Reducing Expenses for Retirement Without Sacrificing Your Lifestyle | Dr. Mart McClellan & Tim Streid

Reducing Expenses for Retirement Without Sacrificing Your Lifestyle

In the world of traditional financial planning, clients are often put on a budget in order to reduce spending and increase savings for retirement accounts. By cutting out that daily latte you love or eliminating your monthly cable bill and investing that money instead, they say, you’ll end up a millionaire by 65.

We don’t agree with this approach. Part of our philosophy is that you can enjoy life now while at the same time setting yourself up for a very secure – and very comfortable – retirement.

So while we believe in the idea of maximizing your retirement, we don’t believe in cutting out the little pleasures of life to do it. Instead, when you take a holistic approach to planning with the aim of retiring with 100% of your pre-retirement income (yes, it’s possible!), then you’ll find places to cut costs. Here are two that you may not have considered before.

Term life insurance

We don’t recommend term life insurance (except as a short-term solution in select situations) even though it’s less expensive than whole. The problem is that term life costs you in three different ways: the premiums, the associated opportunity costs, and, going by the statistics, the loss of the payout itself (approximately 99% of people outlive their term life policies).

Whole life insurance is a cornerstone of our clients’ Financial Treatment Plan. But for most people, term life isn’t fundamental to their financial plan; it’s an expense in their budget. If you’re paying premiums for term life insurance because you were told to get it but don’t know how it fits in with your retirement plan, then this could be an expense to cut.

Unnecessary fees and commissions

We see far too many dentists paying outrageous fees for financial planning that falls short and/or commissions on products that aren’t a good fit. Many go to a planner, get a fancy plan in a three-ring binder (which then sits on the shelf), and every so often meet with their financial planner to hear about the latest financial product that they absolutely need to get in on now (for a hefty fee, of course).

This is no way to approach retirement planning! Why is it that the financial products suggested two years ago are no longer good products? If the plan had been sound from the beginning and truly created with a long-term view, then the planner wouldn’t call like clockwork every year or two to fundamentally change it. Paying fees and commissions for this type of piecemeal, incohesive retirement planning is not a good use of money and should be cut from your budget.

Enjoy life now

You’re working hard to become the best dentist you can be and build a thriving practice – do you really have to wait decades to enjoy the fruits of your labors? We say no. You can live your life now without sacrificing your lifestyle and build strong retirement accounts. To learn how, check out our book, Your Retirement Smile, or visit our website.

The Spirit of Giving | Tim Streid & Dr. Mart McClellan

The Spirit of Giving

Most of us have an urge to give. We want to share the wealth and do good in the world. More than half of Americans donate to charity every year, and these donations add up to over $1 billion – every single day.

But some people hesitate to engage in charitable financial giving over concerns that if they give too much away, they won’t have enough for retirement.

If you’re a would-be giver, we have some strategies that not only allow for (generous) charitable giving but actually help strengthen your financial position, too. Impossible? Not at all.

More Than One Way to Give

Write a check, deduct the amount on your taxes (if it’s large enough), and that’s the end of it – or so most people think. While this is the most common way to give to charity, it’s not the only way.

In our financial planning philosophy, we believe in getting more than one use out of every dollar you touch. This is how you see financial gains more quickly and with less risk. And it’s not just applicable to building wealth but to charitable giving, too.

So when considering donating to a worthy cause, first rid yourself of the idea that there’s only one way to do it, because that mindset is likely holding you back from giving generously.

Strategies to Strengthen Your Financial Position Through Giving

When we create a Financial Treatment Plan with one of our dentist clients, we have a number of smart financial giving strategies to choose from. Let’s look at a few briefly.

One strategy is to “turbo tithe” where, instead of giving cash, you give in the form of stocks or some other asset while eliminating capital gains taxes. Then you repurchase that same stock or asset, now at a new cost basis that will save you on capital gains taxes in the future when you go to sell. Not only have you given to a worthy cause, but you’ve also saved on capital gains – twice.

