Podcast #36 Show Notes: Interview with Nathaniel Minnick, DO
This episode is an interview with Nathaniel Minnick, medical director of emergency medicine at Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News, Virginia, and assistant professor of emergency medicine at Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Blacksburg, where he is doing his part to help colleagues become financially literate. We met at the ACEP scientific assembly where he was also presenting on financial topics. I thought he would make a great podcast guest. We discuss his financial life, current issues facing doctors in finance these days, and answer some listener's questions together. No YouTube video this week but it is still available via the traditional podcast outlets, ITunes, Overcast, Stitcher, Google Play. Enjoy!
Podcast # 36 Sponsor
[00:00:20] Did you know the average professional saves over $20,000 when refinancing with Laurel Road? Laurel Road has helped thousands of professionals with graduate and undergraduate degrees across the country refinance federal and private school loans – over $3 billion to date. In addition to offering a $300 bonus for WCI readers who refinance student loans with Laurel Road, those in residency or fellowship can pay $100 per month throughout and up to 6 months after training. For more information and to submit an application, simply visit Laurel Road.
Laurel Road is a Division of Darian Rowayton Bank, FDIC insured and established in 2006, and is an equal opportunity lender.
Quote of the Day
[00:01:32] Our quote of the day today comes from Martin Ginsburg who said, “As Forbes magazine with rare accuracy suggested a dozen years ago, tax shelter economics were so bad that 19 out of 20 investments could only be sold to groups of doctors. The twentieth scheme was awful beyond belief and could be sold only to dentists.”
[00:02:42] Introduction to Dr. Minnick, raised in Detroit, the son of a physician, who taught him how to invest in stocks at a young age. He is 3.5 years out of residency and debt free thanks to living like a resident for a couple of years.
[00:05:06] Dr. Minnick's experience as a DO. Going to a DO school did not present a problem matching into emergency medicine residency.
[00:14:59] His introduction into learning and then teaching colleagues about personal finance and investing stems from an experience of a salesman trying to get him to buy whole life insurance which led him to the White Coat Investor and Bogleheads and later to presenting to colleagues at his hospital and at ACEP.
[00:19:31] Discussion on why doctors suck at money so bad.
[00:22:01] Discussion on what doctors could do to help their peers with regards to financial literacy.
Q&A from Readers and Listeners
- [00:26:07] “I'm a third year E.M. resident graduating in June. I've been contributing to a Roth IRA for the last three years and I'm trying to figure out if I'll be able to do it in 2018 as well. I make about 70 thousand dollars this year as a resident New York City and I'll start working as an attending on August 1st. I'm assuming I'm going to be over the hundred eighteen thousand dollar limit for 2018 since I'm guessing I won't be able to contribute unless you know a loophole. Or where would you recommend I start contributing during the last six months of my residency? I have six thousand saved up that I was going to put in my Roth IRA before I came to this realization.
- [00:30:21] “I maxed out my 401k, my Roth IRA for myself and my spouse, and a stealth IRA, meaning a health savings account. I also donate for three kids to a 529 but not maxing those out yet. This is all self managed and low cost Vanguard index funds and I've been contemplating where to put money next. My taxable account was a logical choice. I'm also thinking about doing some real estate. However I work for Team health which is one of the big contract management groups for emergency medicine and they offer what they call a Serp, a supplemental executive retirement plan. I can put an additional maximum of 85 percent of my income aside, pre-tax, in an investment account and this account you can invest in Vanguard low cost index funds, Admiral funds etc. Have you ever heard of a Serp, had experience with or heard of anyone else's experience? I want to know whether this is better than a taxable account?
- [00:37:57] “I'm not particularly happy with my 4O3b at my program. So when I graduate I'm transferring it upon graduation. I know I'll need to do a backdoor Roth in the future. So I'd like to open a solo 401k and I'd like to convert my 403b to Roth 401K as I'm not yet in my peak earnings years. But I don't know where to open my 401k. Am I allowed to have two solo 401k, for instance I heard that Vanguard allows me to do conversions, Fidelity allows me to do rollovers.
- [00:40:51] “My future company is merging with another company but it's my understanding that both companies have a lot of debt. So I'm not sure I want to put any money into their 457 in case something happens. How safe or unsafe are 457 accounts?
- [00:41:28] “I have about a five thousand dollar emergency fund with a five thousand dollar line of credit at my bank which I hope to never use. Now I'd like to build this up to 15 to 20 thousand dollars in case I have to replace a roof or there's a car wreck or something. I feel pretty secure with my position both as a resident and attending. So I don't feel like I need six months of expenses. Does that sound reasonable? Or should I take money away from paying off the house and possibly investing to build a larger emergency fund?
- [00:47:31] “Due to paralysis by analysis I actually have a decent bit of cash and a 1 percent savings account. One of my partners offered me an opportunity. He owns half of a nonmedical side business, a stable business. The rent on a warehouse is increasing so he and his partner are planning to buy a much larger one with 20 percent down and borrow the rest. He's been working longer then me and has plenty of money. Probably not enough cash though to cover the 20 percent down so he's offered me the opportunity to give him a hundred thousand dollar loan with a five year duration at 6 percent. What do you think?
[00:54:18] Final advice from Dr. Minnick: You just have to live cheap. Delay and defer your luxury until you're more established in the world. And at least once a week spend Sunday morning reading one financial article preferably from a blog.
Intro: [00:00:00] This is the White Coat Investor podcast where we help those who wear the white coat get a fair shake on Wall Street. We've been helping doctors and other high income professionals stop doing dumb things with their money since 2011. Here's your host Dr. Jim.
Dr. Dahle: [00:00:20] Welcome to Podcast number 36, an interview with Nathaniel Minnick, DO. First a word from our sponsor. Did you know the average professional saves over twenty thousand dollars when refinancing with Laurel Road. Laurel Road has helped thousands of professionals with graduate and undergraduate degrees across the country refinance federal and private school loans. Over three billion to date. In addition to offering a three hundred dollar bonus for WCI readers and listeners who refinance student loans with Laurel Road, those in residency or fellowship can pay just 100 dollars per month throughout and up to six months after their training is completed. For more information to submit an application simply visit W W W. Laurel road dot com slash wcipc that's laurel road dot com slash wcipc . Laurel Road is a division of Darion Rowayton Bank, FDIC insured and established in 2006 and as an equal opportunity lender.
