Christopher Guest Post: Crispy Doc

Please give a warm welcome to Crispy Doc, the Emergency Medicine physician based in California who has been kind enough to share his insights with us in the latest interview here.

Like me, he has found a better work / life balance for his family by working less often. He fills some of that time sharing his wisdom on his site which he calls his midlife crisis blog know as Crispy Doc — think burnout and FIRE, hence the “crisp” on the doc.

He also helps out as a volunteer moderator on the rapidly expanding Physicians on FIRE Facebook Group (~ 3,700 verified physicians and counting!) and enjoys time with his wife and two young kids near the beach.

With a resume that includes stints at Stanford, UCSF, UCLA, and Harvard, I think he may have a thing or two to teach us.

 

 

What’s a Christopher Guest post?

 

Inspired by Nigel Tufnel, the character portrayed by Christopher Guest in Spinal Tap, I took Mr. 1500’s ten questions, and amped them up to eleven.

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.

 

 

 

Physicians: What is your specialty or subspecialty and why did you choose it? If you could turn back time, would you choose to practice medicine and choose the same specialty? Why?

 

I became an emergency physician because I always wanted to be the doc who raised his hand on the plane. [PoF: I’ve done that three times now, and I’m an anesthesiologist!]

I liked the idea of walking into something new every day at work, assimilating information quickly and staying level-headed in a crisis. I spent most of my rotations in medical school at San Francisco General Hospital, where a single ED shift might encompass managing a level one trauma, treating pneumonia in an AIDS patient (I trained just as HIV transitioned from fatal to treatable), sending a runaway teen with an ectopic pregnancy to the O.R., and assessing abdominal pain in an octagenarian from rural Latin America who’d never seen a physician.

Rotations on other services confirmed my bias toward emergency medicine, as the ED was the locus of diagnostic evaluation, where patients were worked up, resuscitated and packaged for admission. As the son of immigrants, I also appreciated the social justice aspect of emergency medicine – I never turned anyone away based on inability to pay.

Contrary to the adrenaline junkie cliché that most ER docs are made out to be, I felt more like a misfit who liked certain aspects of all specialties. I liked the cerebral aspects of medicine, but I didn’t enjoy the lengthy rounds. Surgery was interesting for the diagnostic workup, but I didn’t enjoy the personalities in the operating room. Pediatrics was fun except for the parents. In the ED, I found misfits of medicine (like me!) and a camaraderie under duress and that felt like home.

I am grateful for a career doing meaningful work for people in their time of need. Even accounting for bureaucratic headaches, I make a comfortable living doing less backbreaking work than most of my patients. While the nights and weekends leave me more depleted than they once did, my solution for now is to do fewer of them.

I can’t think of a specialty I would have enjoyed more than my current one, and I have no regrets about becoming a physician.

 

[PoF: Anesthesia shares many aspects with Emergency Medicine — our patients don’t choose us, they need something done acutely and we provide the necessary care to get them through. Interventions are immediate, and the results are seen in minutes or seconds as opposed to weeks or years. 

Like you, I liked certain aspects of different specialties, but my third year also felt like a process of elimination. It wasn’t until late in my third year of medical school that I found a home in anesthesia.]

 

Describe your blog and tell us why your blog would appeal to a physician seeking FIRE in eleven sentences.

 

My tagline is “Reclaim time as your most valuable asset.” As a younger physician, you are highly motivated to allot your time maximizing income. As you age you desire greater autonomy and flexibility, in order to spend time on evolving priorities: spouse, kids, health, legacy, community, and passions. I wish younger me could have sought advice 15 years ago from an older medical sibling who’d have helped me account for this transition in priorities in order to plan my career accordingly.

My rationale for blogging about FIRE is that I would like to fulfill other aspects of my potential during this lifetime, and when the moment comes I truly won’t mind giving up medicine to pursue other interests. I love being a dad.

My kids are 8 and 10 years old, so I feel an urgency to share extraordinary experiences before they become adolescents and define themselves in contrast to me. I married a woman far out of my league, and I want to enjoy time with her while we have health and wanderlust in abundance.