For large donations, other options include setting up a charitable remainder annuity trust (CRAT) or a charitable remainder unitrust (CRUT). Trusts are great tools to protect your assets, ensure money goes where you want it to go, potentially save on taxes, and even bring your family or chosen cause a steady income stream. If you decide on a trust, work with a financial professional and an estate planning attorney to make sure it’s set up correctly.

Enjoying Your Money Now

Many people choose to leave money to charity in their last will rather than donate during their lifetime. But wouldn’t you like to see the impact your donation could have in the world now? We believe in enjoying your money now, and that includes enjoying the satisfaction of being a generous donor.

For more about smart financial giving strategies, retiring with 100% of your income, and more, check out our book that helps dentists plan for a rich retirement, Your Retirement Smile, and visit our website.


Source for $1 billion statistic in the first paragraph:

Beyond Social Security and 401Ks - The Real Need for Savings | Tim Streid & Mart McClellan

Beyond Social Security and 401Ks – The Real Need for Savings

Simply put, the most important factor when it comes to building wealth is your ability to save as much money as you can. Even a very high rate of return can’t build significant wealth if the initial investment is too low.

If your goal is to retire very comfortably (and for us, that means planning so our clients replace their current income 100% in retirement), then you need to make savings a priority. Here’s how and why.

The trouble with relying too heavily on 401Ks and Social Security

One of the most common savings vehicles is the 401K retirement account. That, along with Social Security income and proceeds from selling their practice, is what most dentists rely on when it comes time to retire.

However, the problem with 401Ks and Social Security is that the income is not guaranteed. As we saw just 10 years ago with the Great Recession, a recession could unexpectedly wipe out a substantial portion of the savings you were counting on to see you through your golden years. And unless Congress overhauls Social Security soon, the program will run out of excess funds by 2035, meaning there won’t be enough to pay beneficiaries the full amount of the benefits they’re expecting.

While we do believe that 401Ks have a place in retirement planning, we also believe it shouldn’t be the centerpiece.

Savings to combat wealth erosion

When we create a Financial Treatment Plan for one of our clients, one of the first pieces of the puzzle is to establish three foundational elements. One of those three is a disciplined savings rate of no less than 15% of one year’s gross household income. For example, if your gross income is $300,000, we’d like to see you putting aside $45,000 to invest in your Financial Treatment Plan.

Why 15%? Because this is the minimum reliable rate to combat wealth-eroding factors such as taxes and inflation. Wealth-eroding factors eat into your wealth twenty-four hours a day, every day of the year, and will turn your dollars into pennies if you’re not proactive with your retirement planning.

Making the most of your 15%

Now that you’ve saved 15% of your gross annual income, you need to make it work for you. It certainly won’t fight wealth-eroding factors sitting under your mattress.

Instead, we help our clients build wealth by keeping their money in motion. We show them how to get more than one use out of every dollar and how to collect smaller rates of return with lower levels of risk multiple times to build the wealth they want over time.

Plan now to retire well later

Are you ready to reassess your retirement account planning and try something new? Our goal is to help dentists replace 100% of their pre-retirement income so they don’t have to sacrifice during their golden years.

To learn more how you can do the same, visit our website and check out our book on retirement planning written for dentists, Your Retirement Smile

Optimizing Your Financial Life | Dr. Mart McClellan & Tim Streid

Optimizing Your Financial Life

What does optimizing finances look like to you? Maybe you think of putting as much as possible into your retirement accounts, or moving money around to take advantage of certain tax breaks.

We see it differently. To effectively optimize finances, you need a holistic approach that considers all three phases of wealth – accumulation, distribution, and preservation – and creates a plan that builds wealth while giving you the peace of mind that’s absent from traditional financial planning.

Here’s how:

Mindset Shift

The majority of dentists retire with just 50% of their income. Does this sound good to you? While it may be acceptable, we don’t believe acceptable is good enough. We want our clients to retire with 100% of their income. It sounds challenging, yet it’s doable.

Your first step to optimizing your finances is to shift your mindset and believe that yes, it’s possible to retire without a pay cut, and yes, you can retire without a pay cut, too, with the right planning.

