A Pocket Full of Pearls and Nuggets

Physician's Money Digest, November 2007, Volume 14, Issue 11

Depending on where you received your medical training, a "pearl" or "nugget" was a shortcut to understanding a difficult idea. Pithy bits of wisdom also resonate in areas of personal finance. I've culled a list from my dusty files that work for me and perhaps one of them might help you, too. Some of the following "pearls" are of my own design, whereas others I have picked up along my own financial journey. If you have one of your own that you like, please pass it on at my "Letters" page on PMDLive.com. So, let the heavy lifting begin:

  • The stock market is designed to redistribute money from the active to the patient…Investors should remember that excitement and expenses are their enemies. I believe this one came from Warren Buffett. How can you argue with that?
  • Treat every day like opening day and business (or your medical practice) will be fun. A book that expands on this concept is Fun Is Good: How To Create Joy & Passion in Your Workplace & Career by Mike Veeck & Pete Williams.
  • Invest for retirement first and college second. There's no financial aid for retirement.
  • This thought has had many speakers, but here is Alan Lakein's take on it: Failing to plan is planning to fail.
  • What you do with money is an extension of who you are and what you believe.
  • Investors spend an absurd amount of time trying to control the one thing they can do the least about, their raw investment performance.
  • The Human Paradox: Everything you want in the world has to be given to you by other people, but for them to do so you must first give them what they want.
  • Money scares people.
  • The idea that one investor can see what no one else can is an illusion.
  • Following your stocks daily is a very, very bad idea. All of us would be better investors if we just made fewer decisions. Risk therefore doesn't just reside in the market, it also lurks inside each of us.
  • There is good evidence that people get more pleasure from things that they are not habituated to, so try to spend your discretionary money on things you won't get used to or tired of.
  • And, some would say pertinent to this column: I don't understand why some people automatically think giving your opinion is the same as giving advice.