Today, I am thankful to be married to my lovely wife. We have been together for 15 years, married for 12, and partners in parenting for 11 years now.
She is more than I could ask for: an outstanding mother to our two boys, a loving and understanding wife, and an all-around fun and joyous person. She knows how to keep me and the kids in line, and she’s always game for our next adventure. And you’ve never heard from her… until today.
A few months back, I received the following message via Facebook:
“I’d love to see a guest post from your wife. Tell her not to hate me.
After seeing your $90k house purchase, it got me thinking. Most physician spouses wouldn’t stand for a $90k house. There may be some teaching points she could share about contentment or true wealth or the value of travel over possessions.
I’m a physician; my husband primarily stays home with kids. We live below our means and are working on building real estate passive income. I’d love to cut back and work less while kids are still little. Thanks for your teaching! It has helped us.”
I followed up by asking my wife not to hate the woman physician who asked the question and to please not shoot the messenger, either. She looked it over and pondered the idea for several months.
A couple of comments from some sensitive souls who misconstrued a few of her words in her podcast debut had her feeling a bit reticent about opening herself up to criticism, but I assured her that she had some great insights to share, and she proved me right.
I also assured her that she would encounter a friendlier audience here and that I hold the key to the comments section. I don’t believe I’ve deleted a single non-spammy comment before, but I have that power and I’m not afraid to use it!
Full disclosure: this post was slightly edited by me. I had to remove about seven paragraphs that detailed just how caring, charismatic, and devilishly handsome of a husband she has. It was really over the top. Everything that remains, though, is all her.
Mrs. Physician on FIRE Speaks! A Guest Post by Request.
I suppose that after almost four years of the Physician on FIRE writing a successful blog, it is time for me to chime in! I’ve never commented or posted anything up to this point for several reasons — primarily, I’ve never felt like I had much to add to the conversation!
Leif handles the finances of the household and does a steller job. I’m definitely a novice when it comes to investing and writing. Also, I’m kind of a sensitive soul and do not want to make myself a target for the trolls of the internet… I may even ask my hubby to turn off the comments of this post to protect my feelings!
To the heart of the matter- do I love my 1150 square feet, $90,000 house!?
Yes! Yes! Yes! There is so much to love about downsizing!
For several years now, we have been traveling as a family of four for weeks at a time. We’ve done Paris, Iceland, Hawaii, Arizona, Orlando, Mexico, etc… These trips have usually been for 3-plus weeks and done with, at most, one suitcase and one backpack per person!
We pack 4 to 5 days worth of clothing, lots of reading material, school supplies, games, and snacks. I do laundry often and no one complains about the lack of clothing options or toys. We book a two or three bedroom Airbnb (save $40 off your first stay) with one or two bathrooms and a small living space, and everyone has a great time.
Most summers, the boys and I stay at our Mullett Lake cabin. It’s about 700 square feet, with 2 bedrooms and 1 small bathroom. We share a laundry facility with the neighbors. Again, everyone is happy!
Then we come home to our 3,700 square foot house with detached 3 car garage and I lose my mind! Why do we need so much space? Why do we have so much stuff? Why can’t I close my children’s clothing drawers? Who needs 40 tee shirt options and 7 different pairs of jeans!? How many drinking glasses can we possible use? Believe me… everyone hides!
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Forced minimalism is the way to go!
When you own a large house with ample amounts of storage, there is never a reason to get rid of things. Just put them in a closet — out of site, out of mind! When you purchase a house less than on third the size, suddenly storage is at a premium.
Everything counts and if you don’t love it, you just can’t keep it. As a couple, we have donated or given away more items this year than we probably have in our entire 15 years together! And it feels great!
Have I mentioned how much less time I spend cleaning? It used to take me hours to do the floors alone! Now it takes me minutes and I often make the children do it since it’s not that big of a chore any longer.
We’ve gone from three bathrooms that were being used on a regular basis to one. Previously, I divided the bathrooms between our boys and I and we each cleaned one bathroom on the weekend. Now that we have one bathroom, the boys can handle that as well!
Best of all, we haven’t lived in our small house for very long, but we are guessing that our bills will be reduced to about ¼ of our previous home’s cost. That’s a lot of money that we can spend! Or save! Or give away!
Am I happy living on our $80,000 dollar budget?
