Christopher Guest Post: Chief Mom Officer
She’s a hard-working mother of three who somehow finds the time to share her wisdom on her eponymous site, Chief Mom Officer.
While she is not a physician, she does have a six-figure income and has been an investment junkie since her teenage years. Now she’s raising teenagers of her own (and a three-year old) while juggling family with professional and blog life.
You may recall her guest post here last month entitled Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Early Financial Independence. Read on to learn more about those obstacles, her triumphs, and tribulations in today’s CGP.
What’s a Christopher Guest post?
If you’re not familiar with the scene, take 50 seconds to watch this video and enjoy the dialog between Nigel and Rob Reiner.
I decided I’d start a Q&A of my own. Not satisfied with just ten questions, “this one goes to eleven”. Just like Nigel’s amplifiers.
I also enjoy responding to the answers provided by the interviewee, which makes the interview flow more like a conversation. And conversation is what we’re after.
What do you do (or did you do) for a living? What do you like best about your job? If you were a physician, what type of a physician do you think you would be? Why?
I’m an IT program manager for a very large company. I’ve been working in information technology for over fifteen years now, always in large corporations (or Megacorps, as they call it over on Bogleheads).
I love using technology to help solve business problems, for both the company and our customers. It’s amazing to me just how quickly technology changes – and how quickly it’s shaped and changed the business. The capabilities of technology are advancing exponentially, and I love keeping up with this ever-changing environment.
If I were a physician, I think I would want to be an intensivist. Working on complex medical issues, ever-changing, and all different kinds of issues would be appealing to me. It would be difficult but also rewarding. Also, I have experience sitting in the ICU watching an intensivist at work, and that’s the most impressed I’ve ever been with a doctor in my life.
[PoF: I spent several months as a resident intensivist.. and it’s, well… intense. Things don’t move as quickly as they do in the O.R. but there is usually a much higher potential for a bad outcome. And things can get intense day or night.
I respect the heck out of the intensivists for the challenging work they do.
Keeping up with changes in the IT world can’t be easy, either. It’s just a different variety of challenge. Fewer lives at stake, but probably a lot more (of the company’s) money.]
Describe your blog and tell us why your blog would appeal to a physician seeking FIRE in eleven sentences.
My blog is all about helping women with their money (and their kids’ money), work, and having frugal family fun in pursuit of financial freedom. It’s primarily directed at the high income or those that want to become high income one day. I don’t cover the financial basics in detail – it’s more an advanced personal finance blog.
When I was a very young woman, not earning a lot of money, I would read stories of successful women and dream of one day being like them. Well, today I’m a six-figure earning MBA, and I am the kind of woman I once dreamed of becoming. I want to give back by helping those women coming behind me.
Doctors enjoy my blog – not sure exactly why; perhaps PoF knows the secret. I write a series on Breadwinning, Six Figure, Millionaire moms where I’ve featured many doctors, and another interview series about women seeking financial independence.
I’ve written a guest post for our mutual friend the White Coat Investor about the lessons I’ve learned from the breadwinning moms, and have many doctor blogging friends. I’ve found financial freedom is a math equation, not a matter of a specific occupation, so I believe I have a lot to share with doctors – and everyone.
[PoF: I imagine your blog appeals to doctors because of its more advanced nature. Like you, I assume people are learning the basics elsewhere and focus more on next-level material.
I have recently noticed that a lot of people need a place to start, too, and I recent wrote an “investing basics” post for the beginning investor, and will be following that up with a Part II shortly.
Another reason is that half of our graduating medical students are now female and there aren’t many popular female-written physician personal finance blogs. There are some good ones, including Miss Bonnie MD and Dr. of Finance MD, but the currently most widely read blogs in the physician space are written by dudes.]
What inspired you to start a blog of your own? Was there a particular event you remember that made you feel your blog had arrived? Any big plans for your blog in the future?
