The FI movement consists of a fringe group of people scattered across the globe who shun conventional consumer culture.
Could the experience of such a tiny group of individuals with deviant financial behavior and limited means someday have an outsize impact on the world?
Stranger things have happened. Read on for a far-fetched tale of improbable impact by a misfit of medicine.
Every now and again I succumb to sappier impulses. It must have been from watching too many reruns of When Harry Met Sally back in the day. Forgive the indulgence!
Makes 1 heaping serving of financial independence.
Cooking time: Approximately a decade and a half after residency, depending on student debt, specialty income, and spending.
1 jar of resident lifestyle preserves
1 strong work ethic
1 aggressive savings rate
2 helpings of delayed gratification
+/- 1 partner on board with financial goals
It’s been four months since I returned my iphone to Sprint and my wife and I switched over to Project Fi, the no-contract cellular service operated by Google. Calls are routed preferentially via wi-fi when available, and on the Sprint or T-mobile networks when you’re away from wi-fi. We put Fi to the test by traveling out of country (Mexico City, then San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas, Mexico). Our verdict: Victory for the forces of democratic freedom!*
Eventually, the ability to enjoy myself seeped back into my life, one area at a time. My kids sucked me back into their world that didn’t care about my troubles so long as I could splash them in the bath or read them a bedtime story. My wife was simply extraordinary. I didn’t feel deserving of my family’s love, but they shared it all the same, and it rescued me.
I was tired - it had been a busy winter shift and my head was spinning, but I was slowly winding down after a nice family dinner and some reading time with my daughter. My wife and I had put our toddler to bed and were catching up when the doorbell rang. Taking a perverse pleasure in the humiliation he strove to inflict, the stranger who asked for me announced loudly enough for the neighbors to hear that I’d been served papers in my first lawsuit.
I’d heard California called many things before. The Golden State. A nature lover’s paradise. A youth and beauty parade. But the White Coat Investor (WCI) was the first to call it out as a Financial Toxic Wasteland. I describe myself as an unrepentant Californian, owning up to my idiosyncrasies and accepting the faults (and more reluctantly, the fault lines) that come with being a native. I live within a two hour drive of my parents, take surface streets to an international airport, and have largely lucked into a life with a 20 minute non-freeway commute to work.
So why live in a place where state tax rates approach 9% for physician level income brackets? Where housing is expensive, cost of living is high, and physicians are more likely to be regarded as middle class due to their relatively poor purchasing power vis a vis peers in the tech and finance industries?
My wife runs a side hustle that has been in full swing all summer, and which despite being mostly a word of mouth endeavor has evolved over a decade into a full-time job. On top of this, she works one clinical day shift per week in the ED to maintain her skills. My 10 hour shift yesterday turned into a 12 hour shift because the ED was buzzing, and my friends on the overnight could use my help in flushing the proverbial toilet that our waiting room had become. I felt good about the work - the folks I saw in our fast track would have waited hours longer given the night’s high acuity patients.
Financial Literacy for The Newly Minted Physician