Christopher Guest Post: My Money Wizard

Welcome to the latest Christopher Guest post. Today’s interview is with a young man who took I-35 north from Texas to the great state of Minnesota, where he has found success in both life and blogging.

His writing has been featured in lots of places that mine hasn’t, like Yahoo!, MSN, Business Insider, and Forbes. He’s a millennial in his late twenties with a six-figure net worth and thousands of readers.

When I was in my twenties, I had a decidedly negative net worth and struggled to get friends to read my e-mails. Do you hate this guy as much as I do?

Hatred aside, this guy is doing a bang-up job applying FIRE principles to his life and sharing them with others. Let’s see what we can learn from this whippersnaper.

 

What’s a Christopher Guest post?

 

Christopher Guest Post MMWInspired 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.

 

Presenting: My Money Wizard

 

 

What do 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 a professional DJ (Desk Jockey) aka a Financial Analyst in the banking industry. I enjoy the low stress work and comfortable hours, although I’ve gone and ruined the latter by starting a blog and devoting far too many weeknights to writing.

My brother is an interventional radiologist. He and I have similar tastes in just about everything, so I’m guessing had I spent my college days studying chemistry and biology rather than finance-stry and economic-ology, that’s the path I would have followed.

 

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

Well for one, I’ve got a pretty cool logo:

my money wizard

Bam!

 

[PoF: I have been jealous of that logo from the moment I saw it. Top notch.]

 

And two, I’ve been told the blog’s writing is more entertaining than your standard yearly HIPAA module.

While PoF has the doctor specifics covered, I can be your distraction for all the other early retirement reading. I publish a sporadic (yet frequent!) Go Figure series, where I showcase the wackiest personal finance stats around, and I ponder just how out of control society’s “normal” has become. (Did you know that each year, Americans spend $9 billion more on lottery tickets than sports tickets, books, video games, movie tickets, and music… combined?) 


Anyone who is intrigued by this early retirement lifestyle has to be a little contrarian. Those contrarians will probably enjoy when I replace the wizard hat for a pseudo-philosopher hat and break down some of those big barriers we all need to overcome for an early retirement. These include weekly blog posts about oversized homes and the shocking discovery that cars are actually pieces of metal.

As far as early retirement bloggers go, I’m about as early on the demographic curve as possible. I started the blog at age 25, and I just turned 27.

In other words, I think you’ll find my site particularly appealing if you’re a medical student, resident, or similarly early career physician. That said, I’ve got quite the surprisingly following of baby booming readers; we just keep them locked in the old folks section of the site. Zing!

(Don’t laugh, I needed that zing to reach 11 sentences!)

[PoF: I’ve got 14 years on you. Please don’t lock me away! I have always been fascinated by numbers and statistics, particularly when it comes to human behavior. I will enjoy digging into your Go Figure series.]

 

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 always loved to write and always dreamed of running a website, but I never really imagined myself as a “blogger.” Looking back, a blog was clearly the perfect combination for me, but life has a funny way of hiding the obvious on us.

When I graduated school and got my first “real” job in finance, I was tasked with writing incredibly structured and incredibly boring professional reports all day long. Pretty soon I found myself writing anything and everything as a creative outlet – lengthy Amazon reviews, forum posts, emails to friends, you name it. At the same time, I watched a lot of those friends come out of school and immediately fall into the consumer culture trap, ensuring they’d be locked into a miserable rat race for decades.

Those writings started morphing into lengthy blog posts about personal finance and early freedom. I didn’t really think anyone would listen to what I had to say, then one day I logged into all of my savings accounts and realized I had a net worth of $100,000 at age 25. I figured what the hell, I might as well put myself out there.

The next thing I know, I’m being contacted by reporters and I end up on the front page of Yahoo, Yahoo Finance, Business Insider, Forbes, CNBC, and MSN.

 

MMW featured

rub it in much?

 

And yes, I’ve got big plans for the blog alright, but they’re pretty top secret. So you’ll just have to follow along to find out. 😉

[PoF: I hate you and I hate your a**face (that’s a Christopher Guest quote, by the way). Feel free to recommend me to those big-time writers you’ve crossed paths with and I’ll hate you a little bit less!

