Money Matters & The White Coat Investor

David Bensema, MD, MBA, is a Past-President of the KMA.  He currently serves as KMA Budget Committee Chair and serves on the American Medical Association (AMA) Governance & Finance Committee.  For more information on the White Coat Investor, go to www.whitecoatinvestor.com.

KMA offers unbiased basic financial planning seminars to medical students and residents. Last year, a residency director complimented this training at a KMA Board of Trustees meeting and when he did, heads around the table shook and more than one board member said, “I wish I had that when I was in training.”

Are we physicians different from the rest of society in our ability or lack thereof to manage our money?  Not really, but we do make more that could be saved and invested.  Oftentimes, we simply hire people to tell us what to do and pay a percentage of our total investments no matter if the investments go up or down.  That cost adds up over time.

And do we save enough money?   Savings create freedom, freedom to do what we want with our time.  It gives us flexibility.  And it allows us to perhaps contribute to our families, society and others in ways we may not be able to do when we live paycheck-to-paycheck.  Having worked with and managed physicians in my career, I can say categorically that physicians generally do not believe they have such freedom, especially today.

Building wealth should not be difficult.  Financial writer Morgan Housel once set out a very simple roadmap for doing so:  “Spend less than you earn.  Put the difference in a low-cost broad-based index fund.   Leave it alone and let it grow over time.”  And yet, few physicians even contribute to their 401k plans.

As KMA Budget Committee Chair, I am happy that we provide basic financial information to physicians in training.  But what about the rest of us?  On November 12 at 7:00 pm EDT, KMA and the Lexington Medical Society will offer an on-line seminar on personal finance for physicians provided by The White Coat Investor, Jim Dahle, MD, an emergency room physician who has spent years talking to and writing for physicians in an effort to provide them with basic financial information.  If you are someone who says, “I wish I had that seminar when I was in training,” I’d encourage you to attend by signing up here.

Much credit goes to KMA President Dale Toney, MD, for focusing on physician wellness – our mental, physical and financial health –  as part of his “Be Well, Stay Well” campaign during his presidency at a time that our profession is under more stress than ever.  This seminar may not relieve your financial stress, but perhaps it will give you the information to start the process.