Articles By David


Articles Written by Dr. David Phelps

May 30, 2024

For many doctors, the investment portfolio is largely “randomized” based on the options they have crossed paths with over the years. It’s what I call “spaghetti on the wall” investments. They aren’t necessarily bad by themselves, but they aren’t coordinated to produce cash flow for the years ahead.

May 29, 2024

One of the questions I get asked the most is, “How do I know what to invest in,” and while I appreciate the sentiment here, that is almost always the wrong question. That’s because without context, any answer is basically meaningless. The right answer is based on numerous variables, like the state of the economy, your net worth, risk tolerance, goals, tax situation, and so many more. In other words, there are a lot of things you need to know first before you can begin to think about which specific investments are right for you.

May 3, 2024

In the midst of ever-growing inflation and economic uncertainty, more people than ever before are looking for ways to build (and hold onto) generational wealth. In the United States, 80% of all businesses are closely held - and most either fail or are sold before the second generation takes over. Only 10% function as privately held by the third generation.

May 1, 2024

The Dental Transition Newsletter: "I've Sold My Practice... Now What?"

The sale of your practice marks a significant transition from 'practitioner' to 'investor'. The stewardship of the proceeds becomes paramount. What is your plan for utilizing and safeguarding that equity? How are you replace practice income with investment income? How will you protect your capital from market volatility and a potential crash?

April 22, 2024

Tampa Bay Business & Wealth: How to Raise Financially Literate Children

According to the Milken Institute, a shocking 43% of Americans are not financially literate. That has long-lasting implications for the individuals directly affected, the children they raise, and the economy as a whole. That’s why even as our nation’s debt levels have spiked to historic highs, people still demand student loan forgiveness, funding for multiple wars, and stimulus payments...

April 18, 2024

Argentina has been in the news lately, first for its economic problems and more recently for the impact it's president, Javier Milei, has achieved in combating these problems. To put the severity of this situation in perspective, Argentina's annual inflation rate ended in 2023 at 211.4%, the highest since the early 1990s.

April 12, 2024

It's true that you're investing in tangible assets such as land and buildings when you invest in real estate, but ultimately, you're investing in people. Throughout the transaction, you're dealing with sellers, buyers, and numerous others involved in the transaction, who all have their own motivations, knowledge and level of integrity. This makes each deal infinitely more complicated than the numbers on a spreadsheet might first indicate.

March 25, 2024

When the economy slows, most people don't even realize it's slowing because they don't pay attention. They listen to the pundits on TV and think everything will stay as it's been over the last 15 years, and the markets will keep topping out. They don't realize that there's a significant asymmetric risk because the higher the market goes, the greater the odds are that there will be a decline.

March 20, 2024

The key to knowing how to move in an economy like the one we're facing today because these challenges are something we haven't seen in decades, so we have to adapt. The traditional investing strategies that work just fine 99% of the time can drive you into bankruptcy in a declining economy. In this environment, we first need to move away from paper assets, which include most of what Wall Street pushes, such as stocks, corporate bonds, CDs and other "paper" assets.

March 14, 2024

Many docs approach the second half of their career with a significant uncertainty about the sufficiency of their 401(k) or traditional financial planning to provide security upon retirement. How much is enough? What strategies will create financial security postpractice? What about the potential for recession or another major market correction?

February 21, 2024

There's no denying that wages have been stagnant for a long time, so it's no surprise that people are hurting in this economy and looking for solutions. Americans are essentially being squeezed on both sides, by low wages and high costs. It's an untenable situation for a lot of people today. But arbitrarily raising the minimum wage would be disastrous.

February 21, 2024

Our debt is the direct result of decades of reckless government spending coupled with a general lack of financial literacy among fellow citizens. It gets worse about every four years when politicians, who want to ensure they get enough votes to stay in office, start handing out taxpayer dollars with the same enthusiasm, that sweet old neighbor hands out Snickers bars to the endless parade of ghosts, superheroes, and Bluey on Halloween night. 

