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Are you “worried” about money?

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  • Are you “worried” about money?

    This week I was engaged in a lengthy semi-annual (or so) catch up conversation with a good friend, and as he often does (in a non-obnoxious way), he brought up our respective net worths. He volunteered that he and his wife were approaching $10M, and I revealed our Number, which is quite a bit below his. He replied, “Well, you should not be worried about money.”

    My response: “I am not at all worried about money, but I am attentive to it” He loved my use of “attentive” and agreed. In retrospect, I thought it was the perfect word, and I since thought about my last fifty years and which word I would substitute for “attentive” at various points in the past.

    Growing up, I was “reverent” of money. It was sacred and seemingly in short supply because my parents always fought about it. (My father was a successful orthodontist, so it really was pretty plentiful.) I was raised to believe that people with more of it were deserving of admiration.

    In med school and residency, I was mostly “oblivious” to money. There was enough of it around, people rarely talked much about it or showed it off, and my primary objectives (learning, professional training, running and building relationships) did not depend on it.

    As a young attending, I quickly became “obsessed” with money. I was finally getting some, liked it, and wanted more of it. I was driven to work extra shifts to make more of it and invest in the best vehicles to multiply it.

    Finally, as a mid/late career doc, I guess I am mostly at peace with money, “attentive” to it, for sure, but not worried.

    So, are you “worried” about money (probably not, if you are reading this)- what SINGLE WORD would you use to describe your current relationship with money? In the past?

  • #2
    Good question and interesting topic.  I guess I would say that at this point in my life I am slightly worried about money.  Not that we're at all starved for it right now.  I make great income and we can essentially have whatever we want.  What worries me is getting out of debt (still have $100+K of low interest student loans that I'm working on paying off asap) and getting to financial independence as quickly as possible since I don't feel particularly secure in my career. I don't enjoy my work that much so I don't know how much longer I can stand doing it and I also fear that medicine will continue to change in such a way that my line of work won't be as lucrative or even available.  If I loved my job and felt more secure in it, I probably wouldn't be as concerned about money.

    I think what may be different about our experiences (and probably many younger docs today) is that the student loan issue has thrown a big wrench in our financial lives.  We're all graduating with very high loan bills and terrible interest rates and it's not a good/pleasant way to start your career.  Fortunately sites like this are helping lots of people deal with these issues quickly though.

    Imagine how your experience would have been different if you had graduated residency with 250k or more of student loan debt (some of which with interest rates of 7.25%).  That's pretty average these days for most new attending docs.


    • #3
      At this point, "preoccupied" is the word I would use.  I was pretty obsessed until the last few years.  However, I am still saving over 2/3 of my after-tax income without even really trying, simply because it's hard for me to think of worthwhile things to spend the money on.  So I've realized the longer I keep doing this, the more meaningless my net worth number is.  Also, like hightower, I don't want to keep doing clinical employment for that much longer, and health care costs in early retirement are a major source of anxiety.

      It is a difficult line to walk between protecting yourself from burnout and making hay while the sun shines.


      • #4
        Great topic.  I grew up in a solidly middle class household so living within your means and saving were emphasized. No one in my early life ever invested.  It was a big deal for my Dad to buy a bond or a CD.  My oldest brother worked his entire career as an engineer for IBM.  He is the first person I remember hearing talk about buying stocks.  Always IBM for him.  So my early money life was all about debt avoidance, brute force savings, and safe investments.  During med school and residency I did not invest but I did not get into credit card debt like a lot of my friends.  I was essentially oblivious to money.  I did not factor money into speciality choice either.  When I first got out of residency and was working in my first job I began dating someone who was in financial services.  He taught me how to think about money.  I began reading every book I could find on personal finance.  This would be the 90s and I thought money was a useful tool to make even more money.  I was obsessed with this for several years.  I survived two horrendous downturns without excessive panic.  I realigned to indexes and I guess I would say I am attentive but not obsessed.  I feel like I am playing my last hand before calling it quits as far as income generation goes.


