The Sunday Best (10/15/2017)

The Sunday Best
The Sunday Best is a collection of articles I’ve curated for your reading pleasure.

Expect most of the writing to be from recent weeks and consistent with the themes presented on this website: investing & taxes, financial independence, early retirement, and physician issues.


Presenting, this week’s Sunday Best:


FatFIRE, leanFIRE, and three steps to financial independence. The Mad Fientist and I were featured on Ramit Sethi’s I Will Teach You to Be Rich. From author Tony Tran, A Non-Crazy Person’s Guide to Financial Independence.


Geographic arbitrage is one tool that can turbocharge your drive to FI. But you can still reach your destination with a leisurely cruise down the Pacific Coast Highway. Another Second Opinion MD opines in Don’t Think I Can Achieve Financial Independence in California? Hold My IPA.


The world’s most interesting man 2.0 is a self-actualized victim of the hedonic treadmill. My Money Wizard shares his wisdom in Does Money Buy Happiness? Instagram’s Most Ridiculous Playboy Shares the Truth.


The playboy could have learned a thing or two from Grant of Millennial Money. You see, Money is Not the Goal. Time is.


Wait! I thought happiness was the goal. I suppose they’re all interrelated. A young engineer from the Netherlands did an amazing job (seriously, check out the graphs) measuring the correlation between his spending and happiness. From Tracking Happiness, Can Money Buy Happiness? — Happiness Through Money: Part I.


As the late, great Tom Petty liked to say, Even the Losers Get Lucky Sometimes. That may be a bit harsh, but I don’t think Lily @ The Frugal Gene would mind the intro. How Dumb Luck Made My Husband a Rich Man.


Have you heard enough from the millennials? The white-haired Jonathan Clements of The Humble Dollar says Enough Already in a post having nothing to do with kids these days and everything to do with whether or not he intends to stop playing a game he’s already won, as Dr. Bill Bernstein has suggested one might want to do.


My recent post on the suboptimal nature of receiving dividends in a taxable account was well received by most, but not all. Larry Swedroe of would certainly agree with me, though. In this article, he explains the Irrelevance of Dividends.


A pair of ophthalmologists have teamed up to share their insights on building a medical practice. Dr. Chen and Choi of Solo Building Blogs discuss Financing a Solo Medical Practice Part I and Part II.


This physician isn’t on FIRE, but his house was. Now it’s gone. Cardiologist EJ from Dads Dollars Debts describes the frantic escape in the wee hours of the night as the flames surrounded, and ultimately destroyed, their neighborhood. Tubbs Fire 10/9/17 — A Sudden Evacuation.


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Don’t Know What You Got ‘Til It’s Gone


Cinderella sang those poignant lyrics, and I slow-danced to them. I haven’t heard the song in years, but it popped into my head when I read EJ’s most recent post and saw the pictures.

Just about everything he and his family had is gone. Overnight. They’ve got a car, their wallets, some camping gear. In terms of material possessions, that’s about it. Thankfully, they’ve got each other, some generous friends who are helping them out, and the opportunity to rebuild eventually.

No house, no furniture, no wardrobe. Computers, cameras, TVs, appliances? All turned to ash.

I’m not trying to rub it in. I haven’t met EJ, but I consider him a friend. We’ve been trading e-mails for the better part of a year and I’ve got a standing invitation to join him at Russian River Brewing if and when we return to Santa Rosa.

I’m just trying to wrap my head around what it would be like to start from scratch, as he and his family are now forced to do. I’ve actually pondered this before. With all this talk of minimalism, I evaluate what it means to me to have what I have. When I go through my closet and storage bins, I make these choices whether to keep, donate, or toss.

EJ didn’t get to make those choices. He had a couple minutes in the middle of the night to gather his family and throw a few objects in the car. The fire-proof safe with important documents didn’t even make it into their vehicle before they sped off. Let’s hope it worked as advertised.

I know from EJ’s writing that he’s considered downsizing and has lamented some of the purchases they have made in his early years as a young physician. He has stated that they were well insured, so in terms of dollars, this fire won’t be devestating. From a practical standpoint, it absolutely is a horrible way to start anew, but I expect they’ll be a family of phoenixes and rise up from the ash.

I reached out to EJ and learned they do indeed plan to rebuild on the site of their former home. He just finished reading a book on minimalism the other day, and will be incorporating some of those principles into his life as they begin to plan for what’s next.

I look forward to following along as they begin to rebuild their lives, and reading how their decisions are influenced by their desire for financial independence and knowledge of to best achieve it.


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Have a safe week!