Out with the Old

Next, it’s time to let go of the “conventional wisdom” you’ve heard for years from financial gurus and traditional financial planners, such as paying down all debt fast and buying term life insurance. Because if your goal is to build exceptional wealth and retire with a high-income stream, this advice doesn’t work.

We take a different approach to building wealth and some of our recommendations may seem counterintuitive at first, but they work as part of the whole Financial Treatment Plan. For instance: Some debt can be good. Whole life insurance and annuities provide guaranteed income. Distribution is just as important as accumulation.

You will be surprised at what your financial future looks like when you throw off the age-old advice and open your mind to something new.

Gather Your Team

We mostly work with dentists, smart, educated people who work hard for their success. But we see the vast majority of them make the same mistake, and that’s not putting the right team in place to help them with their finances. They may rely on a single financial advisor, or – worse – they try to do it all themselves.

This is a mistake. We recommend you have a team giving you the financial support you need, including an accountant, an attorney, an investment advisor, and so forth, each one an expert in their particular area, plus one macro advisor to advise you on the big picture. We also recommend that any financial advisor you work with is a fiduciary, who is duty-bound to act in your best interest.

Start Now

Too many people let their financial life happen to them, and they end up taking a pay cut of 50% in retirement. However, this doesn’t have to be your financial future. The sooner you start, the better the position you’ll be in to retire with 100% of your income and the peace of mind you want.

Interested in learning more? Check out our book, Your Retirement Smile, or visit our website.

How Much Do I Need to Retire? | Tim Streid & Dr. Mart McClellan | Your Retirement Smile

How Much Do I Need to Retire?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions by people thinking about retirement planning. In order to answer the question “How much money do I need to retire?”, you need to answer these other questions first:

  • What will inflation be like between now and the time you retire?
  • How will tax and retirement plan laws change and how will that affect your financial future?
  • How will your family, lifestyle, and needs change in that time?
  • Will you face any unexpected catastrophes between now and your death?
  • When will you die?

Clearly these questions are impossible to answer. Our point is that the question of how much you need to retire is not as straightforward as it seems. In fact, we think it’s the wrong question to ask in the first place.

The real question is, “How do I best position and utilize my assets so that I can maximize income in retirement?”

Retirement Planning Is More Than Accumulation

One big issue with the question “How much do I need to retire?” is that it’s focused on accumulation. What it’s really asking is, “How big should my nest egg be?”

While you will never get where you want to be without good saving habits, accumulation is only part of the puzzle. There’s another equally important part that’s typically overlooked in most retirement planning, and that’s distribution. Distribution is about planning in advance how you’ll get your money out for steady cash flow in retirement. A retirement plan that overlooks distribution planning can cost you significant amounts of money.

Plus, the typical accumulation-focused retirement planning advice tells you to lock your money away for decades at a time and let it grow without touching it. But when you do this, you get only one use out of each dollar. Instead, with smart planning you can get more than one use out of each dollar in a way that can maximize your wealth.

Is There a 50% Pay Cut in Your Financial Future?

Retirement automatically means having less income. At least, that’s what we’ve been taught to believe.

Most dentists take a 50% pay cut when they retire. A dentist who may be used to taking home $300,000 annually will have to live their golden years on $150,000 – a drastic pay cut, wouldn’t you say? And in the vast majority of cases, that $150,000 isn’t even guaranteed!

Because a decrease in income like this this is “normal,” it’s accepted. But it doesn’t have to be this way. When we create a Financial Treatment Plan for one of our clients, our goal is for them to retire with 100% of their pre-retirement income.

Does this sound impossible? It’s not. It can be done. And it can happen for you, too.

Find out more about how we help our dentist clients retire with more than the standard 50% at retirement and how you can, too, by visiting our website or checking out our book, Your Retirement Smile, today.

Investments: Doubling Your Dollars or Risking Your Resources? | Tim Streid & Mart McClellan

Investments: Doubling Your Dollars or Risking Your Resources?

For many people, investments make up a significant part of their financial portfolio. But with everything going on in the world today, is it still a smart move to commit your financial resources to stocks, bonds, funds, and other investments? Or is it asking for trouble?

