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! I am super excited to share this interview today with Dr. Nikki Ramskill, she's a doctor in the United Kingdom! I met her at FINCON18 and she is up to some awesome stuff across the ocean as The Female Money Doctor. Try to read the interview with a british accent!
Tell us about yourself:
My name is Dr Nikki Ramskill, and I am a UK-based doctor training in general practice with just under 18 months left to go before I am a fully-fledged independent practitioner! I have been a doctor since 2009, and tried out Obstetrics and Gynaecology for 4 years before deciding it wasn’t for me. Switching between specialties actually wasn’t that hard to do logistically, but mentally it was more difficult to let go. Having experience of a specialty however has actually made being in general practice a lot easier! The stressors are different, but nothing will ever compare to the stress of labour ward on a busy shift. My advice to medical students looking to pick a specialty is to do one that is right for you and the lifestyle you wish to lead. I want more freedom and control in my life, and working as a hospital doctor in the NHS does not allow for this. Becoming a GP allows me to live a life I want – I can literally design it anyway I wish to, and it will change as I get older and my responsibilities change. I have never picked my specialties based on how much money I could earn. Chasing money makes you miserable in the end. Chose the specialty that agrees with your personality, and one you can enjoy, even when it gets hard. And if you get it wrong, just switch! When I chose to become a GP, I moved out of London, and I now live in Milton Keynes – a city that is about 1 hour north of London. I live with my boyfriend Tom and we don’t have any children yet. I decided to move because it made more financial sense to do so, plus, being a GP out of London is much better than being a London-based GP in my opinion. Living in London is EXPENSIVE, and part of the reason why I accumulated debt going through medical school and afterwards was to try and keep up with everything that was going on. I wanted to do it all, and as a result, overspent. Thankfully now living outside of London, the cost of living has improved, and I can do a lot more with my pay check! In my spare time, I blog about money as The Female Money Doctor. Being in debt has made me realize how hard life is trying to pay it off as well as do all the things I want to do. I could see in my patients the same struggle, but with the added concern of taking time off to get better. This led me to wanting to write about my experiences so others can learn from them and avoid doing the same.Writing about this topic is a huge passion of mine and I love spending time creating things to help others. It gives me a great outlet from the day job and works another side of my brain!
Did you graduate with student loans? How much & what are the interest rates?
Being in England, student loans are a little different. We firstly don’t have to pay as much as tuition as you do in America – our students currently pay up £9,250 per year, plus we don’t have do any pre-medical degrees. We can apply from age 18 straight out of school. Secondly, we don’t have to start paying our loan back until we reach £18,330 per year in income. If we don’t reach this level, we don’t pay. Any remaining debt is then wiped at age 65 or when we die (whichever is sooner). So basically, there is no pressure on graduates to start paying back immediately (or even at all). It is also not calculated in mortgage affordability, so it doesn’t affect buying our first homes. Payments come out of our personal pay cheques, so partners don’t have to pay on our behalf when we get married. I took out a full loan when I was at medical school. I came out with £50,000 worth of debt.
I’m now down to £20,000. I don’t plan to pay this off early because my other debts come first. My interest rate is currently 1.75%.
Financial aspects of kids
I don’t have kids, but I would like them when I finish training. My plan would be to start them saving and investment accounts as soon as they are born to give them a good head start in life. I don’t plan to waste money on private education. We have good schools on the whole here, and hiring private tutors is a much more cost-effective way of giving them an educational boost! Plus, I like the fact that state schools provide an education on how to get along with others – more diversity from different backgrounds is a great way to educate kids on the differences between people in my opinion.
Financial aspects of marriage.
Are you married?
I am not currently married, but we are planning to. We agree on finances – my boyfriend tends to reign me in, and I push him out of his comfort zone, so we balance each other out like that! My boyfriend knows that my earning potential is far higher than his and he is ok with this. He jokes about being a “house-husband” one day, but I’d prefer to raise children together. We differ on whether to hire help like a weekly cleaner, as he feels we should both be cleaning our own house. In all honesty though, I feel it is a waste of my time, so I’m hoping to eventually win him over on this!
