Happy New Year! I hope everyone is doing well and are ready to start in 2019. As always, setting goals for the year is important. In 2019 I asked that each of you take a little time to learn about personal finance. Figure out the best way to get out of debt and the rest of your house in order. Below are three good books to consider depending on your stage in life.
Today I am writing about “A Doctor's Guide To” series of books by Dr. Cory Fawcett. Dr. Fawcett is a surgeon who retired in his 50's. He was able to do so by realizing debt was the enemy, following good personal finance habits, and saving a lot of money throughout his career. Being a physician helped as his salary was high, but the income was only one part of the equation.
As he approached retirement, Dr. Fawcett wrote several books to help doctor's live better lives. He has taken his own experiences and years of teaching personal finance in his community to write these books. They are well written and easily digestible. I would recommend them to anyone interested in starting to learn about personal finance. These books are an excellent leaping point for the rest of your future. (I was given free copies of these books by Dr. Fawcett. If you click on a link below and purchase a book, I will receive a small payment.)
Of the three books in this series, I would start with this one. That was the most informative of the three books for me. As someone who understands basic personal finance but has never joined a private practice, this was great.
The Doctors Guide to Starting Your Practice Right starts out discussing how the right start makes all the difference. Dr. Fawcett covers in detail why deciding the type and location of the practice you want from the start is so important and not a decision to take lightly. Considering that 50% and more physicians leave their first job within five years, we as a group are doing a poor job in picking the right gig. I am on my 3rd job in the 6th year out of training. I have one other friend in the same boat and countless more on their second.
By knowing the type of practice you want, you can start looking for the right jobs. By understanding the location and type of city you want, you will not be compromising on your desires and more likely to stay long term. Dr. Fawcett outlines clearly what the various practice models are so that the reader obtains a good understanding of this.
How to get a job
He then goes forward and walks you through every step of the process of getting a job. It starts with how to find the right practice to negotiating a contract (arguably the thing most doctors do the worst) and to preparing for your first day. Dr. Fawcett's book will get you prepared.
After he has outlined how to get a job, he focuses at the end of the book on life planning. Dr. Fawcett covers the importance of controlling your lifestyle inflation and managing debt and plan for retirement. These are all covered in detail and important for not only new physicians but those looking to change pace.
I highly recommend this book and believe it provides information that is not easy to find online.
The Doctors Guide to Eliminating debt is for anyone bogged down in debt, as most physicians are. This book is a motivating force to make some change.
Dr. Fawcett starts with a discussion of his journey out of debt. Like me, he came out of medical school with debt, then quickly added to it with some expensive purchases. He was cruising along with a 30-year debt horizon until realizing there was no need to live that way. He understood he could pay down his debt in 7 years, set a plan, and followed it, allowing him to retire in his 50s.
The book is a 150 + pages outline of everything needed to get on track. From figuring out your current net worth to managing your debt, this book will get you there. It is easy to read and an excellent primer for both young and old doctors alike.
Dr. Fawcett's writing is colorful, using stories from his medical practice and relating them to debt. Ever wondered what the similarity between a diabetic foot ulcer and debt is? Read the book to find out.
My favorite section of this book
Of all the chapters, my favorite was his discussion of the four easy steps to get from decision to debt-free. He discusses the snowball method, which is my preferred method to pay down debt. He then goes on to explain how to stay out of debt and then the first steps in investing.
I would recommend The Doctor's Guide to Eliminating debt for anyone who is currently overwhelmed by debt. This book will let you see that change and freedom are possible.
The Doctors Guide to Smart Career Alternatives, and Retirement is the final book in the series, or at least in my mind, it is the one that should be read last. This book is not only directed at late-career physicians but is useful for early and mid-career physicians also. It provides not only a discussion of planning for retirement but many career alternative choices.
Dr. Fawcett covers the importance of understanding why you want to change your career and what you will do if you retire. He covers the difference between being truly burnt out from medicine versus just needing a change in your practice model. Dr. Fawcett also includes the fundamental question of what you will retire to.
Once you have decided that you want to change careers, he discusses alternative career choices that are both clinical-like locums work and nonclinical alternatives such as becoming an expert witness.
If you are interested in working in a high need area, he has a complete discussion of why this is helpful for both parties, while allowing you to practice part-time. This is an interesting chapter and will be useful to someone looking to dial back their clinical work.
Dr. Fawcett also explains different financial phases of a physician's life and how to get ready for full retirement. These are very important chapters and cover basic personal finance, including when and how to take out Social Security payments.
Finally, the book discusses how to make your exit and what that will entail. What kind of passive income can you expect to have in retirement, and how can you use it? Do you understand a safe withdrawal rate? Are there any lifestyle changes you need to make in retirement?
Finally, he covers things I have not focused on, such as estate planning. I found this section to be quite informative and am glad Dr. Fawcett gives a primer on these important issues.
A physician writes three great books for physicians. I urge everyone to pick up at least one of these books (or any finance book) to start 2019. Do not wait another 2-5 years before getting your finances in orders. Try not to be overwhelmed by your debt. You can make changes and be debt-free by 2029. Get out there and do it!