What do you want to get out of life? Is there a voice inside your head telling you to be this or to achieve that? Do your goals for yourself and your family seem out of reach?
As physical therapists, we were trained to be problem solvers. So every time we see a patient (or random stranger in the mall), our P.T. brains turn on instantly. They don’t even have to tell us anything, but from the moment they walk past us, we come up with educated P.T. diagnoses of what the patient may have.
All accredited Physical Therapy schools teach aspiring clinicians how to do an Evaluation, Assessment, and Treatment Planning. This is skillfully documented on our widely used S.O.A.P. note form (Subjective, Objective, Assessment, Plan). This format allows us to consolidate our findings to develop the best treatment plan for our patients.
Evaluation (S-O) is where we gather pertinent information to help the patients with complaints and difficulties. It consists of a comprehensive interview and physical examination process.
Assessment (A) is where we make sense of all the findings we gathered. This involves prognosticating, formulating problem lists, and creating short- and long-term goals.
Then we execute the Treatment Plan (P) for a predetermined amount of time, and after the sessions, we Re-Evaluate to adjust our approach as needed.
This is our training, the set of skills that makes us good clinicians. We do this over and over throughout our careers to help clients with their physical impairments and functional challenges.
Do you know that these skills could personally help you succeed in life? These could help you be the best P.T. for your patients and realize your personal and financial goals.
Yes, putting your life in the system of S.O.A.P. format could be what you need to be a successful “whatever you want to be.” You can apply this to any skill, state of mind, hobby, work, dream, and financial goal.
How to use the S.O.A.P. format
Always start by researching the body of knowledge you wish to excel at or want to accomplish. Knowing the patient’s diagnosis is essential, like what you do when you sit down with your patients.
Proceed by asking the right questions to tease out your present situation and what you may lack. In the S.O.A.P. note, this is when you do the interview and perform the appropriate tests; all of these are tailored to your patient’s presence. The examples below show you how we did that in 2019.
Initial Evaluation – 01/26/2020
S:> Towards the end of 2019, we bought our first home. This purchase drained our savings accounts to less than 2 months’ expenses. We are not used to this, and although we are not as intentional in spending as we want, we still live with a significant cash cushion. The fear of not having the ability to pay our bills worries us.
We just spent the holiday season house-poor and paycheck to paycheck. This problem is made more difficult by the recent virus outbreak. My wife lost her job, and I cut my pay because fewer visits are needed. As a result, we now experience some feelings of insecurity around money.
I came across Financial Independence on a personal finance podcast I have followed. We were implementing some of the hacks they teach, but maybe it’s time to take them to the next level. Could Financial Independence be for us too?
If not, things still must change. If we continue with the status quo, we will eventually run out of money. Getting in debt will be our only option from that point on.
- Average monthly income = $4,000
- Cash (Checking Accounts) = $6,270.27
- Equity (Retirement Accounts) = $48,431.28
- Net Worth = $54,707.55
- 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom house = 2 rooms vacant
- Average Monthly expenses = $4,170
Seeing the figures will allow you to see your strengths and weaknesses. Create your problem lists, goals, and strategies based on your findings. This is when your extensive research on your topic becomes valuable. Make S.M.A.R.T. goals. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timebound)
In the P.T. practice, this lets all patient information pass your critical thinking brain to make sense of it. In addition, this approach makes your job as a P.T. efficient because you address the condition’s root cause instead of tackling it on all sides, hoping something works.
A:> The arrival and eventual explosion of Covid-19 in the U.S. have drastically reduced our income by 83%. This is because my wife lost her job, and the fear amongst clinicians and patients has reduced the number of visits I can make. We have 2 vacant rooms that we currently use for storage. We could possibly rent them out.
We were tight but still had a positive net worth (mortgage not included). However, we must plan to sell our investments to cover our everyday expenses in a couple of months. This is because our costs exceed our income by 4.25%.
Should investing take a backseat for now? We can barely fund our daily expenses. Where can we find the money to invest? The market is projected to hit its all-time low due to the health crisis. Maybe we should stop all kinds of investments, including my 401k contributions, and maintain a good cash reserve instead. The current savings rate is 4%.
Long Term Goal: Increase Net Worth by 20% in the next five months.
Short Term Goals: (in the Next Three Months)
- To not touch our retirement accounts
- To continue investing every month.
