Interviews with Real Female Physicians – Amanda

Welcome to another installment of Interviews with Real Female Physicians. The goal of this series is to share their story so that you, the reader, may learn and be inspired from their experiences – good and bad. We all come from different backgrounds and have different situations. Some of you are married, some are not, some with kids, some with blended families. Let’s show other women that any of these can work financially!  So let's introduce our next woman physician rockstar – Amanda.

Tell us about yourself:

I am a soon-to-be 40 year old Pediatric Emergency Medicine physician. I've been married for 6 years with one little girl. I am from California and my husband is from Puerto Rico. We met in medical school and after being together for 7 years, we finally got married. We waited on having kids to be “ready”, and that was a mistake because it was harder than we thought to have a baby. We spent a lot of time dealing with infertility issues. Thankfully, we had pretty good IVF coverage so while we had to pay some of it out of pocket, we were definitely lucky and it didn’t financially ruin us. We trained on both coasts and finally settled in Phoenix, AZ just last year. We had been in NYC for several years and were happy to finally leave for a better quality of life. Our hobbies, like most people, are traveling. I personally like shopping and reading when I’m not so tired! I definitely feel like I picked the right specialty. I love the kids and never know what my shift is going to bring. There’s A LOT to be said about doing shift work and leaving your work at the hospital. My advice would be to do what you love and get paid for it. I have been an attending since 2012, and my husband, a cardiothoracic surgeon, since 2016.

Did you graduate with student loans? How much & what are the interest rates?

I was lucky enough to receive full tuition reimbursement from USC for 4 years of undergrad and 1.5 yr of grad school since my mother worked there. I graduated with around 250k in debt between graduate school and medical school – a combination of federal and private loans. The private loans were at an interest rate of 7%, and those were paid off in full (approx 80k) as a gift from my mother. The remaining – I have been chiseling at it and am finally under the 100k mark at a rate of 2.1275%. My husband graduated with no loans – all paid in full by his parents. We are very lucky because our loan situation is a best case scenario compared to what other physicians face.

How fast (or not) are you paying them off?

Given my interest rate, I am taking my time paying back the loans. We would like to purchase a house in the next few years, so all of our ‘extra’ cash is going towards that. My husband is more debt averse than I am, but between the CFP and myself, we have convinced him that rushing to pay off the student loan is not financially advantageous. I am set to pay them off in 2037, however as my husband reaches his financial peak in the next few years, I anticipate being able to pay them off much sooner.

Financial aspects of kids 

When did you have them?  

We had our baby girl in 2016. We hope to have another, but we are not sure that will happen given my age. I also have no desire to pursue infertility treatments again, given how unsuccessful they were, and now we have a HDHP which has no infertility coverage.

Are you planning to fund their college expenses?

This is where my husband and I disagree. He wants to fully fund and I’m ok with her taking out some loans. We currently have 2 529s, a UTMA and a Coverdell ESA. There is a possibility of me joining a employer who will fund 75% of her tuition if she goes to an AZ state school. This is 17 years away, so really hard to know if AZ will be our ‘forever’ place.

What are your child care expenses?

We have a nanny and pay her $2600 monthly. I know of too many daycare nightmares and just didn’t feel comfortable with it.

Financial aspects of marriage

Are you married?

Yes we are married.

Did you get a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement?

No – we talked about it but essentially came into the marriage with nothing on both of our ends.

Do you and your husband agree on finances?

For the most part yes. We agree on needing to discuss big purchases and the need to save. (In my mind, for retirement and in his, for our daughter’s education). My husband however is less worried about having enough for retirement. He believes in enjoying his life now because you never know what is going to happen. I however tend to plan for the long-term. This is why we have a CFP because we aren’t always on the same page.

Have you experienced a financial catastrophe?

Thankfully, no.

General Finances

What’s your FI (financial independence) number? 

We haven’t decided at this time.

Who handles the finances in your relationship? Are you DIY or do you have a financial advisor? 

I handle the $$ and we have a CFP.

What is your net worth?  

We are net positive several 100k – our only debt is my loan which is now under 6 figures. This however will change once we purchase a home.

How are you saving for FI/retirement?

We currently have 2 x 401(k)s and 2 x Roth IRAs. Previously, we had 403(b) and a 457(b). We just learned about Roth IRAs last year. We are investing only in equities with very low or no fee index funds.

One thing you wish you knew:

In the medical profession, we take an oath to do no harm. We take our profession very seriously and we make personal sacrifices to help others. We take this for granted and assume that other professionals have the same work ethic and integrity. This is how we get taken advantage of – our financial naïveté coupled with our assumption that other people are honest and have our best interest in mind.

Do you have insurance?

Yes, we have disability, life, auto and umbrella insurance.

What does FI/retirement mean to you? What does it look like?

Freedom and peace of mind. Being able to help our daughter without a second thought.

Do you give to charity? If so, where and why?

We are working on this. My husband would rather give to his immediate family or people that he personally knows who need help than a random charity where those who need it may only see a fraction of the donation.

Any parting words of wisdom?

Don’t assume the same level of competence, honesty and ethics from someone giving you financial advice that you exhibit in your profession.

And … that's a wrap! If you're interested in doing this please send me an email – I'd love to hear from you!

I love that Amanda and her husband use a CFP to help mediate their financial differences. This is definitely one of the big reasons to work with one.]]>

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