I'm not counting on selling my practice for retirement

I'm not counting on selling my practice for retirement

I invest, I earn a lot as an owner, and I plan to retire at a reasonable age.
Aug 01, 2008

I started a retirement account as a young associate because my employer offered one. The account representative came to a staff meeting at the practice and talked to us about the plan. Since the funds came directly out of my paycheck, it seemed easy, so I signed up.

As I've gotten older and met more professionals my age in different types of careers, retirement planning has come up in conversation more and more. I've also seen my parents struggle because they didn't plan early enough for retirement.

Now I own a practice, but I'm not counting on its sale proceeds to fund my retirement. It doesn't take a CPA to see that there's no value in my practice. The first two years my practice was open, I didn't pay myself at all. This is pretty standard—all of my friends who've started practices have done the same. Now, in my fifth year of practice ownership, I pay myself production plus 5 percent of the practice's gross revenue for management.

There's no money left over to use for future land purchase or anything else—that's where my retirement plan comes in.

I have to admit that when I got married, I let my husband take over the retirement planning. He's an endodontist, but he's passionate about investing and travels all over the country taking courses in finance. In fact, he wants to retire from dentistry and become a financial planner. So I know I put the maximum into my account every year, but that's about it.

The important thing is that I have peace of mind about my retirement finances. In addition to our retirement accounts, my husband and I own rental houses, the commercial office building that houses my husband's practice, and a nice stock portfolio.

We save money every month for our kids' college educations. If all goes well, we'll retire as young as possible and not be working in our 70s like both sets of our parents.

—Dr. Christine Ortner, DABVP, Cascade Summit Animal Hospital; West Linn, Ore.