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Welcome to the Prudent Plastic Surgeon!

First of all, thank you for coming! My name is Jordan Frey and I am the Prudent Plastic Surgeon. Or at least that is what I am becoming. Or, better yet, want to become. You see, up until recently, I was more of a Poor Plastic Surgeon for a number of reasons. (I go more in depth about this process of realization that led me to my current path, and inspiration to start this blog, on the page “The Journey Begins…” which I recommend you take a moment to read if you are just starting off here.)

In short, a disconnect had developed between what I wanted out of life and my perception of who I should become as a “plastic surgeon.” I didn’t even quite realize this until I began to think about my future after residency and fellowship training – my job, my family life, my hobbies, my health, how I wanted to spend my time. I felt disillusioned that I was so far away from living what I perceived as the “rich plastic surgeon life.” An even bigger problem was that I did not even think this was the life that I wanted. It took some time, but through introspection and the help of my wife and family, I came to be able to admit that I did not know what I wanted and quite honestly that I did not know what to do.

Once I was able to overcome this hurdle of admitting that I did not know, I finally felt free to find the answers, my own answers, clear from the static of others’ and my own perceptions. I searched for clarity and began to find that I did know what I wanted, but was always a bit thrown that this did not line up with the typical path that I had seen as a plastic surgery trainee in New York City. I wanted to reconstruct patients afflicted by congenital, traumatic, oncologic (cancer), or other issues using the skills that I had learned in my training. But I also wanted to prioritize family, my health, travel, experiences, and our most limited resource…time. Even as I made these leaps in self-realization, I kept coming back to a nagging thought…how do you even make this happen financially?

You see, up until this point, I had never been one to pay that much attention to my finances. I went to a private undergraduate university and a private medical school. I took out loans to pay for every.single.dollar because it was a goal of mine to go to these particular schools. I knew that I could have gone to less costly schools with scholarships but I figured the loans were “future Jordan’s” problem. Welp, the future was here. To make matters worse, I did not know anything about investing. The stock market is risky, the real estate market is risky…why bother? I was good at budgeting but not good at saving. I budgeted to spend the money that I made. I even felt that managing your finances was somehow a bad thing…like many physicians, my drive to go to medical school was to help people, not make money.

If only I had realized the importance of financial well-being when this photo was taken.

At this point in the game, coming to the end of my training and beginning my job search, I realized how wrong I was. It is not bad to want to live a good life and grow your wealth and net worth – to be able to enjoy your time and your family, to help others, to be able to give back, to focus on your passions and purpose on your own terms. Working to achieve financial well-being and, eventually, independence can help set you free to be the best spouse, parent, sibling, son, daughter, doctor, lawyer, and so on. I had no idea how to do that though. What I did know was that if I kept on this trajectory, I would never achieve my goals – financially or otherwise.

Lucky for me, my cousin Jimmy, also a physician, is somewhat of a closet FIRE (financially independent retire early) follower himself. Not even knowing the struggle I was going through, he recommended a few financial books to me – The White Coat Investor by Dr. James Dahle, The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley and William Danko, and The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing by Mel Lindauer, Michael LeBoeuf, and Taylor Larimore (I cannot recommend these books or the WCI blog highly enough).

That’s Jimmy, second from the left, big FIRE guy

Reading these books set me on a completely new path. I tried to find every ounce of financial knowledge and devour it. My wife and I dove into our current finances to fully understand our situation and developed our own written financial plan. We decided to manage our finances and investments ourselves and budgeted into the future to ensure that our goals could be reached by making the right decisions now and through intentional spending. The relief and excitement for both of us was incredible and has not waned one bit.

I had been scared to learn for fear of realizing it was too late or I had messed up our situation too badly. By looking the problem in the face and being determined to learn as much as we could to right the ship, we took back control of our personal and financial well-being.

I am still very much in the middle of this process. We are not financially independent or really even close. But I began to speak to my family, friends, and colleagues of all levels about what I was learning and realized that I had not been alone when I was lost in the woods. I think there are a lot of you in all walks of life that can relate to being in some part of this journey. Unfortunately, many are likely stuck where I was, scared to learn for fear of seeing the problem for what it is. Many will be just about where I am. And fortunately, many will be ahead of where I am, and I, along with everyone else, can learn from you.

My goal in this space is to spread the principles of personal and financial well-being on the path to purpose, passion, happiness, and independence. I hope to do this by sharing my journey towards these exact goals but also hope that you will share yours as well. In the coming posts, I will share all of the things I did right financially (small list) and all of the things that I did wrong (big list) along with what I am doing/what we can do together to make them better.

Let’s all reach for well-being and wealth without the waste!

– Jordan

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    The Prudent Plastic Surgeon

    Jordan Frey MD, a plastic surgeon in Buffalo, NY, is one of the fastest-growing physician finance bloggers in the world. See how he went from financially clueless to increasing his net worth by $1M in 1 year and how you can do the same! Feel free to send Jordan a message at [email protected].

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