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The Sunday Best (2/3/2019)

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:


As we’ve done before, The White Coat Investor, Passive Income MD, and I got together to answer a slew of readers’ questions. We had a great time recording An Interview with Physician on Fire and Passive Income MD – Podcast #90, and I hope you enjoy listening!

We’ll stick with WCI for the first blog post, as it’s a common situation among physicians who find out about sites like ours when they’re mid-career. It’s not too late to right the ship, though! What To Do If You Forgot to Live Like a Resident.


He had 16 actionable steps in that post, and here’s a 17th — rack up some credit card points and miles for free travel and more. Mr. Apathy Ends knows how simple it can be. The Easiest Money I Ever Made.


If you forgot to live like a resident, you may be driving a “doctor car.” What is that, exactly? The survey results may surprise you. From Great Z’s, What Cars do Doctors Drive?


The guy who owned a couple car washes in a town I used to live in drove a pretty nice car and a very nice boat. Looks can be deceiving (all hat, no cattle) but there might be something to owning a car wash. From Equity Multiple, Our Latest Asset Class — Car Wash.


Ownership in a car wash and other cash-flowing real estate is one way to diversify. Ben Carlson of A Wealth of Common Sense is big on diversifying a portfolio — but here he’s talking about US Stocks and Bonds. Diversification is (Almost) Undefeated.


Paying down your student loans in an optimal way can get complicated when there are 17… SEVENTEEN types of federal loans. It’s no wonder people like Travis Hornsby of Student Loan Planner have turned student loan advice into their profession. Student Loan Consolidation Guide for All 17 Types of Federal Student Loans.


Balance is important in so many aspects of our lives… including in early retirement. From the newly-retired Jim of Route to Retire, Finding Balance in Early Retirement with Kids.


The physician entrepreneur you know as Passive Income MD has some tips on finding that balance we all seek. Stop Trying To Do It All. I’ll be the first to admit I have a hard time with this.


Many female physicians seem to do it all at work and at home, and they’re often not compensated the same as their male counterparts. Nisha Mehta MD explores this discrepancy in Gender Gaps in Physician Pay: Why?


Some say we’ve reached or even surpassed “peak FIRE.” I argue that The FIRE Movement is Here to Stay.


FIRE allows us to spend more time doing the things we love, rather than what we need to do for the money. Mrs. Waffles on Wednesday exemplifies this in her guest post from the other day. Working Worldwide with the WoWs — Financial Independence and Volunteering.


In yesterday’s Saturday Selection, The White Coat Investor Dr. Jim Dahle, a father of four, explains How The White Coat Investor’s Children Will Pay for Their College.


What’s Your Asset Allocation?


I keep track of the big categories to the best of my abilities with my portfolio tracking spreadsheet, but if I want to get a good, granular, and accurate look at what I actually own in my portfolio today, I turn to Empower.

For example, this is a snapshot of what I own from just the other day.



I can expand on any of the rectangles to get a more detailed look at what I own within each of these larger categories. When I click on U.S. Stocks, I get a nine style box breakdown with boxes sized in proportion to my holdings.



I can go one step further by clicking on any of those nine boxes to see which individual fund is contributing to the asset class and in what percentage. Clicking on the middle box, “Mid Cap Core,” I see the following breakdown.




This serves as a good reminder that the Vanguard Small Cap and Small Cap Value funds I own (VSCIX & VSIAX) actually hold a significant Mid Cap allocation. When I next simplify my portfolio, I may just eliminate the mid cap funds, consolidating into small cap and large cap only.

**note that dollar amounts are also displayed, but I edited them out for this post


So, what exactly is your asset allocation? Log in and sign up with Empower (please use any referral link like this one on this page to support our charitable mission) and find out!



Physicians and pharmacists, Register with Incrowd for the opportunity to earn easy money with quick "microsurveys" tailored to your specialty.


It’s Like a Heat Wave!


We’re expecting a high of 30° today, a 72° warmup from the negative 42° air temperature I woke up to on the last day in January.

When I rolled over and looked at my phone, I was honestly excited. Psyched, even. I’d never experienced cold like that. I rolled right out of bed, bundled up in layers, and set out to walk four loops around our hilly, quarter-mile neighborhood loop.

