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'Back to broke' dermatologist 8 months after residency graduation!

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  • 'Back to broke' dermatologist 8 months after residency graduation!

    I am 32-year-old dermatologist in the Midwest. Not married, no kids. I graduated residency in July 2021, took 2 months off to travel and see family/friends, and started working in September 2021. As of March 4th, 2022 (my next paycheck), I will be 'back to broke' ($0 net worth)! As I reflect on the milestone, I bring myself back to the first day my parents dropped me off at college when I was 18 years old. THAT was the last time I was 'broke'...13 years ago. That night, I drank a lot of Bud Lights and got pretty dizzy with people I didn't even know. If I would have told that drunk 18-year-old kid "In 13 years, you're going to be a dermatologist!"...I would have thought..."Darn, I'm going to be rich, taking fancy vacations, driving a Ferrari and living in a mansion!" In reality, my vacations consist of going back to my hometown to help my Mom pay her medical bills, I drive a Toyota Rav 4 and I live in a 1BR apartment.

    My 93-year-old Korean War vet grandfather paid for most of my college education, but I did pay for some college living expenses and all of medical school. I feel extremely lucky that he paid for my college and am very aware that is a big reason why I have hit this financial milestone relatively early. I graduated medical school with $215k in student loans. Finished residency with $220k in loans (interest). It took me 8 months after graduating residency to get back to broke. I signed with a private equity dermatology group in the Midwest. $150k signing bonus and $400k base salary year 1 with $450k years 2-3 conservatively. It's a 3 year contract and yes, I have to stay all 3 years to get the full $150k ($120k has already been paid to me). I have many stipulations in the contract where I keep the full amount (death, disability, breach by the company in a variety of ways). I spent 6 months negotiating my contract with an attorney and contract negotiator. I work 5 days per week, 2 of which are at a rural clinic 70 miles from where I live, hence the large signing bonus. I invested this money in Roth and taxable account per the WCI guidelines and cash flow about $16k per month currently.

    The reason for this post is to thank everyone on this forum for your posts and feedback and also to offer some perspective for anyone interested. Money is freedom. Money can buy time and peace of mind. Time is our most precious asset. I just spent 13 years of my life grinding my butt off just to get back to $0. Don't get me wrong, I have enjoyed my journey. I love derm, like my job and love my patients. The 22-year-old kid who decides to go to med school doesn't think about this perspective, but probably should. I will use my newfound financial milestone to 'buy' more of my time to explore my life passions outside of medicine. I will continue to work pretty hard for more years to come, but as I sip on my local craft beer after closing all of my charts for the day, I celebrate this small milestone and I toast to you, my WCI forum friends!

    Pleas feel free to share your "back to broke" journey. How long did it take you? Do you even remember the day you hit the milestone? Did your perspective change at all?

  • #2
    Congrats. I am happy for you.

    Food for thiught: I thought derm made more and esp if 2 days per week were 70mi away…

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Timparsons952 View Post
      Congrats. I am happy for you.

      Food for thiught: I thought derm made more and esp if 2 days per week were 70mi away…
      is that considered low?

      i'm not in derm but i would have been very pleased with 400K my first year out and a 150K signing bonus on top of all that

      I still remember driving to cash my 5K signing bonus check and giggling all the way to the bank, probably would have passed out if it were 150K

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      • #4
        Idk. It’s a ton of money for sure.

        I suppose “Midwest” is relative but If like random MN and driving 70mi to work 2d per week for rural clinic idk I just thought it would be more

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        • #5
          Impressive. Took me a lot longer to erase less debt.

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          • #6
            Congrats. My net worth never dipped below 0…but I was a few months shy of 31 when I fully repaid my debt of time to the military…which was an incredible feeling as well. Time really is our most precious resource.

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            • #7
              Are you planning on staying with this group in the long run or are you interested in PP?

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              • #8
                congrats! That 70mi commute must be ************************ in the winter. Great for taking that on, but now that you're back to broke, consider celebrating by being better to yourself and once you've gotten the full bonus, which seems like it'll be soon, stop doing the rural clinic/that commute

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                • #9
                  Congrats and well done!

                  Helping those who wear the white coat get a fair shake on Wall Street since 2011

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                  • #10
                    Well done comrade!
                    Click image for larger version

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                    • #11
                      Well done. Seems like a lot of money for a new grad when you consider the signing bonus.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ddoc79 View Post



                        Pleas feel free to share your "back to broke" journey. How long did it take you? Do you even remember the day you hit the milestone? Did your perspective change at all?
                        I graduated residency with a net worth of $55,000. We had an income half yours ($160-$250 in that era) and reached seven figures in seven years.

                        Great job, you're well on your way to FI!

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                        • #13
                          Your yearly income is at least 4X your debt burden (100k left after applying the bonus to student loans). That’s a fairly small hill to climb, but still worth celebrating. Following WCI advice you will be in great shape in the long term for sure. Most important thing is to enjoy the journey.

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                          • #14
                            I was not tracking back then but I was probably broke by the end of residency. But I had a full time pharmacist wife. But we lived like residents anyway and continued to do so for a few years afterwards.

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                            • #15
                              Took quite a while, if you include mortgage debt. Had mortgages even from residency, but did well with real estate appreciation, helped to get to + net worth earlier. I'd say with college, med school, mortgage, took maybe 7 ish years after finishing training (cardiology -- had to geo arbitrage to do it in that time frame though)

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