Rich People

27: Rich People

Apple Podcasts Spotify Stitcher

Rich PeopleWhat are your thoughts about rich people? A lot of us think that they’re bad, or they screwed someone over to get rich. We judge them for how they spend their money, especially when they spend it on themselves. To add to this, I think a lot of us think that because other people have money, that means there is somehow less to go around for everyone else.

Whatever your thoughts are about rich people, they are, after all, just thoughts. And it’s incredibly important that we get clear on them because these assumptions that we make about people with money can have a serious impact on our own ability to accumulate wealth.

Join me on the podcast this week to start uncovering your thoughts about rich people and get a real insight into how those thoughts are impacting your own wealth. I’m sharing how our thoughts about rich people are formed, and what you can do to evaluate and reconsider your thoughts about wealth in a way that serves you.

Today, October 1st 2020, is the last day to enroll in my paid program Money for Women Physicians for the rest of 2020. So, if you’re a woman physician who wants to make practicing medicine optional, then you need to check it out.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Where our thoughts about rich people often come from and how they are formed.
  • Why so many people think negatively about rich people, at least at some time in their lives.
  • How our thoughts about rich people can actually hinder us from creating wealth.
  • What you can do to get clear on your own thoughts about rich people and money, and see how they’re impacting your life.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:


Read the transcript Expand

Welcome to The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast, a podcast for women physicians who want to learn how to live a wealthy life. In this podcast you will learn how to make money work for you, how you can have more of it and learn the tools to empower you to live a life on purpose. Get ready to up-level your money and your life. I’m your host, Dr. Bonnie Koo.

Welcome to episode 27. If you’re listening to this on or around October 1st 2020, well, today is the last day to enroll inside my paid program, Money for Women Physicians, for the rest of 2020. So, if you’re a woman physical who wants to make practicing medicine optional, then you need to check it out. Go to wealthymommd.com/money.

So, this episode is coming out on October 1st and I usually record about a few weeks in advance; if I’m really on top of things, a month in advance. And it just struck me, how is it already fall? I don’t know about you. But I feel like time has sort of stood still since the pandemic was declared.

And I kind of was just struck the other day at how life has been so different these past several months. I can’t believe that six months have passed already. And so, many of you know that I have a son. He’s almost three years old. And we actually just sent him back to daycare about a month ago.

But I’m pretty sure that once cold, flu, and COVID season hit again – in Northern New Jersey right now our numbers are really good. It’s less than a 1% infection rate – we’re probably going to pull him out again. And so, parents listening, I feel for you guys. It’s definitely been tough.

So, today is a topic that I really am excited to talk about. I basically want to talk about whether you love or hate rich people. I find this topic super-interesting and fascinating. So, what do you think about being rich, whether it’s yourself? Or what do you think about rich people? You know, those people?

Now, I personally think that most of us don’t really have great thoughts about rich people. I think a lot of us think that they’re bad or they screwed someone over to get rich. I think a lot of us judge them for how they spend their money, or somehow, the way they spend their money is a reflection of them being bad people or only caring about themselves.

To add to this, I think a lot of us think that because other people are rich, that means we have less or other people have less. There’s this notion that if someone has a lot of money, then someone else has less money. This is scarcity-based thinking, right? And rich people should share their money with other people, right? It’s only fair.

You know, the concept of money and fairness is a whole other topic that I also find fascinating. In fact, it’s something that I’m going to talk about in a separate podcast episode. I think a lot of us feel like rich people should share their money with us. It’s this fair concept that’s perpetuated in a lot of movies and storybooks. The first thing that comes to mind is Robin Hood, right? Like, the rich should be sharing their money. And if not, then we’re going to take it from you.

So, in case you didn’t know, you know, when I was growing up, I was, I would say, lower middle class. I didn’t have any rich friends, whatever that meant anyway. But we were a church-going family. And later in high school, I would remember that there were rich people in church, and then, there was us.

And I remember wondering from afar, “I wonder what their lives are like.” I think I just assumed that their life was easier and they had more fun. I mean, it must be, right? Because if I had a beautiful home, especially if it was on the ocean or an ocean view, if I had extra help around the house or if I drove a nice car, then life would be better.

So, I associated being rich as having an easier life. I remember thinking things like, “It must be nice to have a nice home. It must be nice to have your own big room.” I had to share a room with my brother during high school. Yeah, that was interesting.

Anyway, you remember my previous episode, the retirement myth, where I talked about basically the myth of, quote unquote retirement? And so, one of the concepts that we talk about in coaching is that life is 50-50. Meaning it’s 50% good or 50% bad.

Now, good and bad is kind of relative. But basically, nobody’s life is 100% perfect. No one is happy 100% of the time. We need these sort of non-happy times to kind of remind us that we’re human. And I think that’s just a great reminder.

No matter what you have or don’t have, you’re still human. Rich people are human beings too. They are not inherently happier. Their life isn’t inherently easier just because they have more money.

Now, I personally don’t think I grew up hating on rich people. But I definitely had some resentment and envy. Like, I remember thinking, “We’re not rich.” And so, I remember thinking certain things or experiences were just unavailable to me.

I remember feeling resentful. I remember feeling like it wasn’t fair. And one example that comes to mind is, I remember I was in high school. And I actually went to high school in a rather affluent town in Northern New Jersey. And it was so affluent that many of the children, or teenagers, I should say, went to the local private school and not the public school, which is where I went.

I studied French for several years. And I remember, in 11th grade, or maybe it was 12th grade, I don’t remember at this point, there was a French exchange program.

So, two things I remember immediately when it was announced. Number one, I couldn’t participate in it, not just because of the money, but because our place was so freaking small, like I said. I shared a room with my brother. I think the place we lived in was less than 1000 square feet. Maybe even, like, 800 square feet. I actually think it may have been less than that. But anyway, you get the point. It was small. Where would this person stay? No, we can’t do that.

And then, number two was the money. I would have to pay for my flight to France and then whatever the cost of the trip was. And so, I just remember feeling kind of sorry for myself. I didn’t even ask my parents if I could do it because, A, I knew they didn’t have the money. And two, where would this person stay? There was no room in our house, or in our apartment, I should say.

So, I just remember having a lot of envy towards what I considered rich people. And there’s a classmate I had – I’m not going to say her name – but she lived in this really big house and she did that exchange program because, of course, she had a huge house and she had an extra guest room for her exchange student to stay in.

And so, I never really thought rich people weren’t nice. I didn’t think they were bad people. But I think a lot of us think this way. We also have a culture of not celebrating money. Meaning we don’t celebrate having a lot of it or making a lot of it. It’s all hush-hush.

There’s even a culture of money shaming. On one of the Facebook groups that I am in, if you post a question asking for help about how to make some money decisions, you might be seen as rich and you might face a lot of negative comment. People get upset, like really upset.

They think, if you’re rich, how can you have any money problems? Why are you even asking about how to spend or invest your money? This actually happened about a year ago in a Facebook group that I’m in. Not mine. We do not tolerate any money shaming or shaming in general.

But it was fascinating to me to see people’s responses to this one post. It’s almost like you can only flaunt your poorness or woe is me, or if you’re in a lot of debt, it’s okay to ask a question. But if you have a lot of money, if you’re rich, you have no business asking. And I think that’s really a shame because no matter how much money you have or don’t have, you can always learn. You can always learn more and put your knowledge to use.

And so, I just think it is a shame when one of us – when I say one of us, a woman physician, is getting shamed for how much money she has or how she’s spending her money.

And this is a good segue into, does money have morals? You know, back in episode 11, I talked about this question. Specifically, is wanting money bad? Is it a bad thing if you want more money? And frankly, I think the answer is no.

So, this is kind of what I’ve learned so far. None of these things I just mentioned, none of it is true. These are all just thoughts or beliefs. And remember, a thought is literally just a sentence in your head, usually just a phrase. And when you’ve said it to yourself over and over again, it becomes cemented into a belief.

I use the word cemented on purpose because you think this belief is a fact. You think it’s true. You kind of forgot that you actually made up this sentence, this story. But all it is, is that; a story that you made up, which means you can actually make up something else.

And so, what I’ve realized is holding onto these beliefs about rich people actually hindered me from creating wealth. These were not just limiting beliefs. These were excuses. They were excuses I would tell myself and it let me off the hook from actually doing anything about it.

I had absolved myself of all responsibility to create wealth for myself. And this was huge for me to even see, for me to realize, because when I think about my life now, as a physician and as a business owner, making way more than I did when I was in my 20s, I honestly can’t say my life is better or that I’m happier. I’m still me. I’m still Bonnie Koo. I still have good days. I still have bad days.

And what I’ve learned is that no one is ever 100% happy or 100% feeling awesome. But many of us hold onto this belief that life will be better when we have more money.

So, now it’s your turn. What do you think of rich people? How do you think about yourself? Do you consider yourself rich? How are you defining rich? What does that even mean? Is it a number? Is it a certain amount of money that you make? Is it your net worth? Is it someone who has a big house and nice stuff and takes fancy vacations? What do you think about their life?

Now, think about where you are right now. Maybe you’re a resident, meaning you’re making some money now, when previously as a student you we remaking no money. Is life better now, as a resident? Or maybe you’re an attending physician and you’re making multiples more than as a resident. Is your life better now? Are you happier now?

Isn’t it funny how the goalpost just keeps moving just keeps moving forward? If you knew people were talking about you like this, how does it make you feel? What if you overheard someone saying, “Amy…” assuming your name is Amy, “Wow, she’s super-rich. Isn’t she rich? Oh, she’s rich, right” How does that make you feel if you knew that other people were talking about you, that you’re rich?

I think, honestly, because I’m a physician and because you’re likely a physician, people will think you’re rich. It doesn’t matter what specialty you are, they don’t care. They think you’re rich.

Well, thanks for sticking with me so far. And I hope I’ve given you some food for thought. I really want you to examine your thoughts about rich people. And sometimes, they’re insidious and subconscious, which means we’re not even aware that we’re even thinking this about rich people. And sometimes, that awareness alone is enough to kind of bring it to the surface and let it go.

You know, I overheard my business mentor Stacey Boehman – and I’m going to link an episode that kind of inspired this episode for me – and she was talking about how she was hanging out with a rich person on their private yacht and she saw them interacting with his family. He was being super-sweet and living to his children, or towards his children, rather.

And Stacey was like, “Holy cow, rich people love their family,” or that they can be nice to their family. And it sounds so ludicrous, and for her, it was because she didn’t even realize that she had this subconscious thought that, like, rich people didn’t care about their family.

But I’m guessing that some of you have kind of ridiculous thoughts like that about rich people, or other types of people. And so, just kind of being aware of what you’re thinking or assuming, you know, that can really bring to light all these things.

And why is this so important? Because if you think rich people are over there, they’re not as good or they must have done something to get ahead or you don’t think it’s good to be rich, guess what, that’s going to prevent you from creating wealth. Because then, why would you want that if you think those things about those people?

Alright, my friends. I’ll see you next week.

Hey, if you enjoyed this episode and don’t want to miss out on new episodes, please hit the subscribe button on your favorite podcast app. See you next week.

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26: Budgeting

Apple Podcasts Spotify Stitcher

BudgetingDo you cringe when someone mentions budgeting? When I hear that word, I think of deprivation; like counting calories on a diet. I know you may not want to deal with this, and you’re even considering just skipping this episode altogether. But stay with me here because what I’m sharing today is a simple way to improve the health of your finances forever.

Perhaps you’re thinking you’d rather learn how to invest and build wealth that way, so budgeting is not even necessary. However, treating this subject seriously has transformed my finances and given me more freedom. By the end of this episode, you’ll not only be convinced that managing your cash flow and having a spending plan that you truly love is a critical part of building wealth, but you’ll actually want to do it.

Tune in this week to discover my simple 4-step process for analyzing your finances and implementing a spending plan that actually creates wealth while being easy to stick to. I’m sharing my beliefs and philosophies on budgeting, and how I see people missing out on opportunities to build wealth because they dislike the idea of a spending plan.

If you’re ready to take control of your money and practice medicine on your terms, you need to check out Money for Women Physicians. Click here to learn more!

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Where I believe most anxiety around money stems from.
  • Why it’s so important to be clear on how much money we have and where it’s going.
  • The ways people try to avoid budgeting, and why they don’t work.
  • Why I believe paying yourself first should be your number-one priority.
  • My simple 4-step process for analyzing your cash flow and implementing a spending plan.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Read the transcript Expand

Welcome to The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast, a podcast for women physicians who want to learn how to live a wealthy life. In this podcast you will learn how to make money work for you, how you can have more of it and learn the tools to empower you to live a life on purpose. Get ready to up-level your money and your life. I’m your host, Dr. Bonnie Koo.

Welcome to episode 26. How’s everyone doing? I’m recording this episode in mid-September and I just got the news today that I’m going to have to get braces. Okay, I’m not getting the metal stuff. I’m going to get Invisalign. And I won’t start for another month. So, if you start hearing some lisping or some weird sounds, you’ll know why.

Anyway, today, we’re going to talk about cash flow, or spending, or the dreaded B-word, for budget. How many of you cringe when you hear the word budget? I do. When I hear the word budget, I think of deprivation. It’s like counting calories on a diet or not being able to eat carbs when I really want to.

So, I teach budgeting inside my paid program, Money for Women Physicians. And almost a whole module is devoted to it, with several lessons within it. I can’t spill all the beans on one podcast episode, but I want to talk about my budgeting philosophy, or my philosophy when it comes to cash flow.

I know most of you really don’t want to deal with this. And maybe you’re about to hit the pause button. Or you’d rather learn how to invest or make more money. But hopefully, by the end of this episode, you’ll be convinced that managing your cash flow is critical to building wealth.

I think a lot of stress and anxiety about money is due to not knowing what’s going on with your cash. And besides wanting to know where your money is going, the reason why it’s so important to get straight on this is because you need to know how much you can put towards building assets or buying assets, right?

I think a lot of us think of budgeting like this. We should create one, and then we have to stick to it. It sounds like a money diet. You know, I see a lot of women in Facebook groups doing no-spend months, especially after November or in the new year.

And it’s basically saying, “Hey, let’s go on a diet for a month,” but then not actually get to the heart of the matter as to why you’re actually overspending. Just like if you want to lose weight, you kind of want to deal with why you’re overeating. It’s kind of the same thing, actually.

And so, I like to say that the first step is just to collect the data and realize that it’s just numbers. You need to know and understand what the numbers are to begin addressing things like debt, overspending, et cetera. Kind of like weight loss. You’ve got to get on the scale.

You’ve got to get the, “How much do you weight? Do you have a goal weight? What is that? How many pounds in between?” And honestly, creating a budget – now, I personally like to call this your spending plan. So, creating your spending plan is going to involve getting down and dirty with your numbers.

So, I have a four-step process when it comes to looking at your cash flow. And so, step one is discover; gather the data, which we just talked about. Step two is explore; investigate your spending. Step three is optimize; refine your spending. And step four is implement; create and implement a spending plan you love. Yes, it’s possible to have a spending plan you love.

So, I briefly talked about step one, where you’re basically gathering data. And this part is pretty simple. You can’t make ay decisions about how to spend your money without knowing what you have or don’t have, right?

Now, some of you might be thinking, how does someone not know what these numbers are? I’ve met more than a few physicians who actually don’t know how much money they take home every month. Some people don’t even know exactly how much they make per year.

I know, I think it’s really strange. But a lot of people like that are out there, and maybe you’re one of them. First of all, no shame, no embarrassment. You just have to pay attention to it. It’s no big deal. But this is really the first step. What’s the input? What are the outputs? It’s that simple.

Step two, explore or investigate your spending. So, in this step, I usually have my students look back at their last three months of spending. You know, there’s going to be certain things that are sort of repetitive, like your monthly mortgage payment or rent payment, that are the same every month, or about the same. And then there are categories that have a lot more wiggle room and kind of shrink and grow and every month is different.

So, I recommend looking at the last three months. And this is just to identify trends. This is not a time for you to judge yourself or how you spent your money in the past, okay.

Now, inside my program, I actually have a whole lesson dedicated to the psychology of overspending. Not all of us are overspending, but some of us overspend from time to time in certain situations or certain categories of things. Maybe it’s bags or shoes for you. And we go into the psychology of overspending.

And I have an episode where I talked about overspending and I give you a sneak peek as to how I teach my students how to stop overspending. But, in a nutshell, I teach them how to lessen the desire to overspend. Because it’s so simple to stop overspending if you don’t want to spend money on something.

It sounds so simple and it also sounds like, “Well, how does that actually happen?” You know, one thing I want to say is a lot of us think our wants, meaning, “I really like that purse…” I don’t know why I’m talking about purses. I’m not really a purse person. But we think that’s part of our identity, what we like and what we don’t like.

But you can actually train yourself, if you want to, to not want something as badly as you used to. And the analogy I love to give for this, because this freaks people out when I say it like this, is this – and this is something we can all relate to.

Think of someone you used to have the biggest crush on. Remember him? When was the last time you thought about him? Probably not since you were crazy about him, or her, right? It’s kind of like that. You used to be crazy about someone and ow you’re not. It’s kind of like that. Anyway, it’s totally possible when it comes to overspending. It’s the same concept.

I also want to say that I have a lot of under-spenders in my program, because they’re underspending from a place of scarcity. And then I have everyone in between. I consider myself an over-spender.

Okay, step three is optimize or refine your spending. This is where we take the stuff from step one and step two and we start to make some decisions about how and what we’ll spend in the future. This is where you make a first draft at your ideal spending plan.

Notice, I said the word, “Ideal.” Meaning not always reality, but we have an ideal spending plan. This is also when we address things like debt, what’s your debt pay-off plan? This is where we address creating or funding an emergency fund if you don’t have one yet, things like that. And this is also where we talk about how much money per month are you going to devote to buying assets? Basically, paying yourself first.

So, let’s talk more about this paying yourself concept. Now, I know this probably isn’t news to you. And it wasn’t news to me. But it wasn’t until actually pretty recently where I truly understood what that concept was. So, I wanted to make sure that you understand as well.

And so, the pay yourself thing makes total sense. Everyone says, “Pay yourself first.” But how many of us do that? I think most of us approach our monthly spending like this. Money comes in from a paycheck, whatever, other sources of income. We pay all the bills. And then we kind of see what’s left to spend money on for ourselves and for creating wealth.

So, I think of paying yourself first as making creating wealth your number one priority. Now, it doesn’t have to be your number one priority, obviously. But if you’re serious about creating wealth and making medicine optional, making practicing medicine on your terms, then you really need to put wealth as a top priority. And I think this makes total sense, right?

But how many of us are paying ourselves first, paying our future wealth first before paying everyone else? No, I think many of us are paying everyone else, paying all the bills, and then we see what’s left over after we go out for a vacation or whatever we like to spend money on, fun spending. Then we see what’s left, if there is anything left, to invest.

And you need to kind of look at it the other way around. Now, depending where you are in life and depending what you, sort of, created so far – what I mean by that is you might have an expensive mortgage. You might have some other expensive things, or just things that you’re paying for. And so, you might not be able to whittle this down overnight. But can start taking some steps today to start prioritizing your cash flow towards wealth.

Now, you might want to listen to a prior episode I did with Dr. Latifat, where we talked about automating, or automation. And this is something that could go so well with making yourself, your wealth a priority. So, I know a lot of people, for example, and I think she talked about it specifically, you know, having monthly automatic payments or transfers to your taxable brokerage account. Out of sight, out of mind.

A lot of us have automatic payments for our employer’s 401K where it’s taken out of our paycheck, which means we don’t have to be worried about spending that money because it automatically goes to that account. That’s kind of what I’m talking about. But I hope I’m beating a dead horse here, obviously. But really, you need to prioritize paying yourself first so you can start creating wealth.

And, before we go onto step four, I also want people to identify what they call their joy spending; the areas that we love to spend money on that really gives us joy. These aren’t necessarily expensive things, but I think it’s important because I think when we think of budgets or spending plans, we often focus on the things we have to pay for, right? Instead of thinking about, “Well, going on three trips a year really makes me happy…”

Kind of like when you’re planning your schedule for the week. How many of us are prioritizing us, our self-care? And so, that is the same concept when it comes to your spending. And so, these are COVID times, so obviously my family and I, we’re not really traveling. So, that sort of spending area has decreased almost to zero, frankly.

We did take a few local road trips recently. But obviously, we’re not flying anywhere or things like that. And so, the area that I love to spend money on is actually food. We’re not going out so much. But I actually like to cook a lot. I like to try cooking new things. And I like to buy good quality food.

We like to shop at Whole Foods for example, including Costco. And I’ve been buying a lot of flour. I’ve been doing a lot of baking. Not super-expensive. I’ve been buying a few baking tools from Amazon. Again, not super-expensive. But spending in these areas really makes me happy. And so, I’m happy to include that. So, those are just some examples. But we all have different areas in our life where we love spending money on that gives us a lot of joy.

Okay, step four is implement. And this is where you kind of put everything together and then you actually implement the spending plan. Now, remember, I said this is an ideal spending plan. Meaning it’s not going to be perfect every month.

And also, once you start going through the first iteration, you’re going to make changes. You’re going to make tweaks. And so, this is where I see a lot of people veer off track. They create this, quote unquote perfect budget, it doesn’t go as planned. And then they give up and say, “See, it doesn’t work. I can’t do this.”

But you’re putting too much pressure on yourself. It’s going to take time to figure out what works, what doesn’t work, et cetera. And so, I really want you to think consciously about creating a spending plan that is in line with your money goals. And then, you want to spend some time reviewing it, maybe just monthly, where you review and adjust. Remember, we don’t beat ourselves up when we go off plan.

Now, I get asked all the time, “Which program should I use?” So, you may know by now, if you’ve been following me for a while, that my favorite budgeting program that I personally use and recommend is called YNAB. It stands for You Need a Budget. Kind of a funny but super-clever name.

Now, this program was created, you know, I don’t know how long ago. But I started using it in my last year of residency. And back then, it was a desktop-only program and you had to enter transactions manually.

Now, back in residency, I wasn’t making a whole lot of transactions, so I actually kind of enjoyed inputting my transactions. But it’s since gone web, meaning that it is fully online and you can synchronize it with your bank accounts and credit cards.

