The Sunday Best (8/12/2018)


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:

 

I don’t write many guest posts these days, but when the site has 2.4 Million Twitter followers, I’m game. I tracked my spending in one random, recent week for Business Insider, and they wrote the lengthy, braggadocious headline: I’m a part-time doctor earning $250,000 a year and I plan to retire next year at age 43 — here’s what a week of my spending looks like.

Bonus: Read similar profiles from the bloggers behind ESI Money, Mad Fientist, Think Save Retire and more at BI’s Real Money page.

 

Some would argue we spend too much; others think we spend too little. I’m like Goldilocks, and I think it’s just right. Or as Wealthy Doc would say, optimal. On his new site, the good doctor discusses Optimal Spending: Get a Bang for Your Buck.

 

The Financial Panther admits A Confession: I Cut Back On Saving (And I’m Kinda Broke Now). Is his family’s spending suddenly suboptimal, or could it be that they’ve invested in their future?

 

The Financial Panther rents out a spare room on Airbnb. He’ll appreciate the guide his neighbor in the Twin Cities put together. From “Cubert” and his Abandoned Cubicle, the 10,000 word masterpiece: How to Establish a Profitable Vacation Rental: The Definitive Guide

 

Why would these guys rent out their property to strangers who find them on the internet? In an attempt to transition from FD to FI, of course. In a post reminiscent of WCI’s 14 Milestones to Celebrate on the Path to Financial Independence (and Beyond!), Morgan Housel shares The Spectrum of Financial Dependence and Independence.

 

What does giving money away do for your bottom line? The Physician Philosopher shares his thoughts in Should I Tithe or Build Wealth? My answer is Yes, particularly in the broader sense of tithing as charitable giving to the charities of your choice.

 

Crispy Doc and his family are enjoying a “luxurious” trip in Greece. Why the quotation marks? It’s not a deluxe trip exactly, but the luxury comes in other forms. It’ll all make sense after you’ve read his musings On Luxury.

 

The Joneses take a different type of luxury vacation. They do a lot stuff that you and I might not do, as detailed by the lawyer behind Trapped in Work. Meet the (Real) Joneses.

 

Doc G of DiverseFI did. He really did! Growing Up Next Door to the Joneses.

 

You read my thoughts on Fidelity’s new feeless mutual funds last Sunday. A couple more physician bloggers shared theirs this week:

 

 

I’m Exposed, and It’s No Big Surprise

 

My colleagues know that I’m out the door next year. Turning in the pager. Hanging up the stethoscope. Since that cat’s out of the bag, I don’t feel as compelled as I once did to keep my identity a secret.

When I started, I didn’t share anything that could be traced back to me. Nothing about my alma mater, state of residence, pictures of me or family or anything that could be used to pin me down. I wasn’t yet 100% sure I would retire early, and I didn’t want my coworkers to find out I was contemplating the idea via some website.

BI_Physician_on_FIREAfter a while, I started using pictures with my boys in them. And pictures with my wife or I in them, usually with our faces covered up. I did sneak in a picture of my wife curling at the end of this post and more recently, a picture of me dumping a 20 kg sack of malted barley into a crusher in this post.

I’ve also spoken more freely recently about my eight years as a Golden Gopher at the University of Minnesota, and about our lives in northern Minnesota and northern Michigan.

The Business Insider article is the first time I’ve published a picture of our family online, and it didn’t take long for a medical school classmate of mine to reach out and say “hey” after seeing our smiling faces in his news feed.

Those who know me well probably won’t be all that surprised to hear I’m doing something out of the ordinary. It’s not unusual for me to do something unusual.

 

Kill ‘Em With Kindness

 

A lot of my blogging friends have had posts featured on really big sites like Yahoo! or Marketwatch. Those sites have comment sections, and I’m grateful Business Insider does not. Whenever someone speaks of their successes, the masses show up to crap on them.

bankofamericaIt’s uncanny. Some people trolls just love to camp out on the internet and spew doubt and hate. I don’t know what to think of those attitudes. If your first instinct is to assume that someone who has succeeded at something is lying or cheating or obviously had every advantage you’ll never have, well, you’ll probably never be successful yourself.

While there were no comments on the article of mine, there were some comments on Twitter (check them out here and follow me here), and I had a little fun with them. What else can you do?

