The cosmetic dentistry market value is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13% from last year into 2030, with revenue forecasts to reach $89.0 billion.1 Studies2 indicate this is due to new technology, an increase in on-screen appearances, and the oral-health issues of a growing population over the age of 65.
Why? People want to look better and fix the negative effects of discolored, chipped, crooked, or even missing teeth. Cosmetic dentistry offers the transformation they desire to have more self-confidence and pursue new aspirations.
But what about you, the dental professional? Do you need a financial transformation for your retirement planning?
High-income professionals are blessed with the ability to “make” a good income by trading time and specialized skills for money. But keeping and making that money work as hard for you as you did for it is not a skill set most have. In fact, most small-business owners abdicate their investment capital to Wall Street third-party administrators whose performance history is as volatile as the financial markets themselves.
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You are not alone. The average age a dentist retires today is 69. That’s seven years later than the average American.3 The uncertainty of Wall Street and lack of a clear plan with defined measurables cause many to wonder, “How much is enough?” Under the traditional financial model of accumulation, no one can provide a definitive answer.
But there is a way to stop worrying and transform your financial future—and it’s not just about getting a higher return on investments or stacking up millions of dollars in a 401(k).
What we really want is time
How can you convert investments to time? Instead of being dependent on active labor, the focus should be on creating recurring passive income built on investment assets that historically produce sustainable cash flow. There is a precedent for this model, but unfortunately, it is unknown to most, including the majority of financial advisors.
A retirement plan that is focused on replacing your active labor (versus accumulation of capital) provides for peace of mind, less stress, and the ability to take more time off without guilt—the guilt of not believing that you must always be grinding out the work to reach some mystical retirement age. The journey is the destination, so take control of your journey!
The five freedoms
Once you have financial certainty, the freedom of time allows for expanding freedom in relationships, health, and purpose—i.e., enjoying life on your terms.
At the base is financial freedom such that you are not dependent on anyone to control your finances. You have the sustainable, asset-based income necessary to support your family and lifestyle without dependence on trading time for dollars.
With the freedom of time comes the ability to focus on relationships that allow you to be with the people you want to be with and do the things you love to do, when and where you want to do them. Additionally, time freedom allows for focus on your health and the legacy you will leave.
The security of “having enough” is the driver of every hard-working entrepreneur. Unlocking financial freedom is the key to buying back your time. With more free time, the remaining three freedoms are magnified instead of postponing them indefinitely for a retirement date or “someday” in the future.
You can’t move forward staying at the status quo
Traditional retirement plans focus on accumulation and don’t provide for sustainable, predictable income or cash flow. For example, when you put your hard-earned money into a 401(k), you cannot access those funds until age 591/2. Your money is stuck on Wall Street being managed by a third party for years.
When retirement comes, most financial planners will advise you to move your money to more conservative investments such as CDs, US Treasury bills, or bonds with meager returns unable to provide any significant cash flow income. Successful retirement is all about income!
If you find yourself in this situation, the time to make a change is now. After all, you wouldn’t knowingly fly on a plane that had duct tape holding the wings together. At some point, that patchwork will come apart and lead to a catastrophic conclusion.
The golden goose metaphor
With today’s inflationary environment, all roads lead to income with alternative investments that provide cash flow. Enter the golden goose metaphor.
In the cash flow model of alternatives, the golden goose (the asset) is never sacrificed. It continues to produce income (the golden eggs). With the accumulation model, the golden goose is sacrificed over time, eventually depleting (or killing) the entire goose. (See the Trinity Study.4)
So, how can you transition from your labor-active income to a lifetime of asset-produced income? Create a cash flow model that works for you.
Prep for a volatile future
The future will not be a duplication of the past. We’ve had 40 years of artificially suppressed interest rates and are likely entering a period of stagflation like the 1966–1982 period of no growth (stagnant stock market) with high inflation/cost of living. This is why the focus on income and cash flow is so important. We will not continue to experience the growth of the last 12 years that made everyone feel wealthy (the “wealth effect”5).
Consequently, you can either keep doing what you’ve been doing, or you can find another path. To mitigate market volatility, you will need a different model.
What alternative investments are available outside of the accumulation model? I love tangible, physical assets like real estate and businesses where anyone can conduct the research and find the opportunities and geographic locations for strong value-added investments.
There are many alternative investment options, such as direct ownership, private lending, and syndications in mobile home parks and self-storage facilities, that provide cash flow with diversification. It’s about obtaining the knowledge to make smart choices and redeploy assets you already have—e.g., 401(k) savings, a commercial building you own, insurance policies, etc. To do this, you’ll need to take the next step.
Build a network or relationship capital
Relationships are the key to developing a financial plan built on alternative assets for income (your network is your net worth) where it’s more important to know “who” than “what.” You don’t need to go it alone. Just be sure your guides have a proven track record navigating the full market cycle and help you stay on the forefront by providing resources and risk mitigation.
Get rid of uncertainty negating your future freedom
By building a financial plan based on income/cash flow from alternative investments, certainty becomes clear, which then reduces stress and pressure and allows for peace of mind. This creates more time, better relationships, a focus on health, and ultimately, purpose, meaning, and legacy (the five freedoms).
Don’t live your life with regrets
Making money and having security are important but doing it the right way—by not working harder and being more effective in your life—is what it’s about. After all, you can always make more money, but you can’t make more time. The value of money decreases with time, whereas the value of time remains constant.
If you are worried about your financial future, it’s time for a transformation. Learn about alternative investments, build a network of people who can help you, and create a game plan for the future. Then, you can transition to a retirement of financial freedom where you spend your time doing what you love with the people who matter most.
Editor's note: This article appeared in the July 2023 print edition of Dental Economics magazine. Dentists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.
- Cosmetic dentistry market size, share & trends analysis report by product (dental systems & equipment, dental implants, dental crowns & bridges), by region, and segment forecasts, 2022–2030. Grand View Research. https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/cosmetic-dentistry-market
- Cosmetic dentistry market forecast and trends in 2022. United Consumer Financial Services. July 27, 2022. Updated October 10, 2022.
- Bateman A. 5 reasons dentists retire 7 years later than the average American (and how to fix that). Dental Economics. January 7, 2022. https://www.dentaleconomics.com/money/article/14214867/why-dentists-retire-7-years-later-than-the-average-american-and-how-to-fix-that
- Cramer J. Updated Trinity Study and the 4% rule–2021 and beyond. The Best Interest Blog. January 20, 2021. https://bestinterest.blog/updated-trinity-study-simulation
- Liberto D. The wealth effect: definition and examples. Investopedia. January 7, 2021. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/w/wealtheffect.asp