Now, a lot of people tell me that it’s complicated to set up, et cetera. And you know, it’s hard for me to comment on that because, like I said, I’ve been using it for a very long time. However, the new version, which is the current version, the web version, you know, it is a little tricky the first time. They have tons of awesome tutorials that you can also look at.

But I’ve since found a YNAB coach that we’ve connected. And he’s got amazing YouTube videos. So, I’m going to link him in the show notes. His name is Nick True. And I actually thought he was so awesome, I actually invited him to create a custom YNAB tutorial inside my paid program, Money for Women Physicians.

Why do I love YNAB so much? Okay, so, here’s the thing. YNAB is the only budgeting program, as far as I know, where you actually create a spending plan ahead of time. And it’s the only program where it tells you what you can actually afford right now, versus on credit, versus, “Oh yeah, when that next paycheck comes.

Because most other programs – people talk about Mint – they’re tracking programs. They just track how you spent your money, meaning they’re looking back at how you spent your money. With YNAB, you literally are looking forward with your money.

And I promise you, once you spend the time to set it up or you can hire Nick, who does one on one YNAB coaching, it’s so easy to maintain. And so, anybody who’s been frustrated with the setup, I just recommend, hey, take another stab. Maybe spend some time with Nick. He’s not super-expensive. Once again, I’ll link him in the show notes. And give it another spin.

I love it. I actually took a break for a few months because I got a little – I’m not sure if arrogant is the word, but I was like, “I don’t need to budget. I’m fine.” And I don’t know, I just really lost touch with how or what my money was doing. And I also noticed that I wasn’t really hitting the goals that I wanted financially.

And for me, YNAB just is easy for me to use. It’s easy to maintain now that it’s already set up correctly. And actually, just recently, with Nick’s help, I actually redid my spending plan in terms of the different categories I use in terms of, you know, how I’m tracking and how I’m planning my money.

I actually use YNAB inside of my business as well. So, I have a bookkeeper/CFO which stands for chief financial officer. So, a fractional, you know, I don’t have a fulltime CFO or bookkeeper. But we use YNAB for my business bookkeeping. Because, like I said, you can just mine so much amazing data. You really can get a pulse on the data.

Now, I’ve previously used Bench. And I don’t have anything against it, but I just felt out of touch with my money. I didn’t really understand where my money was going. I didn’t quite understand, how much was I spending in this category of my business? And now that we’ve brought it all back inside of YNAB, I just feel like I have such a better understanding of my business finances.

Now, the beauty of YNAB is you can create multiple budgets. So, I’ve got my personal finances in there. My business is also in there, the same YNAB account. And we also use it for our real estate bookkeeping as well.

So, I do want to say that YNAB is not a free program like Mint is. To be honest, I don’t remember how much it costs. It’s like five or seven bucks a month. I do not have an affiliate relationship with them at this time. But I just tell everyone, go and get it.

Go and take a spin. It’s usually free for the first 34 days. And look at Nick True’s YouTube videos to help set it up. He actually has one that’s like an hour long on his main YNAB coaching page. And that, I think, is probably enough for 99% of the people listening to this podcast. And if you want some extra help to make sure you really have it set up properly, go ahead and hire Nick.

So, that’s all I wanted to cover today with spending or cash flow. So, I just want to quickly go over those four steps I mentioned. Number one, discover where you gather your date. Step two, explore, investigate your spending. Step three, optimize or refine your spending. And step four, create and implement the spending plan you love.

And the program of choice is YNAB, or You Need a Budget. And if you’re interested in learning more about it or Nick True’s program, go ahead and look at the show notes. And just a reminder that YNAB tutorials are also part of my paid program, Money for Women Physicians. I’ll see you next week, everyone.

Hey, if you’re a woman physician who is ready to practice medicine on your terms, then you’ve got to check out my program; Money for Women Physicians. It’s part-course and part-coaching and 100% guaranteed to put more money in your pocket. Go to wealthymommd.com/money to learn more.

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Is Debt Bad?

25: Is Debt Bad?

Apple Podcasts Spotify Stitcher

Is Debt Bad?We’ve talked about the subject of debt here on the podcast before, but I want to take a deeper dive and discuss debt in the context of the self-coaching model. A lot of people believe that the self-coaching model doesn’t apply to topics like money. But it absolutely does and I want to show you how to apply it today.

I hear so many people saying their debt is like a monkey on their back, and once it’s gone and paid off, then they will feel better. But the truth is, our level of debt is completely neutral. And instead of beating ourselves up about it, there are so many more productive ways we can think about debt and actually make it work for us.

Join me on the podcast this week to discover how to use the self-coaching model to reframe the way you think about debt. I’m sharing how so many people, myself included, miss the opportunity to grow wealth in favor of paying off debt quickly, and how to get clear on the thoughts that contribute to our limiting beliefs around money.

If you’re ready to take control of your money and practice medicine on your terms, you need to check out Money for Women Physicians. Click here to learn more!

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • What debt is and why paying off your debt won’t make you feel better or richer.
  • How I see so many newly qualified doctors missing the opportunity to create wealth by paying off their debts unnecessarily early.
  • Where debt fits into the self-coaching model.
  • Why, if I knew what I know now, I wouldn’t have rushed to pay off my student debt.
  • How to get clear on your thoughts and feelings about your debt.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Read the transcript Expand

Welcome to The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast, a podcast for women physicians who want to learn how to live a wealthy life. In this podcast you will learn how to make money work for you, how you can have more of it and learn the tools to empower you to live a life on purpose. Get ready to up-level and your life. I’m your host, Dr. Bonnie Koo.

Welcome to episode 25. We are going to talk about debt and the self-coaching model. If you recall on episode 13, I answer the question, “Should I pay off debt or should I invest?” Which is one of the most common questions that I get, but today I want to do a deeper dive into debt and we’re going to define it and we’re going to discuss it in the context of the self-coaching model.

If you’re not familiar with the self-coaching model then I recommend you go back and listen to episode 1, but I’ll also go over it here. So, first, what is the self-coaching model? It is the model that Brooke Castillo developed for The Life Coach School and I certified with The Life Coach School and so I use the model every day in my life and I also use it in my program Money for Women Physicians to help my students truly understand not only their money beliefs, but also how to create money using the model. It’s that powerful. So, what is the model?

It is a framework to understand our thoughts and how our thoughts create our feelings, our feelings create actions, and actions create results. Let me go over that again. So, the model is C-T-F-A-R, and C stands for circumstance. A circumstance stands for basically what happened out there.

To give you an example of a C when it relates to money is maybe the C is your current student loan amounts. Let’s say $200,000 of student loan debt, that would go in the C line. Now, many of us live our lives as if the C’s or circumstances of the world determine how we feel. We’re always reacting to the circumstances, but what we forget is after the C is a T which stands for a thought.

So, circumstances trigger thoughts and thoughts are just one-word sentences, maybe even just a phrase, and these thoughts create feelings. So, notice that I said, “Thoughts create feelings,” not the circumstance and we often think and live our lives as if the circumstance dictates our feelings, but thoughts create our feelings.

Feelings are super important because feelings drive actions or inaction, right? Over time these actions, these decisions become the results or outcome that we have in our lives and literally if you can extrapolate it, our thoughts which become beliefs eventually create our life. That’s why it’s so important to understand the model.

Now, a lot of people learn the model but think it doesn’t apply to certain areas of our life, like money but it absolutely does. I actually love that it does because it makes it so easy to teach in the context of money.

How does this relate to debt? Well, debt only goes in the C line or the R line, let me repeat that. Debt in itself, so debt would be an amount of money that you owe goes in the C line, circumstance, or it goes in the R line.

So, when debt is in the R line that means that the action of going into debt goes in the A line and that’s basically a spending action or taking out a loan. So, let’s define debt. I love the way Brooke Castillo defines it and that’s what I use to talk about in the context of debt in my program and in general.

Debt is simply money that you didn’t have, so you bought the money. It also is possibly money that you did have, but you didn’t want to spend it, so you bought the money and cost of the money is the interest. Now, for many of listeners who are physicians or on their way to becoming one, so you want to become a doctor and when you applied to medical store and got accepted you didn’t have the money to pay for it, so you bought the money, a.k.a. you took out a loan, and the cost of the money you bought is the interest rate.

So, let’s flesh out a model for this. The C is medical school tuition and other costs. The thought is something like, “I’m going to be a doctor. I want to be a doctor,” and that makes you feel committed or certain. So, one of the actions you take is to take out a loan to pay for it. Then, the R line is that you become a doctor or you are a doctor already.

I also want you to notice that most of you probably didn’t question this action meaning that many of you probably didn’t think twice about taking out a loan to attend medical school. Right? It was like, “Well, of course, this is what I’m going to do. This is how I’m going to become a physician.”

But for some reason after you finish medical school training, whatever, end of residency, somehow the debt is now a bad thing. I hear so many of you say it’s this monkey on your back, it’s a noose, and you all think you’re going to feel so much better once it’s gone. Peace of mind, freedom, security, these are the words that I often hear you say, so newsflash, two newsflashes actually.

Number one, paying off debt does not make you feel better because we talked about the model, paying off the debt which is an A, but let’s say that goes in the C line, like debt paid off. Remember, the C doesn’t cause your feelings, thoughts do.

Newsflash number two, paying off debt does not make you rich or wealthy, so why are so many people obsessed with paying off debt so quickly? I personally think this is an epidemic, a bad one, of people prophesying, proclaiming that you that you must pay off your debt as quickly as possible.

So, I see all these physicians finishing residency and doing whatever they can to pay it off within five years at the cost of creating wealth. Because when I said in episode 13 that any extra money that you put towards debt is money that is not going towards buying and growing an asset which is what will make you wealthy.

Now, we’ve all been fed things like debt is bad, in order to be free you need to get rid of debt, pay off debt before investing, and the one that’s really common these days among physicians, live like a resident so you can pay off your debt within five years. Meaning live like a resident after you finish residency when you have a new attending salary. I could not disagree with this sentiment more.

I think we should be telling new attendings live like a resident so you can start buying and acquiring assets so that in five years you will have an asset that’s paying you. Now, I should probably tell that I used to be in the pay off debt relatively quickly camp, too. In fact, I paid off my student loans within three years. I have no regrets about this, but if I knew what I knew now I definitely would not have and here is why.

My interest rate on my student loans were stupidly low, 2.25%, meaning basically what inflation is. So, I’m debt-free and yes, that’s awesome, but we also have little to show for it in terms of assets. If I knew what I knew now I would have invested in real estate, hands-down. We would be owners of some multiplexes now and have real estate professional status now, but I don’t believe in regretting past decisions. It’s not useful at all. In fact, I think it’s a waste of time and it prevents me from spending time on more useful things like creating money or doing something else.

So, back to you. When you are thinking about your debt are you feeling good or bad about it? So, I personally think that we forget really quickly why we took out the debt in the first place. We forget that the debt, I’m talking  about student loans here, is how we became doctors, so how is that a bad thing?

Let’s go back to that self-coaching model, C-T-F-A-R. Remember, how you feel is determined by what you think. So, what are you thinking about debt? Are you telling yourself something like, “I shouldn’t have it”? “I need to pay it off as possible”? “I’ll feel better once it’s gone”? Remember debt itself is neutral.

In coaching we say that all circumstances are neutral meaning it is not inherently good or bad and you get to decide what to think or feel about it. Now, I’m not saying you should feel awesome or elated about debt either, but it’s kind of silly to feel bad about it. In case it’s not obvious, of course you need to pay it off unless you want your credit score to tank.

There are consequences if you don’t pay the debt off, right? But my goal here is to show you that debt does not have power over you. You are not a victim of debt; it is just money that you spent.

Now, what about debt from overspending like consumer debt? Does all of this apply? Absolutely, but let’s take a step back and examine the model that got you into a consumer debt. It’s a different model, right? So, I’m just going to make up an example. So, let’s say the circumstance is Nordstrom sale which actually is happening right now at the time of this recording and the thought is “I want that,” or, “I want that now.”

So, the circumstance being the Nordstrom sale and let’s say you’re on the website and you’re just looking at the sale, looking at clothing. So, you’re thinking, “I want that.”

Now, notice that, “I want that,” is a thought. Many of you think that, “I want that,” is the truth or just how you are, right? But it is a thought. So, you’re thinking, “I want that,” which creates the feeling of desire and the action could be to spend money that either you don’t have or you’re overspending or you’re spending money that was meant for something else.

The result of thinking, “I want that,” and having desire and spending the money on the item, let’s say you bought a dress, and then the result is, “Well, I have what I want.” Now, let’s say this Nordstrom sale you spent money on it, but you didn’t really have the money for it, so now you have consumer debt. So, let’s create a new model.

So, the circumstance is credit card debt and maybe you’re thinking, “I’m bad with money,” which makes you feel bad which leads to the action of beating yourself up which leads to the result of, well, you continue to be bad with money or maybe you even feel shame. So, here’s a problem with feeling bad about yourself, feeling shame, or beating yourself up. Besides not feeling good it’s also completely useless. Here’s what I mean by that.

When you’re feeling bad about yourself, when you’re feeling shame you don’t do the work to learn from the experience because you’re too busy feeling bad about yourself. But, ironically, we think it’s somehow useful. Like feeling bad is some punishment for the mistake. Like we deserve to feel bad. But hopefully you can see that this is 100% not useful at all.

What’s actually useful is to actually examine why you overspent in the first place or why you tend to overspend and work on that. Definitely check out episode 17 where I talk about how to stop overspending. But here’s the thing, debt here is still neutral, it’s just money that you owe.

When it comes to consumer debt generally speaking the interest rates are super high on credit cards, right? So, yeah, when it comes to consumer debt, credit card debt, etc. I definitely favor paying that off quickly because the interest rates are just so high. But when it comes to low interest debt like student loans or your mortgage, it really doesn’t make sense to pay it off quickly because you could be putting extra money towards creating an asset.


Even though it might feel nice, that’s because of a thought, right, when you are debt-free it’s only because of what you’re thinking that makes you feel good. Here is the truth about paying off debt quickly, it doesn’t do anything but get rid of your debt. Meaning that it doesn’t become and grow an asset or start paying you in return. Because I hear a lot of saying things like, “Well, if I pay off this loan that’s 5% or 7% isn’t that like getting a guaranteed 5% return?” But frankly, I think you’re missing the bigger picture. That 5% or 7% “return” isn’t doing anything to grow your asset column.

Okay, so let’s sum up everything we’ve learned. I know we talked about a lot. I introduced the self-coaching model and if this is new for you it’s going to take some time to truly understand, but now that you’ve heard it once I’ll be bringing it up from time to time to help reinforce certain topics, so remember, what is debt? Simply money that you didn’t have, so you bought the money and the cost of the money is the interest. Or it’s money you spent that you didn’t have due to overspending and overspending is an action.

Feeling bad about debt is not useful. In fact, it is a waste of your time. You’re better off spending your time and energy learning about or getting to the cause of why you have debt. I just want to remind you that student loan debt or any investment you took in yourself is almost never a bad thing. Remember, you took out a medical student loan to invest in yourself so that you could become a physician. Never forget that. So, how can that be bad? I’ll see you next week.

Hey, if you enjoyed this episode and don’t want to miss out on new episodes please hit the subscribe button on your favorite podcast app. See you next week.

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24: Automate Your Finances with Dr. Latifat

Apple Podcasts Spotify Stitcher

What would you do with an extra hour each month? What about more time each week or even each day? It’s something many of us are striving toward, yet we overlook a simple strategy to put extra time back into our schedules. That’s why it’s time to start automating your finances. In this episode, I sit down with automation expert Dr. Latifat Akintade to learn more about what automation is and how it keeps your money working harder for you while saving your more time.

What is automation? In the financial sense, it is creating a system so that an ongoing process happens without your direct oversight. That might mean an automatic transfer from your paycheck to your savings account each pay period. It might also mean setting up your credit cards and other bills to auto-pay from your account. Truthfully, automation can take on many shapes when it comes to money. No matter which part of your finances you automate, you can use this strategy to achieve your goals, free up your time, and keep your money working for you.

One of the biggest perks of automation is that it makes reaching your goals a more seamless process. For some of us, it is a struggle to save. If you automate your savings, your bank account initiates the transfer for you. There’s no need for you to remember to move the money, and there’s no opportunity for you to convince yourself that you could probably do a little shopping instead. With automation, payday rolls around and the transfer happens instantly. Of course, you can set up the transfer for any amount you like. 

Some people might prefer to set up multiple transfers, that way you can work different goals simultaneously. For instance, you might have your employer automatically deduct some of your income, moving it to an employer-sponsored retirement account, like a 401k or 403b. You could also set up an automatic transfer to a Roth IRA or a high-interest savings account. If you have sinking funds for car repairs, travel, or anything else, you can also send money to those accounts. That way, you’re moving toward your goals without expending any extra effort or time. 

By automating your finances, you can free up a lot of your time. But that doesn’t mean you get to totally disconnect from your money. Rather, you still want to commit to checking your accounts for fraud. You also want to make sure that you are occasionally checking in with your spending to ensure that your spending is purposeful and in line with your goals and values. 

Another benefit of automation is that you can keep more of your money working for you. Anyone who has ever missed a credit card payment knows what an impact that can have on your balance. There are astronomical interest rates and other fees and penalties to deal with. By automating your credit cards and other bills, you avoid owing anything extra and dodge the added headache that comes with sorting out late payments. 

Overall, as you continue your financial journey, it is a good idea to consider which aspects of your money you can automate. Some people, like Dr. Latifat, automate as much of their finances as possible. Others are more selective. Either way, you can use automation to keep more time in your day and more money in the bank. 

In this episode, we also explore:

  • Strategies to apply automation to passive and active real estate investing 
  • Specific credit card benefits and how automation can help you enjoy those benefits 
  • A more in-depth look at how credit monitoring and protection can be a form of automation 
  • Stories from my past and Dr. Latifat’s past about how we got started with saving (or didn’t!) in residency 

Featured on this episode:

  • Learn more from Dr. Latifat Akintade by visiting her blog Money Fit MD.
  • Connect with a community of women physicians who are upleveling their finances in my Facebook group
  • Learn more about how to manage your mindset with Wealthy Mom MD.
Read the transcript Expand

Welcome to The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast—a podcast for women physicians who want to learn how to live a wealthy life. In this podcast, you will learn how to make money work for you, how you can have more of it, and learn the tools to empower you to live a life on purpose. Get ready to uplevel your money and your life. I'm your host, Dr. Bonnie Koo.


BONNIE: Welcome to the show, Dr. Latifat. 


  1. LATIFAT AKINTADE: Thanks, Bonnie. 


BONNIE: For those who don't know you, why don't you give a brief introduction about yourself? 


  1. LATIFAT: Absolutely. So, I’m Dr. Latifat. I'm a life coach. I'm a money and mindset coach. So I work with women physicians to help them declutter the finances so they can spend well, live well, and be happy.


BONNIE: Awesome. Yeah. So Dr. Latifat and I trained at the same coaching school. So I'm super excited that we have more women talking about money and money mindset. Tell us why you got interested in automation. I remember when we were just talking about what we could talk about on the show today, you brought this up. It's like, it makes sense that we should talk about it, but it's not a topic that usually people talk about in itself. So tell me why this lights you up. 


  1. LATIFAT: Absolutely. So I'm a mom. I work as a GI doc. I have three kids. I'm married. I have a bunch of things in life that I enjoy doing and sitting down and thinking about my bills and my money isn't exactly how I want to spend my time. So when I speak with women physicians, we know none of them want to learn about money so that they can spend all their time on money. However, what I find is that people have all these amazing goals, amazing things they want to do with their money, but they never do it. And the reason why is because we get in the way life gets in the way.


So the advantage of automation is you can literally set things up and enjoy your life. You can set things up and never miss a payment. Set things up and your money is on auto investment, which is awesome. So that you can now spend a mental space thinking about ways of enjoying life, whatever it is you want to do, but not worrying about your money. So that's why automation makes a ton of sense. 


BONNIE: So I do a lot, not a lot, but I'm doing more automation inside of my business. And so I love what you just said because many women physicians, we're busy people. We are making decisions all day long as part of our jobs, right? That's what we do. And we get what I call decision fatigue. And like you said, the last one I want to do when I come home is like make decisions about money or even other things. So I think this idea of automation is applicable to many areas of life, not just money, but I agree. I think it's weird when people don't have bills on auto payment.


  1. LATIFAT: A lot of people don't. And I try to remind people that, “Yeah, the bills are important, but also investment savings.” Those are also things that you can automate, right? 


BONNIE: Why don't you tell us what you have automated money-wise for you?


  1. LATIFAT: Everything. It’s awesome. So what I have automated my bills, for example, I'm a huge proponent of using credit cards to pay for everything so I can get points, but I also don't ever want to pay interest ever. So things that are automated are my bills, almost all on my credit card, except for things like mortgage that cannot. So my bills are all automated. I never missed a payment ever. My savings are automated. 


BONNIE: Oh, tell us more. 


  1. LATIFAT: I know exactly what percentage I want to save every month or what dollar amount I want to save. So without even thinking about it, all I knew is that my savings account is increasing without me clicking any button every month or every day, which is amazing. 


BONNIE: Okay. Let's talk about those for a second. So a lot of financial experts say that you need to pay yourself first. So this is a great way to automate that part. So do you just have this scheduled, like through your checking account?


  1. LATIFAT: Yes. 


BONNIE: Like a scheduled transfer?


  1. LATIFAT: Exactly. A scheduled transfer, but since you brought up paying yourself first…Part of it is things like your 401K and your Roth IRA, whatever else you want to put your money into, you can automate those but absolutely savings. And if you have savings goals. So for example, if you want to travel to–I don’t know–Bora Bora in December. You're like, “Okay, I have a budget of 20,000 or 30,000 or $5k or whatever it is,” think about how much do I need to save every month to get to that point and automate that. So that by December, you’re going on that trip. Unless it’s the pandemic. 


