Every year during the week of Thanksgiving, I remind you that it is time to do your Continuing Financial Education (CFE). This is it, it's CFE Week! Now, if you have never done your Initial Financial Education (IFE), I recommend you do that first. This is usually done around the same time you set up your written financial plan. There are basically three different methods to becoming financially literate and getting a plan in place:
- DIY Approach: Read a bunch of good books and write the plan yourself. This is what I did all those years ago and is the cheapest method. It is also the most time-consuming.
- Online Course: This is a shortcut method I developed because I found so many of you did not want to take the approach I took. It costs a little more, but dramatically reduces the time required to become financially literate and get a plan in place. We call it Fire Your Financial Advisor. It's an inexpensive online course that comes with a one-week, no-questions-asked money-back guarantee.
- Hire a Pro: If you lack the desire or confidence to do this yourself, there are a lot of really great people in the industry who will help you to do it. They will teach you and help you get a plan in place. If you select someone off our recommended list, you can be assured that you are going to get good advice at a fair price.
My Recommendation for CFE
Once you have done your initial financial education, I recommend you do some CFE every year. That may consist of following this blog and reading one good financial book each year. If so, I'll be telling you about some great options later in this post. It may also consist of participating regularly in asking and answering questions on a financial forum, such as the WCI Forum or Subreddit. However, other people like to attend conferences, and, guess what, registration is now open for our premier CME-offering Physician Wellness and Financial Literacy Conference (WCICON21).
Still, other people like to take online courses. For those people, we have the perfect offering—it's called CFE 2020 and consists of every talk given at WCICON20 in Las Vegas last March plus six additional hours of material found only in the online course.
Some Books I Received This Year
Every year I am sent a few handfuls of books in hopes that I will review them here on this blog. I don't do a lot of book reviews, but the ones I do tend to be run this week. Check out the stack!
Lots of great looking titles, right? The problem is there are so many of them and every time I look at them, I see the Wasatch Mountains out the windows of the office/recording studio…
…and that makes me want to ride my mountain bike. Plus I see the list of all the stuff I need to get done with WCI and before you know it, I have a dozen books sitting on my desk on the first of November and I haven't opened a single one!
Some Great 2020 Financial Books to Check Out!
So I confess I have not read every word of these books, but I have read a lot of them and thumbed through all of them. I think different books will benefit different readers, so I'm going to give you a short description of each of them, listed in order of how useful I think they will be to readers. Pick one and read it!
Unfortunately, my top book recommendation this year is also the thickest, but don't worry, it's double spaced with fairly large type! Blog sponsor Alexis Gallati is known to many of you and she wrote this book so I don't have to. There is almost nothing in it that I disagree with and, more importantly, I actually picked up quite a few pearls that I either did not know or had not yet connected. I decided to do a longer review of the book as tomorrow's blog post (and I'll likely be blogging about some of the ideas in it over the next few months), so more details to come.
My second recommendation is a very different book from the first one. This one is by physician financial blogger and WCICON20 panelist Dr. B.C. Krygowski. This is an important addition to physician financial literature. I know of no other book aimed at doctors that covers this subject matter. What is the subject matter? How to spend less. It is chockful of tips on how to have a great life while spending a fraction of what you are spending now. If the FIRE fire has been lit under you, this is your textbook to get your spending down and your savings rate up. We're not talking about taxes and financial advisor fees and mutual fund expense ratios either. We're talking about your lifestyle. Some of the 25 chapter titles include:
- Saving Time and Money by Using an Instant Pot
- Personal Chefs
- Coffee and Alcohol
- Home Exchange
- Staycations and Camping
- Weight Loss on the Cheap
- How to Save Time and Money with an Efficiently Run Household
There are a lot of subjects here that I've never seen covered at all, and certainly not in books that are aimed at doctors. It has a bit of a Your Money or Your Life flare to it, but is far more practical. I was really impressed with the cover, too.
“Third prize” this year goes to Dr. Sylvie Stacy's “50 Nonclinical Careers for Physicians”. Let's face it, clinical medicine isn't for everybody who went to medical school. But too many doctors often feel trapped in medicine because it seems like the only way they can pay off their debt and maintain their new-found lifestyle. So they muddle through with increasing amounts of burnout every year. Others just start looking for a change, something new in mid or late-career. I think the number of people interested in this material doubled this year with all the extra hassles at work and decreased income due to the pandemic. If any of that resonates with you, this is your CFE book.