I also feel like there are other, non-medical iterations of myself I’d like to put time into fulfilling, and medicine is a jealous mistress that would preclude me from truly pursuing a second act.

I built my site for motivated newbies and mid-career physicians at a personal crossroads (burnout, kids, divorce) who are ready to assert control over their financial destinies. We pursue FIRE because we understand time is more valuable than money.

 

[PoF: So it is a midlife crisis blog. For what it’s worth, I’m going through more or less the exact same thing. My boys turn 8 & 10 this fall, and we’re starting to go on some adventures with them and we’re all excited for more!]

 

 

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?

 

Like many finance bloggers, I stumbled across Mr. Money Mustache and devoured all his posts in a feverish few days. That led me to the Bogleheads Forum and their generosity, witty repartee and encyclopedic knowledge. Finally, I was blown away by the White Coat Investor.

Alas, while I agreed with nearly all of Dr. Dahle’s advice, his crime was youth: he writes from the honeymoon phase of being enamored with medicine. Peers my age and level of crustiness tend to be discreetly seeking exit strategies from medicine. I realized that if I’d saved aggressively and minimized costs by managing my own portfolio from the start, given a physician’s generous income, my savings would have put me in a position of power far earlier.

The biggest moments for me have come through recognition from other bloggers I respect who stop by with an encouraging word or a fresh perspective. I get to be a part of this wonderful geeky online secret society, and this autumn I’ll even go to “camp” to meet some of my invisible friends at FinCon 18.

I’d like to take the blog from vanity project to money-making endeavor in the next couple of years, and I’m trying to find out how to make that transition without feeling icky in the process – fortunately you and WCI are upstanding role models for other docs in finance.

 

[PoF: Oh, I don’t know — I do feel at least 10% icky when I copy and paste my ad codes into the posts, but I’m often reminded that I provide a boatload of free, valuable content, so I shouldn’t feel guilty when I refer readers to my student loan or crowdfunded real estate resource pages. Or when I drop a travel rewards credit card banner in the middle 

of a paragraph for no good reason.

My blogging origin story reads much like yours. Have you noticed that WCI has gone from full-time doctoring to 3/4 time, and now part-time later this summer? I think that has more to do with the success and time commitment of his online empire than a distaste for practicing clinical medicine, but it’s been interesting to witness that transition.]

 

 

Give me eleven posts you think Physician on FIRE readers might want to read.

 

Are You A Dirtbag Millionaire? [PoF: Probably.]

I’ve Got The Brains. You’ve Got The Looks. Let’s Save Lots Of Money. [PoF: East End Boy meets West End Girl?]

Disability Insurance: My Advice To Newbies

What The Bogleheads Taught Me About The Child Roth IRA

Notes From A Financial Toxic Wasteland

Keynes: The First Mustachian Prophet?

Doctor Goggles: Totally Different Than Beer Goggles

Financial Puberty

Ego Arbitrage For Physicians

Hi FI: Achieving Financial Independence In A High Cost Of Living Area

A Father Is A Volatile Appreciating Asset

 

[PoF: Read them, readers. This guy is good.]

 

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 just turned 45 and currently work six shifts a month in the ED. This has done amazing things to boost my happiness, even with half the shifts being weekend nights. If you’d asked me before this year, I’d have targeted age 47 as my date to leave medicine behind for good.

My concern about sequence of returns risk combined with my current extremely high quality of life makes it tempting to maintain this pace until age 50. This would allow me to fulfill certain priorities: travel internationally as a family during the summer; devote ample time to non-medical pursuits during the school year when the kids’ schedules are packed; develop a rewarding second act gradually and organically; and shore up a taxable account that will tide us over for a decade until we tap our tax-deferred accounts.

 

[PoF: Part-time work, if you can get it, is a great way to stave off burnout. 