BONNIE: Unless it's 2020, yes. It's not a bad idea to just start saving because you just don't know when things will turn back to normal. I don't think it's going to be in 2020, unfortunately, but I think starting some sort of fun fund that you'll get to spend once things lighten up. If you're a traveler, I think a lot of us do love to travel. So I love that. Do you use YNAB? I'm just curious. 


  1. LATIFAT: I don't use YNAB. I tried one of years ago for like two months and I just couldn't get on the wagon, but I'm a Mint girl. Simple, straightforward, no learning curve. Basic, gets it done. 


BONNIE: Yeah. YNAB definitely has a learning curve. The reason why I asked is because YNAB cando the savings for you, although you can't tell if you just log into your checking account, but it can put money in buckets without you having to do that sort of manually. Okay. So what else do you automate? 


  1. LATIFAT: My investments are automated too like I mentioned. So I talked about almost like the pretax part of it, but you can automate investments and you know. We all know about dollar cost saving and why that's recommended. So you can have that on auto cruise and every month, if it's 500 bucks, 5,000 bucks. It just walks out of your account and you're investing without doing anything.


BONNIE: So you're talking about a taxable brokerage account?


  1. LATIFAT: Yep. 


BONNIE: You have that also scheduled to be autoinvested. So you don't have to manually log in wherever your money is. 


  1. LATIFAT: I believe in keeping things extremely simple. And I think you kind of agree with that too. With investments, it can get extremely complicated, but I don't do complicated. I do simple. So it's simple. I know where exactly I'm investing my funds. I know the number of funds I'm going into and I just put my money there every month. That happens without me doing anything else. It's a dream come true. 


BONNIE: I'm just sort of thinking how I can apply it to myself. I do have all of our bills automated. And so I think it's weird when people don't, because who has time to remember when everything's due? There's just so many bills to pay now. I mean, obviously like we're renting. And so our rent can't go through a credit card, but otherwise I'm on the same page as you. I want to get points, although I’m not using them for travel, obviously. But if you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve, they are having a special–although by the time this podcast comes out, it might have expired–but since no one's traveling and using Chase points for traveling–at least I hope you're not–you can redeem like grocery and dining for cash at a pretty good exchange. So I've just been doing that, just kind of cashing end points to get grocery credits basically. 


So I have that all automated, and it’s the same thing. I don't want to pay interest. So I always pay my credit card bills in full, and then I don't have our savings automated, but that's because the Roth IRA will do a lump sum at the beginning of the year. So that is like a manual process. Cause I don't do it piece by piece cause we're doing a backdoor Roth IRA. We do invest in real estate. So I'm just wondering, I know you invest in real estate too. So I'm curious, how have you figured out ways to sort of automate that? 


So here are my thoughts. We're doing both passive and active real estate investing. So for the passive stuff like syndications, what I'm thinking is, I could still autosave the amount and once I have a certain amount, then I can pop it into a syndication is what I'm thinking. What do you think? 


  1. LATIFAT: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense, right? Because for you, it's the same as a savings goal. You're just deciding how much you want to do to what's a syndication. So yeah, absolutely. 


BONNIE: And then what about for direct real estate? How do you automate that?


  1. LATIFAT: Yeah, that is harder to automate. The only things you can automate is if you know, you're trying to raise a down payment, right? You can automate that even. You can automate your bills. So we do that with our real estate investments, with the utilities would pay on those. We have them automated to our business credit cards, but actually our real estate is essentially very, very manual. There's some tenants that we actually go get their cash every month, physically ourselves. 


So definitely that process is not automated in that regard, but in my mind it doesn't have to be perfect. But if your life could be a hundred percent manual, but if you could buy 70% of your time back, what would that translate into? Like what difference would that make is that one hour or more of spending time with your family or one hour more swimming or one hour thinking about the content you want to create and not all those little things that wake people up in the middle of the night when they're like, “Oh snap, did I pay that one bill?” That should not be happening. You should be sleeping. 


BONNIE: Well, that's not a good use of our brain time. 


  1. LATIFAT: Absolutely. 


BONNIE: I mean, I think what's also akin to automating is delegating. Although actually this is an interesting thing. I don't know if you've heard about this. A fellow position actually told me about this and I'm going to look into this more, but there are people who–and these aren't financial advisors, they're, I don't know what their official title is, but I think it's some sort of money manager or bill manager–but they handle like your cashflow and someone actually pays the bills for you. Although I feel like, why do you need that person for that? Because you can automate things, but it seems like they just help you manage your cashflow. So you don't have to do it yourself at all. I don't know exactly what they do. So I want to find out more, but I have a feeling you might be interested just to learn what they do. 


  1. LATIFAT: Yeah. That'd be interesting to hear. I found out about this program that helps people with almost like auto-payment of their credit card, but it's a little bit more complex. I think it's called Tally or something. It's more complicated than that, but yeah, people are getting extremely creative, but it's always that balance. I mean, hands off and losing complete track of everything. Right? And that's one of the downsides of automation, if you're not conscious about it. I always remind people that you just don't set everything up and then completely ignore it. You still have to think about looking at it. So you make sure there's no mistakes in your bills, right? So still a need to assign time during the month, say one day a month where you look at your bills and your statements to make sure there's no errors, no charges. We did find that recently actually that our credit card charged us two different fees and we don't do fees. So yeah, we caught it ourselves and they got it taken care of. But if we were not looking, those are ways you can absolutely lose money and leave money. 


BONNIE: Such a good point. I think the bill pay for sure makes sense. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't look at your bill ever. I look at my finances pretty often just in terms of monitoring transactions, just because fraud is unfortunately a thing that happens a lot. And so I have actually set up alerts and this is another way to automate. I think if it's over a certain amount, I'll get an alert on my phone. Things like that. 


  1. LATIFAT: That's awesome. Yeah. We also, you know, credit reporting and credit monitoring. So if there's any changes, you get out of an email notifying me that there was a change or yeah, absolutely. Those are in 2020, right. With technology. It's great. But there's some things we have to put in place to protect ourselves. So I agree with you a hundred percent. 


BONNIE: Absolutely. So it sounds like we both have Chase credit cards.


  1. LATIFAT: Yes. I love chase. 


BONNIE: Yeah. They've done a great job in terms of I've gotten emails or even text messages saying like, “Did you buy this thing?” Because if it's something a little unusual in terms of my normal range of spending. It is nice. Obviously, that’s automated. It's not like some guy’s checking. 


  1. LATIFAT: They want you to think some guy's checking, right? 


BONNIE: Some algorithm obviously spitting out an alert. Okay. For people who are just starting out and have nothing automated, what do you think is the first sort of thing they should do? 


  1. LATIFAT :Number one is, I recommend that they actually look at their bank account and see what they're spending money on. The other thing we didn't talk about with automation is it's not a budgeting strategy, but it kind of helps you. It's a spending plan strategy. So it forces people to actually look at what they've been spending on historically. 


So if you've never automated before, this is a good time to actually look at where your money is going. So you can automate and say, “Okay, this is just how much I know that I'm paying on utility bills. Automate that. This is how much am I spending on my credit card. Automate that.” So just start by looking at what you've been spending, automate the process of paying those every month, so you don't have to do those. And definitely the retirement fund is so important. And so to do so those are the two places that I definitely recommend that they start from.


BONNIE: It’s so funny. My first thought was bill pay because initially I was like, “Well, everyone does that. Doesn't it.?” And even like the 401k. When I had an employer, like, I guess people don't have that stuff set up, especially if you have a match. Like, I always just set it as every two weeks depending on how I was paid. And I would just kind of divide it up over the whole year and do dollar cost averaging. But I guess there are people who don't even set that up. Huh? 


  1. LATIFAT: Yeah. That was me in residency. You know, I didn't care about all that. I didn't think about my money or how, what my money was doing at all. I didn't set anything up, whatever HR did when I signed up was what I ended up with when I was done. So whether that was 1% or 0% or whatever, I didn't really pay attention to it. But obviously that's changed now. 


BONNIE: Yeah. Well I think in residency, we're not really thinking about it. We're just trying to get through the day, right? 


  1. LATIFAT: Yeah. But hopefully now though, with your podcast and the work that all of us are doing, more residents will start thinking about this stuff. Cause it's so important and it'll help them in the future.


BONNIE: Okay. Well, I did something even worse than what you just described when I was in residency at UC Irvine, they did automatically enroll us for like a really small percentage. And I actually logged in and put up to zero. I was like, “I need all the money I can get.” 


  1. LATIFAT: I wasn't paying attention enough to do that. 


BONNIE: And then I did fund a Roth IRA, like partially in my last year, I think like a thousand bucks that was like the most I ever did, but I was just learning about money towards the end of my residency. But like I said, I literally logged in to actually undo what they were trying to do good for me. Anyway, just one of the many mistakes I made.


  1. LATIFAT: You were intentional about actually doing it. So you're paying attention to an extent. 


BONNIE: So I guess so. 


  1. LATIFAT: Yeah, you chose not to, so that's good. 


BONNIE: All right. So any other automation tips you have for us?


  1. LATIFAT: What I mentioned early absolutely is important. The other thing is automating your credit card. So I don't think I mentioned that. Once you're using your credit cards to pay your bills, automate to have it paid off before it's due so you don't have to pay any interest. Some people do that twice a month. If their income is by monthly, somebody could do it once a month. But definitely, you don't want to miss the payment of your credit card. So you can automate that as well. 


And I know I shared with you that I made a video that may be useful if people want to check it out, that can provide information on the steps on how to go through the process of automation.


BONNIE: Awesome. We’ll be sure to link it in the show notes. So where can people find you and learn more about you? 


  1. LATIFAT: Absolutely. They can find me on my website. It's http://moneyfitmd.com/ or on Facebook. I blog at Money Fit MD or they can just come to Bonnie’s podcast from today and click on it!


Bonnie: I think you do a weekly video on your Facebook page, right? 


  1. LATIFAT: Yeah. I do one to two videos every week. It's so much fun. Yeah. Just talking about money and how to help. Just bring clarity to money. I think it's so needed right now. 


BONNIE: Absolutely. Well, I'm so glad to have you as part of the movement. 


  1. LATIFAT: Thank you. I'm glad to be here. I'm glad to have you on. And I'm really proud of all the work you're doing. We need our women to be free. We need to have choices, make choices, and the more voices we have in the space, the better it's going to be. So I’m excited that we're all doing this together. 


BONNIE: I absolutely agree with you as well. Awesome. Well thank you so much for being on the show. 


  1. LATIFAT: Thank you, Doctor. 


Hey, if you're a woman physician who is ready to take control of your money, you've got to check out my program Money for Women Physicians. It's part course and part group coaching and a hundred percent guaranteed to put more money in your pocket. Go to wealthymommd.com/money to learn more. 


If you enjoy this episode and don't want to miss out on new episodes, please hit the subscribe button on your favorite podcast app.

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23: Money Scarcity

Apple Podcasts Spotify Stitcher

Do you feel like you have enough money? When it comes to deciding what is “enough,” it often has more to do with your mind than money itself. When it comes to money, people approach it from one of two perspectives: scarcity or abundance. In this episode, we get to the root of a scarcity mindset to reveal exactly how it’s holding you back. Plus, learn how you can start living a more abundant life now, no matter where you are on your financial journey. 

To understand how your mindset influences your money, it is important to understand what scarcity and abundance mean. While a scarcity mindset can apply to any number of things, when it comes to money, a scarcity mindset means that there is not enough money in your life. On the other hand, when it comes to abundance, that is the viewpoint that says there is enough money. Neither of these mindsets are connected to a certain bank account balance; instead, it’s simply about how you think about your money. 

Having a money scarcity mindset impacts your relationship with money and how you live your life. Many people who feel that money is scarce hoard money. They feel that they will never have enough. The possibility of running out of money is always lurking at the back of their minds. Conversely, other people with a scarcity mindset fall into the trap of overspending. Because they feel that they might not get money again, they are quick to spend what they do have. 

When you have an abundance mindset, you see your money differently. You take ownership of your financial situation and believe that there is no need for competition. Money is not a zero sum game to people with an abundance mindset. That’s why people with this mindset don’t see other people’s success as a competition or a threat. Instead, it’s simply proof that something can be done. You believe that you can earn more and money can be fun and easy. 

Of course, developing an abundance mindset doesn’t happen instantly. It can be a lot of work to untrain your brain and leave your scarcity thoughts and beliefs behind. By changing the way you talk about money and by continually asking your brain questions, you can start to build a new mindset and lead a more abundant life. 

In this episode, we also explore:

  • Why scarcity actually has nothing to do with the numbers in your bank account
  • How scarcity mindsets impact physicians in particular 
  • My personal experience with a scarcity mindset as a resident and an attending
  • The power of the phrase “I have enough right now”
  • What questions you can ask your brain to shift to a more abundant mindset

Featured on this episode:

  • Remind yourself that it is possible to annihilate your limiting beliefs with the tips in this episode.
  • Read an explanation as to why you need to stop saying “we can’t afford it” here.
  • Connect with a community of women physicians who are upleveling their finances in my Facebook group
  • Learn more about how to manage your mindset with Wealthy Mom MD.
Read the transcript Expand

Welcome to The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast—a podcast for women physicians who want to learn how to live a wealthy life. In this podcast, you will learn how to make money work for you, how you can have more of it, and learn the tools to empower you to live a life on purpose. Get ready to uplevel your money and your life. I'm your host, Dr. Bonnie Koo.  


Welcome back, everyone. Today, we're talking about money scarcity. I'm talking about the concept of scarcity versus abundance. All scarcity means is there's not enough. We're talking about money, so not enough money, but I know a lot of you have time scarcity and some other scarcity is running around. And so the concept will be totally applicable.


Scarcity means not enough. Abundance means there is enough, maybe more than enough, right? And it is a mindset that is so pervasive. And I actually think scarcity particularly affects physicians. Why? Think of how hard it was to become a doctor. We had to be the cream of the crop and, you know, grade school, high school to get into a good college. And then to get into a medical school, there was competition. Meaning there were not enough spots. Only so many people would get into the college that you're going to. Only so many people would get into the medical school. I think my medical school had an acceptance rate of less than 5%. So that's just major competition, major scarcity of spots. 


I'm a dermatologist. I didn't get in the first few times. There aren't enough spots for all the people applying. We just have this mentality that there isn't enough. The problem with this type of thinking is that there really is no upside to this when it comes to money. Money scarcity means that you believe that you'll never have enough money. You think something like, “Well, once I have, let's say $1 million, then I won't feel this way,” but the goalpost keeps moving, right? Like I remember being a medical student thinking, “I don't have enough money.” Then I remember becoming a resident where I made around $50,000. I still didn't have enough money. And then I became an attending. And my first year attending salary was around $260,000. And I still believed that I didn't have enough money. Now even as our net worth is getting close to $1 million, it can be so easy to keep thinking, “Well, I don't have enough money.” 


Because here's the thing. This scarcity mentality has nothing to do with the actual numbers. If you believe money is tight, no amount of money is going to make you feel like you have enough money that you feel secure. I also find that folks that have a lot of money scarcity, they believe that money is somehow there to keep them safe or protect them. Or I see people hoarding money because of money scarcity because they're worried that they're going to run out of money. 


But on the flip side, people with a money scarcity mindset can also tend to be overspenders because as soon as they get the money, they spend it. They're not sure if they're going to get money again. And like I said, this type of thinking has actually nothing to do with the actual money that you have or don't have. People with money scarcity also tend to have a weird relationship with money. They might not like money. They might say things like, “Money. Is that important?” They think debt is bad. They feel bad about the debt they have, even though most physicians have debt because they took out loans for medical school, meaning they took out loans to become a doctor. I think sometimes we forget that's why we took it out in the first place. And that's something that they wanted. And once they achieve it, meaning once you graduate medical school or finished residency, you forget that debt represents your dream of becoming a doctor. Anyway, I digress. 


Now let's talk about the abundant money mindset. Abundance, meaning that there is always enough. So people who have a money abundance mindset, they truly believe that there's always enough money and that they have the exact amount of money right now that they're supposed to have. They tend to believe that value creates money, not time and effort. I'll talk about money and value in a future episode. They believe that there's enough money for you and for everyone else, meaning that there's not some limit to the amount of money in the world. How many of you out there think that there's a finite amount of money? Like there's like a wealth pie and that we should just get our little cut of it? How many of you think that if you have or make more money, then someone else is making less money?


Now, many of you probably don't explicitly think that, but I think a lot of us sort of internally think that or subconsciously anyway. People with an abundance mindset also do not believe in “competition”. They believe that if someone is making a lot of money, that means it's possible for them to also make a lot of money. They also believe that they're responsible for creating and having money. Meaning it's not your spouse's job. It's not the government's job. It's not even your boss’s job. People with this mindset actually love that they're responsible for creating money and they actually love money. They love the idea of having it and they think money is easy and fun.


Now, why is it so important to understand these two mindsets? Because like I said earlier, it's not the balance of the bank account that determines how you feel about money. It's what you're thinking. Someone with a scarcity mindset, they can literally learn all the tools when it comes to money and take all the actions like they're to, but they will often end up either self-sabotaging or they're never going to feel secure. I mean, there are literally multimillionaires who are still terrified of losing all their money. That is not a great way to live. 


The point is that you really need to get your mindset straight before you can truly learn and implement the strategies to get the money results you want, like becoming wealthy. This might sound similar to a previous episode where I talked about limiting money beliefs. Scarcity and abundance mindsets, this is more of a framework of thinking. So the sort of template you've put on your mind about how you think about money. It's definitely related to having limited money beliefs, but it's like a lens through which you look at money. 


For someone who tends to have a scarcity mindset–and the truth of the matter is we often flip flop between the two–you can definitely learn how to train your brain to be more in abundance more frequently than being in scarcity. And one of the best ways that I know to teach your brain how to do this is to literally say this phrase: “I have enough right now.” Because isn't that the truth? You do have enough right now, especially for listening to this podcast. That means you have a mechanism for hearing this podcast, right? Meaning you're not homeless. I find it's so centering to tell myself whenever I'm feeling money anxiety–which I still do from time to time–is to remind myself, “I have enough money right now.” 


I still have a home. I'm in a warm home. This home has air conditioning. It's the middle of summer right now. And so how many of us need to remind ourselves of what we actually have right now? And this is a little different than expressing gratitude, which is also super important and super helpful when it comes to changing your scarcity mindset. But just reminding yourself that you actually have enough right now can be so freeing. 


To take steps even a bit further, one of the phrases that I want you to promise me you'll never ever say again is this phrase “I can't afford this.” That is a scarcity belief. “I can't afford this. Money is tight.” 


Remember in a previous episode when I said that asking your brain questions will get your brain thinking? So instead of saying something like, “I can't afford this.” And the reason why that thought is so deadly is because as soon as you say it, you believe it. And then you stop thinking. Instead, I want you to ask yourself, “How can I afford this?” 


Remember when you ask your brain questions, it wants to answer how can I afford this? Here's some other questions that might get your brain thinking: How can I make more money? How can I make making money fun? How can money be easy? 


Now notice that these questions are sort of more positive questions versus asking yourself a negative question. Remember negative thinking creates negative feelings, which creates negative results and the same thing is true with asking negative questions. Like you don't want to ask yourself a question, like, “Why am I always a nervous wreck around money? Why am I always running out of money?” That's just not a high-quality question. And so you have to learn how to ask yourself, ask your brain what I call high-quality questions. How can I afford this? How can I make this easier? Keep asking your brain questions until it gives you an answer.


That's all I have for today. See you next week. 


Hey, if you're a woman physician who is ready to take control of your money, you've got to check out my program Money for Women Physicians. It's part course and part group coaching and a hundred percent guaranteed to put more money in your pocket. Go to wealthymommd.com/money to learn more. 


If you enjoy this episode and don't want to miss out on new episodes, please hit the subscribe button on your favorite podcast app.


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22: The Misunderstood Gift Tax

Apple Podcasts Spotify Stitcher

One of the biggest barriers on the path to living a wealthy life are the common misconceptions around money. Oftentimes, well meaning people make off-handed remarks or pass along inaccurate information. It can stop us in our tracks. That is why this episode tackles the concept of the gift tax. It is one of the most commonly misunderstood parts of personal finance and estate planning. Let’s explore more. 

What is a gift tax? Before we can understand what a gift tax is, it is important to note that the gift tax functions with estate taxes. So let’s start there. 

Estate taxes are taxes that are applied to someone’s estate after their death before that estate is distributed to the beneficiaries. In 2020, the estate tax limit is $11.58 million for an individual or $23.16 million for a couple, meaning that your estate must pay an estate tax if your net worth exceeds that amount. 

A gift tax was established, at least in part, to prevent extremely wealthy people from dodging the estate tax by giving away large sums of money before their death. Essentially, the federal government limits how much money someone can give away each year without incurring a tax. Currently, the gift tax allows individuals to gift $15,000 per year as an individual or $30,000 per year as a couple without having to pay taxes. It is worth noting that gifts up to $15,000 can be made to multiple individuals or entities by the same gift-giver. 

So what happens if you give someone a gift greater than $15,000? If you make a gift to someone for more than $15,000 as an individual, file a gift tax return on the amount of money that exceeds $15,000, not the full amount. For instance, if you make a gift of $16,500 in a calendar year, file a return on the $1,500 overage. 

Interestingly, most of us will never pay a gift tax. Why? If you do exceed the gifting limits in a single year, you file Form 709 with the IRS. The amount that you would have to file for is then reduced from your overall estate tax limit. Using the $1,500 example from the scenario above, someone who files Form 709 would have a new estate tax limit of $11.58 million minus $1,500. Clearly, there is still plenty of wiggle room left in that limit. 

There are several notable exemptions from the gift tax. You are exempt from the gift tax if you make one (or more) of the following gifts:

  • Gifts to charitable organizations
  • Donations to political organizations
  • Direct payments to educational institutions 
  • Direct payments for medical care

In this episode, we also explore:

  • How gifting to multiple people or groups each year works with the gift tax
  • Several scenarios as to how the gift tax might affect supporting children with tuition or their first homes 
  • A deeper dive into how to charge interest on a gift such as a house
  • How gift tax exemptions work

Featured on this episode:

  • Review IRS Form 709, the United States Gift Tax Return form here.
  • Check out the list of Applicable Federal Rates from the IRS to see how to charge interest on a loan to family appropriately. 
  • Read more on what you should know about the misunderstood gift tax here.
  • Connect with a community of women physicians who are upleveling their finances in my Facebook group
  • Learn more about how to manage your mindset with Wealthy Mom MD.
Read the transcript Expand

Welcome to The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast—a podcast for women physicians who want to learn how to live a wealthy life. In this podcast, you will learn how to make money work for you, how you can have more of it, and learn the tools to empower you to live a life on purpose. Get ready to uplevel your money and your life. I'm your host, Dr. Bonnie Koo.  