Just the table of contents is worth the price of admission. “What else can I do with my MD/DO besides practice?” Well, the table of contents provides that list. Besides the ones you already know about (medical law, life insurance industry, aesthetics), there are a lot you have probably never thought about such as:
- Criminal justice
- Broadcast media and entertainment
- Digital Health
- Health Care Quality and Patient Safety
- Regulatory Affairs
- Utilization Management
- and many others.
One of the best parts of the book is that at the end of each section there is a “physician profile” talking about a real-life doctor who has built a career in this field. Now I think medical schools leaving financial literacy out of their curriculum is a huge miss. But you know what else they miss on? Non-clinical careers. This book will get you up to speed.
This is the latest in Dr. Corey Fawcett's “The Doctors Guide” series. I'm continually amazed at his ability to churn out books. This one was obviously triggered by the pandemic and its associated economic consequences this Spring. However, the book is not about navigating the COVID crisis. For example, he opens the book with his own financial crisis…finding out at the very end of residency that he really didn't actually have that dream job (or any job at all) and his wife had already quit hers!
The book begins with the classic “Lord of the Rings“ line “There is always hope.” It rapidly progresses through a step-by-step guide to what to do in order to reach that hope. Assessing the situation, stopping the bleeding, aggressively creating income, selling unneeded items, and postponing spending. He also discusses how and when to go after that emergency fund and retirement savings. He talks about other options, including debt, government aid, and family/friend assistance. While it's hard to tell you to go spend money on a book if you find yourself in a financial crisis, this one is probably worth it.
The first book out from long-time blog sponsor and WCICON speaker Sarah Catherine Gutierrez, this one is aimed squarely at women. Using the brand Ladysplaining Money, Sarah explains the one simple money move that will change your life (i.e. save 10% of your income first). This book is not physician-specific (I would have called it Save 20), but Katie has been reading and enjoying this one. She has been too busy organizing the upcoming WCICON21 to write a review on it, but she gives it two big thumbs up. Sarah excels at showing people the big picture and making complex things seem simple. She breaks down the process of building wealth into four simple steps:
- Pay yourself first
- Pay for future expenses
- Pay your bills
- Spend the rest
If you are a woman who prefers to learn from other women who have been there and done that, this is your kind of book.
If you thought Gallati's tax book looked too thick for your taste, this one by financial advisor Adil Mackwani is for you. It's only 95 pages and most subjects are covered rapidly in just 2-4. My only beef with it is that the first chapter of a tax book is about cash value life insurance. I thought Alexis's perspective on and prioritization of that subject was much better. However, he gives a solid overview of the major themes in how high earners can save on taxes. Disappointingly, this book didn't even mention my biggest deduction, the 199A (Pass-thru income) deduction. If ever there were a deduction that merited its own chapter, it's that one.
This is podcaster and financial advisor Ryan Inman's new book, accurately subtitled “Create Your Financial Plan Without the Long Hours or Sleepless Nights”. This type of book gets written several times every year, usually by a financial advisor or a physician financial blogger. This is one of the better examples of the genre. It's nice and short at 135 pages and hits all the most critical subjects for your own written financial plan. The biggest failure of the book is that it never actually talks about investments. Even the “invest in your future” chapter just talks about investment accounts. I think that's a missed opportunity, but understandable in a book of such brevity focused on the big picture issues. I think the strength of the book actually comes toward the end when he gets into common issues that new docs struggle with—how to not screw everything up, whether to pay off debt or invest, and determining how much house to buy. All in all, it's a nice addition to the literature but definitely aimed at those who prefer a short book to an in-depth one, you know, the type most likely to hire a financial advisor like Ryan. It's a perfect book to hand to a client or potential client.
