Christopher Guest Post: Financial Panther

 
“Mr. Simpson, You’re a dollar overdrawn.”

“Get him, Sheba!” 

Those were the humble beginnings of the Financial Panther. That Simpsons sketch would later inspire my lawyer friend Kevin to become the less ferocious, but equally effective online embodiment of the Financial Panther.

Kevin was one of the very first bloggers I met in person. He commented on a blog post of mine back in the summer of 2016, and we met up a short while later at Surly Brewing where I lent gave him my copy of The White Coat Investor (which is under $10 now on Amazon, btw).

We clinked glasses, enjoyed a tasty beverage or two, and traded stories as beginning bloggers looking to gain some traction. Two and a half years later, we can both say we made the 2-comma club in terms of pageviews on our now toddler-aged blogs.

 

financial panther pof

 

I’ve had the good fortune of hanging out with Kevin now at two FinCons, one CampFI, and a couple other blogger meetups in Minneapolis, including another at Surly a few months ago in which I also met his lovely wife (who is a dentist like my Dad and Granddad) and heard crazy stories about his brother.

As you will see, he’s the King of the Side Hustle and a heck of a nice guy who’s always down for a cold beer and a good laugh.

 

Financial Panther

 

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.

 

 

Christopher Guest Post: Financial Panther

 

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?

 

By day, I’m an attorney currently working in a non-traditional legal role for my state bar association. Specifically, I work in the publications group for the continuing legal education arm of my state bar.

You know how doctors have to do CME to keep their licenses? Lawyers have to do the same thing (we call it CLE). You might not realize it, but it turns out there are entire industries that revolve around providing continuing education for doctors, lawyers, dentists, and basically every professional field that requires doing continuing education in order to stay licensed.

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Before taking on this role, I followed a pretty traditional legal path. I went to a good law school, was an editor on my school’s law review, worked for three years at a big law firm, then transitioned into work as a government attorney. Compared to my traditional legal practice, my current job is more relaxed, so I guess that’s a good thing.

As to what type of physician I would want to be – honestly, I’m not exactly sure. My wife is a dentist, so I have a lot of exposure to the dental world. And while I wouldn’t necessarily want to be a dentist since I get grossed out at the sight of blood, I am intrigued by the small business aspects of dentistry. It seems like one of the few healthcare professions left where you can basically own your own small business. So, maybe I’d want to be a physician that has the ability to start up or buy their own practice. Do family doctors still do that?

 

[PoF: Some do, but there are plenty of opportunities to be a small business owner in a number of specialties. Many physicians have also branched out and have a W-2 job as a part-time physician and have own a small business as a side gig.

You’re looking at one of them!]

 

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

 

Financial Panther is a blog about my journey towards financial independence, all of the weird things I’m doing along the way to reach that goal, and just generally, my journey to live a happier life. I got the name of the blog from a Simpsons episode where Homer is thinking about hiring a financial planner but ends up thinking about a “financial panther.”

 

Financial Panther gif

 

Simpsons’ jokes aside, I have a story that is pretty relatable to many physicians. My wife and I are two high-income professionals (a lawyer and a dentist) figuring things out as we go along. We’re paying off debt, moving forward in our careers and businesses, and learning more about ourselves as life comes at us.

While Physician On Fire is much farther along in his FIRE journey, I’m still very much at the beginning. PoF can show you where you can be and how to get there – I can walk the path with you.

In addition to writing about financial independence, my blog also focuses a lot on all of the side hustles I do with sharing economy and gig economy apps. I rent out a room in my house on Airbnb, dogsit and walk dogs using Rover and Wag, deliver food on my bike with delivery apps like Postmates, Doordash, and Uber Eats, and do a lot of other fun things to earn extra income.

These little micro-entrepreneur type activities can be fun to add into your life, especially when you’re young and have more time to try these things out. If you’re interested in learning more about how this whole sharing economy/gig economy thing works, my blog is definitely for you.

 

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?

 

The origin story of my blog came about when I was still working as an associate attorney at a large law firm. At the time, I was in the process of paying off my student loans and, as part of that process, I was consuming a lot of content about financial independence and paying off debt.

As you can probably imagine, the life of an attorney at a large law firm can be stressful. As a way to manage that stress, I started doing a bunch of side hustles that were pretty simple to do and completely unrelated to law. These were things that seemed to be “beneath” the stature of a bigshot lawyer, mainly sharing economy and gig economy stuff that no lawyer would ever do. I did them mainly because I found them fun.

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A friend of mine thought the stuff I was doing was pretty interesting, and he eventually convinced me to start up a blog. I bought a domain name at the beginning of 2016 but didn’t have the guts to publish anything. Eventually, I paid off my student loans, switched over to government work (taking a $50,000 pay cut to do so), and then finally worked up the courage to start publishing content.

