The Sunday Best (10/8/2017)

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:


What do you get when you combine a nasally voice with a Minnesota accent? My voice! Have a listen as I chat with another anesthesiologist, Dr. David Draghinas on Doctors Unbound. Physician on FIRE talks Financial Independence and Blogging Skills.


How do you know how much you’ll be spending in five, ten, or twenty years? From fellow Plutus Award finalist Our Next LifeThe Fundamental Problem with the 4% Rule for Early Retirement Isn’t the 4% Rule.


When the media talks about the One Percent, they’re usually discussing income. Net Worth is more meaningful, and Don’t Quit Your Day Job has a breakdown of net worth in America. United States Net Worth Brackets, Percentiles, and Top One Percent in 2017.


Will the 1% (that’s not me by a long shot, by the way) continue getting richer? The Corporate Monkey CPA explores How Trump’s Tax Plan Impacts The Early Retirement Dream.


Who knows if any tax legislation will actually pass? Who knows what the future holds? The Wall Street Physician contemplates the future in Bull Case vs. Bear Case: 4th Quarter 2017.


He’s not the only one curious about the economy. Ben Carlson of A Wealth of Common Sense looks at the historical record and the correlation of the stock market before, during, and after past recessions. It’s not as straightforward as you might think: Predicting the Next Recession.


You may know your risk tolerance, or at least you believe you do. Michael Kitces of Nerd’s Eye View dives deeper discussing not only risk tolerance, but also risk capacity, and perceived risk in Risk Composure: The Real Predictor of Who Can Stick to Their Investment Plan.


If a recession or nasty bear market does hit, we may want to dial back our budgets a bit. Two Green Docs share their vacation tips in Travelling on a Student / Resident’s Budget.


The Wealthy Doc Invested $100,000 and got $144,604 back, for a 24% return. How do you figure? Calculating your Return on Investment (ROI).


I wasn’t the only personal finance blogger purchasing lakefront property in the upper midwest this year. JL Collins of The Simple Path to Wealth fame detailed his saga in a three-part series:


Lifestyle Inflation: Cell Phone Edition


Up until Wednesday of this week, I had been limping along with my fully functional Moto G cell phone. I say fully functional because it did everything a cell phone is supposed to do and didn’t have any flaws that caused me to jettison my poorly cared for phones of years past, which include:

  • cracked screens
  • toilet dives
  • dysfunctional keys
  • “touchy” touch screen


But there are issues. It’s an 8 GB phone and it seems the operating system and bloatware now take up at least half of that. I kept running into space issues, having to delete one app to install another. How am I supposed to be the general manager of two fantasy football teams on different platforms without uninstalling Uber or OneNote?

The old droid has also grown rather sluggish and waiting more than eleven milliseconds for something to happen on it makes twitchy and surly. I knew I had owned this phone for awhile, but was surprised to learn I picked it up in February of 2015, more than two and a half years ago. And it was a refurb back then, setting me back $120.

Despite frequent clearing of the cache, I was constantly running low on storage space and deciding which apps I could live without and which were vital, like Bubble Breaker. Facebook Messenger went first, followed by the Facebook app itself. I couldn’t fit a single version on Angry Birds on it.

Charging was also a bit tricky at times. Some cords wouldn’t charge the phone at all and others had to be positioned just right. Time to upgrade!


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Choosing my New Cell Phone


So I ordered the iPhone X. Ha! As if.

I’ve been with Republic Wireless for the better part of three years now, and have been pretty happy with the service. I’ve used it around the country and even internationally (on wi-fi) and have had great service for the price. My plan costs me $13 to $15 a month for unlimited calls, texts, and data was essentially pay as you go (a refund plan, technically).

Republic uses the Sprint network, roams on others, and has a somewhat limited selection of compatible phones. The iPhone is not one of them, but I only buy Apple products with names like Jazz, Pink Lady, Gala, and Honeycrisp.

They do sell the following phones, but don’t typically have the best prices out there.

Republic Wireless PhonesSmartphone service shouldn't have to cost a lot

You can also bring your own unlocked phone if it’s on either the list above or this supported phones list.

I found a great price on a new Moto G4 32 GB phone. For $130, I picked up a brand new shiny white unocked phone from B&H Photo. They no longer have that deal, but you can pick up the 32 GB version of the newer Moto G5 for $185 from Amazon if you’re willing to put up with ads on the lockscreen.


Moto G versus G4
one of these things is not like the other


Mine’s not the latest Moto (G5) or the greatest (Moto Z), but it’s got plenty of space and computing power to do all that I want a phone to do. With a new phone comes a new plan. The latest generation phones are all on their Clear Choice Plans. If you want data, the cheapest plan is $20 plus tax for 1 GB.

With the upgraded Republic Wireless plan, I’ll be paying about $10 more per month than I was before. And that’s fine. It’s still a frugal plan. Continuing to struggle with a substandard sluggish old phone would have been the cheap move.

I’d rather be frugal than cheap.


As per usual, I’m recommending products that will not only make you richer, but may make me richer, too. If you click on one of these links and sign on with Republic or Empower, you will be contributing to this site’s charitable mission. Thank you.


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Have a marvelous week!

-Physician on FIRE

22 thoughts on “The Sunday Best (10/8/2017)”

  1. I feel anxiety when I think about giving up my iPhone. I have so many nice apps that replace other things, all in one place. I pay for the convenience. Also, I like to play some old games every now and then from playstation that run best on the more powerful, new phone. Plus work pays : ) But if they didn’t, I would have the second most recent iPhone model. Also, the big screen on the iPhone plus has obviated my need for am iPad.

