The X-ray Beam: The Physician On Fire (Part II)
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Thank you for joining back for part II of the Physician on Fire X-ray Beam interview.
If you missed it, check out part I here.
As you know, I used a bit of trickery for the chance to spend a second day with Physician on Fire (believe me, if you were in the same room with him you too would to think of as many excuses as possible to remain in his company).
So now let’s resume the study:
14) You have chosen to remain anonymous on your blog (much like I try to on mine). What was your reasoning behind this and did this present any additional challenges?
Initially, I was writing about a likely early retirement, but I didn’t know if or when I might actually be ready to pull that trigger.
Until I had that better hashed out, I didn’t want my colleagues or patients reading my thoughts online.
It would be better for my partners to hear it from me.
Now that my end date (or month, at least) is known and my replacement has been hired, I feel I can be more open about my site and identity.
In the first year or so, I was careful not to share any information or pictures that could be traced to me.
Recently, though, I’ve been bolder, first using my kids’ pictures and lately allowing my own face to appear on the site.
I used a family photo taken at a brewery we’re invested in for a Business Insider article last summer.
15) For the (unlikely) 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 Path to Financial Independence.
- This was one of the first posts I wrote, and it outlines where I came from and how I ended up in a position to retire early at a relatively young age.
- Coming Clean.
- A post that’s about as transparent as you’re going to get from a mostly anonymous blogger.
- 20 Steps to Effective DIY Investing.
- I put a lot of time and effort into this 3,700 word guide, linking many outside resources to help readers feel more confident taking the reins of their own money management.
16) Is there a book or books that has made a major impact in your financial well-being?
When I was in medical school, I started reading about swing trading, and I think I sent an e-mail to my Dad about it.
He sent me “The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need” by Anthony Tobias.
I read it cover to cover in a few days, and realized it was foolish to try any get-rich-quick scheme in the stock market, and I went back to burying my nose in my medical school books so I could earn money the old-fashioned way.
By working for it.
17) You have shared with us your net worth on your blog before. How old were you when you officially surpassed the one million dollar net worth? Did you do anything special to celebrate the occasion? Did you expect to become a millionaire by that age when you first entered medical school?
I don’t share exact numbers in my quarterly updates, but I’ve shared info on my site that will give you a pretty good idea if you do some simple math.
I don’t know the day we became millionaires, but I did track our retirement accounts with Yahoo! (this was before the days of Personal Capital) and I would update the number of shares I owned a couple times a year.
I think we hit seven figures around 2012, give or take a year.
We didn’t celebrate; I figured I would need many more millions to retire.
18) Can you name 5 things that had the greatest financial impact on you that allowed you to become a millionaire?
- Great parents.
- They raised my brother and I to value money, and taught us about the magic of compound interest and the Rule of 72.
- Public Schools.
- I got through undergrad with money in the bank thanks to a number of scholarships to the University of Minnesota, including a full-tution scholarship.
- I stayed on for four more years, and I believe medical school tuition the first couple years was under $10,000 in the late 1990s for in-state residents.
- My wife is also a product of public schools, and we are comfortable with our boys attending public schools, which happen to be quite good where we live.
- That saves us a ton of money.
- Some people spend more money on their kids’ private school tuition than the $66,000 or so we spend on everything in a year.
- Geographic Arbitrage.
- By living and working in a low- cost-of-living rural areas, I’ve earned a good salary and have pocketed most of it.
- While smaller towns lack some of the amenities of larger metro areas, we can always travel to those places, and we often do, but we prefer the pace of “live away from the city” in our daily lives.
- When it comes to income, specialty choice matters.
- I ended up in one of the higher paying specialties, and anesthesia also lends itself well to the practice of locum tenens, which I took advantage of to earn extra income over the years.
- I married well.
- I didn’t marry into money, and my wife hasn’t earned much income in our marriage either, but she respects the value of a dollar as much or more than I do.
- Although she hasn’t worked a lot outside the home, she’s done a wonderful job raising our boys, and we’ve avoided the costs of daycare and the many other hassles and struggles faced by the dual-income household with children.
19) What is your advice to the medical student/resident/early physician who may be facing a monumental amount of debt early on in their career?
Learn to uncouple your salary from your spending.
There’s no rational reason for the two to be tightly correlated, and if you’ve got a net worth in the negative six-figures as most young physicians do, you’re broker than broke.
Act the part.
“Live like a resident” has become so cliché that I feel I should find my own way to convey the message, but I haven’t come up with the perfect way to say it.
So, yeah. Live like a resident until l come up with something better.
20) You have mentioned in your blog of the phenomenon of “One More Year Syndrome.” Was there a tipping point that occurred that allowed you to break through this cycle now that you have officially given notice to fully retire?
I’ll invoke another overused cliché and say that it was a “perfect storm” of circumstances that led me to make that call.
Some combination of great market returns, getting beyond financial independence to financial freedom, my boys being at a perfect age to miss school for awhile (middle school) while we travel, and a resident from my training program reaching out looking for a job in our group next year converged to make it an easy decision.
It doesn’t hurt that I’ve also started earning decent money with my side gig of a blog, and that muddies the waters a bit, but I’m quite confident I’d be fine financially without it – we’re looking at an ubersafe 3% withdrawal rate based on our investments alone.
21) What is your greatest fear, if any, you have in retirement, and are there any ways you are addressing that now?
There is the fear that I’ll feel lost without my identity as a physician and anesthesiologist, but I think I’ve done a decent job of not making my career a huge part of who I am.
Nevertheless, I do plan to keep a medical license and certifications like ACLS and PALS active for at least a year after my last workday.
I might also participate in another medical mission trip shortly after I leave my paid job.
I’m not worried about boredom.
I’ve got enough interests to last a lifetime.
I made a list of 50 things I’d like to do after retiring, and I’ll probably add two things for everyone I check off.
22) As you know there has been an explosion in the amount of physician finance based blogs on the internet now (White Coat and yourself have been my inspiration as well as for many others). Do you have any parting advice to individuals who may be contemplating starting a blog of their own?
First, decide what sets you and your site apart from the others and feature that aspect prominently.
You want to give readers a reason to come back to your site.
Second, help people find your site.
Don’t be afraid to promote yourself and your blog, even if you’re not the type to make yourself the center of attention in real life.
If you have a message you want to share, you need to find a way to get people’s attention.
I talk about various ways to do this on my blogging tips page.
Third, pay it forward.
Link freely to other people’s sites and they’ll start to notice.
Share articles you enjoy on Twitter and tag the author.
Pay them compliments in the comments section.
This is also a subtle form of self-promotion, and it’s one you’re doing very well.
Some will reciprocate these favors, and the good karma may take you places you never thought possible.
Finally, don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t take off like you had hoped.
Some of the most popular personal finance blogs became prominent due to staying power.
You need to have quality content and help people find it, but you also just need to stick with it though thick and thin.
And have fun with it.
That way, if it never becomes the next big thing, at least you’ll be able to say you had fun.
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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