The X-ray Beam: The Doctor of Finance MD
For an audio version of this post, please click on the speaker icon (top left)
On this rendition of the X-ray Beam, I would like to go behind the scenes and get an in-depth look into a fellow physician blogger, Hatton1, who runs the website, The Doctor of Finance MD.
For aficionados of physician finance blogs, you have likely encountered Hatton1 providing great content/commentary on multiple sites.
She then made the giant leap from being on the commentating side to the blogging side (until you experience it yourself you will never know what a drastic paradigm shift that entails).
So without further ado, let’s rev up the X-ray machine to maximum kVp and have a look below the skin surface of Hatton1:
If you can please give a brief introduction of yourself (age, medical specialty, years of medical practice))
Today is my 61st birthday [7/1/18 was when she submitted this post].
OB/GYN. 31 years.
I am doing just GYN since the age of 56.
I have been working 3 days per week since the age of 56.
1) Please tell us how you ended up choosing the name The Doctor of Finance MD for your website.
What were some of the other names you considered before going with this one?
The other names I tried were already taken.
I do not really like the name but such is life.
2) When did you know you wanted to become a doctor?
Were there any influential people or events that made you embark on this career path?
I was in college making very high grades and my 2 older brothers convinced me to apply to medical school.
My oldest brother is an engineer and my middle brother was in law school.
3) What were some of the deciding factors that led into choosing the medical specialty of ObGyn?
Were there any other specialties that you considered?
I have an undergraduate degree in Microbiology so I assumed I would do ID [Infectious Disease].
I hated internal medicine.
The senior resident that I worked with as a third year student really influenced me not to do medicine.
I got lots of really great feedback from OB/GYN.
At the time there were few females doing OB/GYN.
4) If you had to do it all over again, would you choose the same medical profession/specialty?
I would probably choose a different specialty if given a do over.
The OB/GYN lifestyle is brutal.
5) If you were not a physician, what alternative career would you have gone into?
Perhaps CFP [Certified Financial Planner].
Also my dream job would of been writing for National Geographic magazine.
6) Have you personally fallen trap to any of the typical mistakes physicians make, and if so can you name some of your biggest ones?
I always talk about my experience with Angel Investing.
I live in a city with a very active angel investing group.
There are lots of PHDs in engineering around here who like to mentor start ups.
I joined the group and invested in a company that was going to produce a new type of incubator for neural tissue.
Evidently for people researching neural diseases it is hard to grow neural tissue to use in experiments.
Any way the CEO was a woman named Amy Bishop. She had a PhD from Harvard.
The prototype was built and it was going to be manufactured in China.
Before the company made any money Dr Bishop walked into a room full of PhDs and killed several and wounded some others.
The story made national news.
The company bankrupted and I lost my entire investment. It was only $15k.
Some things are just not predictable.
This is the only investment that I ever made that went to $0.
It was, of course, not the biggest dollar loss.
Anecdotal experience but no more Angel investing, private equity, or venture investing for me.
7) When did you first discover your interest in finance and how did you cultivate it?
I discovered personal finance at age 31.
Better late than never.
I started reading and learning.
8) What inspired you to start a blog?
Were there any surprises along the way?
Any advice to individuals who may be contemplating starting one of their own?
I had been reading WCI, POF, MMM, Wealthy Doc, Michael Kitces, and Mike Piper for some time.
I was going to the WCI conference so I just sat down and did it.
Blogging is hard work. [This truly is an understatement. I truly did not know the amount of effort it takes to first start a blog from the ground-up and then maintain (hopefully) quality content published on a consistent basis.]
It is time consuming.
If you want to do it there are no barriers to entry.
9) How old were you when your net worth first crossed into the 7 figure mark?
Did hitting this milestone come sooner or later than you anticipated when you first entered medical school?
How did you celebrate this momentous occasion?
It never really occurred to me that I would be a millionaire when I entered med school.
I was pretty naive.
I did not celebrate 1 million.
I remember going on a medical equipment training seminar in 3/2000 celebrating (3.3 mill) and talking about retiring with a couple other doc friends (I was 43).
The markets started crashing the next week and the dot.com implosion began.
A cautionary FIRE tale I think.
10) As one of the more seasoned physicians in the physician financial blogosphere you have a unique vantage that early and mid career physicians do not.
What were some of the unexpected issues that cropped up as you started the transition of closing your medical practice?
In retrospect is there anything you wish you had planned for that would have made this transition smoother?