It took me eons longer to figure out, but I realized I could string a few sentences together in a pinch. Most of my writing was in the form of stern e-mails to administrators or employers, or a more fun and creative Christmas newsletter. I decided to drop words on the screen in blog form just after my fortieth birthday, and this is the result.

Still haven’t been picked up by those fancy websites, though.]

 

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

[PoF: You’ve put some great stuff out there. The houseboat and million dollar home posts in particular were right up my alley. In my wheelhouse, as the millennials might say. 

Seriously, I do want to live on a houseboat for a while. It’s like a tiny house, but a tiny house that floats. And we’ll be surrounded by eccentric people that we’ll only know by their nicknames.]

 

At what age are you most likely to retire from full-time work? What are you doing to help realize your retirement target?

Depending on how little wiggle room I want to leave myself, I could probably pull the ripcord as young as 37. I’m currently saving about 65% of my income, and I’m working hard to rack up those promotions early.

money wizard net worth over time

 

[PoF: That trajectory is fantastic. But… I do see one advantage of my relatively advanced age. I’ve had more time to earn money. Of course, I wasn’t financially independent at 37, but I was at 39 and sit happily at #6 on the Rockstar Blogger Net Worth Tracker. So I’ve got that going for me. Which is nice.]

 

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?

Perfect timing there PoF! I just wrote a post describing my perfect day in retirement. Down to the hour of course, because I’m weird like that.

I’ve never been one to get bored, mostly because I love learning and creating so much. I have a million books I want to read, I could write on the blog for days, and I’ve got more low-startup cost entrepreneurial ideas than I know what to do with right now. I’d love to drive headfirst into any of those projects for a few years.

[PoF: Good timing, indeed. I love that you say you never get bored. I’m the same way; I’ve got way more interests and ideas than I’ve got time to explore them. Hence, the FIRE impulse.]

 

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.

For the love of god, please don’t go getting a crazy business loan.

You physicians are notoriously the worst borrowers. A “doctor’s loan” is actually a real slang term among some bankers I know and I’m sad to say, it’s not a compliment. You guys and gals have been some of the smartest people in the room for your entire lives, and it’s understandable that you’d approach business opportunities with the same nose to the grindstone problem solving that allowed you to survive medical school. But risk is real, and capital preservation is important. Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into before risking any of your hard earned money.

That little public service announcement aside, as a young physician you’re also given an incredible opportunity for financial independence. You have the ability to earn more in a year than many will make over several. Delay those big toys and buy yourself freedom instead.

[PoF: I’m not surprised or offended that we’re mocked by your profession. Collectively, we’ve earned the reputation we deserve. I know so many physicians who carry six-figures in student loans and yet buy every toy you can imagine.

Even if the toy isn’t financed, it sort of is when you’re carrying that student loan burden.]

 

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?

Hey, thanks for the gift PoF! But if PoF himself only spends $4,300 for a family trip to Paris and Reykjavik, I’ve got no clue what I’ll do with another $6,700…

I love skiing, and $11,000 would be quite the departure from my usual dirt cheap ski vacations. I could see an extended trip to the Austrian and Swiss Alps with that sort of budget.

A cruise through the Norwegian Fjords is also pretty high up on my life’s bucket list. And for some reason, I’ve always wanted to take a helicopter/sea plane tour through Alaska, but I’d be slightly concerned about a crash landing. Those things don’t crash, do they?

Let’s be honest though. With $11,000, I’d probably hold out for a great deal on flights, use some hotel rewards points, find a couple of free hikes, and top it all off with one extra fancy dinner. Then I’d pocket the remaining thousands of dollars into my Vanguard index fund, and retire a little earlier.

Heaven or ski mountain?

[PoF: I believe you’re the first guest to take the eleven grand allotment and keep some for himself. That’s an FI life hack right there. Well done.

You need to get to know The White Coat Investor. He’s originally from Alaska and is a heli-skiing veteran.]

