Interviews with real women physicians – Laura

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 – Laura.

Tell us about yourself:

I am a board-certified dermatologist practicing in Dallas, TX. I married my hubby (also an MD, same age) in 2008.  We have 2 kids and a dog (our best behaved child…).  I love running, reading, and travel. I live in urban Dallas, TX.  My commute is 3 miles from my office, takes about 10 min door to door (not bad). I love where I live and work and feel grateful every single day.  I have never lost sight of the fact that it is a rare privilege to become a doctor and even rarer to become a dermatologist.  I feel very blessed.  I teach medical students and residents and love sharing my knowledge with the next generation of dermatologists.  I am a volunteer faculty member since 2009 and have lectured at national meetings since I graduated residency.  I have always felt strongly about giving back to my field and advancing the specialty.

Did you graduate with student loans? 

I graduated with $110k in student debt from medical school.  I did not have any debt from college because I had a large academic scholarship to a big public university and worked part time during college. The interest rate on the $110k was 1.6%.  Yes, you are reading that number correctly.  I paid it off in 1 year by continuing to live frugally after I graduated residency. My hubby went to private college and medical school in NY.  He graduated with $280k worth of debt from undergraduate and graduate education.  His loans were recently all paid off!  His interest rate was around 2.8%.  We have been finished with residency since 2009, so it took 8 years.

Financial aspects of kids 

When did you have them?  

I had 2 kids after I finished residency. We utilize two 529 plans to fund their college education by 70%.  The remainder we have set up in a brokerage account to fully fund the rest of their education.  We had concerns about over funding if they decide on a Texas state school and didn’t want to face heavy penalties for withdrawing and not using the funds for education.

What are your child care expenses?

We have a nanny who we pay $800 per week. She has been with us for the past 5 years.  We plan to keep her until my oldest starts driving.  She arrives early every day so my husband and I can get ready for work.  She works approximately 40-45 hours per week.  My husband is a partner in his group and takes a lot of call.  I work 4 days per week.  It is priceless knowing that she is there looking after them even when we aren’t there.  We never considered day care because of our hectic and sometimes unpredictable schedules.  My nanny is quite flexible and if I have to stay late because of patient care issues, she has no problems working late.  My parents and my husband’s parents do not live close by.

Are your kids in private or public school? 

My children are both in a private pre-K and kindergarten.  Cost for my youngest is $12,000 per year.  Cost for the older is $17,000 per year.

Financial aspects of marriage

Are you married?

I am married to my husband legally, with no prenuptial agreement.  He and I were both dirt poor residents living paycheck to paycheck when we met.  It was quite an amazing experience to travel the long road that we both have been through together.  When I met him, he had a beat up Ford Taurus, with no mirrors and no air conditioning.  We rolled down the windows back then. The car would bottom out when we went over a bump in the road and we were too poor to fix it. We have a joint account and separate accounts too.  We are very open about finances and think almost exactly alike when it comes to finances.  We meet with our financial advisor once a quarter and discuss the future openly. My husband was the breadwinner for the first 7 years of our marriage.  Now –  I am the breadwinner!  Feels good. [caption id="attachment_1494" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Dallas skyline[/caption]

General Finances

My financial priorities are: children’s education, charity, paying off all debts, and living below our means. We use a financial advisor through Ameriprise.  He charges 1% AUM (not including the 529s and variable universal life insurance policies x 2).  He has been great.  He has assisted with asset protection, wills, advance directives, and was very helpful in dealing with my personal accountant and practice accountants on various issues.  We meet with him quarterly in person or via webinar.

What is your net worth?  

Our net worth:  $2.6 million.  This includes the $200k we have in VUL policies and equity in our home.  We hope to keep saving and leave a legacy for our children.

How are you saving for FI/retirement?

We max out our 401k(s)/profit sharing x 2.  We are in a moderate aggressive portfolio with Ameriprise.  We also have a joint brokerage that we contribute each month to ($5k per month per person).  We have and max out a health savings account.  We do $700 per month per child to the 529 plans.  We superfund our VUL policy ($3500 per month per person).  Anything in excess goes to paying off our mortgage. Our cars are paid off.  Our home will be paid off in 2 years (by age 40), or shortly thereafter.  We live in a modest, older home.  Our mortgage is very affordable.  We do not live beyond our means.  We do not like debt or believe in having a lot of debt.  I clip coupons and use the Target app.  I shop sales.

Do you have insurance?

We have two variable universal life insurance policies at 2 million each. We have disability insurance and business overhead insurance (for my practice). We have a 4 million umbrella policy through IDS Property Casualty Company. We have car insurance, homeowner’s insurance, also through IDS.

What does FI/retirement mean to you? 

Retirement to me means cutting back to 3 days per week…but I actually love what I do and could see myself working for many, many years.  My husband and I would like to do mission work or healthcare work in underserved countries when our children are older (in college).  We figure they always need doctors in underserved, impoverished countries.  We would love to travel and help others with our skill set.  God willing, I hope I stay healthy and be able to work for a long time!

Do you give to charity? 

Every year, we give to the Catholic church ($40,000+), Crohn’s and Colitis society ($2,000-5,000), and this year plan to donate to the ASDS (American Society for Dermatologic Surgery) – looking to do a large donation.

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

Laura and her husband are on track for financial freedom. Note the common themes in this series on living below your means to achieve this.]]>

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4 Comments

  1. Christina on August 24, 2017 at 9:40 am

    Congratulations! So much to learn. I’d love to see an educational post on VUL as this was sold to us by a NWM agent and I keep hearing to be skeptical of them! Also Bonnie – it would be great to have a profile of some lower earning physicians like peds or primary care. My take home monthly doesn’t even come close to what this family is able to save! Help!



    • Miss Bonnie MD on August 24, 2017 at 12:49 pm

      We have at least one – neonatal, published a month ago I think.



  2. Cristin Wise on August 29, 2017 at 8:24 am

    Wow! Great job! It is very inspiring to see how much your family donates to charity! I really hope to increase my charitable contributions each year!



  3. Dr. Sam(antha) on August 31, 2017 at 8:59 am

    After reading up on VUL, I think sticking with term life insurance and maxing out other avenues makes more sense (retirement avenues/asset protected stuff, taxable stock, munies, etc). WOW! What an education reading up on the VUL was!



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