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.
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 whippersnapper.
What’s a Christopher Guest post?
If you’re not familiar with the scene, take 50 seconds to watch this video and enjoy the dialog between Nigel and Rob Reiner.
I decided I’d start a Q&A of my own. Not satisfied with just ten questions, “this one goes to eleven”. Just like Nigel’s amplifiers.
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:
[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.
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.
- The 5 Most Hilariously Amusing TV Scams of All Time
- What Professional Poker Taught Me About Investing
- And the Most Popular Google Search Term of 2016 Is…
- Emergency Funding Like a Pro (Without Spending $800,000) – As seen on the PoF Sunday Best!
- How Much Does it Cost to Live on a Houseboat? – As seen on the PoF Sunday Best!
- What I Learned Living in a Million Dollar Home for 3 Weeks – As seen on the PoF Sunday Best!
- Should You Trade Individual Stocks?
- How to Stop Wasting Money on Things that Aren’t Important
- Learning About Money From Mr. & Mrs. Miser
- How to Choose a Vanguard Index Fund
- Remembering to Love Your Old Car
[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.
[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.
[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.
[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.
- Orange Juice
- Black Tea
- Green Tea
- White Tea
- Boba Tea
- Hefewiezen beer
- White IPA beer
- Wheat beer
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:
- Nachos – the crunch, the even ingredient distribution, the cheese…
- Peanut butter – love it on everything. Haven’t tried it on pizza yet, but I’m sure that’s just a matter of time.
- Buffalo Chicken Wings – or anything with buffalo sauce, now that I think about it.
- PB&J – wait, does this count as peanut butter?
- Chipotle (typical millennial again…)
- Pasta, of all kinds. Special shout out to Chicken Alfredo and Penne Vodka.
- Extra Hot Pad Thai with Chicken
- Pretzels – the snack-sized kind. Brought them to lunch every day from fourth grade through high school. Every. Single Day.
- Chick-Fil-A spicy chicken sandwich
- Lean Pockets, not to be confused with Hot Pockets. A leftover habit from college, I think.
- Chicken Makhani aka Butter Chicken. How can it not be delicious when it has butter in the name?
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.]
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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!