Right or wrong, for better or for worse, the most important word in medicine is “money.” That’s right! I said it! 

As the great economist Cyndi Lauper so beautifully explained it, “Money Changes Everything.” The Notorious B.I.G. expanded upon the thesis by wisely reminding us, “Mo Money, Mo Problems.” I could go on, because “Money Makes the World Go Round” (Thanks, Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey). 

After all, we have to make money or we go out of business; if we go out of business, we cannot help our patients. Why do they not understand that? 

What should you do to make sure your doors stay open? Many sage business consultants can offer to you, for a hefty fee (so they can stay in business) some very effective advice. Or you could listen to Cyndi and Biggie. I would urge you to get good advice before you are in trouble, for sure. Here’s what I do when worried about money:

1. Buy something. There’s nothing like the rush when the checkout clerk says you just saved $30. 

2. Check the change in your car’s console. The other day, I found enough for a hot dog. 

3. Go out to dinner with your grown children. When the waiter brings the check, head to the bathroom until the bill is settled. They owe you.

4. Count the golf shirts in your closet. So that’s where all that money went! 

5. Make a donation. You will always be rewarded for giving, especially if it’s your state’s optometry PAC or DVVF—Dr. Vickers’s Vacation Fund is also not tax deductible, so what’s the difference?

6. Reach out to an old friend and remind him about that lunch money you gave him in third grade. Explain compounding interest.

7. Ask your closest colleague/competitor to check your eyes. You can steal their best ideas and get smug satisfaction they didn’t make any money while with you.

8. Carry a roll of quarters at all times so you can physically tell that you have money. 

9. Buy a new piece of equipment that will benefit your patients and add potential income to your office. A gumball machine, perhaps?

10. Practice mindfulness, so when you are stressed and broke, you can be completely stressed and broke right where you are.

11. Make sure patients can always find you easily—except when they can’t adapt to their progressives.

12. Urgently motivate your patients to refer friends, coworkers and family members. I find that promising not to key their car if they refer seems to work.

13. Accept any and all insurances and vision plans as long as they require policyholders to pay for everything out of pocket. This gives you more time to binge read my column.

14. Square your shoulders and stand up straight. Look that waiter right in the eye and ask if they have a senior citizen discount. If not, order a kid’s meal. 

I truly hope this helps. Lucky for me, when I was a kid, my mom told me: “Don’t marry for money. Just hang around rich people until you fall in love with one of them.” I was married three years before I realized Renee’s dad was a coal miner, not a gold miner. Darn.