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Please welcome Jim from The White Coat Investor as our guest for today’s Financial Literacy Chronicles.  This is Day 26 of 30 in the Financial Literacy Month interview series here on Enwealthen.

Please tell me a little bit about yourself and your blog.

While I was an undergraduate and medical student, I had little interest in personal finance or investing. I wasn’t completely financially illiterate but I had never read a financial book.

About halfway through residency I got sick of feeling taken advantage of by the financial services industry. By that point I had been ripped off by a realtor, appraiser, insurance agent, financial advisor, and a recruiter.

I told myself that if I didn’t start learning about this stuff I was going to continue to be taken advantage of my entire life.

As a doctor, I had a big target on my back since everybody wants a piece of a doctor’s income. So I started reading books from the used book store across the street.

You are engaged in a life-and-death struggle with the financial services industry. …

After 20 or 30 books, I realized this stuff isn’t that complicated. I started interacting in online forums and reading blogs. After a while, I realized I was doing a lot more teaching online than learning, so I decided to start The White Coat Investor. Since nobody was teaching doctors and other high income professionals the basics of personal finance and literacy, the site grew rapidly.

In 2014, I published my first book The White Coat Investor: A doctor’s guide to personal finance and investing. It has been a best-seller on Amazon ever since.

Can you share your most impactful money memory from your childhood?

I remember my parents telling me we were broke once.

It was pretty short-term and nobody ever went hungry in my house. But I definitely learned that money didn’t grow on trees.

We all receive financial advice from people in our lives.  What’s the most interesting or useful financial advice you’ve received from your community?

I think the best four words of advice I ever got (and which I now regularly give) is to “Live Like A Resident.”

A resident physician makes about $50K a year. An attending physician makes $150-400K+ a year.

If a doctor, upon completing residency, continues to “live like a resident” for 2-5 years after residency, she can take the difference between a resident lifestyle and an attending income and use it to build wealth very rapidly. Student loans can be paid off, retirement savings can be jump-started, and a down payment for a dream home can be saved up. Then she can grow into your income slowly and enjoy the good life.

But too many docs grow into or even past their attending income almost immediately and waste their opportunity for an almost guaranteed path to wealth.

I have several personal finance books I regularly give to friends and family.  What are your 3 favorite fundamental personal finance books you often gift to others?

I like my own book, but it’s definitely focused on doctors.

Of those good for a general audience, I like Tobias’s The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need, Tyson’s Personal Finance For Dummies, and Bernstein’s If You Can.

What financial literacy education did you receive in school?  If you had a magic wand, what would you change to improve that?

None.

I would institute a 4th year medical student class in every medical school in the country on personal finance, investing, and the business of medicine.

There are so many blogs on the internet, what are 3 of your favorite blogs that instill financial literacy, either by word or action?

Well, I guess I can’t name my own here.

So my second favorite one for doctors is Physician on FIRE, which focuses on financial independence and early retirement. I also enjoy Oblivious Investor for his simplifying approach and The Finance Buff for his ability to cut through the crap out there.

Live Like A Resident.

I like to keep inspirational quotes around the house to remind me of what’s important.  Do you have a favorite money quote you use to inspire your financial life?

“You are engaged in a life-and-death struggle with the financial services industry. … If you act on the assumption that every broker, insurance salesman … and financial advisor you encounter is a hardened criminal, you will do just fine.”  — William Bernstein

What is the most important thing for a beginning investor to focus on?

Without a doubt, the best place to put your initial focus is on your savings rate. This is simply the amount of money you put away for long-term goals divided by your gross income.

A rate of 15% is good, although most doctors should aim for a rate of 20% due to their late start and the lower contribution that Social Security will make to their retirement. 30%+ will lead to the ability to retire early. 5-10% simply isn’t enough.

It really needs to be a double digit figure. Start where you are at and increase it as often as you can by saving any income increases until you get up into the 15% range.

Thanks for contributing to Financial Literacy Month here on Enwealthen, Jim!

James M. Dahle, MD is the founder of The White Coat Investor where he helps those who wear the white coat get a “fair shake” on Wall Street. You can sign up for a free monthly newsletter and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Readers, please share your thoughts on Jim’s experiences, any additional questions you have, and suggestions for who else you’d like to see interviewed in the comments below.  And please do share this with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  Thanks!

2 COMMENTS

  1. As a licensed banker/financial advisor, I find that Bernstein quote offensive. I am now triggered.

    But “live like a resident” (and live like a college student”) really sums up the path to financial freedom quite well. You need to live below your means and invest the difference. If you’re purchasing things rather than assets, you’ll never get ahead.

    Though I wish I could live like a resident. That would require a salary increase.

    Great interview!

    Sincerely,
    ARB–Angry Retail Banker
    ARB recently posted The Difference Between Traditional And Alternative LendersMy Profile

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