Hey everyone. In today's episode, I'm talking about the gift tax. I would say this topic and the Roth IRA seem to cause the most confusion. I talk about the Roth IRA in episode 14, so definitely check that one out. But today we're going to talk about the gift tax. 


First of all, the name, the gift tax is actually kind of wrong in itself. But before we can get into the gift tax, we actually have to understand the estate taxes because the gift tax was created to go hand in hand with the estate tax. So let's talk about that first. And once you understand this, then the gift tax concept becomes crystal clear. 


First of all, what are estate taxes? And did you even know that you may have to actually pay an estate tax? Well, I should say you won't have to pay because you'll be dead. It's your estate that will have to pay taxes. Now I'm talking specifically about federal estate taxes. The state tax level–well, that's just a whole other story that I can't get into because every state basically has different rules. So let's just talk about federal estate taxes. The good news is for most Americans, it is highly unlikely that you'll have to pay any federal estate taxes because right now in 2020, the federal estate tax exemption is $11.58 million. Meaning if your estate is under this amount, your estate won't have to pay any federal estate taxes. Now, of course, there are ways to not pay this and to sort of shelter your money if your net worth is above $11.58 million, but that's outside the scope of this episode. Okay? 


What does the gift tax have to do with the estate tax limit? Basically the gift tax was created to prevent super rich people from giving away all their money in their last years of life. Because you can imagine that if you are a super rich person and let's say, you're not doing so well health wise, and you know, your days are limited. Then you're like, “Well, crap, I don't want my estate to pay taxes, so I'm just going to start giving my money away.” And so that's why the gift tax limit was created. Now, I just said that the 2020 limit federally is $11.58 million. It changes every year and it's supposed to sunset in a few years and go down to a much lower amount. The government's always changing this. That's why it's hard to give specific advice about your estate because literally the laws are always changing, but I digress. 


What is the gift tax limit? It is basically the amount of money you can give away per year per person without reporting to the federal government. What do I mean by that? In 2020, the gift tax limit is $15,000 or double that if you're married, which means I can give away $15,000 to as many people as I want. So let's say I decided to be super generous and I'm giving away $15,000 to a hundred people. I won't have to file anything. The government won't care. As long as I stay under that amount per person. 


What happens if I give something like 15,000.01? Not much. Let me explain. Let's say I give over literally a dollar just for illustration purposes. Then what I have to do simply is file a form–it's form 709–with my annual income taxes for any amount over that $15,000, right? A dollar will be deducted from my federal exemption of $11.58 million. So if I gave my brother $15,000 and $1–don't do that for anyone else listening right now–then literally $1 will be removed from my federal exemption. Basically $11.58 million minus $1. Does that make sense? That means, let's say I died the next day. Then my federal exemption will be $11.58 million minus a dollar or minus whatever I gave over the gift tax limit. So I hope the gift tax limit now makes sense. 


It's so simple once you understand how it's related to federal estate taxes and the federal estate exemption, but let's go into some other details because most of us won't ever have to fill or file a gift tax limit Form 709. Right? 


And so first I think we need to talk about what exactly counts as a gift. The IRS defines this as any time there's a transfer of cash or property without receiving something of equal or fair market value and return. So simply I gave the example earlier, I gave my brother $15,000 and $1. That's a gift. Anytime I gift money to my parents, like buy them dinner. That's a gift. Obviously none of us keep track of that kind of stuff. I don't know about you, but I'm usually not giving gifts of $15,000 to random people. If you're one of those people that does that, let me know. 


But the gift tax limit generally applies towards family members. So to give you an example, let's say that I decide to give my son a home that is worth $200,000. This is actually not uncommon, right? We see a lot of families gifting things like this. The thing is that is technically a gift because I gave Jack a property worth $200,000, meaning he didn't have to pay for it. One way to get around this– If that's something you want to do and gift your children things like a home, which is super awesome, then you want to give them a loan, but you can't just give them a loan with any interest rate. The IRS requires you to give a loan with a minimum interest rate. There are these published federal interest rates. We'll put links in the show notes. Otherwise the IRS will see this as a gift. One scenario is okay, let's say I want to give Jack this $200,000 home. And let's say I'm married. But every year I can choose to forgive $30,000. Since the gift tax limit is $15,000 per person. And if I'm married, that's $30,000, do you get what I'm saying? And so every year I can forgive $30,000 of that loan towards that gift tax limit, or he can pay me back with the loan and he will pay back with interest. And that interest is something I would have to report on my income taxes. I'm sure you know that many people don't actually do this, but this is what you're supposed to do. 


Let's also talk about the gift tax and married couples. This is definitely one of those big financial perks of being married. Basically, if you're married, you have the gift of unlimited gifts to your spouse. Now, this only applies if your spouse is a US citizen, meaning that I can give my husband a million dollars and he could deposit in his bank account. And there's no gift tax limit issue because he is my husband. But if your spouse is not a US citizen, there is a limit. I believe in 2020 it's to the tune of $157,000. So it's still pretty high, but it's not unlimited. 


Now there are lots of exceptions to the gift tax, because if this wasn't the case, then I think a lot of us would be in trouble with the IRS. We sort of know these to be true, but let's spell them out. Anything you give to a qualified nonprofit organization, aka charity? No such thing as a gift tax limit. We kind of know this to be true because otherwise we'd all be in trouble. Gifts to political organizations are also exempt. Also payments made directly to educational institutions for tuition, like when you pay for your child's private school or college. Or if you're generous and you're paying for other people's schools, that's also exempt from the gift tax limit. 


And then lastly, direct payments for medical care. Let's say you're feeling super generous and you want to help someone else who is paying for their medical care. If you make the payment directly to the hospital or to the doctor, that is also exempt from the gift tax limit as well.


So let's just summarize real quick. These are what are exempt from the gift tax limit: It’s gifts to nonprofit organizations or charity gifts to political organizations, direct to educational institutions for tuition and direct payments for medical care. 


So, one thing I want to say about the gift tax limit is when it comes to your children–because a lot of us I know are interested in saving up for their college and will create multiple accounts like a 529, perhaps a Coverdell ESA or even a UTMA, which is basically a brokerage account for your children–did you know that these contributions are actually subject to the annual gift tax limit? Meaning that if you want to, let's say contribute $10,000 a year to your child's 529, then you basically have another $5,000 that you can use for the other things. I mentioned like the ESA or brokerage account before you have to file that gift tax. Now, if you are married, obviously that double, so it's $30,000. So just keep this in mind. 


Now, there is one huge exception–the 529. You may have heard that you're actually able to front load your child's 529 with five years worth of contributions. This means that you can contribute a lump sum of $75,000 or $150,000. This is basically 15,000 times five or 30,000 times five all at once, but then you can't contribute again for another five years. This also means that you've also used up the gift tax limit, meaning you can't fund their other things like an ESA or UTMA. 


Now this doesn't apply for gifts from other family members. Just to give you an example, you know, Jack's grandparents will sometimes give him cash gifts for his birthday. That's their gift tax limit. It doesn't apply to Jack or for me, do you get what I'm saying? Cause I think some people get confused, like only one $15,000 contribution can come through to a 529. It's just whoever's contributing to it. I can pop in $15,000. Matt can pop in $15,000. If his grandma wants to do the same, she could also pop in $15,000. The gift tax limit is per person coming from that person. 


Okay. So that's kind of a birds eye view of the gift tax. And so finally, what I want to say is that very few of us will actually have to pay the gift tax. I should say, our estate will likely not have to pay for it. And then I also just want to make sure you understand that you can't just gift something like a house or pay for someone else's loans without filing this IRS Form 709. But in case you do, all that means is that you're reducing your federal estate exemption by the amount you over gifted, meaning that the gift tax is not calculated until you die. A lot of people think that the gift tax is paid by the person who gives it or the person who receives it. It's actually paid by a person's estate. 


I hope this has cleared up the mystery of the gift tax. And like I said, the federal estate tax exemption is subject to change. It's always changing. The gift tax limit also generally goes every year or at least every other year to kind of keep pace with inflation. These numbers may not apply depending on when you listen to this podcast, but the general concept should hopefully be the same. 


Hey, if you're a woman physician who is ready to take control of your money, you've got to check out my program Money for Women Physicians. It's part course and part group coaching and a hundred percent guaranteed to put more money in your pocket. Go to wealthymommd.com/money to learn more. 


If you enjoy this episode and don't want to miss out on new episodes, please hit the subscribe button on your favorite podcast app.


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21: Annihilate‌ ‌Your‌ ‌Limiting‌ ‌Beliefs

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When you uplevel your life and your finances, you are going to encounter roadblocks along the way. What you might not realize is that some of these obstacles are self imposed. They stem from our limiting beliefs.

What is a limiting belief? A limiting belief is a belief that holds you back. It feels like a truth, but really, it is simply a thought. On your journey to wealth and financial freedom, it is important to closely examine your limiting beliefs surrounding money. A limiting money belief is a belief that you have around money that holds you back from having more money or prevents you from creating more money. 

Before we can explore how to undo limiting money beliefs, it is necessary to examine where they come from. Most of the time, we treat beliefs as if they are truths. They feel like facts. However, every belief started as a thought. We had that thought once and then we told ourselves that same thought so many times, it evolved into a belief. Our thoughts and beliefs guide our actions which influence our outcomes. That is why it is so difficult to notice a belief. When all of the results surrounding the belief have been caused by that belief, no wonder our brains interpret that belief as the truth. 

Oftentimes, our limiting money beliefs are rooted in our childhood. That means that we have spent decades telling ourselves these supposed truths. The fact that society often echoes other limiting money beliefs makes annihilating limiting beliefs all the more challenging. 

The first part of overcoming your limiting beliefs is acknowledging their existence. Developing this awareness can help you examine your current beliefs and form new ones. Once you identify a belief, it is important to question it. Ask yourself if it is the truth and how you know it is true. Explore what else might be possible, even if they are things you’ve never allowed yourself to consider.

As you navigate your limiting money beliefs, it will be essential that you get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Our family and friends can over reinforce our limiting beliefs by commiserating with us. That is why looking for support through Facebook groups, coaching, and other like-minded individuals is key as you undo these limiting money beliefs.  

In this episode, we also explore:

  • The role that our primitive brain plays in trying to hold onto limiting beliefs and how to override that 
  • Common limiting money beliefs specific to physicians and how we can overcome them
  • Examples of limiting money beliefs I developed in my childhood and how I overcame them
  • A deeper dive into some of society’s commonly held limiting money beliefs and their origins
  • The value of coaching and other support systems when creating new money beliefs 

Featured on this episode:

  • Connect with a community of women physicians who are pushing past their limiting beliefs in my Facebook group
  • Listen to a refresher on how thoughts and beliefs actually determine our outcomes in this episode.
  • Remind yourself not to stand in your own way and tell yourself a better story here
  • Learn more about how to manage your mindset with Wealthy Mom MD.
Read the transcript Expand

Welcome to The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast—a podcast for women physicians who want to learn how to live a wealthy life. In this podcast, you will learn how to make money work for you, how you can have more of it, and learn the tools to empower you to live a life on purpose. Get ready to uplevel your money and your life. I'm your host, Dr. Bonnie Koo.  


Welcome back everyone. So in today's podcast, I have a huge goal for you. My goal is for you to annihilate your limiting money beliefs. Why? Because once you get rid of them and create some new beliefs, the sky is literally the limit in terms of how much money you can create. 


So you might be thinking, “Well, what does she mean by a limiting belief?” Let's define that first. So a limiting belief is basically any belief that you're having around money that's, well, limiting your ability to have or create money. And what is a belief? A belief is literally a phrase or a thought that you're telling yourself inside your head. And the thing is over time, these thoughts, these sentences, they become cemented into a belief. Now I use the word cemented on purpose because you literally think it's true and fixed, meaning that you cannot change it. 


And so why are these so important to even identify? Because I find that a lot of my students don't even realize that they have these limiting beliefs. The reason why it's so important to identify these is because remember in episode one where I talked about how your thoughts, which become beliefs over time, create your feelings, which dictate your actions, or rather the actions you often don't take, which eventually create your results or your outcome. And why is this important? Because over time, these results, these outcomes literally become your life. And when it comes to money, it creates your current income, your net worth, et cetera.


And so what limiting belief about money are you telling yourself? Some common ones just to give you an example are things like, “I'm never going to make a certain amount of money–let's just say $200,000–because of my specialty.” I hear this a lot with certain specialties, like pediatrics or internal medicine, et cetera, or I hear things like, “I'm a single mom. I'm never gonna have the money that I want.” Because like I said earlier, these limiting money beliefs are often created when we're super young, the problem is we're adults now and we kind of forgot that we literally made these up. 


Let me give you some examples from my life that hopefully will help you figure out what yours are. Many of you may know that I was actually born in Korea and we moved to the United States when I was around two years old. We moved because of my father's job. His company sent them over and I don't know exactly what he did, but I know at some point he lost his job or at least changed jobs. And I just remember that money wasn't going so well. I remember at some point they eventually had to file for bankruptcy. And so many of you might not know that, but this actually happened when I was in elementary school. So I just remember seeing them struggle so much. I was a little kid. And so I told myself, “Wow, money's hard. Money's hard to come by.” Right? How many of you can relate to that? 


Another money belief that I’ve identified for my past was when I was in middle school. I remember getting a job and I remember wanting to work was like one of the really big things I wanted for myself, because I always wanted to be someone who could make my own money, probably because I saw my parents struggle with money. And so I think I was working as a babysitter because in middle school, that's kind of all you can do, right? No, one's gonna really hire you at that age. But I remember at some point I had enough money and I had enough money to buy these amazing shoes. At least they were amazing to me at the time, looking back, they were the Bass suede shoes. Any of you guys remember that? They’re pretty ugly actually, but that's what all the fancy kids are wearing. And so I wanted what the fancy kids were wearing. 


I eventually had enough money to buy these shoes. I think over there, like 60 bucks. And I remember going to the mall with my friends and then coming home. And I remember being so excited to show my mom that I was able to buy these shoes with my money. I just remember feeling so proud that I could do that. And now I should probably tell you that my family is quite religious. We went to church every Sunday. We were super Christian. And so I remember when she came home and I was like, “Mom, look at this. I bought these shoes!” I was showing her, and I was just so excited. Like I said, I was so proud of myself, and plus I had the fancy shoes now. Right? 


But she was not happy for me. In fact, I remember seeing her face and I was like, “Why?” I was so confused. I was like, “Why is she looking at me like that?” And she said something like, I don't remember the exact words, but she basically said that this was not a good thing that I bought and that I shouldn't want nice things. And she made me return it. In that moment, I remember feeling so much shame for wanting something nice for myself. I remember thinking something like, “It's not good to want nice things.” 


So I think the way this shows up as adults, not just for me, but maybe for you is that we don't like spending on ourselves to buy whether it's a nice thing or some form of self care, we feel guilty for spending money on ourselves. So that's kind of where that money belief came from. How many of you are now thinking about some of the money beliefs that sort of started when you were a little kid? Except that now you're an adult, it doesn't quite make sense that you have these limiting money beliefs. So the first step is really just to even become aware that you're thinking something that's limiting your ability to create money. 


Now, the thing is awareness is the first step, and that might seem obvious. But so many of you are not even aware that you're having a limiting belief because you don't think it's a belief. You think it's true. Just to give you an example. You know, the one that I hear a lot and I don't mean to pick on pediatricians, but so many pediatricians tell me, “Well, I'm a pediatrician or I'm a subspecialty of pediatrics. So I'm never going to make a certain amount of money.” I'll see posts like, “I'm a pediatrician. So please give me a pediatrician, appropriate budget for a vacation.” Right? The thing is, you think it's true. You don't even think it's a belief.


Now probably some of you are arguing with me, saying, “Well, that is true. If I'm a pediatrician, I can't make more than a certain amount of money.” Is that true? Why do you say that? Maybe it's true. If you're thinking about a traditionally employed pediatrician that's being paid by insurance. I'm not saying you need to find a side gig. 


On a side note, I think a lot of people think that's what I tell physicians to do. I just want physicians to remember that our knowledge is super valuable and we forget that sometimes. And so what's important about identifying these limiting money beliefs is to check in with how you feel when you tell yourself, like, when you're telling yourself that you can't make a good living or that you're never going to have the life you want because of the specialty you chose that I'm sure you chose because you love it. I'm assuming that's not making you feel good. It makes you feel maybe resigned, maybe disheartened, maybe, you know, jealous or envious, right? 


And so my question to you is what is the upside of believing this? Now, some of you might be thinking, “Well, what is she talking about?” Of course, there's no upside. These limiting beliefs suck, but there is a little bit of an upside. I call this the secret benefit. Whenever you're holding onto a belief, it's not serving you, but you're holding onto it for dear life. And we are talking about money, but there are other limiting beliefs going around your brain in other areas, right? There's always a secret benefit.


Now, when it comes to money, I find that often the secret benefit is that you are off the hook, meaning that you don't have to be responsible and you don't have to be willing to do anything. Now this might sound harsh. And some of you might be disagreeing with me because some of you might be thinking, “Well, I'd love to think that I'm responsible or that I could do something about it, but I simply can't because XYZ.” And so I am literally questioning all of those thoughts that you're telling me right now, while you're not really telling me. But I think you're telling me inside your head anyway. The secret benefit, once again, when it comes to money often is that you don't have to be responsible for your money because it's someone else's job, or you already picked your specialty and this is the amount of money you're going to make. So there's nothing else you can do. Do you see what I'm saying? 


But there is a huge cost for believing these limiting beliefs. And as it comes to money, that cost is the freedom of true wealth. So maybe now you're thinking, “Oh, I better drop that limiting belief,” but how not as easy as it sounds. It seems like it would be easy to just kind of replace it with a replacement belief or a new belief because it takes something. And let me explain why it can be so hard to get rid of these limiting money beliefs. 


Think about it. Assuming you're someone at least in your thirties or forties, you've probably been believing these beliefs for decades. Not only that it's part of your current identity. Also, you probably have friends that also have similar limiting beliefs or have commiserated with you about yours. So you have to literally create a new identity for yourself. You have to be willing to be wrong, and you have to be willing to go against the grain and possibly alienate people.


Well, I get people who are scared about this. And even though they want to believe something new about money, especially if it's going to give you more money, they're afraid to shed the old identity. Every time you grow and become the new, better version of yourself, you have to be willing to get rid of parts of your old self. 


Now, of course, I don't think this is a bad thing, but it can be scary to your primitive brain. Remember your primitive brain does not like change. It doesn't like new things. It automatically labels them dangerous. You think about the way our brains have evolved. If you are not accepted socially, that could literally have meant that you could die because you needed people in your tribe to help protect you. And so if you're not agreeing with people, because the thing is, you know, in our society, there are these what I call commonly accepted limiting beliefs about money. Except society doesn't realize they are limiting beliefs. We think it is the truth. 


Just to give you a big example of a super pervasive limiting money belief is that money comes from time and effort. And even though a lot of us believe that because we people, “Oh, just make more money.” They assume they have to work more hours, spend more time, put in more effort. But the truth of the matter is all of us have the same amount of time. So how can it be that some people have a lot more money if money comes from time and effort? But we're sort of taught this insidiously from the way we're trained through school. 


So one way to sort of help you shed these limiting money beliefs is to really get clear and sit with what believing that belief has created for you in your life and to kind of take responsibility for it. A lot of us honestly don't want to take responsibility for this because it requires us to honestly not change the way you think and kind of stay with inertia. 


Another thing is I see so many people fighting for their limiting beliefs, meaning arguing for them. And I'll just say that if you fight for your limiting beliefs, then you get to keep them. But if you're listening to this, then I'm guessing you're the type of person who doesn't want to fight for the limiting beliefs and you want to get rid of them ASAP.


So what I usually start with is I asked my students, “Well, what would you rather believe about money? Would you rather believe that your money is limited because you're a pediatrician or would you rather believe that it's possible that despite being a pediatrician, you can actually be a multimillionaire? Is that possible?” And this is what coaching essentially does. I ask questions to sort of help reframe your thinking. We ask questions like, “Is that really true?” Because we have just assumed that these limiting beliefs are true. 


Let me give you an example of some of the new beliefs that I've personally created, and you're welcome to borrow them or take them as your own. This is what's actually wonderful about beliefs. Whether they're limiting beliefs or amazing beliefs, no one holds the rights to believe. You're welcome to choose and take whatever beliefs that are going to work for you. Okay? 


I remember reading this financial coach talk about how money is easy for her. And I was like, “Wow, that is an amazing belief. And I would love to believe that.” And I will say that 90% of the time, I truly do believe that money is easy. Not always but enough so that when my brain wants to trick my brain into thinking that money is hard. Actually, I have a really great example of that. When the pandemic hit, I was interviewing for dermatology jobs and my goal was to work part time as a dermatologist and also continue to work on my business. I was not planning for my business Wealthy Mom MD to be the sole source of income for my family. Matt and I also really wanted to start investing in real estate. 


As you know, the pandemic happened and no one was hiring dermatologists. In fact, dermatologists had to close their practices and, you know, they suffered a loss of income. And literally I remember sitting in my office one day thinking, “Wow, well, all that money I was counting on now is unavailable.” And immediately, my primitive brain started feeling anxious because I literally was worried that we were going to run out of money. And so thank God for my coaching tools, because I was able to take a breath and stop myself and literally check into my thoughts. Like, what was I starting to believe?


One way to know that you're believing some of it isn't serving you is literally like, look at how you're feeling or examine how you’re feeling. Because negative thinking and negative believing creates negative emotions and feelings, which always creates negative results. And so I caught myself in this negative way of thinking about money because I totally was going down the path of, “Well, I can't get a job as a dermatologist, which means we're not going to have enough money and we're going to run out of money and there's nothing I can do about it.”