I have made some huge mistakes in the past. I think my biggest one was allowing an ex-partner to control all of my money. I had to ask him for an “allowance” which was humiliating and made me feel worthless. My first pay cheque as a doctor was spent buying a new TV that he wanted. I could never go on girly holidays on my own, or make purchases without his say-so. When we broke up, I lost everything – including any claims to a flat we shared in London. I had paid into it for 4 years but never saw a penny of it. BIG MISTAKE! I like the idea of having a pre-nuptial agreement now, but I plan never to be in this situation again. I have full control of my own finances now, and only a small bit of my money goes into a joint account with my partner. Lesson learned!
I will be financially independent when my net worth reaches at least £750,000. This will (in theory) give me enough of a monthly buffer so that I will never have to work again (if I choose not to), AND take my partner out of work too. I could free myself at a much lower net worth than this, but I want to have breathing room to allow for changes in the economy, and to afford a decent standard of living, plus having money to go travelling with which is something I love doing. I also don’t want to leave my partner behind to do all the work! I got to this number by calculating how much money I would need, growing at 8% per annum (on average) so that I could then start to live off of the money safely, taking a years-worth of income out at a time, and leaving the rest to keep accumulating. As I accumulate money, I’ll evaluate this number and revise it as necessary. There are new blogs coming out all the time with different opinion and ideas, so I’m flexible enough to change if I need to! In all honesty though, I don’t think I would retire at this point, but it would give me the security of knowing I could go part time or do something else entirely if I wanted to. Besides, I’m still a long way off this number. I was massively in debt when I started on this journey, but now I’m close to having a net worth of 0 (it’s about 1-2 years away). My net worth is currently in the negative, but I have improved it by over £50,000 in the past 3 years. My salary is just over £36,000 per year, so as you can imagine, this is a slow process!
Who handles the finances in your relationship? Are you DIY or do you have a financial advisor?
I do my own investing without the help of a financial advisor – to be honest, I don’t currently have enough in assets to justify employing one anyway (and I doubt they’d be interested!).
How are you saving for FI/retirement?
I currently put money into my pension at work (which I am not allowed to add more to or move to another provider because it is public money). I also have a stocks and shares ISA that I invest in – I am allowed up to £20,000 per year tax free, so my first plan is to fill this as much as possible while also paying off debt. I have a nice mix of diversified index trackers and exchange traded funds. I have both UK and US equities, plus corporate bonds, gold and equities in emerging markets. I rebalance once a year in January.
Do you have (long term) disability insurance? Life insurance? Umbrella?
My partner has life insurance because he currently owns our house. When I go onto the mortgage next year, I’ll look into buying life-insurance then.
One thing you wish you knew:
Would be learning how to invest sooner.
Any parting words of wisdom?
There are no quick fixes to finance. It takes a decision, then a commitment to get yourself on track. Once the decision is made, consistency is key. It may feel like you’re getting nowhere, but slowly you are. Celebrate the small milestones along the way and give yourself credit when its due! Above all, have fun – this does not need to be stressful!
I was born on April 23rd – the same day that is said to be Shakespeare’s birthday, and coincidentally, the same day he died. It’s also St. George’s Day – the celebration of the patron saint of England!
And finally, where can people connect with you?
Visit my website @ thefemalemoneydoctor.com. I'm also on social media: @femalemoneydoc on Twitter and Instagram andd on Facebook. And finally, you can always send me an email at hefemalemoneydoctorinfo – at – thefemalemoneydoctor.com.
And … that's a wrap! If you're interested in doing this please send me an email – I'd love to hear from you!
Well I hope you enjoyed our first British physician interview! Go tell your physician colleagues over in the U.K. about Nikki and her awesome website!