Dr. Dahle: [00:01:19] I hope you're following us on social media. Personal finance is sometimes digested a small piece at a time and that's what I try to serve up on Facebook and Twitter. So please like us. Follow us and share the stuff you like with your own friends and followers.
Dr. Dahle: [00:01:32] Our quote of the day today comes from Martin Ginsburg who said as Forbes magazine with rare accuracy suggested a dozen years ago tax shelter economics were so bad that 19 out of 20 investments could only be sold to groups of doctors. The twentieth scheme was awful beyond belief and could be sold only to dentists.
Dr. Dahle: [00:01:50] Today we have a special guest on the show. Our guest is Nathaniel Minnick, DO, who is a doc that I first came into contact with at the ACEP scientific assembly a couple of years ago and met him again at the most recent meeting that I went to. And I thought he would make a great podcast guest and so we're going to talk about a bunch of stuff today about him and about some of his financial life and about some of the current issues facing doctors in finance these days as well as maybe get to a few of your questions that will answer together.
Dr. Dahle: [00:02:22] So welcome to the show Nate.
Dr. Minnick: [00:02:24] Thanks Jim. It's my first podcast ever so it's a new venture for me.
Dr. Dahle: [00:02:29] That's all right we'll just cut out all the bad stuff. You'll sound like a pro when it's all done.
Dr. Minnick: [00:02:34] All right.
Dr. Dahle: [00:02:35] Well first let's start with you. Tell us about where you grew up in your family growing up and just kind of give us a little bit of background information.
Dr. Minnick: [00:02:42] Sure. So I'm from Detroit. Born and raised, my father is a physician. So that's kind of my entry into a few things including medicine as well as he taught me how to invest but we will take about that later. From Detroit, went to medical school at VCom in Blacksburg Virginia, went back to Destroit for residency and now I work in Newport News Virginia, kind of close your old stomping grounds, I am a practicing emergency physician, do some medical education stuff in addition to that. So that's kind of a very brief version of how I came to be.
Dr. Dahle: [00:03:18] So how far are you out of residency now?
Dr. Minnick: [00:03:20] Three and a half years, graduated in 2014.
Dr. Dahle: [00:03:23] Brand new.
Dr. Minnick: [00:03:26] Still still learning.
Dr. Dahle: [00:03:28] Very nice. And our we have a mutual friend a certain Sean Flanagan that probably deserves a shout out on this podcast. I'm sure he'll listen to this.
Dr. Minnick: [00:03:37] He wants to listen to it. He's holding that sign autographs of yours over my head frequently and he's probably going to hold it over your head too. He is the original white coat investor.
Dr. Dahle: [00:03:50] Yeah I don't doubt it. I hear he's been. He's been saying that. You know it's interesting. When I was in the military I was technically his boss but because he was a contractor and I was active duty I probably made twice what I was making or more you know. And so it was always kind of an interesting relationship there. But he he was driving a dirtbag car at the same time I was so if he wants to claim to be the original white coat investor he can have it.
Dr. Minnick: [00:04:15] He still drives an old pickup truck. We were just talking about the other day he drives an old pickup truck. He's thinking about buying a brand new truck and he thinks that will be the last car he will ever buy because we're trying to figure out new versus certified preowned versus used, which is what he's always bought but that yeah he's kind of in the same world of philosophy. His son is actually, I don't know if he wants me talking about this but I will do it, his son is at UVA and has in economics bend and somewhat well renowned professor of economics at UVA university of Virginia was talking to them about personal finance and recommended index funds. And so Sean thought that was just a really good thing that even not just Warren Buffett anymore. Now at a college level they're talking about index funds is the way to go.
Dr. Dahle: [00:05:06] That's great that people are doing that. You've got to get that message out because there's still plenty of people that are trying to pick their own stocks or pick their own mutual fund managers et cetera. Now I get a lot of questions from premed and medical students particularly premeds that they worry that going to a DO school is going to keep them from being able to do the specialty they want to do or keep them from being able to match. Did you have any issues matching into emergency medicine as a deal?
Dr. Minnick: [00:05:34] I didn't not. I trained in Michigan which is a very DO friendly state and trained at an ACGME program. In the next few years going forward ACGME and COCA which is one of the osteopathic educational bodies, are merging, So the net delineation of the DO vs MD and the programs they are in will all fall under ACGME. The previous biases towards DOs also has largely been nullifier over historical time. So I did not find a problem matching into emergency medicine particularly in Detroit which is where I'm from.
Dr. Minnick: [00:06:20] To the premed students who are concerned about DO vs MD, I just told a scribe the other day go wherever it is cheapest.
Dr. Dahle: [00:06:30] Yeah that's that's pretty good advice. Unfortunately a lot of times some of the DO schools are some of the most expensive ones out there just because so many are private.
Dr. Dahle: [00:06:38] An interesting issue I've noticed there opening one or two new do schools in Utah. And it always surprises me that they open DO schools when they could open either one. But I think there's a few things that make it easier to open one. So I think a lot of these new for profit schools are DO schools.
Dr. Minnick: [00:06:56] Yes the for profit models seems to be seeping into that DO world. I mean somebody once joked that they're opening up the old school and strip malls now because they've become way more and it will be interesting to see where this all goes over the next 10 years as graduate medical education starts to mold more under one umbrella where it previously was separate.
Dr. Minnick: [00:07:23] In the graduate medical education world is the more strict because there are more American graduates than residency spots. So that's not even counting in foreign medical graduates whether it's Caribbean or Europe or Middle East Asia. There are no plans for really new residency spots. And yet American medical schools are growing their classes and this is going to lead to a crunch that's already happening. I am a transitional year program director for an ACGME program. At our hospital we have TY, OB, and FM and we're seeing our application numbers just shoot through the roof. It's going to get tight. It already is. There are many people graduating without guaranteed residency spots which as first time probably modern history this has happened. So going into medical school is a little risky sometimes because you may not be guaranteed a residency spot.
Dr. Dahle: [00:08:24] Right. I mean that's an incredible financial catastrophe to ring up 200 300 400 thousand dollars in debt and then basically be qualified to do nothing but be an Intern and have nobody want you to be an intern for them.
Dr. Minnick: [00:08:37] It is a huge. There there's a huge undercurrent of potential problems coming down the road. Yeah I could think of a 300000 dollar degree that yeah you don't get a guaranteed spot.
