A Surgeon’s Financial Journey: The Balancing Act of Navigating Debt, Family, and Fulfillment

April 4, 2024

In this special episode of FIN LYT by EWA, Matt Blocki and Chris Pavcic engage in a conversation with two long time clients, both in the medical field, revealing the intricacies of navigating life’s financial and personal challenges. The clients, a surgeon and an occupational therapist, respectively, share their journey from accumulating substantial educational debt to making life-altering decisions amidst the birth of their children and the COVID-19 pandemic. Their story highlights the balance between debt repayment, career sacrifices, and the importance of family and well-being. The episode offers invaluable insights for young couples striving to manage finances, debt, and family priorities and is underscored by the strategic guidance of their financial advisors.
Digging deeper, the clients’ narrative unfolds the tension between societal expectations and personal values, particularly around financial decisions while in the medical profession. Through periods of intense stress, isolation, and significant life events, they emphasize the virtues of patience, strategic financial planning, and the courage to say “no” to instant gratification in pursuit of long-term fulfillment. They share their journey to the decision to build their dream home as a means to bring their immediate and extended families closer and plan for the future. Their experiences illustrate the transformational impact of aligning financial decisions with core values. This episode explores a personal and financial journey for the clients but provides insights for anyone facing the daunting task of balancing professional success with the desire for balance and a meaningful family life.

Episode Transcript

Welcome, everybody. Excited to welcome Alex and Ange here. So, Alex is a surgical subspecialist here in the eastern, geographically in the states. And Alex and Ange have an amazing story. We’re super excited to unpack wisdom. I think this would be very helpful for any young couple that’s working to balance family financial planning, paying off debt, et cetera. And then Chris, Ewa advisor, who’s had the pleasure of working with Alex and Ange for many years. So welcome, everybody. Thank you. Thanks for having us. Absolutely. Well, Alex and Ange, do you mind just giving us a quick background? Obviously, there’s been very extensive educational background with both of you before the financial planning started. So can you just give us a quick background of how many years you spent in school, and then from there, just a quick high level, get us caught up to speed where you are to date. So I did undergrad at Penn State University. I majored in kinesiology, and then after that, I went on to graduate school at Pitt, and I got a degree in occupational therapy. So from then, I started off actually part time at a hospital in Pittsburgh, and then went full time. Shortly after that is when I met Alex and ended up moving out of state, where he was living, and kind of climbed the ladder there a little bit, became a supervisor, and then when we moved back to Pittsburgh, continued in a supervisor role here. And then when Covid hit, actually, our little boy, who I’m sure we’ll talk more about, has a heart condition. So we decided it was best for our family for me to stay at home with him. So that’s kind of where I stand right now. Just a quick snippet. I’d love to get back to work, and that’s our goal. So we just kind of have to. It’ll take some planning with the kids schooling and how many activities we have now, but the goal is to get back to work at some point, whether it be part time, full time, whatever it is, right now, I’m just at home with the boys. Awesome. So happy family, two kids. Alex, I know from your perspective, there was many. I’m adding it up in my head. Was it 13 years? 13 years, four years? Of college, year off after college, then four years of medical school, and then five years of residency. Wow. Okay. Well, I remember when we first met. Newly married, big goal of we want to pay down debt. We’re also balancing some decisions of, like, what lifestyle we want to live now. How can we stay on the super aggressive debt strategy? Can you talk about the debt? And kind of what was the stress behind that? And then what was the mindset coming into that first meeting we had? Yeah. So I am very debt averse. I don’t like debt. I didn’t realize how fortunate I was coming out of college to have. I just looked at the paper. Less than $3,000 worth of debt in college, and then went to medical school and left medical school with $360,000 worth of debt. And then when we first met, I think I was just starting residency, so I knew that we’re putting things on hold as far as paying debt back went. They did have these pay programs that they do now. They were out back then, and I looked into those, but I always wanted to do private practice when I got out, so I didn’t feel like I was a good candidate for any of the repayment options that are out there. And so we just kind of watched the debt add up over five years of residency. Up to, for me, about $530,000 worth of debt by that time. That includes a residency assist loan, which was just five grand, and then a loan from my medical school that I got, which was $10,000, but it was interest free, which was great. And it was first year residency that I met Ange, who then happened to have another $177,000 worth