Good Job!

Has anyone told you “Good job!” recently? Especially for professionals in the medical field, it can be hard for us to look at what we have done well or are doing well. The first week of medical school message was that we were like small kitchen sponges and a firehose of information would be directed at us and we were supposed to try to absorb what we could. What sort of message is that? During clinical training, the focus was on what we did not know and needed to be doing better. As attendings, we are bombarded with Press Ganey satisfaction survey results often filled out by the most disgruntled patients.

Well let me tell you that you Kick Ass!! You have worked hard and sacrificed your time, often health and quality of life for the good of others. You have balanced the difficult tasks of being a caregiver to patients while trying to be the best spouse, family member and friend you can be. So thank you. I would wager to bet that if we time traveled your 6 yr old, 16 yr old and 26 yr old self to now, they would be extremely proud of the person you have become. And if you feel like that would not be the case, then what can you do in your personal, professional and spiritual life to make it so?

There will always be ways in which we can improve ourselves. But sometimes taking a moment to just pat yourself on the back and say, “Good Job!” is just what the doctor ordered.

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Great Books To Check Out:

The Simple Path To Wealthby J.L. Collins- nuts and bolts investing

Set For Life by Scott Trench- great for younger people

Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robbins- awesome on the philosophy of FI

Made Your Kid A Millionaire by Kevin McKinley-for parents


Mint- for budgeting and tracking accounts

Everydollar App- for zero based budgeting through Ramsey Plus


The White Coat Investor- as well as excellent website

ChooseFI- covers many topics around financial independence

Mad Fientist- great interviews with leaders in FI space

The Ramsey Show- inspiring to listen to debt free screams and practical recommendations regarding getting out of debt

When You Find A Dead End…

bigstock Dead End Road 1410401

On life’s journey, we have bumps in the road and sometimes come to dead ends. This can be financial, relational, personal or related to our careers. Having a road map of where we are heading is important in order to retrace our steps and find another way.

To start, having a road map in advance by setting clear financial goals can help us be intentional with our money and our time. If you find yourself straying off course, it is time to reassess your goals. Is something more important than your originally thought? Did the power of instant gratification overcome the reward of a slow and steady race? Or are you using spending to try to cover uncomfortable emotions?

Using words like always, never, and can’t are words of dead ends. Hope is extremely powerful and recalibrating your mindset to realize there are other paths to where you want to go is powered by bigger picture thinking. What personal financial goals do you have? Paying off debt, owning your home, saving for kids’ education, retirement, being able to help family and leaving a legacy are just a few to help make your map more clear.

If you feel like you are drowning, it is time to start from square one and prioritize your values. A zero based budget will help. Start with top line items being necessities ie. shelter, food, utilities and reasonable transportation in order to work. Charitable giving or tithing will typically follow. Then, line by line add next your prioritized spending until you have spent on paper your monthly income. This will be a practical assessment of what is most important to you from top to bottom. In addition, when times are tough, what to cut first will go from bottom to top.

You Can Have Some Things, But Not Everything

I want a new car. I want to go on a big trip. I want that new pair of shoes I have been eyeing. It is easy to want and unfortunately, it is also contagious. You get a burst of dopamine that gets your reward center purring and it is harder and harder to resist spending. Have a spending plan can help keep you on track. Putting an intentional 48 hour pause before large purchases can sometimes help your from making bad financial decisions. Reminding yourself that it is not about want you can’t have, but rather the bigger picture of want you want for your life on a larger scale, can save you from making costly decisions.

In this day and age of constant comparison with social media, keeping up with the Jones’ is harder and harder to do. Focusing on what brings you joy, happiness and peace is of utmost importance. When I look at my itemized credit card or bank statement, I should see spending that reflects my values. If I don’t, it is time to reevaluate what is important to me and what I am will to trade my money (ultimately time) for.

