From investing advice to book recommendations, here are the best tips from fellow physician finance creators I met at FinCon 2022.
I’ve recently come to understand the importance of community. Last week, I spent a week in Orlando, Florida, surrounded by finance and social media buffs. After the relative social isolation of the Covid pandemic, which shut down in-person events for years, it was so refreshing to see people face to face.
I got the chance to meet with a few physicians who are active in the space of personal finance and real estate investing, like me. We met at an Italian bar/restaurant for some camaraderie and overpriced calories. Specifically, I hung out with Leif from the Physician on Fire, Cory Fawcett from Financial Success, MD, and Chris Loo, MD.
Towards the end of our meal, I pumped them for their best tips for med students and residents. Here are some of their pearls of wisdom, with my commentary.
Chris Loo, MD
Chris Loo, MD is a physician turned real estate investor who loves coaching other physicians who are seeking financial independence.
His advice was twofold:
- Read “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”
- Commit to dollar cost averaging
You can’t really argue with either of these two pieces of advice. “Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” is the most cited book on entrepreneurism when people are ready to think outside of the box. It’ll basically help prep your mind to break out of the rat race and start building assets, businesses, and cash flow.
In regards to dollar cost averaging, this is also sound advice. To remind you, this means that you invest money (into whatever market) at regular quantities and intervals. For example, every paycheck, you can invest 5% into an index fund like VOO, the Vanguard 500 ETF. This allows you to take advantage of the market when it’s down or flat, and build your wealth slowly but surely.
I’d just note here that with enough money, you can also dollar cost average into the real estate market as well. If you’re doing active real estate investing like I do, however, it’ll take considerably more effort than just setting up automatic contributions to Vanguard.
Cory Fawcett, MD
Dr. Cory Fawcett, AKA Financial Success, MD, is a surgeon who wants to teach doctors how they can live healthy, happy, and debt-free lives–to regain control of their practice, their time, and their finances. He has a series of popular books called “The Doctors Guide.” I’m looking forward to reading his latest book, The Doctors Guide to Real Estate Investing for Busy Professionals.
His advice was threefold and geared specifically towards residents:
- Live within your means
- Never moonlight
- The buck doesn’t stop with you
Living within your means as a resident is fantastic advice. You don’t make very much as a resident – I think I made $45,000 to start my residency in 2010. Average salaries are a bit higher now, but not by much. So living within that small salary is a challenge. But if you can do it, you can set yourself up for good financial discipline in the future.
“Moonlighting” is when a doctor will work additional hours outside of their usual work assignment to make more money. For example, a urology resident could moonlight and work shifts in the ER or urgent care, or perhaps in research.
Dr. Fawcett warns against this, though. He argues that you’re busy enough in residency, and any extra time you have would be better spent with family or just resting. Moonlighting wasn’t allowed in my residency program, and I certainly didn’t feel like I had the bandwidth for any outside work either. But if a resident has extra cash needs, moonlighting can really help ends meet.
His last point is really important. When he says “the buck doesn’t stop with you,” he means that as a resident, you always have someone higher up the food chain who is ultimately responsible. It’s either your senior resident, your fellow, or the attending. Although you might internalize bad outcomes as your fault, residency is a protected time of learning.
This struck home for me when I thought back to a couple of deaths I dealt with as a junior resident during residency. They both happened within a week of each other with postoperative patients under my care. Although there was nothing I could have done about these deaths (trust me, I’ve thought about it a lot), I internalized a lot of the blame. It would have been good for me to remember that I was just one part of a much larger team.
The Physician on Fire
Leif, also known as the Physician on Fire, is a financially independent anesthesiologist who retired early from medicine. He achieved financial independence at the age of 39 and retired from medicine at 43. He is a generous stalwart of the physician finance universe and has featured many of my posts in the past (thanks Leif!).
There were his tips:
- Remember that there are highly paid positions in every specialty
- Doesn’t matter how much money you spend on an engagement ring, it matters who you give it to.
His first point is an interesting thing I’ve seen first hand. I’ve seen family medicine doctors who outearn surgeons by a factor of three! As Leif said, “averages are important,” but it’s also good to know that there is big variability even within specialities. So if you’re not making as much money as you desire, figure out what the high earners are doing, and emulate them.
I liked his second point enough that I made a TikTok video about it (see below). It’s advice that reaches farther than just marriage. When I hear this, I realize that life is all about relationships, and you should choose your friends, spouses, and business partners carefully.
I hope you enjoyed these tips from the physician finance creators I met at FinCon 2022. It was amazing to meet them and pick their brains. Part of my ongoing evolution is the realization that human capital is a potent form of leverage. By meeting and utilizing the expertise of amazing people, your own development can accelerate exponentially.
How are you leveraging the expertise of others?
– The Darwinian Doctor
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