Books to read: Ten of Howie’s favorites

The unprecedented virus crisis has caused CMS and AAO to recommended we shut down our offices except for emergency care until at least April 6, and even longer in some states.

Given the number of cases is growing exponentially, my expectation is that more states will have shelter in place orders. The NCAA tournament and NBA season is cancelled, and there’s only so much Netflix you can watch.

So someone asked me for some suggestions for books to read. They’re a mix of personal finance, business, and nonfiction that I believe will be enjoyable to everyone, solo practice or not. You can probably read the intros for free on Kindle, and I’ve also included links with reviews for many of the books below.

Personal Finance for Dummies by Eric Tyson was the first book I read as an attending. It’s the most useful personal finance book for beginners.

Part 3: building wealth with wise investing and part 4: Insurance protecting what you’ve got are my favorites. If you’re not saving 20% of your income read part 2: saving more and spending less. Part 1 is for beginners: assessing financial fitness and setting goals.

How to think about money by Johnathan Clements- Clements is former WSJ columnist that I learned a ton from reading his Saturday “weekend investor” columns (unfortunately, the no longer exist due to budget cuts, but do read the Jason Zweig columns) who has the same philosophies as me about happiness, saving, and low cost passive investing. Beginner book but good read.

The first sentence of the introduction echos my philosophy: “There are those who think the goal of investing is to beat the market and amass as much wealth as possible, that street smarts and hard work ensure investment success, and that the road to happiness is paved with more of everything. And then there are those who get it.”

Here is a first and second review.

The Physician’s Guide for Avoiding Financial Blunders by Ken Rudzinski. I stumbled in this little gem at the Slack booth at ASCRS my first year as an attending when I received a $100 gift certificate for filling out surveys. Can find limited copies available on amazon. This is like the best book ever I’ve ever read about finances. Intermediate to advanced level.

Parts of the book were written during the 2008 crash. The author advises doctors to buy when the stock market is low and to look long term. Even with the recent decline the stock market is up 150% since 2009. Chapters one and two detail the ten most common financial planning mistakes and eight most common investing mistakes. I couldn’t agree with him more. There are good chapters on disability insurance and asset protection.

The last sentence is the same as my philosophy that no one cares about your financial or ophthalmic practice situation as much as you do, “if you don’t do what needs to be done for yourself and your family, who will? If you haven’t gotten to it yet, when will you?” The same can be said about starting a solo practice.

Getting more: How you can negotiate to succeed by Stuart Diamond. Someone else in our google group suggested it and another member was kind enough to gift me a copy.

He thought I might be doing a lot of things in the book- quite true, when I signed my lease for office I got a extra three weeks “move in period” rent, decreased personal guarantee, and no credit pull. I’ve talked my way out of two speeding tickets, get hotel upgrades, concessions from companies, etc. This method of negotiation works at least for me. Here’s a quick synopsis.

Nolo Deduct it: Lower your small business taxes by Fishman. I’ve recommended this before as a beginner- intermediate book. It does a real good job of explaining what is legit and what isn’t. Many of you will find this book as boring as watching paint dry but it’s cheaper than paying an accountant to get the same answers.

Lots if it is common sense. If you bring your BSCS books to read an hour when you vacation in Hawaii, no the trip is not tax deductible. If you shrink wrap your car with company logo or try to make your home office your principal place of business when you signed a office lease, no your commute is not tax deductible.

The deducting long term assets (depreciation), record keeping and start up expenses are must read sections.  

You may even want to get your accountant to buy a copy and have them read it- then they might know as much as I do about tax rules 😜

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariley: Ariley is a behavioral economist at Duke who writes a Saturday column for the WSJ that’s about how to get people to do things or act a certain way. He utilizes scientific experiments to see what makes people tick and why they behave the way they do, often in ways that don’t make sense. It’s one of my favorite columns in the WSJ.

He conducts many experiments to give people choices and analyzed how they come to their decisions. This is a good complement to the Diamond negotiation book above- this is one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read. Here’s a wiki summary.

Last Boat out of Shanghai by Helen Zia. Terrific book about four characters in Shanghai from the period of Japanese occupation of Shanghai to WW2 and communist takeover when many fled.

Has personal meaning to me, because one is the characters who fled to Taiwan and then USA similar to my mom’s family, but author states book has universal appeal because in all parts of the world during crisis times people have to make decisions on whether to stay or go, and who to take sides with. So true.

This book is pertinent to what is going on today with the Coronavirus- despite a huge upheaval (in the book foreign occupation and WW2), the four characters manage to persevere. Very well written and highly recommended. Read it. Here’s a link to a synopsis.

Bad pharma: how drug companies mislead doctors and harm patients by Ben Goldacre- exposes the greed and shady practices of the pharma industry. Every doctor should read this. I’ll bet that many of us would discourage rep visits after reading.

If you don’t read the book at least read this link to the wiki synopsis.

Bogleheads guide to three fund portfolio. Overlap with Clements book above but if I haven’t convinced you to use low cost passively managed broad based diverse index funds for your investments, and to not sell when the market tanks, but rather stay the course, then read this. One could successfully argue a target fund is “easier” than a three fund portfolio but even if you use a target fund, you should understand its components. Quick 70 page beginner read.

Dark star safari by Paul Theroux- Theroux was in the peace corps in Africa in 1960s and takes the ground trip from Cairo to Cape Town. He can be real opinionated- describes Africa as corrupt and hates on aid workers for not accomplishing anything.

His descriptions of Zimbabwe (I was exchange student there) and South Africa are spot on. If you’re traveled to Africa before or just want to learn more about it good read even if you disagree with the author’s philosophies.

Pertinent to our current situation because the Coronavirus will go away and we will do fine. Theroux is concerned governments in Africa will permanently keep it from reaching its potential. Zimbabwe was in a crisis when I was there, the value of the dollar fell in half during my stay there and the place was in a crisis. Kind of like what’s going on right now. Here’s the amazon link.

3 thoughts on “Books to read: Ten of Howie’s favorites

  1. Any tips for practice owners out there on how to survive (from a business standpoint) this event? I’m not a practice owner but know several colleagues who are, and I’m sure they would appreciate your thoughts.

    • And if you aren’t approved for such a loan there’s also a tax credit for payroll up to 50% of $10,000 per employee.

      Because the law was passed a few days ago, the governmental agencies that administer the programs need more time to write the rules, guidelines and policies pertaining to these benefits.

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