Most doctors complete their residency or fellowship with insufficient knowledge of personal finance. This educational deficiency often leads them to make sub-optimal decisions. It also leaves them vulnerable to unqualified or unscrupulous salespeople pitching a variety of financial products.
The objective of this book is to equip you with the basic, unbiased knowledge needed to make better financial decisions for yourself and your family. Its content spans all major areas of personal finance.
There are many books on financial literacy. Most are written by finance professionals—people who want to sell us insurance or investment management services. Because of their sales agenda, we can’t trust such authors to provide balanced discussions.
In creating the Pillars of Wealth content, my focus is exclusively on objective, scientifically sound education. I don’t sell financial products.
As will be explained in greater detail, Pillars of Wealth is a metaphor that has proven useful during my many years of teaching finance to medical audiences.
A major challenge for those seeking and teaching financial literacy is that the financial information we encounter in the public domain is often reduced to sound bites or snippets by the media, salespeople, and politicians. Generalizations and pithy one-liners lead to a false sense of order and certainty. In reality, there is far more chaos, complexity, and nuance in the world of finance. We ignore the nuance at our peril.
This book aims to provide a balanced discussion that recognizes subtleties and doesn’t resort to reflexive emotional responses. Ultimately, this book is about helping you to level the playing field. You don’t need to become a financial expert. You don’t need to compromise your science or patient focus. All you need to know are the basic facts. These will help you determine whether you can and should make decisions on your own, which questions to ask, and how to evaluate prospective providers of financial services in the event you elect to use their services.
There are significant and direct benefits to taking control of your financial planning. Better decisions can mean smoother interactions with financial services providers, reduced fees, lower stress and anxiety, a happier home, earlier retirement, and greater financial freedom.
The benefits of good decision making are incremental and compound over long time horizons. It follows that making poor decisions, or even just slightly suboptimal ones, and allowing them to fester, severely undermines your financial health. It’s far more effective to make better decisions early on than having to make up for lost time later.
It’s tempting to put off decisions that make us anxious, but life throws financial challenges at us without warning, forcing us to quickly switch priorities. The absence of basic knowledge, combined with time pressure, are likely to result in suboptimal and sometimes even devastating financial decisions.
As a doctor, you understand more than most that practicing preventative or proactive medicine is far better than reactive medicine. If you wish to deal more proactively with household financial matters, then this book is for you.
Recognizing that you are busy, I made every effort to keep this book as short as possible, while still touching on all the major areas of personal finance. Access to online publications and additional resources, including spreadsheets and useful links, is available at PillarsOfWealth.com.
If you wish to improve your private practice, please refer to the second book in this series: Pillars of Wealth Book 2: Business Essentials for Medical Practices. For a deeper dive into investing basics, please see the forthcoming Book III in the Pillars of Wealth series.