As I look back on this past year… I realized that I have hit several financial milestones which prior to reaching them I thought would be deeply gratifying and liberating. They were indeed, albeit transiently so.
- May 2014: No longer paying for the privilege to work/learn; graduated from medical school and stopped paying tuition and fees ~50k annually.
- May 2014: purchased my first home with doctor’s mortgage, 11% down.
- July 2014: got my first stable salary check since starting medical school.
- February 2015: refinance my home to a better interest rate (drop my interest rate by a whole percentage) and owned 20% equity.
- March 2015: sold my car
- March 2015: paid off my student loans
Upon achieving one goal, the subsequent goal kept me working hard and motivated. Accomplishing each of the above objective took a lot of discipline, creativity, and watchfulness. I did celebrate each milestones with family by eating out and collectively reminiscing what it took to get there.
But financial goals are endless and I have been chasing after the wind.
When I wrote the post My American Dream, I was content with paying off my current home in 2022 and buying a home for my parents by 2023.
But guess what?
My ambition and impatience soon prodded me to find ways to buy my parents a house NOW. It is doable… But this fast forwarding 8 years does stretch me thin, out of my comfort zone… While I do tend to squeeze every ounce of resources out of myself for work, family, and pressing towards financial freedom; I realized this time, that I needed to draw a line.
I realized that my constant and insatiable desire to MAXIMIZE my time, my resources, and my energy is driven by fear. It was the fear that came from getting evicted as a child when my parents failed to pay rent; the fear when debt collectors came knocking on the door; the fear when my mother told me that dad was out “negotiating” with his creditors who might physically hurt him.
The desire to buy my parents a house NOW is emotional and irrational. I could be putting my cash reserve towards retirement (I planed to max my ROTH IRA prior to April 15th 2015 for year 2014) and enjoying much higher return with much less stress. If I do purchase this dream house for my parents, it would be precarious for at least a year or so, as I have yet developed the cushion to afford anything that may go wrong with ANOTHER house.
After accomplishing the 6 goals above, I’m just at a point where I could emerge from the water and BREATHE for once. To buy a second house, before I even finish internship, would literally be trying to stay under water, on a nearly emptied tank of air.
Yes, it would be great if I can get the instant gratification of accomplishing yet another major milestone and to enjoy knowing that parents finally have Their 1st home. A place where they truly belong and will never have to worry about getting kicked out. They are in their 60’s; they deserve this. In Chinese culture, children are parents’ retirement accounts. I would like to live up to these internalized cultural expectations.
However, to purchase this dream house for 280k, I would have to put all my cash reserve into down payment; to find more cash (short term personal loans) to pay down my 0% interest credit cards (which fundamentally I’m against, when i have higher interest debt items); to forget about maxing out my 2014 ROTH IRA; and to HAVE to work additional/tutor more to make up for the additional expense from a 2nd house payment and maintenance.
I know this is DOABLE. I have pushed myself harder before.
Yet do I really want to do this? To myself and more importantly, to my family? Will I be a pleasant person to be around for my daughter, my partner, or my parents? How much empathy, compassion will be left in me when serving patients? NADA.
I’ve taken advantage of the financial system and did well. But truly I’ve taken the most advantage of myself and exploited every ounce of energy to be Productive and to Maximize. My workaholism had been fear driven and quite damaging to my physical, mental, and most importantly spiritual health.
So I have decided to make a change.
For once, I’m taking the advice from those who love and watch out for me. I am going to take a break. My 2 week vacation is coming up; my parents and sister will be in town. I will not get carried away with another financial goal/project until I refill my oxygen tank FULLY! The treasures under the sea surface are always going to be there for me to discover and claim.