As to when I felt like my blog “arrived,” honestly, I think it was when I took a chance and met up with some stranger at a local brewery that had this cool physician FIRE blog. He ended up writing about our meetup in his Sunday Best, and it was the first time I got some significant traffic to my blog.

I’ve got a lot of big plans for this blog in 2019, but the biggest plan of all is quitting my job and trying my hand at supporting myself with online income. I’ve just been obsessed with this whole idea of entrepreneurship and content creation, and I’d like to give it a shot while I’m still young. It’s scary, but I know I’ll regret it if I don’t give it a shot.

 

[PoF: That’s big news! I didn’t realize you were so close to pulling the plug on the “9 to 5.” I should have read your 2018 review. I know you as a hustler with a lot of great ideas, so I have a feeling you’ll find a way to make it work. 

Obviously, it helps a ton that your wife has completed her dental residency and has her own practice now. I imagine you’ll be pretty active in managing that business, as well.

If I see you before or after a Gophers game this fall, we’ll both be retired not retired.]

 

 

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

 

The Dream of Barista FIRE

A Breakdown Of How I Paid Off $87,000 Of Student Loans In 2.5 Years

Wealth Is Relative – Remember This And Be Happier

Do You Use Work As An Excuse Not To Reach Financial Independence?

You Choose What You Can Afford

Opportunity Cost And My Wife’s $500,000 Residency Program

Lawyers, Doctors, and the Appeal of the Clear Career Path

The Solo 401k: The Side Hustler’s Bonus Retirement Account

The Privilege Of Biking to Work

Fighting The Innate Urge To Chase Prestige

You Don’t Need To Start Your Career In Your 20s

 

 

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?

 

My concept of retirement has changed a lot over the past few years. At first, I was really gung-ho about the traditional FIRE path (or as traditional as FIRE can be) – basically, get a good job with a good employer, live frugally, save as much of that income as possible, then walk out as soon as you hit your target number.

I’ve started to move away from this version of financial independence and instead towards what you might call, the entrepreneurial path to financial independence. The way I see it, most people are aiming for a million dollars or more in their portfolios. Even though the math to reaching financial independence is “shockingly simple,” it still requires you to dedicate a decade or more of your life doing something you maybe don’t love.

Work is such an important part of our lives (it’s basically 50% of our waking hours) But for a lot of us in the FIRE community, work isn’t the problem. It’s that we want to do what we want to do.

Most of us are just too scared to take that leap until we have a 100% foolproof safety net to catch us. I’m lately of the belief that, with some hustle, all of us can figure out a way to fund our lives doing the things we love. And I don’t think it requires 10 or more years to do that (take PoF as an example, who has created a terrific online business in just three years).

With that said, my wife and I hope that by the time we’re 40, we’re in a position where we’re essentially financially independent and no longer need to do anything to earn income. By then, my wife’s practice loan should be paid off, maybe our mortgage will be paid off, we should hopefully have some money saved away, and hopefully, our businesses and investments generate enough that we can pretty much work when we feel like it. We’ll see – it’s still a long ways off.

 

[PoF: I’m sure you were in the room when Tanja Hester said FIRE is basically entrepreneurship for wimps, right? Most of us wait until we have all the money we could ever need before trying something outside the box. You’re just braver than the rest of us.

I imagine your wife would really struggle with any notion of walking away in about 10 years. Her sunk costs are even greater than mine with about an equal number of years of training, but she’s also buying and growing her own practice, which is something I never had to do.]

 

 

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?

 

For me, my ideal retirement is one where I work when I want to and I do fun stuff when I want to. Even better is when I can combine the two things together.

I can see exactly what I’d do with my time. I’d spend my morning working on some online things. During the day, I’d fill my time by walking dogs and biking around delivering food to people. At night, I’d relax and hang out with my family.

Some of the best times in my life were those few days when I was between jobs (i.e. when I quit one job and was waiting to start my next job). I spent those days doing exactly what I laid out above, and I knew right away that this is how I wanted to live my life.

 

[PoF: If that’s your ideal retirement, it may be only months away.

Personally, I feel like I’m at a bit of a crossroads as I will be down to one job (blogging) in six months. Do I scale back on the blog, too, to enjoy more freedom or will I put even more time and effort in to grow this thing since things are going surprisingly well? 

I think I may want to do the former, but choose to do the latter. Time will tell!]

 

 

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.

 

Live like a student for as long as possible. When you’re young, no one expects you to have a giant house, a fancy car, or all of the other stuff that adults are supposed to have. Use that fact to your advantage.

How you live your life is your choice. Rarely do you HAVE to live in a certain way. More likely, it’s because you WANT to live that way.

Be humble – I think it’s one of the keys to financial success. It’s easy to get into the mentality of thinking, I’m a big shot doctor and, accordingly, I’m better than everyone else. Try not to fall into that trap.

The goal in life shouldn’t be to maximize our money. It should be to maximize our happiness.