So you could be looking at anywhere from 2 to 5 more years — that uncertainty might drive me crazy, but when you have 24 to 25 days off most months, I imagine the status quo is pretty good. I’m in a similar situation, but the taste of freedom has only made me crave it even more!]

 


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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?

 

Wake at sunrise without an alarm to a bowl of berries and muesli chased by a great cup of coffee. Write for a couple of hours before the household awakens. Walk the kids to school. Surf, kayak, or bodyboard if there’s a swell; hike the foothills with a friend or kayak along the coast if there’s none.

Lunch at home with my wife, followed by family logistics over a second cup of coffee on the sofa together. Read a book to develop a skill or get to know an author, peruse the latest New Yorker, plan our next travel adventure. Walk the kids home from school, help with homework, shuttle them to activities. Expand my cooking skills beyond their comfort zone as I prepare dinner, subtly increasing the plant to animal ratio of our protein intake over time. [PoF: I think you’ll find more protein in insects than plants]

I’d also enjoy indulging impulsive living once in a while. A favorite newsletter, Scott’s Cheap Flights, sends out great deals on international travel that last about a day. Once we are empty nesters I dream of a year spent living out of a backpack, where our location is dictated by impulse buying airfares to different countries du jour to spend a few months at a time there with my wife, flying the kids out to join us on their breaks.

 

[Thanks for the heads up on the travel site — the ability to be able to pick up and leave on short notice is an awesome power to have. Your ideal “retirement” looks a lot like my friend Carl’s over at 1500 Days (minus the beach part).

With the schedule you’ve got, you can do most of what you’ve outlined right now. That’s the beauty of financial independence.]

 

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.

 

We spend so much time pursuing our medical training that we tend to mistake our career for our purpose and make it our priority. We also buy into the fallacy that if you are becoming a better doctor, you are becoming a better human being.

Cultivate your outsider identity as a misfit doc and it will embolden you to live (and spend) differently than your colleagues. Follow the gospel of frugal living: kill your debt, save aggressively, and invest early. Pursue financial literacy so you can manage your own low cost index fund portfolio without an advisor.

Anticipate your mid-life crisis early by exploring what moves you outside of your career. Significantly reduce your clinical load in time to explore the many important facets of becoming a better person that exist beyond the narrow scope of medicine. Use your high income to work less and work happier. Make balance and priorities outside of your career a central part of your plan.

Don’t believe the hype that you owe medicine your entire life. Your time here will be short, and the world is both wonderfully curious and desperately unjust; the skills you can offer to right wrongs, connect with others and help the weak don’t occur exclusively in a clinic or hospital.

 

[PoF: “Don’t… don’t don’t don’t… don’t believe the hype.” — Flava Flav. 

I couldn’t agree more with cultivating and embracing an “outsider identity as a misfit doc” as you say. By living more like most people and less like most doctors, a world of opportunity opens up to you based on the financial position you’ll find yourself in. #stealthwealth]

 

 

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?

 

One of my big priorities is to travel internationally as a family while our kids are young enough to want to spend time with us, with the hope that having a shared extraordinary experience will outweigh whatever baggage they ultimately decide to resent us for. Given eleven days, I’d take my family to Romania, an underappreciated and wonderfully affordable destination with incredible history, medieval architecture and delicious food.

Other bucket list destinations for family time include southern Spain and Portugal; an extended trip in the Peloponnese (the Greek mainland); Ethiopia; and Bali, Indonesia. We have been making yearly pilgrimages to new areas in Mexico to maintain our Spanish and visit relatives, so your account of slow travel in Guanajuato resonated deeply with me.

 

[PoF: I have so many more places to visit — of all the places you’ve named, I’ve only been to Mexico. But tomorrow is the first day of the rest of my life, right? I love finding those places that have a rich history and wonderful sites to see, but don’t cost an arm and a leg — I’ll add Romania to that list.]

 

Guanajuato

can’t wait to get back to guanajuato

 

 

Name eleven beverages you enjoy. You can be as general or specific as you like.