It was a repeat of the day before, but eight degrees colder. I had walked a mile on the 30th at -34 F, and my legs got awfully cold with just a thin base layer and blue jeans. I added an outer shell to my getup, which also included a 650 fill goose down Marmot jacket.

When you dress for the weather and keep moving, your body has an amazing ability to maintain warmth. Sure, if you’ve got nose hair as I do, they’ll freeze to one another, and exposed skin can develop frostbite pretty quickly, but I had the moist warmth of my breath heating up the few inches of face I had partially exposed.

That moisture found a new home on my eyelashes and brows, which made for a great couple of pictures. The picture on the right was from the first day. On the coldest morning, I lost the coat and hat just long enough to take a few pictures and headed inside to warm up!



I shared these on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to good effect. My “frosted tips” seemed to go over well.



Cheers to this heat wave!

-Physician on FIRE

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12 thoughts on “The Sunday Best (2/3/2019)”

  1. Subscribe to get more great content like this, an awesome spreadsheet, and more!
  2. Thanks for sharing! Love the post from Apathy Ends on travel hacking – extremely useful.

    Quick question, if you don’t mind sharing, what is in your “alternatives” bucket? Is that investments like REITs? Or something completely different?

  3. For those of us like me who have older loans the student loan post is probably one of the better written posts out there for those of us that have stafford loans before all the PAYE and REPAYE, PSLF and the newer programs and answered a lot of questions so thanks for that! A few mins with that post (and the quiz) helped me confirm what I knew after hours of digging.

    The Dr. Mehta post on the gender gap is a few months old but very well written and tackles a lot of the misconceptions (i.e. women work less so get paid less, women work in lower paying jobs, etc, etc).

    As far as the cars, I feel like they’re not the status symbol they once were. Pretty much anyone with a few hundred bucks a month can step in to (i.e. lease) a new luxury car with a propeller or three pointed star on the hood It won’t be much of a car with pleather seats, minimal amenities, base engine but you’ll look cool. From a financial standpoint you’re probably better off with a used Honda with 50k miles…

  4. I think that’s both awesome and hilarious that you decided to go for a walk on the coldest days we’ve seen in a lonnnng time. Nice job! The pictures along made it all worthwhile!

    — Jim

  5. A mindset that allows an excitement to experience a -42degree air temperature is awesome.
    As the fall 2019 transition to ‘doing something else (retired)’ approaches, I look forward to the insights the mindset allows.

    • Yeah, I’m one of those weirdos that likes to do stuff “just to say I did.”

      I’m not as extreme as some people, though. You won’t catch me alive (or dead) on Mount Everest.


  6. I read Carlson’s piece and my response is YES. Bonds over the last 20 years have returned 4%/yr and the S&P 7%/yr. Bonds have a 3.5% risk and SPY has a 14% risk so any stock/bond index pair IS on the efficient frontier and any portfolio holding bonds recovers to it’s high much sooner than a “only stock” portfolio so while your 90/10 portfolio with all that risk struggles to get even your 60/40 portfolio got even a long time ago and is compounding away at making you new money. This relationship is especially true if you assiduously re-balance forcing you to sell a little when the market high and buy some when the market is low. Adding things like foreign stocks typically knocks you off the efficient frontier aka more risk less return. Bad JuJu. Over the very long term say 100 years the stocks only portfolio wins EXCEPT if the SOR accumulation is at or below the 20% distribution line. In a bad SOR stocks loose because of the volatility. The equation changes once you open the portfolio to deflation as in start taking money out. Taking money out is the equivalent of adding a bad SOR to the portfolio and at that point lowering the risk is a better deal in the long run.

  7. Great list.

    About mid cap stocks:

    I met with a financial advisor recently. He suggested I invest more in “mid-caps.” I didn’t hear great arguments for doing that other than it is “another asset class.”

    I think it is fine to own the entire market. Or maybe shift some to small value and not worry about the rest.

      • Over the last ~21 years, the results are rather impressive. I get 324% return for VMCIX versus 145% for the S&P 500.

        [Insert standard disclaimer about past performance.]



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