New Year’s resolutions to get on the right track
With a new year around the corner, December can be both a time for wrapping things up – like presents and budgets – and looking ahead. If finances are an area where you’d like to make improvements in either your personal life or business, AVMA’s economists have some ideas to get you started.
Whether you need to create a personal budget, knock down debt, plan for the future, or step up your career growth, now is a good time to map out a plan. “Don’t let the new year go by without assessing your financial situation to make sure you’re on course to achieve and maintain financial health,” says Dr. Bridgette Bain, associate director of analytics in the AVMA Veterinary Economics Division. Here are some places to begin:
Create a personal budget and stick to it. The AVMA’s personal financial planning tool can help you identify where you spend money and find ways to set aside more for personal priorities like retirement, debt repayment, or a much-needed vacation.
Invest in your career. Think about where you are now and where you want to be in the future. The AVMA Veterinary Career Center is much more than a job board and has tools to help you reach your goals – including career planning resources and our veterinary salary calculator. The career center also will host a virtual career fair on March 7, 2019, to connect veterinary job-seekers with employers in real-time, so save the date in your calendar now!
Learn as much as you can about ways to better manage your money – because knowledge is power. Look for financial CE online, at conferences, and in the magazines and newspapers you read.
Put a solid budgeting process in place for the new year. Review financial statements, consider economic conditions and the business climate, set realistic goals, and create a process to measure and review key performance indicators (KPIs) year-round. Check out AVMA Chief Economist Dr. Matt Salois’ DVM360 articles on setting and achieving goals for inspiration and advice.
Plan for charitable care. If you expect to help injured animals brought in by Good Samaritans, or want to cover costs for a client experiencing financial hardship, consider enrolling in the American Veterinary Medical Foundation’s Veterinary Care Charitable Fund. It’s a free program that allows AVMA members to collect tax-deductible donations to care for needy patients.
Re-engage with lapsed clients. Every practice has clients whose animals are overdue for exams and aren’t getting the preventive care they need to stay healthy. Partners for Healthy Pets offers a free inactive client re-engagement toolkit that has been proven successful in bringing inactive clients back into the clinic. Check out the data that show how successful the program is, and find this toolkit with other free tools on the Partners for Healthy Pets website.
Standardize your accounting to align with best practices. This will help you measure your practice performance against industry benchmarks. You can use the AAHA/VMG Chart of Accounts, which is endorsed by the AVMA and free to all veterinarians.
Dr. Bain offers more ideas for financial New Year’s resolutions for both veterinarians and veterinary students in the AVMA’s Eye on Economics column in the December issue of dvm360. Whether you’re most interested in bolstering your personal finances or advancing your business, it’s never too early – or too late – to focus on financial goals.