    • If work paid for the plan and the phone, I’d certainly be less cost conscious. I’m happy with the Android phone, but it may be the case that I don’t know what I’m missing.

      If my phone were any bigger, it would not fit well in my pocket. The 5.5 inch screen is big enough to stick out a bit in at least one pair of jeans I own as it is.


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  3. The podcast at Dr. Unbound was very well done. You explained FIRE very well.
    Recently I was trying to explain the various retirement vehicles IRA, 401k etc. to someone totally new to this, and I could see their eyes glazing. This can be a major obstacle in someone thinking about FIRE. I wish I knew a simpler answer.
    What have you found to be the best way to explain to someone about various retirement vehicles?

  4. I use a 5x nexus phone which is still accepting the latest updates. I’m a fan of Android

    I recently changed providers to Consumer Cellular (MVNO) (ATT backbone) from T-Mobile. CC also resells T-Mobile time. They have a unique billing system. You buy minutes and data on a separately and TXTs are unlimited. The deal is you can share the wealth between many phones.

    My plan has 250 min of talk, and 10gb data and unlimited txt between 4 phone (2 iPhones and 2 Androids) for $80 per month. Since it’s ATT backbone, you get ATT coverage. I had T-Mobile and 4 lines on that net was $160 a month. CC’s plan automatically kicks you up a level if you happen to go over on a category but kicks you back down later.

    Saves me a grand a year and I have better coverage in my area.

  5. I guess I have to admit to a big frugal fail. I have a iPhone 6 plus, an iPad, and a MacBook. I love my iPhone. It replaces so many cluttery devices. I also own apple stock so I love to hear about people rushing out to buy new apple devices.

  6. I was debating google fi or Republic wireless…but alas I decided to stick with my free work iPhone. Cant justify getting my own phone yet when the company pays for it. Plus I mainly use my phone for phone calls since I technologically decluttered my life.

  7. Looks like there’s a wider selection of phones for Republic than last time I checked, which is just in time for a phone upgrade since my ~3 year old Moto E is on it’s last breath!

    • My wife rocks the Moto E and is still quite happy with it. But yes, there are some newer and better options, including a Samsung phone and the latest generation Moto phones.

      I recommend bringing your own phone into the plan. You can get it for less and it might be easier to use it on a different service if you start with an unlocked phone. I don’t know if the Republic supplied phones have the same flexibility or not.


  8. My wife needed a new phone recently – cracked screen issue. We grabbed the Moto G5 Plus on a Best Buy deal. It’s a really good phone for the money. Some version of that phone will be my next one if my Moto X Pure dies.

    I picked up an $60 Alcatel A30 from Amazon as a back-up phone to run with MintSim’s $15-ish plan to see if that works in my area. I’ve only used it for a couple of hours, but I think it could have worked for you with your expectations. That’s not to say that you should spent $60 for a phone, but I think a lot of people would be surprised by it.

    • For years, I’ve had a habit of getting the model of whatever-it-is that was brand new and top dollar last year.

      For items like phones and digital camera bodies, you can often get great performance for half the original price. I travel with two Olympus E-M10 bodies that I bought for a combined price of less what one sold for new just 18 months before I picked them up.


      • I haven’t caught the photography bug yet. I sense it is close, so I’ll file this away.

        I think phones are in a phase where they are either commodities (like an economy purse) or status symbols (like an iPhone X). Maybe the gap isn’t all the way there, but I think it’s growing.

        • Excellent point about the phones. Many good phones for under $200 to $300, but there’s also the $700 to $1,000 phones for those interested in the latest and greatest.

          Camera lenses don’t change much in price, but the bodies certainly do.

  9. Thanks for all the great links. And for mentioning mine. Most docs don’t need a finance MBA, but being able to calculate a ROI would help them strengthen their BS-detector when comparing investment opportunities.

    • It’s imperative to be sure you’re comparing apples to apples when it comes to allocating your invested dollars, particularly when you start looking at alternative investments which can have promises that sound too good to be true.

      A little spreadsheet knowledge can go a long way.


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    • I take a deduction for the phone, too, although I won’t have nearly as much to write of as you. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is up for debate.

      I would guess you’re in a rather low tax bracket now as an early retiree, right?

      Either way, enjoy the phone. Mine isn’t as fancy, but I’m very happy with it in the four days I’ve been using it.


  11. The interesting part is I’m still rocking the G you upgraded from and my wife has a g4. My G was the 16 but otherwise similar situation. I stuck with it for so long due to my unlimited republic plan to which my phone is grandfathered. Probably still not justified since I average only 1g of data. In my case though I’m in the processes of upgrading to an iPhone 7 and an expensive plan. No I haven’t gone nuts,my corporate bosses are providing a leash now. My wife will stay with the g4 since im still paying for that.

    • No kidding? My Dad also has the G4 on Republic.

      If my old G was 16 GB, I’d have no good reason to upgrade. It was really just a storage issue. I suppose I could have tried wiping it clean to see if that would get things down to a reasonable amount of space, but this new phone has enough benefits to justify the cost.

      Enjoy the iPhone — I know many people who are attached to theirs, even if OK Google does a much better job than Siri.


  12. Hey Doc,

    Loved the podcast. You def have a voice for radio/TV.

    And congratulations on the 1M pageviews! Loved your tip about partnering with someone.

    I’m loving these Sunday’s Best. Keep them coming.


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