International Women’s Day came and went and I didn’t see any personal finance blog posts geared towards women – not a single one. We need a lot more female voices in the personal finance space but that’s not happening fast enough.
I get it. This pompous voice of authority that us men adopt so readily is very strange for a woman. Believing that only experts should talk about their field of expertise is not something men subscribe to. We think we can do it all and that inflated ego can actually serve a useful purpose.
For reference, when I say ‘female’ I don’t mean XX chromosome. I’m referring to gender identity. If you consider yourself a woman or don’t have a gender identity at all then you are in the same boat as the female physicians whom I’m talking about in this post.
Female Physicians in the US
I’m writing this post as a man who is irate about having to watch myself constantly around female coworkers and female patients as if I’m a sexual deviant. So even though I’m a feminist please don’t think that I view the polarities of this topic as rosie one way or another.
That said, female physicians have many more obstacles to overcome which men don’t. It starts in college and continues into residency and even at large medical groups there is still a wage discrepancy between men and women.
I’ve written before that male physicians make more money than female physician for the same level of work, for the same hours worked, and for the same performance by a wage discrepancy of at least 10%.
If anyone, anywhere was shafting me by 10% – OMFG – I would raise all sorts of hell as you’ve seen me do on this blog. If I get stiffed even one $23/patient out of 300 patient visits then you better believe that I’m gonna raise hell.
The IRS wants 2% more than I think I need to pay them? Fuck you, come and get it.
My employer wants to not pay me a specific 3% stipend for one reason or another then HR knows that I’m gonna come knocking on their door.
I realize that it’s a guy thing to feel so entitled that you’d call the national guards for a measly $23 but ladies, it’s time to fight back. Nice isn’t gonna cut it. You can always kindly request the asshole who is stiffing you to pay up – with a smile.
10% of a $300k salary is $30,000/year which may not seem like all that much but compound that out over decades and then mix in the different ways female physicians invest (much more conservative than men) and their retirement lifestyle and it can be a crippling difference.
In case you’re curious, getting cheated out of $30,000/year comes out to $4M over 35 years. I can’t think of a more potent way to oppress women than to cripple them financially.
Personal finances refer to everything related to money involving our personal lives. From investing to taxes to retirement to disability and freedom.
If you hate your job and are burnt out but under a mountain of debt with no financial skills to get yourself out then you aren’t free. You are a fucking slave with fewer rights and choices than the people we incarcerate. The only reason you’ll keep slaving away is because you’re fed the illusion of being free – ya ain’t free until you are financially free.
I loved this recent post by the Godfather because it highlights what most doctors do wrong. Which is not a big deal because most doctors are high earners. But most doctors aren’t happy. However negatively these traits affect male doctors, female physicians would be affected more adversely.
Burnout for Female Physicians
There are many experts who write about physician burnout and there are online questionnaires you can take to test how burnt out you are. The topic doesn’t need more attention, it needs solutions.
The solutions need to come from the physician individuals. There is no external intervention coming. If you are waiting for “them” to change the situation of medicine then you might wanna take a seat because it’s gonna be a while.
Female healthcare professionals, whether doctors or podiatrists or pharmacists or PA’s or NP’s needs to own their shit. Do you own your shit?
No idea what I’m talking about?
Physicians need to take their career reins and stop waiting for a raise or for justice. Don’t wait until you get investigated by a medical board, sued by a patient, or until you burn out of your career. The career you love. The one you dedicated your youth to.
A female physician who is burnt out will have less support and their state of burnout will affect way more people than just themselves because women are often responsible for more people than men.
Their symptoms of burnout will also be very different. They might become more meek or start making more mistakes. Maybe they’ll be excessively conservative. Men display burnout symptoms differently which works in their favor.
More importantly, men tend to speak up more for themselves because the culture allows it. We suffer out loud while women will suffer silently. When a male physician is burnt out it’s sort of obvious. He might flirt with patients, nurses, make more mistakes, come to work late, look unkempt, develop a substance abuse problem, hide in his office, display more emotions, and appear more vulnerable.