- To double our savings rate.
- To increase our income by 50%
“The Greatest Gap in the world is the gap between Knowing and Doing”John Maxwell
Your goals are right there in front of you. So close and yet so far. You already imagine yourself living it, but there’s still something you must do, which is, well… Do it!
Examine your short- and long-term goals and take the wisest next step to reach them. You can find an accountability buddy, schedule it on the calendar, and contact the right people. Just Get it DONE!
P.T.s don’t just write impeccable S.O.A.P. notes; wrap them with a big red bow, then bid our patients goodbye. Our assessment means nothing to them unless they see results. The gap is bridged by doing the plan of treatment.
- Revisit our spending patterns every 28th of the month
- Cut down monthly expenses to the essential
- Call home health companies for more PRN visits on Monday
- Rent spare bedrooms by Feb 15th
I made myself top of mind in the office regarding availability to see patients. Then, when there were no longer shortages in P.P.E.s and health protocols were already in place, patients started to pick up, and we took advantage of this.
We attacked our monthly expenses line item by line item. This article includes planning meals, calling our providers, and more strategies. The most substantial boost in our savings rate was house hacking. It allowed us to live rent and utilities-free for a year.
See how in the video below!
Different outcomes are waiting for you in the end. Re-Evaluation is the point of knowing when you have already become “whatever you want to be.” Also, sometimes goals are not realized, and our plans become ineffective. Constant Re-evaluation is the driving force of growth. It allows you to honor the goals you have achieved and revise or let go of those that fell by the wayside.
P.T.s treat this type of S.O.A.P. note as a look back on the last sessions so we can plan for the sessions ahead. In addition, it allows us to align ourselves with our patients’ expectations and assures them that we still prioritize their goals.
Re-Evaluation – 06/30/2020
S:> We have returned to building a healthy cash cushion by taking more patients and saving aggressively. This had given us some sense of security around money.
- Average Monthly Income = $6,000
- Cash (Checking Accounts) = $11,803
- Equity (Retirement Accounts) = $61,458
- Net Worth = $73,261
- 3-bedroom 2-bathroom house = 2 rooms rented
- Average Monthly Expenses = $3,070
A:>Thanks to the evolving knowledge on Covid-19, we were allowed to see more patients. Rental income from the 2 rooms in our house greatly helped. Our household income increased by 33%. We should research more on acquiring rental properties next year.
Implementing small strategies added up to reducing our expenses significantly. The lockdown helped because we did not go out to eat or watch movies. This resulted in a 26% decrease in our monthly payments. In the next 6 months, we could compute our retirement timeline using our new figures.
Six months ago, I planned to sell our 401k and Roth I.R.A. investments to cover our monthly costs. Thank goodness we didn’t have to do it, as the market hit its lowest in the year. Amidst the rampaging pandemic, we continued saving and investing (even on the market decline). As a result, our savings rate increased from a scary -4% to an exciting 48%. I should research low-cost and long-term investing options to maximize our returns.
P:> Continue as previously planned. Research rental property investing, Know our F.I. number and timeline, and Research long-term investing options.
As physical therapists, we all have a knack for solving the hundreds of complex problems our patients present. However, accumulating intense school training and years of experience in the field allowed us to be effective evaluators, goal-makers, and planners.
Personal finance is another complex problem that we can deconstruct through methodical approaches. The tools and knowledge we learned researching our fields of interest allowed us to develop a critical mind in Personal Finance like we did in Anatomy & Kinesiology.
Implement these tools. Acquire the skill you want to learn and reach the financial independence you deserve. You are at a great advantage because of your salary and, most importantly, the problem-solving skills that enable you to achieve any goal you put your mind to.
In the video below, learn about non-renewable Life Energy and maximize it to achieve your goals.
We are a Pinoy Physical Therapist duo living somewhat unconventional but intentional lives. Trying to be smarter and better than before, we surround ourselves with content, experiences, and people that help us discover practical yet powerful ways to achieve our goals.
We aim to be financially independent by making small changes to our lives. We invite you to join our journey! We hope that you learn something valuable from our experiences.
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We are NOT certified financial advisors, analysts, or CPAs. Investing strategies shared in this article and the website are not financial advice but our opinions for educational purposes only. We want you to treat our content as a preview to do your research so you can make intelligent financial decisions.
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