 

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

  1. Water
  2. Milk
  3. Orange Juice
  4. Black Tea
  5. Green Tea
  6. White Tea
  7. Boba Tea
  8. Hefewiezen beer
  9. White IPA beer
  10. Wheat beer
  11. Witbier

As you can tell, I’m not very diversified in my beverage intake, even for special occasions. Sometimes I’m at my office desk trying to exit my morning’s zombie-like state with a breakfast tea, but I’m usually drinking water.

[PoF: I don’t drink coffee either, and have pretty much given up caffeine in general. I do enjoy a good wheat beer, of course. I can heartily recommend Hoeegarden, Franziskaner, or Gumballhead depending on if you’re in the mood for a Belgian, German, or American wheat.]

 

Now, eleven foods.

Impossible question. I’m a foodie (typical millennial…) and choosing eleven foods is like asking me to pick my favorite kid. But I’ll try:

  1. Nachos – the crunch, the even ingredient distribution, the cheese…
  2. Peanut butter – love it on everything. Haven’t tried it on pizza yet, but I’m sure that’s just a matter of time.
  3. Buffalo Chicken Wings – or anything with buffalo sauce, now that I think about it.
  4. PB&J – wait, does this count as peanut butter?
  5. Chipotle (typical millennial again…)
  6. Pasta, of all kinds. Special shout out to Chicken Alfredo and Penne Vodka.
  7. Extra Hot Pad Thai with Chicken
  8. Pretzels – the snack-sized kind. Brought them to lunch every day from fourth grade through high school. Every. Single Day.
  9. Chick-Fil-A spicy chicken sandwich
  10. Lean Pockets, not to be confused with Hot Pockets. A leftover habit from college, I think.
  11. Chicken Makhani aka Butter Chicken. How can it not be delicious when it has butter in the name?

I like to pretend I’m a Master Chef

Somehow I’ve managed to leave out my favorite cuisine, Cajun food.

See? Impossible question.

Gumbo, Jambalaya, BBQ shrimp… that stuff is amazing. I’m heading to New Orleans soon and I’m most excited about the food, which makes me right in line with the 85% of people who would plan a vacation around eating at a certain restaurant.

 

[PoF: I’m not sure that roster qualifies you as a “foodie.” Where’s the foie gras? That being said, your food choices are also in my wheelhouse. See, I can do the millennial thing. Wheelhouse.

Have you tried dipping pretzel rods in peanut butter? Delightful. Way better than the pretzel nuggets pre-filled with dry peanut butter. 

Have fun in New Orleans and if a stranger tells you they can guess where you got your shoes, tell them you got them on your feet.]

 

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

PoF and I started our sites around the same time, and at some point, I heard I should check out this fellow early retirement blog from Minnesota. I did, and I’ve been continuing to check out the blog ever since.

I think PoF will be just fine without the advice of some snot-nosed 20-something. Keep it up good doctor; you’re rocking it!

[PoF: Humility is a valued virtue here in the upper midwest, and I appreciate the fact that you’ve embraced it. It will serve you well, without a doubt.]

 


You’re still not using Personal Capital? Track all your accounts in one place like I do.


 

Readers, do you have a 12th question for the Wizard? Any advice for the bright young man? Let the two of us know in the comments below!

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22 comments

  • Awesome post! Thanks for sharing TMW. I’m a huge fan and actually just recently found Physician On Fire. Glad to see you two working together!

  • I’ve really been enjoying reading The Money Wizard’s blog, especially Go Figure series, which never ceases to amaze me with the numbers.

    I just looked up the Rockstar Blogger Net Worth Tracker, and I would be in the #200 spot…exactly one spot behind The Money Wizard! Which would be a lot more exciting if I wasn’t 13 years older than him…

    (Oh wait…I’m also working in Canadian dollars….nevermind….)

  • Wish I had those smarts at age 27. Well done, The Money Wizard, great site and sweet logo. I used to eat like you but the metabolism slows down quite a bit by your late 30’s, jealous… PoF, enjoyed the interview as always!

    • Thanks!

