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The Physician Philosopher’s Guide

February 22, 2020

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I had the pleasure of meeting The Physician Philospher (TPP) in real life at last year’s FinCon conference, “where money and media meet.” Of the many inspiring physician bloggers I met at Fincon, Dr. Jimmy Turner, the philosopher himself was one. He created a successful blog focused on personal finance with a focus on intentional living. A practicing anesthesiologist, he’s been an advocate for physicians at his own institution, teaching the principles of personal finance, whether he’s giving a formal lecture or working behind the drape. Aside from his teaching experience, he draws from his own debt repayment journey to synthesize his book, The Physician Philosopher’s Guide to Personal Finance. After reading it, I wanted to share my thoughts, in case you’re looking to do some reading in this area (and I recommend that you do)!

Give yourself a short-cut

The Physician Philosopher’s Guide applies the Pareto Principle to personal finance: you only need to know about 20% of personal finance to get 80% of the results. That’s good news for those of you who don’t have a lot of extra time, or don’t relish the topic. It’s a good read for those who are overwhelmed by the thought of learning about personal finance. This is a book you can read in a couple of sittings. If you can block some time to invest in your financial future, but can’t be bothered with nitty gritty investing axioms, read on.

As a bread-winning woman, learning the basics of personal finance benefits you and your entire family. And this book can be your guide.  While learning about personal finance, intentional spending, and life optimization has become a hobby of mine, I understand not everyone may feel the same way.

Ten things to know about The Physician Philosopher’s Guide

With that, here are ten things to know about The Physician Philosopher’s Guide.  

1.

The author was actually a philosophy major! In the book, you get a chance to know TPP: he was the liberal arts guy sitting next to you in medical school! That means if you’re inspired by great quotes, and like a bit of philosophy infused in your personal finance reading, you’ll like his Guide

2.

He brings practical perspective. TPP dedicates pages to the big-picture ways one can minimize debt accumulation in med school and training. I’ve noticed it’s easy to get bogged down in minutiae in some of the personal finance groups online. Don’t lose the forest for the trees: read about the key ways to save money and minimize the bleeding during the training years.

3.

TPP knows a lot about student loan repayment plans, and he explains the options in chapters 6 and 7. Optimizing your student debt pay-back can save tens of thousands of dollars, so this information has the potential to cover the cost of your book plus a copy for every friend you’ve ever made.

All the acronyms related to government-sponsored repayment plans can seem like a nonsensical letter salad. But the way TPP explains it, it’s pretty easy to understand. He outlines who is most likely to benefit from each kind of program, even laying it out in flow-chart form. I just haven’t seen this well- synthesized elsewhere. But be warned, these chapters are not oversimplified. They may send some running for help. If you’re not a fan of numbers and spreadsheets, read these chapters, then book a consult with our friends at the Student Loan Planner.  

4.

TPP is forthright about his own personal finance errors, as well as his conflicts of interest. He emphasizes his own conflicts to demonstrate the inherent conflicts common within the financial industry. He’s a teacher through and through.

5.

He’s funny. Like a dry, anesthesiology funny. On page 104, I chuckled as I heard his voice in my head:

“What? You don’t have time for that? Then, just invest in index funds. You can thank me later…”

TPP would be a hoot to be on service with as a student or resident! And you’d be guaranteed to learn a ton. 

6.

He uses nice simple language where it’s needed. In this way, you can absorb the knowledge, and sound smart later, when you tell your friends about dollar cost averaging, and actually know what it means (p105). 

7.

He’ll give you a gentle slap in the face. You still think people who have nice things are wealthy? Society gives us conflicting messages, many driven by advertisers, he explains. But if you think buying a sweet car right out of training is a good idea, he’ll straighten you out. The panhandler on the corner has a higher net worth than you. So please, don’t buy the car.

8.

He tackles the personal finance question: “How much fun are we allowed to have with our money?” His answer is the 10% rule, which you can read about on page 114.

Six years into attending life, I still struggle with this: how much to save, and how much to spend, lest we fall on the apocalypse, cancer, or similar fate, wishing we’d “lived” more. I found the 10% rule helpful and refreshing: a moderate approach to “carpe diem.”

9.

“You can never hear true things enough.” It’s a quote from the pastor that married TPP. Like the quote, I appreciate the morsels of wisdom sprinkled throughout this book. 

10.

On p137 he distills the perils of emotional investing:

“Buy and hold investors in the US made an average return of 8% during the 15 yrs from 1995 to 2009, but if they missed the 30 best days, their return would’ve been negative.”

In other words, don’t try to time the market. 

In summary, The Physician Philosopher’s Guide is an enjoyable read, which will jump-start your jalopy on the road to success. It’s for those short on time- doctors who need the high-yield concepts that will have the greatest impact on their future. It’s a guide for those digging themselves out of student loan debt. While outlining the ways to get your financial life started on the right foot, the Guide strikes a balance between readable and comprehensive.

There are moments his advice isn’t for everyone: “Just stick with index funds!” (I don’t)- but it’ll provide the 20% you need know to get 80% of your results. Not a bad deal if you ask me!

For doctors in training: 7 Things to Keep You Strong on the Path to Becoming a Doctor

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