5 things new dentists should consider doing while paying off their student loans

Smart decisions a new dentist's salary can go towards after paying off student loans.

Congratulations! You have just finished paying off your student loans.

Now what?

Financial planning, of course, doesn’t end once the student loan debt has been eliminated. With more money available in the budget, there are a number of smart decisions new dentists can do to make sure their futures are bright in terms of financial stability.

The New Dentist News talked to several sources about a to-do list once student loans are paid off: Santo LoPorto, a senior director of Equitable Financial Life Insurance Company, an ADA-endorsed firm that consults with members on financial and retirement planning; Stephen B. Dunbar III, J.D., executive vice president of the Equitable Advisors Georgia Branch; Alex Macielak, manager of business development and partnerships for ADA Member Advantage-endorsed loan refinancer Laurel Road; and Allen M. Schiff, C.P.A., president of the Academy of Dental CPAs.

1. Retirement planning is first and foremost, said Mr. Macielak, and the key is starting early. “People shouldn’t put it off until they have paid off their loans,” he said.

2. For new dentists with children, establishing a 529 college savings plan — officially known as a qualified tuition plan — is a tax-advantaged savings plan operated by a state or educational institution to help people save for future college costs, Mr. Schiff said.

3. Since many dentists are ineligible to establish a Roth IRA because of salary limitations, it’s important to build what is known as a tax-exempt “bucket” to minimize taxes now or in the future, and to provide flexibility when taking withdrawals, said Mr. Dunbar.

4. Build a team of experts that can help dentists with deciphering the often-complicated big picture of financial planning, said Mr. LoPorto, a group that includes attorneys, accountants and financial planners.

5. Make planning a habit and automatic, and always focus on progress, not perfection, Mr. Dunbar said.

There are other resources available from the ADA on planning for the future. As the only retirement program endorsed by the ADA for its members, the ADA Members Retirement Program has been designed to meet the needs of the dental community, by offering dentists a way to help build their retirement assets and take advantage of potential tax savings today. The ADA Members Retirement Program contract is a group annuity contract issued by Equitable.