      After my late 20s crises I started toning down my consumption of the 11 favorites. Now the regular diet is a lot more chicken and veggies, but if I’m going for a treat, it’s definitely one of the above.

  • Great answers. I’m happy to see Chicken Makhani on your list. It might be my last meal if I were ever sentenced to death.

  • If you want some good advice on NOLA hit me up. Lived their 5 years and retirement includes some form of living there. Absolutely love it and any one who talks poorly about it should hit me up for a pros list.

    Seems like Mr Wizard (remember him from our youth…1980s?, well maybe not the millennials) has got the science of FIRE down! Great post and looking forward to reading some more of the Southerner who turned mid-westerner.

  • One of the best Christopher guest segments to date. I enjoy my money wizard as well and the interplay is great. The question I have would be any thoughts to what he will do after 37?

    • Thanks FTF!

      If you asked me today I’d tell you I’d want to pursue one of my many ideas for entrepreneurial pursuits, or even take on a fun part time career – baseball coach or ski instructor comes to mind. If you asked me at age 37, the answer might shift towards something more parent related. In either case, it’s all about the freedom.

  • Jon

    What’s with these pesky millenials and their 1-2 decade head start on many of us?! I kid because I care. MW aka “DJ M-Dub” puts out quality content and is well on his way to financial/glory/freedom/
    abundance.

  • I’m glad PoF introduced me to your blog, Money Wizard. I’m a fellow Minnesotian and I would love to grab beers sometime in the near future… Kudos on the significant net worth you’ve accumulated at such a young age. It made me go check what my net worth is sitting at – $391k at age 29!! A little challenge for you to try and beat by the time you hit 29 🙂

    Cheers!

    • Thanks Taylor! I’m always surprised at how many in my usual blog list includes Minnesotans.

      Impressive savings, and challenge accepted! $391k will be a long shot but doable – exactly what a challenge should be. I’ll let you know in a few years.

    • Great to see a challenge here in the comments! Sounds like a tall order.

      Speaking of tall orders, I’ll gladly crash the party and order some tall beers with the both of you sometime this fall.

      Cheers!
      -PoF

  • John

    Never stop quoting and referencing Christopher Guest please.

  • Great guest post Mr. Wizard. As a physician who made the same mistakes you point out before reading great blogs and learning that another way existed, I can attest – we are dumb with money. I believe the poker world would call us whales.

    You seem to have lots of great ideas other than your regular job which is something I’m trying to cultivate. It’s hard as a doctor though. So much time and money goes into a career. It’s like dadsdollarsdebts says, it’s the sunk cost fallacy.

    This makes it tough to branch out. Balance makes me a better doctor, husband, dad, whatever and I think as doctors we are naturally curious, creative and ambitious so having your example of numerous interests working out is good to hear.

    Sometimes I feel guilty for having another interest, like “I should be reading a journal or watching a conference talk.” The quest for balance is what keeps the guilt at bay for me.

    I mean PoF owns part of a brewery, that’s a diversified interest! Although maybe not if you’re an anesthesiologist and specialize in keeping people feelin ?

    And yes, please update your food list to include the Cajun recipes. I’ll post my chicken sausage gumbo recipe one day. I’m from the Deep South in Cajun country. It’s all about the roux, and the key to a good roux is a good beer to sip while you stir it for half an hour. Laissez les bon temps rouler!

  • Fun read PoF & Money Wizard. It’s amazing how young these new personal finance bloggers are!

    Well, I guess we all had to start somewhere, and 100k at age 25 is doing quite well!

  • Hah this entire post was enlightening and made me laugh. Also, while I’m not a physician I do know several who are on that track and the amount of debt they have is ridiculous…and they don’t seem at all concerned with paying it off early, and just want to spend spend spend. Glad to see there are so many with other goals in mind who have done well!

  • Money Wizard, do you ever wonder by declaring your goals at 25 so publicly (on a blog) that you’ll change them when you get older but they’ll be there forever? As a fellow millennial blogger and FIRE-wannabe, I wonder if I really know what I want to be when I grow up.

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