Dr. Dahle: [00:08:51] It's really really can be pretty ugly but tell us a little bit about your family married children?
Dr. Minnick: [00:08:56] Married for what seven years now and three kids all ages 5 4 and 2. That is kind of a surprise to me that I am married with kids because I never thought that I'd be a thing. But here I am. My wife currently does not work, she had a high school teacher in geology and other environmental consulting type situations. After the third kid she kind of stopped teaching because financially it cost more for her to work both tax wise as well as daycare than it was for her to stay at home.
Dr. Dahle: [00:09:34] Yeah we ran those numbers myself, ourselves on my wife's teacher salary and I think we figured out that she was getting paid two bucks an hour to go to work, it just didn't make sense at a certain point, I was better off working an extra half shift at a certain point there.
Dr. Minnick: [00:09:49] Yeah. No it's not any less stressful that's for sure. She is more stressed than I do.
Dr. Dahle: [00:09:54] Yeah you know sometimes I find myself going to the hospital to reduce my stress and to relax. At any rate tell us a little bit about your financial life. What have you guys done wrong? What have you done right? What have you learned?
Dr. Minnick: [00:10:08] I started at an early age. My dad started stocks when I was 10 or 12 years old and took us to our stockbroker at that time. Internet wasn't really in full force so we went to our stockbroker after hours and he showed my brother and I, broke down how stocks work what investing in a company is. And so I started an early age. Anytime I worked and got a significant amount of money that I would put it towards potential stocks and so that was kind of the early financial life. You know you mistakes only because you're your high school kid not knowing what to invest in you're kind of gone for things that look cool or I would go to the library, and look at the valley line which is still around and that's a huge collection of stocks and analysis.
Dr. Minnick: [00:10:55] So I learned early on the risks and rewards of stock investment, picking stocks. I'd say the biggest mistake financially has been a few things, while one is my wife has preexisting traditional IRAs which we never really did anything with. So I know I'm kind of breaking our code but I'm actually not doing any IRA stuff for her each year. I'm not doing a traditional IRA which is probably the way I should go. But I am not doing a ROTH IRA for her either because of Prorata, pretty much due to apathy. I just haven't gotten around to figuring out is it worth it for us to convert all the way over from traditional to roth and is continue through with Backdoor Roth or should we continue to contribute to her traditional IRA.
Dr. Minnick: [00:11:48] It's something that I just probably this tax year I'll sit down with the tax advisers and go through the calculations and just pull the trigger. The reason I think now's the time for me as we have been living in a 900 square foot house in Newport News Virginia out of residency I was able to pay off all my debt and get it without the assistance of any of the programs. I just went straight for four years because our rent was very cheap. Saved up enough money for a down payment bought a house. So that chapter of my life is over where I am now able to look at some of the more detail oriented things versus big picture items.
Dr. Dahle: [00:12:27] Well if you get the big picture right the little details don't matter so much. Did you guys hear that? he's three and a half years out of residency. He has a student loans paid off. He saved up a downpayment. Now he's in the Dr. House. I talk all the time about living like a resident. This is what it looks like. Did they live in a super nice place for a couple of years out of residency.
Dr. Dahle: [00:12:46] No they were living in a place that a resident would live in.
Dr. Minnick: [00:12:49] Driving a 2005 mustang. My wife had a Toyota Avalon that she received from her parents which is a great gift, it had 100000 miles on it when she received her car. And then you know if you want to talk about potential mistakes. We bought her Honda Odyssey minivan for the kids. To help facilitate moving the kids around and that's actually on a loan. So it is a 2 percent interest which I know pay cash or don't get it. But at 2 percent it it made sense. We needed a card it was not a sedan to get all these kids around.
Dr. Dahle: [00:13:27] Well shoot if you pay off your student loans in three years I'll give you permission to take out a 2 percent car loan. Again. It's one of those things it's the big picture right. When you're argue about whether you take a 2 percent loan out or pay cash you know that's a relatively small picture thing whereas living like a resident for three years. I mean you basically set yourself yourself up for financial success for the rest of your life. By doing that for a few years.
Dr. Minnick: [00:13:51] I can only hope. Every time I lecture it's really don't. I've seen it you've seen it or your listeners have seen your readers have seen it go straight for the half million dollar plus house straight out of residency or worse during residency they buy a house at all and then try to get the newest 5 series. And it's really until you get to a manageable amount. I'd say probably less. You know if you can go to zero on the debt that's the goal. I would think probably closer down into the thirty thousand dollars and less range depending on the situation and that forgiveness programs. I think that's when you can start to really assess how much you need to start accumulating for the next step or splurge like on a mini van or something.
Dr. Dahle: [00:14:36] Yeah it's quite a splurge getting a minivan, rolling with the swag wagon there.
Dr. Minnick: [00:14:42] Never imagined that this would be like a splurge.
Dr. Dahle: [00:14:46] A little bit disappointing huh?. So you've gotten involved into the physician finance world. Tell us how that happened. I mean how did you end up on this podcast.
Dr. Minnick: [00:14:59] So I think this is kind of an interesting story and I was talking to friend about this a couple of nights ago. So I started out as a young age, my dad got me started during medical school and even in college I was still investing by picking stocks but I didn't have much of an income in either of those worlds so there wasn't any of that push for that. Then in residency I started watching a little bit more what was going on, mostly from my attendings and hearing their stories, their setups, their failures, and everything in between financially and I don't know why this happened. But at some point I ended up talking to my residency program, I think the genesis for that talk came from the unmentioned I don't name their names. It is an insurance company that has spoken to our residency about what they could do for us. And I walked out there thinking, I don't know anything about life insurance, I don't know anything about disability insurance. And somehow the insurance company got my pager number and I started meeting with an insurance representative from that company and they talked to me about whole life. And I took it back to my parents and my dad's a physician. My mom invests in the stock market so she watches CNBC regularly. But she read Susie Ormand, she reads a lot. So what this whole life deal? And they said yeah that is probably not the way to go but look into it.
Dr. Minnick: [00:16:30] I then Google it, whole life insurance physician. I think I got to your blog which was very probably early on in the day back in probably 2012 or 13. I don't think you had much up on the blog. But you did have the wholelife post and so I went through all that. And thought, Oh I do not want this.
