The Sunday Best (7/23/2017)
The Sunday Best is a collection of articles I’ve curated for your reading pleasure.
Presenting, this week’s Sunday Best:
My friend J. Money and Mr. 1500 made my ears burn this week, talking about our family and lifestyle over on Budgets are Sexy. Lifestyles of the Rich and Frugal. [note: this has since been published with a new title at Business Insider]
Of course, you don’t have to be a multimillionaire to retire. You don’t even have to be financially independent to take a sabbatical. Ms. Montana @ Montana Money Adventures has gleaned 10 Lessons from a Mini Retirement (of 20 months with her husband and five kids!)
What’s better than an early or mini retirement? A job you don’t want to retire from. The Wealthy Doc has made 34 changes to his day-to-day work routine, listing them all in a fantastic post entitled How High Is Your Professionals Satisfaction? Could It Be Higher?
Guess who just got married? The Big Law Investor. Congrats, buddy! Wedded bliss will change his life in many ways, some of them financial. Getting Married and Taxes. p.s. Sorry I didn’t get you a wedding gift, Josh. Please accept this Sunday Best feature as my offering.
I Spend Too Much?
The Budgets are Sexy post generated a lot of positive comments, but the responses weren’t all sunshine and rainbows. Mark pointed out:
“There’s a pretty huge caveat in this story and I’ve never really gotten the attraction to PoF. Yes, he’s the perfect example of not falling into the lifestyle inflation trap, but he’s still not particularly frugal. At least not compared to the average American that can’t afford to pay for a huge house in cash, vacation in europe, etc. His story is not even that translatable, in that he basically fell into the perfect storm of working in an industry that demands extreme salaries while being able to live in an area with extremely low cost of living.”
It’s true that although we make some frugal choices, we are not exactly frugal as compared to the average American family. Our spending of $62,000 for a family of four last year bought us a pretty good life, since we’re no longer paying a mortgage, carrying life or disability insurance, and health insurance is supplied by my employer.
Of course, my target audience is not the average American family. I’m writing for my colleagues and peers. The high-income professional who may be looking to get off the hedonic treadmill and consider a divergent life and career path.
I would also like to point out that I didn’t exactly “fall into” any perfect storm, but made many good choices along the way to be in this position. The comment went on to talk about how much luck was involved, and my friends addressed that appropriately.
What do my colleagues and peers think?
I Spend Too Little?
My first 12-month spending report landed on the pages of Doximity, an online portal for health care professionals. The comments there were a mixed bag, but there were more than a few physicians who felt I needed to loosen the purse strings and “live a little.”
“This is way too frugal. Life is short and those bucks you saved aren’t as much fun to spend when you are 90! Also, try living near NYC or San Fran on this budget. My wife would love only 2 professional cuts a year, PUHLEESE. However, saving a defined percentage of ones paycheck is very wise. Pay yourself first is what smart retirement advisors say. I aim to save 15-20% of gross income or 25-35% of net. Of course it took me until my late 40s to be able to put away such high percentages.”
“I do not know where exactly these numbers are coming from … certainly not from NYC and suburbs of NYC
family of 4 sees more something like:
property taxes here average $30,000 per year
mortgage suburbs of NYC $6000-10,000 per month
rent of apartment the same
food approx 400-500 per week so approx 1200-1500 per month
income of a pediatrician – not enough to sustain a 4 people family and have a retirement plan”
The article states that I live in the upper Midwest, and there are reasons I chose not to live in or around New York City — some of them are outlined in Elena’s comment.
Finally, Melissa says:
“Fun article! My advice? Your travel budget is way too low. Those are memories that last a lifetime. I have three boys so I dedicate a sizable portion to travel.”
For the record, the travel expenses that year added up to $8,649. Not included are CME travel (which are partial vacations) and food while travelling, since you’ve gotta eat no matter where you are. This is how I described our travel (in the third person, before I revealed I was talking about my own family:
“We all know that rich people love to travel, and this family is no exception. In the fall, he flew halfway across the country for a college football game, and she visited a close friend in New York. There was a couples’ getaway in Puerto Rico in November, where they kayaked in the world’s brightest bioluminescent bay, hiked through the Rio Camuy caves, and took in a college basketball game. In March, the whole family took a Disney cruise to the Bahamas, and spent a long weekend at Universal Studios in Orlando.”
I went on to describe spending a substantial portion of the summer at our cabin (a year-round expense that is tracked separately from “travel”). But apparently we need to get out more.
As Ricky Nelson once said at a Garden Party, “You can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself.” I’m a live and let live kinda guy — I’ll keep doing what works for me and my family, and you keep doing what works for you.
Meanwhile, I’ll do my best to convince the masses that we’re living at least relatively frugally, while trying to prove to my colleagues and peers that we’re living a fulfilled and comfortable life without a six-figure annual outlay. It’s a tough balancing act some days.
Have a great week!
-Physician on FIRE