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The Personal (And Financial) Journey Begins…

prudent plastic surgeon

Ever heard of a Poor Plastic Surgeon? I hadn’t until I was one. Ever thought that becoming a doctor meant automatic financial security? I did until all that came with my degree was debt. Ever wonder why some doctors seem to have it all while you’re trying to dig yourself out of a hole? I did until I figured out how to build my way out. If you can relate to my struggles, then this financial journey is for you…

My name is Jordan Frey. I’m a plastic surgeon.

Despite my job, when I first checked my net worth in May 2020, it was -$520,000 😨 Yes, that’s a negative $520,000! I was burned out, not realizing how much my poor financial well-being was negatively affecting my overall personal well-being.

Things needed to change. So my wife and I took massive action…

Fast forward 12 months and my net worth increased above $0 and I made my first $1!

But I didn’t stop there.

In fact, I increased my net worth >$250,000 before I even made my first attending paycheck and by >$1 million in just 18 months. My financial and overall well-being shot through the roof. In fact, as my financial well-being improved, I became a better doctor!


Well, that’s exactly what I want to share with all of you! Because there’s nothing special about me. And if I can do it, you can too!

But first, let’s take a step back…

To get things started, I’d like to share a little bit about myself and why I started this blog.

First off, I’m married to my wonderful wife, Selenid, who is a college professor and have now 3 (as of March 2023) amazing boys, Samuel, Emery, and Camilo.

I finished my plastic surgery training after medical school in June 2020. This consisted of 6 years of residency and 1 year of microsurgery fellowship, all in New York City.

And I started as an attending surgeon in my hometown of Buffalo, NY (best chicken wings = Duff’s) in July 2020.

Despite that succinct summary above, I’m never quite sure how to answer when people ask what I do

Usually I say something like “I work at the hospital” or “I’m a surgeon.” Something vague enough that there are not too many follow-ups.

It’s not that I dislike what I do, in fact I love it. It’s just that when you tell people you are a plastic surgeon, they instantly have a picture in their mind.

And I am just not that plastic surgeon. 

The mental image when most people hear “I’m a plastic surgeon” is not me.

You think of an impeccably manicured woman or man in a designer dress or custom suit sitting in a luxurious Park Avenue office with a look that says “Let’s make you beautiful.” Their dinners have at least 5 courses and their pocket squares or handbags have their own closets. They have Hampton summer houses and standing reservations (COVID time excluded) at Eleven Madison Park (if you can’t tell, my perception of extravagance is painted by training in New York City). 

I was ashamed to admit that I was nowhere near achieving this status and had no idea how I would. The problem was that I didn’t even know if I wanted it. But I do have to say that I felt for a long time like I needed it.

Even in training, working long hours and making less money, this standard that equates wealth with expensive things seemed to seep into all of us.

This belief is pervasive for most, if not all, high income individuals. But, think again of your mental picture of a plastic surgeon; now imagine a nephrologist (kidney doctor). Fair or not, I bet those images looked very different.

The thing is, they look different even for people who are plastic surgeons, including me.  

I struggled to fit in. 

prudent plastic surgeon
Not naming names, but someone got into the strawberries…

Up until just recently, the disconnect between this “rich plastic surgeon” image and my reality had me distraught

Trying to keep up with this image of success that I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to begin with had me feeling like a Poor Plastic Surgeon.

Not a great feeling when you’re nearing the end of 7 years of plastic surgery training after 4 years of medical school and 4 years of undergraduate studies, all with the goal of finally reaching this moment.

Plastic surgery was and still is my passion, but I felt burnt out.

Unfortunately, I think that a lot of people in a lot of walks and phases of life can relate to this feeling, regardless of age, sex, location, profession, or training level.

But then something changed

Now, this disconnect no longer bothers me. In fact, it is a source of personal satisfaction. So what changed? 

I learned to ignore the image (real or perceived) of success put out there by others, focus on my passions and goals, and establish a plan for financial well-being, stability, and independence, rather than excess consumerism.

I started my financial journey.

And I became the Prudent Plastic Surgeon. 

Most blogs seem to begin after the person has already got it all figured out and achieved whatever it is that they are writing about

I must confess that this is different.

financial journey

I am very much in the process of getting to where I want to be. I am at the start of my financial journey.

My list of mistakes is long. My mindset was unhealthy. I made just about every wrong financial move that you can make. I was ignorant and scared to learn, for fear of seeing just how badly I had screwed things up.

The thing is, I’m willing to bet that there are a lot of you out there who are in the same boat and are probably ashamed to admit it, like I was. 

I found a lot of power in this simple admission: that I did not know what I was doing

Finally, I could move on to the next step: figuring it out.

I saw the light and made it a goal to learn. Then the financial journey truly began.

And that is what I have dedicated my time to ever since. I think that we can learn a lot from each other regardless of our backgrounds or current circumstances. And I’m hoping we can create a space for that to happen here.

