By Vittorio Mena OD, MS
Oct. 21, 2020
Practice loans can help you make the kinds of investments that provide better care for patients, and, ultimately, greater profitability. Here are the major loans I have taken out, and how I am managing to pay off these loans to limit my interest payments.
Shortly after graduation, I took out a loan for $96,100 with Bankers Healthcare Group. I also had student loans still being paid off.
I took out this loan to help pay for equipment in my new practice, including an OCT, corneal topographer, multiple retinomaxs, other hand-held devices related to sports vision and frame inventory.
I Chose a Finance Company Instead of a Bank
I partnered with a financial planning company that helps manage debt, and created a plan that allows me to pay off the loan the fastest way possible without adding any additional payments. On the path I was previously on, I was paying $3,177 a month and I would finish paying off all of my loans by 2045, paying $74,200 in interest. After working with financial advisors, a plan was created that will allow me to have the loans paid off in less than six years, saving $18,000 in interest! The monthly payments are the same as before; the way the money is allocated toward the loans is the difference. The math is based on interest, principle and the minimum payments.
The reason I chose to take the loan with Bankers Healthcare Group, and not with a bank, is because this loan is specialized for health-care professionals only. After the loan agents ask you a few questions about your profession and income, and the amount you need, you get approval within 24 hours and the funds come in as soon as three days after that. Another added benefit is that these loans do not appear on your credit score and are at a fixed interest rate.
Editor’s Note: Vision One Credit Union provides loans targeted especially for eyecare practices.
Work with a Financial Planner to Create a Personalized Plan
My financial planner, Giovanni Savo, helped me create a personalized plan to pay off debt in the fastest way possible. He used a complex program to analyze and formulate an individual plan, which focused both on my student and business debt. A written plan that you can refer back to is essential to staying on track to pay off the debt as soon as possible.
Lifestyle Sacrifices Are Worth It to Pay Off Your Debt Faster
Every extra dollar you can put toward the loans is another day faster paying that loan off. That means I do not go out to a fancy dinner every Friday night, and I skip that Starbucks coffee every day and make coffee or tea at home. Little savings here and there compounded overtime lead to great results.
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I Even Stayed On Track Paying Off My Loans During the Pandemic
Practicing in New Jersey, our office closed for examinations for about an entire month. However, the office was open to answer phone calls and for patients to pick up glasses and contact lenses and place to place new orders. When I came back to the practice, I only saw medical cases until our state gave us the green light to return back to routine care. I was fortunate enough that I did not need to defer payments, and I was able to collect unemployment with the added bonus stimulus check.
The Right Purchases Facilitated By Loans Can Make a Huge Impact on Success
Targeted equipment purchases can prime your practice to provide better care and to grow your patient base. For example, if you are in an area with more of an elderly population, a dry eye practice or low vision services can be the most suitable, and you would benefit from buying equipment such as the LipiView and LipiFlow systems. Or if you see many children in the practice, as I do, incorporating vision therapy or myopia management can become a way to provide better care while growing revenues. A corneal topographer is an equipment investment that makes a big difference to a myopia management niche.
Pay Off Debt & Reinvest Money Back Into the Practice
“It takes money to make money,” they say, but it is not the amount of money you make, but what you do with it. That might mean the profits you earn you reinvest right back into your practice or you use those profits for raises for employees who go above and beyond.
In addition to using the money generated from my loans to pay off my debt, I created a winning strategy that reinvests money into the practice. Because of this, the loans have enabled me to become more successful and to deliver better care for my patients.