-Physician on FIRE

20 thoughts on “The Sunday Best (10/15/2017)”

  1. Dear EJ, I am so sorry to hear about what happened.
    And the pictures and stories coming out are heart breaking.
    We moved about 3 months ago from California. I still work in California, and my colleagues and patients needed to be evacuated in another fire a couple of months ago – most of that county was evacuated. And last month, there was another almost evacuation.
    I like how you are still trying to help others. This list will help a lot of people including us.
    I hope these good wishes you are gathering blossom like flowers into your life.
    Thank you.

  2. Subscribe to get more great content like this, an awesome spreadsheet, and more!
  3. I follow both of the redddit subs you mention, fatfire and leanfire, and there is a lot to learn from both of them and their parent sub financialindependence.

    I will definitely be a leanfire retiree but I follow high-income reddit subs and blogs like yours because there is a lot for me to learn and I get inspiration from all of them.

  4. There’s something both scary and liberating about starting completely from zero with possessions. I’m not saying I’d ever want to go through what your friend EJ did with the fires, that’s absolutely devastating, but the decisions I’d make as a much older adult in what we’d buy is much different. So much of the stuff we have were purchased by a much younger, less mature person.

    My heart goes out to everyone impacted, I’ve read a lot of scary stories and seen some stunning photos, it’s scary stuff.

    • Thanks Jim…it is crazy that this happened but in a way liberating. I had been on the minimalism journey myself and would not have forced it on my family…now life has forced it on all of us. Crazy.

      As for the impact. There are 100s still missing and that is what scares me. The death toll is sure to rise. Plus evacuations are on going. My boss had to evacuate on Saturday morning at 4am. It is wild that 6 days after I evacuated others are still being evacuated.

  5. I was not really paying much attention to the fires in California until I read EJs post. Now I feel like I do sort of virtually know someone in Santa Rosa so I am paying attention. I guess lots of us have disaster fatigue. I bet EJ comes back with a lesser doctor house so he can go part-time or FIRE sooner. Maybe this will turn out to be an opportunity of sorts. I think if a tornado destroyed my house the positive would be the purging of a lot of stuff. I feel bad for EJ and I hope he updates his blog with his plans and progress.

    • I know what Hatton means. There have been so many fires in California and hurricanes in Florida you start to tune it out after a while. At least until it hits someone you know either directly or tangentially. I readily believe the news media the way it is designed desensitizes us to these things.

      • Thanks! I will have to rebuild to obtain maximum insurance funds and retain the value of my home. This will likely take 1.5 to 2 years. Welcome to doing something I never wanted to do- Build a home.

        For now we are moving into a 2br 1 bath apartment with a toddler and a dog. If we do okay with that, then downsizing will be easy because it will be upsizing.

        We will see and there will be definitive updates going forward.

  6. Thanks PoF for the mention…you really don’t know what you have until it is gone, but luckily the material losses have not been too depressing. It is the rebuilding process that seems a bit over whelming at the time.

    Still the fires continue to rage so we have some time before we truly need to worry about rebuilding. Thanks again and let’s grab a pint or two soon.

    • DDD I burned down in 1989 very much like you. I had a pair of jeans and no shirt left. It’s like a nuclear bomb goes off in your life. The psychological stress on a family is just below losing a child. This trauma is no joke. You loose all referent in your life. For us it took nearly 2 years to recover some semblance of normalcy, but it does come back. Read those last 4 words again. Having a timeframe and a prognosis is important.


      • Thank you Gasem. This is very poignant and what I needed to hear tonight. It has been a week and the trauma is setting in. While we do not miss the material possessions, the loss of order for our family and our 2 year old is a bit much.

        Tomorrow we get a 2 br 1 bath apartment. 800 square feet. It is in town and near friends so it will bring some normalcy back to life.

        • About like us, 2 br townhouse. Having worked in a burn unit I was most grateful we only got a little singed.

          Bought a TV and a $20 coffee table to set it on, a couch, a bed and nice clean bankers boxes for end tables. We had to buy a couple cars, then a bunch of thrift store stuff, silverware etc. while we regrouped. One thing I did like about it was how completely it cleaned out the dross in my life, as you say minimalistic.

          There is a Greek Philosopher called Heraclitus. He’s the one who wrote you never step into the same river twice. In other words life is all about change in the face of permanence. Every time I see something like Houston or PR or your fires I can totally relate to what is going on in those lives.

          Congrats on the new crib 🙂

    • I don’t like to choose favorites, but I enjoyed them all, including yours.

      It was cool to see the MMW post on RSF — I already had it lined up to be featured here, as evidenced by my comment on the post 10/10.



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