Speakers to provide financial planning tips for veterinarians

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Financial planning can be a daunting task, especially for veterinarians busy juggling the demands of work and family. To help make the process easier, a daylong series of financial planning sessions is scheduled for July 22 at the AVMA Annual Convention in Denver.

The sessions will be presented by an interdisciplinary team comprising Dr. James F. Wilson, a veterinarian and lawyer; Dr. Karen E. Felsted, a veterinarian and accountant; and Fritz Wood, an accountant and certified financial planner. To help tailor the sessions to the needs of veterinarians at various stages of their careers, each session will focus on a different age group, the 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s.

Dr. Felsted explained recent graduates are focusing on negotiating salaries, paying off debt, and short-term goals.

"They are more concerned with the immediate," she said, adding that by the time veterinarians reach their 30s, they start thinking about buying a practice and saving for retirement. "By the 30s, that's when people settle down."

The different perspectives of male and female veterinarians will also be addressed.

"Part of the reason we are focusing on that is so many women are coming into the profession," Dr. Felsted said. Also, women may have different needs. "Women live longer, and they often don't make as much as men, and they may take time off for their children."

Women may also count on being the secondary wage earner, something Dr. Felsted warns against, saying that a divorce, or the death or disability of a spouse, could change that situation unexpectedly.

"It's nice to have someone to lean on," she said. "But the greatest gift you can give yourself is financial independence."