I can remember the exact moment I thought to start my site. I’ve been a personal finance and investing nerd since I was a teenager, and was inspired by The Wealthy Barber to start saving and investing. I’ve been an avid consumer of personal finance books before there were blogs, and blogs once those were a thing. I also lurked over on Bogleheads back when they were the Morningstar Die-Hards, and have been investing with Vanguard nearly 20 years now.
But I thought there was a big gap in the personal finance space. There were no women like me. Sure, there were financial professionals who were women, and some female bloggers, but the more serious ones I found had no kids. There were lots of “coupon mom” style sites about saving money, but not about real investing, and financial freedom.
I’m the mother of three, including older children. Our three boys are 14, 10, and 3. I have twenty years’ experience with serious investing and money management as a hobby. I’m the family breadwinner and now sole income earner, as my husband stays home with the boys. I’ve been through a lot to get to this point, and I thought my story, the lessons I had to share, and sharing the stories of others would make a great site.
I couldn’t find what I wanted to read, so I decided to create it. [PoF: I can relate!]
I’ve written for Budgets are Sexy and the White Coat Investor, sites I’ve read for years. One of my articles was picked up by Business Insider. I won a scholarship to FinCon and was nominated for a Plutus award for Family Finance. I just recently had an opportunity to speak at Lola Retreat, an amazing personal finance event for women, all about preparing for and dealing with financial disaster.
Reading all of that I would think I should probably say my blog has arrived, but I have big dreams. I want to help financially improve the lives of a million people and inspire women to take charge of their money. I want to help breadwinning moms feel like they’re not alone. I’d love to one day write a book – I’ve bought enough of them over the years and writing one would be a dream come true.
[PoF: I’d say your blog has arrived and it’s here to stay as long as you enjoy keeping it alive. Congrats on your many successes, and I wish you more as time goes on!
I was nominated for one of those Plutus Awards, too. Let’s see if we can’t both win one, eventually.]
Give me eleven posts you think Physician on FIRE readers might want to read.
All right, here are the top eleven posts I think you’ll enjoy:
Going Into Crisis Mode – When It All Goes to Hell. The story of my husbands near death from septic shock. Called “one of the best articles about emergency funds I’ve ever read” by our mutual friend Hatton1, this article would interest doctors because they’ll see a medical emergency from a totally different perspective.
Near Death, Recovery, and Money- Interview With My Husband. A follow-up to the first article, this shows what it’s like to survive septic shock – six years later.
Economic Outpatient Care – Enabling, Not Disabling, Your Kids. Based on one of my favorite books of all time, The Millionaire Next Door, I talk about how to financially enable your kids rather than disabling them by giving them everything they want.
Thieves Are Coming For Your Children-Protect Their Identities. Child identity theft is a serious issue. Protect your kids, and know what to do if their identity is stolen.
Money Is Genderless – How Women Can Get A Fair Shake In the Financial World. What I’ve always liked about money is that once earned, a dollar held by me has the same earning power as a dollar held by anyone else. As long as women educate themselves on saving, investing, and financial freedom, their money will work just as hard for them as it will a man.
Learn To Live On Lentils, and You Will Become Financially Free. Do you want to be subservient to the king forever? If not, learn to enjoy what you already have instead of always pursuing more.
It’s OK If You Don’t Want to Quit Your Job to Travel the World. We all have different hopes, dreams, and wishes for our financial future. In the mainstream media FIRE is often portrayed as the bastion of software engineering men, or digital nomads. But I believe strongly FIRE is for everyone. For me, FIRE is about making retirement elective, not necessarily retiring early. It’s about building the financial freedom to live the life you want. Whatever that might be.
Stop The Jealousy And The Guilt – Lets Respect The Journey Of Others. Too often when the story of a financial blogger goes into the mainstream, there’s so much nit-picking from others. I’ve also seen some bloggers get overly apologetic about their advantages or feel guilty they’ve been able to do so well when there are others who aren’t. I believe strongly in supporting others whatever their journey may be – full of advantages, disadvantages; kids or not; young or old. We should build each other up, not tear each other down.
