Wealth, debt and spending: How cardiologists manage their money in 2019

Cardiologists’ salaries are up, their savings are steady and their debt is minimal, according to Medscape’s annual Cardiologist Wealth and Debt Report.

Medscape’s yearly report surveyed 19,328 practicing physicians across more than 30 specialities between October 2018 and February 2019, collecting data on doctors’ spending habits, salaries, investments and debt. This is what the picture looks like for cardiologists in 2019:

Cardiologists’ salaries are on the up and up

Medscape’s numbers suggest cardiologists’ average yearly earnings are up slightly from last year, rising from $423,000 in 2018 to $430,000 in 2019. For employed physicians, that includes compensation for all patient care, including salaries, bonuses and profit-sharing contributions. More than half of cardiologists reported a net worth of between $1 million and $5 million, making them among the richest physicians in the U.S.

Of physicians with the greatest net worth, cardiologists rank mid-pack, with 13% of the specialty—mostly physicians aged 55 and up—worth more than $5 million. In comparison, 20% of gastroenterologists, 19% of dermatologists and 18% of plastic surgeons can say the same.

They own some of the priciest homes in healthcare

In line with their sizable earnings, 33% of cardiologists report having taken out a mortgage of greater than $500,000, and 36% of the physicians own a home worth more than half a million dollars. Mortgages and home prices were uniformly high across the board, but a notable 29% of cardiologists reported either having no mortgage or having already paid it off.

Cardiologists ranked third among specialists with mortgages over $500,000; just dermatologists and ophthalmologists topped them. Today, only 7% of cardiologists don’t own a home.

Most reported no financial losses in 2018

While 37% of cardiologists told Medscape they experienced financial loss over the past year—either through bad investments (19%), real estate losses (6%), practice issues (10%), legal fees (5%), job loss (4%) or divorce (2%)—the vast majority reported no significant losses.

“Let’s trash the belief that doctors can’t manage money or invest wisely,” Medscape editorial director Keith L. Martin wrote on the site. “About 63% of cardiologists said they saw no significant financial loss in 2018."

The greatest losses resulted from faulty investments, but 32% of cardiologists said they’d never made a particular investment mistake and 13% admitted they’d never made an investment at all.

They’re good at managing what little debt they have

More than half of cardiologists told Medscape they live at their means, while 43% said they lived below their means and 6% reported living above their means. Cardiologists’ apparent frugality pays off—just 16% of the specialists said they’re still paying off student loans, compared to 33% of emergency medicine specialists and 29% of neurologists.

Echoing past Medscape reports, cardiologists were most likely to report debt stemming from mortgages, car loan payments, car lease payments and college tuition for their kids. Twenty-two percent said they were working to pay off credit card debt, while 15% were paying off childcare expenses and 14% were paying off medical expenses for a loved one.

They are ‘impressive savers’

The Medscape report called around 70% of cardiologists “impressive savers,” putting aside between $1,000 and $2,000 per month into tax-deferred retirement or college savings accounts. The average personal savings rate in the U.S. was 7.6% in 2018; in 2019, the percentage of physicians saving over $2,000 per month in a tax-deferred account is 38%.

Some 45% of cardiologists currently work with a financial planner to manage their wealth, but a similarly high 30% don’t. The majority don’t have a formal budget, instead opting for a mental budget (43%) or no budget at all (41%). Around half have a clear plan for how much money they want to save by a certain age.

Find Medscape’s full report here.