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?