February 19, 2024

Investors are seeking clues about where the markets are headed. Will there be a soft landing? Wil the headwinds of inflation, rising national debt, and a burgeoning credit crisis push the economy into a recession? Or perhaps neither of those scenarios entirely. 

For investors who want to step away from practice (and reduce their reliance on practice income), it is vital to have a financial plan that does not rely on accurately predicting the future.

February 7, 2024

Multiple streams of income are a game-changer. They give you the ability to control your time, reduce stress, and plan for the future. In contrast, if you have a retirement savings wrapped up in a single investment, it can be very limiting and nerve-wracking. This is especially true if that investment is dependent on the unstable economic conditions of Wall Street and managed by someone else.

January 24, 2024

A clinicians, we are trained to avoid mistakes and failures at any cost. From dental school onward, we are conditioned to meticulous planning, foresight, and risk mitigation. But outside of the mouth (in the real world), this mentality can hold us back from navigating the opportunities that life provides.

January 19, 2024

With all the talk of inflation lately, another economic phenomenon is quietly percolating just below the surface, and when it finally emerges, it will catch most people off guard. That phenomenon is deflation, and while it comes with some benefits - the most significant being a reduction in the cost of goods and services through the economy, which can be a good thing when facing inflation, it also comes with risks...

January 12, 2024

As reported, the state of our economy has evolved from “everything’s fine, and there’s no inflation” to “ok, there is inflation, but it’s just transitory,” to “well, yeah, of course, inflation is here, and it’s going to be here for a while,” most Americans are starting to wake up to the fact that we’re already facing a dire economic situation...

January 10, 2024

When you turn on the news lately, most commentators will claim either that our economy is doing terrible and we should run to the hills or that our economy is secretly doing awesome and only crazy conspiracy theorists are worried. (Spoiler alert—neither side is getting it right.)...

January 8, 2024

I stopped at a coffee shop a few days ago after returning from a meeting. I got my coffee and quietly sat down at a small table in the back corner. I opened up my laptop to begin digging into the due diligence on a property I was considering as an investment. But before I could get into my stride, my attention was grabbed when I heard a pundit on a national news program, which I won’t name, loudly proclaim that despite the inflation you and I see in everything we buy today, our economy will bounce right back...

January 5, 2024

Most of us are entrepreneurs at heart. We want "the good life" and will do what it takes to get "there." Go hard, level up, hustle... But is grinding a virtue or a vice? I recently posted a meme in an outline dental forum: My definition of grind = friction, abrasion. This post received tremendous positive and negative feedback, with positive out rankings the negative by 3:1.

December 1, 2023

The economic environment we're now facing closely resembles the brutal stagflation we faced in the 1970s, which devastated our economy and the lives of millions of Americans in the process. But before we get into exactly what that is and how it impacts all of us, let’s first unpack how we ended up where we are, economically, today...

November 21, 2023

Inflation absolutely skyrocketed in 2021, shortly after the pandemic spending spree and unfortunately, our government seems to be committed to more of the same, so inflation isn't going anywhere anytime soon, and it's probably going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

November 17, 2023

The sale of your practice not only marks the end of the significant professional chapter, but also the transition into a period where financial dexterity and the management of the proceeds becomes paramount. What is your plan for utilizing and safeguarding the equity after the sale? How will you replace your income from the practice with investment income post sale? Do you have a plan for shielding that capital from market volatility or a potential crash?
**This article was written with Alastair Macdonald

November 15, 2023

While the media and most Americans today are talking about how inflation is ravaging our economy lately, few truly understand what inflation actually is, how it works, and most importantly how to adapt to minimize its adverse effects in their lives.

So in this article, I'm going to break all of that down in a way that anyone can understand, and I'm also going to share some advice on how to protect yourself from the financial erosion caused by inflation.

November 15, 2023

The last three years have dramatically challenged conventional strategies for retirement planning. The landscape has shifted from the perception of an ever rising bull market to a new Era of significant uncertainty and volatility...

