Finance expert Dr. Lisha Taylor's personal money goals for 2024

By Altelisha "Lisha" Taylor, MD, MPH
Published March 19, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Setting annual financial goals can help alleviate physician burnout and allow you to be more flexible in your career. 

  • Some of my personal 2024 goals are to grow my emergency fund and to set aside more savings for vacations—this will help me to avoid accumulating credit card debt each time I need to relax and recharge. 

  • I also want to pay down one of my student loans (as not all of my loans are eligible for forgiveness) and invest more in retirement accounts.

Just because you are a physician with a comparatively high income doesn’t mean you don’t need to make financial goals. Without a plan in place, you may find yourself living paycheck-to-paycheck or in considerable amounts of debt.

"I know plenty of physicians who inflated their lifestyle too quickly and got accustomed to living in a way they can barely sustain."

Lisha Taylor, MD, MPH

Their expenses are so high they are not able to save money for their kids’ college, invest for their own retirement, or cut back at work despite their strong desire to do so.

In an effort to be fully transparent and avoid some of these pitfalls, here are some of my own money goals of 2024. 

Goal #1: Save $15,000 in my emergency fund

If 2023 taught me anything, it’s that not having money available when I need it is a stress I don’t want to endure again. In the last year alone, I had moved across the country, took 3 months off after training (after 20+ years of schooling, I’m sure many of you can understand the need for a brief reprieve!), and needed to wait for credentialing to be set up at my new job, so I was a little stressed about money. 

"This stress taught me that an emergency fund is important, even as a doctor."

Lisha Taylor, MD, MPH

My plan this year is to prioritize building it up. When I was in fellowship, it was difficult to save 3 to 6 months of expenses. Now that I'm an attending physician and my pay has increased, that goal is much more feasible.

Related: Residents and fellows: Don't fall prey to these 5 money mistakes

For me, that means saving an additional $15,000 over the next 12 months. Not exactly easy as a PCP, but something I’m confident I can do given the salary increase I saw transitioning from fellowship to my new role as an attending physician.

Goal #2: Max out my work retirement account

Last year I wasn’t able to contribute the maximum to my work retirement accounts. This is partly because I was still in fellowship for half of the year and I didn’t start working as an attending until last fall. 

"Now that I will be working as an attending for the full calendar year, maxing out my work retirement account is an attainable goal."

Lisha Taylor, MD, MPH

Related: From residency to retirement: How compensation changes over a physician’s career

It also helps that the money that goes to this account will be automatically deducted from my paycheck before I get paid, making it much easier to “set it and forget it.”

The maximum I can contribute to the 403b at my job is $23,000, but my employer gives a match of an additional 7% of my salary. If I were over the age of 50, I could contribute $30,500 into the account and still get that 7% match. 

While your match may be higher or lower than mine, most doctors have access to a work retirement account, and they make enough money to get the match at their job and therefore max out that contribution entirely.

Related: 6 investment accounts to help you retire early

Goal #3: Pay off one of my student loans in full

Like many physicians, I took out student loans to pay for medical school. Although most of my loans qualify for the public service loan forgiveness (PSLF) program, 10% of them do not.

I was awarded a “primary care loan” by my medical school. Although it was federal money, that loan cannot be consolidated or combined with other federal loans, and thus does not qualify for forgiveness with the PSLF program.

Related: 4 steps for repaying your student loans

These types of loans require a physician to work in primary care, meaning the government needs a way to ensure that recipients are actually working in that field. If the government allowed this loan to be consolidated, they would not be able to check to see if the doctor is in fact still working in primary care.

"Had I known that loan didn’t qualify for PSLF, I wouldn’t have accepted it, but hindsight is always 20/20."

Lisha Taylor, MD, MPH

I will need to pay off this loan in full, and my plan is to do so by the end of the year. 

Goal #4: Save in advance for upcoming vacations

Last year I took a trip to Hawaii and Alaska that ended up costing a bit more than I planned. This year, I’d like to avoid overspending on travel by saving money in advance for vacations.

This year, I have some awesome trips planned, including a family vacation to South Africa, a colleague’s wedding in France, and a friend’s nuptials in California. My plan is to save $500–$750 per month into a “vacation” fund that I can use to cover the cost of these trips. 

Doing so will prevent me from using my emergency fund and help me avoid taking out credit card debt, making these trips less stressful and more enjoyable. I plan to keep the money I save in a high-yield savings account so that it can earn interest while it is sitting in the account. I also plan to utilize credit card points so that I can find and book luxury vacations for more affordable prices.  

Goal #5: Increase my income through side gigs

I like my job as a physician, but I have other passions outside of medicine. One of them is helping physicians with personal finance and wellness. One way I plan to do that is by starting a new podcast called Wealth Minded MD with one of my physician friends and teaching a financial wellness curriculum for early-career physicians.

My goal is to make both projects financially viable and have some revenue left over to increase my savings and put even more money in investment accounts.

To that end, my plan is to put at least $10,000 of the money I make this year into investment accounts that will grow over time. 

Related: Physician side-hustlers! Don't give all your money to Uncle Sam

What this means for you

It's not too late! You, too, can make some changes in 2024 to make this year better than last year, financially. Maybe you need to increase your emergency fund, save more for vacations, pay down some student loans, or set aside more of your income for investing. Or maybe you plan to launch a new business or take on a side gig for some extra revenue. Regardless of what it is, rest assured that I’m on this journey with you. Let’s invest in our financial futures together by making some solid 2024 money goals.

Read Next: 5 tax-efficient ways to increase your income
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