Even in the ChooseFI Facebook group, which should be friendly territory, there was some negative commentary on my article. Rather than be argumentative, I responded with a touch of Minnesota Nice.

In response to the “I can’t stand these articles…” comment, I responded with:

 

I didn’t write the headline, which sounds awfully boastful, but I did write the article.

The point is not to brag, but to demonstrate to other high-income professionals (admittedly, my target reader) that you don’t have to spend big bucks to live a good life.

I also wrote it to help drive traffic to my site to open the eyes of big spenders in my profession to the concept of financial independence. Many have no clue and keep spending more chasing happiness and burning out in the process by working exhausting hours to earn even more money to buy more stuff in a futile attempt to break the cycle.

I want my colleagues to know there’s another way.

I also monetize my website with ads and affiliate links, and the more I earn, the more I donate. Half of my profits go to charity, so leading people to my site and my e-mail list enhances that charitable mission.

 -PoF

 

Speaking of Facebook groups, if you’re a physician, join 6,200+ MDs & DOs discussing all topics related to FIRE in my Physicians on FIRE Facebook group.

And in the fatFIRE Facebook group, everyone is welcome. It’s the FIRE group for the less-than-frugal. Join us!

Minnesota Meetups

 

Camp FI Midwest is less than two weeks away. Although it’s been sold out for months, it looks like a spot has opened up, so if you want to hang out with a bunch of FI types for a long weekend, check to see if there’s a ticket available. You might get lucky! By that, I mean you might be able to buy a ticket. This is a PG event, and my kids will be there.

I’ll be heading down a day early to check out the Great Minnesota Get-Together, a.k.a. the State Fair a.k.a. the place where everything, and I mean everything, is deep fried and on a stick. There’s also a beer garden and a few of us will be meeting up to sample the offerings around 5 p.m. on opening day, which is Thursday, August 23rd.

I’ve heard rumors about a meetup at Brit’s Pub later that evening. I may have started that rumor. It’s a cool place with rooftop lawn bowling, fish and chips, and it’s right in downtown Minneapolis. See you there?

 


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Have a wonderful week!

-Physician on FIRE

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45 comments

  • Hey PoF,
    Congrats on writing to a larger audience and on your upcoming retirement. As you pointed out, it will reach some of those folks who really will benefit from your example. Some doctors work so much that their ideas and peers are limited. They often feel trapped on an endless treadmill. Just seeing that there is a possible way out may save a career. Who knows it may even save a life. With 400 doctors committing suicide every year I have to think that some of that is from financial stress.
    It is surprising but the “haters gonna hate.” Grant Cardone says if you don’t have naysayers and haters you aren’t doing enough. It is easier for them to try to keep you down or to pull you down or to rationalize why nothing is in their control. We can’t help them – until they are ready.
    Thanks for the spotlight on my new-and-improved site. I just hope all the traffic from your readers doesn’t crash it!
    Looking forward to hearing you speak at FinCon18.

    • Thank you, WD. I look forward to hanging out again at FinCon in just six shorts weeks .

      I think you do have to make people feel a bit uncomfortable to prompt people to change their ways. And some people don’t like to be challenged. Others can’t relate, but I don’t pretend to write stuff that everyone can relate to. Nor can I relate to everyone’s plight.

      What I can do is lead by example, and that’s more or less what that article was about.

      Cheers!
      -PoF

    • Lynne

      I didn’t know that many doctors committed suicide per year. Not sure how that compares to the overall suicide rate in the US. Suicide is a tragic and final end to what I feel is usually a temporary problem. I’ve some family history with this, and know the devastation left behind when a loved one ends his or her life.

      When certain professions have a higher than average suicide rate, one must assume there are stressors inherent to that profession that need to be better managed, so that a person doesn’t assume suicide is the only and best solution.

      • Yes, Lynne,
        Unfortunately, the physician suicide rate is extremely high. It is more than one a day in most years – from what I have read. Medicine is usually at the top of the list when suicides are listed by occupation. It is a dirty secret of medicine. It shouldn’t be that surprising actually with burnout rates exceeding 50%.
        I also suspect (I’m speculating here) that doctors know so many ways to do themselves in quickly, painlessly, and correctly that when they attempt it the succeed at a higher rate.
        There is a lot more to burnout and suicide than their financial situation, but I can’t help think that it is part of it for some. I know too many middle-aged doctors who needlessly feel productivity pressures because of prior bad spending decisions.

