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Welcome to another installment of the X-ray Beam series.
Today we are going to look at the inner workings of an up and coming physician blogger, Kpeds from Pediatrician Finds FI.
With the physician blogosphere typically dominated by three specialties (Emergency Medicine, Anesthesiology, and Radiology), it is nice to get a completely different perspective through a primary care lens.
If you can please give a brief introduction of yourself (age, medical specialty, years of medical practice)
Hi there. Kpeds here.
I’m a 34 year old pediatric hospitalist and out of training for a few years now.
You run the website, Pediatrician Finds FI. What were some of the other names you considered before going with this one?
I was throwing around a few and even registered one before going with Pediatrician Finds FI.
Rounding on FIRE and Pediatrician on FIRE were two ideas but felt too POF fan-boy.
I liked FIRErounds as well.
But I ultimately wanted to go with something that reflected my specialty and the journey that we are on.
Oh, I thought of Pedi-FI…but say that one out loud…not good.
It seems that there are 3 specialties that are heavily represented in the physician blogosphere: Emergency Medicine, Anesthesiology, and Radiology. What are some of the benefits/insights that you feel you bring to the table as a pediatrician blogger that these other specialties might not address?
I think we all like to read about and talk to people who we can connect to.
We all share a bond as physicians but there is something more to that connection when the other doc is also in your same specialty.
There is an instant camaraderie drawn from a shared experience of being a pediatrician or any other specialty.
I am simply a different voice on this journey to FI and hope to connect with people by sharing our experiences
Speaking of our profession in medicine, when did you know you wanted to become a doctor? Were there any influential people or events that made you embark on this career path?
I think my parents slyly guided me towards medicine.
Subtle hints here and there that I must have internalized without realizing it.
There were no “aha!” moments or dreams of doctoring since childhood.
I hadn’t put much thought to medicine and didn’t even take the MCAT while in college.
After graduating I didn’t really know what to do with my life so I took the MCAT and was off to med school the next year….inspiring, I know.
What were some of the deciding factors that led into choosing the medical specialty of Pediatrics? Were there any other specialties that you considered?
Nah, Peds all the way.
Kids make me happy and bring joy to my day in a way that adults just can’t.
My exam is a game of hide and seek, “belly drums” and blowing bubbles.
I get to talk to teenagers…about drugs and sex!
The things they say keep me entertained for days.
I thought of peds heme/onc for a bit but ultimately decided against it.
I think seeing that many kids die would be too hard.
If you had to do it all over again, would you choose the same medical profession/specialty?
If you were not a physician, what alternative career would you have gone into?
Through college I thought I would be an evolutionary biologist and ecologist.
I had a knack for the material and my brain seemed to be particularly well suited for evolutionary theory and its applications.
But then I spent a summer doing research and didn’t actually enjoy the process of doing science all that much.
Learning about it yes. Doing it, not so much.
Other than that, I didn’t have any other good ideas.
Have you personally fallen trap to any of the typical mistakes physicians make, and if so can you name some of your biggest ones?
Our biggest mistake was inflating our cost of housing before even knowing what that meant.
We’ve been living in absurdly expensive apartments since med school.
We lived in the student housing the first couple of years of medical school and they charged about $1200 for a bed.
Rents went up from there as we moved from place to place and we are now forking out nearly $3000 a month.
The only other ‘big’ financial mistakes were underfunding our retirement accounts in residency and for my wife in her first job.
We avoided fancy cars, buying houses, terrible investments, financial advisors and going overboard on the stuff.
What inspired you to start a blog? Were there any surprises along the way? Any advice to individuals who may be contemplating starting a blog of their own?
I love playing Final Fantasy games and MMORPGs [Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games].
When FF14 came out my mind melted.
The perfect combination of both.
All tallied up I spent many weeks and thousands of hours playing FF14.
I had to go cold turkey in the spring of 2017 after a particularly immersive few months of playing.
It was too all consuming and unproductive.
That summer I found out about FI.
Whenever you find something new you want to learn all about it and share what you learn with whoever will listen.
That’s how I felt when starting the blog.
This is an adventure and I’m always finding out new ideas
Over the next few months I realized that I wanted to build something, to create, and not just consume a never-ending story.
We all have a story to tell.
Many of the big voices in the personal finance space are either well on their way to FI or already there.
We are just starting off on this adventure and I think sharing the journey will be very gratifying and may even be helpful to others. ?
Just start and give yourself a schedule.
There is always a reason not to start.
I’m a small fry in this space so other than get off your butt, I got nothing.
What is the biggest non-medical accomplishment you have achieved to date?
We have an adorable baby boy who is crushing the FI lifestyle right now.
He mostly giggles, plays, gets carried around, eats, sleeps, pees and poops. [With the exception of getting carried around some might have used this sentence to describe me]
When did you develop an interest in personal finance and was there an event that brought personal finance to the forefront of your consciousness?
