Overcoming Adversity on The Path to FI – XRayVsn

Overcoming adversity and mistakes is something we all need to do. Sometimes the news on people walking the path to financial independence makes it seem a bit too rosy.

One of my passions is sharing stories about overcoming adversity, to help others overcome whatever they may be struggling with. Today I’ve got a great one for you. It’s a post by a radiologist and single father, who’s made a variety of mistakes and is turning his financial life around. I bet you’re going to enjoy reading his story just as much as I did!

So let’s learn about XRayVsn.

Tell us about yourself! 

I am a 47 year old radiologist who practices in a multi-specialty outpatient clinic in the Southeast. I am the proud single father of a soon to be teenage girl (and preparing myself for the challenges that will entail).

What money mistakes did you make early on?

Despite all the education I undertook – 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, 6 years of residency, and one year fellowship – not once did I have any true financial education offered.

Because of my financial naivete, I had a very harsh financial education via the school of hard knocks. It began with medical school (I was fortunate that my parents funded my college degree fully).

I would always take out the maximum student loans available and had the wrong mentality of not viewing it as debt but treating it as if it was my income. To further supplement my lifestyle during medical school, I would play credit card roulette.  I would keep transferring balances from one card to the other when the low introductory APR was about to expire.   This was in the early ’90s and it was much easier to do this.

Upon graduating in 1997, I accumulated a little over $160k in student loan debt. Although I was starting in residency and finally earning an income, I did everything I could to postpone payments of my debt. I had the mentality that “future me” would take care of it.

I accomplished this with forbearance, which is where interest accrued and subsequently compounded to become principal. Also through deferment – the lesser of two evils where interest did not accrure.

When I finally started making payments, approximately 11 years after I first signed the papers, I believe I had close to $350k of debt.   I finally paid off this debt exactly 17 years after I graduated medical school. Almost 22 years after I received the very first loan).

Another mistake I made was buying a house in residency using a “doctor mortgage” that I qualified for despite having a high debt to income ratio.

When I moved to my current job out of state, I was unable to sell this home in a timely manner. I had to carry two mortgages and higher insurance as it was deemed unoccupied. I lost money when I finally was able to sell it months later.

Not only that, I also had a bad case of lifestyle inflation/creep.

One month from finishing my fellowship and about to make real money as an attending physician, I decided I needed an upgrade in a vehicle and “bought” a new Mercedes C320 (really the bank bought it). I was able to pay the loan off in 3 years instead of the original 5 year term.

My biggest financial (and emotional) mistake was agreeing to an arranged marriage which linked me with a very incompatible/toxic person. The subsequent divorce decimated my finances as well as my physical and emotional health.

To pour salt in the wound, my ex and her lawyer filed a frivolous lawsuit seeking $4 million damages while the divorce case was ongoing, demanding a jury trial. This consumed 2 additional years of my life as well as legal expenses to defend. After a week long hearing, the jury awarded her the grand sum of $0.00.

CMO Note – That’s a lot to overcome, and it’s admirable how you learned from these mistakes and turned your financial life around. 

How did you overcome those mistakes? 

It was after divorce, as I was about to turn 40, that I was really at my financial low. The judge awarded the majority of the assets to my ex and I also had alimony and child support payments totaling $4200/mo.

I knew I had to do something or I would never be able to retire at the traditional age, much less try and retire early. I started reading about finance through helpful blogs like White Coat Investor and the Bogleheads and really developed a passion for it. CMO Note – I’ve been reading WCI pretty much since he started writing, and Bogleheads before they were on their current site. Both excellent sources of high-quality financial information. 

I would order book after book on Amazon on the topic and read each one voraciously. I soon came across the concept of passive index investing which I am a huge supporter of.

Developing passive income streams was something I was introduced to shortly thereafter. My main income as a doctor was substantial, but it was directly tied to my time.

Passive income opened up a whole new world for me.   It allowed me to make money while I slept and break the time/money relationship completely. When your money is working for you, you truly have a tireless employee who doesn’t get sick or take vacation.  It is truly the underlying principal of Capitalism. I desperately wanted to make the transition from Laborer to Capitalist. This was exactly what my passive income streams helped me accomplish.

CMO Note – this is a great point, and one I don’t see discussed often enough. We only have so many hours in the day. If you’re working for dollars per hour, then the amount you earn will always be limited by your time. If you have a passive income stream, your dollars or product will be working for you even when you sleep.

