For an audio version of this post, please click on the speaker icon (top left).
A lot of bloggers have become famous by incorporating a minimalist lifestyle in order to turbocharge their savings and leave the 9-5 bustle behind.
I am not one of those bloggers.
I have learned from my past financial mistakes and no longer feel the need to jump on the hedonistic treadmill.
That does not mean however that I have to deny every desire.
It really comes down to moderation and to continue to spend well beneath your means.
“You can have anything you want but you can’t have everything you want”- Jim Dahle, The White Coat Investor
This next item in the Doctor’s bag is a downright splurge and by far the most expensive one by at least an order of magnitude.
A car is purely a means of transportation from point A to point B.
Whether you are in a $5k car or a $100k+ car doesn’t really change that premise.
Or does it?
I have always been fascinated with technology (I would venture to say that out of all the medical specialties, radiologists are most likely to be labeled the ones obsessed with the latest tech (we definitely play with the most expensive toys in the medical profession)).
That is why, when it was time to retire Mistake #6a as my primary car, I had my eyes set on the Tesla Model S.
As previously mentioned, the main saving grace of buying a brand new 2004 C320 Mercedes even before I became an attending was that it was my main driver for 11 years and 235,000 miles.
This time, unlike the first, I was in a position that buying such a luxury ticket item did not have a drastic impact on my financial path.
I was able to pay for the car outright in cash with a less than 10% hit to my net worth at the time (and that was even before state electric incentive rebate and federal tax credit came into play, which was essentially a $10k discount).
There was a slight pang of guilt when I saw the downward slope in my net worth tracker on Personal Capital immediately after the purchase, but it was short lived.
There comes a point where the wealth you have worked so hard to accumulate needs to be accessed to provide some gratification.
It makes no sense to be the richest man or woman in the graveyard.
The car I bought was the Model S 90D (it was the top of the line model at the time of purchase with the largest battery pack of 90 kWh and Dual motors).
It had at that point the state of the art Autopilot hardware (which has since been upgraded to Autopilot 2.0 in newer models).
I will tell you that now, almost 3 1/2 years after I bought this vehicle, it still brings a smile to my face when I drive it.
The technology allows this car to receive over the air updates much like your phone .
There have been so many new features added over the air since my purchase that it feels like a new car all over again (autopilot has improved steadily to the point where I use it pretty much 90% of the time on my daily commute).
Speaking of autopilot, it truly is game changing technology.
I did not know what the act of driving did to one’s mindset even in the best of traffic conditions.
Although it feels subconscious, when manually driving a car, your brain is processing so much information, calculating velocity, road conditions, curves ahead, etc so that you can stay in your lane of travel.
These constant mental calculations running in the background do take a toll on your mental state (akin to a computer running many applications in the background which causes the overall computer performance to slow down).
With Autopilot, my car took over all the minutia of staying in one’s lane, driving in traffic, etc and allowed me to relax in a more supervisory role.
Tesla also was kind enough to eliminate a potential annoyance I see with other manufacture’s attempts at “autopilot” by giving us Autopilot with Lane Change ability.
Currently, other manufacturers which implement some sort of Lane Maintenance capability in their cars ONLY works by forcing you to stay in that particular lane.
If you want to leave the current lane, the driver has to manually disengage this setting, change lanes, and then reengage the setting.
I could see this cause frustration similar to what the standard cruise control feature did on my old car.
With my Tesla, I just touch the indicator stalk and the car effortlessly goes into the lane I want, Autopilot engaged fully throughout.
Such was the impact that Autopilot had on my commute, that the first day I drove to work, I actually almost missed my exit.
I could not believe how quickly the commute seemed to be and my exit seemed to come up from nowhere.
Once I realized where I was, I had to make 3 lane changes to quickly get off into the exit ramp for my workplace, which luckily I did (the only stressful part of the entire drive).
It was the same distance, but the commute felt like it took half the time and I was fully relaxed pulling into the parking lot.
It truly is unbelievable when you get to free your brain from the complexities of driving on the interstate and allow it to actually enjoy the experience.
I remember really listening to and enjoying the music playing and just observing more things around me than before when I had to have focus on the actual task of driving.
I have driven the Model S for long distances essentially using the free unlimited supercharger network (this policy has changed and the supercharger network is no longer unlimited with a pay for use service).
I believe the internet is inundated with Youtube videos of the crazy accelerations possible with electric vehicles, but you truly have to be in the car to fully appreciate it.
There is no lag time when depressing on the “go pedal,” with instant torque noted.
It really is like a rocket strapped to your back.
Other advantages of fully electric vehicles over their gas counterparts is that there is marked reduction in interior cabin noise (only noise originates mainly from wind and tires).
With no engine up front (each engine is situated directly next to the corresponding axle), there is a large crumple zone making this the highest safety rated vehicle out there.
And unlike loud, ostentatious vehicles that can be associated with doctors such as Ferraris and Lamborghinis, this is one of the few $100k+ vehicles that gives you a sort of stealth wealth type feeling.
The fact that every morning I wake up to a full “tank” due to overnight charging is also a wonderful feeling.
Imagine the convenience of having a gas station in your garage (minus the toxic fumes).
That’s what it’s like to go electric.
The range of my particular car is about 250 miles at 90% charge (recommended daily charge maximum) which can be reduced depending on driving style or outside temperature (cold temperatures can dramatically reduce the efficiency of electric vehicles).
Regardless of driving style and weather conditions, I have plenty of battery reserve even after my quite lengthy daily commute of almost 90 miles total (which includes dropping off daughter on the way to school).
I no longer have to plan stops at the gas station or pump gas when it is freezing or during bad weather.
This time savings adds up quickly throughout the life of this car.
My state also gives HOV access to electric cars, which makes my commute even more efficient.
Given my electricity rate of 9 cents/kWh, my “fuel costs” are about 1/3 of the Mercedes which required premium fuel at 25 miles/gallon (after 85k miles of driving, my overall average energy cost per mile of driving is less than 3 cents (will actually be less if factor in all the miles I have driven from free supercharging electricity).
Given my tendency to hold on to my vehicles for long times (10+ yrs), substantial “fuel cost savings” on the approximately 25,000 miles driven each year, and the time savings gained from avoiding oil changes and going to the gas station, help offset some of the initial costs.
All these little things make going from point A to point B far more enjoyable.
A purchase as large as this should only be made after you have indeed grown your wealth to a point where you can pay for it in cash and it would have little impact to your overall net worth.
Financial Samurai has a useful Net Worth Rule for Car Buying that can serve as a guideline.
Another take on this is Cars the High Income Doctor Can Afford.
If indeed you happen to be at this stage in your financial life and are in the market for a Tesla, I would greatly appreciate it if you contact me and I can give you a referral code (typically both of us benefit with chances to win a new Tesla, Tesla Swag, or extra supercharging credits, depending on which promotion Tesla currently runs).
Curious to see what other items are in my doctor’s bag?
Just open the bag and peer inside, you may find something of use.
NOTE: The website XRAYVSN contains affiliate links and thus receives compensation whenever a purchase through these links is made (at no further cost to you). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Although these proceeds help keep this site going they do not have any bearing on the reviews of any products I endorse which are from my own honest experiences. Thank you- XRAYVSN