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5 Easy Steps for Physicians Who Hate Personal Finance

I get it. I’m tuned in. Not all physicians like personal finance. Not everyone thinks it’s as fun and exciting for me. For me, it’s like a hobby. I love to do it and it helps me. It’s a fortunate and lucky coincidence. Like how I love plastic surgery.

Related post:
Sorta Random Sunday: What Does A Plastic Surgeon Actually Do?

But, that is not everyone.

So, what are the physicians who hate personal finance supposed to do?

You won’t want to read all of my posts for sure. You won’t want to go into the weeds with me as I debate the best ways to invest in real estate.

What you want are easy and actionable steps. You want a list of straight forward tasks that you can do to get 80% of the result with 20% of the knowledge and effort.

And then you want to get back to your life. Back to your family and friends and patients.

I totally respect that.

This post is for you.

physicians personal finance
Not a bad plan…

What makes me qualified

Not all physicians who hate (maybe hate is a song word…seriously dislike) personal finance will be fresh out of training. Some may be very seasoned.

So, why listen to a pip squeak like me, just 8 months removed from my training?

Well, experience is not measured in years. It’s measured in mistakes. Every mistake is tuition for your education. And I’ve paid a lot of tuition.

Related posts:
The Top 10 Financial Mistakes (and Errors and Blunders) That I Have Made – Part I
The Top 10 Financial Mistakes (and Errors and Blunders) That I Have Made – Part II

I made every mistake in the book. Literally, they were actually in the book. This was a personal finance book tailored to physicians. I had been given the book for free about one year ago and had never opened it until this day, about five months before I was set to finish my plastic surgery training. 

Unfortunately, I know that many doctors are in a similar boat

The reasons that we go into medicine are not financially motivated. We receive no formal education or even introduction to basic financial principles like saving, investing, and asset allocation.

This leaves us flat-footed and overwhelmed when we reach the end of our training.

But experience is also measured in success

And I’ve also had a lot of success in a short time. I’ve increased my net worth by 6 figures in about 6 months.

I’ve dove into real estate investing with great success.

And what I’m most proud of…developing my own comprehensive written financial plan with my wife, Selenid.

Related posts:
My Net Worth Biopsy: Still 6 Figures Negative But Improved By >$250,000 In 4 Months!
Still Need a Written Personal Financial Plan? Here…Use Mine!
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A Physician’s Guide to Real Estate Investing

So I do know what I’m talking about.

The main message is that personal finance can’t be ignored not matter how much you may hate it

This is like cutting off your nose to spite your face. (Is that the saying??)

You are only hurting yourself by ignoring it like I did for so long.

We often make excuses to not learn. Likely, we are intimidated and embarrassed to admit that we know nothing about the subject. I know that I felt that way.

But what I realized was that by confronting my lack of knowledge and acknowledging my mistakes, I felt free to learn and take control of my financial well-being. If you can relate to this, you can do the same.

Ok, ok…here are the 5 easy steps for physicians who hate personal finance!

Quick note: These are important and viable for any doctor at any level, no matter your personal circumstances or financial situation.

1. Buy and read a book on personal finances

Yes, I know I said that this was an easy list. But this is an easy step.

You may hate personal finance. But reading just one good book on this topic can change your financial trajectory in a huge way.

You hated nephrology (c’mon, who really liked nephrology?!). But you still read about it in medical school. So just tough it out and read one book.

If you need a recommendation, check out my curated list here.

2. Look over your past month’s expenses and calculate your savings rate

Look at how much you spent last month versus how much you made.

This is easy to do just by reviewing your past month’s banking/credit card statements.

Figure out your savings rate using this equation:

Savings rate = (How much you made – how much you spent)/(how much you made) x 100

3. Increase your savings rate

A good rule of thumb is to try and have a 20% savings rate.

My savings rate was 0%, now it is 31%.

There are many strategies to go about doing this, you can increase your rate all at once or increase by 1% each week or month.

Once you set a goal savings rate, set aside that money at the beginning of the month and then you can spend the rest guilt-free.

