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Financial Book Review: the Physician Philosopher’s Guide to Personal Finance: the 20% of Personal Fi

I have finished residency in the United States and now have a great paying job. This led me to wanting to read a personal finance book as, unlike in residency, I will have enough money to begin paying down my loans and invest in retirement.

I decided to start with the Physician Philosopher’s Guide to Personal Finance: the 20% of Personal Finance Doctors Need to Know to get 80% of the Results. I would describe it as a primer, so it is short. The author, James D. Turner MD, made this to be a short read around 5 hours. His aim is to teach you how to pay down loans, invest efficiently, budget, and achieve early financial freedom.

For what the book is, it accomplishes most of the goals. The most resonating point is to live like a resident for a couple of years after finishing residency… he also reminds people to live like a resident during residency, a suggestion a few of my colleagues may have benefited from. Basically, the focus is on a budget and sticking to it, while still finding some room for spending money for wellness related activities (ie. Vacations). Investing for retirement is discussed with many different options/vehicles. The added touch of discussing disability insurance and showing the difference between a poor and good spending/investing lifestyle was great.

Something I learned, albeit too late, was that I should have been saving at least some money for retirement in residency. That statement aside, I can say I am in a unique position in that I am a Canadian in the United States with non-federal Canadian loans. Some strategies of loan repayment in the book are more complicated for me (ie. being at the mercy of whatever people feel the Canadian dollar is) or downright impossible. Strategies for how to move money across the border is not mentioned as this is not a problem with the vast majority of physicians working in the US.

The major problem is this book is that it is not a comprehensive review. Again, this is made clear from the outset when you read the description, but I would need to know more about certain topics before I started treating some of the statements in the book as true. Considering that the book stated a few times that you would not need a financial planner when using the information of the book, this is where I think it does fall short. Once more, it does say in the book that many people will probably want a financial planner when using this book to cross t’s and dot i’s.

Ultimately, I prefer to rate books that teach, and have stated goals of what they want to teach, on a scale of 0 to 2. The scale is 0 (would not recommend, does not accomplish what is intended), 1 (would consider recommended, partially accomplished the books stated goals), 2 (would recommend and accomplishes all major goals). This book is an easy 2 and people should read it in medical school, residency, and again when graduated. Although made for physicians the main point of budgeting and saving some money for retirement is a good point for everyone to learn.

I would like to add that I am not a financial advisor in any way, so take what I say at your own discretion.

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