of debt. So, by total, were over $700,000 when I first came out of residency. So, when we first met, I told you that I really wanted that debt to go away quickly, but there’s no great way to quickly make $700,000 go away very long. You guys have definitely made a big fast forward. Chris, do you have the numbers since we’ve been working together? How many years was that? Six years ago? Think so, yeah. We’re down to 116,000 right now at 2.2%. You refinanced back when interest rates were lower, so, basically, in less than six years, you’re 85% of the way done. Impressive. Correct? We just talked about this yesterday. We’ve essentially paid over $550,000 in after tax money to loans at this point. Our first year, when I first got out of residency, it was ten grand a month to loans every month. $10,000 a month and my first signing bonus, or I took the job partly because I could get a loan forgiveness check that was $175,000. And that essentially straight paid off all of Angel’s loans so that we had that loan kind of out of the way, and then we’re able to focus on mine. Awesome. Well, what was the philosophy, Alex? Because I remember that, and Angela is very risk. You’re not risk adverse. Debt adverse as well, but not quite as much as you. What was your. What was the philosophy behind that? What were the feelings behind that? What was the motivation? Yeah. Mine’s more centered on the way that, I guess I was raised by my mom and dad. As far as the way that they viewed money. My mom and dad always bought their cars. They never leased a car. They owned their home. They bought their home when interest rates were, like, 18% back, like, you know, decades ago. But they paid that house off in, like, four years, they said, when they were on a 30 year mortgage. So they did everything they could to pay down their loans. And for two people that never went to college, they’ve done really well financially without having to do extra work, without trying to make side gigs to make money or invest in fancy investments. They’ve just kind of worked normal jobs and put money away like they should. And for people that never had a college degree, they did really well. So I always kind of focused my money philosophy off what they did, and their debt aversion turned into my debt aversion. I did end up picking up some bad habits due to that, but for the most part, that’s where I get my philosophy. And so when we first came out, it was just live like we did the year prior in residency when were in West Virginia, and the house we lived in was $120,000 and it was $600 mortgage, which were ecstatic about at that point. And so, know, what can we do to keep every other payment minimal right now until we get these things? We make a big dent. And, Matt, we decided, too, I think I remember the first time we met you. I remember everything about that meeting. And we came out of residency and decided, okay, we’re going to buy a townhouse for, what, $260,000, I think something like that, because that’s all we needed. We didn’t have any kids yet, but some of Alex’s friends were going out and right out of residency, buying eight and $900,000 houses. And we’re like, well, we don’t want to do that. We don’t feel like. And we didn’t have the money to do that, and a lot of them didn’t either. So we decided we’re going to do what we can with the money we have now. And when we can afford something, then we’ll kind of go that route. And I remember specifically, you had a drawing board at your meeting and mapped out literally the next. How many years? 30, 1530 years. And you’re like, if we stick to this, if we do this in ten years, or I don’t even know how much, we said, you’ll be able to afford a $900,000 house. And in my mind, I was like, oh, my gosh, we could afford that. That was just, like, nuts to me. Mind blowing. Mind blowing. And now we’re thinking how hard we’ve worked to get here and what we’re doing right now. As far as that goes. I literally can’t even believe it, but I remember every single thing about our first meeting. That’s awesome. Yeah. When it comes to financial stuff, sometimes I feel like I photograph member I remember the exact whiteboard to get to where you are. A lot of sacrifices have been made. So you mentioned, Alex, those childhood memories that you saw your parents go through just kind of instilled in you. So fast forward and build this plan. You start a family. Covid hits I remember lots of stresses were induced inside of your plan. So can you give us just an insight into that? And then how did you successfully? Because everyone probably looks at your family and says, wow, it’s a perfect family. They do well, very well respected in the community, but on the underside, what people don’t see is there was a ton of stress that you guys had to manage. And we only know this being on your team here from an advisor perspective, but how did you get through all of that, you know? So, as Ange mentioned before, our oldest son, who is four and a half years old, was born with something called transposition of the great arteries, and so ended up undergoing open heart surgery when he was just five days old. And so were at children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh for 13 days, I think. And that was actually a really short time from what they quoted us. They quoted us about 21 days in the hospital with what Finn had and needing surgery. And so that was, we get out of residency, we go on our honeymoon, we find out we’re