6 Tips for Veterinary Financial Wellbeing by VetYou

Katie Ford

Do finances make you want to put your head in the sand?

“Don’t ask how much I earn”

“My bank balance is none of your business”

“Money doesn’t grow on trees”

“Talking about money is difficult”

Sound familiar?

You are not alone.

The vast majority of us received minimal financial education, and the reality is that most of what we know about money came from what we observed growing up. Yes, we may have had some information on taxes in PSHE lessons at high school, but was it engaging enough for you to remember any of it? Probably not. Many topics were ‘hushed’ and ‘shushed’ for ‘when we are older’, and when that time came, we were still none-the-wiser. Forget not talking about Bruno, we just don’t talk enough about money (and that’s where VetYou come in!).

It is no surprise that we can shy away from the topic, but it is time to take a little bit of judgement off ourselves. How can we be good at something that we received little guidance on?

The effects of our personal finances are wide-ranging, are closely linked to wellbeing.

  • 86% of respondents to a Money and Mental Health survey of nearly 5,500 people with experience of mental health problems in spring 2016 said that their financial situation had made their mental health problems worse
  • 77% of employees admit worrying about money at work, which affects productivity, talent retention and absence rates – and that was a pre-pandemic rate. (REBA 2019). Not only that, but
  • 47% of UK adults don’t feel confident in making decisions about financial products and services (Money and Pensions Service).

Quite the set of statistics, right?

We believe that it is time that we did something about these figures, and started opening some conversations. At VetYou, we are passionate about creating financially independent veterinary professionals through education, empowerment, and connection, across the areas of our health, our income, and our future.

In the same way that we’d love our own clients to educate themselves about day-to-day ownership of their animals, we platform financial education and healthy financial habits. Equally, we also know that sometimes a professional is needed – we don’t have to train to be financial advisers, we need to stand on the shoulders of those experts that do this day in, day out. We are proud to have created some fantastic relationships with accountants, tax advisers, HR professionals, financial advisers and lawyers that know our profession and are keen to support YOU.

We have had thousands of members of the veterinary profession attend webinars over the last few years, as well as hundreds connected with financial professionals.

We realise that everyone reading this is in a different financial position, but here are SIX top starting points to improve financial wellbeing, that we’ve learned from forming the community and the expertise of our financial partners:

  1. Gain Clarity on Your Current Financial Situation

We appreciate sometimes this can feel a little scary, but we assure you that knowing exactly where you stand means that you can take action. One of the most common pieces of feedback from the community is that this step was much easier than they initially thought and quite liberating. You don’t have to do this alone, and can reach out to someone that you trust to do it with you.

Start by going through your last 1-3months of bank statements, and create an overview of monthly incomings and outgoings. Identify what is fixed and what is variable, what is necessary and what’s a ‘nice to have’. This helps with a number of things:

  • Knowing where you might like to make changes moving forward (we’re not saying stop buying coffees – this whole process is without judgement!)
  • Understanding affordability of products like protection policies, mortgages, pension contributions.
  • Spotting subscriptions that you might have forgotten to cancel.
  • Identifying whether you’d like to cut back in certain areas, or for example, negotiate a salary change.
  • Knowing who to ask for further help, or even, where to start.
  • Helps us to notice our current financial habits

Over the years we have a number of resources and top tips that might help

  • Watch our budgeting webinar, where we talk about budgeting being empowering, not restriction: Your Financial Freedom, Step One.
  • You do you. If spreadsheets give you the heebie jeebies then grab a notebook and pen. You can find our financial questionnaire template here and a walk through video as well.
  • Block off time in the diary, make yourself as comfortable as you can and remember, you are allowed to ask for help with this if you need it.
  • Go through our Financial MOT

2. Protect Your Income

We have heard so many stories at VetYou about colleagues suddenly losing their income; being kicked in a crush, bitten by a cat, or even just tripping over the kerb.

Income Protection is an insurance that will pay out a percentage of our income if we are unexpectedly sick or injured.

Similar to pet insurance, there are a variety of levels of cover, timings for payment and differences between policies. One of the reasons that we are passionate about connecting veterinary professionals with financial professionals is that they can chat through your individual circumstances and affordability, ensuring that the policy is fit for purpose if it is ever needed.

We have all been there when a client believes they have a fantastic policy, and when needed, it sadly isn’t the case.

We find too many people learn about income protection after they need it. 

Here are a few more resources to help you learn more: 

3. Create an Emergency Fund

An emergency fund, also known as a ‘rainy day fund’, is an accessible pot of cash if the unexpected happens. Once you have clarity on your current position, you might realise that you do have (for example) £50 a month spare that you choose to put into this, over a year that is £600. How nice would that buffer feel?