And so you can kind of see that my brain was immediately going into, “It's not my fault. I can't do anything about it. It's the pandemic’s fault; everyone's fault but my own.” And I'm not saying I was like blaming myself or to blame yourself. But if it's out of your control and if it's something you can't do anything about. What coaching has allowed me to do is to see where I still have power. Obviously I can't get rid of the pandemic. I'm not that powerful, but I do have control or at least more control over how I can redirect my brain in terms of thinking, which redirects how I'm feeling, which redirects my behavior. 


I finally sat down and said, “Okay, what would I rather believe about my ability to make money right now?” And I reminded myself that I believe that money is easy. So if I believed that money is easy, then what can I do about money? So instead of saying, “There's nothing I can do about money because of the pandemic,” try asking your brain a question, like “How can I create money despite not being able to get a job?” I think a lot of us feel like if we can't make money, the way we think we can make money, then there's no other way we can make money. We sort of stop thinking. But if you keep asking your brain questions, guess what? Your brain wants to answer that question.


So I literally just sat with questions and asked myself every day, “How can I create money? How can this be happening for me?” Because if you start thinking this is happening to me and why is this happening to me, that's the wrong question to ask. Basically, it gives up all your power. If you keep asking yourself, how is this happening for me and really taking the stance that life is happening for me, then from there, you can create new beliefs and new possibilities. 


So what I ended up doing was really tuning into money as easy, and honestly taking a risk of going all in on Wealthy Mom MD and also going all in on my telecom practice. And then also going all in with investing in real estate. Because for over a year, I had a huge limiting money belief when it came to investing in real estate. I told myself that we didn't have the money to invest in real estate. How many of you think that sounds like a fact? How many of you are telling yourself something similar when it comes to investing in real estate? I literally thought that was not a belief. I thought that was the truth. But then I later realized that actually that was a belief, which is totally crazy. That was crazy to me when I realized that because even as a coach, your brain will want to believe things and think that's the truth. 


The real fact of the matter was we have money. It just wasn't sort of available and liquid cash. It was tied up in retirement accounts. I think many of you have heard the story before, where we ended up moving some money into a self directed 401k, and then we were able to tap into that cash to eventually buy our first property this year. So out of the pandemic, not only have I actually increased our family's income, we also invested in real estate. And if I had continued that line of thinking that money was hard, that there was no way for me to make money because there were no jobs then, well, who knows where we would be right now? I mean, we do have an emergency fund, but that would have run out at some point, right? And I'm happy to say that we have not had to tap into that emergency fund at all. 


Now, the last thing I want to say before I close this podcast is I totally get how difficult it can be to really shed these money beliefs. Because the truth of matter is you've been believing them for decades. And like I said, you kind of have to go against the grain to really start creating money sometimes. And so this is exactly why I created my course Money for Women Physicians and also why I do one-on-one coaching. Honestly, having a coach by your side to really help you examine these money beliefs and to create new ones, because some of us don't even allow ourselves to even think about what could be possible when it comes to money. 


I'd love to know what new money beliefs you are creating. Drop me an email. You can email podcasts@wealthymommd.com or if you're in my Facebook group, Wealthy Mom Physicians, I would love to see what you're creating. So go ahead and post in the group. Until next week, have a great day.


Hey, if you're a woman physician who is ready to take control of your money, you've got to check out my program Money for Women Physicians. It's part course and part group coaching and a hundred percent guaranteed to put more money in your pocket. Go to wealthymommd.com/money to learn more. 


If you enjoy this episode and don't want to miss out on new episodes, please hit the subscribe button on your favorite podcast app.

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20: Entrepreneurship with Dr. Yashika Dooley

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In an earlier episode, we explored the various traits that set physicians up for success as an entrepreneur. To get a better understanding of what physician entrepreneurship might look like, I sat down with Dr. Yashika Dooley, an active duty Air Force Officer and urogynecologist, to learn more about how she balances life as an entrepreneur while practicing medicine full time. Plus, she shares how she plans to use this combination of work to retire early and transform her day-to-day life.

As physicians, we are in a prime position to identify problems and pose solutions. Oftentimes, that means we have already developed a business plan, whether we know it or not. For Dr. Dooley, she saw a need for more community, and created two side gigs–coaching and conferences–that allow her to create space for physicians to cultivate relationships and grow and support one another. 

While she started her side gig as a passion more than a business, she soon realized that she was ready to tackle entrepreneurship head on. For her first conference, she set a goal to break even financially and then went from there. She acknowledges that as physicians, we tend to look for roadmaps in our work. We expect there to be one correct way to do things. However, her experience as an entrepreneur reinforces the idea that we need to be flexible and keep pushing forward. 

After more than two decades in the military, she intends to retire in the next two years. This will allow her to scale back to her medical practice and focus more on her side gigs. Most importantly, though, she will be able to devote even more time to her two young daughters. By balancing medical work and entrepreneurship now, she is creating a life with more flexibility and freedom. 

In this episode, we also explore:

  • The value of community and how entrepreneurship can foster more of it
  • Some of the challenges that women physicians of color face
  • Real life examples of how a shift in mindset can transform your experience at work
  • The dos and don’ts of conference and event planning
  • How to transition from a live event to a virtual event without sacrificing engagement
  • A case study of how Dr. Dooley negotiated to maximize value for her conference attendees 

Featured on this episode:

  • Click here to explore more of THRIVE2G, Dr. Dooley’s conference for women physicians of color.
  • Catch up on reasons why physicians do (and don’t!) make great entrepreneurs by listening to this episode.
  • Listen to a refresher on thinking beyond your clinical income here.
  • Learn more about how to manage your mindset with Wealthy Mom MD.
Read the transcript Expand

Welcome to The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast—a podcast for women physicians who want to learn how to live a wealthy life. In this podcast, you will learn how to make money work for you, how you can have more of it, and learn the tools to empower you to live a life on purpose. Get ready to uplevel your money and your life. I'm your host, Dr. Bonnie Koo.  

Today, I have a special guest. I have Dr. Yashika Dooley. She is a fellowship-trained, board-certified urogynecologist. So why do I have her on today? Well, I have her on today for a few reasons. You know, back in an earlier episode where I talk about thinking beyond your clinical income and the following episode, I talk about getting your side gig on. And so I find that a lot of physicians have trouble with, “Well, I don't know what else I would do besides what I do right now in medicine.” But I want to say that a lot of us, we're always thinking about problems we're solving, or we're already doing something and now you can make a business out of it.

And so, Dr. Dooley is such a great example of this because she found herself just naturally being that sort of coach and mentor for other physicians, especially as a physician, a woman of color, and a military trained physician, and she really yearned for community. And so she basically went on to solve that problem for herself by creating a community called Thrive Together Conference, or Thrive2G, which is an annual conference for physician women of color. And so I wanted her to be on the show to kind of just talk about her journey because when you listen to most entrepreneurs’s journeys, I don't think any of them just woke up one day thinking that we're going to start a business. But they did wake up, you know, thinking about a problem or an idea, and then they made it a reality. She's such a great example of someone who still works full time clinically and was able to develop a side gig while working full time and having young children. So for those of you thinking that you're too busy or that you don't have any ideas, you're going to want to listen to this episode. So let's get going.

BONNIE: Welcome to the show Dr. Yashika Dooley. 

DOOLEY: Hello. How are you? Thanks for having me.

BONNIE: I'm so excited you're on the show today. 

DOOLEY: I am excited to be here. We got lots to talk about. 

BONNIE: Yeah. I'm super excited that you're here because I think you're a great example of a woman physician entrepreneur. And I just feel like we can never have enough examples to see what else is possible.

DOOLEY: Yes, that's definitely true. And the more there are, the more we can elevate one another. I think the more that we can push one another. And so it's always good to see examples of what we can do and how far we can go. 

BONNIE: Yeah. Tell us a little bit about yourself in terms of the doctor, part of you.

DOOLEY: I am an active duty Air Force Officer. I do OB GYN specifically. I am board certified in urogynecology, and I work with residents in San Antonio, Texas. So I am seeing women all day every day, but really I am training other residents and also medical students how to be amazing doctors and female pelvic surgeons. 

BONNIE: Awesome. And so how does your business fit in? Like right now, what's a snapshot in terms of how much time you're spending between business and your clinical.

DOOLEY: Right now, this time of year, because I'm getting ready for my conference, it's probably about 50/50. In general when I'm not doing the conference and I'm just doing coaching, I'm probably doing about 30% of my time is coaching and a lot of that is like evenings and weekends because I am full time clinical otherwise, taking calls with the residents and all of that. So it's a pretty busy clinical schedule.

BONNIE: You're still practicing full time. And this side gig is truly a side gig right now.

DOOLEY: Yes. The side gig is truly a side gig right now.

BONINE: Tell us about what your side gig is. And when did you start?

DOOLEY: Actually I think coaching physicians forever. One of the biggest problems, especially in the military is that because we go all over the world, not just the country, it is very hard for particularly women physicians of color, to find community. You can come right out of residency and we are going to deploy you. You might go to Afghanistan or you might go to Germany or Israel. There's so many places. And so over the years, it's just been very hard for us to maintain close contact and have some kind of community. And so I was constantly struggling to find a way to build that community, to have sponsorship and mentorship for these women. Just because we are such a mobile population. We are moving every few years. That's just what the military does, and so you're never in one place. 

Building that community has always been my goal. And over the past two years, I wanted to be able to bring us all back into one place. I felt like we really needed to be able to see one another, put eyes on one another, and really have that closeness in the same room that we just weren't being able to get even though we were doing lots of things virtually before. A year ago, I had my first conference, and it was in September. We did it live in San Antonio and it was four days. And really focusing on physician women of color has been kind of my journey and what I try to develop over the past five to six years. 

BONNIE: Yeah. What's the name of your conference?

DOOLEY: It is Physician Women of Color Thrive Together or Thrive2G is kind of like the hashtag that you see. And like I tell women, it is open to everybody, but really that topics that we focus on, what we're talking, about has to do with women of color, but it is open to anybody who wants to learn, to be a fly on the wall, who wants to be an ally. Because I think a lot of the topics, especially now, the topics that are coming up in our world, we are discussing in that forum. And we were like, others need to be there to have those discussions with us.

BONNIE: No, absolutely. Obviously with the pandemic, live events have been thrown for a spin. And so I had a live event scheduled for this year, November of 2020. And so I've personally postponed it a whole year, no plans to promote it at this time. It's just too far ahead. And so how did you decide to pivot to a virtual versus postponing? 

DOOLEY: Well, we had already signed all of the contracts. I mean, everything was in the works to go ahead with our conference this September. And when we saw that COVID was not going to allow us to be able to do that, I still felt like now more than ever, especially with everything going on with Black Lives Matter and with the Coronavirus, all of the issues that a lot of women of color were feeling just in general, I felt like I owed it to that community for us to meet some kind of way. We really needed to be able to have an opportunity to share and to discuss and to really feel that connection with one another. Waiting a whole other year was only going to do us a disservice in the end.

BONNIE: Yeah. I think it's a tough decision, right? In business. One thing, a business, or what sort of distinguishes between someone who fails versus succeeds is our ability to pivot when life throws you a big wrench, like a pandemic. 

DOOLEY: Yeah. I mean, it was absolutely hard and it's always uncertain when you're looking at the numbers. With the last conference, I was very much by the book. I looked at the numbers. I tried to not make it a personal thing. I wanted to make sure we had a great experience, but at the same time when it's a business, you've also got to look at the financials. But when you're going into something like a virtual conference, it's a little bit harder because you're trying to bring in a lot of aspects that you can easily do in a live conference, but you're trying to still have that engagement, that energy, but with Zoom where people have already been kind of Zoomed out, it brings in this whole other level of, “Okay, can we still elevate this conference?” “Can we give them that experience?” 

And because it's not like, you know, I don't want to charge the price that we usually charge. So how do we do all of that on a much smaller budget as well? 

BONNIE: Yeah. I'm starting this business mastermind. It was supposed to kick off with a three-day live event and it's going virtual as well. And so I'm super interested to see how she does it, because I'm sure she's going to do an amazing job. And she actually is going to teach us how to create a virtual event and is giving us a backstage pass into her planning process. The same sort of thing is like, how do you create high value? Because when you're there in person, you don't just zone out and leave. But with the virtual thing, it's so easy to just go to the bathroom and just get distracted. 

Tell us a little bit, since this is a money show, tell us a bit, how have your money beliefs changed since you started going into business? Where were you in the beginning? 

DOOLEY: In the beginning, I think my biggest money belief is Are people going to pay? How much will they pay? Is that a fair price? How can I offer enough value for the price that I'm coming up with? 

Oftentimes it was hard, especially when I have a lot of medical students and residents, and I've been a medical student and resident and you have this idea. In my mind, I'm like I had no money. Those years were so hard financially. And now how can I charge these medical students and residents who need to be in the room with all of these amazing staff physicians? How do I allow them in, but then still charge them whatever price. What is a fair price really? I feel like that was the biggest struggle for me. Or even like fellow new attendings just out or even now coronavirus. Right? I'm thinking, “Okay, there might've been physicians who have been out of work, their offices may have been closed for months. What does that look like?”

How do I have a sustainable business when I'm asking for certain prices, but now I'm in my mind saying, “Well, can they afford to pay it?” Like I'm all in their finances now trying to think, “Is that fair? Is that right? Oh my God, I feel guilty.” And I learned with the last conference that I just really can't do that. And the other things that you see people buy, right? And you just know that people will pay for what they find valuable. And that's not for me to decide. So all I can do is make an amazing conference and know that the value is there. 

My goal is to try to tell them what about this conference, what they're going to walk away with, what problem this is solving, how they're going to get this community and connection and the knowledge that they're not going to find any place else. And then they have to decide if that's valuable to them. That's not for me to do. And that was the biggest thing of being able, just to step back and say, “This is my offer. This is the amazing thing that I can give you,” but they have to decide if they want that amazing thing or not. And it's just not personal. And sometimes it's really hard to remember. It's not personal. 

BONNIE: I love what you said about how it's not up to you to determine the value. Cause that's something I teach inside my course, because I think a lot of us think that we determine the value. Some people don't even know what value means necessarily because it's not a word that's used, I think, in mainstream so much. But you know, we both know that money comes from value and not from times or effort, et cetera. And so absolutely it's the customer who determines the value. So you make the best products you can. Tell us a bit about your coaching business. So that's a little different, right? 

DOOLEY: Yes. My coaching is particularly for physicians. I've always coached physician women. I find now I do a little bit more physician women of color specifically. And I think that's just because there are a lot of things that all women share. There's a lot of things that women physicians share. But I think as you add the layers, there are some special things that physician women of color go through and experience that not every woman physician is going to. It's easier sometimes to make that connection and understand the subtle nuances that occur in our day to day, when you are seeing patients in the hospital, even professionals and peers, things happen. And sometimes having somebody that already gets it and you don't have to explain to them, all those nuances makes it an easier way to coach at the same time.

I think that sometimes I have to remember and always focus on not being so much in it, being able to hold space and not automatically wanting to validate whatever they feel has happened, because that is also hard when you've experienced a lot of those same things. When you feel like, “Yes, that happened to me too.” So it's that fine balance. But I find a lot of times, especially for physician women of color, they find it easier to start their coaching with somebody who gets those nuances and not always having to explain to them why that was a problem or why they were hurt by that situation. 

I think it's much easier now as we’ve done Black Lives Matter this year, especially so many things have been brought to light, but in years past, I think a lot of that was very hush-hush, very under the cover. We didn't talk about it as readily. And so when things would come up, people didn't always understand that that can be an issue or why that might've been an issue. 

BONNIE: Absolutely. I think people, especially if it's their first foray into coaching, I think we just automatically think someone that looks like us coaches, it's just like this extra familiarity type of thing. Right? And as a coach, we know that holding space is important and to my listeners, how would you explain it to a non-coaching audience? It's about sort of letting them say what they say, but not necessarily, like you said, validating everything immediately. Like it's important to validate, but that's not exactly what a coach does.

DOOLEY: Right. And I think it's kind of like the difference between, like, if you're telling something to a good friend, like they're on your side automatically. Like no matter what you say, they're there for you. They're like, “Absolutely. Yes. I understand.” They're ready to fight the fight with you. Whereas a coach is really more there to listen, but also help you explore what that story is maybe just your thoughts. What actually are the things that happened and what maybe you can explore some more? Like where are the areas where your thoughts about it might be coloring your opinion of the situation. 

BONNIE: So what are your plans for this side gig and your clinical practice? I think a lot of people think that people who have side gigs like you and me are trying to quit medicine,

right? And so I don't know what your goals are, whatever you're comfortable sharing. 

DOOLEY: My goal right now is I am retiring from the military. So I will be at 22 years in February of 22. That has always been outside of the side gig. I was always going to retire. And my idea was then that I would continue to do clinical medicine, but at a slower pace, mainly because I have a seven and a nine year old and I just wanted to be more available to them. And anybody that knows medicine is hard, but especially with OB GYN, it's very unpredictable and lots of 24 hour shifts, 36 hour shifts, on call, post-call. I wanted to be able to back away from that a little bit just while my kids were young and then being able to supplement with my coaching had always been my idea.

So that changes constantly as my kids get older. And now with coronavirus, you look at things a little bit differently. But when I look forward, I see that that's still what I would do. So probably 30% clinical and 70% my coaching business in the next two to three years. 

BONNIE: Yeah. How did you discover coaching? 

DOOLEY: I discovered coaching through, I think first was probably Katrina Ubell’s podcast that I had been listening to and heard people talking about. And that led me to Brooke Castillo and listening to her podcast and then signing up for the Life Coach School. I think I found them both at a time where I was really struggling with my satisfaction in medicine, struggling with having young kids. Feeling like I was not able to be with them the way that I always thought I would be able to be as a mother, and just struggling with my identity as a physician and knowing that what I thought it would be like when I got to this point was not what was actually happening in my day to day. And I was just really depressed. 

I worked so hard to be here to be like a fellowship-trained doctor and I would just talk to my husband and be like, “I can kind of walk away tomorrow and be okay.” And just was very sad about that and had a lot of discussions with him about why that was and what could I do differently. I was just pleasantly surprised when I started listening to Brooke Castillo’s podcast and just learning how a lot of what I was thinking about my job and my day to day experience was really coloring my ability to enjoy what I had always thought would be my dream job. 

BONNIE: What you said it's such a common thing that I hear in terms of how people discover coaching. Are you at the same job that you were when all that was going?

DOOLEY: Yes, I’m at the exact same job, exact same place. Nothing’s changed. 

BONNIE: Just your thinking, right?

DOOLEY: Yeah, it really is my thinking because all the people around me are the same, but really it is my thinking. It is my reaction to everything that happens. The things that used to bother me. And they really are when I look back now minor, but when you're in clinical practicing, seeing people every 30 minutes, having somebody come in 15 minutes late is like a disruption in your day. And it would be stuff like that where I just was taking everything personally. Like my patients don't respect my time. The fact that I haven't been able to do X, Y, and Z, I really was making every single thing, a personal affront to me. And I think that was making me so angry. And when I was able to kind of step back and be like, “They’re just late. Things happen.” It wasn't about me. It wasn't about them not respecting me. I was able to really be able to enjoy just being with the patient and having those patient encounters again, because that's why I went into medicine. I wanted to just be able to connect and help women. And that is what I have lost over the years.

BONNIE: Yeah. I really love that you said that. Because I feel like, like I said earlier, a lot of people I think are looking for side gigs because they are trying to get out of an unhappy situation. And I think you really nailed it. As one of my other coaching friends was telling me how her coach told her that she can't leave her job until stops hating it, or, you know, cause you don't want to leave a job thinking the grass is greener because wherever you go, you take yourself with you.

DOOLEY: Yeah. And then you'll find out the next place is just as bad. You're like, okay, now I don't like this one for whatever reason. So yeah, I think that is so true. And it was great that I had the opportunity to be in this same job. I mean, one I'm in the military, so I couldn't just leave, but it forced me to really look at my situation and follow every single thing that Brooke talks about because there was no other option. And I was like, I am going to really put this to the ultimate test because there was no backing out. And it was amazing just to see how nothing changed outside of me. But my viewpoint, the way that I walk into my office, the way that I experience my clinical practice is completely changed. And that is what I try to tell people that it can be. That it can be that and you don't have to leave, but you've got to be willing to figure out what the problem is and give yourself time to work through it. Because it doesn't happen overnight. I'm not going to say that. It definitely was a process, but every day I can see a little bit of a change. And that little bit of the change is what gave me hope to keep going. 

BONNIE: Yeah. I'm wondering if anyone listening is a little confused, cause I'm a little confused. So tell me how the conference and the coaching kind of came together. Like the conference thing come first, and then later on you became a coach? Are they separate businesses? 

DOOLEY: They started off as separate businesses and they have slowly started to merge. So I've always coached women just because I'm a staff physician. Right? And so part of what we do is we mentor and we help our junior colleagues. The problem that I was having is one, I was dissatisfied in my own job. So how can you talk to medical students and residents about this amazing profession when you and yourself are just like, “Oh my God, I hate it.” But also people were coming to me with real issues and I was struggling with a way to really talk to them and help them when I knew that my way was not the only way. And I wanted to be able to give them valuable resources, but I just wasn't sure how, especially when they weren't in my field. A lot of times they were just coming to me cause I was another staff in the hospital, another woman of color, but like they were urology or ophthalmology or dermatology, and I'm like, “I really don't know how to help you.” So that was the great thing about when I went through Brooke Castillo's program, she gives you those tools. And so I was able to use that specifically for the coaching. 

The conference came about just because I wanted to be able to get all of us in a room. There are so few times where you see other physician women of color. I mean, I've been in my hospital since 2007 and I can count on one hand how many other women staff there have been. There's like maybe five since 2007. And so when you rarely see another woman that looks like you as a physician, you yearn for that community. You yearn to be able to see all those people in the same room. And that's really what the conference was about. Getting all of us together in the room, just so we can share. And just so we can talk and relax and be able to share experiences. 