pregnant, lots of happiness. Thanksgiving and the holidays roll around, and we’re excited to spend them with the family. And we get news on our. Fortunately, news on that 20 week ultrasound. We’re outside of Pittsburgh, and they say, you got to go down to children’s now to get an echo for your kid’s heart who’s not even born yet, 20 weeks. And so we head down there, and they say, you have transposition of the great arteries. Fortunately, I’m in a field where I don’t quite understand. I remember learning about it, but I don’t know what it all entails now, but I fortunately had some good friends that were able to kind of give me the rundown on what it meant and what we could look forward to and what the path ahead lied. And so we had that to worry about. And so everything was kind of forgotten for a while. As far as money, I still went to work and made payments and all those things up until the time he was born. And then, actually, I only had two weeks off. So my first day back, I drove Ange and Finn home from the hospital and then went to work that afternoon. And so that was really know, difficult for me, but difficult for my wife to have this all happen and have to process all of this trauma and something that really more people than, you know, go through. It does happen. It’s not terribly uncommon. Like, one in 100 childbirths has some type of heart defect. So there’s more people out there than, you know. So went through all this, and then we get into. Whenever I found out about Finn in his heart, we decided that I was going to go part time. So that was kind of already managed with my work. So coming back from attorney leave, I was going to go part time, which was helpful. So I did two and a half days a week at work after Finn was born, after were home for, what, three months or so? Three months or so. And then it’s a year, and he’s about to turn one. And we have news of this new virus a little bit before he was one, and Covid hits. And now we’re really terrified because we have a disease that is now telling. Yeah, it’s a respiratory disease, but it also hurts the heart. And so we really did a lot of precautions to try to keep Finn safe. Essentially, were completely isolated for three. Years, about three years, probably two and a half completely, where we would say, hey, we want to know more about this before we start maybe exposing Finn to it in. So during that time, too, I got pregnant again, quit my job completely when I found out I was pregnant, because we still didn’t know a lot about COVID And since I had previous issues with pregnancies, what it would do to me if I did catch it then. So I quit my job, stayed home full time, had a one and a half year old, was pregnant and completely isolated, which was the hardest thing I’ve ever done my entire life. Which meant her taking care of the kids, me helping when I got home, but not a lot of. We moved back to the area to get help from the grandparents, but were still really cautious about them coming over to see the, . So it was a lot of work for Ange and a lot of isolation for her and the kids. And for me, it meant going to work and then coming back and seeing the kids, but also always wanting to be home, because I knew Ange and the kids needed the company, so I went to work. But it was stressful all the time for that reason. And so the money and I could have been busier. I could have probably worked a little bit more and had longer days during those three years. But I tried to be as not busy as possible when I didn’t have to be so that I could be home, and that was fine, and it worked out well. And luckily, were in a good financial position to be able to pay those loans off, still at about ten grand a month. During COVID as well, we did end up moving out of our townhouse. And during that, I think were with you by then, Chris, right? Yeah, I think, Chris, whenever we moved into our house, because, Matt, whenever you left the current company that we started with, you were with a different company. We started with you, Matt. You ended up leaving, starting this firm. And I think we stayed. Yeah, we stayed with the other company for about a year, and then were like, where is Matt? We need Matt back. So I think, Alex, that was triggered by the house. Yeah. And it was during COVID and were like, do we want to buy a house? Do we want to move out of the. We. I think Alex contacted you, and we need to get back with whatever you’re doing. So we switched back to the firm that you had started and then met Chris, which was, gosh, Chris has been fantastic, too. We tell him all the time, every time we talk to him. But I think during that time, that’s when we met Chris, maybe, if I remember correctly. And we ended up deciding to buy a bigger house, because this was before we had our second. We knew we wanted to get pregnant again. So that skewed us a little bit, I think, from our financial goals. I think that house, we ended up paying, like, 439, I think it was, which I think our goal was to stay under 600. So anytime we’ve had a goal as far as housing goes, so far, we had stayed under. So we certainly were planning on staying in the townhouse a little bit longer, but we just didn’t think we could make it work. So you guys certainly helped us make that decision. And then in that, the people, everyone with federal loans during that time had them frozen, so there was no interest. So we had switched to private loans, like, a year before. And then pandemic hits, federal loans are