A funny thing happens when you commence your education in pursuit of financial independence. Without realizing it, you begin to view other areas of life through the lens of finance. The insights into non-financial life might pleasantly surprise you.
Don’t Underestimate Life’s Value With A Disability
I wrote an essay in college exploring the ethics of using novel DNA screening technology to determine if a fetus had Down Syndrome. As an exercise, I tried to write it from a utilitarian perspective - how does one evaluate what does the most good for the greatest number of people? Was this a revival of the discredited eugenics movement, a failure to recognize the inherent value of human life and the effects such lives have on others, or a viable option for parents with a right to know?
My mom and perhaps the one other regular reader of this blog may have noticed I haven’t posted in a few weeks. December was a brutal month - my wife and I spent much of it either out of state in the ICU at the bedside of a critically ill family member or back at home indirectly supporting that family member from afar. I will be forever grateful to my colleagues who swapped shifts last minute to let me be present for my family. Following are a few reflections of this time.
Just as arbitrage deals with using inefficiencies in pricing to extract additional value in a financial transaction, ego arbitrage uses inefficiencies in the status of certain tasks or behaviors to create additional value (or savings) in your career and in your life.
It’s not at Vanguard. I was not an accredited investor at the time of purchase. And it’s beaten the S&P in value added every single year since I went all in. Trouble is, it’s closed to new investors. A recent thread on the WCI forum got me thinking about my single most important investment.
This post takes it title from a charismatic flight attendant's announcement prior to takeoff on a recent flight from California to Texas. It resonated for me. Like many other FI bloggers, I'm a recovering neurotic transitioning to calm.
In the FI blogging world, certain names get referenced by folks whose opinions you respect until you reach a tipping point and decide to spend a few hours digging through their website to see what the hype is all about. Ms. Montana at Montana Money Adventures was toasted by so many of the bloggers I admire that I prepared myself for disappointment.
This had nothing to do with Ms. Montana and everything to do with the way I approach overly hyped books, films, or people. I prefer the under-promise/over-perform approach to discovery, so I tend to be wary of items in the spotlight. As academics will tell you, the secret to happiness is low expectations.
Here’s the thing: Ms. Montana’s posts were every bit as thoughtful, remarkable and moving as my big sibs in blogging had alluded to. She’s brilliant. A giver. Every post I read made me want to read another, and all of them were consistently high quality. She did not take shortcuts. Montana Money Adventures has been my go-to insomnia reading for the past couple of weeks.
I was recently entrusted to read a friend’s memoir about coping with his wife’s major unexpected health crisis one year into their marriage. Spoiler alert - she survived, they remain together, and her recovery continues to make strides three years later.
My friend describes, among many other things, the experience of being disappointed by friends he considered intimates who seemed to recede from view when he most needed their support. Several of these friends shared long histories of having been available when he needed them (and vice versa) during earlier stages of life, but then dropped off the map. There are many possible explanations/excuses, but none of them matter. The friendships are over.
In medicine, the Tanner scale of development uses physical characteristics to determine where an individual falls in their development from child to adulthood. Here’s my financial equivalent for newbie physicians (with minor modifications, it can apply to non-medical folks just as easily):
For physicians with specialties than enable them to scale back time commitments, I've always suspected that creating a "glide path to retirement" could make a significant difference in day to day quality of life.
Time to test that hypothesis! It's been six weeks at my reduced shift load as an emergency physician, and I thought it would be a worthwhile exercise to review what they’ve been like.
Financial Literacy for The Newly Minted Physician