I love that the FIRE blogging community makes our health a priority. It's clear that taking responsibility for your finances goes hand in hand with taking responsibility for your physical well being. I take voyeuristic pleasure in reading prominent bloggers' accounts of milestone physical achievements, and share their vulnerability when they confess their dietary indiscretions to a readership that identifies with those struggles.
Like many of us in the FI blogging space, Mr. Money Mustache is the reason my blog exists. I've never met Pete, but by all accounts he seems like a charismatic and responsible human being, and I have great affection for the cult he's created. Still, something on his blog has gnawed at me for years, and I'd like to air it out.
Second in a series of woulda shoulda couldas. Picks up where the last post left off.
Two Story vs. One Story
To get the large square footage we sought, he had to opt for a two story home. This is fine assuming youth and health. Stairs are problematic. They present a constant hazard to infants and toddlers early in parenthood (not to mention primary school kids who insist on wearing socks on hardwood as they race downstairs). Just when your kids are old enough to stop worrying you, aging parents visit with bum knees or on anticoagluants that make stairs hazardous all over again.
When I moved from Boston to LA in 2005, everything was coming up roses. I was dating a woman whose presence had suddenly transformed my life from black and white to color, and we were moving in together (spoiler alert: I married her). I’d found us an apartment that was a nine block walk to the beach. I’d landed a great job at a highly-regarded community hospital where several friends worked in the ED. My wife joined me at the beach apartment a couple of months later, and out of thin air drummed up five interviews and multiple job offers by the following month. We felt unstoppable.
The Happy Philosopher, a radiologist whose thoughts on life routinely serve as inspiration for his readers and fellow bloggers alike, began an interesting experiment at the start of this year. He initially made a public declaration that he’d buy no clothes for the year. Reconsidering it a few days later, he grew more ambitious and decided that (excluding a limited, prospectively determined list of items) he planned to buy nothing at all for one year.
When he posted his initial declaration not to buy clothes for a year, it got me thinking. I meandered over to our master walk-in closet, whose square footage exceeds the size of my senior single dorm room from college. I recalled exchanging awkward glances with my wife when we saw the closet on the day we moved in, both of us slightly embarrassed at all this space we were certain we’d never use. Eight years after moving in, the closet was full.
I made a brief visit to a dear friend who recently became a single mother by choice. We met when we were seventeen at a summer program for high school students on the campus of UC Santa Barbara. Between the beach and falling in love with a new crush every 3 days, it was adolescent heaven. But I digress.
As a “manny” attempting to give my friend brief reprieve from infant overnight call, I had mixed success. But as a friend looking to connect with someone I love and see infrequently due to geography, I succeeded.
We talked a great deal about child-rearing strategies and all the unsolicited advice having a kid seems to attract. I confessed some of the numerous rookie mistakes my wife and I made with our own kids.
My friend, a poet since her teen years, responded to my confessions by saying, “I’m beginning to think parenting is in the recovery.”
We spent this past weekend in San Francisco, at a friend of my wife's 50th birthday party. He's a sweet and thoughtful guy, and as part of the festivities we met up for lunch with a handful of my wife's college friends and enjoyed a middle-aged version of "The Breakfast Club." Accomplished professionals gathered around the table like a professional version of duck-duck-goose: physician-attorney-software engineer-academic-physician.
I genuinely enjoyed their company, and they made themselves vulnerable with honest appraisals of where they're at in life. One person in particular caught my attention: let's call him Unconstrained.
One of the most enjoyable ways I've channeled my finance geek leanings has been to offer to meet with newbies who join our practice to review their finances and help them develop confidence in a plan to pay off educational debt, invest, and save for retirement. For a surprising number of them, it's the first such discussion they've ever had, and they welcome the opportunity to lear.
The newbies seem to get more motivated to meet once they look at the group schedule to find a time when both of us will be off - and promptly take note of the fact that I'm working fewer shifts than most other colleagues at my career stage. After the conversations I enjoyed this past weekend, apparently the newbies aren't the only ones taking notice.
I use a Feedly account to follow ~50 blogs. 35 of them are physician finance blogs. The other 15 are FI/RE blogs. The vast majority of them espouse low cost index funds and eschew market timing in favor of long-term, buy and hold investing. Recently, an interesting facet of human behavioral psychology has repeatedly been surfacing in this slice of the blogosphere: CAPE fear.
True story from approximately 2002. It’s 3am the day after St. Patrick’s Day when an extremely concerned 21 year old woman accompanied by her bleary-eyed boyfriend arrive in the Emergency Department of a large urban trauma center. I am the resident on the night shift who sees them.
Me: How can I help you today?
Patient: My pooh is green!
Financial Literacy for The Newly Minted Physician