halted. And so we could have went a long time without having to pay any interest on those loans. And that would have really made a big dent, for sure. I don’t want to do the math on where I’d be right now if were actually stayed at federal loans. But that was just like a little bit of. A little bit of bad luck. Another punch in the gut, right? Yeah, just another. And so over that time period, we had one kid with a heart defect moved into a townhouse, had moved into a second house, which that was our fourth house in four years, and then had a second child, third house, and then we moved into it. And since then, we’ve moved into a different house and taking another job, because eventually that job kind of fell flat from my wife and ours expectations, and were a little bit further away from family. So in a matter of five years, three different houses, two children, one pandemic. And we did end up also, I think, when Covid hit, if I remember correctly, we decreased paying Alex’s loans from 10,000 a month to five because were just like, we have no idea what’s going to happen. We were just so unsure about everything. So were a little bit worried. So we did cut paying the loans in half at that point, which I believe we’re still just paying five grand a month. But at that time, I would get a yearly bonus, and the yearly bonus would go all the loans, essentially. So I was pretty close to paying the same amount. It’s been about one hundred k a year since. Yeah. And just to finish up where we are currently, it took a lot of work from Matt and Chris, especially Chris, to make a decision to now we are building, essentially our dream home, which we’re so excited about, but we didn’t know if we wanted to, if we didn’t want to, what the right decision was. I think, Chris, you probably got how many emails being like, should we do this? Should we not do this? But we are so happy with our decision. I think it’s going to be a great move for us. It’s something that I never could have imagined us doing this quickly ever in our lives, ever. But we’re in a really good position. After we kind of got the go ahead from you guys, we even talked to this builder, and were, should we do it? Should we not do it? And he’s like, you know what? And Alex gave him a few numbers while were talking on the phone. He said, you guys are better than 95% of the clients that we take on to build houses for. So I think that made Alex feel a little better, even though he was still scared to take that leap. Yeah, but, I mean, just the things that you guys have helped us with over the past. What did we say? Six years. Six years. Gosh, I could not have imagined doing it on our own at all. We appreciate that. Well, I think the best thing we can do, and I think the big reason why we’re no longer at a private firm, is I have this big belief that financial advice is the most important thing, and just helping decision affirmation and avoiding decision fatigue. So, Chris, I want to pass the ball to you for a second. Obviously, I can’t remember what airport I was in, but I remember doing a three way call. And, Chris, you were right in the middle of this big decision that was coming up. There was, like, the dream lot. And so give us a behind the scenes look, I guess, some of the perspective that, you know, we see a lot of people accumulate wealth for no reason that are on great track. I know you quoted a statistic about kids under your roof, so give us some of that background perspective, some of the stuff that was discussed that led up to this point eventually. Yeah, absolutely. So we definitely had a lot of back and forth looking at the financial side of things. I think in our shared spreadsheet right now, we have a ton of different tabs modeling out different budgets, different cash flow with different income amounts and so on. But I think ultimately, and Alex and Ange, correct me if I’m wrong, we wanted to make sure that financially, you guys weren’t making any mistakes, which great track overall and long term planning. And then secondly, we wanted to make sure that the house was a good fit for you and your family. Most importantly, that statistic that you’re talking about, we came across a study. It said something about 80% of the time with your kids is spent while they’re under your roof, between one and 18. Then they go off to college, and that last 20% is from 18 all the way to the rest of their lives. So knowing that family was a huge priority, we thought the house made a lot of sense. Not looking at it from other factors other than just finances went through. Matt, I think you guys have talked about this on other podcasts before. A values exercise and narrowing down the top five values for Alex, top five for Ange. And all of them continue to point back to the house being a good fit for them. And as long as we can keep things on track financially, of course. But biggest reason is wanting to have a place to spend time and create memories with the family, which. Looking forward to hearing about all those stories whenever you guys move in. Yeah. Alexandria, can you tell us a little bit about the back and forth? What were the pros and cons? And then was there any certain catalyst that led you finally to pull the. I mean, obviously, one of the biggest pros for me personally is I was hoping that in our future, we could live in a new house that I could essentially, I love the design part of a house, so I love being able to pick this and pick that and kind of