Interviews with real women physicians – Teddi

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 –Teddi.

Tell us about yourself:

I’m almost 34 and am a community based academic Emergency Medicine attending. I’m from a blue-collar background in Oklahoma. Worked full time and moved out in high school and barely graduated. Became an ICU nurse. Applied to 1 med school and was accepted (University of Oklahoma), had a big chip on my shoulder, and went into General Surgery at Northwestern in Chicago. Met my husband who’s an academic Neuroradiologist while we were both in training. I found new perspective about the balance that I wanted in my life. I quit for that reason and many more. During my PGY3 going to PGY4 year I lucked out into a spot in emergency medicine at the same institution. I did not consider the financial impact at the time, but I ended up with shorter training, no fellowship and a specialty with reasonable pay. Now I’m loving my 0.8 FTE ER nocturnist life and have a little 3-year-old daughter. We live super local and frugally because I want riches and financial independence in like 3-5 years. I’ve been investing small amounts since college, but got really into personal finance as I finished my training. I like to learn absolutely everything about a subject, so definitely can be pushy with my excitement in my activities. I love to travel and traveled extensively, pre kiddo, but we all go somewhere on a plane every month or so. I love hosting elaborate get togethers, so am working towards a dream home as soon as I can convince my hubs. Cook at least 5 nights a week and am an avid city gardener. I’m not really crafty, but more of a person that thinks they can learn anything and don’t like to pay for something I can do myself. I think financial literacy is very important and we’ve been short changed during our medical training, so I try to get the word out as best I can.

Did you graduate with student loans? 

I had around $237,000 at 6.8% from medical school. Nursing school was essentially free. Had made several years headway into PSLF and was kicked out on a technicality that I didn’t understand at the time. I finished training in 2016. Spouse had around $300k at 1.8%. He finished training in 2012. We didn’t even keep track at first as we paid them, but from late 2015 to NYE 2017, paid off all of the remainder of initial debt around $550,000.

Financial aspects of kids 

When did you have them?  

Had my daughter during my second year of Emergency Medicine residency (PGY-5), which was rough, and I wouldn’t recommend. Planning on having a second, which will greatly affect our home capacity and probably child-care costs.

Are you planning to fund their college expenses?

We plan on paying for most, if not all. I hated starting life so in debt. Started saving the annual max last year when our daughter was 2, so only have to save for another couple of big years, then we hope the market takes care of the rest.

What are your child care expenses?

We pay $1300/mo. for 3 day a week daycare and then frequent babysitting.

Financial aspects of marriage

Are you married?

Yes we are married.

Did you get a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement?

No, didn’t even really consider it but both were in massive debt.

Do you and your husband agree on finances?

We are both very motivated to see some money accumulate in our bank account, but do go about things differently. He found the blogger Mr. Money Mustache first, but was already an anti-consumer and rides his bike to work. My husband prefers to play it safe with investing, and is tough to make plans with since he could live in a shack and be a radiologist forever on a w2 salary. It helped to get used to living on a fraction of my spouse’s new attending paycheck while paying down loans and using my resident salary to help fund retirement accounts early. Then we saved 100% of my new income for over a year that I’ve been out of training.

Have you experienced a financial catastrophe?

Our house caught fire my second year of EM residency, but we were able to spend about 50k above the 400k-600k insurance claim to renovate it to our liking. It was very stressful at the time, but no real financial hit. Two years of a gut renovation later- we have a great townhome.  

General Finances

What’s your FI (financial independence) number?

We haven’t decided. I feel pretty financially independent now without debt other than our mortgage. Maybe around 2.5 mil if we wanted to quit working completely.

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

I handle the money and we have a CFP that sold us our insurance and disability, but doesn’t manage our investment accounts. We also have a CFP/CPA that does our taxes and gives us annual strategy/pep talk that is extremely helpful.

What is your net worth?  

$1.1 million. We include retirement accounts and the equity that we’ve paid into our mortgages

How are you saving for FI/retirement?

