Taking Stock

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Taking Stock

A hospice doctor’s advice on financial independence, building wealth, and living a regret-free life.

Jordan Grumet, MD

(Doc G, host of the Earn & Invest podcast)

Who should read this book?

I would recommend this to several groups.

· Those who are retired and trying to find new meaning away from their career.

· Those about to retire who are unsure how they will cope without having ‘physician’ as part of their identity.

· Clinicians who are feeling burnout creeping into their career and life and not sure which way to turn.

· Young doctors who are enjoying work but would like to achieve financial independence early in their career. That would allow a shift to develop a life with more breadth and meaning.

The Real Deal

I have had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know the author. He has an uncommon vitality. He has a sparkle in his eyes which reveals a deeper wisdom within. If you have an opportunity to speak with Jordan, to listen to his podcasts, or read his book you will learn that his wisdom is hard found. He has spent decades in self-reflection and looking for meaning behind the meaning. He works through this when helping colleagues and those who have only a short life in front of them. We can all learn something valuable from Jordan’s wisdom.

YOLO (You Only Live Once)

When I give personal finance talks to physicians I receive a question relating to whether we should spend our money now or save it.  Inevitably someone will bring up a story about a miser who died soon after retiring. They argue we only live once and should spend accordingly. I usually struggle to answer that question in a live talk because my answer carries a lot of nuance. The short version is physicians make enough money that we can do both by living well now and also saving well for our future. If someone wants a longer answer or a better explanation I will now refer them to Jordan’s excellent book.

Don’t Retire 

After dealing with so many hospice patients Jordan encourages us to search for meaning and connection in our daily lives. He suggests we live as if we are dying because we are. He’s an advocate for financial independence and will give you a guide path to getting there. He does not endorse early retirement in its original sense since we are made to work and live according to our purpose.

Live & Learn

He shares some of his mistakes along the way including living a life and career chosen for reasons that no longer apply. Jordan also felt he was too driven during much of his career and that kept him distant from those closest to him. That is the price many of us pay for a medical career and it’s too high a price.

That’s not to say we should not be working or striving. But that we should be aware and enjoy “the climb.” We need to be challenged and we need growth and we need meaning in our lives and we need deep connections to others. There is no finish line when driving to further understand and develop our purpose, identity, and connections.

Art of Subtraction

When Jordan reached financial independence he practiced the art of subtraction. Many of us have deployed this technique in medicine. For me it was subtracting 2 days of work during the week and subtracting some of procedures that I did not enjoy. Many of us find our work is more enjoyable if we can remove a few of the most difficult parts.

Many of us don’t have the courage to make those changes until we are financially independent. Realize though that we physicians have more clout than we think when negotiating. Cutting back on work can slightly reduce your income but it’s not as big an effect as you would think. Partly because of diminishing return on income and partly because the last and highest dollars we earn are those that are taxed the most. By working less we get to keep more of the money we earn.

Three Brothers

I enjoyed his parable of the three brothers. The eldest brother was very efficient and had concrete goals of short-term sacrifice for long-term gain. He represents a standard method used to reach success, myself included. He front-loaded his sacrifices and his bank accounts.

The middle brother lacked some determination. He made his journey a little bit more manageable. Brother #2 often took trips off the prescribed path which he enjoyed and made him refreshed after. He discovered some of his activities could be a side gig and even developed some additional income. Not all of the income was passive but it was work he enjoyed. Once he reached the end of the road he had less time to enjoy it. But he had a good deal more energy and was not burned out. His was slower and more deliberate than the elders’ path. It was a joyful journey with no hurry at all. When he reached the end he turned around and walked back the way he came.

The youngest brother worked for the joy of work and there is a lot to be said for that. The point is we don’t have to decide between money and passion. We can have them both but we  need to be thoughtful in how we tailor our choices. The book includes several exercises that will help put this process into your life and make it real.

Financial Independence

Jordan is financially independent and included a chapter on how to put your financial house in order. I wouldn’t rely on that exclusively since there are better financial books available. I agree with most of his basic outline but some of the details aren’t accurate. (For example, “The 4% rule states that you can withdraw 4% of your portfolio each year in retirement for a comfortable life”). Despite my nitpicking, I recommend this book highly.

This book made me think. It was unique. It is loaded with helpful tips and time-management hacks. The one non-renewable precious resource we have is time. Take some of your valuable time and read this book. You won’t regret it).

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