design it to be our own. Our townhouse was new that we moved into, but it was very small. We didn’t get in time to be able to pick details out about it. But every house we’ve been in since then has been fairly old. We have found that things break down very easily when you live in an old house. And we just decided that building it may be more stressful initially, but we could make it our own. And so we just thought, I just would love to design the house, essentially, which has always been my dream. If we couldn’t do that’s fine, too. It wouldn’t bother me at all. That was a pro. The biggest pro for us and why we decided to do it was, we want a space big enough where if my parents ever needed to come live with us, if Alex’s brother ever needed a place to stay, we would have the square footage and the space to be able to have people stay at our home for however long that they needed. And every single day, I still get excited and just thinking about, like, oh, my sister just turned 40 and we had a 40th birthday party somewhere. Like, oh, man, if were already in that house, we could have just hosted everybody over. I cannot wait to be able to do that. So it’s really just being able to have family over, be able to, like Chris said, what we’ve talked about make special memories there with our family. So, really, the biggest thing that made us say yes was knowing that we would have a big enough house to be able to have family over anytime that we wanted to. Alex actually is the one that wanted to do the house. I initially, well, we both were kind of iffy on it just because it is a lot of money. That was probably the only con to this house is it is the most money we will ever spend on anything in our lives. But we just thought it was going to be worth it with having somewhere for everyone to be able to come and converse and have holidays and the kids to grow up there, hopefully till they’re in college and have a place to stay or bring friends back to. So thinking about family is the biggest thing that got us to say yes. For me, it was being grounded to run you back. We were in a house in residency. We moved from there to a townhouse, from there to another house, and now we’re currently in a fourth house that’s a rental that we’re doing right now, which is the best decision we made financially. And one that, again, I will thank Matt and Chris for. Because Ange probably never would have went for it if they didn’t say yes. That’s absolutely the right move to make right now. And so for me, it’s going to be the fifth house in seven years. For us, it’s a lot of moving around, and certainly in medicine, we tend to do that because people are in somewhere for school, which is that you’re in somewhere for college, you’re in somewhere for school, then you’re in somewhere for residency, then you’re going somewhere to work. I think something like 60% to 70% of physicians leave their first job in two years. So it’s like a super high number that leave quickly after their first gig. So you’re just moving and moving. And for me, it’s about knowing that I’m happy with the job that I have right now. I feel well compensated, and I feel like we’re going to be in this next house for 20 or 30 years, and I never have to worry about again. And I don’t ever have to hear anything from my wife about how old something is or if something breaks down or if they didn’t like the design of something or the room. So it’s really great and fortunate to be able to do that. Finally, we’re not getting any younger. For a lot of people that have two kids and are settled down, it’s usually early on in the process that you know where you’re going to be for a good amount of. I. Chris, you said something once that, I think, kind of stuck with Alex, too. I think it was you, Chris, that said it. But you said that you had clients and they had saved and saved and saved all their lives. And I think they were, like, in their mid sixty s, and then one of them ended up getting fairly sick. I don’t know if you remember telling this story or not, but they had essentially, I think it was terminal. And so they saved all this money, never went on vacations, never did this or that, and then that was you. I think that kind of stuck with me a lot because. And I think that helped Alex a lot, thinking about the future and things, and finally now where he’s okay, like, spending a little bit of money going on vacation, or we’re going to Nemecoln for the first time ever, which in Alex’s mind, is an insane amount of money to spend to go somewhere for two days, which I agree it is a lot, but just making those memories, like, we’re going to take Finn or our kids for their birthday. Finn and bo it. Finn’s turning five. And we’re like, let’s just do it. Because he’s turning five. He’s on spring break. Alex has off work. Let’s go somewhere, take the kids and do it. It’s a couple hundred dollars for a few days, but they’re going to remember that forever. So I think same thing with the, like, this is going to be a place where they can just run and play and have so much. Like, when we did the exercise with you, Chris, I think that helped tremendously because I think we just kept emailing you continuously being like, we don’t know what to do. And then you came up with, you said, let’s do this exercise. And you and Matt talked, and it helped so much to be like, yes, this is the right decision, because we did almost say no multiple times. And then when we said yes, after we did that exercise, it