Breadwinning, Six Figure, Millionaire Doctor Moms. A summary of all the interviews with doctors I’ve done on my site. Since I know POF has many doctor readers, I’m sure you’ll enjoy these. I would have given you just one interview but I love them all.
Breadwinning Mom One Stop Shop. All the articles and interviews I’ve done with breadwinning, high income earning, and high net worth moms. And dog moms. If you know anyone who might be interested in participating in this series, drop me a note!
Women on FIRE. An interview series with all sorts of women from all walks of life, ages, backgrounds and countries seeking financial freedom.
[PoF: Lots of great reading material. I like how you highlight the female perspective; as you’ve mentioned and I’ve noticed, there’s not as much material geared towards the high-income woman, but that’s changing thanks to bloggers like you.
And I love the EOC article. That’s one chapter of The Millionaire Next Door my wife and I both latched on to. So much truth there, and it’s not exactly intuitive.]
At what age are you most likely to retire (or at what age did you retire) from full-time work? What are you doing to help realize your retirement target?
I honestly don’t know what age I’ll retire. I’ve been an investor through several significant market downturns in 2001 and 2008, so I’m well aware of sequence of returns risk. I have some big financial dreams – working to pay off my mortgage before I’m 40, saving for three kids college, and retirement.
I also would love to start a college scholarship to help others who start off in community college like myself, or some of the kids my oldest son goes to school with. He goes to a magnet school where about half the students come from low-income backgrounds, and I’d love to be a force to help those kids succeed. All that requires a lot of money.
To realize my dreams, we save, invest, and pay off the mortgage by living on half my income. That’s half of my income, which as a reminder is the only income for our family of five. And I’m not a doctor, so although I make a lot, I don’t make nearly as much as most doctors from what I can tell.
I’ve been saving and investing a substantial amount of my income since I was in my teens and early 20’s. I invested through those market downturns, which turned out to be very wise in the end.
The rest of my income goes into maxing out my 401k and HSA, aggressively paying down mortgage principal, and saving for college. Once the mortgage is gone I’ll go all-in on college, and after that more post-tax investing.
[PoF: With the term “retirement” meaning different things to different people, it’s quite alright to say you don’t know when you’ll be retired (if ever). But some day, you’ll probably want to be your own boss and not have to work the 9 to 5 (or 7 to 6 or whatever the job may entail).
Keep doing what you’re doing, living on half of one income, and you’ll be able to make that choice sooner than later.]
What does an ideal retirement look like for you? What will you do with your time when full-time work is in your rearview mirror?
I’ll continue to work as long as I can, frankly. I’ve always been the kind of person who likes to be crazy busy. I worked full time to put myself through college. As in, I worked 40 hours a week and took five courses at the same time. I worked full time in IT, had two kids, and got my MBA nights and weekends. Heck, right now I work full time, have three kids, and a relatively successful website.
I think if I were to leave my full-time job, I’d probably want to still do some consulting. I’d also love to write and speak in front of crowds – about money management, women and money, overcoming financial crises, and other topics. I have quite a bit of public speaking experience, and it’s a great way to help and inspire others.
[PoF: That’s what I’m talking about! Public speaking, consulting, doing your own thing. You’ve also got those three kids who will eventually go off in different directions. I imagine you’ll continue to find time for them.]
I’ll give you eleven sentences to dish out advice to a young physician. Any and all advice is welcome. We talk about personal finance, so money is fair game, but if you have advice on being a better doctor, a better parent / spouse / friend / human, we’re all ears.
Keep patients’ finances in mind. You’re not helping your patients if you’re bankrupting them. [PoF: Price transparency would help both patients and doctors control costs. In most instances, neither party knows how or how much the patient might pay for any particular service.]
Take charge of your own finances. As a physician, you make a lot of money, but you start financially behind those of us who started working full time at 18. You’ll likely have a lot of debt, and a lot of pressure to “keep up with the doctor Joneses” with fancy cars and homes. You’ll suddenly earn a lot more money than you ever have. Be a wise steward of that money, and set yourself on a solid financial foundation before buying the fun stuff.
