Doctors are often driven, competitive people who reflexively compare themselves to others. Many of us have this tendency—not just physicians.

Such competitiveness can lead us to try harder and achieve more. But it can also cause us to over-extend ourselves and our finances. Think trophy home or a very expensive car.

There’s nothing wrong with having a nice house or car, but there’s a time and place for such purchases. For most early-career doctors, taking on the associated debt is inadvisable.

I encountered a physician couple who constantly talked about their million-dollar home, inground pool, brand-new luxury German cars, and perfect nanny. Outwardly, they presented a picture of affluence which others envied.

Several years later one of them admitted their terrible mistake to me. The debt on the house and cars burdened them with payments they struggled to make. The picture of perfection they showed to others was a façade.