 

  • Italian stove-top espresso (my daily fix)
  • Cuban coffee (chest-hair sprouting concentrate with equal parts coffee and sugar, served in a thimble)
  • The Morning Hammer: espresso, half and half, cinnamon, nutmeg and honey fresh brewed and immediately iced to frosty perfection at my favorite local independent coffee house.
  • Water
  • Reese’s Banana Smoothie (Frozen banana, soy milk, peanut butter, chocolate chips) – after school staple
  • Guava Orange Pineapple Smoothie (guavas and oranges harvested from our trees!)
  • Prosecco, any bottle under ten bucks (We host Thanksgiving, where 12 people sleep under our roof every year – a few bottles “lubricate” our proximity.)
  • South American malbec, any bottle under ten bucks (Last summer the kids and I surprised my wife with al fresco dining on our deck after she got off shift from the ED. Wine paired perfectly with a meal together overlooking a Pacific sunset. Hoping to do more of these when Spring returns.)
  • Stockyard Oatmeal Stout from Trader Joe’s when I’m feeling extra manly

[Couldn’t even make it to eleven. I am willing to be your beer charity case at FinCon 18, if you or Mr. 1500 feel sorry for me after looking at my list.]

 

[PoF: I do feel a bit melancholy when I see someone a stone’s throw from the west coast who doesn’t enjoy a west coast IPA, but I guess that just means more for me.

You may be shocked to learn that I don’t touch caffeine most days and never drink any form of coffee. I guess that means more for you!]

 

Now, eleven foods.

 

  • Homemade empanadas (chicken goodness in a flaky baked crust that makes Argentine men weep)
  • Homemade Moroccan eggplant (capers, olives, tomatoes, zucchini with vinegar and olive oil)
  • Home-grilled salmon tacos, piled high with homemade guacamole
  • Homemade tilapia in a white wine, lemon and caper sauce (sole meuniere) – easy, quick, delicious
  • Ghormeh Sabzi at our local dive – Persian stews with dried limes excite me more than belly dancers
  • Lebanese mezza sampler at our local dive (falafel, grape leaves, baba ghannouj, hummus, tabouleh, cucumber and tomato salad drowned in garlic and vinegar) served with steaming fresh pita
  • Cherimoya ice cream (Ashta) with baklava at this same Lebanese treasure
  • Spicy Eggplant or Pad Thai from our local SE Asian dive
  • Bhindi Do Piazza (okra and onion curry) from our favorite Indian restaurant. The chef is from Goa, a spice-loving southern Indian port city with Portuguese influence; you can taste it in the masterful flavors
  • Kabuli naan (warm flatbread stuffed with dried cherries and nuts) from that same Indian restaurant

 

[PoF: Your list of worldly flavors puts everyone else’s list to shame. I’m almost embarrassed to admit I’ll be preparing breakfast for dinner tonight — pancakes, eggs, potatoes, and sausage. Almost, but I love a hearty ‘merican breakfast, and so do the kids.]

 

 

How did you first learn about PhysicianonFIRE.com? What one piece of advice do you have for me?

 

I was new to blogging and devouring every FIRE blog I could find online, especially those pertinent to physicians and other high earners. Every time I discovered a new blog or joined another forum, there you were, icon aflame above a comment filled with mid-western good cheer.

I felt like I’d discovered this new world, and was curious how this other explorer who’d appeared on the scene around the time I did seemed to be planting flags and befriending the natives faster than I could discover them. I take some consolation in having realized that your ubiquity is superhuman by all blogger standards, not just my own. You’d be easy to resent if you weren’t so darn generous to everyone.

There’s no advice I can offer, as your success in a short amount of time speaks for itself. What I would like to know is how your Family on FIRE is handling your plan to mic drop the medical career.

I’d love to meet the Wife on FIRE via a guest post to get her perspective on this whole phenomenon. As a father of two kids about the same age as yours, I am eager to hear how the Boys on FIRE regard the prospect of a year of RV travel and homeschooling.