Female physicians already have to battle the stereotypes of a female physician and so when faced with burnout instead of giving in and letting themselves break down they will push harder to hide it all. They add unnecessary pressure to themselves which means that the rest of their personal lives and personal finances will take a backseat to their career disaster.
I push financial independence on this blog because I don’t know a single person who is unhappy having reached financial independence. But I know a lot of people with expensive homes, fancy cars, and a passport full of stamps who are miserable.
Financial independence can be completely unique to your own situation. Don’t listen to personal finance gurus who say that you need $X million in your retirement account before becoming financially independent.
Being financially independent doesn’t mean that you have to retire and it doesn’t mean that you have to stop working or earning money. Financial independence means freedom from having to earn your money. It means that you gain 100% freedom over your time.
You see, money is blind to gender, race, height, the size of your penis (#SPH), or how ugly your mug is.
Unfortunately, money is only blind once you have it. To obtain money you have to overcome all the many different discriminations built into the monetary system to keep the money in the pockets of rich, old, white dudes.
Oh no he didn’t!
How To Beat The Men
We all play the same game which is why the Godfather’s post is so relevant. We compete on the same playground and all of us can invest in public and private investments without any discrimination.
So the only place where you can extract a difference is how much money you earn and more importantly, how much of it you keep.
Fortunately for female physicians, male physicians spend most of what they earn. They buy more expensive homes than multi-millionaire entrepreneurs. They works harder than immigrant cabbies. Because of all this they have shorter lifespans, they have more substance abuse issues, and they will have a lot more health issues due to the stress.
It’s important to understand that when it comes to money you are most definitely competing with others. It’s like medical school admissions – there are only so many seats to go around so you will need to somehow beat others at the same game. There are only so many dollars to go around – get yours and keep it.
Earn more and save more. Earn more money per hour than your colleagues and spend less than your male physician counterparts. Invest wiser and end up with more money while investing less.
Trust the Monetary System
As a woman you may have found yourself in some fucked up situations over the years whether it’s losing faith in a loved one or getting screwed over because a male counterpart took your promotion.
As a female physician you had to overcome bigger obstacles to make it to wherever you are in life. Whatever has transpired is a thing of the past. What matters is whatever you do from this moment on.
Retail therapy failed you. Your significant other turned out to be as useful as a tampon dispenser in a public bathroom. But you have your profession, your work ethic, and your ability to learn new skills.
The monetary system, the financial system which not only individuals but megacorps can invest in, can be trusted. Well, as much as you can trust a leading nation. But it will produce if you’re willing to invest in it.
If you invest in the broad securities market then over the long-run you will most definitely enjoy a piece of the action.
Trust Your Ability To Be An Investor
From today on Dr. Mo will knight you as a female physician investor. You’re no longer just a female physician earning 10-15% less than your male counterparts. You are among the few, the elite. You are an alpha wielding investor.
You tried your hand at the mainstream medical career system and it may have let you down or it may have screwed you over.
But you can now take that $150/hour that you earn and turn it into $300 in less than a decade. Investing as an individual is much easier than you think. Unlike a hedge fund or a large corporation you are free to invest in pretty much anything without having to worry about restrictions.
Some individuals and corporations can do great things with money. Just like you can run a code and bring the fucking dead back to life, some nerd out there can turn a $2M investment into a $2B company. Don’t be afraid to invest because you’re going to get better and better at it the longer you practice investing.
Build Your Social Network
The more human beings – genuine human beings – are in your life and the more they want to see you succeed the stronger your trunk will be.
Grow your network. Connect with men and women from all walks of life. Build a network of people whom you rely on and who can rely on you.
Maybe you’ve just been through a shitstorm so you just need a few solid walls to lean on. But you’ll make it through this phase and then you’ll be the wall for another person. And when that person regains their strength then you’ll all be a force to reckon with.
I have more faith in my network than my job, my career, the US gov’t, capitalism, or mother nature.