November 2, 2023

The decision to sell a practice and partner with the DSO represents a significant financial transition that requires careful planning, financial acumen, and a keen awareness of the shifting economic landscape. You can secure your financial future through astute investments, proactive financial advocacy, and a thoughtful approach to capital preservation, and sustainable income generation. 
**This article was written with Alastair Macdonald

October 26, 2023

The American ideal success has been built, almost entirely around ambition, wealth, and status. It has been a narrative of triumphing over adversity, rising from rags to riches, and descending the corporate ladder. Pulling oneself up by the bootstraps, a bigger office, a higher floor, a large salary, and a better view.

October 25, 2023

The reverberations of rising interest rates are rippling through the private equity markets. This includes dental service organizations, or DSOs. Which have heavily relied on private equity to fuel their dynamic growth.

What will be the effect on the hitherto to booming DSO sector? How are DSO's adapting to these market changes, and how will those pivots affect practitioner seeking a path to freedom from their practice?
**This article was written with Alastair Macdonald

October 3, 2023

When you trade your time for money, this is "transactional" or active income. It's what the educational system teaches us. This creates workers who produce the goods and services, others purchase, and this division of labor is a highly efficient model.

September 13, 2023

As private equity firms, like BlackRock, search for new markets to extract profits in a slow and uncertain economy, their recent entry into the dental industry is causing radical changes. More specifically, small dental practices run by individual owner/operators are being gobbled up by PE firms like a frantic game of Hungry, Hungry Hippos.

August 16, 2023

Saving for retirement is a crucial part of financial planning, and the earlier you start, the better. Unfortunately, a lot of people are putting themselves into a precarious situation by depending solely on Social Security. This is not a wise strategy, because unless modified by 2028, the current system can only pay out 80% of benefits starting in 2035.

August 14, 2023

In today’s landscape, however, professionals of all ages and career stages are considering offers from DSOs and private equity firms, enticed by the promise of substantial multiples and high valuations. This phenomenon was non-existent in the 80s and 90s, representing a significant shift in the dental field. What underlies all of this? Has money truly become so easily accessible without any attached conditions? What economic factors have contributed to this new reality, and can it be maintained over time?

August 3, 2023

You work hard to have a productive dental team that provides outstanding service in a cost-effective, sustainable, and environmentally friendly way. These goals are important, but the key driver for business success, in both good and bad economics, is profitability.

July 21, 2023

Navigating the complexities of our economy can often feel like trying to predict the weather, and we've all seen how often even the so-called "experts" get that wrong. In my opinion, the economy is just as complex, and it's made even more unpredictable because so much of it is driver by human emotion, which is often illogical.

July 14, 2023

A shocking 43% of Americans are not financially literate, but I think they are, according to research by the Milken Institute.

While this may seem to be an individual problem, the truth is that it actually causes significant problems all the way up to the national level because the effects of poor financial decisions ripple out far beyond the person who first made them.

July 11, 2023

Most Americans wants many of the same things – a decent income, freedom to have options, and time to spend with family. And most Americans don't have time or the financial background to sit through mounds of financial data. Instead, they rely on main stream, media, social media, or bright, shiny investment products to make decisions that will have a major impact on their financial future.

July 5, 2023

High-income professionals are blessed with the ability to "make" a good income by trading time in specialized skills for money. But keeping and making that money work is hard for you as you did, for it is not a skill set most have. In fact, most small business owners abdicate their investment capital to wall Street third-party administrator to performance history is as volatile as the financial markets themselves.

June 15, 2023

As young people become more financially, literate will see our families, businesses, communities, and the nation, as a whole, become stronger and more resilient.

June 1, 2023

The volatility of the markets caused by higher cost of capital and the resurgence of inflation, has just begun. Forty years of declining interest rates, from a high of 20% in 1980 to 0% in 2020, have fueled a period of economic and individual wealth creation that is an anomaly. This is not the norm!

June 1, 2023

In an up-market, you'll often find a lot more "investors," but may will be newbies, DIYers, and gamblers. Money seeks investment yields, and real estate is highly sought after when it's up. 

When the market corrects, it will push many of those avatars out of the investment market, and only the professionals will remain the key is to identify which type of real estate investor. 

