*With a heavy heart, I am sad to tell you that Dr. Amanda (a.k.a. Dr. Wise Money) passed away unexpectedly days before Thanksgiving. Her spirit will live on through her wisdom, a life well lived, and of course her family. Please send your thoughts and prayers to her and her family during this time. God bless!
Hey Readers, today I have the distinct pleasure of introducing you to Dr. Wise Money! Dr. Wise Money is a radiology resident and personal finance blogger. She’s also a Mom to Mini Wise Money and somehow manages to keep it all together. So without further adieu…
Walk me through how and why you started your personal finance blog? Was the decision easy or hard, why? What’s your core message you’re trying to share?
My core message is: ordinary people like myself can obtain financial literacy to achieve their financial goals faster than have ever dreamed of. My blog drwisemoney.com is pretty awesome because it’s intended to help ordinary people like you and I achieve financial independence.
I came from a family that’s the antithesis of a traditional Chinese family. While my heritage prides itself in 2 main capabilities, cleaning and saving money, my parents, though otherwise really great parents, were subpar in both money management and household tidiness.
As a child growing up in Taiwan, I was intimidated by debt collectors threatening and yelling at our apartment door. Having watched too much Chinese mafia movie, I worried for my dad when he left to negotiate with the creditors, thinking that he might lose a pinky for being late on his debt payment.
We came to America when I was 16 to start over. After an epic burnout from working 7 jobs while double-majoring at UC Berkeley, I drop off the pre-med dean’s honors list wagon. Instead, I decided to have a child at 22.
As a single mother, I struggled through medical school financially. I worked two jobs, took care of my toddler 75% time on my own with childcare assistance from family members 25% of the time while attending medical school full-time.
Through this all, I paid off my student loans a couple of months after graduating from medical school while my peers owed $300k-$400k of student loans snowballing at 7% interest rate as residents (after graduating from medical school, we continue training for another 3-6 years before becoming fully licensed medical doctors.)
I’m now on my way to financial independence by 2023. If I can accomplish my financial goals in strides, and surprise myself with reaching each milestone faster than I anticipated, our readers and others can too.
Michael here – WOW! Talk about work ethic. I can’t even imagine working so many jobs and juggling so many priorities. I’m thoroughly impressed. It just goes to show you what people are capable of if the desire is there.
Describe your past relationship with money. How has it evolved into your present views today? How do you want it to change in the future?
My relationship with money was initially fear based, as I grew up with parents who were bad with money. I was fearful when debt collectors stood at my door in Taiwan, demanding payments. I worried for my father as he left the house to negotiate with the Mafia who were collecting his debt.
I went through a period of frantically making money, as I had 7 odd jobs while double majoring at UC Berkeley, trying to send money home to pay my parents’ 30% interest rate credit card debt.
I recently had the realization that I do not need to fear money and that I do not need to work for money. When I put my heart and my energy to where I can best serve others, money naturally follows me and works for me.
My daughter, Mini Wise Money has taught me many things about life, including how to replace fear with love and become much more productive and helpful to others by doing so.
Describe 1 empowering belief you have about money and how it positively affected your life. On the flip side, describe 1 disempowering belief about money (past or present). What has been the effect on your financial goals?
I look around me, identify needs and problems. Come up with solutions and what I can do to serve those needs. Operating on this model has brought me more unexpected rewards, financial and personal, than I would have working 388/hour tutoring medical licensing board exams.
This belief frees me to work for free or relatively little hourly pay while my money is working hard for me. I find myself happily embracing my work as a radiology resident, one of my lowest per hourly paying job. I’m happy to work 80-100 hours/week on radiology/medicine related tasks/learning because I know that I’m making a positive contribution to society with my education and skills (I’ve studied and trained 22 years so far and 4 more years to become a fully licensed radiologist.) The great rewards of working relatively low hourly rate job comes from knowing that I may have saved a life or two today, or that I’m embracing the privilege to learn some of the most complex and intricate anatomy and disease of the human body.
While there are some people who want to work minimum hours possible during residency, given the fixed salary, I want to work as hard as I can as a radiology resident, because I know each hour that I spend working hard means that I’m acquiring more knowledge and skills to become the best doctor I can be.
Setting my eyes on service rather than monetary gains allow me to become the best I can be in my profession and rewards me handsomely knowing that I’ve done my best to give and increase my capacity to give. And strangely, when I work to learn and to serve rather than to earn, money follows me… in unexpected ways.
Michael again – Dr. Wise Money points out an incredibly important law of this universe. Give first and it will be returned to you many times over. Notice her discipline now as a resident. Imagine her capacity to give even more once she’s fully licensed and earning a FT radio salary!!
I can’t afford to not work every chance I’ve got.
Every opportunity to work (tutoring, consulting, other gigs) I should not pass up because I need to minimize student loans, pay off student loans (most people who graduated from my medical school had $300-$400k of student loans, I paid off mine within a few months graduating from medical school), and to accumulate wealth to care for my family members.
This belief trapped me in the race of working for money. I was fearful of and enslaved by money. I worked every chance I got. I had no concept of free time or me time. I slept 4 hours a day for 15 years… killing myself slowly with sleep deprivation.
Now I that I learned that the greatest asset I have is my time and my mind, I find myself passing up an opportunity to earn a fixed amount of money an hour (even if it’s 400/hr), to invest my time in self-improvement, further learning, and be with my loved ones. Even if I’m not paid immediately, but I find investing in my health and the health of my loved ones pay incredible dividends over the long run and increase efficiency in the short-term too.