My goal is to help others reach personal and financial well-being by sharing my experiences, failures, successes, growth, and evolution while I go through the same process myself. And I believe that the only way to do this is authentically, transparently, and genuinely…so that is what I promise to do in this blog!

Some of you will hopefully identify with my story.

And I will help you grow and achieve these goals along with me.

Some of you may be well ahead of me in this financial and life journey and I want to learn as much as I can from you as well!

prudent plastic surgeon

So, thank you for taking this first step with me!

I will be regularly sharing my stories and look forward to learning from all of you.

In this blog, I will share the financial mistakes that I have made and how I am addressing them as I work towards financial well-being and independence.

We’ll also have fun delving into themes such as mindset, grit, and other interrelated topics that will lead you to personal (and financial) well-being.

I probably won’t be able to resist throwing in some life and plastic surgery stories (that’s what my Sorta Random Sunday posts are for!).

I hope you will share interesting things from your life and career as well.

Oh yeah…and how am I doing now?


But most importantly, my financial and overall well-being is drastically improved. And I can confidently say that I became a better doctor and person in the process.

My passion is to help others, like you, do the same.

And that is exactly what this blog is for. To work together to improve our personal, professional, and financial lives!

Get Started!

These are the 3 posts that I consider required reading for anyone looking to improve your financial well-being, no matter what stage in the journey you are currently at:

1. 7 Financial Habits of Highly Successful Physicians
2. Top 5 Limiting Beliefs to Overcome on the Way to Wealth
3. How Much Is Enough Retirement Savings?

But, if you are really ready to jump-start your path to financial freedom…

My online course, Graduating to Success, will help you do just that…and more!

In the process of taking my financial well-being from 0 to 💯, I spent hundreds of hours learning, researching, and gaining the experience to do all of this. 

In this course, I distill all of this information down and make it easily digestible so that you can immediately take massive action to improve your finance well-being and get closer to financial freedom AKA living live on your own terms!

So, here is to taking this journey together!

What do you think? Are you struggling with your or others’ perception of success? How have you shaken this off to focus on your own goals? What does personal or financial well-being mean to you?

Let me know in the comments below or contact me here.

In order to make sure you don’t miss any of the free content I offer, you can subscribe to my blog using the form below. It’s fast, easy, and you can unsubscribe at any time. You can also join my private Facebook group to interact and learn from like-minded physicians and professionals!

33 thoughts on “The Personal (And Financial) Journey Begins…”

  1. Oh lord; another “how I found myself after being burned out from training.” Way too many such blogs, my friend – boring. Just work hard and enjoy life; don’t microdissect it. I did IM then GI, worked hard, don’t overthink it. Realize that part of why you’re doing this is narcissism; focus outward.

    • Hi Carl, thanks for the feedback and visiting the blog. I actually love what I do and plan to do it for a long time. But financial well being will only make us better doctors and improve our overall well being. I see it as introspection. Not mutually exclusive from focusing outward but actually improves our ability to do so. I hope you keep reading!

  2. By the time you are financially independent and money growing well on money, you would love your profession more and more….truly for the best interests of your patients. You would achieve self actualization level. Life is so good.
    Jordan, success is waiting for you!

  3. I’m also a plastic surgeon although I’m just a bit older than you (57!). I can relate to quite a bit of what you said and I’ve also made many financial mistakes along the way. I am in solo, private practice but I have two side gigs as a Navy Reservist and doing outpatient liposuction for a national group. I love being a doctor and I love what I do. I actually don’t have a retirement age in mind and I plan on working for as long as I can or until I’m just not able to safely operate any longer. I’ve learned to keep expenses down and to have the discipline of automatically putting as much away every month as possible. Ignore the a-hole haters like the GI guy above and enjoy your family and your career! I sometimes joke that I can’t believe “they” let me do what I do and pay me for doing it! Thank you for sharing you time and insight. Good luck!

    • Thanks David! Congrats on your success! I agree, I can’t believe that we get to do what we do. Love it and look forward to doing it for a long time.


  4. Enjoying the blog and I’m looking forward to following your story. Also recommend to ignore GI guy above. Keep up the good work!

  5. Thanks for sharing some of your insights Jordan, we all have to learn as we go sometimes. Also – putting yourself out there like this takes courage, and you are gonna get some people who don’t like it (Carl from the first comment). Don’t let them distract you from your vision, you have a platform to help people now. I am excited to follow your progress :).

  6. Congrats on starting your blog. Looking forward to following along. There are many people out there in your exact shoes, and you are helping them. Ignore the negativity, keep going forward.

  7. I just can across your blog through a Facebook post and would love to have you help me become Thr Prudent Pediatrician. I am approaching 60 and have made many financial mistakes—and probably continue to make them—-but have learned that it’s never too late to start! I recently founded a physician lifestyle magazine that is FOR physicians BY physicians and love your easy-to-read approach and advice.

  8. Appreciate your honesty and ability to comprehend difficult emotions and goal focussed approach to come out with flying colours. Excited to join the journey in the process becoming a prudent oncologist!