Dr. Minnick: [00:16:48] Somewhere along the line, same time frame, I ended up getting onto the Bogleheads forum, saw the book and read the book. And that's how I got into the whole physician finance thing. Once I read that book I thought oh I know most of this, some of this I didn't know and I'm glad I know it now and went back to my residency and said hey I want to give a talk on this and my program director said, yeah of course. And so I gave a two hour lecture on that and it was a good a good idea. Lot of attendings asked questions.
Dr. Minnick: [00:17:20] The next step from that was, again I don't know how this happened, but I got a hold of the internal medicine residency program and asked hey, I give this talk and can I give it to you guys. And I got into two of their morning reports and gave the lecture there. This was the tipping point for me because more attendees in that room asked questions than the residents and that's when I realized I think you were on to something. I kind of found what I could add to this and that was that attendings didn't even know it was going on. Which we now know is very much a thing and I asked other programs in the hospital they said no, you know they didn't quite get it So they said no.
Dr. Minnick: [00:17:56] So going forward, graduated residency. I work for Riverside medical group out here in eastern Virginia and first year out, I would tell anyone who's listening to this your first year out of residency you do nothing but study for boards. That is your goal professionally has to learn how to be an attending. But pass your boards. Don't take on any other side jobs or committees just study and pass your boards.
Dr. Minnick: [00:18:25] Once I passed boards I talked to HR group. Every month our medical group has a new hire orientation and I asked if I could speak at their lunch session which was an open lunch. There were no lectures. This is the type of orientation we get the safety committee talk and you have ethics training and all those types of on boarding processes.
Dr. Dahle: [00:18:53] That sounds sounds pretty painful.
Dr. Minnick: [00:18:55] Well it was for them. I just came in at lunch and talked. I gave the same thought that I had always give and again more questions than I ever anticipated from people who are not just new graduates. From there it spiraled into where I am now where I get to talk at ACEP because somehow, I'm so glad for this that I'm a member of ACEP and they are forward enough looking in as to what the current situation of being an emergency physician is and how student debt is such a huge issue as well personal finance that they gave me the chance to talk past couple years.
Dr. Dahle: [00:19:31] That's great. Why is it do you think that doctors suck at money so bad? What's our problem?
Dr. Minnick: [00:19:37] They don't get it. They. Their education isn't coming from anywhere except for the various firms who can get into the residency and give talks and they tell people what the firm can do for them but not how they can do it themselves. I fault undergraduate medical education for not pushing this to the forefront a little bit. Student loans aren't very well taught at an undergraduate medical education level. I think residencies may be a little bit more on board or at least getting closer to being more capable and so I also fault many residency programs for not pushing this out there. Outside of ACEP I don't know of any other college or society is really pushing this through. ACEP Now has your monthly article. They let me talk to the scientific assembly nationally and so I think it's just there's no education in them. Once that education is given there's still an inertia of resistance towards money. It's people are focused on other things. I'm glad that people go to a scientific assembly go to all the trauma and all the cardiology and ultrasound things but it was kind of disheartening that the student loan lecturer only had 50 plus people. When I think what was your statistic?
Dr. Dahle: [00:20:57] I think it was 33 percent of emergency docs still have student loans.
Dr. Minnick: [00:21:03] Yeah I'm not sure what I don't have an answer for why why this isn't as well, You know out there to the physician workforce. I think medical schools start earlier with student loan knowledge and education. Residency is certainly need to push a little bit more of a personal finance by physician, personal finance education or curriculum. I'll be speaking at the what's the national convention for transitioning year program directors this spring. I'm giving a talk on how to create a financial curriculum, personal finance curriculum, for residency. So I'm hoping this will be a first and I hope it goes well.
Dr. Dahle: [00:21:48] I hope it will too. It might be the first one in emergency medicine but it certainly isn't the first one out there. I know of at least one that's being done in Arkansas for general surgery and so there's certainly a model for that.
Dr. Dahle: [00:22:01] What else do you think doctors could do to help their peers with regards to financial literacy?
Dr. Minnick: [00:22:07] I think we need to put the good information out there such as the Bogleheads book. Even one up on Wall Street various other just generic books. I think as a culture we need to open up, as physician culture, we need to open up a little bit more about money. I know it's not a very socially appropriate topic to talk about money. But if we keep hiding behind it then I think that we will perpetuate what we continuously see, poor investment choices, wrong investment choices, uneducated investment choices.
Dr. Dahle: [00:22:45] I think what happens is because of this taboo that we can't talk about money we all end up in our own little individual silo, you know, and we get no help from the other silos and meanwhile you know all these predators in the financial services industry come by the top of the silo and you know drop manure on us and that's basically what I think is happening. Every doctor is making the same mistakes over and over and over again.
Dr. Dahle: [00:23:10] And so all we've got to do is get a little bit of education from one peer to another and it doesn't mean we've got to become accountants or financial advisers but the basics you know pass along the basics to your peers. And it's surprisingly easy to do that sort of stuff.
Dr. Minnick: [00:23:25] I wholeheartedly agree. I am always a little dismayed when my partners currently telling me about their financial planners. No you read two books, And during all my talks I always pushed two books, Bogleheads guide to investing and the White Coat Investor book. With those two books you are pretty much good in my view except for a few phases of Life.
Dr. Minnick: [00:23:45] One is as your kids near college for that planning and then towards retirement, those are two times I think that a financial planner is a good idea.
Dr. Dahle: [00:23:55] Yeah certainly any time you want to sit down with somebody that's charging you an hourly rate and run your plan by him is totally reasonable. I mean but compared to paying you know twenty thousand dollars a year in assets under management fees you know that's dirt cheap to pay someone a few hundred dollars to go over your plan with you.
Dr. Minnick: [00:24:13] I don't even think you need to do that up until those two phases unless you really need some guidance or or some education as to your risk level. I think like you mentioned the silos of all of us keeping our financial information to ourselves even within my emergency group, There isn't much discussion outside of a few of us about what our financial situations are.
Dr. Minnick: [00:24:37] You know we don't have to use actual numbers but just general ideas and I don't know if the education level, the financial IQ of physicians is enough, is high enough for us to be able to openly talk about it. And I don't know what the barrier is or why that is.
Dr. Dahle: [00:24:54] Yeah I find it's interesting when I share a little bit. All of a sudden other people are little more willing to open up and I think I kind of break the taboo and give him permission to talk about it a little bit and that seems to help.