How did you reach success? 

I felt I reached success when the passive income streams I initially started began taking a life of their own.

Not only were my passive income sources self sufficient, with no further input from me necessary,, they were also self-growing. As time went on, more and more capital was added as the money the initial capital generated began generating money of its own.

It was essentially a self-perpetuating money machine I created. I was finally on the right side of the lender-borrower financial equation.

At the lowest point of my financial/emotional life I had two choices, throw in the towel or find a way to pull myself back up.   I chose the latter and it has paid dividends many times over.

What advice would you have for others seeking to overcome financial mistakes – and succeed with money? 

  1. Everyone makes mistakes.   Do not be defeated with initial failure but learn from it so that it will never be repeated.
  2. A small monetary and time investment in financial education will have one of the greatest ROI you can achieve.  It will allow you to distance yourself from wall street financial gurus/advisors whose sole purpose is to separate your money from you
  3. Although having financial success is a great goal to have, you still have to enjoy the actual journey to get there and not focus only on the end result.   Time is not guaranteed for anyone.
  4. The greatest impact you can have on your net worth is your savings rate.   A higher savings rate has 2 important effects:
    • You become accustomed to living on less as you save more and thus your retirement nest egg does not have to be as large
    • You allow a larger amount of money to benefit from the 8th wonder of the world, compound interest
  5. Having a partner on the same financial page is paramount.
    • If one partner is a saver and the other is a spender there can be no headway made in finance
      • No matter how much water your pour in, a colander will never fill
    • The wrong partner can be more detrimental to your net worth than all the other mistakes you can make combined.

Where can readers find you? 

I have officially launched a blog after toying with the idea for several years.  I am still considered a newbie/fledgling blogger, since I only started in April on my 47th birthday.

My website is:   https://xrayvsn.com

If you do visit it, and hopefully enjoy it, please comment on the posts. That by far has been the most rewarding aspect of blogging to me.

I would also love for everyone to subscribe if possible (it helps me feel like I’m on the right track).

I’m relatively new to Twitter as well and would love any opportunity to increase the number of followers I have:  xrayvsn@xrayvsncom

CMO Here Again

Thanks so much to XRayVsn for stopping by to share his story! I’ve been reading enough about doctors and money over the years to know that lifestyle inflation after residency is extremely common.

This is also applicable to high earners in general, not just doctors. When your income starts going up, you can wonder where the money went if you’re not careful. Raises seem to disappear, and bonuses get taken up by things.

But when you save and invest instead, those dollars become your workers. They earn money for you all the time, and eventually they can earn you more money than you earn at work. Compound interest is an amazing thing.

Be sure to leave him a comment below – and stop by his site!

Be sure to follow my blog for more great posts via e-mail or WordPress, or connect with me on Facebook or Twitter and say hello! You can also check out what I’m buying or baking on Instagram,  what I’m pinning on Pinterest, or the latest books I’m reading (or want to read) over on Goodreads.


7 thoughts on “Overcoming Adversity on The Path to FI – XRayVsn”

  1. Two of my favorite “overcomer” stories in one place! I might fall out.

    Xrayvsn is a testimony to perseverance and hard work. It’s amazing the woes that financial independence and thoughtful personal finance topics can help fix.

    Great read.

  2. Thanks for sharing your story. I really liked your second piece of advice.

    “A small monetary and time investment in financial education will have one of the greatest ROI you can achieve. It will allow you to distance yourself from wall street financial gurus/advisors whose sole purpose is to separate your money from you”

    Very true!

  3. Great interview! I remember finding his blog and thinking that he was going to connect with a lot of readers. The fact that he’s been so open with his story will no doubt benefit many others.Thanks for sharing his story!

  4. Such a great story! I can’t imagine how hard that must have been. Since I am just now starting to pursue a life in the medical field (nursing – someday hoping to be a NP), I am learning more and more about how doctors (all kinds) fall into lifestyle inflation. It is mind-blowing to me, and awesome that you have made the steps to fix and overcome your path.

    You are a testament of how people can turn their lives around if they are only willing to do so!

  5. Divorce is a killer for finances. I’ve come out the other end ok, but it took me 20 years of frugality and focus to get here.
    I hope my boys choose their partners more sensibly than I did!

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