I initially wrote this post on Thanksgiving 2020. So I thought it only appropriate to recreate this post and practice being grateful again! (I actually try to do this every day) So, this is me being financial (and non-financially) thankful!
Looking back over the year, it’s been amazing. Just a short 18 months ago, I was financially clueless. And then…this whole journey began. It has been so much fun. My financial and overall well-being improved immensely. So, what better day is there to be financially thankful than Thanksgiving?! (Of course, because this is largely a financial blog, there will be a financial tilt!)
So, here is my Thanksgiving post!
But first off, I hope all of you are enjoying a fun and safe Thanksgiving surrounded by your loved ones as able!
I also hope you are able to take a moment or two to be grateful for all that you and I have, including our ever-improving [financial] well-being!
And that is the whole point of this post, to share in being financially thankful with you!
My List of Reasons to be Financially Thankful
1. Health and Safety
This is obviously not a financial reason to be thankful. But, especially in 2021 (just like 2020), I feel it is necessary to start be expressing just how thankful I am that my family and friends have largely remained healthy from COVID and otherwise.
The past year saw a vaccine be developed and largely implemented. But we also saw a rise in the delta variant that was a bit of a set back obviously.
I know that so many have not been as fortunate and my thoughts are with all of you.
Let’s keep working hard to overcome this pandemic that has caused so many of us to realign our priorities to what is most important…however morbid that silver lining is.
Ok, now let’s get financial!
[Disclosure: Aside from the first couple of reasons below, these are in no particular order]
2. My wife, Selenid
There are so many reasons that I am thankful for my wife that it wouldn’t fill a thousand posts. But, for the sake of this post’s theme, I am going to stick to financial thankfulness.
For one, she actually got me started on this path. It was her who first picked up a personal finance book and started reading it. And then she got me to start reading it. And the rest is history.
She has also been my partner all things finance all the way. We have made it our number one goal to always be on the same page. We even wrote this guide for partners to get on the same page financially! In fact, personal finance has given us a great new hobby to share and overall brought us even closer together!
Remember, the important thing is not that you start on the same page, but that you finish on the same page. If you are not together, even the best financial plan will fail.
Lastly, many do not realize, but she is also basically the COO of all things The Prudent Plastic Surgeon! She’s makes sure things run smoothly and I make as few terrible dad jokes and mistakes as possible.
So, yeah, I’m very thankful for her.
(And also my kids, Samuel and Emery obviously…it’s just that I’m more thankful for them in spite of their financial implications.)
3. My family and friends
Again, so many reasons to be thankful for my amazing family and friends. They are all incredible and have always been so supportive throughout my life.
Financially speaking, they have also been incredibly supportive and interested. Money can sometimes be a hard thing to talk about. We don’t always get into specifics but my family has opened up to really make this a fun topic. I’ve also learned that a lot of my friends have an interest in this that I was not aware of. And it has brought us closer together. Who knew?
It’s even led to some healthy disagreements with my brother-in-law!
4. Our big why
Before beginning this financial journey 6 months ago, I did a terrible job at really thinking about what I wanted. Personally. In my career. In my finances. Really, in all aspects of my life. It’s not to say that I didn’t think about it at all. But all too often, I thought about these things in terms of what I felt others wanted or would want.
One of the most important things that Selenid and I did together was to come up with our big why. This big why is financially tilted but really encompasses personal and professional goals as well. Our lives and journeys towards our goals are always going to have roadblocks. It’s this big why that pulls us through these hard times. Also, if we seek financial freedom without a reason, it will be empty when we finally get there.
That’s why I recommend creating your big why as a first step in this journey.
For Selenid and me, our big why is is that we want to achieve financial freedom with a focus on improving our overall well-being to be able to chase our passions on our own terms while maximizing our time with our children, friends, and family.
What is yours?
5. This blog
Honestly, this blog has been so much fun! I started it in a bedroom in Brooklyn in June 2020.
My goal (taken directly from my mission statement written on the day of its creation) is:
To create authentic, honest, and genuine content regarding personal and financial well-being while documenting my journey to achieve it for the purpose of illustrating how others can also work to achieve this in their lives while learning from them as well.
I truly love being able to share this with all of you and also participate in your journeys, learning along the way.
It is something that I am immensely grateful for and am so excited to continue in the future.
6. My career [transition]
I am so incredibly thankful for my career as well as the transition I just made from being a trainee to an attending.
(My full experience with this transition is detailed here)
Non-financially, I am probably even more grateful than I am financially for this transition. I feel so blessed to wake up every day and love what I do. I know that my purpose is to be a plastic and reconstructive microsurgeon. It’s just what I love to do and I feel so fulfilled helping others in that way.
I am also blessed to work in an incredible environment with amazing colleagues. This did not happen by mistake as I put a great deal of effort into figuring out what I wanted in a job and working to find the best fit for me. The hard work was so worth it.
But, this is a list of things for which to be financially thankful. And the income increase from being a trainee to an attending is not bad at all! To get compensated well to do what I love is something that I will never take for granted.
I think this transition is such a critical window for setting up our future. However, it can seem very intimidating and confusing. I am really passionate about helping others make their way through this transition successfully!
7. Opening up
I am naturally very much an introvert. Ask anyone who knows me.