This book by Boglehead (even has a foreword from Taylor Larimore) Blake Konrardy is not aimed specifically at docs, but includes some great principles frequently discussed on that forum that don't usually show up in “Bogleheadish” books. For example, the first section is all about maximizing your income. He talks about optimizing your day job, strategically switching companies for higher pay, and starting a side hustle, and gives specific examples from his own life of each strategy. The second section of the book discusses spending less. While not as comprehensive as B.C. Krygowski's plethora of ideas, this section gives lots of great ideas and does a nice analysis of the Buy vs Rent question. The investing section is short (not as short as the one in Financial Residency) but is filled with solid advice. Overall, a nice book that pulls the pearls out of spending a year on the Bogleheads forum, cleans them up, and presents them to you in an organized, easy to read format. If you are a late-career doc with kids coming out of college who need a good Christmas present, or if you are an early career doc who has never spent any time on the Bogleheads forum, this is a good book for you.
Former hedge fund manager and now financial coach Todd Tresidder has put together a cool little book that goes more into depth than most that address this subject. Rather than just helping you get to “your number” he talks about three models to understanding the amount needed to retire. The first, most conventional one, is what most financial advisors do. You plug some assumptions into a few calculations and it spits out how much you need to retire (like 25 times what you spend). He very astutely points out just how important all those assumptions are to the outcome. He spends 158 of 211 pages on this model. It's obviously very important. He definitely gets into more depth than Mike Piper's excellent “Can I Retire?” book. He calls the second model the lifestyle model. Really this section is a potpourri of alternative ways to look at retirement. He talks about ways to spend much less in retirement, how to generate additional income in retirement from work, rental properties, etc., FIRE at a young age, a “buckets” strategy, and SPIAs. The final model he calls the cashflow model. It basically has three rules:
- Generate passive income in excess of spending
- Manage assets so growth is greater than the inflation rate
- Income must come from multiple, non-correlated sources
This is what lots of dividend investors and real estate investors are trying to do. Frankly, it results in oversaving since no principal is ever spent. So of course if you have enough assets to do this you can do this. Your heirs will be very happy. This is clearly his preferred method, and he does a nice job defending it. All in all, a pretty good book that takes a very in-depth look at one question rather than trying to be all things to all people.
Well, we had one for the ladies, let's do one for the guys now. Actually, despite the title I couldn't find anything in this book that was male-specific at all, but maybe I missed it. This short book by financial advisor Jonathan Baird includes a lot of great stuff. It contains all the important basics for becoming financially successful, but surprisingly dives into a few more complex topics I wouldn't expect in a book of this relatively small size, such as asset location and the 199A deduction. In a nod to current times, there's even a chapter on Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, appropriately entitled “Shooting the Moon: Bitcoin and Crypto; Hodl, FUD, and FOMO”. While he admits it is speculative, he gives a few rules for investing in it:
- Understand it before investing
- Don't put serious money in it
- Be process, not emotionally, driven
Overall, it's a nice book for Jonathan to hand out to clients and potential clients, but probably not a book that a hard-core do-it-yourselfer is going to enjoy if they've already read more than a handful of other books.
This is Damion Lupo's book that he uses to inform and market his business named after his trademarked term, the eQRP®. I'll be writing more about this subject in an upcoming post, but for most people, an eQRP® is a self-directed, individual 401(k) that buys shares of a Wyoming LLC that invests in the assets. It was passed out at WCICON20 (Damion was a sponsor of the conference). It spends a lot of time talking about why self-directed individual 401(k)s are cool and promoting non-traditional investment ideas that can be placed into a self-directed account (real estate, cryptocurrency, precious metals, small businesses, etc). However, the most interesting concept in the book is the idea of a safe harbor eQRP where you can have a self-directed 401(k) despite having employees. Obviously, the book is trying to sell you something, but that doesn't mean you won't find the contents of the book to be useful and interesting. If you have a serious interest in using retirement account money to invest in alternative assets, it's worth taking a look at.
I hope you enjoy CFE week this year. I hope you pick out a book off this list to read to boost your financial literacy. If you're interested, take advantage of both our INITIAL Financial Education Course (Fire Your Financial Advisor) and 2020's Continuing Financial Education Course WCICON20 (eligible for CME).
If you want to get a head start on 2021, sign-up now for the live, online Physician Wellness and Financial Literacy Conference that will run March 4-6th. Or if you really need to use up those CME dollars you couldn't use this year due to the pandemic, grab both, one for now and one for later!
What do you think? Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What are you doing this year for CFE? Comment below!