 

[PoF: We’ve been talking about the idea of “roadschooling” and “worldschooling” with our boys, and they are totally on board, having done a little bit of it on our recent three-week escapes. I’ll see what I can do about that guest post from my better half.

Thank you for humoring me and enlightening our readers with your story. It’s been great getting to know you better, and I look forward to saying Cheers in person at FinCon this fall!]

Interested in hearing how other top personal finance bloggers have answered these questions? Check out a few of these Christopher Guest Posts:

 

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38 comments

  • Great post, Crispy Doc.

    I always enjoy reading stuff from docs that are a little further along the path. I considered EM for a long time before deciding on anesthesia. In my experience with medical students the two fields attract a lot of similar people (and often students I meet are choosing between the two).

    I love the idea of trading time for money. Sounds similar to Vicki Robin’s idea in her book on “Your money or your life.” When you start to figure out how much every activity is worth and what you really make each hour, you start to realize that your job takes time away from other things/people that you would rather spend your time with. It seems vital to keep this mentality.

    I know that having an outlet like our websites to express our ideas has helped flesh out some parts of me that haven’t been alive since college when I was studying philosophy. It feels nice to be human and to have an identity outside of medicine.

    Thanks for setting a great example!

    TPP

    • Dear TPP,

      1) Agreed, our specialties share a kinship of sorts.

      2) You are correct, Vicki and Joe Dominguez’ book is where I first encountered trading time for money explicitly laid out.

      3) I spent the morning with 3 classes’ worth of 2nd graders at the Natural History Museum on a field trip, which served to remind me that there was a time in life where wonder was a daily occurrence.

      Having stumbled into the FI blogging world with the eccentricities, friendships and differing perspectives offers an almost illicit thrill – here we are learning to live and reclaiming the wonder of children, only as adults! My inner eleven year old has never been happier.

      Appreciate your feedback and supportive words,

      CD

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  • Your ideal day in retirement sounds, well, ideal. A little bit of work mixed in with some surfing or hiking, all balanced out. That’s the kind of balance I’m seeking in my life, and I’m getting closer.

  • Crispy Doc your food and beverage choices make me feel inadequate. I just finished a lovely breakfast of SpecialK with protein washed down with Expresso roasted beans in a K Cup pod. Post breakfast drink a diet Coke. Work life balance is so important. I am very guilty of ignoring it for years. In OB/GYN patients will lay a huge guilt trip on you for not being present at the big event even if you are not on call. Now they are doing it over my upcoming retirement. Figuring all of this out is a delicate balance. I blog about it at http://doctoroffinancemd.com

    • Hatton1,

      I don’t think I’d ever associated the word inadequate with your name. Please don’t mistake my ability to enjoy food for my ability to prepare it – I have a lot of learning to do in that department.

      I enjoy your blog, and I’m sincerely curious how you will adjust to less time working (in part because my wife seems to share your work ethic, and I want to see which strategies I can use from your playbook to reduce her workload over time).

      Looking forward to reading about your second act,

      CD

      • Hey I consider myself a slacker since I quit OB. For 5 years I have been working 3 days per week. As many have said the first step is figuring out what you hate and eliminating that aspect of your practice. I hated OB call so I quit OB and became a gynecologist.

  • SG

    Look forward to reading the more about crispy doc.

  • Crispy Doc,
    Looking forward to meeting you at FINCON18

    Dr. Cory S. Fawcett
    Prescription for Financial Success

  • It is striking to me how many common threads there are amongst the origin stories of docs writing about FIRE. My kids turning 9 and 11 was what caused me to stop, lift up my head from the grind, and look around also. There is something magical about the age where kids can start doing some more fun adult-like activities and still think you are cool enough to do them with. Your blog looks great Crispy Doc!

    • Loonie Doctor,

      Certain life milestones can’t help but bring a moment of reckoning where you find yourself at Robert Frost’s proverbial roads diverging in a yellow wood.

      My kids were a big part of my awakening as well, although I was more inclined to join them in kid-like activities (few adults were game to join me for an afternoon flying a kite; my kids couldn’t get enough of it). I’m glad you are making the time to enjoy your little ones’ company during this window before it closes.