I mean, I'm kind of, because I live in San Antonio, right? So there aren't a lot of women of color or a community of color in this area. So that was also one thing that I was struggling with that I had not experienced in that same way when I lived in Chicago or when I lived in Washington DC. So they both evolved out of my own need to fill a void that I personally was experiencing. And when I talked to other women, they were also having that same experience. 

BONNIE: I think this is an amazing example of how a business idea starts. First of all, it probably was just an idea, not so much thinking like, “Oh, let's start a business and let's do this.” Right. It was probably just like, “I need this and I want this.” And you just, it kind of came out of your heart. I call these heart-centered businesses. Right? 

And so were you pretty clear in the beginning that this was going to be a business? Or were you just doing this at first Because you wanted it and then later on, you're like, “Oh, this is also a business.” I think a lot of us have trouble with “this is a business” aspect. 

DOOLEY: Yeah. I did not think it was going to be a business. Actually, when I first started the conference and my husband was asking me about it, I was like, “This is like our wedding.” I planned a wedding, it was at a hotel room. We got a conference room, we got some food. We ordered a couple of, some blocks of rooms for all of our guests. And literally that is how I went into it because I was like, I had no idea how many people were going to show up. There was nothing formal. And so it was really by word of mouth. I told them, I was like, “I'm not going to break the bank. I would just like to break even.” And so if I can just have some women come and we can just experience a weekend together. That was really my only goal. And a lot of the people that I invited were people that live across the country, but they were people that I already knew. And so I was just inviting them all to come. Very much like, “I'm having a gathering. Come to my wedding” and that in my mind was like my thoughts. And so I think it made it easier too because I'm like I had a wedding, I was able to do that. 

So every step along the way, I tried to just think of a way to problem solve whatever was going on and saying, “Okay, I've done something like this before. So I should be able to use that same concept, tweak it a little bit and then use it in this situation.” And that really helped me because I've never thrown a conference. Right? I've never had negotiations about room blocks and food and all of these things, but I figured it can't be that much different than throwing any other event. And for me, that event was my wedding at a hotel. 

BONNIE: As someone who's planning a conference, I didn't realize how much behind the scenes goes on in terms of all the money has to put down. 

DOOLEY: Yeah. Lots and lots of money. 

BONNIE: Yeah. And I had a lot of requests for my retreat to not stay at the hotel. And then some people were actually not so nice about it saying like, I should let them stay wherever they want, but then I don't think they realized that I'm responsible for a certain number of rooms.

DOOLEY: Whether people show up, come, don't come, you have to sell a certain amount of rooms too. 

BONNIE: So I'm curious, do you allow people to stay off site? But yours is a larger conference–I know you're not having the conference this year–versus mine that is a retreat. So it's a smaller number. 

DOOLEY: I did not. So part of it was the location was very isolated. And so I told them to be able to have the full experience, you really need to be at the hotel. I tried to price it reasonably so that would not be the deal breaker for them. But I also left it at the end of the day up to them. Right? I mean, it wasn't a complete package. It was separate. So you could clearly buy your ticket to the conference and stay wherever. A lot of people in San Antonio did not stay at the hotel at all. Right? So that was fine too. But I knew in my heart, the location was amazing and the location was a part of the experience. I knew when they walked in the door, they were going to get it. And that's another one of those things where they just have to experience that for themselves. I posted the pictures, I told them about it, but again, their decision about what's valuable is on them. And I just had to let that part go. 

And that's where I became very clear with my numbers. And I just made it to the point where bare bones numbers, I hit this, I will break even. And that was my only goal. And so it made a little bit easier that I didn't have to make $50,000 or $60,000. My goal was just to get the women in the room. If I can just cover my costs, I'm fine. And really, I negotiated super hard with that hotel for every single thing. I did lots and lots of research and comparisons and really leveraged my ability to continue to say, “That's not gonna work. That's not gonna work.” And just going back, like for me, I had nothing to lose. At the end of the day, I'm like, well, “I just don't have the conference.” 

If I can't break, even then, I'm just not going to have a conference and that helped me be able to continue to go back and really continue to cut my numbers to make it where I was absolutely going to break even. 

BONNIE: I should take a lesson from you. I don't know how much I negotiated for the room rate. It's funny, I'm a money person, but I'm not a negotiation person. That's a different skillset. At least I tell myself that. And so I was like, “Huh, maybe I didn't negotiate.” 

DOOLEY: Yeah. I mean, I just track the rooms. I did not sign my contract. They gave me a little bit of time for us to kind of think about it. And we were all going back and we had like a big package for like all the food and everything. And so during that time though, I was just tracking room rates and even went back and looked at room rates for that time the year before. And I could see like the specials that they had, the coupon deals that they had. And I just brought that data to them and just said, “Okay, in September you are typically booked this much in September. This is like your room rate. I can see around this time last year, these were the rooms that you all offered.” And so when I brought in that data, it was very easy for them to then adjust. 

And I think I also had a very good assistant that I was working with. I think she also believed in what I was selling. I had explained to her my vision for the conference. So I think she had also bought into the idea that this was going to be a great experience. And I told her, “I would love to be able just to work with this hotel. This is an amazing hotel.” And so it was really for both of us about a partnership and making it work long term. It wasn't like a one and done for them either. So it was going to be a win, win for everybody. If we could make it come and make that vision really come to life and enjoy it. 

BONNIE: So was it going to be at that same hotel this year until COVID?

DOOLEY: Uh huh. We had already signed our contracts. And again, it was really nice because we had such a great experience last year. They actually called me and let me out of that contract. I didn't have to sign for next year. And I told them I'm in for 2021. They gave me my full deposit back. I've heard a lot of people have issues this year, especially with like contracts and all of that and losing money. And I think because I had such a great relationship with them last year, they called me and said, “We are not going to be able to have groups of your size and we're going to cancel the contract. You don't have to sign anything or you don't have to transfer your money over for next year. We're going to give you a deposit back.” And then they're like, “We're going to pick this back up once we have a better idea of what's going on.” That showed me that they were really on my side too. It really was the best of all worlds, especially when I talk to other people who are struggling with their contracts this year.

BONNIE: Yeah. I feel like we're gonna have to pick your brain offline about doing a live event. What would be your top tips for any female physician who has the idea about side gigs? I don't know what you feel or think, too, but I feel like there are a lot of female physicians who have ideas. They are afraid to make it reality. They have a lot of limiting beliefs about the side gigs, the profitability, et cetera. So what tips would you say to them? 

DOOLEY: One, if you are a physician, you are amazing and you have accomplished some big things, right? And so you just need to hone in on those skills and like leverage the hell out of them. Leverage your skills and your relationships. We have all worked hard to get to this place. We are all usually Type A, driven, overcommitted, overdedicated. And if you can take those skills that you learned in medical school and residency and fellowship, and being a staff, you bring all of that to the table. Now you just have to transfer it to this business arena, which is really not that hard if you realize what you're good at. So just leveraging your skills and your relationships. We have so many relationships. So leveraging those two and realizing those also transfer, you're not starting from ground zero.

And sometimes you feel like, “I've never done business, so I’m starting at the bottom.” I'm like, “Hell no, you’re not! You’re bringing all that! You’re just transferring it to a new area.” And that's what's going to get you the momentum to go and go really far and fast. 

BONNIE: So funny. I have an upcoming episode with Dr. Una, we're going to talk about entrepreneurship in general. We're actually going to talk about the inherent traits that physicians have that make us great at business. Like you said, our ability to work hard and like really put an effort I think is huge. But there are also common pitfalls because of our physician Type A personality. So we'll list those in the upcoming episodes. So that's definitely one of the things right. There is our ability to work hard because that is important for business. Anything else you want to say to any female physician entrepreneurs out there looking to start a side gig? 

DOOLEY: I would say to just do it, right? What's the worst that can happen? I think that's always what I tell myself. What's the worst that can happen? And nine times out of 10, the worst that can happen never happened. And so just think of it that way and just try it. If you had never tried to be a doctor, where would we be? 

And the fact that a lot of us never had physicians in our family, we never saw what that would be like, but there was never a doubt in our minds that we would be a doctor regardless of what happened for all the years that it took us to be there. The goal was always very clear. And if you had that same idea in your mind for business, you'll be amazing. There's just no doubt in my mind. 

BONNIE: Yeah. That's also true. It's a good point because if you think of just like the funnel we had to get to even become attendings, and then I don't know what your background is, but I was the first physician in my family. So I had no one else to like model myself after. 

DOOLEY: Yeah. Again, the thing is we didn't need it. Right? You knew you wanted to be a doctor. So I didn't need anybody to model it. You're like, “That's my goal. And I'm just going to figure it out.” And I had no idea about fellowship when I was a medical student. I just want to get through medical school. And then when you do that, then you do the next thing. 

And so I think you have to have that concept and take it into business. Sometimes I think in business, we see everybody's big, amazing business with all these great funnels. And so that's the problem. You get so lost in all of those details that you don't realize that all you have to is just this one little thing and then worry about the next thing later, and then you'll be fine. 

BONNIE: That's such a good point. I also think where I see a lot of physicians get hung up is medicine is kind of like regimented, right? In terms of you do this, you go to med school, then you graduate, then you get a residency. Then, in business, there's not like one roadmap. I think a lot of doctors are trying to find that, “Oh, just give me a step by step guide so I can follow it.” But in business, you have to kind of create your own step by step guide, but just one step at a time.

DOOLEY: That's all you have to do and it'll be fine. And that's the good thing about business though. Right? You can do it again, zillion different ways and it'll still be fine. We're just so used to like, you have to go this certain way to become a doctor, but that's only in our field that has to happen. There are so many other fields where you can get there through the back door, the side door, through the roof, through the basement and that's for business. Come in any way you want, come in through the window if you want. You can still be amazing.

BONNIE: Yeah. Awesome. Well, this was so much fun, Yashika. We will definitely put links to your conference in the show notes so that everyone can take a look. It's coming up. What are the dates again? 

DOOLEY: The live dates are Friday, September the 11th and Saturday, September 12th. And we have over 30 physician women of color that are speaking and all of that will be available. It's going to be on a Kajabi site, so it'll be recorded. You can rewatch it. And regardless of what your schedule is, you can totally enjoy and just come in, talk to everybody, just be in the room. That's really all it’s about being in the room and share. 

BONNIE: Yeah. So awesome. Well, thanks so much for being here.

DOOLEY: Thank you so much for having me. I really look forward to it.

Hey, if you're a woman physician who is ready to take control of your money, you've got to check out my program Money for Women Physicians. It's part course and part group coaching and a hundred percent guaranteed to put more money in your pocket. Go to wealthymommd.com/money to learn more. 

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19: Why Physicians Make Awesome Entrepreneurs (and why they don’t) with Dr. Una

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Dr. Una from EntreMD has the lofty goal of helping 80,000 doctors build profitable businesses. That’s why I sat down with her to learn exactly why so many physicians are well-suited for entrepreneurship. In our conversation, we explore these traits, and we also talk about some of the common pitfalls physician entrepreneurs may face. Plus, we dive into the concept of intrapreneurship.

Some of the traits that transfer into entrepreneurship include our ability to problem solve and our persistence. As physicians, we solve problems for people daily. In a single day, we solve sometimes dozens and sometimes hundreds of problems. That means that we are often in the perfect position to identify a common issue and offer a solution on a larger scale through entrepreneurship. 

Moreover, physicians are persistent. Not only do we persist through medical school where we learn and apply vast amounts of knowledge, we weather so many challenges tirelessly as we practice medicine. This same grit and determination makes physicians well-suited to deal with many of the challenges that face new and seasoned entrepreneurs alike.

However, there are some traits and tendencies of physicians that also need to be overcome. Perfectionism serves us well in the medical practice. All throughout med school, we pursue excellence. That pursuit of excellence stays with us as we practice medicine. However, perfectionism can really impede progress in entrepreneurship. Many times, entrepreneurship means learning how to get out of your own way and being comfortable with mistakes.

As you wrestle with perfectionism, you also want to make sure that you start to get comfortable with the idea of selling. Oftentimes, we think of selling as something scammy or unsavory. That’s simply not the case. Physicians sell all the time. We sell our patients on our expertise and treatment options. In our personal lives, we sell to friends and family alike. That is why entices people to want to maintain relationships with us. Selling is really about offering solutions to possible problems. By doing that, you are providing an invaluable service, not unlike when you practice medicine. 

In addition to entrepreneurship, physicians may also consider being an intrapreneur. In this day and age, job security might seem like a distant memory. The news is full of reports of job cuts, furloughs, and more. By becoming an intrapreneur who creates incredible value within your company, you position yourself into having real staying power. Plus, if you do find yourself looking for new work–either out of necessity or choice–you will find many more doors open to you. 

Ultimately, entrepreneurship may not be the right move for every physician. But it is definitely something worth considering, especially for people who are interested in really having freedom and control over their earning and their day-to-day lives. 

In this episode, we also explore:

  • A dive into why entrepreneurship is the great leveler
  • A case study of a female physician intrapreneur
  • How entrepreneurship can be the ultimate motivator in the face of storms
  • Takeaways from Apple in terms of their marketing budget and all the different versions of the iPhone
  • Why it’s impossible to be taken advantage of when you’re cultivating the right skills
  • What Dr. Una’s life looks like now as a physician and an entrepreneur 

Featured on this episode:

  • Check out more of Dr. Una’s story on her blog EntreMD.
  • Listen to a refresher on thinking beyond your clinical income here.
  • Learn more about how to manage your mindset with Wealthy Mom MD.
Read the transcript Expand

Welcome to The Wealthy Mom MD Podcast—a podcast for women physicians who want to learn how to live a wealthy life. In this podcast, you will learn how to make money work for you, how you can have more of it, and learn the tools to empower you to live a life on purpose. Get ready to uplevel your money and your life. I'm your host, Dr. Bonnie Koo.  


Welcome back. I am super excited for today's episode. I have a very special guest. I have Dr. Una today. I have Dr. Una because we are going to talk about entrepreneurship. This is a money podcast, but entrepreneurship is definitely about money. And we're going to specifically talk about the traits that physicians have that actually set them up to win as an entrepreneur. And we're going to talk about some of the common pitfalls that Dr. Una and I see over and over again. 


So back in an earlier episode, I think it was Episode Four, I talk about thinking beyond your clinical income. Now, more than ever, it's so important for physicians to arm themselves and to embrace entrepreneurship. One thing I love about this episode with Dr. Una is that we're not just talking about doctors getting side gigs, but how important it is for employed physicians to also embrace entrepreneurship and become an intrapreneur. I think you're really going to love this episode, so let's get going. All right. So here's Dr. Una. 


  1. UNA: Thank you for having me. I'm super excited to be on today. 


BONNIE: Yeah, I'm super excited about this topic. I love talking about entrepreneurship and generally on this podcast, I'm talking about personal finance, but I know a lot of my listeners either have a side gig or they're interested in starting one, and most of my listeners are physicians. So I thought it'd be really fun to do an episode to kind of talk about why doctors make great entrepreneurs and also why doctors don't make good entrepreneurs. Because it's kind of a double edged sword. I think we have some amazing skills, but then we have some skills that work against us, right? 


  1. UNA: Yeah, we'd definitely do.


BONNIE: So for those who don't know you, can you just tell us a bit about yourself and what you do, et cetera? 


  1. UNA: My full name is Nneka Unachukwu and everybody calls me Una for obvious reasons. Even my sister calls me Una, but I'm a pediatrician by training and I did the traditional thing a doctor would do. So I went to med school, then went to residency and then got a job and I was supposed to work my amazing job until I retired. And this series of events happened and I ended up starting my own practice, which is proof that ignorance is bliss because knowing what I now know, maybe I wouldn't have done it. And I started my practice and realized that I had enrolled in the school of hard knocks because I didn't know anything about entrepreneurship. And I was an introvert who was shy and socially awkward. So everything that would make a business work was something that I was scared of doing. So I didn't want to put myself out there. I didn't want to market it. I didn't want to do any of that, but the business is here now. What am I going to do? 


So I had to enroll in the school of entrepreneurship and learn how to become a business person, which is a completely different skill from being a physician. And I eventually got to that point where I had an aha moment. I was like, “Wait a minute. This is a learnable skill.” Business skills are learnable skills, just like clinical skills are. And I was like, “I wonder how many Dr. Unas are out there who have started businesses who can’t make it work just because they don't know what to do?” And I was like, “I'm going to help them figure it out.” And that's why I founded EntreMD. Then I started helping doctors learn how to build profitable businesses. So here we are. 


BONNIE: First of all, I love that you're a pediatrician and you're an entrepreneur because I don't mean to pick on my pediatrician friends, but I feel like pediatricians and some other specialties that are traditionally lower paying, have big money hangups and feel like they can't have the money they want or the wealth that they want because of their specialty. And I feel like you're such a great example of thinking outside the box and using your knowledge because personally, as I think you're a parent too, I think pediatricians have some of the highest value knowledge because there's no parent who won't pay whatever they should pay to help their kids.


  1. UNA: Right. And that's the beautiful thing about entrepreneurship is the great leveler. So all of a sudden it doesn't matter what your specialty is. Once you put those business skills around, whatever you do, you can choose what you earn. 


BONNIE: Let's start with the good stuff. Well, I think you kind of actually sort of said it already. I think one of the reasons why doctors make great entrepreneurs is because we naturally want to help people.


  1. UNA: And at the end of the day, that is all a business is about. It's about helping people. Now making the money is the financial reward, or it's actually the thank you note for helping people. But at our core, the reason why we do the medical track is not to make money, but it's because we want to help people. I actually did a poll in a Facebook group that I'm a part of: “Why did you go to medical school?” And 90% of the people gave some variation of “I saw this problem and I wanted to help solve it and that's why I became a physician.” So naturally we're helpers. So we can literally come out with a hundred business ideas because we love to help. That makes this so easy. 


BONNIE: And then this actually ties in perfectly with the next thing I see is because of the nature of our jobs, at least for most physicians, I guess pathologists don't necessarily talk to people all day, but we are literally talking to people all day long. And so I think that makes us naturally good at communication. And also we're sort of doing, in some ways, market research. Now I know not all doctors are going to create businesses that relate to their specialty, but a lot of us do. And so we just start hearing the sort of thing over and over and we're like, “Huh!” and we're also natural problem solvers. So I feel like every physician has probably thousands of business ideas already inside their head.


  1. UNA: Yeah. And you know, I love that you said we're natural problem solvers because that's what we do. Think about the family medicine doctor who is seeing 25 patients per day. Those people are not coming into the office except to have their problem solved. So literally we solved those 25 problems. Well, not really 25 for 25 people because they could have come with three problems each, but were used to solving problems. And again, a business is designed to solve a problem and you get paid for doing it. And we're really trained. We're really good at doing that. 


I think one of the other things though is we have an extraordinary capacity to learn. Extraordinary. I mean think about the size of our books, right? And then think about the skills we had to learn. And every stage you have a new skill thrown at you. Figure this out. It’s a spinal tap on a newborn. Figure it out. You have to intubate this 24 week. I mean, we're so good at acquiring skills. So yes, the business world is different. Yes, we have to learn new things, but they're skills and we're great at learning them. 


BONNIE: Yeah. Oh my God. If you want to see these dermatology books, I mean, I still don't understand some of the words to be honest. It’s so much information, but it's such a good point because even like when it comes to personal finances, you know, money, I hear so many women say it's too hard or it's too much, but they forget that they are physicians and the amount of knowledge to become a physician in whatever specialty is nowhere near as hard as money. And actually feel like maybe the same for business as well. Business, I don't think is as hard. It's definitely a different skill. What do you think?


  1. UNA: I don't think it's nearly as hard. I think there's just the confusion. So let me explain what I think this confusion is. When I was done with my medical training, I did what a lot of people do. I'm done. I am done with having to throw myself at learning new stuff. Right? So I'm going to maintain certification and do all this stuff, but I'm done. So there's this rude shock. Like everything you did in your clinical training gave you zero training for the business world. In fact, it may have hurt your ability to do well in business a little bit, not intentionally, but a little bit. 


So it's just this rude thing of “Wait a minute. I have to go learn a new thing?” So I think that throws us off. So we think, “Oh, this was supposed to come so easily. I'm just supposed to start a practice for instance. And I'll just know how to run it.” I'm like, “Nah, I mean, it will be somewhat easy for you to learn what you need to do, but you aren't going to have to commit to learn.”


This is not by osmosis. You know what I'm saying? So I think there's just that “I think I got it all.” And yeah, no, no, no, not yet. 


BONNIE: Doctors are actually notoriously known for thinking we know everything, unfortunately. 


  1. UNA: You know a lot but not everything. Yeah. 


BONNIE: And then I think it's crazy–and you probably agree with me–that medical school doesn't prepare doctors to start their own practices. 


  1. UNA: Actually, if I may say this and I'll start off by saying, I love the medical training. I think it's a really great profession. And I think the schools do their best. But I do think that we learn how not to do private practice. And the reason why I say that is because we have no exposure to anything but the clinical side.


So think about it. As a resident, you go in, you go to the clinic, you walk into the room, you see the patient, you leave, and you're done. But it doesn't occur to you that the hospital had to pay a PR person to go to all the private practices and say, “Hey, you guys need to come over here. We are a new site, we just started.” You're protected from that. You're protected from the hiring and firing process. You're protected from, “Oh, you have to pay a copay.” We have no money conversations, which once you to start a private practice, you will have to have a lot of those conversations. At the back end, we don't know what it's like to fight with insurances to get paid and all of that stuff.


So it's almost like you have a seventh of the process that you've touched. And then when you start in private practice, like, “Wait a minute, what is all this?” 


BONNIE: Yeah. A few sort of forward thinking medical schools that I know of are starting to incorporate some sort of business and money curriculum. I mean, it's so needed. And especially, I feel like in this day and age, because I feel like I'm not a historian by any means, but I think 20 years ago it was just a different time in terms of a physician can hang up their own shingle and these days it is harder. I think there's just more challenges with the insurance landscape. And unfortunately, I think there's a big push for physicians to just become employees and not start their own practice. But that's a whole other conversation.


