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And we’re back with another Christopher Guest Post! I really miss these, and I thank Financial Freedom Countdown for helping to bring this series back to life. These posts are a great way to get to know the bloggers behind the blogs, which can be difficult to do in an age where many bloggers are relatively or completely anonymous.

pearson 250web

I’m familiar with Financial Freedom Countdown via a mutual blogging community we’re both in known as The Money Mix Insiders. Since joining the group, I’ve greatly improved my site speed (improving the experience for readers) and search engine optimization (SEO) which helps readers find the site.

TMM insiders is a subscription-based group, but they do offer a free three-month trial period.

Anyway, 99% of you are not bloggers and you’re probably more interested in the story of an immigrant who showed up with $1,000 and became a multimillionaire in a little over a decade.

Let’s dig into that story. But first, for those who are not familiar with the CGP series, what’s the story behind it?

 

Christopher Guest Post: Financial Freedom Countdown

 

financial_freedom_countdown

What in the world is 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.

 

 

 

 

 

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 physician do you think you would be? Why?

 

I work in technology as a Program Director mainly focusing on Data Science. I started my career as a lowly paid engineer and realized I prefer strategy and management more than the technical aspects of my job. So I made the transition as I kept switching employers.

As a kid, I was always fascinated by biology and science. I wanted to pursue a career in genetic engineering.

I did not pursue that route since I would need to spend some a lot of time working in hospitals before I could branch out into a specialized field. And I am not a fan of hospitals. A cool lab research position would suit me well.

Let us see if astute readers can guess my favorite Robin Cook novel 🙂

 

[PoF: I know it! I know it! Blurred Lines.

Oh, wait… that was Robin Thicke. My bad.

One of my college roommates was all about engineering. I never understood why he wanted to make weird animals, but he does in his free time is his own business.]

 

Acre Trader I've got my 2 acres of non-leveraged, crop-producing, cashflowing farmland via AcreTrader. Get yours.

 

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

 

Physicians are individuals with a high paying career. The target audience of my blog is a high net worth individual dreaming of Financial Freedom in a high cost of living area.

Also, physicians start their career with either zero or negative net worth and FIRE seems quite daunting under these circumstances.

I came from a third world country to the US with only $1,000 not knowing anyone; guided only by an immigrant dream. Achieved Financial Freedom in 12 years living in the most expensive part of the country (San Francisco Bay Area).

The immigrant, late start and absence of family support aspects of my story demonstrate that you can still achieve Financial Freedom. I am sure there will be some parts of my story the audience can identify with, learn and teach me as well.

Very few personal finance blog writers have esoteric investments like Bitcoin, lawsuit financing, commodities futures, art paintings, rental properties, real estate syndication, etc. While the bulk of my investments are vanilla, I do venture into these areas to learn more.

Reading about my experiences can help others avoid common pitfalls. I strive for a mix of philosophy (why), process (how) and tactical (tool comparison and reviews).

 

[PoF: I think many of my readers can relate. I’ve spent most of my life in low cost of living areas practicing geographic arbitrage, but there are many physicians on the coasts in places where it costs more than double to live a similar lifestyle.

Combined with the fact that physician jobs tend not to pay as well, on average, in expensive, coastal cities, and these docs need all the help they can get. There is also a large immigrant cohort among physicians.

My investments are mostly “vanilla” like yours, but I’ve also dabbled in craft breweries (debt and equity deals), farmland, angel investing, real estate, and other alternative investments. Gotta have a little fun with your investments, right? [the correct answer is actually “no” but it’s more fun to have some fun]

 

golden-gate

 

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?

 

Starting this blog was inspired by a distinct memory in my working career. My VP who is in her 70s one day mentioned that her sister was not keeping well. I naturally assumed she would visit and asked about her travel plans. However, she did not want to take time off given that we had a huge product launch coming up.

Two weeks later, when we were in a meeting; she received a phone call. Her sister had passed away. 🙁

The fact that although she was a VP earning at least 3X more than me, and yet was a “wage slave,” hit me like a tidal wave.

Even with high incomes, I noticed many of my coworkers and friends stressed out about work, finances and emergencies. Earning money is one aspect; effectively deploying capital so it works for you is the more tricky part.

I decided to start this blog to keep myself accountable and help others along the journey while also having fun.

Compared to other bloggers, my audience is not huge. Hence, I would not claim to have arrived. I do savor the small wins along the way – Harlan including my first published post as part of the Weekly Plutus roundup to my first podcast interview with Radical Personal Finance to my Forbes interview.

The Personal Finance blogging community is very open and accepting. I do appreciate the various blogger interview series including this one with PoF.

My big plans for the blog definitely include reaching a wider audience. Just like Plato’s cave, a vast segment of the population is unaware of Personal Finance. Mainstream media exposure and writing a book are some of the ideas which I am considering.

M3 Global august 20202

 

[PoF: I’m no Forbes, so I’ll say you’ve arrived already. 

That’s a sad story you spin about the VP so caught up in her job that she didn’t find time to see a dying sister. Early in my career, the job came first out of necessity. I missed several weddings of close friends the summer I started my residency in Florida.

Now that I have more freedom than ever before, I appreciate so much the flexibility to be where I want to be and do as I please. 

I’m glad to hear you’ve squirreled away enough money to be able to do the same.]

