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Understanding The Doctor-Spending Relationship

Curing The Lottery Mentality Doctors Contract After Residency

For anyone outside of medicine it can be weird interacting with us docs on an intimate level. We can talk about death and morbid shit without much emotion. If they don’t know that deep down we really care then we just come across as heartless asses.

When it comes to spending most onlookers will assume doctors make a lot of money and so it’s expected that they will spend a lot. The ‘poor’ people, those who wish they made more money look at doctors and think, wow, how cool to have that much money to spend.

Those who have worked hard to build up their wealth look at doctors and shake their head, wondering why we spend like it’s Christmas.

Delayed gratification.

We’ve all heard this one. Doctors live a relatively restricted lifestyle up until they are an attending and all of a sudden they are able to afford all the shit they’ve always wanted, not just monetary but also temporally with their new-found free time.

It’s a bit of self entitlement and it’s a bit of just being excited that they can finally spend on whatever they want, knowing that their income will stay strong well into the future.

Lottery effect.

As residents we can make around $50k/yr which is actually really good. Sure, we have to work a lot of hours for that income and when compared to the student debt burden it is laughable.

Most of us go from $50k to $180k, many of us go to $250k and the specialists easily go to $450k+. Imagine the paychecks now, something in the $3k range in June and suddenly $12-20k in July.

We are doing the same work if not less, we have less stress on us and more independence so it’s not like this sudden increase in income came with a huge jump in responsibility.

Doctors go from paying very little on their student loan debt in residency to paying some hefty sums out of residency. The majority will also take on a mortgage which is another huge financial commitment. They had no time in residency to take up belly dancing, surfing or golf so now they are going to want to express themselves which has even more dollar signs behind it.

Lottery winners often fall into the same trap. They come into a lot of money and start spending on the things they have always imagined they would want should they ever come into a lot of money. The problem is, just like your weight, the little stuff adds up far faster than your mind can keep track of.

So if the majority of us make these mistakes what’s the solution? I mean ain’t nobody gonna talk us out of inflating our life after those miserable years of med school and residency.

Sell the house.

Sell the house! You bought the house, you have a ton of overhead and you read this post and are enlightened. You don’t wanna slave away the next 15-30 years to get rid of your debt.

It takes strong conviction to recognize that you have made a mistake and the next correct step is to set out to correct it. That is the first step to wealth and first step to early financial independence, if early is what you desire.

Selling the house, moving to a cheaper neighborhood and buying or renting something more affordable could get you right back on track.

Sell your crap.

You bought jet skis, big ass SUV’s and a ton of furniture. Get rid of all of it. Declutter your life. Not only will there be more peace of mind but you won’t have to worry about getting tune ups, oil changes, getting clothes tailored, having shoes polished, having fancy home furnishings professionally cleaned, pools resurfaced etc.

Pay down the debt.

You are on a roll. If you don’t want to be burdened with having debt, if you want the flexibility of being debt free and the peace of mind is worth it to you then set out a plan to pay it off.

A friend of mine said she spent 4-5 years aggressively paying down her debt, she would stare at her student loan balance every day, just sitting there staring at those fuckers. I’m quite impressed, this woman paid off nearly half a million in that time, can’t think of a lot of people who can accomplish that.

Change your lifestyle.

Don’t believe that you will be miserable or even unhappy if you don’t spend on the things you are currently spending. That’s a huge misconception and it comes from the shit that’s fed to us when watching TV/media.

I consider myself a very normal, average person. I wanted to find out exactly what I needed to be content/happy in life. So in 2013 I cut everything out of my life. I moved into a 200 sqft studio with a blanket and a few clothes and 1 towel. I had 2 pans and a fork, an old Galaxy S2 cell phone and tiny laptop.

For the first few months I didn’t spend money on anything except buying groceries, my cell service, my little Smart Car. And believe me, I was happy and I wasn’t missing out on anything and didn’t feel like my life was empty.

In all honesty I slowly started ramping up my expenses not because I needed any of the shit I spent money on but because I was used to it. It was simply easier to go eat out frequently, and socialize with friends at restaurants instead of at their homes. Spending time to discern between needs and wants seemed too time consuming.

Even these days I enjoy making my own food more than eating out. Eating out is convenient but it’s not the same. I make expensive decisions out of laziness, for convenience but not to increase my happiness… it’s important to differentiate that.

Whatever action or habit you practice becomes natural after a while. I am missing out on absolutely nothing. I say that with conviction because if you’ve read other pages on this site you know that I’ve lived like a baller right out of residency. I found myself having to always chase that happiness and now I own my happiness and it’s there when I’m at the library or having a drink with a friend.

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