Like any great adventure The Bumpy Road To FI has a beginning, a middle and an end

In the beginning…

Where am I starting from? Well, I started my year out of residency at 30 with a stay at home husband, a 1 year old, a dog and about $900,000 of debt. I had $3500 in an IRA. Net worth -$896,500! I was actually much poorer than the bum on the street.

My debt included: $625,000 dream house bought all with debt as I borrowed my 10% down payment from a family member (cringeworthy, I know, writing this I feel sick to my stomach), $240,000 student loans, $40,000 hubby’s student loans, $20,000 car loan. I was pregnant with my 2nd child and working as an independent contractor. My income had quadrupled in a month’s time after leaving residency but I had already spent it.

I very quickly realized I was in over my head. There were no payments to retirement accounts, investment accounts, college savings or any savings. I was a doctor living paycheck to paycheck.


Our dream house!

The Awakening

Frantic to right my wrongs, I had a free consultation with a financial adviser. I tallied up all my debt, my income, my assets and headed into his office. Looking back, I think I wanted him to say something like, “It’s okay, you are a doctor making decent money. Everything is going to be fine”. Instead, he told me I needed to sell my house or have my husband get a job and come back in a few years when I maybe would actually have money to invest. It was hard to hear but I already knew it.

Luckily, he was an honest person and did not take advantage of another ‘dumb’ doctor. I headed home and told my husband the news. We really valued having a stay at home parent, especially with a 2 year old and brand new baby. Our plans had always included this and eventually planned to homeschool. Knowing our priorities, we made the decision to start by selling our ‘dream house’.

Fortunately, we were able to find a family who wanted to upgrade and we bought their house so they could by ours. This alone cut my mortgage by 2/3 and I was able to pay off the family loan I had taken with the equity.

Many roads to FI

For some, the road to FI will start right out of high school, college or post-graduate education, coming off the starting line full speed ahead. But like me, many will not find this road until a ways into their journey. And you have to sometimes make some pretty painful decisions to chart a better course. The retrospectoscope is often a hard thing to look through but necessary none the less. It was not overnight that my road to FI started but it had to start somewhere.

Actionable Item: Where did you begin your path to FI? Do you know your net worth?

But I Am Not That Frugal

The first step in recovery is recognition you have a problem. I found the rabbit hole of the financial independence community and became inspired by those getting off the hamster wheel. But many of the stories involved people who were born savers, frugal to the point where they suddenly found themselves able to work a few more years and then retiring.

But that was not me. I did everything wrong. Bought the “dream” house straight out of residency, bought two cars brand new. My giant student loans seemed so big I just figured I would pay them off while I was working until 70. Then I found myself unhappy and unfulfilled. Do I really want to do this until I am 70?

No this was not my first house

The emphatic answer was No! So what was I going to do different? I needed to become frugal-the other f-word.

As I focused on what was most important to me, my time and freedom, I was able to see a bigger picture and realign my actions with my values. For me being frugal was not going to be biking 20 miles to work or living with roommates. For me it was going to start with baby steps of eliminating what was not truly adding to my quality of life.


ACTION STEP: Write down what is most important to you. Consider using font/writing size to display the gravity of it. Are your daily, weekly, monthly actions/spending in align with your values?

The Bumpy Road to FI

I dreamed of one day being a doctor. I worked my tail off to get there with a goal of someday living the good life. I was not just in it for the money, as I was well aware there were much easier ways to make a buck. But I did it all wrong.

I took out too many students loans and racked up credit card debt. I bought the big house and new cars. Honestly, in the moment, I did not feel I was outside of the norm or extravagant. But little by little I was consumed by consumerism and slowly became a slave to the daily grind.

It was unconsciousness living and before I knew it, the job I loved became a chore, my marriage suffered and I was unhappy.

I began searching for a more mindful, healthy way of living. After all, I am trained to be a  healer, right? I ate healthy, I exercised, but something was missing.

I realized that my financial health had been suffering and it was taking a toll. Money should be working for me, not me for money. By living more intentionally, I am righting my wrongs on a path to financial freedom.

Join me as I travel The Bumpy Road To Financial Independence.