Like so many of us, opening up through a blog like this was a bit scary. Especially because my goal is to be as completely transparent and authentic as possible. And this includes highlighting all of my mistakes for you to see.
However, I found that opening up through this medium has been a lot of fun and helped me to do so in other aspects of my life as well. It’s still not always easy. One of my first comments on the blog was pretty negative to say the least. But, it didn’t bother me as much as I would have thought beforehand. I was actually pretty excited that my stuff was getting out there and had actually meant enough to get someone riled up!
I am very grateful for this.
8. The physician finance space
I would be remiss not to mention all of those who helped me and continue to mentor me through my financial journey. In no particular order:
- Jim Dahle at The White Coat Investor
- Jimmy Turner at The Physician Philosopher
- Leif Dahleen at Physician on FIRE
- Leti and Kenji of Semi-Retired MD
- Cory Fawcett of Financial Success MD
- And many more!
I am also very thankful to be part of a growing number of incredible new voices in this physician finance space! I look forward to continuing to work with those like:
Remember, a rising tide lifts all ships!
9. Microsoft Excel
This is kind of a weird one but I really love Excel.
I’ve loved it for awhile. In residency especially, I had these massive databases on Excel that I would use to mine data for research publications. Without it, I would never have been able to publish so many manuscripts, which is something I have a lot of fun doing.
But finances gave me a new perspective with Excel and even more reason to love and be financially thankful for it.
I use Excel for:
- My budget
- My net worth tracking
- To analyze real estate deals
- To track my real estate books
- As a retirement nest egg calculator
There are even more, less exciting uses that I have found for it. Needless to say, it’s a really powerful and cheap tool.
10. Index funds
Index funds allow me to invest in securities like the stock market in a simple and stress-free manner that beats Wall Street 80% of the time. In fact, I only need to pay attention once a year when I re-balance my asset allocation.
Thank you Jack Bogle and thank you index funds!
11. Real estate investing
Wow, where to even begin. I have discovered that I really love real estate investing.
I think it is interesting and fun. It’s fulfilling for us to provide high-quality housing at fair prices to tenants who need it in an effort to keep making our city of Buffalo so great. And, it’s not a bad side benefit that real estate investing is a huge wealth accelerant!
Six months ago, if you told me that Selenid and I would be real estate investors, buying and managing our own investment property within a few months…I wouldn’t have even called you crazy. I would have just walked you to CPEP myself.
But, here we are, loving every moment of it!
If real estate is something that you are, even just maybe, interested in, these are the posts for you:
- How I Bought My First Investment Property Despite Little Time, Big Loans and Bigger Doubt
- A Physician’s Guide to Real Estate Investing
- How to Screen & Analyze Investment Properties the Right Way
- How To Become a Successful Landlord as a Physician
I have never had a manicure in my life. I don’t know that I ever will. I’m not against them, I just don’t have a real interest.
But, my wife loves manicures. In the 11 years that we have been together, we have always been students and trainees and money has been tight. She has been able to get manicures and I have been able to have my periodic indulgences, but they were splurges. To do so meant we had to make sure we had enough to do it and then stress a bit afterwards. It kinda took away from some of the enjoyment.
Now, armed with a large jump in income along with a financial plan and budget that includes a 41-55% savings rate, we are able to treat ourselves to things like a manicure guilt-free.
I could have chosen from a few different indulgences, but Selenid just had a manicure the other day and it just made us so happy to be able to do that. So here we are, being financially thankful.
I love to read and I love to learn. Learning about personal finance has opened a whole new world of education for me. Reading and learning from personal finance books has brought me a lot of joy. I try to still read 10 pages in a book each night at least. I wish I could say I am perfect with this, but it still sets a nice goal, especially for anyone just getting started.
If you are looking for some good books, start here.
14. Turkey drum sticks
Ahhh I had to throw this one in there. It has absolutely nothing to do with being financially thankful.
I just love turkey drunkstaicks. And unless it’s Thanksgiving or you are a 10 year old visiting Epcot, there’s never a really socially acceptable opportunity to eat a turkey drumstick.
So…here’s to drumsticks!
15. All of you!
This is most definitely a last but certainly not least scenario. I am so, so thankful for all of you that read this blog, allowing us to share our journeys to financial and overall well-being together! I started this blog with a goal of writing for at least 6 months even if no one was paying attention. To have >100,000 views in the matter of months is so humbling!
This is an honor and a responsibility that I take very seriously. Please never hesitate to reach out to me at [email protected]csurgeon.com if there is ever anything you love, hate or have suggestions about the blog. Also, you can always contact me if you are looking for any help!
16. Helping others
As a doctor, a big part of our identify is a desire to help others. And I really love what I do. Focusing on reconstruction after trauma, cancer, or other reasons with a focus on breast reconstruction gives me a great sense of fulfillment.
Over the past year, I have also had a lot of opportunities to speak with residency programs as well as at conferences about the principles of financial freedom for physicians. I can’t express enough how much I love doing this as a way of helping doctors improve their financial well-being!
It’s also why I created my free masterclass webinar on the 12 steps to financial freedom for physicians!
Lastly, I want to save my final thank you for all of you!
As always, if you like my blog and can share it with even just one other person, it would mean the world to me!
What are you financially thankful for this year? What are you thankful for non-financially? How can we best give thanks? Let me know in the comments below and have an amazing Thanksgiving!