Other than destroying debt with gazelle intensity – we currently have two 401(k)s, two Roth IRAs and two 457(b)s plus I have a solo 401k. We both get almost the full employer match allowed. I started a custodial account last year that we contribute to after our 529 contribution goal is met. Then we have a taxable account that I contribute to every time I make a wise financial decision like cleaning my own house or grooming my dog, etc. 90% index funds plus individual stocks. I have one 6-unit rental property that was amazing income during residency but lately has been just breaking even. We also pay extra on our mortgage every month. Now that we are done with loans, we will be ramping up our FIRE savings to work however we find most enjoyable.

One thing you wish you knew:

The power of compound interest. I had student loan money sitting in a no interest savings account for like 5 years, accumulating 6.8% interest in debt. I used the money for a fancy wedding, fancy cars and multiple European vacations before I thought about financial independence. You can never out earn bad spending habits!

Do you have insurance?

We are probably over insured, and now have to figure out how to back down a little since our debt is more manageable. We have disability, life, auto and umbrella insurance.

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

One, I love to entertain and hope to have a beautiful home somewhere that is probably not Chicago one day. Two, I would like to contribute more to the future of medicine and to support women advancing in politics. I think having money lets you be totally free.

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

I got extra interested in personal finance around the time that our current president unexpectedly took office. I’ve been concerned about the decrease in public funding of charities, so right now I donate all the profit from one side gig to different charities each month. I hope to be able to make more meaningful change when I am done with the child-creating and wealth-building phase of my career. I don’t think our taxes are required to pay for everything, so I don’t mind funding some things privately.

Any parting words of wisdom?

When considering a job, things that can be readily measured get too much attention, for example, salary and vacation time. Aspects that are hard to evaluate like an interesting work environment, stress and morale are more important. Have a longer, more productive career without burnout. You can live well in an expensive area if you balance a short commute and manageable job so that you don’t have to subcontract out all the adulting (cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, parenting) of your life. My take is to skip the fancy car, house and country club but consider living somewhere great that your day-to-day is really full of vibrant people and activities.

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 loved reading Teddi’s story and I hope you did too. I couldn’t agree more with her advice about seeking a long career without burnout.]]>


  1. W. Ben Utley CFP® on April 23, 2018 at 3:14 pm

    Teddi is on the right track and I’m impressed that she is waiting to buy her dream home. I wonder what her dream home looks like in her mind’s eye? Where does she want to live? Will she live there with her chilren? Or will it be a retirement house? Will it be in the city or out in the countryside? I would love to hear more about what she wants.

  2. My Early Retirement Journey on December 1, 2018 at 1:18 pm

    Miss bonnie, I’ve enjoyed this series! I pretty much enjoy anything about women ‘doin it!’. I read all of them, this one had some worthwhile tips for me as far “consider living somewhere great that your day-to-day is really full of vibrant people and activities.”

    My absolute favorite one was Diana’s story! It was so honest.
    Interesting to hear all the takes on childcare/expense. That’s where I saw the most difference. I think everyone had one (maybe 1 didnt?), which I found also interesting. I’m not a physician, but I too wish I had been exposed to different careers as some writers stated. I think radiologist or food scientist would have been more interesting. At least one person mentioned having a hobby to retire to. That’s where I’m at.

    From all the FIRE blogs I’ve been bingeing over the last year, it’s curious that for the most part this group of women is not fast FIREing… i.e. not making any big changes to reach FI faster. I also am shocked at myself that I didn’t realize just HOW much physicians get paid… as a young poor person I just thought 100,000 was THE 6-figure salary…it just didn’t even occur to me that people can make HUNDREDS of thousands of dollars per year! smh Honestly with the internet, the next generation really has no excuse not to have THE best lives!

    • Miss Bonnie MD on December 13, 2018 at 9:17 am

      Thanks so much for stopping by! Yes most docs enjoy a very nice salary – if you’re willing to sacrifice close to a decade of your life and take on lots of liability – it is up for the grabs 🙂

  3. The Sunday Best (12/16/2018) - Physician on FIRE on December 16, 2018 at 3:56 am

    […] Interviews with Real Women Physicians – Teddi – Emergency Medicine […]

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