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5 Uncommon Financial Commonsense


I’ve been hearing the terms “educated dumb” and “commonsense is uncommon” frequently lately.

I’ve been hearing the terms “educated dumb” and “commonsense is uncommon” frequently lately.

It’s true that to be financially successful, all one needs is commonsense. One VA nurse further endorsed that idea, as she’s retiring at 55, with 750k in retirement savings, and has helped others generously, including her adult son’s family by 200k in educational costs/debts.

While there are doctors at her age who have made 300 grand annually for two decades with fewer savings in retirement account, she humbly says that it’s just commonsense.

It’s true. As complicated as most financial salesman like to make personal finances sound, it really is simple. So if you keep it stupid simple (KISS), you’ll well!

So, let’s remind ourselves what we (should) know as kindergartners.

1. Save.

Don’t try to buy happiness. It just doesn’t work. The most consumptive culture in the world, the US, reportedly has the most cases of depression. Go figure.

Put savings as your #1 non-negotiable expense category in your budget. Pay yourself first, and then play with what’s left. If there’s nothing left, count it as a blessing. Having no money to spend on clothes, entertainment, and frivolous stuff makes you happier.

Don’t agree with me? Were you happier in college without a dime in your savings, or happier now with >1 million net worth?

2. Make your money harder and longer than you.

Put your savings where it can generate more money for you. Not under the mattress or in bank accounts bearing 0.03% interest. Buy index funds. Buy and hold. Buy in your younger years (low tax bracket) voraciously, like there’s no tomorrow. It will pay off in tremendous time value of money and tax savings.

3. Give and share.

It’s incredibly true that the more you give, the more you have. Reason is, $40 bucks means so much more to a staving child in 3rd world country than to you. Having a worthy cause to give your money to, makes you realize how blessed you are, and how little you need to spend more on yourself.

4. Create opportunities.

If a group of kids don't play with you, you devised your own game and drew players to your game, didn’t you?

Your mind and your time are your greatest assets. Use them wisely. Create opportunities for yourself to generate more income. It’s easy to do when you look around you and see where you can provide services to others. If you follow your heart and your desire to help others, money will follow you. I’d never imagined that I could make money by writing articles. But the income from writing, which is my hobby and one of the major ways that I help those around me, is helping to max out Mini’s 529 at 14k in 2016!

5. If it’s so complicated that you can’t understand it, it’s not a good thing to buy/service.

Just because it’s complex and expensive doesn’t mean it’s good stuff! Don’t buy anything, particularly financial products if they are too complicated to understand. You are a doctor, you master the most intricate, difficult to appreciate concepts there are on earth, discovered by human so far. If you can’t wrap your mind around how whole-life insurance-annuity-cr*p works to your benefit, it’s probably because it DOESN’T benefit you. It benefits the sales person with 2 weeks of financial training in front of you.

There you go — 5 financial commonsense restored. Now, go out there and be a DIY/self-made millionaire!

Personal Finance, Investing, Retirement, Practice Management, & Lifestyle More articles like this on Physician's Money Digest.

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Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice
Victor J. Dzau, MD, gives expert advice