The Sunday Best (12/2/2018)

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:


Our first feature, Fiology, is not so much one post but a well-organized collection of hundreds of authoritative posts organized into 52 FIRE subtopics. You can browse them all at your leisure or register to receive the posts on one topic per week for one year. Chick out Fiology to take a deep dive into the topics that grab you.


Could Karsten, a.k.a. Big ERN, Ph.D., who retired earlier this year nearly a decade into this lenghty and perhaps overextend bull run, have picked a worse time to call it quits? From Early Retirement NowSo what, we retired at the peak of the bull market? Here are seven reasons why we’re not yet worried…


Trip Seibold retired a year ago and he’s not stressing it, either. Over at Financially Possible, he’s Celebrating 1 Year of Retirement: A Year in Review


Joe Udo retired from his engineering job years ago. Only recently has the Retire by 40 author come to a surprising conclusion about post-career life. He’s realized that Work is NOT Optional after Retirement.


Meanwhile, Tanja Hester of Our Next Life has written what sounds like a pre-emptive rebuttal in Work Optional: Retire Early the Non-Penny-Pinching Way. However, she may actually agree with Joe, as she says Ambition Doesn’t (Have to) End at Retirement.


I randomly encountered a well-traveled 30-something couple in Guanajuato who were not waiting for FI to enjoy a healthy slice of freedom. That was a year ago, and they’ve since put together a Complete Guide to Achieve Financial Freedom with Mini-Retirements. Learn more about their interesting life at Interest in Life.


If you’ve reached financial independence and are grappling with what happens next, you’re in good company. You’re in the same boat as me and The White Coat Investor who shares 6 Tips for Those Who Have Enough.

A 7th thing you could do is to invest in places where investments are needed most. These are known as Opportunity Zones, and companies like EquityMultiple and Fundrise are creating funds that invest exclusively in Opportunity Zones which provide another way to potentially eliminate capital gains on successful investments you’ve already made. Passive Income MD explains how it works in Investing in Opportunity Zones: What’s This Amazing Opportunity All About?


A few of my friends have launched podcasts recently, and you should add them to your playlists.

When I say these are my friends, I really mean it. I’ve spent quality time with Doc G and Paul at Camp FI events as well as FinCon, where I also got to know the Doc of All Tradez (who plans to join me on a mission trip in Honduras this coming May). I’ve chatted with Dr. Larson when I worked as a locum with his group. The only one I haven’t met is Dr. Edison, but I’ve featured her story and writings at Rebel.MD in this Sunday Best series several times.


How has medicine changed over the years? We’ve got perspectives from a Baby Boomer, Gen-Xer, Millennial attending, and a slightly younger resident physician who collaborated with the following:


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Alexa, Start Physician on FIRE


That’s right. Your Amazon Echo / Dot / Show / Spot devices can now read my blog posts to you. I could have had Alexa’s voice handle the duties, but I preferred the British accent that “Brian” delivers.

First, you must enable the free Physician on FIRE Alexa skill.


Then, just say “Alexa, start Physician on FIRE.” She’ll offer to have Brian read you the latest blog post. You can also search for posts based on keywords.

For example, after starting Physician on FIRE, say “Alexa, find Honduras.” She’ll tell you she found a post with the keyword and will offer to have Brian read the post One World Surgery: My Week in Honduras on a Medical Mission. That will save you about 4,000 words of reading.

Try it! The voice technology with the accent and inflection is remarkable. A 5-star review wouldn’t hurt my feelings, either.

Many thanks to Pam from Create My Voice who is responsible for creating the Alexa skill, which will now automatically be updated with my latest blog posts. She can do the same for your podcast or blog if you’ve got one.


I Google Fi


While my wife still uses Republic Wireless, and has bills of about $13 to $15 a month on a grandfathered-in plan with them, I made the switch to Google’s Google Fi cell phone service several months ago.

Why? There are two main reasons.

First, Republic relies on one network (Sprint), and they don’t have the best service in some of the rural areas we travel through. Google Fi uses four different networks (Sprint, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular, and Three) and switches among them to offer the best service available where you are at any moment.