We appreciate that putting money away for the future can sometimes feel uninspiring, but hear us out. The worry of a broken boiler or car repairs is something that we hear from many of our community members, and creating a fund in this way means that you have peace of mind.

Keep your eyes peeled at www.vetyou.co.uk for some resources around this soon.

4. Future You is You: Pensions for Veterinary Professionals

Here’s the deal, fifty percent of the VetYou team started their pensions when they graduated, and the other fifty percent, hmmm, really wished they had.

Investing into our future fun fund can often fall to the bottom of the priority list, especially when it feels so far away. The power of compound interest means that the longer your money is put away, the more return on investment that you will receive – you’ll get interest on your interest. Simply put, starting earlier and investing the same amount can mean you have more in the pot through some financial magic.

As the proverb goes, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the next best time is now.

It is never too late to start! Your future self will thank you.

We have gathered some resources that you might find helpful:

5. The Power of Habits

“We don’t rise to the level of our goals, we fall to the level of our systems”

We love James Clear at VetYou, and this quote fits in perfectly.

What are your daily systems with money? Have you considered this before?

The small actions that make up your day, and act as a vote for our identity around finances. Again, let’s forgive ourselves of old habits that we never chose.

Often we pressurise ourselves to make huge overhauls concurrently, which leaves us scared of making any change at all. Never under estimate the power of small.

Let’s take a little pressure off, and look at doable, more digestible actions.

Examples to consider:

  • Checking your bank balance regularly or normalising opening mail with financial information.
  • Saving a small amount each month, even if it is just £1, it is a start. This helps us to see ourselves as someone that saves.
  • Noticing how we talk about money. What language are we using?
  • Noting in the calendar to run a price comparison or when insurance is due renewal.
  • Checking in on energy usage or other ongoing costs regularly
  • Listing one item online for sale that we no longer need, rather than pressurising ourselves to list everything at once (and then doing nothing)

6. There are people and organisations here to help you as a veterinary professional

We appreciate that those reading this will be in a variety of situations. Wherever you are, let us reassure you, you’re not alone.

How can VetYou help?

If you’re looking for further help with financial products such as: pensions, income protection, critical illness cover, investments or mortgages, then let us introduce you to one of the financial advisers that we have connected with that know this profession well; many of them are familiar faces from our events.

Locum vets and locum vet nurses, side hustlers and small business owners keen to know more about taxes, setting up financially, expenses or where to get started, we know a number of fantastic accountants and tax advisers.

Just want a general education around finances? Make sure to follow us on social media (@vetyoucommunity) and keep updated with our latest events and webinars. Keep your eyes peeled for a new veterinary education platform coming soon.

If we can help, drop us an email hello@vetyou.co.uk

Debt help and Support:

This doesn’t get talked about enough. So many people are a missed paycheque away from financial difficulties. The unexpected happens. If this is you, you are not alone. It can happen to anyone.

This is not an exhaustive list, but here are a number of resources that can help:

  • StepChange (Registered charity no.1016630 and SC046263.)– Free, expert debt advice and support.
  • Debt Advice Foundation (Registered debt charity no.1148498) – Provide a dedicated debt advice line as well as a number of tools and resources.
  • Vetlife: Financial Support (Registered charity no. 224776) – Provide emergency assistance for veterinary surgeons (correct July 2022), regular one off grants, professional advice on state benefits and debt. If you’re a veterinary nurse or student, click here.
  • Citizens Advice has a bank of content on starting to deal with debt.
  • A number of our financial advisers are happy to have an initial chat and see if they can help in signposting, email us hello@vetyou.co.uk

Any of us can be affected by debt or a change in a financial situation, this is why we are so passionate around putting protection and back up plans in place where possible. There is a way through it, and you don’t have to do it alone.

Can we help you move towards being a financially independent professional?

We hope that you’ve enjoyed our top tips for improving financial wellbeing, and always know, we are just an email away: hello@vetyou.co.uk.

About VetYou

The VetYou team includes: Matt Dobbs, Ebony Escalona, Paul Horwood and Katie Ford.

VetYou is a community of supportive, likeminded professionals who can help everyone make better more timely financial decisions that then allow YOU to get on with the rest of your life feeling a little more secure. A financial Wikipedia that is relevant to the veterinary professional at every stage of your career. We are a commercial entity that has created bespoke products to support your veterinary financial future alongside working with affiliate partners that we have selected as relevant to you. VetYou is funded by affiliate fees from our partners and each year we will donate to charities that support our profession.

*This post is not financial advice, just general education. Individualised financial advice should be sought from an expert. Investments and pensions can go up and down*