Are You My Avatar?

crispydoc Uncategorized 11 Comments

What’s an avatar?

Before FinCon18, I assumed Avatar meant the James Cameron movie with a presumably thin plot padded by special effects (I’ve never seen it, so feel free to correct me).

Now, I understand an avatar represents the theoretical person I’m trying to reach via this blog. This led to some natural soul-searching. I’d always thought I was writing for two audiences.

Who is she when she arrives?

Bachelorette number one is a newbie physician, earnest and delighted with her newfound competence in medicine, coming into an attending paycheck with little idea of what to do with it. She’s a couple of hundred grand in the hole due to education debt. She is on the brink of starting her financial life as an adult.

After going through the see one, do one, teach one process of learning medicine, she seeks the comfort she derived from a senior resident to look over her shoulder as she performs the first high stakes procedure of her adult financial life: becoming a Do-It-Yourself investor.

She is a newbie looking for a guide she knows, trusts and likes to offer blueprints for financial success.

Bachelorette number two is a mid-career physician who just experienced a life-altering event: got married, had a child, got divorced or felt stuck in a rut due to burnout. Something totally reoriented the internal compass, lending an urgency to the need to get that act together.

The life change altered the trajectory of what had been a full-court press medical career. Suddenly it was depleting to go to work. Time away from a loved one suddenly hurt more. Losing a relationship left a void of meaning and purpose.

Time became more valuable than money.

She felt empty and helpless, and wanted to change the axis her life revolved around.

She is a veteran seeking a guide who can empower her to enact change.

At FinCon18, Nick True (greatest blogger last name ever) ran the first-timer orientation. He had us perform a simple exercise.

Complete the sentence: I help ______ become _______.

I thought about this and came up with: I help doctors become financially literate to reclaim their time.

How will I change her life?

There is no shortage of excuses for why she is too busy to learn about finance. She’s too busy with work, love, life. Money is vulgar. Investing is scary and confusing.

My role is to help her put personal finance and investing in the proper perspective.

At first, it will be entirely about managing the money. She has logistical questions that I can help her answer.

Developing the habit of tracking spending and savings. Figuring out what her personal “enough” will be. Creating a road map to a desired level of wealth. Understanding how a simple, low cost, passive index fund investing plan tailored to her needs can become a vehicle to help her arrive there. Building the confidence needed to execute that plan on her own.

After some time, the logistics of investing become second nature. Her Do It Yourself investing education has become a regular workout, make investing a muscle memory exercise that consumes less time and is less of a source of anxiety.

Unexpectedly, my ulterior motive emerges. It’s not actually about the money – it never was.

What’s My Why?

I turned 46 this month. Statistically, I have more years behind me than ahead of me.

This energizes me more than it depresses me because I am finally spending time in ways that are important to me. I was a late bloomer.

The path to reach this point in my adult life was simple, but the discipline to follow it was not easy.

Owning my financial life has given me options.

  • To work less.
  • To work on things I find meaningful that do not produce income.
  • To build and strengthen relationships.
  • To make fitness and health a priority.
  • To choose how I spend my time. Autonomy and flexibility are more important to me than ever.
  • To determine what kind of legacy I will leave for my wife, my children, my loved ones and my community. To lay that foundation now.

I spent a lot of my early years wondering who and how I wanted to be when I grew up.

I spend most days now becoming that grownup, fulfilling those dreams with slow but steady progress.

By cutting back, my practice of medicine supports (rather than undermines) those goals.

My plans don’t always work out.

My kids still drive me crazy.  My jokes still bomb. Unhappy people leading difficult lives still verbally abuse me while on shift.

But what if this website helps free another person who felt stuck or helpless like I did?

Helps her to climb out of those depths using financial literacy as a tool to allocate her time according to her values?

Renews her lease on life, and leaves her more resilient and energized to become the person she wants to be when she grows up?

That possibility is my why.

Comments 11

  1. Happy birthday CD. I guess the majority of my life is in the rear view mirror too as I am just a couple of months shy of my 48th birthday. It is a bit of a sobering thought that I have already peaked physically and intellectually and now begin the descent downwards (can’t fight mother nature unfortunately).

    I too changed my priorities from money to time which truly is the most valuable asset. And knowing you helped someone through your work (blogging or otherwise) really make is feel like the time spent was indeed worthwhile.

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  2. Hey Crispy Doc,

    Your avatars are definitely common and in need of guidance. Medical training is still based on the mentorship model to teach doctors how to better care for our patients. Being a financial mentor to fellow physicians is a natural extension to that.

    Financial literacy for docs not only improves their lives and enables the better self-care that you describe. It also extends to the patients, colleagues, and communities that an empowered and non-burnt-out doctor touches.

    I think that you will reach your avatars, but that they will also mentor their own avatars.

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      Loonie Doc,

      I certainly hope it becomes the positive feedback loop you describe. Self-care is the key – just like brushing and showering, you neglect your “financial hygiene” at great personal risk (not to mention, those you see regularly will eventually notice the stench and take appropriate evasive measures).

      Thanks for the vote of confidence,


  3. Happy Birthday CD!

    I’m assuming your birthday is today. Since it’s the last day of this month (and apparently it wasn’t yesterday).

    My birthday is in January too. I might be 10 years your junior though.

    Thanks to you and the work of others, hopefully I will be financially literate enough to achieve wellness in life and not experience the burnout that others have unfortunately endured.

    Again, thank you.

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      Thanks for the kind wishes. 10 years my junior! I only wish I had been as savvy as you currently are.

      Brings to mind what Warren Buffett said at one of the BRK investor meetings during Q&A. A twenty-something made an inquiry, and Buffett reportedly replied along the lines of, “I’d give my entire fortune to be your age again.”

      Happy belated to you, my friend. May we celebrate many more together, in health.



  4. Interesting my bday is today CD. Finances like physician lives are like tangled hair in search of a brush. The career is over emphasized at the expense of the remainder, family, finance, leisure, engagement, and the system in which it exists is designed to extract every last drop of hemoglobin, hyperhydrosis and lachrymation. It’s a nasty business where you are beat to a pulp and show up the next day for more, in fact this is what I believe medical schools choose for, not necessarily excellence or brilliance but uncommon almost perverse perseverance. Perseverance takes it’s toll, and there’ll be one child born and a world to carry on. The difference in return between 2 SD and 3 SD is a mere 4.28% yet the effort to move that needle 4.28% is a 100%. Sounds like heresy doesn’t it! Dare to be average! If you teach anybody anything teach them that. Personally I don’t have much of a purpose. I left that behind when I transcended being a doing and became a being.

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      Happy birthday, Gasem! January seems more auspicious with you and Dr. McFrugal as…not sure of the proper term. Birthmates?

      Your theory on selection for perseverance sounds intuitively correct. Medicine always chooses the Sisyphus applicant, then increases the size of the boulder each successive day.

      The rub is that it takes a non-average level of insight to realize the value in seeking to be average. That’s Heller’s Catch-22 in a nutshell. By recognizing that the system is crazy and wanting to opt out, you have demonstrated a level of understanding that confirms you can’t possibly be crazy enough to qualify for the insanity opt-out.

      To more being!



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