Both offer unlimited calling and text for a very low price ($15 to $20 a month). Republic offers data at $5 per GB, and Google Fi charges $10 per GB. Both preferentially use Wi-Fi for data, calls, and text when Wi-Fi service is available, so data charges tend to be low as long as you’re not away from home or work a lot.

That’s where the second reason comes in. Soon, we plan to be away from home and work a lot. Google Fi gives you data service at that same $10 per GB in over 170 countries (see list) without having to hunt down a sim card or purchase a new plan. The phone just works in most countries around the world. Note that outgoing calls on international wireless networks are not free — that will cost 20 cents per minute, but texts are included.

I haven’t used the service internationally yet, but I’ll have a chance to do so this spring, and I’ll let you know how that goes.



Google Fi recently opened up the service to bringing your own phone to the plan, including iPhones. You can check for phone compatibility here.

**My referral link** will get you a $20 credit on Google Fi, which is the cost of the unlimited calls and text per month. A second user on your plan is $15.

With their bill protection, you won’t pay more than $60 for data as an individual. Data will be slowed to 256kbps once you’ve used up 6 GB, but the data is free after that. As a couple, the max data charge is $85 per month. When we’re traveling extensively, I may test those limits when tethering my laptop to the phone as a mobile hotspot.


Nose to the Grindstone


After two months of working about a 1.25 FTE schedule, I’ll be back to 1 FTE in December, which will likely be my last month as a full-time employed anesthesiologist. I’ll be busy in the O.R. again in May with one week in Honduras and my usual 0.6 FTE schedule back home, but by then, I’ll only have a few months left to go.

Between working, blogging, fathering, attending and watching football games, curling league, and the occasional beer with friends, it’s been a very busy fall.


Rare Beer Share
from our recent fifth thursday rare beer share


I look forward to being less busy some day. At least I think I do. But knowing me, that may never actually happen.



Have a splendid week!

-Physician on FIRE

8 thoughts on “The Sunday Best (12/2/2018)”

  1. Subscribe to get more great content like this, an awesome spreadsheet, and more!
  2. I don’t know if they have a referral program, but for us, Cricket (AT&T) is much cheaper than Republic and Fi. Two lines with 5gb each, including taxes, is $70/mo.

    The overseas coverage is limited, but thankfully, work doesn’t send me overseas much anymore.

    • If price were the main concern, I’d still be with Republic. We were paying under $30 combined a month with them. Didn’t have 5 GB but used all the data we cared to use.

      I like Google Fi for the international part and the 4 different US networks. They don’t use AT&T or Verizon towers, which are good networks, but with the other 4, the coverage is great.

      If we were heavy data users with no plans for significant international travel, I would definitely look at Cricket. I think adding a 3rd and 4th user makes it an even better value proposition.


      • Yeah not sure if it’s still available, but I have 5 lines on cricket family plan with unlimited talk and text and 5gb/line for $100/month (tax and fees included). Since I didn’t need five lines, I put family members on it, since to me the additional money is nothing, but the savings to them is significant.

  3. Thank you Physician On FIRE for including me in your Sunday Best.

    That was probably one of my favorite things I have done on my blog and collaborating with 3 other great physician bloggers was phenomenal. I loved the interaction and flow of ideas between everyone.

    And even though I kidded that it was like herding cats organizing this project with the other 3, it actually went quite smoothly.

    Very cool about having the capability to have your blog read by Alexa. It’s tempting to buy Alexa just for that feature alone.

    Have a great rest of the weekend. You definitely started my Sunday with a bang.

  4. You got me to switch to Google Fi, POF. Used the link, too. I’d been waiting for a while but last time I checked our phones were not compatible on Google Fi – but they now appear to be.

    With our typical monthly usage on verizon (5-6 GB), it looks like our bill will go from $124 per month to $85-95 per month. Sounds like a deal for us!

    Thanks for the recommendation, and great round up as always.


    • Glad to hear it, TPP!

      I think you’ll find that your data usage goes way down with Google Fi. Make sure your phone is set up to connect to wifi and home and work. You can also set it up to download app updates under wifi only, download podcasts when on wifi, etc…

      It’s rare that I use more than 1 GB of data in a month unless I use the phone as a mobile hotspot and connect with the laptop. A web browser with a dozen open tabs is a real data hog.



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