        • #5
          I think that on some level, I will always be worried about money. I blame this on my parents ;-) They fought about it all the time and we didn't have much of it growing up, and I hated feeling it was out of my control and I was dependent on others to provide for my needs. Because of that I've made sure to work and to live within my means, as well as to have a rainy day fund. I've always been happy living this way. At this stage of the game, I certainly have nothing to worry about.We are in a very secure financial position and on our way to an even better one, I love my job and will be able to retire early even though I don't plan on doing so, and I'm insured against major catastrophes. And yet-- I still worry. Not even sure what about.

          I should probably prescribe some zoloft for myself ;-)


          • #6
            I have shifted from being Convinced in my early thirties that I should have chosen a more lucrative career, to being Worried in my late thirties and early forties, to being Concerned until my early fifties. Now approaching sixty, I am Comforted that things are on target. Yes I remain Attentive, and admittedly there are moments of Irrational Worry. These are now much more easily dismissed with a small dose of reality and a glance at my account balances.
            My Youtube channel:


            • #7
              attentive to what though?

              i'm trying to transition from worrying about accumulation to optimizing a resource to support happiness.  i try to spend as little time thinking about money as humanly possibly.  of course, for me that means probably thinking about it more than 95% of people instead of 99% of people. 

              the hickups are pension and social security, cost of education, and healthcare in retirement.  potential swings are millions of dollars.

              still like work though, and as long as i keep working, no need to be concerned about money accumulation. 




              • #8


                the hickups are pension and social security, cost of education, and healthcare in retirement.  potential swings are millions of dollars.



                Click to expand...

                Okay, now you have me worried, too.


                • #9


                  the hickups are pension and social security, cost of education, and healthcare in retirement.  potential swings are millions of dollars.



                  Click to expand…

                  Okay, now you have me worried, too. ????
                  Click to expand...

                  your kids are older than mine, your net worth is greater than mine, and you aren't supporting your parents and your inlaws.

                  stop being illogical.  get out there and enjoy life.  apparently you have good genes, so start using them!

                  you should go almost back to oblivious.



                  • #10
                    Early in my medical school education and during my working time in England I used to scrimp. Maybe because I was brought up that way, to not be a spendthrift. I had a tendency to do locums and gather extra money and immediately invest it.

                    I moonlighted during residency in the non urgent care part of the ER, getting $30 per hour. I am not sure what happened but in fellowship I stopped moonlighting. I have also started to spend a bit more and even though I am comfortable money wise now I still cannot get myself to splurge. I can't imagine spending three times the amount for business class airfare or buying the latest in high end electronic gear. The one thing I spend a good bit is international travel. Part of it is the fear that in a decade my health may not be able to withstand the rigors of foreign travel.

                    Other than entering income and expenses in Quicken I hardly keep track my net worth. Since a significant chunk is in commercial real estate that is not to be valued and tracked daily or monthly I am never sure how much I really have.


                    • #11
                      Helping those who wear the white coat get a fair shake on Wall Street since 2011


                      • #12
                        Pretty relaxed.  Worked hard and got lucky, in some respects, with a high volume group.  Retired early.  Was always very lucky to have a partner who was on the same page when it came to finances and never had any significant disagreements about priorities.  Canada so don't really have major worries regarding health care or social security.  Major concern is that children have a good life but that isn't really so much about money.


                        • #13
                          Love this post and the "attentive" characterization.

                          Starting my 6th year I can really see the trajectory opening up in front of me in a way I couldn't a few years ago -- student loans gone, essentially no debt other than mortgage, month left at the end of the money, and retirement accounts growing.

                          I'm at a NW where I know I should feel more wealthy than I do, but I don't. We're at the "anything we want but not everything" phase.

                          I think a lot of this does come back to the old man, he lived so far below his means when I was growing up that I never felt any financial stress from him. He made much less money than I do but his lifestyle never got out a head of him. Aside from his mortgage I doubt he ever had a cent of debt after the age of 35.



                          • #14
                            As a young attending: concerned.


                            • #15
                              Hyperaware would be the word for me. I am very happy with our progress. Worried about things I cannot control and hopeful for the future.