Definitely! I do not want to say anything negative about the “Joneses.” Being married to a doctor means that you get to meet a lot of Joneses and they are often in your social circle.
I love them, I really do. The Joneses that I know are intelligent and fun, they work hard for the things that they have. And while I don’t necessarily want the same things, I don’t begrudge them one bit.
“Comparison is the thief of joy” – T. Roosevelt.
Here are some things that I’m not interested in:
- Shopping– ugh. Luckily I get first pick of my physician cousin’s hand me downs!
- Hair– my husband cuts my hair. Free and no appointment needed! [PoF: This was her idea! I resisted as long as I could, but I’ve found it to be very simple to do.]
- Dyeing my hair– I have LOTS of greys! I’m open minded to dyeing it in the future. Or not!
- Makeup– I’m too lazy to wash my face at night.
- Shoes– I wear a size 4, so everything has Dora on it, anyway.
- Purses– I have a bagalinni and it’s all I’ll ever need. I’ve probably owned 3 purses in my adult life.
- Jewelry– I wear a ring on my wedding finger and the necklace given to me on my 21st birthday.
When Leif and I were dating, his residency friends were getting engaged with $10k dollar Tiffany rings. I have never been a jewelry kind of girl and made it very clear that I wasn’t interested in a huge diamond. When our time came, he bought me a beautiful ring for $1,800. I loved it then and I love it now!
It comes down to knowing who you are and what makes you happy.
What Makes Me Happy
Of course, the things in life that make me the most happy aren’t things at all: my faith, my marriage, my children, and my family and friends.
And then there are some actual objects that bring me joy! Books, books and more books.
I love to read and at one point in my life spent a good amount of money on books. It was back in 2008 that I spent 40 dollars for three new books at a local bookshop. A week later, I had nothing to read…
That’s when I decided that the library was the only way to go! If you are a reader, you are never bored! My only investment in reading this last ten years is my Kindle.
While I still prefer a real book to an e-book, traveling the way we do requires everyone to have their own Kindles. On occasion, I will buy used books so that I can read them and pass them along. My goal is always to read 50 books a year, but I’m over 80 this year already…
Food! I do love to eat! While we rarely eat out of the house, we eat like kings at home. Leif and I both cook on a regular basis and we have evening meals as a family. Our grocery bill is probably higher than it needs to be, but we don’t skimp on fresh fruits and vegetables or high-quality meats. Seafoods like salmon, tuna, and shrimp are a staple in our home.
I also love Chinese food from my hometown restaurant and I’m not known to turn down candy. Especially Jordan Almonds. Or Haribo gummy bears. Or Skittles… Plus, you can only get Better Made BBQ chips in Michigan and they are fantastic! Did I mention I love food? [PoF: I’m starting to wonder if that registered dietitian certificate of yours is genuine. And that masters degree in nutrition? I’m skeptical.]
We are big fans of continued learning. New hobbies are always fun and can be expensive too. I took a quilting class 10 years ago and had a lot of fun making quilts for some time. Occasionally I still sew, most recently making my boys weighted blankets and duvet covers for them.
Spending for Happiness
I started playing piano when I was 30 and ended up owning three digital pianos; those aren’t cheap! I was doing triathlons for a few years and needed a road bike. My mother-in- law and I took a soap making class. The boys and I have been taking Spanish classes at Escuela Falcon an hour a day for 150 dollars a week. You get the idea….
And the big one, travel! Although we do not do any first class, five star type travel, it still adds up! It’s worth every cent.
We used to travel without our boys, leaving them with grandparents that we felt fortunate to have available. Then after two days we would miss them terribly and start talking about them non-stop. We would get home and our youngest would be mad, trying to hit me and push me out of the house.
Now we just take them with us everywhere and it’s so much better! It’s amazing to see the world through your children’s eyes.
The point is, you should only spend the amount of money that you are comfortable with. Never let anyone tell you what to spend money on or how much to spend!
I love my seemingly simple life and that may not be the right lifestyle for you — or perhaps your life is even more simple and less expensive than mine! To each their own! I would spend more money if I thought it would bring me more happiness.
I think it’s true that you can’t buy happiness (I’ve seen some people try). I think money can buy you comfort, and happiness is a gift you can give yourself. Being financially independent has certainly brought me a lot of peace of mind.
If there is something in your life that you spend money on and it brings you happiness, I want to know what it is! Share it with me and let’s spread the joy around!