felt different and it felt right to say yes. Saying no felt weird and uncomfortable, but saying yes just felt like the right decision for this house. When I mentioned I got a lot of habits from my parents, and I said bad habits, one of them would be that I don’t really know how to spend money because of the way that I was raised. We had pizza Friday nights, and that was our night out. We never ate out. We took a nice summer vacation every year and spent a week somewhere at the beach every year, which was great. But, you know, and you know, when I. When Christmas rolled around, I generally got the things I wanted. So I never felt like were struggling ever. And we did well. But my parents weren’t and aren’t good spenders. They’ve saved really well, and they’re really good at saving. And so I picked that habit up, but I wasn’t great at spending. And I think one thing I’m trying to learn to better at, and one thing that Ian just helped me and Chris has helped me with, is to be okay spending some money when it’s worthwhile. Certainly the housing thing, that’s a big time decision. And so that was a lot more stressful than other decisions. But now it’s a lot easier for me to say, yeah, it’s okay, let’s take a two day trip and spend this money that maybe I didn’t have set away for that trip, those things. And I think I’ve talked with you, Matt, about Ramit Sethi and that financial end of the spectrum, where it’s about living your rich life, right. The life that you imagine is the best life for you right now. Still having a future in mind, and still making sure you’re saving, and still making sure you’re prepared for retirement and for your kids colleges and for the important things. But really taking the time now, while we are sort of young and want to take these trips and want to take the kids places and want to go hang out at the beach and be in the sunshine and do those things, I certainly was more hesitant to do those things two years ago, four years ago, five years ago. But now I see the point. I see the logic in doing those things now with family and kids and wanting to spend life. And I think that’s the main point, is that’s our rich life. Our rich life is having the kids at our house and being in the neighborhood we want to next to the people we want to be and doing the things we want. Well put. Very well put. Well, I think that Chris, the perspective you shared, that know vividly remembers about the people that accumulated all this money, and then before they knew it, all those bucket list items were not possible. They had all the resource in the. World, but not the time. I think a good financial plan is really, it’s constant work. It’s an artwork. The best financial decision is always going to be save, get good rates of return, and maybe ignoring those memories and family. But then, on the flip side, the best lifestyle decisions could ruin you financially in the future. So having that tension of figuring it out and making sure that those values that Chris mentioned are the leading mechanism of how to make. I mean, honestly, I’m very proud that you guys went through with this house. So many people have so many regrets, and you have the right disciplines in place. There’s no question you’re going to stay on track in your financial plan. I think, if anything, you’ll still over accumulate. Knowing Alex’s need for high levels of discipline, which is very viral. But I think it’s very great that you guys bought this house. And we typically find two people in this world, especially with medical backgrounds. One is safe, safe since they pay off student loans and you go through stages, and now your kids are out of the house, and now the identities and the work. And like you said, with parents, it’s impossible to spend, and then vice versa. We do see some people that lifestyle inflation hits them like a pile of bricks, and then they can never get ahead, right? So very few people have found that artwork of being in the sweet spot. And I think you guys are living proof of it as possible. It just takes a lot of attention to get there. Well, Alexandra, thanks for sharing that value perspective. I think, like we said, hitting the middle, hitting the sweet spot in the financial plan, it’s a constant calibration process. But being able to stay on track long term and also fast forward in the future, look back without regret, is huge. I was curious. Two more really important questions. I find a lot of clients we work with, over half our clients, let’s say, are physicians, and a lot of them have this social pressure. They’re viewed as rich doctors. But we know behind the scenes half your money, you’re starting ten years late. Half of your paycheck is going right to a student loan payment. So tell us, what’s been your experience with friends, family, just your general network? Do you feel any kind of social pressure around monies? I know my brothers always give me a hard time about it, not quite understanding the amount of debt that we have and that we had and that we still have $700,000 in debt is a mortgage on a really nice house, especially when I came out ten years ago with it. So they don’t quite understand the fact that we’re still saving money a good bit, and we’re still trying to pay off loans a good bit, and there’s still a good amount of hindrance to where we spend our money due to that debt. And so my brothers are both in country clubs and both golf all the time. I don’t have that much disposable income or that