I recently shared an in depth look at my weekly spending and overall financial situation in the form of a money journal for MedPage Today.
They asked me some general personal finance questions and then followed by asking me to track my spending for a week, chronicling it in a money journal. Of course, Selenid and I already track our spending via our monthly budget. But we actually had never done this before in terms of journaling.
MedPage actually shared the information anonymously. But as you all know by now, I am an open book! I think this transparency is really important. Because we have a big problem in medicine. Money is still such a taboo subject in medicine. Plus, doctors just don’t get any (good) financial education. Without all the details, we are left in the dark.
I really think that we all should be helping each other and being transparent and open when discussing all aspects of well-being, including financial well-being!
Plus, this exercise of creating a money journal turned out to be a lot of fun. So, I’d like to share it with you all here!
Some background information
They started by asking me some background information…
Job: Plastic Surgeon
You knew that already!
Will actually be 35 by the time this post is published…
Location: Buffalo, New York
This is right around the median salary for plastic surgeons as shown here.
Net worth: $450,000
My most recent net worth update which reveals all aspects of this net worth calculation is here.
This includes my student debt and home mortgage.
Amount per paycheck: $11,000 every 2 weeks after taxes
We actually make back a lot of the taxes at the end of the year thanks to our personal tax plan.
- Mortgage (PITA): $4,100
- Student debt: $2,100 (This is the minimum payment currently due. We pay a lot more than this each month to aggressively drive down our debt and increase our net worth.)
- Children education: $3,000
- Utilities: $200
- Cars: $400
- Internet/cable/TV subscriptions: $180
- Lawn care/snow removal: $100
- Home cleaning: $200
- Gym: $100
General money questions
Next, they had some more specific philosophical questions about my current relationship with money…
What was your first job and why did you start working?
I became a cashier at 17-years-old. It was at local grocery store where I also helped collect carts in the parking lot. I started working to pay for a car and other expenses.
I think they was a really important experience looking back. It helped me recognize improve my work ethic but also showed me that I wanted a better job and needed to work hard for this. I hated being a cashier!
Do you worry about money in your current situation?
Yes, in the sense that I am always aware of it and making sure I stay on course with my financial plan!
What financial tracking or money management/budgeting tools (if any) do you use? Would you recommend them to others?
I use Excel to track my budget monthly. I also use a free online net worth calculator to calculate my net worth every 3-4 months.
No need to get fancy if you don’t want to!
Are there any other financial details readers should be aware of?
I own five cash-flowing rental properties that cash flow roughly 25% each month. This means that each rental property provides me with a yearly cash flow of 25% of the total initial money that I put into them. This cash flow is cash that goes in my pocket after mortgage, taxes, insurance, maintenance, and all other expenses are paid for. This cash flow totals about $8,000/month, which I save to buy new properties.
I felt this is really important to share. Because real estate is such a big piece of our journey to financial freedom.
Do you have any comments or thoughts on the current state of compensation for people in your position/profession?
Physicians are compensated in the top 1% of everyone in the U.S. However, the variability in compensation within specialties on an individual doctor level is huge. This is because we, as a field, do not help each other by sharing information like salary and income. This, along with a lack of financial education, places us at a big disadvantage when negotiating contracts.
7 Day Money Journal
Now, they asked me to create a money journal describing our spending habits over a “typical week.” So, I just went through a normal week and noted every expense. Keep in mind, this week it so happened that there were no emergencies or things like that. When those things do come up, we have an emergency fund to cover them however.
Day 1 (Monday)
Today I have an administrative day at the office.
In the morning, I eat my regular bowl of cereal and drop my kids off at school. In the hospital, I buy lunch at the cafeteria for $7 in between work and meetings.
After grabbing my kids, my wife and I cook them dinner using a meal from Home Chef, a meal subscription service that costs $90/week. We then re-heat the cooked meals after the kids are in bed for our dinner.
Day 2 (Tuesday)
Today I am operating all day. I have the same breakfast as yesterday, but unfortunately, I do not have time for lunch and just eat a protein bar. Usually, I buy a huge pack of these each month in order to feed myself on days when a sit-down meal is not possible. I bought a new box this week, and the whole box costs $20. My go-to bars are the cookie dough ONE bars.
Because the day is busier than usual for me and my wife, we take the kids out to eat at a local restaurant with a big playground outside. Our meals cost $30.
During the day, Selenid also bought our kids new clothes for summer camp at Target for a total of $45.
Day 3 (Wednesday)
Another day of operating but this time I am able to sneak out for a cafeteria lunch for $7. We cook another Home Chef meal for ourselves and the kids for dinner.
Day 4 (Thursday)
Today is my clinic day seeing patients.
I have a protein bar for lunch. However, tonight my wife and I have a charity event that we are going to.
We arranged a babysitter that we pay $20/hour. The event has some light bites, but we leave hungry and stop at a Thai restaurant for some real food. It’s a $60 check for drinks, appetizers, and two pad Thai plates. The babysitter costs around $100.
Day 5 (Friday)
I have another OR day but a shorter one. I end up going home in the early afternoon and have lunch there.
Our kids eat groceries we have at home, but my wife and I order DoorDash sushi for $80. We try to limit ordering delivery, but after a long week, I am too lazy to pick up the food and the $15 in delivery fees seem worthwhile (and maybe even intentional…).
Day 6 (Saturday)
In the morning, we hang out without the kids, as they have soccer practice in the late morning. These lessons for 2–4-year-olds cost about $100/season, which lasts 8 weeks.
Afterwards, we stop at a hot dog stand for lunch, which costs $30. In the afternoon, they play outside with friends. My wife and I make our last Home Chef meal for the week for dinner.
Day 7 (Sunday)
Today we have swim lessons with the kids, which cost $200/month. Then they play at home while Selenid and I attempt to have some quiet time. Afterwards, we have a weekly family dinner hosted at my mom’s house.
Week total of variable expenses: $531.50
This is a fairly typical week for us. Of course, there are weeks where unexpected expenses arise, which is why we have our emergency fund. There are also weeks where we may splurge for a certain item or experience after determining that it fits our financial plan and brings us joy greater than its price tag. But in general, we are frugal and do not overspend in our daily lives.
Should you try keeping a weekly money journal?
I actually don’t think it’s a bad idea! I’m not saying to do this every week. But if you are wanting to closer look at your finances or want to start saving more, a money journal is a good way to start.
Give it a shot!
You can also get a detailed breakdown of my monthly money flow here!
Here are some other great ways to jumpstart your journey to financial freedom!
- The Simple Habits That Will Make You Financially Successful
- 10 Sure FIRE Ways to Jump Start Your Personal Finances
- The 7 Step Basic Formula for Wealth as a Physician
What do you think? Would you try a money journal? What do you think it would look like? What are your typical weekly expenses? Let me know in the comments below!