My interest was piqued during residency when I learned about 403bs and how saving towards one would decrease my student loans.
I dabbled in “actively managing” my first 403b for a bit and picked the “best” mutual funds in the portfolio.
That was silly.
I don’t quite remember how it happened, but in August 2017 I found out about FI.
I must have been looking for basic investing information because I was perfectly happy with the job and not looking for a shortcut to retirement.
I think The Stock Series by Jim Collins and the Madfientist were my gateway drugs to FI.
But Finding FI was a complete mind explosion and changed my outlook on life entirely.
Now personal finance and financial independence are two of my biggest interests and hobbies.
Complete the following sentence: I would consider the Pediatrician Finds FI website to be a success when I achieve….
I’m not sure.
I initially thought it was when I hit ‘x’ number of views per day/month.
But that seems like a new hamster wheel, perpetually susceptible to hedonic adaptation and so success will always feel a step or two away.
I think I’ll happily putz along and enjoy the experience.
If you had a time machine and could go back to any point in time and change just one thing, what would it be?
Either some lotto numbers or what I ate for breakfast on 6/7/2008.
For a reader unfamiliar to your website, what are three posts you are most proud of that they can gain an insight about you and your philosophies?
My first post is definitely on top of this list.
Not because it is any good, but because it got me started.
I’ve always had the limiting belief that “I am not a good writer.”
And that first post got me writing.
I’m still an apprentice wordsmith and am finding my voice.
I’m proud of starting and challenging myself, but don’t read it ?!
Is there a book or books that has made a major impact in your financial well-being?
In your blog you describe yourself as living in a High Cost of Living Area (HCOL) and rightfully pointed out that this has delayed your date to reach FI. What were some of the factors that you feel justified this money-time trade-off? If you had chosen a LCOL area, how much faster do you think you would have reached FI?
My wife grew up in this HCOL city and I grew up about an hour north.
We went to med school here and then residency.
After hitting the big-time we wanted to spend a few years enjoying the city a little more.
But we are now nearly ready to leave and find a nice home in a HCOL suburb…..where 2000 sqft houses are $700k and taxes brush up against $20k.
The biggest reason has and always will be family.
Our families are here and where we will one day move.
I’ll get to be in the same or neighboring town as my sister and close to my parents.
My job is somewhat limiting as I can only work in a hospital with a pediatric unit.
So to go LCOL would mean moving far away and leaving them.
Can you name 5 things that have had the greatest financial impact on you?
Not having college loans
Medical school loans
Learning about living like a resident and the White Coat Investor during residency
Index fund investing
Are there any future obstacles you anticipate that might hinder your path to FI? If so, do you have any plans to address them?
The largest obstacle to FI will be my wife working less to spend more time with the munchkin.
Her income taking a 40% hit will stretch the FI horizon a bit if we don’t make some lifestyle changes.
That being said, we live far below our means so that she can be home with our baby.
This opportunity to be home with Baby Kpeds is the entire point of the FI lifestyle.
So we will happily use some FU-money now.
Our pre-FI careers might be a few years longer now, but that is ok.
Do you have an annual retirement spending goal that you are aiming for? A target net worth? What would be your exit strategy after achieving these goals.
We currently spend well under $80k when we factor out rent and student loans.
Assuming we own our home outright then we are currently aiming for a $2 million portfolio to generate that $80k a year.
After hitting our ‘number’ and clean up the confetti I suspect we will still do paid work of some sort but I doubt we will still work full time.
But future me isn’t here yet so who knows.
Maybe my career will take an interesting turn or I will want to see something to fruition.
Or maybe I’ll be ready to give up the Devil’s Bargain of trading our time for money and see what else life has to offer.
Another trend that is sweeping the physician blogosphere is the concept of FIRE (Financial Independence/Retire Early). What are your thoughts on this and do you see leaving the medical profession earlier than what has been the traditional timeframe?
I think FI and FIRE are empowering and laudable goals for any physician.
Burnout runs rampant and many of our colleagues feel trapped in a profession that can be cold and uncaring.
Many feel they were sold a mirage and if FI can help them find happiness elsewhere then that is fantastic.
These are our lives and we can do with them what we please.
We already sacrificed plenty for the “greater good” through residency and the years it takes to pay off student loans.
Let those weary of medicine hang up their stethoscopes whenever is right for them.
What is your greatest fear, if any, you have in retirement, and are there ways you are addressing that now?
I don’t really have any fears about retirement.
It is so far away at this point that what would be the point in worrying.
Questions about how I will spend my time, having ‘enough’, sending kids to college, how to mitigate risk and all the rest will sort themselves out over the next decade or two.
Again thank you so much for your time answering these questions and being placed under the “X-ray beam.” I look forward to your continued posts and wish you much success.
If you are interested in checking out previous individuals that were brave enough to expose themselves to the beams of the X-ray, please check them out here.
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