The Sunday Best (10/16/2016)

The Sunday Best
The Sunday Best is a collection of a handful of posts I share with you each week. With so many informative and inspirational writers out there, I have no trouble coming up with a number of worthwhile reads each week.

Every featured post should be of interest to any physician seeking financial independence. Some will be written by your physician colleagues; others will be written by our friends and patients who share common goals and interests.

Presenting, this week’s Sunday Best:


So Jeremy & Winnie, how was your 4-month European vacation? Oh, pretty good. How much did you say you guys spent? Cost of 4 Months in Europe @ Go Curry Cracker!
Good things can come from defiance. Niran Al-Agba, MD @ Rebel.MD shares a story and a call to action in Don’t Surrender, Docs… Let’s Fight.


Your Financial Pharmacist wants you to take control. Learn the four important steps required to Put Yourself in the Driver’s Seat.


In an oldie but goodie, Justin @ Root of Good asks a question pertinent to physicians and other aspiring early retired millionaires: Should We Conceal Our Wealth?


What’s a million dollars between friends? By friends, I mean lender and debtor. The Doctor in Debt has a plan. 5 Steps to Repay $1,000,000 in Medical School Loans and Mortgage Debt in 10 Years or Less.


The Grizzlies are closing in on an early retirement. The products of prestigious schools have a different plan for their progeny. Grizzly Mom & Dad explain Why Our Daughter is Going to Public School.


I thought I was done taking tests. Then came Maintenance of Certification and the Financial Libre, with his Personality Test: How to Spend Money for Maximum Happiness.


A couple weeks ago, I featured a bumper crop of FinCon16 recaps. This one from Michael @ Financially Alert came in after the others, but is easily the most complete recap I read this year. FinCon 16: The Ultimate Recap from One Blogger’s Perspective.


Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

The Purge has continued this week. It started with the master closet, and has migrated to the storage room and garage. It’s not just happening here; Mr. & Mrs. SSC are purging, too. So far this week, I’ve taken three full HHR-loads to the Salvation Army and Restore, and the eBay pile is growing into something that might require carabiners and rope to tackle.

I had the week off from work with no major plans, well, other than cleaning out the storage room and garage, fall yardwork, and installing a 12 volt landscape lighting system that’s been in boxes for at least a year. Also, taking family photos for the Christmas card. That went splendidly. So no major plans, but lots of minor ones.

I laid out the lighting system on Tuesday. One large transformer with light sensor, ten pathway lights, and five floodlights later, I had the place lit up nicely! I set the transformer to always on, looked things over, and reset it to go on only at dusk for four hours.

That evening, my wife hosted a monthly book club, while I went off to a book club of my own. I prefer my book club. It’s held at a brewery, and instead of books, we share homebrewed beer (and cider and mead). There are no books unless they’re homebrewing books. It’s not really a book club. It’s a homebrew club. Which makes it better.

icelandparisWhen I returned home, I discovered that the ladies had been treated to a sort of slow motion strobe light outside, lighting up and powering down every minute or two in a neverending cycle. I unplugged it, assuming the last flood light I added, which was not in series, caused some sort of overload on the transformer.

The next day, I spliced in some more wire, presumably fixing the wiring issue. That night, after the boys were in bed, I ventured outside. Lights on, lights off. Lights on, lights off. I stepped back to assess the situation. Having made what I assumed to be the necessary change, I was baffled.

Then I saw the floodlight turn on. It lit up the front door and house number, and the transformer just off to the side. The transformer with the light sensor. The light sensor that turns off the system when it senses enough light. The system was too smart for its own good. Smarter than the installer, anyway. I turned the transformer 90 degrees. Problem solved.

That’s the problem with assumptions. Makes an a** out of you and me, as my wife likes to say. I’ve got a post coming on Thursday about the problem with assumptions, which includes an update on my Golden Silver Aluminum Foil handcuffs. It’s not written yet, but I can see it in my mind’s eye. On Tuesday, I’ll be identifying the types of physicians who retire early at various stages in their careers.

One more cool thing happened this week. I got an e-mail from Travelzoo alerting me to a great deal on flights to Europe that just happened to line up with some time I have off in March, encompassing part of the boys’ spring break. No travel hacking, points used, or other tricks. Just a screaming good deal. I booked the flights without hesitation.

I talk about buying experiences and not things, and engaging in relative frugality. I think this is a a perfect example of both. We added on a couple days in Iceland, because why wouldn’t we? I’ve been to Europe twice before, each time adding a couple days in Reykjavik to the itinerary. Now my boys will get to experience the beauty of the Nordic country and likely birthplace of Leifur Eiríksson, who discovered North America nearly 500 years before Mr. Columbus. When will he get his own holiday?




Have a great week!

-Physician on FIRE

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  • Landscape lighting huh? I ended up uninstalling mine after a few years. It was a huge pain to maintain, always was having electrical issues due to water, and the lights were burning out constantly.

    I eventually threw in the towel on that one. It ended up being an expensive distraction.

    • I started to have some issues at our last house, particularly with floodlights facing up getting waterlogged, but replacements are readily available and easy to swap out. I like the look of them enough to deal with occasional issues.


  • This is one of my favorite Sunday Best – two articles that have been in my family’s mind a lot since signing my “big time” attending contract. Stealth wealth and public vs private school.

