Since joining the FI (Financial Independence) community, every day I’m discovering more awesome blogs to learn from. So I decided to start a series of guest posts under the “Financial Hero Series.” I got the idea from PoF’s Christopher Guest Post. (PoF is full of great ideas; I like following his footsteps 🙂 You can check out my Christopher Guest post on PoF here.
This series features a whole bunch of amazing personal finance bloggers whom I admire and look up to. Each hero will answer a set of questions from me and sometimes add their own Q&A. I’ll publish this series of posts once every few weeks.
Today, I’m honored and excited to spotlight White Coat Investor. WCI is the godfather of physician money bloggers. I remember asking him lots and lots of questions when I was a MS2, 3, 4, and PGY1. He walked me through numerous critical financial decisions. In general, I can’t agree with WCI more on money and medicine.
So here you go. I’m sure you will find lots of money, life, and medicine pearls from his responses to my questions below.
What do you do for a living?
I guess it really depends. I used to say I practice emergency medicine, but technically more income now comes in from the website than medicine, so I guess I blog for a living.
Why do you blog?
I’ve always enjoyed writing and teaching. After a multi-year personal finance and investing self-education process I realized that I knew more about it than the vast majority of other doctors, and that no one was teaching those who did not yet have this knowledge. It was an easy gap for me to see and easy for me to fill. At the time I was also very intrigued by the idea of a passive income, and the internet was the wild west of passive income with almost no barrier to entry. So I launched it as a business from the very beginning. It didn’t make much that first year, $930 (and I wrote it all off) but eventually I figured out a model to actually make some great money as traffic grew.
Why is your blog awesome?
The best part about it is the community that has developed around it as it gets passed around from one student to another, one resident to another, and one doctor to another. The comments section and the forum really facilitate interaction between readers and my habit of one guest post a week helps provide alternative voices to the blog. Another unique thing about the blog is the degree of openness I run it with. Not only do I reveal all of my financial conflicts of interest, but a long-term reader gets a very in-depth look into our personal finances, family, and marriage. The combination of valuable, needed information and a personal voice works wonders.
How many days left until you obtain financial independence?
I’m at that stage where my FI date is more determined by my spending than my portfolio. The less I spend the sooner I’m FI. At our current level of spending and earning, I think we’re about 4 years out, but that date has some dependence on future market performance.
Any sage advice on money and marriage?
One house, one spouse, one job. The largest expenses in life are related to those three. Seriously though, there is plenty to disagree about in marriage, why add finances to the list when it is so easy to get on the same page with that. Have a short money meeting each month of your marriage and you can essentially eliminate money-related conflict completely.
What are the top 10 things you’d tell your younger self?
1) You’ll care a lot more about your income and lifestyle in fifteen years than you do as an MS3.
2) Don’t buy that whole life insurance policy.
3) Financial advisors don’t have the same education and ethical commitment as doctors.
4) Residents (and med students) shouldn’t buy houses.
5) Deployments will bother you a lot more at 35 than 25.
6) Kids grow up fast.
7) Double check that the A/C works before you buy a car.
8) Assume most people become offended more easily than you, and act that way.
9) Lock your carabiners. Every time.
10) the most important part of evaluating a new job is the people you work with.
What is the #1 money mistakes you’ve made that want your readers to avoid?
Growing into their attending income too quickly.
What are the 3 most important money lessons you teach your kid(s)?
Money comes from work.
Debt is stealing from future you.
Owners make more.
What are the 5 smartest money moves you’ve made in your life?
Spend less than I earn.
Learn about personal finance and investing early in life.
Use retirement accounts.
Meet with my spouse monthly about finances.
Learn how to spend in a way that increases happiness.
What are 3 things you’d do if money is no object?
Go to space.
Do all travel on a private jet.
Hire someone to follow my kids around and make them pick up their stuff.
When did you first start contributing to your own Roth IRA?
When did your child first contribute to his/her Roth IRA?
The youngest in her first year of life. Basically as soon as they have earned income they get the daddy match.
What does financial independence mean to you?
Less than it used to. It’s just a number really. If you actually like what you do and wouldn’t change your work habits if you were FI, that’s all it is. Too many people going for early FI hate their jobs. Better to create your ideal life now than do all you can to escape from your less than ideal life ASAP. Draw out what your ideal life looks like and try to mold your life into that model ASAP. For most of us, that will include some type of work. If you are going to retire early, you’d better have something to retire to. When I have something I enjoy doing more than work, I do it.
Thanks for the opportunity.
James M. Dahle, MD, FACEP
Founder and Editor
The White Coat Investor