Read Your Way to a Better Financial State

By Steve Barrett
Sunday, January 1, 2017

You could spend eye-glazing hours perusing a bookstore’s personal finance section and agonizing weeks reading the 74,000 blurbs that an Amazon search yields on the subject, but finding engaging books with valuable guidance might still involve plenty of guesswork.

James M. Dahle, MD, FACEP, of whitecoatinvestor.com, offers recommendations to help physician readers cut through the clutter:

  • Personal Finance for Dummies, by Eric Tyson. “[A] comprehensive look at the subject in the usual dummies format,” Dr. Dahle writes. He adds praise for another book by Tyson, Mutual Funds for Dummies, which helped Dr. Dahle find his own way out of the financial woods years ago.
  • The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need, by Andrew Tobias. Readable and witty, this book remains a best-seller more than 30 years after it was first published, Dr. Dahle notes.
  • The Only Guide to a Winning Investment Strategy You’ll Ever Need, by Larry Swedroe. Written for those who have some knowledge of the relevant terminology, Swedroe’s book helps readers map a comprehensive, personalized approach to investing.
  • The Intelligent Investor, by Benjamin Graham. This is “perhaps the greatest book ever written for the masses on value investing,” according to Dr. Dahle. The author’s role as Warren Buffett’s mentor doesn’t hurt, he adds.

Physician, Know Thyself, Financial Advisers Urge

New physicians facing Godzilla-grade student loan repayment should abandon the illusion that there is some universally agreed-upon balance between shrinking one’s education debt and meeting other financial responsibilities.

The reality, according to Indianapolis-based wealth advisers Geoffrey M. Tomes and Bruce Wayne Gaylord of Noyes Group LLC, is that a happy equilibrium doesn’t look the same for all physicians.

The “perfect” solution of repaying debt while simultaneously plunging substantial dollars into investments may not work for everyone, they write in Physician’s Money Digest. Physicians needn’t apologize for bringing both hard math and individual comfort levels to their approach to early-career finance.

“As with much in life, compromise may be the most appropriate solution,” Tomes and Gaylord write. “There isn’t a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ approach. There are emotional as well as financial considerations.”

They note that physicians who have considered the benefits of judicious use of debt but who are ill at ease owing money may well be making the right decision by choosing to pay down debt before focusing on investing. While that does raise questions about when those providers may be able to begin saving for, say, retirement or their children’s education, it does not necessarily mean they haven’t thought things through. They may simply know themselves.

Median indebtedness among 2015 medical school graduates was $183,000, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.