Protect yourself, your family, and your ability to earn income. Get disability insurance, umbrella insurance, and life insurance. You make plenty of money – don’t skimp on the insurance and let your financial life come crashing down.
[PoF: I agree an all fronts. Learn to manage your money or find one of the good guys or gals to help you manage your finances. There are good people to help you on the insurance side, too, and they won’t try to upsell you a lousy whole life policy.]
You’ve got eleven days to visit anyplace in the world with an $11,000 budget. Where do you go and what do you do?
I would go back to Japan. My husband and I went to Japan for our honeymoon back when we were first married – the honeymoon cost 2.5 times as much as the wedding. We spent only $2k on our wedding, because I didn’t really care about it and would much rather have a great trip. It’s a decision I’ve never regretted. I would love to go back and take our three kids to see the country as well. I’d visit Tokyo, Mt. Fuji and Kyoto again. Perhaps also Osaka.
[PoF: I’ve been there! To Japan, that is, as part of what ended up being an around-the-world trip due to some flight redirection. It’s not a place I’m itching to go back to, though. So much else to see in places I haven’t been throughout Asia and much of the world.]
Name eleven beverages you enjoy. You can be as general or specific as you like.
This is a hard one because I don’t like a lot of beverages.
-Red wine (I’m not particular)
-Tsingtao beer – with Chinese food
That’s it. So the other three would be any coffee-based beverage.
[PoF: Kahlua is a coffee-based beverage. As is Irish coffee, obviously. We’ll go with a good, strong coffee stout for the trifecta. Cheers!]
Now, eleven foods.
This one’s easier, because I love to cook and bake.
-Blueberry pie (and most other forms of pie)
[PoF: I think I gained a pound and a half just reading that list. To be fair, I asked for foods you enjoy. I eat a salad most days, but it wouldn’t make the list of foods I enjoy. I do enjoy every single thing on your list, so no judgment here.]
How did you first learn about PhysicianonFIRE.com? What one piece of advice do you have for me?
You know what POF, I feel like I’ve known you forever and I honestly can’t remember where I found you. It might have been through White Coat Investor, or maybe it was the Rockstar forums. Perhaps your memory is better than mine.
One piece of advice I have for you is to never lose sight of your overall mission. I’ve seen other bloggers (not you of course) devolve into someone who’s just out for money and page views. Stay true to yourself. Nothing wrong with making money, but make it in the context of your true mission.
[PoF: Tough to say how we first connected, but I featured you in this Sunday Best about a year and a half ago, met you in person twice in one week in Boston and Dallas last fall, and have been following your excellent blog all along.
Keep up the great work, and thank you so much for taking the time to answer my silly questions.
Was it Ice Cube who said “Life ain’t nuttin’ but pageviews and money.”? Probably. Pretty sure he uses Personal Capital, too. ;)]
Interested in hearing how other top personal finance bloggers have answered these questions? Check out the following Christopher Guest Posts:
- Our Next Life
- Crispy Doc
- Distilled Dollar
- Coach Carson
- Think Save Retire
- Financially Alert
- Life of a Med Student
- The Wall Street Physician
- Dads Dollars Debts
- Full Time Finance
- From Cents to Retirement
- Gen Y Finance Guy
- Get Money Got Money
- Mr. Tako Escapes
- My Money Wizard
- Senior Resident
- Big Law Investor
- Ten Factorial Rocks
- Family Money Plan
- My Money Wizard
- ESI Money
- The Green Swan
- Smart Money MD
- The Retirement Manifesto
- J.L. Collins
- Johnny K. Johnson
- Early Retirement Now!
- Son of a Doctor
- The Happy Philosopher
- Future Proof MD
- Dr. Wise Money
- The White Coat Investor
- Mr. 1500 of 1500 Days
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Readers: Have you got a 12th question for the Chief Mom Officer? Who else would you like to see featured here?
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