Dr. Dahle: [00:25:06] But in your ER it's probably because you're too busy taking care of gunshot victims. You know I moonlit in that ER for a little while. Newport News is surprisingly violent place.
Dr. Minnick: [00:25:16] We are. Coming from Detroit this is no change.
Dr. Dahle: [00:25:21] But the fact that is no change from Detroit says something.
Dr. Minnick: [00:25:24] I thought I was escaping this and walking into just as much of it. Portsmouth Navy residents love coming to us because they get to see the trauma that the naval hospitals don't get there as they are no open to ambulances. So yeah we do take care of a fair amount of trauma. And it would be nice if instead I could sit down and talk to my group about what a Roth IRA is.
Dr. Dahle: [00:25:50] Yeah exactly. Well let's hit a few reader questions here some of these are more complicated than others but a few aren't too bad. I kind of love getting the really easy questions because you don't have to do any research. And a lot of times you can make a big difference in somebody's life just by teaching them something that you thought everybody already knew.
Dr. Dahle: [00:26:07] This first question's a little bit like that. He says I'm a third year E.M. resident graduating in June. I've been contributing to a Roth IRA for the last three years and I'm trying to figure out if I'll be able to do it in 2018 as well. I make about 70 thousand dollars this year as a resident New York City and I'll start working as an attending on August 1st. I'm assuming I'm going to be over the hundred eighteen thousand dollar limit for 2018 since I'm guessing I won't be able to contribute unless you know a loophole. Or would you recommend I start contributing during the last six months of my residency. I have six thousand saved up that I was going to put in my Roth IRA before I came to this realization. I also have mutual funds of account of about 5000 that I could contribute more to as well. But it obviously doesn't have the same tax benefits as a Roth IRA. You want to take that one?
Dr. Minnick: [00:26:53] Thank you. Hopefully I don't swing and miss on this one.
Dr. Minnick: [00:26:57] What I did was in December of your first year as an attending,opened up a vanguard traditional IRA and then do the back door conversion. If you think you're going to be over the 180000$ mark. I don't know maybe Jim you can answer this.
Dr. Minnick: [00:27:17] If you were to do a back door conversion or backdoor Roth, so a traditional IRA and then converted to Roth and I'll explain that more back to the original question. One question I had is what if you do that before you file the taxes. What if you do this on January 30th but you try to apply it for the previous calendar year. Is that a doable thing?
Dr. Dahle: [00:27:37] And yes you can apply the contribution to the previous calendar year but the conversion step gets reported on that year's tax return. You can certainly still do it it's just it's a little trickier reporting it on your form 86 06.
Dr. Minnick: [00:27:55] And so what I recommend to residents is finish residency. Don't worry about IRAs until about late November early December of the first year out.
Dr. Minnick: [00:28:07] Take the fifty five hundred dollars that you've hopefully been able to save up and then open up a traditional IRA. The quote loophole that he was wondering about is the back door Roth IRA and if you google enough you'll find out how this works. But you can do contribute to the traditional IRA the full now with a few clicks you convert that into a Roth categorization. You have to know the tax implication in the tax form that we need to be filled out with this, most good accountants should know this and if they don't there are enough websites including yours that will talk you through that. That's my recommendation.
Dr. Dahle: [00:28:43] Yeah exactly the backdoor Roth IRA is the loophole you're looking for. And I'm always amazed. You know I think my long term readers are sick of hearing about the backdoor Roth IRA but I am continually running into doctors who have never heard of this never heard that they can keep contributing to a Roth IRA throughout their career not only for them but also for their spouse.
Dr. Minnick: [00:29:05] I can't understand how this is continuously not understood and the other things that aren't understood. I'm hoping we can clear over the next 10 years is that you get an IRA, if you're married your spouse gets an IRA, there separate, they are a separate entity. It's an individual retirement arrangement. It is separate from your 401, 403 or your solo 401k. It is its own accounts and I run into that question a lot of confusion. Of 401 vs 403 and how it's different than an IRA.
Dr. Dahle: [00:29:48] Yeah it's pretty impressive how low our level of financial literacy is about retirement accounts especially when that is such a big deal for doctors because you know a typical middle class person they can do all of their retirement savings inside their 401k. You can get 20 percent 15-20 percent of your income in there no problem, if you're only making fifty or seventy five thousand dollars a year. But when you need to save more than that as a doctor, it's just you're going to need more than just a 401k. You're going to need to look into a back to a Roth IRA and a taxable account.
Dr. Dahle: [00:30:21] All right speaking of retirement accounts here's another one. This one also from an emergency Doc. Says I maxed out my 401k my Roth IRA for myself and my spouse and a stealth IRA meaning a health savings account. I also donate for three kids to a 529 but not maxing those out yet. This is all self managed and low cost Vanguard index funds and I've been contemplating where to put money next. My taxable account was a logical choice. I'm also thinking about doing some real estate. However I work for Team health which is one of the big contract management groups for emergency medicine and they offer what they call a Serp a supplemental executive retirement plan. I can put an additional maximum of 85 percent Of my income aside pre-tax in an investment account and this account you can invest in Vanguard low cost index funds, Admiral funds etc. Have you ever heard of a Serp, had experience with or heard of anyone else's experience and I want to know whether this is better than a taxable account? All right what do you think you wanna take a swing at that one.
Dr. Minnick: [00:31:23] No I've never heard of this. I don't work for a contract management. I'm an employee of a hospital now. I have never heard of a serp unless they mean SEP IRA.
Dr. Dahle: [00:31:39] No they're definitely not talking about a SEP IRA.
Dr. Minnick: [00:31:42] I'm not familiar with this.
Dr. Dahle: [00:31:45] So what this Serpe is, not to be confused with the lerp which is a life insurance retirement plan, which is pretty much always a bad idea. A Serp can be a good idea. It's a lot like a 457 account that a lot of that a lot of academic attendings have and so it's basically another tax deferred account allows you to put money in and get the tax break the year that you put it in and then it grows in a tax protected way and you can invest it in various investments and then when you pull the money out you pay taxes on it. But the difference between that and a typical 401k or other tax deferred retirement account is basically two things. Number one the money belongs to the employer. So just like with a 457 if that employer doesn't look very stable. You don't want to be investing your money there. And the other big difference is the withdrawal rules are often kind of odd. Sometimes you have very limited distribution options and so sometimes you have to take all the money out the year you leave the employer and so basically you've saved up all this money you got these great tax breaks and then it all comes back to you all at once in the year you retire or the year you separate from the employer. And so that's obviously a terrible thing for you tax wise to get all that income all at once. And so sometimes you just got to get into it and read the details and see what the distribution options are.