  9. This is great! I really appreciate your honesty here! It’s a great starting point. I’m an anesthesiologist and in a similar boat, figuring it all out, and changing my mindset and actions from “employee” to “investor”. We deal with similar misconceptions about anesthesiologists mainly because of the glory days in the ‘90s when anesthesiologists were one of the most highly compensated. Now I just tune out all of that “noise” and focus on my goals, of using investing as a vehicle to get my time back. That freedom and peace of mind is priceless. Cheers!

  10. Your blog is very good and easy to read. I love the transparency. It’s good to see that you’re making the American Dream work the way it should, and not looking for a handout. I agree with your philosophy on diversification and have one more financial freedom recommendation that you should include in your strategy – cash value life insurance. I know that “White Coat Investor” disagrees with that strategy because I have followed his blog for some time. He’s just plain wrong. I turned 55 this month and have been retired for 4 years. And the cash value life insurance policy has been an important part of that. And I wasn’t a high income earner – I was a human resources professional (non at the executive level). I’d be happy to recommend my agent to you if you like.

    The other recommendation I’d make is to invest regular small amounts in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

    Good luck with your journey.

    • Hi Rod, thanks for reading!

      I’m really glad that your whole life policy worked out for you. Unfortunately for 99% of physicians it will not work out as well for a few key reasons:

      – The value of the policy is not worth the premium for many years
      – Most doctors will drop the policy before the value increases above premium
      – By investing this money off the bat in a wise fashion, better yield is possible

      For these reasons, it just isn’t a recommendation I can make to young docs.

      As far as crypto goes, I don’t have it in my portfolio but I don’t mind people having 1-2% in it. More than that and I just don’t think the risk is necessary

  11. I’m impressed and glad to see you got started on this path so early after training.
    Totally reminds me where I was when I finished fellowship and started my first job in 2010. I was exactly around the same -400K net worth and I didn’t break even until probably 2014, once I started on my real estate investing journey. But then S curve acceleration to positive net worth quickly in the next 4 years as I accumulated real estate and took advantage of leverage. Unfortunately I eschewed stocks as a REI guy except for my 401K plan. But all that changed in 2018 after buying my model 3 performance and had the “this is the apple of the next decade” light-bulb moment. Then in 2019 plunged head forward into heavily investing into TSLA along with full steam ahead in STR (short-term rentals) that was cash flowing incredibly. Because of incredible real estate cash flow, for the first time I felt “rich”. I took my extended family (all 4 grandparents too) on a whirlwind trip to Europe + cruise for almost 2 weeks, along with several other major vacations that year. But by end of 2019, I was seriously considering going all in on TSLA stock. Sold a few properties and went all in at the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020 and never looked back since. Now enjoying more passive investing with now only 1/5 of my real estate portfolio remaining. Planning to keep my real estate holdings a smaller part of my investing to minimize time commitments. Once you hit financial independence, more and more you want super passive investments which real estate is really not a passive investment but rather requires careful attention, maintenance, and bookkeeping (I hate the most!). One word of advice, add stocks (not just 401K) and crypto (I hit my goal of 1% of portfolio this year), dont have tunnel vision towards REI only.

    • Hey Joe, thanks for reading and sharing your journey! I definitely don’t plan to eschew stock investing, although I am definitely more in the index fund camp than individual stocks 🙂 Right now, about 1/3 of my savings goers to debt, 1/3 to stocks/bonds, and 1/3 to real estate.

  12. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog and have been investing in real estate myself since becoming an attending in 2019. Your story is awesome, but I’m curious how you went from being -$520,000 to > $1M in net worth in 18 months? If you’re including the value of your real estate, aren’t those technically a liability if you purchased them with leverage? I’m just trying to understand that jump in net worth from a numbers perspective because I’ve been told even real estate is not a get rich quick game. Thanks!

  13. Hello, thank you for this website. I appreciate your honesty and concrete numbers because it is really helping me in my journey to financial wellbeing.
    I have an opportunity to refinance my loans to a much lower interest rate but in order to do this the monthly payments would be about $6000. Do you think this is feasible with a salary of $250K? I am single, no kids, and my plan is to live in an apartment that is <$2K/month. I am about to finish my residency so that's why I feel worried about refinancing without knowing realistically how much I can put toward the loans with my new salary. But I don't want to wait because I am worried the interest rate will go up if I do.

  14. Jordan,

    Thanks for sharing your story! I finished my Ophthalmology training July 2020 as well. My wife and I are working towards improving our financial plan, but have a ways to go. Not sure how you all do it with the kiddos, our 3 seem to require every second of free time we have.

    Thanks again for sharing, we look forward to learning from you guys.

    -The Ludlow Family

  15. HI Jordan
    I enjoy your simplicity in defining financial terms and your unpretentious attitude. Even though I’m almost 60 y/o and still working FT as an anesthesiologist ,it is always important to learn how to make extra income with very little effort..I have been very lucky and fortunate with my real estate decisions and choices and soon will be selling my largest asset.Thanks again for your blogs


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