median income for a qualified doctor in Malaysia is about RM102,000 and dentists, potentially higher in the RM144,000 range. It can be very tempting for these younger doctors and dentists to treat those first few pay cheques like winning lottery tickets.

As a new member of a group of professionals who are generally high earners, you must guard against the impulse of wanting to own the same expensive objects and do the same things as your peers to appear socially as important as them.

Younger doctors and dentists must be prepared to manage this jump responsibly. If splurging on a big house or a luxury car slows down your debt repayments or drives up your credit card bills, you might be spending the early part of a rewarding career under a mountain of debt.

Hence, revisit your budget with your life-centred financial planner, scale up your comforts appropriately, pay down your debts, and continue to put money into your savings and investing accounts. Essentially, having a financial life plan will help you achieve a balance between long-term goals with short-term fun.

Insure yourself and your professional future

Generally, the younger you are when you buy an insurance policy, the lower the premiums and better the benefits will be. If you have family members or loved ones who are financially dependent on you – or have debts to pay off – it is crucial for you to have a term life insurance with disability and critical illness cover.

This ensures that your family members and loved ones are supported and your financial obligations are taken care of in the event of an unfortunate event or untimely demise. Buying pure term insurance early makes better financial sense as it will help lock it at a lower premium. There are also personal tax reliefs available for these insurance plans.

However, few younger doctors and dentists run out and buy a policy before they start eying a new car or a bigger house. If you are keeping your monthly spending at reasonable levels and sticking to your financial life plan, you should be able to afford a good policy that suits your needs.

Further, if you gain financial independence earlier in life and can self-insure yourself, then you can retire early and cancel your insurance plan.

Being able to live your best life possible

With the support of a solid spending, saving, and investing strategy, younger doctors and dentists might not feel the need to grind longer and longer hours. That could free you to find better work-life balance or use your skills to give back.

Instead of scrambling for extra shifts, you might choose to volunteer a few hours every week at a free clinic or find more time with friends and family. If starting a family is one of your goals, you might feel more confident that you have the time and means to do so.

Committing earlier in your career to long-term financial goals can also provide you with a sizable nest egg well ahead of a typical retirement schedule.

Compounding interest in large savings and investment accounts can keep earning you meaningful income as you age and start to scale back your hours. With expert guidance from your life-centred financial planner, you could plot an early retirement goal. Or you might start to feel entrepreneurial later in your career and use your resources to start your own practice.

Now that you are a practicing doctor or dentist, what are your short, medium and long-term financial life and professional goals? By working with a life-centred financial planner, you will gain more clarity and feel more confident to enjoy life more.

Financial planners can help you discover what matters most to you, review your current financial situation and offer suggestions on how to get the best life possible with the money you have. – Feb 19, 2023


Dr Selina Dang, CFP is a licensed financial planner with Coreplus Advisory Sdn Bhd and a certified member of the Financial Planning Association of Malaysia (FPAM).

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.


Main photo credit: Forbes

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