Dr. Dahle: [00:33:14] And sometimes some 457 is like governmental 457 will allow you to roll that money into into a traditional IRA or a 401k. And those are great especially if they offer low cost index funds and they've got low fees you know. Now you've got a great distribution option but probably more commonly what I see is they require you to take the money out over five years. And so you really got to think about those distribution options before you go for this. And you also have to look at that employer and make sure they're looking pretty stable because obviously if that money is available to the creditors of your employer it could just disappear on you and you would have been a whole lot better taking the money and paying the taxes and just investing in the taxable account.
Dr. Minnick: [00:33:57] I recommend for an early career physician to potentially avoid that. Just build up a taxable account. That's my recommendation. You have more control. You lose a little bit on the tax side of it but you get a little bit more control and a little bit more fluidity than through a SERP or 457. So I have access to a 457 and I don't really put anything into it. I just would rather manage a little bit of this early on myself into my own. It's now it was Scott trading now it is TD Ameritrade and just managing it myself a little bit, have that fluidity in the event the new house ends up with a problem or something. And have it tied up through an employer. I mean I get the advantages of SERP now vs a 457. But for an early career though do you think that is a good idea?
Dr. Dahle: [00:34:50] I think you're you're you have so many needs for your money when you come out of residency. Right. You got student loans to pay off. Maybe you want to save up a house down payment. You probably have some tiny little emergency fund you'd like to boost. You want to be maxing out your retirement accounts, your 401k, your backdoor Roth IRAs, and your HSA and now all of a sudden you want to start saving for your kids 529. I mean you were just pulled everywhere those first couple of years of residency. You have so many things to do with money. And so certainly if you're going to pass up on one of these tax protected accounts you know the 457 or Serp is the first thing to pass up on especially if the distribution options are crummy like do you know the distribution options for your 457?
Dr. Minnick: [00:35:34] I suspect I don't know as it gets closer to retirement. It's just like every other nongovernmental 457 if I were to leave the group I would get either a paycheck and all that money back to me. Anywhere from one to six months.
Dr. Dahle: [00:35:48] Yeah. So that's not a great option.
Dr. Minnick: [00:35:51] Couple brackets higher, who knows what's going to happen in December 2017. What's going to happen in next few months.
Dr. Minnick: [00:36:00] So what about a mid career physician/emergency physician. What is your take on 457 or SERP at that point?
Dr. Dahle: [00:36:06] Well again it comes down to the stability of the employer and the distribution options. You know if the distribution options are good particularly if you can just roll it into an IRA or a 401k later and you've got great investment options you know especially if your employer is you know the state of Tennessee. You know I think you can go ahead and use it and be glad you have another retirement account option. But if your employer is some fly by night for profit hospital company and you know the distribution option is take it all out within a year or two. You know I'd probably pass on it. A taxable account gets a really bad rap sometimes you know. Mostly because of the name. You know non-qualified, taxable, brokerage, you know it's got these terrible names but there's a lot of advantages to it. I mean the income from it is usually qualified dividends or long term capital gains, you can tax loss harvest. You get a step up in basis at death and you can use it for anything you want with any without any sort of rules or restrictions it's really not a bad account to have. I mean I'll take a Roth IRA any day over it but it's not like it's a bad thing to do a lot of people are hesitant to invest anything outside of a retirement account they don't realize they can, you know invest for retirement in a non-qualified account.
Dr. Minnick: [00:37:15] They need to look at your post from a couple years ago where you run the numbers is 529 against the taxable account. And found that, based on my recollection of that post it turned out close to even.
Dr. Dahle: [00:37:26] Yeah. I think what that poster was probably someone who is asking about whether they should invest for retirement in a 529 account because a 529 for education is you know it's about like using a Roth IRA right. I mean no big tax break going in. Unless maybe you get a little state tax break but the money all comes out tax free and it grows tax free as long as you spend it on education. But if you pull it out and you've got to pay all that penalty then it's that you'd be better off in a taxable account Saving for retirement.
Dr. Dahle: [00:37:57] All right let's take a few more questions. This person writes in with three different questions. The first one is “I'm not particularly happy with my 4O3b at my program. So when I graduate I'm transferring it upon graduation I know I'll need to do a backdoor Roth in the future. So I'd like to open a solo 401k and I'd like to convert my 403b to Roth 401K as I'm not yet in my peak earnings years. But I'm not. But I don't know where to open my 401k. Am I allowed to have two solo 401k, for instance I heard that Vanguard allows me to do conversions, Fidelity allows me to do rollovers. What do you think. Where would you tell this person opened their solo 401k?
Dr. Minnick: [00:38:38] That's a good question. I don't have a great answer. I don't know what the rules of Vanguard solo 401K are but I would think Fidelity would be a good choice. I just don't know enough about it to go anywhere else.
Dr. Dahle: [00:38:51] Yeah they're both good choices. It turns out this is really screwy. This isn't an IRS rule. This is Vanguard and Fidelity policies that they don't offer really all the features you would want in a Solo 401k. At Vanguard they don't let you do rollovers. So if you got some old traditional IRA and you need to roll it into a solo 401K so you could start doing Backdoor Roth IRAs. Vanguard doesn't allow that which is really pretty annoying. Fidelity. I think as I recall will allow that but they don't let you do a Roth 401k. So if your goal is to put some Roth money in there you know you can't do that. And so I think probably if I had it all to do over again to open my Solo 401k I'd probably open it at E-Trade. Now mine is at Vanguard because I don't need the rollover feature.
Dr. Dahle: [00:39:41] Luckily you know about the time the Backdoor Roth IRA came around was about the time my income went above the Roth IRA contribution limit. And so that worked out nicely for me. But you know E-Trade allows the rollovers, allows the Roth option, and you've got to pay small commissions to buy Vanguard ETF. But basically you're investing in the same thing. And you even get the little bit cheaper ETF expense ratio than the investor's shares that even the Vanguard Solo 401k offers. So I think E-Trade is a great option for this person that's interested in Roth and is interested in conversions. I think it's a no brainer to go to etrade.