        • Lynne

          I had suspected burnout rates were high but 50% is pretty bad. What with the dysfunctional state of US health care (insurance coverage/authorization hassles would put me over the edge!), I would imagine many doctors feel like their practice is held hostage by insurance companies. Combine that with constant fear of being sued for malpractice, and non-compliant patients… ugh.

          No doubt all of the above combined with pressure to see so many patients per day and all the other financial details of running a practice would just become too much for many souls to bear, and a doctor would see no way out of the profession he/she trained years and years to do. It explains why so many doctors, including my own, sold their practices to a conglomerate and work as employees instead. It would relieve them of some of the hassles (though not all, I’m sure).

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  • I always look forward to reading your Sunday best and today’s no exception! Great post on Business Insider—though I must admit I was a bit shocked to see your actual face when I was scrolling through my feed yesterday. 😉 And yes, kill them with kindness—that’s always a wise move. Thanks again for putting your Sunday Best together.

    • It is a bit surreal to see our photo on a site like that. I took the picture with my Olympus mirrorless camera paired to my cell phone to trigger with a 4-second timer.

      The rest of the photos were taken by either my wife or me.

      Cheers!
      -PoF

  • I read the Business Insider article on twitter yesterday. It was great. I love your level of detail. I find it to be quite common that doctors have no idea what they spend. At least the ones in my real life do not. I know that examining my spending in a spreadsheet helped get me off the hedonic treadmill. I look forward to reading todays Sunday Best.

    • Thank you, Hatton1. I wrote it as the week went on, one day at a time, so everything was fresh in my mind. They also gave me a spreadsheet to track, and I doublechecked my bank and credit card accounts to make sure I included any bills on autopay.

      It wasn’t a particularly enlightening exercise for me, as I’ve been tracking spending for nearly three years now, but I hope it’s enlightening for others.

      Cheers!
      -PoF

  • POF, don’t sweat the small stuff. Haters are gonna hate. You have been an inspiration to so many of us. You’ve helped me a ton since day one and you never owed me a thing. And today, I get a Sunday Best mention.

    You give back to the other bloggers and people more than anyone could ever expect. Your site gives away half of it’s proceeds. I am not quite sure how people can get mad at you for being as selfless and helpful as you are. And it’s good of you to handle it with honey instead of vinegar.

    I worry about the same someday if I decide to make myself known publicly. I’ll keep anonymous for now in the public, though I had a resident figure me out and ask me, “Are you The Physician Philosopher? I love your stuff.” Apparently he put two and two together when I mentioned in person to another resident that I was writing a book on physician finance a for med students, residents, and early career docs. I’ve also mentioned that on my site. Some good detective work there!

    Either way, keep being you. Those that matter think you are great, and those that don’t … Don’t matter.

    TPP

    • Kinda spooky to be found out like that, right? But pretty cool at the same time. You know you’re reaching people when someone puts 2 and 2 together like that. Keep up the good work at TPP and it’ll happen more and more often.

      Cheers!
      -PoF

  • Thanks for the mention, PoF! This more than makes up for hosting all these gatherings while I’m out of town. 😉

    You’ve gotta know I love Brit’s. Those scotch eggs with a pint (or two) of blacks and tan? Magical… Good luck dragging Carl away from the lawn bowling.

    Cheers!

  • POF, congrats on the BI article and what a beautiful family! Enjoy camp FI Midwest. I’ve actually been to Brit’s Pub before when I was in town on business visiting Target’s HQ. Keep up the strong work!

  • Hey PoF. Thanks for featuring my article. Congrats on the piece in the Business Insider. Although there are always naysayers, those of us in the community who have been watching your blog for years know that all your successes are hard earned. We celebrate them as we celebrate you. See you in Minnesota.

  • Those BI reader responses are so funny! Similar to what I got.

    You mean if you focus on growing your income and save a ton of it, you too can retire early? Uh, yeah, Einstein. That’s kinda the point.

    But people would rather complain about others’ success than do anything the slightest bit “painful” to help out their own cause. Sheesh.

    • Based on the feedback yours received, I made it a point not to hit up any fast food joints that week. We sometimes do in the middle of the 10+ hour drive, but I packed sandwiches on this particular journey!

