One of the most enjoyable ways I've channeled my finance geek leanings has been to offer to meet with newbies who join our practice to review their finances and help them develop confidence in a plan to pay off educational debt, invest, and save for retirement. For a surprising number of them, it's the first such discussion they've ever had, and they welcome the opportunity to lear.
The newbies seem to get more motivated to meet once they look at the group schedule to find a time when both of us will be off - and promptly take note of the fact that I'm working fewer shifts than most other colleagues at my career stage. After the conversations I enjoyed this past weekend, apparently the newbies aren't the only ones taking notice.
I use a Feedly account to follow ~50 blogs. 35 of them are physician finance blogs. The other 15 are FI/RE blogs. The vast majority of them espouse low cost index funds and eschew market timing in favor of long-term, buy and hold investing. Recently, an interesting facet of human behavioral psychology has repeatedly been surfacing in this slice of the blogosphere: CAPE fear.
True story from approximately 2002. It’s 3am the day after St. Patrick’s Day when an extremely concerned 21 year old woman accompanied by her bleary-eyed boyfriend arrive in the Emergency Department of a large urban trauma center. I am the resident on the night shift who sees them.
Me: How can I help you today?
Patient: My pooh is green!
It’s Match Day! You’re happy, relieved, and a few hundred grand in the hole. Which makes you feel a helluva lot better than the med school sweetheart couple that is in twice as much collective debt as you are. Now that you know where you’ll be training, your educational debt gets bumped up a notch to your number one source of anxiety.
Fear not, young grasshopper: the White Coat Investor (a.k.a Dr. Jim Dahle), the famed Zen master atop the mountain of physician finance, has come heli-skiing down to the valley of your negative net worth with a special promotion to put you on the fast track from poorer “than the bum in the street” (as Dr. Dahle has eloquently put it) to just plain broke to eventually wealthy.
It’s the “Fire Your Financial Advisor” personal finance course. I’ve reviewed it in depth for you in this prior blog post.
It’s not for everyone. If you are a self-motivated reader who can watch youtube videos and figure out how to fix your washing machine, you’ll be fine by reading the Holy Trinity of Physician Finance Books and setting up your own low-maintenance Newbie Portfolio until you get the hang of it.
If, on the other hand, the thought of reading a finance book immediately puts you to sleep, but video lectures that you can watch at your own pace and self-assessments designed to get you to create an explicit financial plan might rouse you to action, this could be the course that lights a fire under your butt. The hours you devote to it now will be the highest hourly rate of your medical career.
From now until March 18th you’ll get a 15% discount by using THIS LINK with the code MATCHDAY18 at checkout. Note you'll still need to click the button labeled "buy course for $499." The discounted price of $425 will be reflected at checkout.
McDreamy is even throwing in an autographed copy of his book "The White Coat Investor," which I consider part of the Holy Trinity mentioned above.
I'll receive a referral fee if you purchase the course through the link above.
If I were to create a TV show, it would be a romantic comedy for finance and efficiency nerds named “Battle of the Optimizers.” The husband and wife protagonists would constantly try to help one another by assuming household duties, resulting in well-intentioned mayhem and confusion. The battle, as it were, would pit efficiency vs. intrusiveness.
As part of the process of losing a loved one, I’ve made myself available to help a widow get through the tedious and at times overwhelming process of dotting i’s and crossing t’s in ensuring the timely legal transfer of assets into her name.
During this process, we had occasion to discuss finances in a fleeting fashion. She and her late husband have had a decades-long relationship with their financial advisor, and they pay (it hurts me to say it) 1% AUM in fees. This knowledge causes me emotional distress. She further informed me that they are also heavily invested in hedge funds. This knowledge causes me physical pain. I am not going to challenge a widow on the wisdom of investing in hedge funds in her moment of hurt. Instead, I’ll vent my pain and distress here.
My eight year old son and I were lounging on the sofa with a few minutes to spare before piano lessons commenced. Sun was streaming through windows overlooking the Pacific, warming the exposed bare skin on our arms. We were at opposite ends of the sofa, playing that game where we plant the soles of our bare feet against one another’s and attempt to “foot wrestle” the other into submission. Out of boredom, I asked him what he thought he wanted to be when he grew up.
“I don’t know...an engineer? Or someone who builds houses? And yes, I know it’s different than building with legos.”
In a moment that was as heartbreaking as it was poignant, he followed this statement up by tentatively asking me, “Unless you want me to be a doctor?”
I’ve never been a manly man - I'm the Michael Cera of physician finance bloggers.
I sang a capella and participated in the annual high school musical. I never cared for ESPN, and my final year playing in a league was as a t-ball player.
If I go a week without shaving, I resemble the Latvian exchange student who probably started the chess club at your high school - a few streaks resembling chocolate milk colonize my upper lip while an equally sparse delegation lays tenuous claim to my chin.
My first alcoholic beverage shared with someone unrelated to me was a Bartles and James wine cooler, courtesy of a friend’s older brother who generously bought us a 4 pack.
Financial Literacy for The Newly Minted Physician