So much of personal finance and investing isn’t about winning; it’s about not losing. That’s because investing is a single-player game; it’s you against your goals, not you against your neighbor or your partner or some yahoo on an internet forum. However, there are precious few whose ultimate financial goal is to be broke and if you can avoid doing that, well, that’s one mark of success. There aren’t that ...

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Retiring early as a doctor is surprisingly difficult given the typical doctor income. There are four main reasons for this – the heavy debt load to enter the career, the very late start to earning a significant salary (most physicians leave residency at an age older than some FIRE bloggers retire at), the temptation of a high income, and the “doctor factor” I’ll get into later. Despite those challenges, it ...

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There are many blog posts, books, and podcasts out in the world celebrating “passive” income. I’ve even got a partner blog in the WCI Network completely dedicated to passive income. It’s time somebody stood up for the other side — active or earned income. Is it really all that bad to have earned income? Of course not. Let me explain why. #1 It’s called opportunity Thomas Edison famously said, “Opportunity is ...

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Q. Have you ever thought about doing a post on oversaving? I realize most docs probably have the opposite problem, but I bet there is a subset of the FIRE crowd that this may apply to. Does this ever come up in all the interactions you have? A. It was no surprise to see this question come in as a direct message on the WCI Forum, rather than an email ...

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It is widely recommended in the financial world that you prioritize your retirement savings over college savings for your children. I agree with this advice. Yet, I run into people all the time who are not following it. Perhaps it is because college often arrives a decade or more earlier than retirement so it seems natural to save for college first and then turn your attention toward ...

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By the time you read this, I will have completed a transition to working half-time. Now, I know a lot of docs out there think emergency docs are already only working half-time, so perhaps I ought to start with explaining why that isn’t the case, even if emergency physicians work fewer hours than many other physicians. Let’s start with the fact that most Americans consider 35 to 40 hours a week ...

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Guess what? You’re surrounded by rich doctors. You probably didn’t even know it. You know why? Because doctors don’t talk about that filthy lucre known as money. So while you’re assuming that all the other doctors in your group, office building, and hospital are in the same position as you, you’re wrong. Some of them are rich. There are ten things they’re not telling you, but which ...

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There is a taboo in medicine. It is becoming less prominent, but it still exists. You’re not supposed to talk about money. Not how much something costs a patient, not how much you get paid, not how you invest, and certainly not about the freedom from medicine that financial independence can bring. This first shows up as you are applying to medical school. You don’t want anyone writing a ...

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Physicians are notorious for being bad with money. Today we’re going to assign some blame for that phenomenon. Physician finances have three enemies, and we’re going to expose them today. 1. Financial professionals Enemy number one consists of many members of the financial industry. These “helpers” are often part of the problem. One of the biggest problems is commissioned salesmen masquerading as financial advisors. Although some of the these “advisors” ...

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I’m always intrigued by those who earn millions of dollars per year or even per month. Some manage to blow all that money and then some. Others, like a select few NFL players, choose to spend wisely and save prodigiously. Today’s Saturday Selection highlights the habits of one athlete who was among the highest paid NBA stars for many years. The headlines sadly feature athletes with similar ...

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Once every couple of years I have medical students from the local medical school over for dinner. At some point, the conversation usually turns to finance, and I commiserate with them about their loan burdens. I typically toss them a few pearls of wisdom, wish them good luck, and we move on to something else. They always think it’s funny when I say, “If you can’t live on $200K, you ...

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A frequent topic seen on this site and many other sites, blogs, and forums are the merits of using very low-interest financing for various things. The attraction is obvious. Not only do you not have to have the cash up front, but even if you do, surely you can do better investing than 0%, and if you borrow at 0% and earn at anything better than 0%, then you come ...

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I love movies. Not the artsy types that win awards; I most enjoy the big, expensive popcorn blockbusters that take you away to a different time and place. However, as our income and wealth has grown, we’ve maintained a few of our “cheapskate” habits from when we were poor. One of these is we see almost all of our movies at the “dollar theater,” a second-run theater where the entire ...

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Q. International stocks are doing really well, so I’m thinking about investing more money into them. What do you think? A. I grew up playing ice hockey and continued to play in high school, college, and even now. Coaches often gave us the same advice that hockey legend Wayne Gretzky’s dad gave to him: “Skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” Ice hockey is ...

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Long-term readers know that in late 2014, 8 years out of residency, my wife and I decided to loosen the purse strings a bit. We had lived like a resident for four years, then purchased our dream home six months after we moved to our “big boy” job. But even then it was only a minor increase in our lifestyle. By 2014, I had been a partner in my ...

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Q. Where do I start? I have a huge student loan debt and don’t think I’ll ever be able to pay it off. I am a physician assistant, and my partner is a physical therapist. We’re about two years out of school. I have only recently started to try and figure out how to be smart with my money. I owe $167K in student loans, and my partner owes $200K. Our combined ...

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Once upon a time I wrote an article about private real estate investment trusts (REITs). These are some of the favorite tools of salesmen masquerading as financial advisors (there’s a reason they’re called “brokers”). They would sell these investments with a promise of high income. 8% yields were not uncommon. The value of these REITs were not marked to market. For years. So although you knew you were getting ...

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My email box is an endless source of material for the blog and podcast. As always, details are changed to protect the innocent. Assume genders are swapped about half the time, specialties are changed, and identifying details are obscured. Today’s Q&A provides a great discussion of some things to think about as you approach retirement. The situation discussed is very common among docs and is hardly the only time I’ve ...

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Brian Canes sent me a question via Twitter, and I couldn’t quite answer it in 140 characters, so I decided to do a blog post about it since I thought it illustrated some important points. His question was: "How do you calculate a % funded for a 529 account given an account balance and projected college tuition assuming no future contributions?" In essence, Brian is asking “Am I done saving for college?” ...

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We’re going to address the most common question I see. Should you pay off debt or use your money to invest? Over and over again it is asked, always with slightly different details. 95% of the time, the answer is a simple “It depends.” So today, we’re going to talk about what it depends on. I’ve written about this topic before, but it has been six years. I ...

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