      Appreciate the feedback on the site, I gave it a major makeover just in time for this guest post. Regrettably comments from the last several months don’t seem to have crossed over, so please consider this an invitation to explore if you have the time and inclination!

      Fondly,

      Your neighbor to the south

  • Hi Crispy Doc! Great interview!

    It’s always inspiring to hear from another physician who lives in California. Your ideal life in retirement sound very similar to what I envision for myself. Spending more time with the kids, eating better, and traveling. Just like you, I have this wanderlust for international travel and I have dreams of backpacking Europe too. When I talk to my wife, one of our fantasies is to do an agriturismo European farm stay where we would stay (inexpensively) with the kids and work on a farm (or vineyard) in the beautiful countryside of France or Italy. The kids would learn a lot about agriculture, hard work, and we would immerse ourselves in a rich, local culture.

    You’ll love southern Spain and Portugal. And Romania is on my list of places to go too. Ethiopia is an interesting choice that I have never considered yet.

    Looking forward to meeting you at FinCon18! 🙂

    -Dr. McFrugal

    • DMF (this could be your rapper acronym),

      Interesting idea with agriturismo travel. A non-medical friend during residency (whom I’ve regrettably fallen out of touch with) used to return to his mother’s olive groves in Sicily every summer to help with the harvest, and I always thought after training I might like to join him one summer. Maybe this is an alternate route to reclaim that dream?

      See you at finance geek blogger summer camp!

      CD

  • Fast MD AJ Gupta

    Thank you Crispy Doc and Physician on Fire for the great interview. I have visited 5 continents and definitely share your interest for travel.

    Looking forward to meeting you sometime.

    Do you recommend regular folks like us going to Fincon 18 conference or it is primarily for bloggers?

    Mucho Gracias.

    • Fast MD AJ Gupta,

      Always happy to meet someone who shares my inability to contain my travel enthusiasm (I’d term it traveler’s “incontinents,” but I fear a savvy pharma company would then market a pill to cure us of our wanderlust).

      This will be my first FINCON, and while my understanding is that it’s an event geared to bloggers in the finance space, I’ll defer to those who have attended prior events to give you the lowdown.

      -CD

  • Gasem

    Ah man you made me hungry. Had some left over Malasian crispy crab n prawn dumpling with a dash of wasabi my wife made tonight. Very soporific. One thing I’ve noticed since retiring is how little we eat out anymore.

    Home schooling (RV schooling etc) is the best. We did it from the start using a great books curriculum through the Angelicum academy. It was online and we buttressed some HS school classes to meet requirements using my states (FL) virtual school so virtually everything was available from history to languages to photography, seminars and collaborations using an online connection.

    I got to teach science in conjunction with the online coursework including chemistry, physics, biology, anatomy and oceanography including labs and formal lab write-ups at home using experiment kits. My kids graduated with 2 years of college credit which has allowed them to bypass a lot of college survey BS, and immediately hit the ground running because they knew how to act. They both have friends from all over the world they made in school as many of the kids just followed with each other as classes progressed over the years creating multi year friendships, and they have met many of them in our or their travels. Just a little encouragement for that vagabond lifestyle.

    • Gasem, you give the rest of us hope.

      1) I’ve noticed that except for the social dimension of meeting friends, we eat in more than ever, too. Although with your wife’s cooking repertoire, you may be more spoiled than most.

      2) Your homeschooling curriculum sounds well conceived and executed, and I’m a huge fan of getting frosh requirements out of the way so your kids can take deep dives into the subjects that interest them.
      A couple of questions about your experiences:
      a) Did you ever feel the kids trade-off (advanced educational credits in exchange for less social time with peers) had any negatives?
      b) Are they are following your lead with their own kids?