 

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

 

How to earn more money by improving Human Capital

Why you need an emergency fund and how to get high risk free returns on it

How to evaluate Real Estate deals that will help you avoid losing money

QBI Deduction for Rental Property. Includes my activity log based on IRS guidance

Cash Out Refinance And Why Am I Doing It?

Accumulate Assets And Avoid Liabilities: How to Get Insanely Rich

My 4 Worst Investments And How You Can Learn From My Mistakes

Behind The Scenes Look At How I Invest In Moonshot Companies

Why everyone needs Bitcoin

How To Get Stuff Done Even When You Don’t Feel Like It

How To Prepare For An Upcoming Recession

 

[PoF: Does everyone really need Bitcoin? I’ve got none and yet, I continue to thrive. Sorry to pick on that one, but cryptocurrency has never been my thing.

The worst investments posts are always interesting to read. You had some real stinkers in there. Was I shocked to learn that crypto made the top four? No. No, I wasn’t.

That QBI deduction is tricky business, and it’s maddeningly complex. Thank you for highlighting how it works for property owners.]

 

Financial-Freedom-Countdown

 

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 achieved Financial Freedom at the age of 40 and retired this year in the midst of the pandemic. Talk about timing!

I had planned a 6 month long vacation to Asia which for obvious reasons had to be canceled. Guess I will have to plan a celebratory event at a later point in time.

 

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[PoF: We had a 7-month family Asian adventure planned for 2020 to 2021. That was also canceled for obvious reasons. 

I’ll admit I had some reservations about our reservation on a 30-day slow boat to China (i.e. a Princess cruise to Shanghai via Hawaii, Guam, Japan, South Korea, Beijing, etc…). I think I could have gotten used to it, though.]

 

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?

 

Ideal retirement for me is having control of my time. At the end of the day, no matter how much someone is earning; if they are being told when they need to show up at a particular time and place; they are not free.

My ideal retirement consists of working out, reading, writing, traveling, catching up with family and friends.

And naps. I have a lot of time to nap now; which is hard when you work.

I’m currently enjoying my ideal retirement except for the travel part.

Not waking up to an alarm clock is the best feeling ever.

 

[PoF: I hear you on the no alarm thing. I rarely have the urge to nap, though, since I almost always get a full night’s sleep these days.

I also feel I’m living pretty close to my ideal retirement life, sans travel. I have My wife has complete control of my time. I kid! I kid.]

 

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.

 

As your income increases exponentially, reduce the temptation to inflate your lifestyle accordingly. Understand the consequences of your spending decisions.

At the same time, don’t deprive yourself of the pleasures you seek. Find a happy medium depending on what makes you happy between spending and saving. It could be 70/30 or 50/50 or 90/10.

Don’t wait for a future tomorrow, which is not guaranteed, to spend time with your loved ones.

Always consider how you can make the world a better place.

 

[PoF: All of that is great, and I especially like the last bit. Financial independence makes it easier to focus on what’s best for everyone since your own current and future needs are already met.]

 

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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 pick Uluru Kata Tjuta in Australia. Of all the places I visited, this one impressed me the most.

I was lucky to be there for 3 days and it rained one of those days. Watching the water over the rocks is a magical experience.

You can gaze at the night sky and be mesmerized watching the celestial planets and stars encircling out little blue planet.

 

Uluru-Kata-Tjuta
Uluru Kata Tjuta

 

[PoF: Another place to add to the bucket list!]

 

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

 

  1. Water, the elixir of life
  2. Whey protein mixed with milk
  3. Casein protein mixed with milk
  4. Boba milk tea
  5. Frappe
  6. Prosecco
  7. Sangria
  8. Pinot Noir
  9. Vermouth
  10. Vodka
  11. Japanese whisky

 

[PoF: You forgot chocolate syrup (or Quik) mixed with milk. Apparently, that’s all The White Coat Investor likes to drink.

Regarding number 11, “for relaxing times, make it Suntory time.”]

 

Now, eleven foods.

  1. Bread Pudding
  2. Kulfi
  3. Mochi
  4. Ras Malai
  5. Clafoutis
  6. Flan
  7. Dragon beard candy
  8. Cremeschnitte
  9. Ube Halaya
  10. Gelato
  11. Ptichye Moloko

 

I spent the most time on this question. I wrote down my list. Had to order it and re-order it a couple of times 🙂

I do have a sweet tooth and typically sample the desserts first in any country I visit.

 

[PoF: I believe I’ve had exactly 3 of those foods, and all 3 are desserts. I need to get out more!

Damn you, COVID!!!] 

 

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

 

I believe it was through the WCI. I was always pretty good with money but never knew what I wanted to do. As I started learning about FIRE, there were very few bloggers focusing on FIRE without deprivation. Your blog was one of them which stood out due to your no-nonsense style.

Humm…advice? Have you considered starting a tik-tok channel? I am totally kidding.

You are already killing it with all the great actionable advice to physicians and non-physicians. Keep doing whatever you are doing because it’s working!

 

[PoF: Thank you for the kind words, FFC!

Tik-tok? I dunno, man, I barely do anything with my Instagram. Plus, didn’t the supreme leader ban that tick tock app in the U.S.? I can’t keep track.

Anyway, keep spreading the good word on financial freedom and helping people countdown to their own financial freedom!]

 

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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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