Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Review Of The White Coat Investor

As physicians go, I feel like a relatively savvy businessperson.  Although I don't talk about it on this website, I have owned and run a number of small businesses and been a landlord for years.  So when James Dahle sent me a copy of his book, The White Coat Investor, A Doctor's Guide to Personal Finance and Investing, I was both curious and skeptical.   What was the guy going to teach me?

Before diving in, I took a few moments to glance at his blog.  My few moments turned into hours.  The site is a trove of important and often perplexing subjects that physicians (as well as other small business people) face.  Ever contemplated these issues before:

To buy or rent property?
What defines good disability insurance?
Term or whole life?

These, as well as many other topics, are covered in a concise and digestible manner.  I urge you to take a look.

The book is an easy read.  In the first few chapters, James sets the stage for why we need to learn this important information.  Physicians are facing the Big Squeeze of rising tuition, low reimbursements, and increasing regulatory hassle.  Becoming a millionaire by age forty is quite feasible, but takes a certain amount of planning and know how.  One must be aware of how to convert high income into wealth.

Chapters four and five are indispensable for physicians in training.  Here James dissects how our decisions early on influence our future fortunes.  Such topics as loan forgiveness programs, and whether to buy property during residency are covered.  These are issues that I would have never dreamed about when I was in training, but should have!

For me, an established physician, the heart of the book comes in the next flurry of chapters.  He opens with simple enough advice, Live Like A Resident.  But as the pages march forward, the discussions become more topical and complex.  He handles debt repayment, retirement savings, and the basics of investing with common sense and clarity.  There is a particularly strong and well thought out section about the role of financial advisers.

The last few chapters cover topics that all established physicians struggles with.  Here we learn about asset protection, estate planning, and income tax management.  Any small business person or high income generator needs to understand these topic thoroughly.

In conclusion, for the medical student, struggling resident, or new attending with little financial knowledge, I believe this book is a must read that will save a small fortune both in terms of monetary well being as well as frustration.  For the more advanced investor like myself, these chapters form a stellar check list for us to rate ourselves against.  After reading this book, I clearly understand the strength and weakness of my own financial plan.

I've made a few changes already!

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