      Appreciate your crusty vet’s perspective,

      CD

      • Gasem

        They are 19 and 21 but both want kids and can see the advantage of a custom education. They both were adopted Chinese orphans and each had their own orphanage induced adversity to deal with. Daughter 1 was absolutely driven to learn to read. We taught her to sign when she was pre-verbal and she had an 80 word vocabulary and could carry on complete conversations complete with made up signs before she said her first word. I would walk into the school room and find her squirreled under her desk on the floor reading the dictionary or reference books at age 5 so there was no way I could send her somewhere where the goal was to learn to count to 20 by the second grade. The other kid engaged in a completely different way. She was artsey and made braid bracelets and clay figurines and would take them to Church and find a little girl, show her the goods, and then go stand by the parents and come home with 5 bucks. She definitely didn’t need THAT trained out of her by the doe eyed public school extravaganza.

        Kid one was very fine artsey, ballet tap gymnastics piano drawing etc and we were involved with other home schoolers and a Church family so there was PLENTY of social interaction and friends. Kid 2 also took dance and piano but headed eventually toward the skate board crowd. Kid two and a online kid had a crush on each other so we let them have “dates” on the phone. It was very sweet. Kid one is a concert pianist and created a youtube channel, so I bought her a video camera to better accomplish that with her $250 Baldwin I bought her. I then bought her a grand piano since her talent was obvious and when she was 13 she eventually had a couple hundred thousand viewers because it turns out there is a huge online tribe of serious teenage musicians out there supporting each other. She also was into art photography so I bought her a camera and she has won a few cash awards. The other kid (miss entrepreneurial) also has a photography passion and she actually has developed a photography biz that makes money and has a few thousand instagram followers. She has learned a TON about marketing and networking. So what constitutes a “childhood” today is quite different than my experience

        My influence was to create a safe sand box for them to play in and then let them outgrow the boundaries of the sandbox, where I then created a larger more complex sandbox still relatively bounded and safe and I would provide the tools, and then better tools as they became more successful. They are both virtually strait A/Dean’s list in college so they have figured out how to run their own shows without much input from me (besides money) and I just sit back and marvel. Did I know what I was doing? No. I didn’t have a political agenda except it was an experiment in negentropy and it was clear the school system wasn’t going to cut it. Worst that could happen is I would just have to send them to school to get a piece of paper like everybody else, but that never materialized as a necessity. Daughter #2 decided she wanted the paper and stage walk experience so she went senior year, and never having been in public school in her life, wound up with a 103 out of 100 average (physics advanced math/trig, honors English etc) got the paper and decided home school was a better educational experience. I would think anybody who wants to travel (we did a little, not months but a couple weeks) could turn this into an educational bonanza. Daughter #1 spent a semester in Europe and later toured Italy with a choral ensemble she is part of, with 12 gigs plus a few impromptu around the country last Christmas including singing at St Peter’s on New Years Eve. My wife traveled with her. She seen a LOT of the things and places she read about in the great books and fine arts curriculum. I’m not sure if that would have happened if her “goal” was to count to 20 by end of second grade.

        • Couldn’t agree more with DMF – please consider this a formal invitation to adapt your jaw-dropper of a response above into a guest post, which I’d be honored to host if you have the time and inclination.

          crispydocblog (at) gmail

          The reason I enjoy reading you is because you consistently take my conventional assumptions and turn them into mincemeat, keeping me on my toes.

          Thanks for that,

          CD

        • Wow Gasem. Your daughters are talented! A few hundred thousand viewers on YouTube is a lot. Didn’t know you have kids that are YouTube and Instagram stars.

    • Hi Gasem,

      Home schooling (RV schooling) is a fascinating subject. Maybe you can write up your experiences as a guest post on CD’s blog (like you guest posted on DDD). I would like to know your experiences too!

      -DMF


  • Track your investments for free with Personal Capital. That's how I track the PoF portfolio.  
  • Don’t believe the hype about owing your life to medicine

    .

    I like this. I find I’m a better doc since making work-life balance a priority. I set aside a small amount of time for learning and when I’m done I get to pursue my “misfit” interests as you say.