Michael here again – another great insight. There’s no use working for money if you aren’t healthy enough to enjoy it! Life balance is the key to happiness.
Who taught or influenced you about money when you were growing up? What was the impact?
My parents taught me what not do with money. Live above your means. Never save. Never have a financial plan.
My aunt, emerging from a penniless 20-year-old immigrant who spoke little English to a multi-millionaire medical entrepreneur, taught me to set goals for myself and to persevere and be creative when focusing and moving towards the goals.
What is your favorite personal finance book? What’s the best actionable takeaway you got from it?
That the biggest/greatest asset I have is my mind and my time. Work to learn not to earn.
I put these into actions by taking care of myself, increased my sleep by 50% (4 hours to 6 hours every day. Yes, I slept 4 hours per night for 15 years since I was 16,) started a yoga challenge, and to this day practice Yoga daily for 30-60 minutes daily.
I took 3 more hours per day to improve my health and found myself much more productive. I learn difficult medical imaging concepts faster at work (as a radiology resident), I write more blog articles faster and with more enlightened content, I become more present with my child—my life improved in all dimensions as I spend 3 more hours per day caring for myself, sleeping more and practicing yoga.
What are your top 3 favorite personal finance blogs, and why?
Ms. Frugalwoods, I love her refreshing approach to frugality, so pure, so simple, & so wholesome. I am inspired by their 66-acre beautiful homestead. Something I’d love to enjoy, though not necessary possess, one day.
Physician on Fire, it’s a fantastic place to discover awesome articles by both PoF and other bloggers. I love discovering new bloggers via PoF’s Sunday Best and Blogroll.
White Coat Investor, I use it as my reference library. I search for terms I want to read about a few times per month.
Describe one investment type/class that excites you the most, and why?
I’m not excited about investment. I feel pretty neutral about my investments, all stocks all index with low fees at this point for all accounts (401k, 403b, Roth IRA for me, Roth IRA for my kid Mini Wise Money, 529 for Mini, solo 401k for me). Regardless of the types of accounts, I maximize Roth/post-tax whenever possible, my investment model is S.P.E.C.T. (Simple, Passive, Emotionless, Cheap, & Time.)
Rather than being excited about a type of investment, I’m excited about guaranteed return on my investment like company match, tax efficiency, and cheap investment fees. Always love to hear about new ways to increase these 3 things.
Michael here again – great point, Dr. Wise Money! You don’t necessarily need to understand or like an investment in order to benefit from it. Tax efficiencies and cheap fees are a HUGE step most of us miss initially (me included). If you’re unsure of your fees, check out an app like Personal Capital which has a built-in fee analyzer and can save your huge $$$.
How much passive income would you need per month to live happily ever after? What would life look like for you at this level?
I’m living happily today, and based on my current budget, $2,400 is plenty, and that includes $200/month for afterschool care and $400/month for Mini Wise Money’s pilot and equestrian lessons (monthly flight lesson costs $170, weekly equestrian lessons cost $200) and $2400 annual travel funds.
Life would look today in terms of material comforts, except I’d have so much more time. I currently work 80-100 hours/week, earning $60k annual salary as a PGY3 resident (post graduate year 3) and learning a tremendous amount of knowledge and skills daily. So even though my hourly wage as radiology resident physician is not great, I’m getting rewarded heavily with knowing that my service is helpful to my community and that my skills and knowledge are growing daily.
Do you discuss money or financial matters with friends and family? Why, or why not?
I do. I’ll discuss with everyone and anyone who’s open and interested. I start off with the presumption that everyone is willing to invest a little time to gain a little financial literacy, which goes a long way. When one can dedicate themselves to medicine by training and schooling for 26 years like myself, I’d imagine that they’d willing to spend 3 hours to read a personal finance book and save themselves 100s of 1000s of dollars.
However, I also learn that as soon as one displays hostility, frustration, or annoyance with my reaching out and desire to foster discussion and learning from one another, I try to retreat and not bother them.
You are making me out to be way more interesting than I actually am! I am a very clumsy person. My wife laughs at me all the time because I will randomly hurt some part of my body or run into doors/walls. A couple of summers ago, we learned how to stand up paddle board and there was only one person who fell off the entire day…I’ll give you one guess who that was!
What’s your purpose in life in a “tweet” (ie. 140 characters or less)?
I live to serve, learn, & love. I follow my heart and mind where I store my treasures; money follows me and works for me.
Are you actively seeking FIRE (financial independence & early retirement)? If so, what’s your game plan or strategy?
½ YES. Seeking FI actively, probably never retiring 🙂
Here’s why I can retire before 38 but won’t…
- Find happiness from within.
- Produce rather than consume.
- Bye bye bye to buy buy buy. (Not shopping for 3 years.)
- Work to learn, serve, and love.
- Adventure with my kid Mini Wise Money as much as possible.
- Continue to write, blog, speak, and rise up to meet needs I identify with the help of my readers’ questions and interests. Doing these things have created additional sources of income that I see as surprises and bonuses.
- Put all bonuses from #4 in low cost index funds, first maxing out all tax-efficient accounts before going heavy in taxable accounts.
- Stick to my current plan of:
- Max out my Roth
- Get 4% 401k company match
- Max out my 401k
- Max out Mini’s Roth
- Max out Mini’s 529
- Put as much as way as possible in my solo 401k
Michael here – Thanks so much to sharing your inspirational story! I’m so impressed with your humility and desire to serve. You must be an incredible physician and our world is lucky to have you. Keep us updated!
To check out more of what Dr. Wise Money has to say, visit her website – www.drwisemoney.com.
Readers, what was your favorite takeaway?