Today I have a very exciting interview for you, thanks to my friend Physician on FIRE. I had posted about this new series on the Rockstar Finance Forums, and asked if he might know anyone that would be a good person to interview. He reached out to an amazing person who comments over on both White Coat Investor (WCI) and Physician on FIRE (POF) – and she dropped me an e-mail about the interview.
Before I start, I wanted to make a quick note about doctors for those folks who may not have read up on their financial situation before. Sometimes people mistakenly believe that doctors “have it easy” when it comes to building wealth. After all, they make a lot of money, right? So saving lots of money must be easy. But they have a lot of factors working against them:
- Giant student loans to pay back (averaging $166k in 2013, and surely higher now)
- Going to school for years and not earning anything. Remember, when many of us have already started our careers, they’re in school at least until age 26. Longer depending on the specialty
- Working in residency for years and earning almost nothing – most don’t start a career earning “real doctor” money until nearly 30. And in some specialties, it would be several years after 30 before they start pulling down the big bucks
- Lottery mindset. They suddenly come into a lot of money after finishing residency, and some of them act like they’ve won the lottery. Remember, these are 30- somethings who’ve never made a significant amount before. Lottery winners spend themselves into bankruptcy because they don’t know how to handle money, and they mistakenly think because they “have a lot” they can “have it all”
- Pressure to “keep up with the Joneses” – to show externally that they’re successful by picking up the big house, fancy cars, and expensive trips. After all, people might correlate an externally successful doctor with a good doctor, right?
- Bad investments. They’re frequently targeted by less-than-scrupulous salespeople (whole life, anyone?), and they’re the target of sub-par investment pitches. Unless they’ve already educated themselves on investing, they may fall for these pitches and lose money. At a minimum, they likely won’t make as much money as they otherwise could
I remember reading about all of these in The Millionaire Next Door (and other Dr. Thomas Stanley books) years ago. Remember, you can spend beyond your means at any income level. And if all your peers are spending like wildfire, you will too, unless you educate yourself about personal finance.
And that’s exactly what Hatton1 – as she’s known on WCI and POF – did for herself. She became a doctor back when there just weren’t many female doctors. She’s a multimillionaire, a breadwinner, and now works as a hobby. So now, without further ado, here’s her story.
Tell us about yourself!
I am an Ob/Gyn doctor. I am 59 and own my practice. I am married and have one step daughter and several grand kids. Personal finance is a hobby for me. I also devote lots of time to 2 dogs, 2 cats and one donkey.
Let’s get some details – how much money do you make, and how long did it take you to get there? And are you a millionaire or are you on the way?
I used to make a lot of money when I was doing OB. Now I am semi-retired doing just Gyn, so not so much. In medicine you make nothing really until you are 30 – then your salary explodes. Most young doctors go crazy and buy too much car and house.
My net worth is greater than 7 million. I guess I work as a hobby now.
How did you get started in the workforce?
I had no idea what I wanted to do when I went to college. Neither of my parents went to college. I started making really good grades and loved biology. I have a philosophy that you should be the best you can be. For me this seemed to be medical school. I applied and was accepted. At that time (1979) only 20% of the class was female.
How did you get from where you started to where you are now?
I never thought I would do OB/GYN. I loved it as a student so I did it. It turned out to be a good decision. I was in the right place at the right time. Women decided they wanted to see female OB/GYNs so building a practice was easy.
Where do you want to go in your career – and your financial life?
I certainly pursued FIRE before the term was coined. I just never did the RE part. I still enjoy the social aspects and mentoring that my job provides.
1. What’s the biggest challenge in being a breadwinning mom? What’s the best part?
The biggest challenge of being the breadwinner is the sensation of flying without a net. If you fall there is no one to pick you up.
2. Becoming a millionaire is a dream of many people. How did you get there?
I became a millionaire a long time ago by getting educated and beginning to invest at 31.
3. What do you see as the key to earning such a high salary?
The key to earning a high salary is choosing a college major that is employable and probably going to a professional school of some sort.
Have you ever experienced issues in the workforce because you’re a woman? What did you do in response?
Yes. One example was an older male physician ordering me out of the doctors lounge one morning and screaming that women did not belong in there. He was standing there in his jockey shorts and I proceeded to ask him who he was.
CMO comment – what a jerk!
Chief Mom Officer is primarily a personal finance blog – tell us about your saving and investment strategy
I initially got interested in personal finance when I dated someone in finance. The relationship did not last but the interest did. I have dabbled in lots of stuff over the years. I mainly invest in indexes now (65/35). I hate real estate.
What’s the top three pieces of advice you’d have for someone just starting out in the workforce or looking to improve how they handle their money?
My advice to those just starting out.
- Pick a college major that is employable not just interesting. Watch out for student loans and understand them.
- Start tracking your expenses on Mint or Quicken.
- Remember houses and cars matter. Lattes not so much.
Where can people connect with you?
I post a lot on White Coat Investor and Physician On Fire. I am thinking of starting a blog, and will let you know if I do.
CMO here again – a big “thank you” to Hatton1 for sharing her story, and to my friend POF for connecting us. I took away a lot of valuable lessons:
- Make sure you’re seeking a career where you can be employed
- Track your expenses – no matter how much or little you make. Remember that you can outspend any income if you don’t keep an eye on it
- If you make a high income, you need to focus on making the “big rocks” (houses, cars, etc.) manageable. You probably don’t need to worry about the latte factor
- Index fund investing works, whether you’re just starting out or you’re a multi millionaire
- The earlier you start learning about personal finance, saving, and investing, the better off you’ll be. Although it’s never too late, earlier is better
If you know anyone who would be a good candidate for this series (or if that might be you!), drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org – I’m looking for moms that are breadwinners, earn six figures, and/or are millionaires. I’d love to connect and share more amazing stories like this!
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