4. Using your savings rate to decrease liabilities and increase assets

You wealth is defined by two variables: assets and liabilities.

Assets are anything that makes you money, it puts money in your pocket.

Liabilities are anything that takes money out of your pocket.

So, if you want to grow your wealth, achieve financial well-being, and reach financial freedom, just maximize your assets and minimize your liabilities.

Minimizing your liabilities would be doing things like using your savings rate to pay off student debt, a mortgage on a primary home, or a car loan.

Maximizing your assets would be doing things like investing in low cost, broadly diversified index funds, maxing out your retirement account, or investing in cash flowing investment real estate properties.

Related posts:
Stress Free Stock Market Investing Is Easier Than It Seems!
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physicians personal finance
A small price to pay for financial freedom!

5. Make more money

You’re probably rolling your eyes at me right now.

“If I could make more money, don’t you think I would have done that already?!”

Well, actually I don’t. As people in general, and especially as physicians, we have so many hang ups around money. We usually have a scarcity mindset where we feel money is hard to make.

We need to change this to an abundancy mindset. Money is out there. Someone is waiting for a service or good that you offer with money in hand, just waiting to give it to you.

Go find it.

Want some ideas? Here’s a whole post full of ’em!

Related post:
Physician Side Gigs to Make You Passive Money

Bonus step. Find a finance blog or podcast that you like

Ok, if you really hate personal finance, you likely won’t want to do this one. But I still think it’s a great way to learn a lot that will make you wealthier with minimal effort.

Daily blog posts are easily digestible so I still just read one everyday in the morning or in between cases. Find one you like and follow it. I’d be honored it’s mine, but there are a bunch of great ones out there!

Alternatively, find a podcast and listen on your daily commute. Choose one to start so you don’t get information overload, the idea is to learn a little bit each day.

In fact, I host two podcasts catered to regular docs learning about personal finance, Finance Flash Go! and Doctors & Dollars.

Related posts:
The Simple Habits That Will Make You Financially Successful
Financial Education 101: How to Finally Get Started on the Path to Financial Well-Being

If you follow these steps, you will be setting the foundation for financial well-being for the rest of your life

Even if you hate personal finance.

In fact, my guess is that after doing these steps, you will find that you kinda love personal finance.

I hope that’s the case! If not, I will rest easy knowing that you are on your way to financial well-being.

More than that, I am confident you will find that managing your personal finances, including investing, is fun, rewarding, and not nearly as difficult as you thought it would be.

The first step is always the hardest! 

Want more resources to help you get started? Check these posts out!

What do you think? Do you love or hate personal finance? Somewhere in between? Is it necessary for physicians to like personal finance to be successful at it? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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    The Prudent Plastic Surgeon

    Jordan Frey MD, a plastic surgeon in Buffalo, NY, is one of the fastest-growing physician finance bloggers in the world. See how he went from financially clueless to increasing his net worth by $1M in 1 year and how you can do the same! Feel free to send Jordan a message at [email protected]

    6 thoughts on “5 Easy Steps for Physicians Who Hate Personal Finance”

    1. Excellent post! the 80/20 rule is so powerful and useful.

      A book I found super useful is The Index Card: Why Personal Finance Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated

      Reply
    2. awesome dude- I definitely ended up liking personal finance, even though initially I didn’t want to be bothered. Although I’m not sure if it’s still just seething anger from being screwed by Northwestern Mutual . . .

      Reply
      • yeah dude that company has a knack for screwing docs! Luckily though have mostly recovered where the only remnant of that disaster is my whole life cash value that we 1035 exchanged into low cost VA at Fidelity which is only 3k away from reaching cost basis! the original loss on that whole life policy was 25K. My wife also had a policy and same 25k loss that reached cost basis in the low cost VA 3 months ago 🙂

        btw Tom did they do the full court press of fleecing you like me with getting whole on your kids, non-true own occ disability, term to 80 convertible life insurance, VA within an IRA, and advisor led 529 in Virginia? if so and need some help getting out of those let me know.

        Reply

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