    Seems like many of us have a strong desire to travel with the kids. I loook forward to some details about how this is done. Gasem makes some good recs above. Our kids are 4 and 1 so no rush but I teach a bit now and have for years (paid) so why not teach the kids and travel?

    I enjoy your blog.

    Yyeeeaaahhh boooyyyyy! – Flava Flav

    • GLMD,

      As a med student, I read a lot of Osler’s written speeches, reflections, and even the biography by Harvey Cushing. There’s a lot to be said for the generation of Docs with a capital D that impacted medicine for the better. I just happened to be a lowercase doctor.

      Thanks for the support, and happy to meet another lowercase doctor.
      Look forward to hearing how you manage the kids and travel in the future.

      [insert Public Enemy reference of choice here],

      CD

      • CD,
        I struggled with some guilt of blogging thinking it would prevent me from possibly being a doc with the big D….
        But if your blog helps docs in some non-medical way then your helping medicine in general as I see it. It might also help with your personal work life balanace and keep you personally a better doc. I find that it does for me at least.
        If your into those larger than life docs, you migh enjoy The Knick series about turn of the century cavalier surgeons. It was the Wild West. Clive Owens kills it.
        ~GLMD

        • GLMD,

          Thanks for the reading suggestion, I’ll check it out.

          The improved work-life balance certainly makes me more present for my patients.

          I find being a little d doctor makes me a better big H Human, so I’ve made peace with the trade-off as well.

  • What makes you think that you have such a short window to bond with your children? Why do you imagine children that love you turning into adolescents that resent you?

    • Mr. BPR,

      The secret to happiness is low expectations. If I assume the window is small, and it turns out to be wide, great! I win. If the window is small and I’m correct, great! I planned for it.

      Like many dogmas I’ve adopted in my anecdotal medical education , the days that I bring an umbrella it never rains.

      I’d love to say adolescence will be smooth like butter, but by planning for the worst I get to be pleasantly surprised if I’m lucky.

      Best,

      CD

      • CD,

        You sound like an excellent father with a clear view of your well-ordered priorities, which is to say that I think your kids are lucky and that there is a very good chance that they will regard you positively throughout their lives (even in their teen years).

        Your view on expectations isn’t wrong. In fact, when it comes to happiness, I think having no expectations is even better than setting them low.

        On the other hand, if you’ll permit me some nuance, I think having high aspirations is also very valuable. To counter your cliche about umbrellas, I’d offer the one about shooting for the stars to get the moon.

        The upshot is that I don’t think you have to do anything differently than you are now: the best way to have teenage kids that love you and want to share their lives with you is to invest heavily in the relationship when their young. I’m just trying to spare you some anxiety, so that you can look forward to the teenage years rather than dread them.

        Best,

        Mr. BPR

  • Thanks for opening my eyes to a new Physician blog I wasn’t aware of. Definitely a lot more popping up these days for sure.

    Love Crispy Doc’s writing style and his path is eerily similar to my own so definitely will start following his blog.

    I probably could leave medicine entirely (just turned 47) and live off passive income streams I have slowly developed but feel a bit tied to still practice to build a bigger buffer (the fact that my daughter is in 7th grade and who knows what colleges will cost by the time she enters and healthcare costs are the 2 biggest factors).

    • XRV,

      Physician finance bloggers are multiplying like rabbits, which reflects a group awakening in the best of ways. My mom will be beside herself that a non-relative plans to follow the blog!

      PoF has a terrific post on One More Year syndrome if you’ve not read it yet that speaks to the post-retirement uncertainties you allude to.

      Congratulations on reaching FI at the virile young age of 47. May you continue to enjoy the fruits of your labor for a long time to come.

      Fondly,

      CD

  • Hello CD!

    I love your blog! Just couldn’t get it on Feedly so would have to look you up weekly. (I see your site works on Feedly now!)

    My kids are now 17 and 19 yrs old and still want to hang out with us. My son wants to FIRE and he’s still in university. I plan to help him avoid many of the landmines we stepped in.

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