much disposable time, and I would love to have the time to do those things, but I’m busy. Like you said, I’m a surgical subspecialist. There’s only really three of me in the county that do the same job that I do, so it’s busy. I take the time off when I can, but I feel a lot of responsibility for the patients out here that if they need me and I’m not around, I have a little bit of guilt with that, whether it be right or wrong, but I think it is. I personally, I don’t care what people say or think about the way that I spend my money. I drove a 98 Honda Civic for. Ten years that I had to force him to give up, that she had. To force me to give up, and. It still ran rust everywhere. It was a beautiful car. It was a beautiful car. I’m fine with that. Right now, I’m driving a ten year old car with 100,000 miles on it. It’s a nice looking car, but it’s an old car, and it sounds, like, terrible because the muffler is always bad on it, and I get it fixed all the time, but I’m fine with it. I don’t really usually care too much about those things. No, Alex doesn’t at. But. So here’s an example, I guess went to Chicago for you, had a conference. So I went with Alex, and this was a complete surprise to me. Alex said, hey, do you want to walk down the street? Let’s go to this one store. And it was a designer store. I’m like, what? What do you mean, let’s go. I was like, I don’t want to just look at something. I don’t want to walk in and be like, oh, man, I wish I had that. He’s like, no, let’s just go. And I was like, okay. So we go in there, and he bought me a purse. First designer purse ever. This is a very od thing for Alex to be okay buying, and I don’t ever ask for that type of thing. Obviously, I will mention that I like it. Any woman probably would. But I have never put pressure on Alex to buy it or anything like that. So that was a very nice but very big surprise for me. First probably expensive thing we’ve ever bought. And that was just this past year as far as, like, clothes or anything like that goes. So when we did tell Alex’s brothers, and they said, what do you mean this is the first thing you’ve ever bought? Like, you could buy ten of these in a month. I don’t think that they understand. I mean, you could look at anybody and be like, okay, you make this much a year, that doesn’t mean anything. So there’s so many more aspects to look at than just what your yearly salary is. So I do think that when someone says, oh, you’re a physician, oh, you’re a surgeon, you’re in one of the highest paid specialties in the country, it still doesn’t mean anything because there’s bills, there’s loans, there’s this, there’s that. And I think, like you said, matt, there’s a lot of probably social pressure. But I will say Alex really doesn’t care what people think as far as how he spends his money. I think two to three decades ago, certain things were expected, but it’s just not the same anymore, the amount of debt that people have. I was really fortunate if I went to a really expensive undergrad, but luckily, I made the decision not to go to a big state school, out of state like I was going to, and I stayed in state at a private school that gave me a lot of scholarship that I only left there with less than five k, less than three k of debt. If I had gone to an expensive undergrad, I mean, we would have been almost a million dollars in debt. Absolutely. Well, valuable perspective, and I think not being able to, or not blocking out the noise. Alex, you said that’s a super important skill, especially as a physician. Know you have the perspective of how hard you work and what the actual financial situation is. Well, Ange, I want to ask you for all the. And know you were in a very high level of your profession that you gave up for a couple of years. We’re talking about going back, but from the perspective of taking a backseat. So a spouse married to a high income earning, this could be physician or any other career path. Starting a family, going through a normal amount of debt. What piece of advice would you give for someone just starting that journey? Sitting in your seat. Oh, sitting in the wife’s seat of being at home. So, sitting in the perspective of a spouse, being married to a high stress, highly time involved, managing student loans, starting a family, navigating these big life decisions, obviously you went through a lot of stress. I wanted to see from your perspective, what piece of advice would you give to someone? Let’s say a sibling was about to start the same journey you were six or seven years ago. What pieces of advice would you give? I would just. It’s Alex’s profession, I think, was recently named, like, one of the most stressful jobs. Luckily, Alex handles it very well. He doesn’t bring it home, I don’t think, a lot, so I don’t feel that pressure from his job. I miss work a lot. I love my kids, but I never wanted to be a stay at home mom. So we’re trying to deal with that. But honestly, I would just say it takes time. I know people that, being a doctor’s wife, they wanted to come out. They wanted to buy this. They wanted to buy that. Yes. Probably eventually, you will be able to do those things. You will be able to buy a designer purse or buy the car or buy the beach house. But it takes time, and I think people nowadays don’t like to be patient. I think they want what they want right away, which, I mean, who doesn’t? But I think we’ve really taken our time. And honestly, I thought it would take a lot more time