Interviews with real women physicians – Eliza

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 – Eliza from Minimal MD.


Tell us about yourself:

I'm Eliza from Minimal MD. I love my life as a 35 year old retired dermatologist, living in the Midwest with my husband and two kids. I'm really into minimalism and travel.

Did you graduate with student loans?

Yes, I went to a private medical school. The total payback over a ten year term was projected at $250,000, including interest with rates of 1-9%.

I paid off my first small loan during my intern year to avoid the terrible 9% interest rate. Then I got serious about the loan with the next highest rate. I graduated from residency in 2012, and made my last loan payment in April of 2017.

Financial aspects of kids

I had both kids during residency.

The out of pocket cost for two kids at our on campus daycare was $2,400 a month. Luckily, they had a financial hardship program. It brought the cost for our first child down from $1,200 to $400. The amount varied every few months. As soon as I graduated, I went to a part time position, working 2.5 days a week.

We tried a highly rated Montessori school for our daughter. It was $9,000 for a half day program that didn't really meet her academic needs. That disaster, on both the educational and financial fronts, has made me really skeptical about paying lots of money for private school tuition. I think carefully now about the opportunities I could provide with a similar amount of money.

We currently live in an area that doesn't even have private schools. Most recently, we have decided to homeschool because I really like the flexibility to be able to travel with the kids now that I am retired. We will take off for several weeks at a time to explore the U.S. or Europe.

Financial aspects of marriage

I am very happily married. My husband is loving his career right now, so he continues to work. Retiring early isn't for everyone. Luckily, he is a teacher, so we have been able to just relax and travel together all summer.

What financial mistakes have you made?

I've already mentioned the private school fiasco. Our second big financial mistake was living apart during five of our early years of marriage. Having separate households and commuting frequently across the country is not a way to build wealth. For the record, it isn't a fun way to parent two small children either.

Our next mistake was regarding our home purchase. When we bought our first home, we wanted to live in a certain public school district. We also wanted a fenced in yard for the kids and a basement to protect us from tornadoes. The only house that fit those specifications was a 4,700 square feet custom built home. We had no money for a down payment because we spent so much paying down my student loan debt, so we financed 100% of the purchase price and took an adjustable rate loan.

In addition to the loan terms, the house was a lot to take care of and many repairs were more costly because of the size of the home.

The saving grace to the situation was that we then bought a home well within our price range. We took on only 25-33% of the loan that the bank would have allowed us to qualify for. Also, rather than accepting the loan as a part of life, we paid as much as we could each month and knocked out the entire mortgage in 2.5 years. We moved recently and used the equity from the first house to pay cash for a smaller home.

What’s your FI (financial independence) number?

We used the general advice of 25x yearly expenses to achieve financial independence. I don't include home equity or the 529 account money in that number.

Do you have disability insurance?

I did have own occupation disability when I worked. I have cancelled that since the policy only applied when I was working anyway and was the largest line item in our monthly budget. I also canceled my husband's primary life insurance this year since we are financially independent. We do have some other umbrella and supplemental life insurance policies that are just so inexpensive that they barely register. I'm constantly adjusting the coverage.

If you are FI or “retired” – what are you doing?

I left my clinic job in June 2017 and have spent the last year traveling with my homeschooled kids across the U.S. and to England, France, Iceland, Scotland, Sweden, and Denmark. To keep my license active and engage with peers, I have done some free skin cancer screenings and locums work averaging one to two days a month. I've also downsized from the 4700sf house to a 1350sf house plus basement on 5 acres of forest.

With so many changes this year, I'm still adjusting and growing into this phase of my life. You can read more about my minimalism, financial story, and travel experiences at, or connect with me via Facebook.

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 totally agree that minimalism and simplifying life has great rewards. Kudos to Eliza for achieving FI!]]>

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