 

[PoF: Short, sweet, and spot on. I don’t hear about humility and money often, but I think you’re on to something.

Is it boastful to say we’ve got a lot of humble people here in Minnesota?

Kinda?

Then I probably shouldn’t say it. 😉 ]

 

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?

 

$11,000 would be a pretty baller budget for me considering that I can usually cover all of my flights and hotels via points and miles that I earn from credit card signup bonuses. I spent 9 days in Paris over the holidays and only spent $900 for the entire trip (all from buying food and presents).

With that said, eleven days isn’t a crazy long time, so I’d probably stick to just going across the Atlantic. Ireland is next on my bucket list, so I think spending a week driving around Ireland and drinking Guinness would be fun. With $11,000 to spend, I’d probably have to rent a Tesla or something. And drink a lot of beers!

 

 

[PoF: We spent about 5 times as much on our Paris trip, but that was for four of us and without using those precious points. When you can find airfare to Europe over spring break for $400 round trip, I’ll pay cash every time.

Does Tesla make a car with the steering steel on the wrong side of the car for those Irish roads?

I should be location independent by the time you make it to Ireland. See you at St. James’s Gate!

 

Guinness Storehouse

 

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

 

  1. Coffee
  2. LaCroix
  3. Bubble Tea
  4. Insight Brewing Banshee Cutter
  5. Surly Coffee Bender
  6. 56 Brewing Dark Territory
  7. New Glarus Spotted Cow
  8. Hot Chocolate
  9. Red Wine
  10. Lattes
  11. Milk (with cereal)

 

[PoF: Hey, did you know that if you cut out one latte a day from your budget, you’d have 11 bazillion more dollars to spend on beer? It’s true. I heard it from David Bach himself.

Cheers!]

 

Now, eleven foods.

 

Eek, this is tough for me because as part of a challenge to myself, I made the switch to a vegetarian diet. All of the stuff I used to like (burgers, hot dogs, etc) are off the table for me now. With that said:

  1. Broccoli
  2. Cauliflower
  3. Mac and Cheese
  4. Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
  5. Sunny Side Up Eggs
  6. Fried Rice
  7. Cookies
  8. Candy
  9. Chips
  10. Veggie Burgers
  11. Impossible Burgers (these are awesome).

 

[PoF: You were a skinny dude when eating all those burgers, dogs, and steaks. I guess you’ve got enough junk food on the list to make up for the loss of animal fat. Good luck with the new plan and let me know how it goes!

And no, I will not be joining you. More power to you, but I’m not up to that challenge.]

 

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

 

I think I first learned about Physician On Fire from reading White Coat Investor and seeing your name in the comments. I ended up clicking over, liked what I saw, and got hooked. You were also the first blogger I ever met in person, so you’ve got a special place in my heart.

In terms of advice, I’ve got nothing man. You’re doing great obviously and setting a great example of how to maximize your finances and your happiness. I hope in 10 years or so, my wife and I (and any kids we might have) are exactly like you and your family.

 

[PoF: You’re too kind! 

Readers, be sure to check out my humble and hilarious friend’s site, Financial Panther. With a million pageviews last year alone, you’ll have plenty of company!]

 


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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:

8 comments

  • I really enjoyed meeting Kevin at FinCon 18. Great guy, and gave me the time of day despite being a fledgling blogger. The two of you are like a power team up there in Minnesota! Maybe that’s the trick to being a big blogger. Any room for some of the rest of us up there?

    All kidding aside, I think you both succeed because of exactly what Kevin said: humility. You are easy to relate to and write about topics that inspire people.

    Thanks for helping trail blaze this path!

    TPP

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  • Great interview. And…being on the Easterly “side” of the tracks, per se – it’s good to see Spotted Cow on the beverage list. A winner, no doubt!!

  • Lordosis

    I am still laughing at the Simpsons clip.

  • Two of my favorite bloggers – and I’ve been lucky enough to have a beer with both of them! We’ve got a great group of bloggers up here in Minnesota! Congrats on the move to a full time blogger Kevin – excited for you!

    I love the backstory of how the site got the name. Can’t go wrong with a Simpsons “financial planner/panther” reference..

    Love me some Coffee Bender!

  • Thanks for letting me share my story with your readers PoF!

  • As a Simpson fan I remember that episode but didn’t realize the connection until you hit me over the head with it about your origin story of Financial Panther which was awesome!

    Great interview and that was great how you and POF started at the same time and made it big together.

  • Great interview, Kevin!

    I’m so glad I got to meet you at FinCon18. Talking to him is like a fun breath of fresh air. A cool dude and an overall great guy. His blog and lifestyle is fascinating too.

    I wish him continued success as he quits his job and goes full time blogger and share/gig/side hustler.

    Oh, and that’s awesome you went vegetarian. If you need support, recipes, or want to chat I’m here to help. And of course if you decided to take a bigger leap into going vegan, I’ll be there for you man!

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