than what it has taken to get to where we wanted. But we worked really hard to get here with your help, which has been amazing. And I just think people need to be more patient and not expect things immediately to guess. I guess my advice is you’ll get what you want eventually, likely, if you work hard at it. Awesome. Patience. I agree with you, angel. I think we have somewhat of an epidemic of. I think there’s a whole book written on that. The comfort crisis of balancing, putting some of the good stuff on hold, but at the same time, meeting the middle of living life today as well. How about you? What perspective would you give to someone, a young family just about to sign their first contract into the position, but strapped with, let’s say, between $500 to $700,000 of school debt, and with all the pressures that you feel as you’re from a family or other physicians, of buying that $100,000 car, buying the dream house, what pieces of advice would you give to a young family just about to start down that journey? Yeah. Be comfortable with who you are and the things that you’re okay with. It’s easy for me to say no to things because I’m fine with it. He has a harder time saying yes. And I have a harder time saying yes, but it’s easy for me to say no to things because I don’t need those things, and I never did. We’re very fortunate to be in the position we are. And with increased income, yes comes increased spending, and that’s fine because we also donate a lot more money now than we ever have before to things that we really care about. Things are really close to our heart. With our son and some other family members that allow us to put our money to good things. I’d say specifically for people coming out of school with the debt that I came out of school with, look at these new programs that they have, the pay as you earn programs and the repay as you earn, and these things that allow you to work for nonprofits and pay over 120 months, minimal payments, and then loans are forgiven and you’re not taxed on it. Be careful for people to be careful with that last little bit of it. I knew about those things and I said I wanted to go into private practice, and so I didn’t want to do those payments. That, looking back, I’d be done by now, had I done those payments, if I went into a non for profit job and I wouldn’t still be paying these loans back. So it’s something that I think about or that I know was an option for me. And I know I consciously made the decision to not do that because I wanted to try the private practice realm, which I ended up not sticking with. I’m essentially hospital employed now. So I think from that aspect, for people in that debt coming out of school, look at all those things. Be mindful of the options for debt repayment, and you hear these different financial if you’re listening to this podcast and you’re a physician, you probably listen to the white coat investor, who’s the big name, and he always says, live like a resident. And I think that’s reasonable to do. I think some people take it a little extreme. I think there should be a little bit of a bump, and you should live a little bit more comfortably when you get that bump. But make sure you have your goals in sight. And I think it’s the exercise that we did, making sure you write down the most important things to you and get those things accomplished quickly, and then you can really do what you want with your money. After that. Get a financial advisor if. You’Re not comfortable with it. Some people like doing it and do that. I’m not great with it. I don’t know the ins and outs of it. You don’t have the time to do. It, and I don’t have the time to do it. And find somebody like the gang here that have your best interests in mind. Well, big takeaways there and patience again, I think is absolutely huge in financial plan and family, especially for any kind of medical family. And then Alex, lots there. But I think the most powerful thing that people struggle with, especially today, is, you said, the ability to say no and I always have heard the quote, the most successful people in the world say no more than they say yes, so they can focus on what matters. And I think that speaks for itself, being that you’re in one of the hardest but highest paid. So from all looking at it to get to where you are at such a young age, from your subspecialty, et cetera, you don’t get there by saying yes to everyone. You have to stay and stay focused and focus on the vital task at hand. I think in a distracted world, that’s huge, solid advice. Perfect. Well, thanks so much for joining us. Any closing remarks before we close up here? I don’t think so. We’re lucky, that’s all. We’re very lucky. Well, keep up the amazing work. You guys have done a tremendous job and not a lot of people will be able to make this big decision that you’ve set yourself up. But I have the feeling that 1020 years you’re not going to have. Everyone has regrets, but yours are going to be very few. From a financial perspective, I hope so too. Awesome. Well, thank you both for joining. Thank you guys. Thanks guys. Thanks for tuning in to our podcast. Hopefully you found this helpful. Really hope this is as beneficial and impactful to as many people across the nation as possible. So hit the follow button, make sure to rate the podcast, and please share with any friends or family members that would also find this beneficial. Thank you very much.

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