  1. UNA: Sure is. 


BONNIE: Yeah. Any other traits that you think make doctors well suited for being an entrepreneur? So far we've talked about the fact that we are great learners and have a great capacity to learn. I mentioned how we talk to people all day. We're natural problem solvers. We're sort of already doing some market research. What else?


  1. UNA: We have the ability to persist in the face of challenges. Think about our training. It is hard and long. And you invariably come up against storms. Maybe you were sick, but you still had to figure it out. Maybe you had family challenges. You still have to figure it out. Maybe you thought this great attendee will write you a great letter and you got a crappy letter. Or you took the MCAT and you didn't pass it. I mean, there's so many things that go on, but you see physicians were a decade at it and we're still like, “I'm going to get there.” We weather storms. 


And as entrepreneurs, I mean, you're an entrepreneur. You're probably already laughing because it's all about challenges. It's all about how much pain are you willing to take? It's all about are you going to stand in the midst of a setback in the midst of a storm? Because it's all about obstacles, but we're great at doing that. We're amazing at doing that. So that trait alone is something that puts us in a position where we could be very successful as entrepreneurs.


BONNIE: Yeah. That's such a good point. We are masters at delayed gratification, right? 


  1. UNA: We are. 


BONNIE: I think what I find though, is some people are sick of this delayed gratification and they can't do it anymore or they kind of forgot that they were able to endure that. And the thought of doing it again, kind of like what you're saying earlier about the whole, “Oh, I thought I was done with learning.” 


  1. UNA: And you know, I think we had a solid vision. Right? Think about someone in high school saying, “I'm going to be a surgeon.” That's the lofty dream. Right? You know, high school and I'm going to be this person. I'm going to be doing knee replacements in a decade and stuff like that. I think after we're done with that, we don't set lofty goals anymore. Right? It's kind of like, we don't mean to think that way, but I've arrived. I've done what I wanted to do. I'll also kind of sort of do this business, right? 


So that's the issue there. Well, what if we had another lofty goal? So for instance, my goal is to help 80,000 doctors build profitable businesses. And that is what keeps me going. Even when there are setbacks because I have this lofty thing that I'm trying to do. So I'm not letting one itty bitty storm upset me. I'm not letting the storm get me off track because I'm going somewhere. You know what I mean? So I think for physicians, we have to reconnect with what it is that we're trying to do. We need to set another vision that's big enough to drive us in the face of storms. Because if I'm kind of just doing this thing, then every storm becomes annoying because you're like, I don't have time for this. You know what I'm saying? 


BONNIE: Basically, really get clear as to why you're starting a business. It's definitely not a thing you just kind of do just for the hell of it. 


  1. UNA: No, no, no. It's too hard for that. But if you have a dream, it's not too hard. 


BONNIE: Yes. That's such a great analogy. All right. So let's move on to some pitfalls, shall we?

DR. UNA: Yeah, let's do it. 


BONNIE: Okay. One pitfall I sort of see is actually, this is a perfect segue to what you just said. I think because becoming an attending is like a vision. You kind of know where you're going and there's also like a set framework. Obviously every residency is different and there's different careers within medicine, academics that are, but generally speaking, there's like a pretty much direct path. 


But I think with entrepreneurship there isn't, and it's kind of up to you to kind of create that vision. Like, you actually get to pick the goal. It's not like a predetermined goal, like attending, et cetera. And so I think I see people get hung up with, they don't know what to pick and even if they have picked, they don't know how to get there because there isn't like one way to get there, and then they get confused and overwhelmed.


  1. UNA: And I see that too. And I'd probably say I experienced that too. We're used to a roadmap, a checklist, an algorithm, a blueprint. And that's the thing with most doctors, why we make great entrepreneurs. I will do it. Just show me what to do. Right? But then the problem becomes, there's so many paths that will take you there. And for a better way to describe it, you kind of have to get comfortable with chaos, comfortable with not being completely clear on the steps that will take you. Comfortable taking the next step and figuring the next step after that is very weird for a doctor because we're used to complete order and entrepreneurship is not quite like that. 


BONNIE: You just gave me an idea. I wonder if there's been a poll of like, cause I know they've studied, like which personality types generally gravitate towards certain specialties. So I'm sure we can extrapolate that data to see which ones are, I don't want to say best suited, but more likely to pursue entrepreneurs. I'm sure there's like some specialties that are more suited for them.


  1. UNA: Well, I mean, from what I see, maybe it's not so much the personality, but it's just the nature of what they do. Like if you're a plastic surgeon or you're a dermatologist, if you're going to grow what you do regardless, you're going to have to engage some kind of business principles as opposed to if you're in primary care, especially if you're in a hospital setting or so where everything's kind of laid out for you in a certain way.


I think some specialties, you just have to do a lot more like marketing and promotion and stuff like that, which is cool if you have to.


BONNIE: It's definitely learnable skill actually. Perfect segue into the next thing. I think a lot of doctors are uncomfortable with selling and marketing. 


  1. UNA: You have to say that, right? Yeah. And again, I think it's because we are not exposed to it. So we have this feeling, this is what I hear a lot of doctors say. “I started this service. I created this course and I know it will help a lot of people, but I can get clients and I'm not going to market it because if it's good enough, people will come.” And I'm like, Apple spent $1.8 billion in digital advertising alone, and they're a great company. So if they need to market, we all have to do that. 


So we're so far away from it. So you hear a lot of people say, “I hate being sold to, I hate selling.” And I'm like, “You're always selling.” If you got someone to marry you, you sold them on it. If you got your two year old to stop having a temper tantrum in the middle of Walmart, you sold them on it. If you got someone to give you a job, what's the job interview? It’s you selling them why I'm the person for the job. So it’s just when we bring in money, then everybody kind of gets weird about it. I tell doctors, you want to embrace selling, okay? So you can have a best written book or a best selling book. Some of the best written books, we will never read because they were not sold. So if you do not add selling to your great skill, then you end up being the world's best kept secret. 


If you truly want to help people, then you owe them to sell. Now, when we think selling, we think weird things like this, manipulation, pressure, right? Sleazy car salesman. That's what we think about when we hear selling. But the truth of the matter is that if you're selling, what you're doing is you're helping someone who has a problem see that this is the answer to their problem, right? 


There's someone out there crying, going, “Man, I started this business. It's not working. I'm not able to make money from it. I'm having to take locum shifts to pay the expenses of the business.” I'm here and I help people build profitable businesses. Right? So selling is telling this person who's looking for help for their problem, “Hey, I have the answer and I'm here.” It's really a service. It's not a bad thing.


BONNIE: Yeah. Such a beautiful way to describe it. And actually maybe we've read the same book, but you just reminded me of something when you said best written versus best-selling because Robert Kiyosaki talks about that. Is that where you heard that from too? 


  1. UNA: Yeah. Yeah. That's where I heard it from the first time. 


BONNIE: Yes. For those who are listening who have no idea what we were talking about, Robert Kiyosaki's Rich Dad, Poor Dad–which is an amazing book about money–he talks about how some, I forget the exact scenario, but he was talking to some woman who I think wants to write a book or something. And she had a problem with selling and he pointed out that his book was not the number one best written book, but it was the number one bestselling book. And then she got really upset. She got really mad. 


I think that is definitely a challenge for a lot of us to get over. What helps me, Dr. Una, is whenever I get stuck in my mind about selling or et cetera, I always try to remember that I'm providing a service and to really think about the person I'm helping, because it's like, if you don't get out there and sell whatever you're selling the solution to someone's problem, then I think of it as like there's someone out there who can't get help because you're too afraid to sell. 


Dr. UNA: Yeah. You're in your own way. And like, what you do is amazing. I mean, think of the number of doctors who have financial pressures and you haven't quite figured that out. And they're like, “I wish someone could just show me what to do.” You know what I mean? So like, what you're saying is me selling is serving them, you know? Because they're already looking for that. They're already having a hard time, you know? So that's great. 


BONNIE: Your turn, another pitfall that you see among doctors when it comes to business.


  1. UNA: My favorite one: perfectionism. Oh my goodness. Right? I'll tell you a funny story. I knew that I should start doing video for my practice because I'm like, it's low hanging fruit. Nobody's doing it. Come out here. I'm the pediatrician and blah, blah, blah. And this was years ago. It took me two years, two years from when I knew that I should to when I did it. And the reason was because I don't have the perfect camera. I don't have perfect lighting. I can't talk like these other people. Long story short. I saw someone do the crappiest video ever, but she had over 300 people watching her video live as she was growing her business with this really crappy video. And I said, “You know what? Forget it.” I called my daughter. I pulled up a chair, put it by the wall called her, said hit that red button. She was eight or nine years at the time. And I recorded my first video. I had found some hair. It wasn't perfect. My lighting was awful. I mean it’s an eight year old is a, you know, shaky hand and all that stuff. And I took that video, uploaded it to YouTube, to Facebook. I was like, “There you go. My worst video ever is done. My only job from here is to get better. Right?” 


Perfectionism is something I see all the time, which by our medical training, we have to be right. We should shoot for the A+, the 100%, and all of that. So as a physician, an A is required. As an entrepreneur, we want your B work, which means do the best you can as of right now. And then your job is to keep making it better. 


If you think about the iPhone, for instance, imagine if they waited for the iPhone 11 before releasing their first phone, right? That would be insane. So they released the iPhone 1, which is the best they can do at the time, put it out in the marketplace. The market was like, “Oh my God, we love it. But could you make this little change, a little change, a little change.” And the next year they make an iPhone 2 and the next year, they rinse and repeat that process. So your job as an entrepreneur, you're going to have to unlearn the A for the nonclinical stuff and start focusing on putting out your best work. And your life's journey is going to be, how do I make this better and then better and then better. You have to get rid of perfectionism. So my favorite quote is “Perfection is not required, only progress.”


BONNIE: Yeah. And I think, you know, I was at a conference and I'm going to butcher his name, Brendon Buchard. He's one of those high performance coaches. He was talking about perfectionism, and how by definition, you can't perfect something, unless it's first been released into the world. You have to release it and then perfect it. And then Brooke Castillo of the Life Coach School where I trained, you know, she says B minus work will change the world. She's like, “You know what won’t change the world? Work that you never put out there because you're so worried about it being perfect.”


But I think I like how you Bs. I think for most physicians, a B- was like cringe. Right? All right. I think that's what's really tough is I find myself in the situation because I re-recorded most of my course. And of course I want to re-record it now.


  1. UNA: Well, you've put out two versions. 


BONNIE: Yeah. I've made some significant changes from version one, which is kind of like what you just said. I keep making changes based on feedback. 


  1. UNA: Yeah. That's cool. That's great. 


BONNIE: But my next hurdle is video. So we'll have to talk offline about doing more direct to camera work because I've shied away from that personally. One thing that can kind of trip us up is not having a blueprint in front of us or a clear goal. We talked about perfectionism and talked about selling. 


  1. UNA: Yeah. I think part of the issue with the whole roadmap thing, this is probably a spinoff of that is we have this track, right? High school then do really well so you can get into a good premed program and then get into med school and do really well. So we can get a good residency program and then work till you retire. And it's almost like you can’t deviate from the plan, right? It's almost like we have this box that we're in and you can't come out of the box. 


And I tell doctors, the lid is not real. You know what I mean? The lid is not real. You can do whatever it is you want to do. You have followed a prescription for over a decade. Now that you're an attending, now that you're done with your training, whatever it is you want to do, do that. 


For instance, I don't do any cookie cutter stuff. I've had a client that's like, “I work for a practice. I just know there's more and I want to do more.” Okay. Do you want to start your own practice? No, no. I love my practice. I just want to do more. I'm like, “You're unique, but okay. Let's do it.” And she starts off her YouTube channel for the practice, which makes the practice, you know, it positions them really nicely in the community. She’s got a mailing list for the practice. She launches telemedicine for the practice. She speaks in the community. I mean, her boss is like, “I would love to make you partner, right? And let's change your workdays because this is amazing.” So she's an intrapreneur, she's working a job, but she's still doing all this other stuff and having a blast doing it.


So you can get out of the box, whatever you want to do, we can monetize it and you can do it, but we don't have to follow a prescription anymore. So you help people with finance. And that's great. That's out of the box and that's fine. I helped doctors build profitable businesses is out of the box. The others, I help doctors figure out student debts. That's out of the box. I mean, whatever, but we don't have to stay in the box. 


BONNIE: Yeah. Now it's such a great thing that you said, I love that example you gave about the intrapreneur because I think that is a great example of an employee just like giving immense value to her employer, right?


  1. UNA: Yes. 


BONNIE: And so I see a lot of doctors struggling with, they feel boxed in. Even if you and I can tell them the box, isn't even real. I think there's something safe about staying in that box, even though the box is kind of like killing them slowly if that makes sense. Like not really, obviously. 


  1. UNA: Yeah. And the thing about that boxes before it was just, you know, okay, so maybe you don't live out your full potential and now that's actually dangerous, right? Because we have to compete in ways that we've never had to compete before. I mean, you have doctors being laid off, you have doctors being furloughed. You have doctors being replaced by nurse practitioners. You have more competition. You're talking, I don't know about you.


I never thought Minute Clinic would be my competition. Like when I was training, I didn't think CVS and Walmart, you know what I'm saying? Like it's up to us to build our brands and build businesses so we can weather whatever is coming. Because we don't know what that's going to look like. For instance, if they're going to lay off 50% of the physicians in your practice or hospital or whatever, why won’t you be laid off? Right? 


But if you're the person who recognizes, I'm a brand, I work for Me Incorporated. I'm building my own brand out. There are patients who are coming just because of me. If for any reason you let me go, there'll be 10 people lined up to go who will go find that cool doctor who is now available. “I want her in my practice.” You see what I'm saying? There are doctors who have built such a community presence that if they show up in somebody's office, they're going to be busy. Like they're going to be at capacity from week one. People don't fire those kinds of doctors. You see what I'm saying? 


Like we work for us. Even if you're an employed physician, you have to be an intrapreneur. You can't leave that up to chance. You can't just go in the office, see patients, not care about anything else, and leave. I think now it's dangerous. Before it used to be ehhhhh, you could get away with it. Now it is dangerous.


BONNIE: I don't think I've ever thought of it that way, but it's so true. And it's, you know, before I became an entrepreneur, I will say I was guilty of being that employee that just thought I could just show up and do my job and get paid. And you know, when the patients weren't coming, I blame the employer, which now that I know, what I know is like, it's not my employer's job to make sure that I get paid. Even though most people would say it is their job. But whatever, if you take the stance, like it's not my problem or it's not my responsibility then, you know…


  1. UNA: I've had people say, but what if they don't pay me for what I'm doing? I'm doing all this extra stuff. They're just taking advantage of me. The truth of the matter is if you work for You Inc., nobody can ever take advantage of you because these are portable skills that you're building. They're yours to keep. And anywhere you go, you take them like the doctor I told you about. Now she knows how to rock video. Now she knows how to build a following in the community. Now she knows how to set up a telemedicine. Those are hers. You can't take it away from her. 


So what you want to do as an employee doctor, who is an intrepreneurial, is you want to create a win-win situation where you're doing things that will build your personal brand will also be of immense value to the place where you work so they treat you well. If they don't, somebody else will, but they cannot take advantage of you. 


BONNIE: Oh, so good. You know, my first job out of residency was. In a residency program, I would tell my residents to purchase their domain name during residency. So they owned it because even if they became an employee, they should still build their personal brand as well. 


  1. UNA: Good for them. Good. 


BONNIE: I'm sure not all of them did, but I own Dr. Bonnie Koo.com. I don't use them, but I bought them because I don't want anyone else owning them. 


  1. UNA: That is so cool. 


BONNIE: Who knows? At some point I might open something, but it just felt like…And plus my name is pretty unique, so it'd be weird to someone like have that name, but you just never know these days. I feel like people just shop for names and just squat. 


Dr. UNA: I mean, you're doing great stuff. So someone could easily go like, “Oh, I'm just going to take the name and someday she'll pay me 10 grand or 20 grand for it.”


BONNIE: Yeah. So anything else you think our physician entrepreneurs should know? 


  1. UNA: I would say this is the best journey ever. Now when you first start off, maybe you're in the beginning phase and you're like, “I don't get it. It's hard. I don't know what I don't know.” I just want to encourage you to chase this journey, to give it the time to give it the effort to give it the investment that it deserves.


Because as doctors, we chase this profession, but our hearts, we wanted to help. Right? So Dr. Bonnie, I'm sure you agree with me. Like what you do, helping women physicians, it must feel like you've never worked. Like even though on the days when you have long days, the excitement of being able to help people is like a permanent high, right? And you get to get financially rewarded for it and you get to choose how much you want to earn and you get to choose how much you're going to work. I mean, it's amazing. So it's what I do. I never feel like I'm working and to see people's lives unfold with all the great things happening. It's amazing. It's worth the chase. 


It’s work. It will keep you out of your comfort zone. It will make you do things you've never done before. It will make you invest in yourself in ways you've never invested before, but it is the best thing. So just do it, embrace it. And it's your ticket to live the life you want?


You know, I always said when I turned 40, I want to retire. Retire, meaning I see patients because I want to. I see patients one day a week because that's what I want to do. I have four children. So I do a lot of work from home. I hang with the kids. I focus on the business side of the practice, marketing, and all that stuff. And I'm just loving it. It's amazing. Just do it. It's so cool. 


BONNIE: So good. So good. I feel exactly the same way. I had no idea that you could literally do whatever you wanted. And that sounds like I'm joking when I say that, but that's literally what's available if you're willing to do the work and step outside your comfort zone. You can carve out the day you want. You know, I live in a high rise building with a pool, and now that the weather has been nicer, I've been going outside and sitting at the pool and doing some work there. And you know..


  1. UNA: You do that too. That is so cool. I said my front porch outside. I'm like, my neighbors must think I'm crazy. I just pull out my computer and sit basking in the sun. 


BONNIE: Yeah. And then it would always have Jack here. Someone is with his grandma, but we'll go for a little swim at lunchtime. And I can do that because I create my own hours and people, I think sometimes look at people like you and I, and think it's impossible, but it's really not. And it's nowhere near as hard as their journey. It’s a different type of challenge. Like we've sort of said earlier, but I think it's totally available to all physicians if they just kind of take a chance. 


  1. UNA: Yeah. And actually, since you said that, let me say this to your listeners. If you feel like, “Wow, that's good for Bonnie and Dr. Una, they can do that kind of stuff. But I can't.” When I started off as an entrepreneur, I knew nothing about anything. I was so introverted that I would not have conversations with anybody. If I made the mistake of going for an event where there were people, I would corner one person so I can talk to them and nobody would go like, “Oh, I need to talk to her because she seems like she's not talking to anyone.” I mean, that's how bad it was. And I wouldn’t market my practice. I wouldn't do anything. Google was my best friend. I read 52 books a year to figure this stuff out. Like I knew nothing about nothing. So if you're thinking that, I'm proof that if you don't know anything, you can learn it. You know what I mean? And before you were a doctor, you weren't a doctor. You had to learn it. You can learn this too, and you can rock it and you can build the financial freedom that you deserve is good.


BONNIE: Yeah, same here. I had no business knowledge. And one thing I do want to say is a lot of people will look at my bio and see that I worked at Morgan Stanley before medical school. And they think that, “Oh, she's got this like business or like money background.” I was the IT person, okay? I fixed computers. I worked for Morgan Stanley. I wasn't one of their bankers. I definitely was not one of their business people. Because people think like, “Oh, but you have this background in money.” That's why I'm like, “No, actually I was horrible with money. Like up until the year before I finished residency, I was a disaster.” 


So I think it just goes to show that exactly, it's a learnable skill. Every physician can learn this skill because we know that you're capable of learning. And so I totally agree. I think if you have an idea, then you just have to find some people and find the right people to surround yourself with. Definitely listen to EntreMD Podcast. We'll put links to her podcast. You specifically help physician entrepreneurs too, right? 


  1. UNA: Yes. I help physicians build profitable businesses. That's what I do. And whether you're employed or you own a private practice or you are doing nonmedical business, as long as you identify as an entrepreneur, I'm your girl. 


BONNIE: Awesome. Well, thanks so much for being on the show. This was super fun. 


  1. UNA: Thank you for having me. 


If you're a woman physician who is ready to take control of your money, you've got to check out my program Money for Women Physicians. It's part course and part group coaching and a hundred percent guaranteed to put more money in your pocket. Go to wealthymommd.com/money to learn more. 


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Many people equate high incomes with wealth. While it is true that earning more money can be a driving factor in creating wealth, income isn’t everything. In fact, many high earners find themselves living paycheck to paycheck. The problem is that our spending often goes unchecked. I sat down with Dr. B.C. Krygowski to learn her tips for spending more purposefully to reach financial independence faster.

For most people, there are three main categories that eat up most of our income: housing, transportation, and food. In this episode, learn how to dial back your housing and food costs to make strides toward financial independence. 

When it comes to housing, the American Dream might have us believe that bigger is better. McMansions certainly have curb appeal. But people rarely need or use all the space inside of larger homes. Never mind the huge commitment that comes with having such a sizable mortgage. B.C. suggests that physicians buy a house that feels comfortable and meets their needs. She also recommends making sure that your housing expenses fit within a single earner’s income, not both. That way, your family finances are more resilient. 

In addition to housing, food is another big expense that can derail your plans for financial independence. One of the reasons why food accounts for so much of people’s income is more of a time problem than anything else. When we are short on time, we don’t grocery shop effectively and we don’t meal plan. That leads to issues with food waste, which is the same as throwing money in the garbage. Other times, people feel so exhausted, they don’t even attempt to prepare food at home. Exploring options like meal services, personal chefs, and meal kits sounds pricey. However, you can actually save a lot of money by simply being more intentional with how you feed yourself and your family. 

Growing wealth and achieving financial independence isn’t about feeling deprived. Instead, you want to make sure that you spend money intentionally. Tracking your expenses and adopting some of these purposeful spending tips can free up more money for things you love and push you farther down the path to financial independence. 

In this episode, we also explore:

  • An in-depth discussion of the American Dream related to housing 
  • How to track the lowest unit prices on grocery staples at different stores
  • Meal planning options for busy physician families
  • The pros and cons of personal chefs and other options
  • Food waste reduction strategies

Featured on this episode:

Read the transcript Expand

BONNIE: Dr. Krygowski, welcome to the show.