The Trouble with Investments

Many people have become wealthy from their investments, there’s no doubt about that. Yet there are some issues to keep in mind.

For one, past rates of return are no guarantee of future returns. We trust and believe that putting money into investments now will grow our wealth in the future, but we don’t know for sure. No one can predict how the market will behave or what interest rates will be in two years, or twenty – no financial advisor, no billionaire investor, no sophisticated algorithm. Pinning future plans on past numbers is risky.

Next, changing interest rates can effectively kill gains from your bonds, and the market’s volatility means you can’t predict how your stocks and funds will behave. Recessions and crashes can wipe out a significant amount of your wealth in a matter of days, if not hours, and potentially delay your retirement date by years.

Taken together, it means that investments can be extremely risky – that is, when they represent too large a percentage of your overall financial plan.

Our Approach to Investments

Like many others in the world of finance, we believe in diversification. Relying too heavily on any one type of financial product puts you at risk. So, investments do have their place in a financial plan, as long as they are balanced with other products and have the right strategy behind them.

We also believe in peace of mind. Our clients are better able to weather the ups and downs of the market and interest rates when they know they will have enough guaranteed income in retirement to cover their basic expenses. Guaranteed income from well-positioned annuities means they don’t have to rely on a never-ending bull market to enjoy their golden years.

Another important part of our approach is keeping money in motion. Getting more than one use out of every dollar you earn helps you build substantial wealth while freeing yourself of the need to chase a higher (read: riskier) rate of return on each individual investment. By keeping your money in motion, you can use your financial resources to get an overall higher rate of return while keeping risk low.

An Important Piece of Your Financial Treatment Plan

Despite market volatility, fluctuating rates, and future uncertainty, we believe investments are still a good idea for most people as they plan for retirement. The key to building a solid financial future and having peace of mind is to know where and how they fit in your overall plan.

To learn how we develop Financial Treatment Plans for our clients, and how you can replace 100% of your income in retirement, check out our book, Your Retirement Smile, or visit our business website today.

Home Accessibility for Aging in Place | Claire Wentz for Streid & McClellan

Home Accessibility for Aging in Place

With people living longer and healthier lives, more seniors are choosing to age in place during retirement. However, you may have to tackle home accessibility modifications in order to do so. How can you navigate all the choices to make the best and most cost-effective decisions?

Aging In Place: Is It Right For You?

First, decide if aging in place is the right choice for you. For example, if you currently live in a two-story home, it may not be a wise idea. You’ll also need to consider what kind of budget you have now or will in the future to make renovations to accommodate your needs. Read more questions you should ask yourself at MoneyTips.

Despite the challenges, there are numerous benefits to aging in place, including:

  • Familiar surroundings as you age. Since you already know your home so well, you won’t have to adjust to a new place with new problems. You may also be safer as you age.
  • It helps you retain your independence.
  • You can avoid the hassle and inconvenience of relocating and finding all new service providers, faith groups, friends, and more. Keep the community you already know and love.

Aging in place has also given rise to the “Village Movement.” According to Zest Now, this movement supports areas where groups of seniors live, which helps them to stay in their homes. Home modification and other services are brought in or made easier for them.

Making Renovations: What To Consider

If you’ve chosen to stay in your home, it’s time to take stock of what changes your home will need.

  • Safety and Mobility
    Are your hallways well lit? Can your doorways accommodate a walker or wheelchair, if you need one? Do you have motion sensors to turn on lights? Finally, your bathroom is one of the most dangerous places in your home. Assess what changes you must do to make it safer (such as adding a non-slip shower floor, walk-in bathtub, and grab bars for the shower and toilet).
  • Convenience
    Aging often comes with difficulty in wrist mobility, so you may want to replace things like doorknobs with pulls and faucets with levers. You might also want a detachable shower head for added convenience while showering.
  • Accessibility
    If you use a wheelchair, you may want kitchen counters to be remodeled for accessibility and long-term use. This is a costly investment but may help you remain in place.
  • Budget
    While some financing is available, it’s best to see what kind of budget you have first and what you require. Do you need big changes, like a kitchen renovation, or small, like adding a ramp to a stairway?
  • Contractor
    You will need a contractor that you can trust to make modifications. They should be well-versed in options to improve accessibility, mobility, and all your needs. The Contractor Connection has a list of licensed and secure contractors in their finder tool.

