Whether you’re a medical student, resident or practicing physician, you’re about as busy as it gets.
Despite the demands of your field and the rigors of your schedule, it’s crucial that you stay on top of your finances. And that's where we hope to offer a helping hand.
Here are the most important money dates and deadlines you need to highlight on your calendar in 2021.
Every time the ball drops, tax pros enter busy season. By the end of the January, you should have received all tax-relevant paperwork, including:
- A W-2 from your employer.
- The statements on your bank accounts and investments.
- Records of charitable deductions from the previous year.
The IRS begins accepting returns the last week of the month.
Whatever you do, don't wait until the last minute. Here's a little help to get you started.
While your knee-deep in your finances, it's also a great time to check your credit score. Your credit score informs lenders and other interested parties of your credit risk. It's based on a number of factors, including:
- How much debt you have relative to your income --- your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio.
- Whether or not you have paid past debts on time.
Many people assume their credit is fine. Others avoid checking because they know it’s not. But the worst time to discover you have poor credit is when you go to buy a house, car or other big-ticket item.
This will either:
- Prevent you from borrowing money from traditional lenders, or...
- Cause you to pay a higher rate of interest than you would have with good credit.
Another reason to to run a credit check is to ensure everything on file is correct. Inaccurate information is likely to have an adverse effect your credit score. This checkup may also reveal signs of suspicious activity linked to identity theft.
For procrastinators everywhere, this is the final day to file federal income taxes for 2019. But that's not the only reason April 15 should be on your radar:
- It’s the last day to fund a health savings account for the previous year.
- It’s the last day to fund an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) to count as a tax deduction for 2019.
- Self-employed individuals and small business owners need to pay their estimated tax bills for the first quarter of 2021.
Every May, the Council for Disability Awareness educates the general public about income protection.
Believe it or not, 25 to 30 percent of American workers will endure some type of temporary disability in their careers that will prevent them from working.
With this alarming statistic in mind, consider the following questions:
- What would happen if instead of caring for a disabled individual, you become one?
- What would happen to your practice if you were no longer able to treat patients or perform your speciality?
- How would this loss of income affect your finances, lifestyle and ability to provide for your and your loved ones?
It's no secret that physicians often have thousands of dollars in student loans to repay from medical school. If you can no longer work due to disability, this debt doesn't just simply disappear.
Furthermore, doctors tend to enjoy upscale lifestyles given their higher earnings. This would be all but impossible salaries to maintain without their source income. Medical professionals have few to no options for replacement careers that come close to paying what they make.
With all that you have to lose, your best bet to secure your income is physician disability insurance.
On the topic of income protection, medical residents in training can save up to 40% on a true own-occupation policy until the end of June.
If you're a residency is quickly nearing completion, this is something you definitely need to capitalize on.
Still need income protection? Get physician disability insurance right here.
June 15: Second quarter tax deadline
- Self-employed individuals and small business owners must pay estimated tax bills for the second quarter of 2021.
- Halfway through the year is also an ideal time to conduct another credit report check.
Come fall, the life insurance industry dedicates September to educating consumers on its importance.
According to the Life Insurance Market Research Association (LIMRA), roughly 35 percent of households would feel an adverse financial impact within one month if a primary wage earner died.
This is a good time to talk to an agent about your life insurance needs. Doctors who don’t have coverage should strongly consider a term life insurance policy.
If you are insured, this is a good time to review your policy to ensure it meets your current needs.
September 15: Third-quarter tax deadline
Self-employed individuals and small business owners must pay their estimated tax bills for the third quarter of 2021.
Around this time, your employer will start announcing the upcoming open enrollment period. This is when you will elect the workplace benefits your receive for the next year.
October 15: Deadline to file federal tax returns with an extension
If you filed for an extension on your federal tax return, this is the deadline to file. Filing for an extension also makes this the last day for self-employed people and small business owners to contribute to a Simplified Employee Pension Individual Retirement Arrangement (SEP IRA.)
Student loan payments generally begin about six months after graduation. If you graduated in May, your first payment will likely be due in November.
At some point during the year, you should determine a course of action for student loan repayment. The sooner you repay student loans, the sooner you’ll free up your income and the more your credit score will improve.
If you have the means, pay more than the monthly minimum payment. It will save you interest in the long run.
If you need to lower your monthly payment, look into refinancing options through private lenders.
If you have federal student loans, the Federal Student Aid Office can work with you to development a repayment plan.
New Year's already? The last day of the year is also the last day you can:
- Make charitable contributions and deduct them from your 2021 income tax return.
- Take a required minimum distribution from your IRA or 401(k) i f you are retired and reached age 70 1/2 during the year.
The year's end is also a good time to check — and update, if needed — the beneficiaries you have listed on your:
- Investment accounts.
- Insurance policies.
- Estate plans and/or will.
As a time-strapped doctor, you know how easy it is to overlook tasks away from work. While most of these financial dates and deadlines are still a ways out, they'll be here before you know it.
In applying our list of important money dates and deadlines to your calendar, you'll notice they can essentially be broken down into three broader categories:
- Debt repayment.
While these are certainly not the only financial happenings you need to account for in 2021, we feel these are the essentials no one can afford to miss. Not only will it help you protect what's yours, but it also prioritizes freeing up your income so you can spend more of it as you please.
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Jack is the Head of Content Marketing at LeverageRx, a personal finance company that simplifies how healthcare professionals shop for financial products and services. A Creighton University graduate and former advertising creative, he has written extensively about topics in personal finance, work-life, employee benefits, and technology. His work has been featured in MSN, Benzinga, TMCNet, StartupNation, Council for Disability Awareness, and more.