      It is interesting to see people’s limiting beliefs in action. The “must be nice” comments from people who could probably do something similar if they made the same choices and sacrifices that I have.

      Best,
      -PoF

      • Lynne

        Your second paragraph perfectly captured my opinion on why people posted negative comments concerning your FI success. They don’t want to say no to their current wants in order to achieve a more desirable future. There are times I’ve been tempted to blow money for fun but always drop back to thinking about the big picture. That kind of self control is what’s required in order to achieve FIRE goals.

        I saw this in action with my college roommate who had once again hit me up for money because she ran short before payday. We were both living in the poverty range; I wasn’t making more money than her, but our habits were different. She exclaimed “You always seem to have money!” as if I was doing something wrong. It was also her justification for demanding some of it. Mind you, her idea of my being wealthy was that I had a couple hundred in savings for the inevitable surprise car repair. She couldn’t seem to comprehend the concept of not spending every last dime she had as soon as it hit her wallet.

        I think basically that’s how people shoot themselves in the foot, financially speaking. And then they resent people like you who are far better managers of their finances.

  • Congrats on the BI article. It was a great read and fun to read about your finances in further detail. I was a little shocked when I read the comments on facebook and some were even in the Physician on Fire group. Everyone gets caught up on technicalities of retirement and passive income but miss the big picture that by controlling your finances you can live the life that is meaningful to you and your family

    Thank you for your hard work on this site and the physician finance community as a whole. You have encouraged thousands of people to save, invest and improve their lives and that is not a small task.

    • I appreciate the kind words, Linus.

      A lot of the negativity comes from false assumptions and misunderstandings. No one in their right mind would go through medical school and residency with the plan to retire as soon as possible. There are much easier paths to wealth than that. But people change, circumstances change, and medicine has certainly changed.

      Best,
      -PoF

  • Congrats on the exposure. 🙂

    Ah the trolls, I experienced my first few recently with some of my GoBankingRates articles being picked up by Yahoo Finance. I agree they must just sit and wait to pounce in the comments.

    Cheers to you!

  • Congrats on that big feature! It is a little disappointing when even members of the FI community are dismissive and negative. I mean cmon, we’re all working towards the same goal here people!

    Looking forward to meeting you in a couple weeks at Camp FI! I was one of the “lucky” ones who bought a ticket recently ha

    • I didn’t realize you’d be there, too. Very cool! Looks like there’s a waiting list now to join the party.

      Are you up for a Saturday morning jog? You only have to keep up with my 7-year old.

      Cheers!
      -PoF

  • And now the entire white coat network bloggers have revealed themselves. Looks like 2018 is the year of the reveal.

    Congratulations on your story going on a very mainstream site. It is sad that there are negative comments always lurking whenever you achieve success but those typically come from people who essentially have the same means as you did but never capitalized on them and now hate on those who do.

    Keep doing what you do as you inspire so many people to do great things.

    • Thank you, XRV. I still haven’t attached my name to the site, but it’s not that hard to find.

      The main reasons I wanted to be anonymous were a) the stupid lawsuit from my Board position and b) my colleagues didn’t know I was contemplating an early retirement.

      Now that I’ve finally been dismissed from that nonsense and my colleagues now I’m done next year, I’m less concerned about my identity being discovered.

      Cheers!
      -PoF

  • Not a troll

    Love the way you responded to the trolls. In all likelihood it probably prevented additional negative comments.

  • Hah! That was quite an impressive headline by BI. Do you have any control over it? What happened to stealth wealth my man?!

    Sam

    • My understanding is that even bona fide journalists don’t write their own headlines. A lowly blogger? Not a chance. 🙂

      I think stealth wealth was out the window when I published my $$$ goals in a guest post on your site about a year and a half ago. I’m proud to say I’ve surpassed them all!

      And I can still be somewhat stealthy in real life, despite what I say and do online. I’m still driving the same crappy car, wearing the same clothes, etc…

      Cheers!
      -PoF

  • Congrats on the feature in Business Insider. I checked out the twitter comments and I thought your responses to a lot of them were pure comedy. Especially the Hall and Oates “Out of Touch”. That was nice. I noticed that the repertoire of songs that you use in your posts and comments is quite extensive… Are you planning on DJ’ing as a side gig during early retirement?

  • Nephron Don

    PoF,

    Enjoyed your BI article. Don’t let the trolls get to you! Your blog has been a positive influence to your wider audience.

