Continuing Financial Ed: The White Coat Investor
It is highly doubtful that you have come to my site without already knowing about James Dahle, MD., aka The White Coat Investor.
It would be akin to knowing who the mayor of the smallest incorporated town in the US is (Elsie Eiler, Monowi, Nebraska) and not having a clue who our president is.
Jim Dahle has been a pioneer for promoting financial literacy to the medical profession, a profession known for its high income but poor financial acumen (a deadly combination and making us easy prey to financial ploys).
What Jim has done for physicians is analogous to what John Bogle (the creator of index funds) has done for investors in general .
The White Coat Investor website has been a staple of my daily blog reading ever since I first stumbled upon it (I can’t remember the exact date but it has easily been over 3 years).
It is the website I first recommend to my colleagues when I try to get them to “see the light” and change their financial habits for the better (this unfortunately has been met with limited success with the idiom “you can lead a horse to water…” coming to mind).
It is thus only fitting that the very first book I review on my website is Jim’s creation:
Date of Publish:
157 pages spanning 16 chapters
Excellent. It is a testament to Jim’s writing abilities that he can make what is often considered a dry subject easy to read and more importantly easy to understand (this should come as no shock to regular readers of the White Coat website)
I cannot stress how this, above all else, is key to a potential reader.
You can have the best advice, financial or otherwise, written between the covers but if a reader’s eyes are already glazed over that information is lost.
Unfortunately, in the realm of finance, easy reading books like this are the exception, rather than the norm.
As the title suggests, it is tailored to a medical professional at any stage of his or her career (however any professional with a similar financial trajectory as a physician can gleam some useful tidbits from its pages).
Obviously the earlier you are in your career (even in the pre-medical stage), the more benefit this book will have and the greater financial impact you will see.
I personally picked the book up in my early 40s (mid/late stage career) and still found useful topics that directly applied to me.
Each chapter is designed with a specific financial goal in mind.
The first chapter, The Big Squeeze, deals with the financial climate the physician faces, highlighted by how educational expenses are exponentially rising while physician reimbursements are declining.
This emphasizes the importance of being on the correct financial path early on as the margin for financial error is becoming razor thin and only getting worse.
Subsequent chapters range in advice for pre-medical students in how to choose the right medical school, ways to pay for medical education, and even specialty considerations for residency.
Jim also breaks down potential financial pitfalls during residency (if you have read my “I Made Every Mistake In The Book” series you can see that I am a perfect case example of what not to do)
If you are a long-time reader of the White Coat blog, the following statement should already be well ingrained in your brain, “Live Like A Resident.”
This is highlighted in the chapter aimed at the new/early attending years and I feel is the single biggest factor to jump starting your life to wealth.
If you can avoid lifestyle creep for the first few years (I didn’t), you can literally shave off a decade or more of required work.
When work becomes optional it becomes far more enjoyable and reduces physician burnout dramatically.
The last chapters deal with retirement planning, asset protection, estate planning, and evaluating financial advisors.
There is even advice on how to best maximize your take home money by efficiently maneuvering around the tax code.
These later chapters were the ones most applicable to me when I first picked up the book.
For a physician, or physician to be, this is a high yield, easy read book that will pay for itself many times over by helping you avoid financial traps that pretty much every physician before has undergone.
If you have a child or friend that has expressed an interest in a medical career, this truly would make a perfect gift. The earlier this information is incorporated, the more impact it will have financially down the road.
Financial education is sorely lacking in a physician’s training regimen. This book helps address that and ideally should be required reading in any medical school curriculum.