One thing that surprised me was being offered a job by my hospital.
I really did not seek it out. The timing is perfect for me.
If I do not like being an employee I can just retire.
I almost did not take the job because of the wording on the malpractice tail.
The hospital met my demand for no tail so I took the job.
I would not have pursued a job if I had to exert a lot of effort to find one.
I am in a good position.
11) You have graciously shared your net worth with your readers (>$ 6 million).
Some might say you have already won the game for some time now and question why are you still playing.
What was your thought process on continuing to practice despite having such a large nest egg?
I think there is inherent value in work.
I like having some structure to my week.
I appreciate my time off when it is time off from something.
I was very tired and stressed when I doing OB.
All of that is behind me now so I enjoy what I do.
I also have found that there is satisfaction from being a role model and mentoring.
12) When you do finally hang up the stethoscope for good, what would you like to be best remembered for?
For OB/GYNs the best remembered thing is easy.
I just need to look at the bulletin boards of baby photos to remind me.
13) Asset allocation is considered an important step any beginning investor must determine but it can be highly individualized based on the investor’s personal risk profile.
Can you share with us your asset allocation and what influenced you in making this particular choice?
My current allocation is 63/34/3 [Stock/Bond/Cash].
I have never been 100% stocks.
When I was younger I invested in individual stocks so bonds were a counter to that.
Many would say I am too heavy in equities for my age but I have a pretty high risk tolerance.
I have more cash these days which is new for me.
I try to keep >20% international.
I let the equity component get up to high 60s before rebalancing.
I usually rebalance with new money.
As you get older your investments will provide the new money to rebalance with if you shut off dividend re-investments.
14) For a reader unfamiliar to your website, what are three posts you are most proud of that they can gain an insight about you and your philosophies?
- 10 Steps To Figuring Out Retirement Income: Are You Fat Or Skinny?
- RMD…RMD…Why Do I Care?
- 4% Rule, Random Thoughts, And Closing My Office
15) Is there a book or books that has made a major impact in your financial well-being?
The Millionaire Next Door made me aware of the spending traps doctors get caught by.
16) If you had a time machine and could go back to any point in time and change just one thing, what would it be?
I would have joined my high school debate team.
17) Can you name 5 things that had the greatest financial impact on you?
- The acceptance letter from Medical School.
- The decision to do OB/GYN when few women were doing it.
- The decision to open my own practice.
- The decision to move back to my home town.
- The decision to learn and love personal finance.
18) Having practiced medicine for decades, can you describe some of the changes, good or bad, you have witnessed impacting the medical profession during that timeframe?
What are some the challenges you anticipate the younger generation of doctors will face in the future?
The biggest change is in the lack of ownership by the docs.
Everyone seems to want to be employed.
I just threw in the towel also.
EMRs are a big change that the hospitals, government, and insurers have forced on the physicians.
You are now doing the unit secretary job, transcriptionist, etc.
Some of it is good but a fair amount is worthless.
Physicians never used to worry about their personal insurance coverage.
19) What do you anticipate your annual spending will be in retirement?
And for you to feel comfortable, how large does your portfolio have to be to support it?
I am not a big spender.
In order to use financial calculators I usually double my actual spending which allows for taxes, investment expenses and surprises.
My portfolio is an example of over-saving I think.
20) Unfortunately both of us have gone through divorce.
By all accounts your divorce, unlike mine, seemed quite amicable and did not have a devastating impact on your finances/net worth.
Do you have any tips for physicians that may one day face this potential scenario so that they may navigate it as successfully as you did?
I was much older when I married.
I had a long term relationship with another guy that did not end in marriage.
I was 52 when I finally married.
Because I was older I always assumed it would end in divorce.
I was married 8 years.
He had refused a prenup.
My understanding of divorce laws is that anything that was your before is yours after.
In my state it is 10 years before you have to split retirement assets.
I never increased his lifestyle.
He never lived in my house.
My situation was different than most I think.
In the end I offered my portion of a jointly owned farm but gave him a timeline.
In other words this offer for the property expires in 10 days.
He signed the decree to get the property.
This rural property had cost me maybe $35k.
21) What is your greatest fear, if any, you have in retirement, and are there any ways you are addressing that now?
I worry about cognitive decline and frailty.
I think I am ok now.
Again thank you so much for your time answering these questions and being placed under the “X-ray beam.” I look forward to your continued posts and wish you much success.
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