Friday, September 19, 2008

No not $300

Hey all,
I hope you are having a good week.

Okay, I feel like I haven't talked about the big white elephant in the room. The economy.
At my office it is really getting bad. Not bad in a sense that we are doing bad. I mean to my patients.
We are slow but that is kind of par for the course when it comes to offering a service that people can put off.
But so many of them are really hurting.
I mean on Wednesday when the market hit the crapper, I had a patient (who is a stock broker) that was like catatonic.
He didn't even want to speak.
I use to think the market is so emotion driven but when people lose 40% of their portfolio in an afternoon, it becomes more reality than emotion.

It all started with the real estate market. Then it was gas. Now it is everything.
Now in the dental business it is we start selective marketing or do we just hunker down and wait it out.
I spoke to another dentist last week and he said this week for him has been "super crappy". He went on to say that lately it has been "crappy" but now it has improved to "super crappy".
He says he doesn't ask dentists any more because he says he knows its bad for them. But he also says that if they don't say it is slow, he knows they are lying.

So what does this mean?
This is the time where all the people that have all their wealth on wrist or on their fingers or in what they drive are crapping in their (designer) pants.
And people that live below their means, are worried but, are not suicidal.

I know people that have sick cars, I mean sick, that are really sweating.
In one sentence they will talk about their new Rolex how they got new earrings for their wife and then tell me they are scared to death over the economy.
Do even hear themselves talking?

I mean I have a $14,000 car (that I bought used) that I have had for over 5 years now, and plan on having it til the wheels fall off.
I know two people that bought new cars this week. THIS WEEK.
Is it that we can't control ourselves?
Are we so programmed to want something and then do whatever it takes to buy it?

I don't know maybe I am just judging people. But if you are driving a $60,000 car the economy has to be pretty bad for you to be complaining about money.
To me if you are paying that kind of money for a car then all the other things are taken care of.
Meaning, you have your mortgage under control, you have no credit card debt, and you make $400,000 a year...sure go crazy with your new car.
I don't think the "$150,000 a year, house poor, maxed out credit cards" guy should be buying a new car. And if he does, he shouldn't be rolling on up to the BMW dealership.
Then they say something like this...
"Oh, don't worry, they gave me this killer deal."


I saw a man about 2 months ago. He was in his retirement years. Moved to my town about 2 years prior.
He was at my office because he had a crown come out.
I told him that I had to check the tooth first and make sure it was still solid. And if it is we will cement this puppy back problem.
I went to check the tooth and it was moosh. This is not good. Moosh on teeth is bad. So I told him that I thought we could save the crown but I would have to do a bit of work on the tooth.
So I would have to charge him for a build-up and then a cementation. This would cost about $300.
He looked like I had just hit him with a 2x4. ("It hurts right here, not here or here, right here"...Tommy Boy...oh my gosh that was a funny movie).
He sat and pondered for a minute really in agony.
He said, "Just cement it in." and he continued, "I have had a real bad week. I had to replace my washer this week and I just got off the phone with my mechanic and he says I need a new radiator and now this. I just don't have it."

Now I will tell you what I did in a minute, but think about this a minute this is a man who is retired and he doesn't have $1000 to fix three broken things.
Now I am not talking about $20,000 or anything. We all know that if you have a car that the radiator will go out. And we all know that if you wash your clothes the washer is going to breakdown. We all know that if you have teeth there is always a chance that you could break one.
We have to prepare ourselves for things like this. He didn't even have a credit card to put it on. Like, "okay take care of what you need to and I will put it on my credit card and figure out how to pay for it later".
Now you could say, "John, are you so rich you are out of touch with what the regular people go through?"
I hope I am not.
This situation is across the board. People that make $40,000 are living in too big of houses and people that are making $300,000 are living in too big of houses.
People that make $40,000 are buying cars they can't afford and then in three years buying another one.
People that make $200,000 are doing the same thing.

So back to this guy.
I told him I would not cement his crown back on his moosh of a tooth.
But I did tell him I would make him a deal. I told him I would put this thing back on with strong temporary cement.
I told him I understood his money situation and didn't want this to be a burden on him.
I told him I wouldn't charge him for today.
But I told him when things settle down in his life he needs to get this thing fixed and fix it right.
I put this thing back on, I didn't charge him, and I never saw him again.

So how did this man get himself into a position to be 67 years old and likely have nothing in his savings account?
I have told you about the book The Millionaire Next Door, it talks about people that are doing it right are cash poor.
No not like this 67 year old.
They mean, while you are in your money making years, you are putting everything extra you have in savings accounts. 401k's, 529 plans for the kids, and or debt reduction.
But when it comes to buying a new just don't have the money. You have the money but it is where it is suppose to be. Not on your fricking wrist.

Lets say we work for 35 years. For dentists that is to 61 years old. Now lets say you put away 5% of your money. Now you are asking 5% of 35 years to last you about 25 years. Think about it.
No you really need about 20%. But that is 20% of about 39 years. So you work until you are 65. But you have to make sure you are not going to live past 80. So you can ask 20% of 39 years to last you 15 years. Now that sounds better.
But God forbid you live until you are 90. Can you say, "Mother-in-law suite".
But that means we have to save 20% of our money. Anyone doing that?

Last thing...Money.
Have you heard stuff like..."it is the root of all evil", actually as I get older I am beginning to believe this more and more.
How about this one..."you can't serve two masters. Either you will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money." (Lk 16:134)
How about..."It is hard for a rich man to get into heaven" (Mt 19:23)
Does having money, prosperity and success guarantee godliness or moral virtue? No, in fact, it is more of the opposite. It leads to pride, cruelty, and abuse of people.

I have been all over the board today.
I have to write these things between patients sometimes so when I come back to the computer I have different thoughts.
Hence the above.
We talked about the economy, spending more than we have, we talked about getting old and not having any money, then what we need for retirement, then we talked about money and Heaven.
A lot of food for thought.

But I couldn't write this blog without quoting one more thing.
"What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?" (Mt 16:26)
Oh by the way the Bible talks about money more than any other subject. It has like 2800 verses about money.

Have great weekend.
Go Gators beat the crap out of UT. Is that too much to ask for?


Anonymous said...

The reason God created money and enabled us to earn it is so that we could show by the way we use it that money is not our treasure, Christ is.

- John Piper

Anonymous said...

For all Dentists out there who are uneasy about the current economic conditions, I want to recommend this company out there, thats affordable and professional. They do direct mail advertising that has drawn a lot of success for my patient recruitment campaigns. They are based out of Minnesota.

-Dr Jay


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