Dr. Minnick: [00:40:17] I Know less commission is better we try to tell people that but sometimes some commission is not the end of the world especially if the over all account is a better account than what you would get anywhere else. How much are you really going to be doing trading within to rack up a lot of commission?
Dr. Dahle: [00:40:34] I mean most of these places have got their commissions down to five bucks a trade. I mean decades ago it used to be much higher but now it's literally five dollars a trade. So even if you put money in there 12 times a year you're still only up 60 bucks you know which is not very much money.
Dr. Dahle: [00:40:51] All right. His next question was my future company is merging with another company I'll leave them both unnamed but it's my understanding that both companies have a lot of debt. So I'm not sure I want to put any money into their 457 in case something happens. how safe or unsafe are 457 accounts? Well here's a great example of that one that we just discussed. I mean this is someone who's literally worried his company is not going to stay in business. You don't want them to have your paycheck.
Dr. Minnick: [00:41:19] And he is early career. Right. Just keep it under your mattress. Just put it in a brokerage account with E-Trade.
Dr. Dahle: [00:41:28] And the truth of the matter is most of people in this situation owe student loans. You know if you owe student loan four five six eight percent you know that's that's a great guaranteed investment. All right his last question was I have about a five thousand dollar emergency fund with a five thousand dollar line of credit at my bank which I hope to never use.
Dr. Dahle: [00:41:45] Now I'd like to build this up to 15 to 20 thousand dollars in case I have to replace a roof or there's a car wreck or something. I feel pretty secure with my position both as a resident and attending. So I don't feel like I need six months of expenses even if I were to lose my job I make about five thousand dollars on a weekend of moonlighting which really is more passive than active income. I spend more time playing at the park with my kids than seeing patients. There are a lot of shifts I could pick up if I needed to that I currently pass on. Does that sound reasonable? Or should I take money away from paying off the House and possibly investing to build a larger emergency fund?
Dr. Minnick: [00:42:16] So his question is should he be taking money from where to put it in an emergency fund?
Dr. Dahle: [00:42:22] So his question is, is my five thousand dollar emergency fund adequate for a new attendant? I mean it's a small fund.
Dr. Minnick: [00:42:30] Now because again there are a lot of red flags in my mind that are going on. Yes you could do a shift or two and make up that money. What if you are disabled because your long term disability may not kick in for a long while you are hopefully going to rely on some short term disability through your employer. Your kids do not have disability insurance. If something unforeseen happens to them. You don't want to spend the time working shifts to make up for added cost there. And five thousand in cash and five thousand line of credit does not go very far when houses start to break. That's my opinion. Focus on the emergency fund. Get that into a twenty or thirty thousand dollar bucket somewhere.
Dr. Dahle: [00:43:32] Yeah I think that's that's pretty good advice. Five thousand dollars is a very small emergency fund for a physician. Now I guess you got to look at what your other options are. You know if you're carrying thirty thousand dollars in credit card debt. Well you know at 30 percent interest well shoot maybe I'd go for a little smaller emergency fund to start paying some of that down. The other thing a lot of people don't realize is you can pull out Roth IRA contributions at any time. So technically if you're worried you're not going to able to both save up the emergency fund and make the contribution you could make the contribution to the Roth IRA. Leave it invested in something very safe and pull it back out in the event of a terrible emergency. You know in the end you do OK doing that. You can't pull out earnings without pay penalties and interest. But you can pull out the contributions of course if you're making enough that you have to make your contributions via the back door. That doesn't work so well but if you're a low enough income that you can make your contributions directly. That's a reasonable option for the emergency fund as you're trying to get started.
Dr. Dahle: [00:44:38] But it's just it's that same scenario you know your first six months out of residency there's so many things you need money for. You know you want to do a Roth conversion maybe, some tax deferred money, You got the house down payment, you get the student loans, you got the emergency fund, you want to start investing, all of a sudden the kids are getting older. It's just tough to decide where to put all that money and that's why I think the best thing you can do is just keep your spending down so you can do as much of that as possible.
Dr. Minnick: [00:45:06] So I think this is a philosophical difference between you and I. I recommend to residents to not contribute to 401 or 403 through their residency program. I'd recommend they either focus on some level of student debt but more particularly focus on a traditional IRA or resident essentially go straight into that Roth IRA because of that ability to pull all the money out or pull the contribution out t in a time of crisis as a resident. Many people say pass up free money, the ability for that compounding to occur from the 401 or 403 depending their institution.
Dr. Minnick: [00:45:50] But if they contribute to the 401 or 403 they potentially kind of get stuck there, they don't get that money back in crisis which is always looming over everyone's head.
Dr. Dahle: [00:46:00] Yeah I mean there's a couple options there. First I'm not sure I would recommend a 401k over a Roth IRA only maybe enough to get the full employer match. I mean that's part of your salary. So you want to get that. you can borrow against a 401k, it's not a great idea. Because the problem is if you lose your job you've got to pay that money back within 60 days or else you end up taking penalties and taxes on it. But in general I agree with you. If you're a resident your investment dollars belong in a Roth IRA until that things full unless you're some kind of super saver resident that can not only max out a Roth IRA but also put money into a 401k. You know that's probably where your investment money goes.
Dr. Minnick: [00:46:39] Do those people exist?
Dr. Dahle: [00:46:40] There are a few. I get a few people to send me e-mails and I'm like you are so far ahead of where I was that you're going to do just fine no matter what you do.
Dr. Minnick: [00:46:48] At the end of the lectures. My overall point is you have to do something. If it a 401 vs Roth IRA residency if you're doing something you are ahead of most of the other people in your residency program.
Dr. Dahle: [00:47:06] For sure, for sure. almost no residents come out with any significant savings at all. And truthfully with the student loans compound during residency most of them come out with a net worth of negative 300000. You know I mean literally they're the poorest people on the planet. It's terrible they're poorer than you know the homeless guy living under the aqueduct. You know it's it's pretty sad really. Doctors when they start their careers are literally the poorest people on the planet.
Dr. Dahle: [00:47:31] All right let's do another question here. This one comes from a doc not too far out of residency says due to paralysis by analysis I actually have a decent bit of cash and a 1 percent savings account. I made the decision that because my student loan rate is 4 percent I'll continue paying it and keep the emergency money and use the rest for investments or other forms of passive income. I realize now that I could've put my cash to better use for the past two years either paying off my loans or investing. But this is where I'm at. I've now gotten over my paralysis. Let me put some money into a Vanguard account which would include a Backdoor Roth and the rest in taxable plus a 529 for the kiddo.