    We are going to move to a rural city (its a true city but surrounded by corn fields) and plan to live about 20-30 min outside the city. Most the professional class lives much closer in much more expensive neighborhoods. Even with our plan to live off of a 1/4th of my gross pay, in the areas we are looking we would still be very very wealthy. The good news, is it will be easy not to “keep up with the jones” when we are the jones in our “Sunday camo” and still have a 60+% savings rate.

    Same with schooling. There literally are no private schools in the direction from the city we want to live. So that’s out. Both my wife and I are public school raised and we both think it molded us in positive ways. I have a rich uncle/cousins that were private, and the difference in work ethic and appreciation, and “common folk” relateability is apparent. However, coming from a rural public school with about a 50% 4yr college rate – it was notable to see every single one of that private class have plans for a 4yr degree. We joke that if we stayed in the city I’m training in, where every attending (and we probably would have felt obligated too) sends their kids to a 30k/yr private school – with plans for multiple kids we never would retire. And think about it 60k/yr at 5% real after 20 years is a cool 2 million.

    Point being, these posts are greatly related. Where you live drastically affects how you spend and how much you can save. If you love the big city life, it’ll be much harder to stealth wealth and make the decision to public school – both which can make a goal of early retirement nothing more than a pipe dream.

    • LifeofaMedStudent,
      Financially moving and living in a rural city is probably the best financial decision you could make. It helps eliminate the 2 biggest budget items for most big city families. My wife and I went back and forth between returning to a smaller community to raise our children vs back to the big city. In the end, the job market sort of made the decision for us.

      As a parent who values education you will be able to supplement your children’s education when you need to.

      With three kids in private school, It would probably be cheaper for us to hire a personal tutor to educate the kids or supplement the public schools but I haven’t been able to convince Mrs. Dr In Debt about that one yet.

      I still have hope for us to retire early by being very efficient with our non-educational and non-housing spending.

      • I like your point about being able to supplement our education as needed. That’s certainly the case, and would be more cost effective than full time private. Though I’m sure the private schools open up many opportunities and do well, coming from a public school in a rural area, I’m just partial to that. And like you said, you do need to be more efficient financially elsewhere.

    • Great points, LoaMS! Can I call you LoaMS?

      If there’s a way to live closer and in a middle-class neighborhood with decent public schools, you could have the best of both worlds. I take it call will be in-house? There’s nothing worse that going in 4 times on a Sunday (in your camo) when you’re round-trip is nearly an hour’s drive.

      In general, your plans sound exceptional. With your planned savings rate, you’ll be in great shape in short order.


      • Yes to LoaMS!
        And truth being, my wife and I truly want to be that far out. Land is relatively cheap and we want to be somewhere we cant see or hear any neighbors. Call is home call, so multiple call backs is a possibility, though my call is infrequent enough and the call back low enough I’m willing to risk that occasionally. I’m hoping we can be around the 20 min mark. That’s essentially better than I have it now when city traffic is added in. My overall point being, since our interest put us in more of a rural location, it will do wonders for our ability to have a high savings rate without as many temptations to spend on big ticket items. Also, Indiana has open enrollment school policies, so with a we have more flexibility there as well.

  • financialibre

    Thank you, PoF! The shout is much appreciated…of course, I know from your OCEAN test results that your kindness can’t be helped – you’re just too durn’d agreeable.

    Love, by the way, must be in the air today. I thought your tithing/investment fees article from a few days ago was killer, so I called it out in a lineup of some of my favorite posts from the week that just published.

    Thank you again for including old FL among the great stuff you’ve highlighted (or should I say “illuminated”?) here. (Oh, and your family holiday picture has to be a top 10 all time. Looks like some I’ve participated in. Thanks for the laugh!)

  • Wow, another great collection of articles! Glad I have a relatively relaxed weekend so I can go thru them all.

    All this purge talk has got me itching to go thru my storage room…

    Love Travelzoo! Sounds like an amazing trip. Do you have anything planned for those 2 days? Highly recommend a hike out to Reykjadalur (‘Steam Valley’) if you can fit it in.

    • Thanks, FPMD. What’s most sad is the number of times I’ve moved these boxes of “memories” and things that might possibly come in handy… you never know… ripping it off like a band-aid feels good. It takes time though. The more you have, the more time you spend sorting through it, organizing, looking for that one thing, maintaining, repairing, donating… Simplify, simplify, simplify.


  • Congratulations on the score on airline tickets. Please tell me you’re using Deduct It! Deduct It! for tracking your non-cash donations – you will probably have a large enough refund as a result to pay for those tickets – not exaggerating. Admire your tenacity at electrical repairs – my hubby is good at that but he and I are definitely wired differently when it comes to anything mechanical (pun intended).

    Are you celebrating St. Paddy’s Day next week?

    • I believe you on the deduction. I write down everything that goes in the donation boxes. I haven’t used the Deduct It! book, but I could go back retroactively and do so. The tracking of it all is a real pain, but I realize it’s worth it.

      It occurred to me that we’d be in Paris for St. Patrick’s day. I have no idea if they celebrate it. I guess we’ll find out, though!


  • Thanks for the Mention in the Sunday’s Best PoF. It’s kinda hard being an example of what you probably should not try to do a few years out of residency. In a few years it should be a good example of how you can also dig yourself out of a hole if you can come up with a plan and execute.

  • ChooseBetterLife

    Thanks for the great roundup and LOL re your lights. Live and learn, right?
    Have a great week.

  • Thanks for including me in the roundup, Doc!

    Awesome to hear you picked up a stellar deal for Europe and Iceland. I’ve never been to Iceland, but it looks so beautiful! I definitely need to add that to the family bucket list.

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