Building that social network takes time, however. Making friends at age 40 isn’t like it was back in grade school. Your shared interest in the purple dinosaur won’t make you instant buddies. You’ll have to forgive the other person a lot and not judge them. You may fight a lot and disagree but if you’re there for each other through a coupe of shit-storms then you’ll be each other’s safety nets.
You know, fear is a fucking powerful thing. I get it. I’m a big guy and people think I’m not afraid whether I’m walking home alone late at night or when I jump into a whole new career.
It’s all a show.
I walk home late at night being as afraid as the next guy or gal but I don’t let the fear stop me from walking home late at night if that’s what I want to do.
I’m as afraid as the next person of my entire net worth getting wiped out in the investment market. But other than recognizing the fear there is nothing else useful that I can do with it.
In the end just remember that you’ll always be you. You’ll always have your network. You’ll have medicine to fall back on. You’ll always have your ability to work hard and recognize value. You’ll always be able to live on a little less.
Remember that you made it as a healthcare professional against so many odds. While your male counterparts just had to roll out of bed and would never be talked over by male attendings you had to keep up your appearance, watch your attitude, your attire, and let the male attendings steamroll you – but fuck ’em, you still made it.
1.) Sell your house right away if it doubles in value. Don’t consult your financial adviser. Don’t ask your partner. Sell the fucking thing and pocket the returns. And if your house payment is more than 10-12% of your monthly take-home pay then you need to downsize.
2.) Budget. Cut your expenses to 20% of what it is right now. You can do it. Others are busy inflating their lifestyle – be the rebel.
3.) Pay off debt. Never borrow again. Ever.
4.) Get a financial adviser. It will cost you less than your monthly car payment to have a professional on your side. And if they don’t deliver a value to you then fire them with your middle finger and a kind smile.
5.) Know that shopping, housing, cars, and travel are going to be the biggest killers of your chance at financial success. These will prevent you from becoming financially independent – they are designed to do this by people far more intelligent than us.
6.) Make your employer your bitch (lovingly)! Don’t be a sucker and don’t be a lifer. If you’re not getting more from your employer than they are getting from you then you’re the one getting screwed. Have a backup plan should your employer retaliate against you someday.
7.) There are phases to your personal finance life cycle. There is the frugal/budgeting phase. The debt-payoff stage. The growing-your-net-worth stage. And finally the financial independence phase. At this final point you can hardly to any wrong. But just in case, keep your financial adviser on your payroll.
8.) Talk about money to anyone and everyone. Forget shame and subtlety. Let people judge you. Let the men lecture you. But talk about it. Don’t worry, nobody can steal your money just because they know what your net worth is. You’ll learn a lot about people’s personalities and about finances by getting that topic out in the open.
9.) Don’t trust your partner with your personal finances. You are responsible for your physical and your financial life.
10.) There is a time to help others and there is a time to look out for yourself. If more people were selfish early on in their lives then we would have less dependent people to have to take care of. Get yourself to that place where you can be the support for others without ever feeling the pinch.
11.) Gain a financial edge – a tax edge. Hire a tax consultant and keep more of your money. The US gov’t knows that women are discriminated against but they aren’t going to give you a 15% tax break, are they? So take that money!
12.) Be kind without being nice. Be nice and patients will take advantage of you. Your colleagues will bulldoze you. Your employers and the IRS all will count on you being nice to gain an edge. Harness the kind rebel inside you. Be firm but don’t be an ass. And there is a time to be an ass too, like when you need to fire your incompetent CPA or financial adviser.
13.) If you have a daughter then get her to a point of financial independence. Who’s gonna fuck with her now? She’ll act from a place of strength and security. She’ll gain the leg up that our society wouldn’t have given her otherwise. Let’s stop oppressing our daughters and empower them for a change.
14.) Speaking of parenting, understand that your parents may sometimes be bigger oppressors than the gov’t, your employer, or your misogynistic partner. Don’t hate them. Don’t be an ass to them but kindly tell them to back the fuck off when necessary.