BC: Thanks for having me. 


BONNIE: So I'm super excited to have you here because I think a lot of people are examining their space lately. Before we get started, why don't you say a few things to those folks who don't know who you are? I already said that you were a physician, but maybe a few words.


BC: I'm a part time palliative care physician. I'm currently on my third sabbatical, and I'm also married to another physician that I met in medical school. And I blog about FIRE from a dual physician perspective. 


BONNIE: Cool. And I didn't know you're on a sabbatical right now. 


BC: Yeah. I am not going back to work. Well, my paperwork is being sped up because of how things are going right now. COVID in Florida, but yeah, I'm not going back to work supposedly until the end of September, although that's getting moved up. 


BONNIE: So If it wasn't for the pandemic, where would you be right now? I'm assuming you have plans. Definitely had plans.


BC: I have been fortunate enough to be selected for a writing program. I'm doing this year-long writing program, working on a medical women's fiction book, and I was going to probably be leaving medicine. That's the way I was going. But with the whole COVID thing, I really looked at it and said, “Well, maybe they could probably use a palliative care physician if things go bad.” So I decided to volunteer to go back and I'll just be per diem. And I'm here in case people get sick and people are already going down and getting sick, you know. Doctors with COVID and they're being out for a while. 


BONNIE: Right. Thanks for sticking around. So I thought we could talk about what you think the top three areas that physicians should look at in terms of spending. I guess what I'm thinking is “Where are the three big rocks?” Where are the three areas that we can look at that we can make some rather quick and impactful changes? 


BC: Well, the ones that we always talk about are the big three, as far as housing, transportation, and food, because those are big items, mostly. They're recurring items as far as food goes. We can definitely go down a rabbit hole with the transportation because you could go anywhere from, you know, a $5,000 car that is pretty basic up to, you know, hundreds of thousands of dollars. It just depends on what your goals in life are.


BONNIE: Great. Well, let's talk about housing because that is obviously I would say most people's largest expense, right? 


BC: Yeah. It is. I'm a big spreadsheet junkie. I love spreadsheets and I spend about an hour and a half every month sitting down with our credit card statements and our checkbook and I just graph it. I add it all up and put it in a spreadsheet so we can see what we're spending. Our biggest line items for our family personally, before the Trump tax law changes were taxes, obviously. After that, it was travel. So maybe that's the fourth thing we should talk about, but housing can be huge if you still have a mortgage.


Right out of residency, we were up to $772,000 in debt, mostly because we bought the typical two doctor McMansion in upstate New York. And after a couple of years, we decided it just wasn't for us. We read the book by Vicki Robbins called Your Money or Your Life. And that book really sat us down the FIRE path because it helped us examine what our values were in life and what was important to us and what wasn't.


After we read the book, like within 10 days, we came back and put our house on the market and we got rid of that big Doctor McMansion. 


BONNIE: Talk about taking massive action. 


BC: That book is life changing. I will say it again, Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robins. If you haven't read it, you definitely need to read it. And the other book that we found out about as we bought the big McMansion was a book called The Not So Big House. And it's written by Sarah Susanka and it's probably 20 years old by now. And it's the first book in the series. It’s all pictures, so it's super easy to read, but basically examines how humans feel inside houses. Where do we use the space mostly and where are we most comfortable? And when we looked at our housing through the years, we figured out that we liked smaller spaces and more comfortable cozy spaces rather than the two-story foyers. That might be important to some people, but for us, it wasn't leading them to use the square-foot use. Now, we're in a house that's actually a little under 2000-square feet and we're actually the happiest we've been in. This is our third house purchase. 


BONNIE: Yeah. So let's talk about housing, right? Because you're talking about buying a house, you know, and then obviously there's people who rent. So I feel, I think you and I both kind of agree on this whole house thing. I've personally never owned a house. There’s many reasons for that. I guess personally, I would say I've only lived in a house growing up, but my parents were pretty, I would say, lower middle class. So we actually live mostly in apartments. And I also lived in New York City for most of my young adult and, I guess, adult life. You generally can't purchase things in New York City for a long time, just because of the price of housing. It was never a goal of mine, but I do know that for most physicians, it is a goal to buy a home as soon as they finish residency or many are actually purchasing during residency. So what do you have to say about that? 


BC: I would say hold off as long as you possibly can. I think that the American public has been sold a bill of goods, as far as the typical American dream of owning a house. I have a friend right now who is agonizing because she's pouring money into rent every month. And I think her rent is like $600 a month. I'm like, “That is a steal!” You can take that money that you save and, you know, you can invest it, you can pay off debt. You could save for that home down the road when your life is more stable. But I also think like the American lifestyle, at least, you know, as opposed to like some European countries–you know, we're a much more mobile population. I was just talking to my husband this morning. I said, “You know, in the last 10 years, if you count how many moves we made between apartments and like moving to medicine in Columbia last month for the summer, like we have moved on average every two years, even though we owned a house in St. Pete for six years.” 


I just think that people shouldn't get their heart set on buying houses unless they've been in a job for at least two years, especially out of residency. Don't buy a house out of residency if you can at all avoid it. If you're in a longer residency, that's like five or seven years, you might want to consider something that's easy to maintain. 


BONNIE: Yeah, no, I agree. I mean, I think especially these days, a typical physician changes jobs frequently. So just to use myself as an example. I'm about five years out of residency. Let's see. So I moved from California to New York City, and I was living in Brooklyn. Then, I moved from Brooklyn to Brooklyn to move in with my now-fiance.


Then we moved to Philadelphia, and then we moved to New Jersey. I did some locums in between, but we kept our New Jersey residence while I was doing locums. I do agree. I think the first job out of residency these days, typically doesn't last. And I think you and I both have seen people buy something and then they can't sell it, and then that is obviously a huge hole in your pocket. 


BC: It's a huge– You know, you can't leave. You feel like you can't leave. At least if it's on the market, we were in New York for almost three years after residency and we were there an extra year almost because we couldn't sell our house. It was in the downturn and we kept lowering the price. It's like an albatross, you know, and it just weighs you down. I would definitely put off house purchasing as long as you can. 


BONNIE: So let's say they've, you know, been at the job for two years and they are finally ready to buy and they feel like they're stable enough to buy. So what are your tips about that? I have sort of my opinion. I'm curious what your tips are when you're looking for a home in terms of price points and budgeting. 


BC: Well, for us at least, we're at the point in our lives–I feel like I'm saying I'm old–but I'm 44. We're at the point in our lives where we've become FI, so financially independent and we like having FI. So we looked at the price point and we said, “Okay, how much should we have in the house in St. Pete in Florida? How much are we willing to spend here?” We had a range that we wanted, and then we made up a six point list of what was important. What do we need in a house? We looked at the list, we thought about it. You see six things. Then, we went out and we found it, but it needed work. We've invested a lot in remodeling it, but it's a fantastic property, piece of land actually, and it's just in a great location. 


I personally think you have to be frugal when it comes to housing. I think you shouldn't go over the two year rule. I think that the one year rule actually for physicians is great, but that's just me. I've also lived overseas. I've lived in Mexico, and summer times, and like I said before, we lived in Columbia for two and a half months. I probably have a minimalistic view of life. My sister lives in England and their houses over there are a lot more expensive and also a lot smaller. I'm used to a smaller square footage type of lifestyle. And so what are you? What do you think is important? 


BONNIE: I really liked that you said that you thought about what you were looking for in a house and you made a list because I feel like two people just start looking and then they fall in love with a home that's way or their price range.


So I think picking a budget or picking a price point. And the way I think of the price point is– I see couples, especially dual-career, dual-physician, dual-anything, where both are making significant money. They buy a house that fits their dual incomes. And I think that's a mistake because no job is secure, and I think this pandemic showed us that physician jobs are not secure.


So I really think you need to pick a house where half of the income can support the payments. If that makes sense. 


BC: Totally, totally agree. We ended up with our house here. We wanted to save about, you know, we tried to save 200,000 when we bought here. Because we were just, we wanted that, that cushion, that leeway with our FI number. But I could not agree with you more that if you could find a house that you're happy with, it hits all of your necessary points for the housing and one income go for it. 


BONNIE: Yeah. So that's, my plan is to buy in five years. I'll tell you more about that later. Maybe… It's not going to be in New Jersey, which is where I currently live. I want warmer weather.


BC: And hopefully no taxes. Might I add no state? 


BONNIE: Well, that's always a plus. It's funny you say that because I initially picked a state because of the no income tax, but then I was like, “But I want to live where I want to live.” And it's not that state, unfortunately, but that might change. I have five years. 


Moving on from housing, I want to talk to you specifically about food–meal planning, et cetera. You wrote a blog post for my website actually, where you talked about the way you put stuff in the fridge. I definitely know that we waste food and it kills me when we do that. I hate wasting food. And so I want you to talk about your system and just sort of any tips. The only tip I have for readers is to plan your meals ahead of time. So you're not just going to the grocery and just picking things off the shelf because you're hungry and “That looks good!” type of thing. And then you don't plan and you end up buying stuff you don't need. And it goes bad. 


BC: I totally agree with you. I actually try to meal plan once a week. I sit down anywhere between Friday and Sunday and plan out the next week. I attempt to meal plan and I read this book called It’s About Time by Valerie Burton. It's a fascinating book about time and time management, living a life that is in accordance with your desires. So I got off Amazon, this magnetic strip calendar that sticks to the side of the fridge. It has Monday through Sunday on it and has three slots for whatever category you want to write in. I have a Walmart category and an Aldi category–which is like Lidl because not everyone has Aldi–and then I have a Sam's Club category. So the foods that we buy from those three stores, the ones when we run out, everyone knows to write it in there. And then in green on the bottom of every day, I have the food planned out for the week.


As far as food goes, we waste very little food. What we usually end up wasting is celery. So we chop ours up and put it in glass containers in the fridge. 


BONNIE: Oh, I was going to say if you're not going to use it and you have too much–because oftentimes you need celery for like a recipe and you gotta buy a whole freaking thing of it, right?–actually you chop it up and you put it in their freezer to make stock in the future. 


BC: Oh, that's a good idea. 


BONNIE: You make like a little bag. So I take one of those gallon freezer bags and put chopped celery, carrots, onions. It's just for soup. You can't really use it for fresh stuff, you know, because of the freezer and the consistency. But then you have your little stock kit. 


BC: That's a great idea for us. My husband goes through and he chops up the salary and he puts it in the glass containers and you can do that with scallions and just put a little loose bag over it. I do it with cilantro. I can keep fresh cilantro in the fridge fresh for about two weeks by doing that. So if I buy it and then we don't have tacos for two weeks, it's still good. 


We compost. So we noticed very quickly what foods we are wasting. I wrote a blog post about it on your blog and early on in my blog as well about what foods need to go where in the fridge. So like mushrooms– For me, mushrooms are out of sight, out of mind. If I don't see them, I don't eat them. But my youngest kid, he will eat them raw at every single meal with hot sauce on them. So as long as I flipp the mushrooms, so they're on their side and they're facing out, we can see them and we'll eat them. 


Then I have a rule that whatever needs to get eaten next, we put in the right upper quadrant of the fridge. We're all right handed. So we open up the right door first and everyone knows you look in the right upper quadrant for the food that needs to be next before it spoils.


BONNIE: I remember you saying that. I don't think I've actually used that system, but you know what I think we're gonna need to do that because today we just threw away–it wasn't a lot–it was just a little bit of broccoli. And I was like, “Ugh.” 


BC: Yeah, actually, you know, what I do with broccoli is– So my husband's a vegan and we eat a lot of vegetables. With broccoli, if we have leftover steamed broccoli, and then if I have some kind of soup, like from Panera or something like that, and it's just like a little film of soup, about two inches, I will dump that soup into a bowl full of broccoli and that's my lunch. So it's like a quick lunch on the go kind of thing. 


Berries. I’ve seen this– What I've seen babysitters do is they'll take the berries and they'll run the entire container of berries underneath the faucet. And then they'll only eat like five raspberries. And I have to tell them, I say, “Wyou do that, the rest of the berries are wet. And then when you put the wet berries back in the fridge, they all mold significantly faster.” The key with that is to keep them as dry as possible. We'll often put paper towels in the spinach, the arugula, and the berries. We'll put paper towels in with them. There’s a gas released by, I want to say it’s by apples… You’d have to go read on the blog. 


BONNIE: They don’t go with carrots, right? That's what I've read. 


BC: Yeah. I think it's called ethylene gas and the apples release it and whatever's above. It actually gets created faster. So you have to separate them out. 


Then, what we do with our berries is we look them over. Anything that’s going bad fast goes in the upper right quadrant of the fridge. That comes in handy. You know if there's an apple that needs to be eaten, it gets put in the right upper quadrant.


Usually on Thursday nights or the night before I go grocery shopping, we open up the fridge and I actually just did this for lunch. I take everything out. It’s like one little piece of salmon or half a salad from a salad kit or something. I spread it out on the counter and I say, “Okay, everyone in this family, this food needs to be eaten.” You can’t eat anything else until all the food here is eaten and I’m just like, “Go at it!” That’s how we use up all our leftovers. 


I'm big into meal prep like I told you about. Planning out your meals ahead of time. Before I went to med school, I was a personal chef for a family and I would do the grocery shopping for them. And I would cook for them usually four to five meals a week. And when I would cook, I would actually cook two meals at a time. Luckily, they had two microwaves. So that helped out with the meal prep and everything. If you can make two meals that take similar ingredients, then when you're chopping them, you can oftentimes do double duty. 


I saw this total genius YouTube video once of this person’s extended family. They all eat breakfast burritos. So once a month, they would get together and the whole family on a Saturday morning would make all these breakfast burritos. Then, they would roll them up in aluminum foil and freeze them, and then pop them in the toaster oven for two minutes before they left in the morning. That's a way you could do a meal prepping. 


I am a huge fan of Kelly Laveck’s book Body Love. She’s the nutrition education that we did not get in medical school. So she advocates shakes and I've never been a fan of shakes. I just I'm like, Ooh, gross. They're like, you know, I'm just thinking of some of the patients. I just can't deal with it. Um, so once I read her book though, and started, you know, learning about nutrition and, you know, just the low inflammation diet and everything, I started drinking her pumpkin tumeric shakes and they take a lot of ingredients that take cinnamon. They take cloves, frozen pumpkin, a half a cup of that and, um, chia seeds and stuff. Alright. 


So Kelly Laveck’s Body Love book is fantastic. It's the nutrition education we did not get a medical school, and I highly recommend it to any physician I come across. She advocates for shakes, and I've never liked shakes at all because they're just gross in my opinion. However, after reading about the low inflammation diet that she advocates, which is every single meal needs four ingredients. Those are protein, fiber, fat, and greens. She has an anticancer pumpkin turmeric shake in there. Once a month, I just put all the spices in Tupperware containers, like the turmeric, the cloves, the chia seeds, the protein powder, and stuff like that. So it's super easy to make a breakfast by just dumping in the almond milk and frozen pumpkin, and then the entire plated-out spices and protein powders and stuff like that. And the MCT oil. Then I have a breakfast that can sustain me for up to six hours. 


Any kind of meal prep that you can do ahead of time or something easy, I really advocate for that. There's an app out there called Budget Bytes. One of my friends found out about it for me, and she meal preps off Budget Bytes because there's a way that you can set the filter for ingredients or costs, and she's going through a lot of plant-based diet stuff. So she does her meal planning using the Budget Bytes app–it’s B-Y-T-E-S. And it's like $3 or something. 


BONNIE: Yeah. So it sounds like we're talking mainly about meal prep in terms of saving time. Do you have any specific tips about saving money on food? Meal planning is definitely one of the ways to save money, but any other tips to see?


BC: Yeah, of course. So I wrote a chapter about this in the book Spending Habits for Professionals Who Want to FIRE. I know a lot of professionals are really busy. They don't have time to cook. Some of them use personal chefs. If you want a personal chef, ask around. I've had pretty bad experience with the two personal chefs that I tried in the Tampa Bay area. So what I ended up doing was I started using Dinner Done. It's a meal prep service that makes small quantities in a kitchen and then they flash freeze them. If you eat meat, they make chickens and they do fish and beef and pork. You just order whatever type of meat you do or don't eat. Then, I called them to make sure that they didn't have antibiotics in the meat because we don't eat a whole lot of meat in our house. But what we do is usually fish and chicken and that's about it. It’s not every day, but what I'll do is I'll take one of their frozen chicken entrees and I'll pop it in the oven, completely frozen from the freezer and stick it in. Then, I'll pair it with a salad or some other type of vegetable and then that's dinner. So it's a way of saving money by not going out to the restaurant. 


A lot of people are like, “Oh, I'm tired, so I’ll order Uber Eats or whatever.” But if you just buy a bag salad kit from the store and then throw it in with a dinner prep service, then you can have dinner. And it's like half the cost of going out to a restaurant. So that is one way for busy professionals to save money. 


Ask around in your local PMG, your physician mom group network, in the city or the area that you're in for dinner prep, service or even Google “dinner prep.” You can find services like this in almost every major city and even the minor ones. 


BONNIE: Tell us what happened. Well, you don't have to give us details, but what made for the bad experience with the chef? 


BC: The first chef, he had a lot of stones. This was back when we really ate a lot more meat than we do now. He would make an entire roast and he would buy the roast and he would charge me full price for the meat. And then he would cut it in half and save half for himself and his family.


BONNIE: Oh, that's interesting. 


BC: It's pretty obvious. I'm like, dude, you just charged me $30 for a piece of me and that on top of the labor for making it, and then you just cut it in half and saved it for your family. So I got rid of him and then the other one, his food was super salty. And then he would charge me taxes on top of the groceries that I had already just paid taxes on. And I was just like, “Okay, between the salty food that I've just had to throw out because it's not palatable at all and being charged twice for taxes, I'm done. I can figure this out on my own.” 


One of my friends, she's like, “I can't believe you feed your kids frozen pizza.” I'm like, “You know what, every once in a while, I just can't deal with going out to the store. I can't deal with going through a fast food restaurant.” This is when my kids were younger. I was like, “I'm just going to pop in a frozen pizza. It's okay. They'll survive.” You know, when I think of what we ate, when we were kids, all the chemicals in our food, frozen pizza is not going to kill them. It's okay. I give you permission to do that. 


And as far as saving on groceries, so I talked to you before about how we shop at all these different stores. We use Walmart pickup a lot these days with the pandemic and Instacart delivers from Aldi. Then Sam's Club, and we buy basically the same thing at every grocery store. 


Bonnie: Did you do a cost analysis of what's cheaper at what place? 


BC: I did. I'm kind of crazy like that. Like I said, spreadsheets are just my jam. So what I did was back when I realized we were just blowing through money–I think this was in 2016– I was like, “How much money are we spending?” I feel like we spent a lot of money and I hadn't been tracking our expenses for like six years. I had two kids and was doing fellowship and renovating a house. So it was just an overwhelming time in my life. But I sat down and started tracking how much I was spending, and I was just blown away. And I realized if we want FI, we need to get our spending under control. It’s a lot easier to get your spending under control than it is to save like, you know, $5 million versus, you know, $2 million or something like that–whatever your number might be. 


And so I started really looking at what I was buying, and I realized that the stores I was going to. I was like, “You know, if I just change my stores a little bit…” You know, instead of shopping at Publix, I would try Walmart. And then, I was shopping at Walmart and then I tried Aldi and the people I actually convinced to go try Aldi, once they go there, they get like reverse sticker shock at how cheap the food is compared to even Walmart. I joke now that I get Walmart sticker shock when I go in there because the food is so expensive in Walmart compared to Aldi. 


But I started keeping a memo on my phone, and I would write down the unit price of what it was at Walmart versus Aldi verses Sam’s. At Sam's Club, we buy cauliflower, we buy apples, we buy paper products, and we stock up on those because they're cheaper at Sam's Club than they are at Walmart. Multivitamins are cheaper at Walmart than anywhere. Aldi has the cheapest chocolate chips. So I just know which store has the cheapest per unit price, like unsalted pistachios–which we eat a lot of. Those are cheaper at Walmart usually than Sam's Club. I know this sounds like a huge time investment, but every single time I went in, I just did one or two aisles. And that was it. 


It would be like, “Okay, I'm just tracking the three items we buy in this aisle and the four items we buy in that aisle.” And then there were about a month or two months, when I finally had a working knowledge of what was cheaper where. 


BONNIE: Do you still do a lot of shopping in person or do you get it mostly delivered now? 


BC: We do a lot more Walmart pickup. We used to do Instacart with Aldi. With a pandemic and everything, it's just, you know, I don't want to run into Walmart to buy pencils for the kids and then run to all these for the groceries, so I just lump it all together. I personally do an Aldi run about once a month. Then, I do Walmart pickup the rest of the time. Or once a month, I'll do Sam’s Club. You can do pickup there too. 


So that's with the pandemic. Everything's kind of changed. I was using Instacart for a long time, but now that I'm writing more with this writing program that I'm in, my phone has to be on Do Not Disturb. And with Instacart, you have to be available to answer the messages that are like, “Oh, I can't find this item. Is it okay if I substitute?” So you have to be able to answer right away. And I just can't do that right now with my schedule. 


BONNIE: Yeah, no, I hear you. I used Instacart a long time ago, but I haven't in a while. We’ll definitely link in the show notes the blog posts that we keep referencing. But yeah, there were some really, really good frugal tips in there, you know, before your book. How can people learn more about you? 


BC: I’m at bckrygowski.com. You'd have to put that in the show notes. My last name is just so long. I’m at bckrygowski.com. That's where I blog. And sometimes my husband will do blog posts there. He's the financial guru or the Boglehead of us. I'm the spender and the spreadsheet, frugal person. And he's the retirement FI investing guy. We played to our strengths in order to get to FI. That's how we ended up there. And I'm also on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter at BCKyrgowski.


BONNIE: Awesome. Well, we'll link to all of that in the show notes. Thank you so much for being here and we will give away at least one of your books.


BC: That sounds great. 


BONNIE: And it's awesome seeing you again! Take care. 


BC: Thanks for having me. Bye.


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