May 1, 2023

If you are like most practitioners, you've relinquished your retirement planning to a third-party fiduciary to invest in a Wall Street 401(k) for you. This is the traditional and easy route. But have you ever stopped to think about the cost of going with the status quo? To start, you lose control of your money and put in a "lockbox" until age 59.5 to help keep Wall Street in business...

April 27, 2023

If you currently own your own practice or are aspiring to do so, you are betting on yourself and your ability to navigate to a better future. Why accept the risk and responsibility of owning a practice today? 

It comes down to being able to shape your own destiny, you want the opportunity to be in charge of your future, and have the ability to increase your income and provide security, peace of mind, and financial freedom.

April 20, 2023

The Profitable Dentist: Getting More from Less

Many dental colleagues feel pressure to measure success in a certain way – growth, production, number of practices. All of that as well and good – but is that what you really want? Toward what end are you working?

I recently spoke to a young doctor, who had aggressively expanded to a three – practice empire. Smart. Ambitious. Hard work. Yet after two years of trying to juggle the demands of being in three places at once, managing staff, and overhead, he finally had an epiphany...

March 1, 2023

If you are like most practitioners, you've relinquished your retirement planning to a third-party fiduciary to invest in a Wall Street 401(k) for you. This is the traditional and easy route. But have you ever stopped to think about the cost of going with the status quo? To start, you lose control of your money and put in a "lockbox" until age 59.5 to help keep Wall Street in business...

January 31, 2023

For practitioners who thought they were nearing the end of their clinical career, this new reality is a major disruption, and brings with it much uncertainty. 

The most pressing problem is that, for the aging practitioner, time is not on your side. Whether haunted by back and neck, pain, or simply just worn down by the headaches of managing staff, insurance, and overhead, the reality of being forced to stay behind the chair due to lack of financial certainty is disheartening. 

But recessions are not all bad...

January 30, 2023

In my decades of experience, I've witnessed many professionals receive disturbing advice from well-meaning, yet uninformed or inexperiences advisors, who were acting in their best capacity given their traditional education and background. The problem is that they only know what they know. Their one size fits all, "here's what everybody does" approach to investing creates average results at best.

January 5, 2023

We’ve seen disinflation and historically low-interest rates for the last 40 years. And now, the devaluation of the dollar, or inflation, is back for the first time in a generation and a half and is expected to grow. According to Forbes, “On an annual basis, CPI was up 8.3% in August over the prior 12 months, disappointing expectations for an 8% figure. While that’s an improvement from July’s annualized 8.5% gain, it remains very high.”...

January 5, 2023

It’s time to take control of your hard-earned retirement income

Have you been sold the benefits of a 401(k) after being faced with a painful tax bill in the first few years of practice ownership?

After years of grinding it out in dental school, followed by the hard work of building/acquiring a private practice, you receive a well-deserved income. But then, you realize just how much of that income the government feels entitled to take (a topic for another day)...

November 1, 2022

One of the primary reasons that dentists keep their nose to the grindstone long after they are ready to be “free” from their practice, is that they don’t know how much is enough. “Do I have enough money, investments, or assets to last me the rest of my life after I stop working?”

How much is enough?

October 27, 2022

Retirement savings is crucial for everyone because relying on social security is not enough to sustain yourself through your twilight years, especially considering that without any changes, the current social security system will only be able to pay benefits at 80% in 2035 and beyond. And the sooner you start, the better off you are...

February 7, 2022

The last two years have been especially difficult for small business. The good news is that it’s made many entrepreneurs smarter, stronger and more adaptable. The bad news, though, is that difficult times are just getting started. Surviving and thriving in the coming years will require entrepreneurs to demonstrate grit and an ability to adapt quickly and implement the right strategies. 

September 1, 2021

In an upmarket, you’ll often find a lot more “investors,” but many will be newbies, DIYers and gamblers. Money seeks investment yield, and real estate is highly sought after when it’s up. 

When the market corrects, it will push many of those avatars out of the investment market, and only the professionals will remain. But that’s is a double-edged sword. It gives you a better perspective client, but it also requires you to provide more value from the get-go.

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