Dr. Dahle: [00:48:09] But one of my partners offered me an opportunity. He owns half of a nonmedical side business, a stable business. The rent on a warehouse is increasing so he and his partner are planning to buy a much larger one with 20 percent down and borrow the rest. He's been working longer then me and has plenty of money.
Dr. Dahle: [00:48:26] Probably not enough cash though to cover the 20 percent down and do everything else that the business needs including a down payment on his new house and covers normal expenses without liquidating investments so he's offered me the opportunity to give him a hundred thousand dollar loan with a five year duration at 6 percent. What do you think? What do you tell him?
Dr. Minnick: [00:48:47] Wow. Well Basic sniff test, just hearing that story, I don't think I would do that. I don't know. That sounds very risky. We don't have the whole situation he's got, I don't remember other numbers besides that final number.
Dr. Minnick: [00:49:13] It depends on the side business. I don't know how I would go for something like that. The various investments that are offered to me recently are established companies within established business plan whether good or bad it's still a business plan versus just an overall loan for a warehouse. That hopefully appreciates in land value. I would question that.
Dr. Dahle: [00:49:46] Yeah for sure. There are so many red flags in this one but it's unbelievable. First of all your practice partner borrowing money from you. Right. Can you imagine if you stopped paying on the loan. How awkward that's going to get. Trying to get them to take call for you. I mean this is not you know this is like loaning money to a family. You know you just don't want to get into that number one. Number two the guy doesn't have enough money to pay 20 percent down on the investment.
Dr. Dahle: [00:50:14] Right. I mean most real estate investments in order to get them to be cash flow positive. You've got to be putting down about a third just to be cash flow positive. So he's already strained pretty good just trying to get this to cash flow. And he's got this other stuff going on. You know he's got you know he's put a down payment on his new house. He's got to buy stuff to go in the warehouse. I mean you're loaning money to somebody that's really pretty leveraged and someone that's well into his career and still pretty highly leveraged. You've got to wonder how well he's managing money and then the last thing right 6 percent. You're basically making a hard money loan here. Right. And a hard money loan the going rate is nine to 12 percent, you know 6 percent is like a sweetheart deal. This is like the one you give your little brother when you don't expect the money back. You know, I mean that is just so out of touch with what hard money loans go for. He's either trying to swindle this doc which is bad or 2 he has no idea what's going on in the real estate world which is another good reason not to invest with him you know. And so I'd say this sort of a thing you've just got to be very wary of. This is a classic dumb Doctor deal and you have to stay away from that sort of stuff.
Dr. Minnick: [00:51:33] I can't. Yeah there is no business plan here that it's that it's just a loan and if you are going to do real estate do it in a much more protected environment whether it's a reit or through some of the others you've been working with in your apartments in Indianapolis or something like that. A person to person even with lawyers involved. It's not something that I think anyone should get involved with.
Dr. Dahle: [00:52:07] This is this is not the time when you know you're early in your career you still owe student loans. This is not the time to make an investments like this if ever.
Dr. Minnick: [00:52:15] I don't think there's ever a good time for that.
Dr. Dahle: [00:52:18] Exactly. All right well we're getting a little long here so we're good. Better start wrapping up here anyway. You got any other advice for our listeners out?
Dr. Minnick: [00:52:25] No I think we really hit on it and you just have to live cheap. Delay and defer your luxury until you're more established in the world cause you don't know where you are going to be from year to year starting out. Despite we are two EM guys talking to each other but for non EM people you still don't know where you're going to go. If you're a surgeon you don't know what your complication rate is going to be to be you know finding a new job somewhere else. So just go delay and defer that luxury. That's really my biggest advice.
Dr. Minnick: [00:53:02] And I was thinking of other things as we were all talking and one question is out in Utah do you have a bunch of title cash loan places? Because over here every street corner has a title cash for loan business. And I'm wondering should I get into that?
Dr. Dahle: [00:53:21] You know that's a great question. They're actually going out of business in Utah. One out of six of them I was reading an article the other day one out of six of them went out of business last year. And the reason why is our legislatures cracking down hard on them. They're basically making it so you can't pay off a payday loan with another payday loan. And so there's actually a surprising amount of legislative risk in that business. But I think the main problem I would have with going into that business you know and as some people brought up with peer to peer loans you know or you're charging somebody 20 percent interest. Well when you're giving someone a title loan or you're giving them a paycheck loan you charge them like four hundred eighty four percent interest.
Dr. Dahle: [00:54:00] I mean if that's not loansharking you got to wonder how good you feel about being in that business. I think morally I might run into a few problems with that. So I don't know. Let us know if you get into it. I'd be curious to see a guest post on it.
Dr. Minnick: [00:54:15] Yeah. That would be a great guest post.
Dr. Minnick: [00:54:18] So I recommend everyone do some at least once a week if not once a month Sunday morning on the couch with an ipad, read one financial article preferably from some kind of blog not Wall Street Journal. That's so macro that really won't affect that individual. What's your Sunday morning couch reading? You know what are you reading?
Dr. Dahle: [00:54:41] Well I think that's pretty good advice. I mean my advice to people to get some continuing financial education is read one good financial book a year and follow a blog. And I think there's now a number of good physician financial blogs out there. I think we're pushing 40 now. There has been another 12 or 15 that started this year. And so there's really no shortage anymore like there was when I started the white coat investor a physician specific financial information. And so if you don't like my blog read somebody else's but read a blog and it'll keep you up to date. The big changes will show up there and they'll give you a you know a sense for what you need to be doing. But more than just the information it will give you the motivation. We'll give you a chance to see another doc who's doing it who's being financially successful. And you can kind of model yourself a little bit after that and reach your financial goals too.
Dr. Dahle: [00:55:34] Well I sure appreciate you being on the show tonight. There's been a lot of fun and sometimes fun just to get another voice on here. I think the hardest thing to do in podcasting is actually doing a monologue. Like a lot of mine I've been in the last year and so it's fun to get another voice on here and just you know have a conversation.
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Dr. Dahle: [00:56:38] Head up shoulders back. You can do this and we can help. Make sure you're connected to us on Facebook or Twitter.