    Looking to plan retirement in my 50s, but my family think I am premature. Look forward to read your blog on tips on retirement transition, when you actually really add RE to FI.

  • VagabondMD

    PoF, nice job deflecting the hate. Bad on @businessinsider for the inflammatory, clickbait headline. I certainly could see how “regular folks” might be put off by the title, and to as lesser extent, the article and the idea of some wealthy doctor retiring at age 43. If they only knew you, they would not feel that way.

  • Thanks for the pub PoF! It took me a second to figure out where in the world all that Sunday traffic was coming from (it should have been immediately obvious that it was The Sunday Best, but the processor was moving slow this morning).

    ps–Is that a huge mug of OJ or a NEIPA in your glass?

    Joe

    • Happy to help, my law-interpreting friend!

      We’ve got a couple 1-barrel pilot systems, and they made a NE-style IPA on one last year, but I didn’t see it on tap when I was around this summer. They did bring back the Yuzu DIPA this summer, which was superb.

      What I’m holding, though, is actually a strawberry saison and it looks a bit cloudier due to the frosty mug.

      Cheers!
      -PoF

  • faille

    I’ll admit to scrolling to the bottom to see the potential bloodbath 🙂

    It can get frustrating to hear about someone earning multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars talk about living on half. “Of course it’s easy to live on half of what takes some people years to earn!” Also, I can’t help but think about how much further along I’d be if I was in that position 🙂 You seem to have a very balanced view of everything however – I love your focus on educating others and also on the donor funds.

    I’m in the low 100s myself and there are people who would roll their eyes at me. Your spending is very much in line with mine (albeit I have a California mortgage so there is not AS much room for fun), so it’s been nice to read about someone who has similar expenses. There’s some guilt that comes with earning more than average, and strangely even more with knowing that because of my income I’ll be able to reach an end game many will never see.

    At 37 I “accidentally” saved enough to be within 10-15 of retirement and very much wish I had learned the math to FIRE at an even earlier age. It was always my goal to “retire early” but targeting that as an achievable goal so early never even occurred to me as a possibility until I found Mr Money Mustache last year. I most definitely would have made some major life choices differently if I only knew back then what I knew now!

    Thanks for the site and looking forward to reading more about your adventures!

  • Congrats on your “coming out” PoF. There’s been several opportunities for me to get interviews in big-name publications that I’ve turned down because I didn’t want to reveal my real name.

    It’s something I don’t think I’ll ever do.

    • I was afraid to put my name and face out there, but most people that I’ve talked to who have done it feel their fears were unwarranted. I haven’t told that many people about my site, but I have yet to have a negative response from anyone who actually knows me.

      Cheers!
      -PoF

  • RocDoc

    Great to finally see and your wife! I feel like I practically know your boys after seeing many of their photos on your blog and all the adventures you’ve described involving them.
    You funny but gentle comeback comments to Twitter detractors reminded me of the hilarious comments Ryan Reynolds makes when he receives less than complimentary Twitter feedback. I think responding to the negative attitudes with kindness and humor like you did is the best way to get some of these doubting individuals to stop and think “Hey, this doc sounds like a nice reasonable guy. Maybe I should rethink this FIRE stuff.”

  • Gasem

    Nice article! My Aunt and Uncle had a cabin hotel on Mackinac Island back in the 40’s and 50’s so I spent some time there as a little kid getting into trouble. Very different scene than today. They were my introduction to FI. They ran the cabins in the season on the island, wintered in Lauderdale and Uncle Walt always had a huge Caddy. We were living in Chicago and once took a Ferry across the lake from WI. That was the trip I learned about sea sickness. Just call me Scopalamine Sam, the dude with the blown pupil. Congrats on your success.

  • JSA

    Great job on getting some publicity and getting the word out. Don’t take this the wrong way, but the cynic inside me disagrees with the optics on this one, which is not your doing at all. The title is very click-baity and has the potential to bring negativity to yourself, doctors and healthcare in general. Granted, Business Insider caters to a certain crowd that is more likely aligns with doctors. However with healthcare and its costs being a hot topic these days, reading about a doctor that made millions, works part-time earning 6-figures and is retiring in their 40’s, certainly isn’t the best optics to a layperson. Of course, we all know better. Some negativity you get, while not deserved, can be understandable.

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