Start Planning Your Ideal Life Today – If You Don’t Do It Nobody Else Will
There are those out there who appear to have it all – in the context of the American dream. We doctors are grouped into that ‘lucky’ mix. We earn a high income, our careers make us desirable partners and we are highly educated (read trained) and so are considered to be smart/intelligent.
But not all of us would make all the same decisions if we could go a second chance. Let’s stick with the financial theme though because the clap is certainly avoidable if viewed through that latex lens. Perhaps you wouldn’t have put so much of your money on the line day-trading. I personally wouldn’t have taken loans out against my 401(k) back in the day. You probably wouldn’t have bought that $80k Range and you definitely wouldn’t have spent as much on your wedding. I wouldn’t have stayed in San Diego as long as I did.
The reason this is an important mental practice is because if you can agree with yourself that something you are doing or something you own was a mistake from the get-go then you can concoct a plan to change your situation. No, you shouldn’t blindly just sell your house or leave a shitty job or divorce a spendy partner. Approach it with some good planning.
If you regret living in whatever State you are living in and having an expensive mortgage then it’s time for you to write a business plan. I’m going back to the concept of being your own CEO. You run a business where you provide medical expertise for a medical group. You are the CEO of your finances and your partner may be your COO or employee. What is the next best move for your company? Should you cut your losses, sell the house and start fresh in a low-cost state? Is it better to rent the house and start your own business because you have skills that nobody else has in your field?
You may be renting right now and realizing that you are throwing money away on rent. You want a home that you can grow a garden in, raise your kids in and do the maintenance work yourself to decrease your overhead. For the record, I don’t believe that a fair rental cost is wasted money… you may feel otherwise. You should sit down with a calculator, your financial adviser or at least a nerdy friend and do the math. If buying a home is right for you then get your down payment together, capitalize on the current low interest rates, use as much of the bank’s money as possible and purchase a home that could be a decent rental property someday.
I started out with $180k in unsecured debt plus another $250k in mortgage debt back in 2012 and I’ve managed to bring my net worth up to a little over $500k. I’ve designed a lifestyle that has allowed me to become financially independent and I accomplished all this in just 4 years. It started with me deciding that I wasn’t living a sustainable lifestyle. I wrote down in my journal exactly what I wanted out of life. I got hooked on YNAB and took complete charge of my finances.
Ignore the intrusive thoughts and the fuckingly annoying friends and family who tell you that it can’t be done. It’s math dude, it’s objective and clear-cut. Start by listing in order of importance what you want to do with your limited time on this earth. Then write down what things are actually taking up the majority of your time. Then decide if you are willing to trade your free time for whatever the shit it is you are doing that isn’t important to you.
If you say that working is the most important thing for you then great, bitch you’re gonna be rich. If having time to spend with family and friends, learning, reading or exploring the world is most important to you then you may find yourself in my boat. For me the number of walls and windows in my house wasn’t important to me. The model and HP of my car didn’t matter. Getting HBO and Showtime despite the late-night softporn on top of my cable lineup was useless to me.
The planning part is easier than you think. That’s the lifestyle design that I keep impressing upon you. Financial freedom buys you time and time is priceless (I don’t think this sentence makes sense but you get the point). Financial freedom is easy, it’s all about the objective math that I’ve referred to a thousand times on this site. Investing x-dollars will return somewhere around 3-6% every year. Either increase your efforts and save more, invest more. Or, decrease your expenses so that you need less to live off of. Better yet, with a little DP action you can accelerate your time to retirement by becoming reliant on less income while accumulating more savings by strategically picking up extra shifts.
And guess what, if you love your free time above all but still enjoy practicing medicine on occasion and on your own terms then you can incorporate that into your personal finance design. Create a passive income stream that covers your basic expenses (housing, food, health, transportation) and use your work-time to generate the income you need for your extracurricular activities. The options are endless… never follow someone else’s lifestyle design. But you don’t need to reinvent the wheel either… work backwards from what it is you value the most. Yes, there are couples living on less than $500k of investments and they are living quite comfortably. There are those who are miserable with million in savings.
What is most important to you when it comes to your free time?
If you could design an ideal lifestyle what would it be? It’s always easier to work backwards.