If aging in place sounds like a good fit for you, here are more questions you can consider to make sure it’s your best choice from Next Avenue. Use this planning guide from Aging In Place to move forward. 

Alternative Options

However, if staying in your home seems like a costly idea or you have far too much house for your post-retirement needs, you can consider other solutions:

  • Downsizing
    Buying a smaller home might be a good option for you. Review your local listings and recent sales to get an idea of current home values and prices. It’s also important to get a good idea of what you’ll get for your home when you put it on the market (online calculators can help you estimate the proceeds).
  • Senior Communities
    These communities feature one-story homes or condos and may even require residents to be over age 55. They also provide a built-in community of seniors.

If you are healthy, aging in place might be just the ticket. Research necessary modifications and costs, and compare those to the costs of downsizing to see which option works best for your needs.


Claire Wentz is creator of Caring From Afar and author of the upcoming book, Caring from Afar: A Comprehensive Guide for Long-Distance Senior Caregivers. Claire is a former home health nurse and recognizes that our aging population means many more people will become senior caregivers over the years. Specifically, she is interested in providing assistance and support to those caregivers who do not live near their loved ones. She hopes her writing will inform them, uplift them, and give them peace of mind when they need it.

Making the Most of Your Money | Tim Streid & Mart McClellan

Making the Most of Your Money

How can you make the most of your money? If you want a secure financial future – and who doesn’t – then you should ask yourself this question.

One common approach to make the most of your money is to ruthlessly cut expenses to the bone and stick to a draconian budget. Another approach is to max out your retirement account every year; yet another is to automatically reinvest interest and dividends you earn.

But when we work with our clients, many of whom are successful dentists, we don’t recommend any of these approaches. Instead, we talk about how the best way to make the most of your money is to keep your money in motion.

What is Money in Motion?

Just as blood needs to circulate in order to keep the body alive, so, too, does money need to stay in motion. Money that stagnates in one place goes stale and prevents you from reaching your full potential when it comes to building wealth.

Yet this is exactly what most people do, because it’s exactly what they’ve been taught. Financial experts almost all say the same thing: take the money you’ve earned and put it into a retirement account that can’t be touched (without incurring a penalty) for years, possibly decades, depending on your age. Or invest it and don’t touch those investments until retirement.

This “set it and forget it” approach is appealing because it requires so little effort. But it means that each dollar you’ve put into that account has now been used just once to build your wealth.

Why is this a problem? Because it’s not the best way to make the most of your money. It’s certainly not how the financial institutions, corporations, and government (which we collectively call “the rainmakers”) make theirs.

How the Rainmakers Do It

When you deposit $10,000 into a savings account, the bank does not literally put your $10,000 into the vault for safekeeping and let it sit there. Instead, it takes your money and makes more money off of it, mainly in the form of loans to other customers. It gives you a very low interest rate while making a lot of money off your one-time deposit, all because it’s keeping that money in motion.

We find it interesting that the institutions that advise individuals like us to lock away our money for our own good for long periods of time are doing the exact opposite – and making a lot of money in the process.

Making the Most of Your Financial Future

Now that you know how rainmakers make money by keeping it in motion, don’t you want to do the same? You can build the wealth and have the retirement you want without resorting to severe budgeting or locking away your money for decades.

You can read more about money in motion and how to set yourself up for retirement without a pay cut in our book, Your Retirement Smile, or visit our website to learn more.

What Is the Return That Can Support Your Lifestyle?

Are you prepared to retire at age 65? If you’re like most dentists, the answer to that question is No. In fact, dentists are retiring later than ever before. According to a report from the ADA, leaving their practices at the age of 68.8 on average. That’s almost four additional years of work beyond what we’ve been told is the “normal” age for retirement. Part of this can surely be blamed on the fact that many people aren’t quite prepared financially to retire at 65.

What about you, are you on track to retire at 65? Do you know what return is needed to support your lifestyle? Here’s what to know in order to retire on your schedule.

Don’t Focus Just on Accumulation

Many dentists believe that for successful retirement, it’s necessary to accumulate a huge pile of assets by age 65. That’s why they focus on the first of the three wealth-building phases – accumulation – and ignore the second and third – distribution and conservation.

But we believe this is the wrong way to approach it. These three phases aren’t sequential, but are intertwined throughout life; every decision you make impacts two or possibly all three. That’s why it’s imperative to understand and plan for the distribution and conservation phases during the wealth accumulation years (i.e., while you’re making money in your dental practice). If not, you’ll likely maximize your retirement accounts without understanding exactly why or exactly how you’ll get the money out of those accounts decades later.

The True Difference Between 3% and 8%

To illustrate the importance of distribution, imagine these scenarios. Two dentists are saving money before retirement, both with the same goal of continuing to live on $300,000 a year once they stop working. The first dentist must accumulate $10,000,000 by retirement to draw that annual income of $300,000 at a distribution rate of 3%. The second needs only $3,750,000 in assets to draw that same $300,000, this time at a distribution rate of 8%.

Which scenario sounds better to you? You can see that these scenarios don’t depend on a high rate of return or even the nature of the financial products themselves, but are dependent on having the right distribution strategy in place to maximize the assets that have been accumulated. What’s important here is not the rate of return, but the rate of distribution.

Planning for All Three Phases

Our goal is to help dentists retire when they want to with the peace of mind that they have financial security to see them through their golden years and don’t have to downgrade their lifestyle in the meantime. For more info on our philosophy and how we make that happen, we invite you to peruse our website and check out our book, Your Retirement Smile.

Financial future

How Decisions Today Impact Your Financial Future

How often are you making decisions about your financial future? A lot of people answer this question by saying something like “a few times a year.” After all, you only make a few big decisions every year about retirement accounts or investments that will fund your golden years. 

But that’s not the right answer. The right answer is every day. Every financial decision you make impacts your financial future, whether that’s paying your mortgage, covering a child’s college expenses, or making changes in your practice that will affect your bottom line. Some financial decisions are bigger than others, but they all affect your financial future. 

A Microeconomic vs Macroeconomic View

These individual decisions are microeconomic decisions. They’re made on an individual level, item by item. Over time, these microeconomic decisions add up to up to affect your financial life from a macroeconomic perspective, which takes a broader point of view. Understanding how these two levels interrelate is extremely important if you want to get a good handle on your financial well-being. 

For example, think about your mortgage. How often you pay your mortgage and how much you pay towards it doesn’t just affect the loan itself. It also affects your finances on a macroeconomic level and, therefore, your financial future. When you think of it like this, you see that each decision you make when you pay a bill or make a purchase has ramifications for the whole of your financial health. 

The Consequences of Ignoring the Macroeconomic Viewpoint

Many people only view their finances from the microeconomic point of view. But doing this can cause you to lose hundreds, thousands, or even millions of dollars over a lifetime without even realizing it. You miss out on the opportunities and added value that a macroeconomic approach brings. This is a big reason most dentists retire on just half of their preretirement income. 

This viewpoint also calls into question a lot of the conventional wisdom in the finance world. Some commonly advised strategies we aren’t in favor of include compounding of interest in a taxable environment, excessive tax deferrals for retirement plan contributions, or the acceleration of debt repayment. Purchasing the wrong financial products and following the wrong strategies can result in disappointing income in retirement, too. 

A Plan with Macroeconomic Positioning

The Financial Treatment Plan we create with our clients takes into account the relationship between microeconomic decisions and macroeconomic benefits. The way we help our dentist clients plan for their financial future results in a secure retirement with no cut in income.

Interested in learning more? Look out for our upcoming book Your Retirement Smile and check out our website to discover more about the Financial Treatment Plan as well as how to take control of your financial future.