Personal Finance & Wellness

This page is a collection of the posts about personal finance and wellness. Some basic concepts plus illustrative stories or lessons learned by me and the occasional guest poster.

Why Personal Finance & Financial Wellness Is Important

Financial Health To Balance Your Career & Help Prevent Burn-Out

prevent work burn-out

A healthy career and life has balance. Physician burn-out is mulit-factorial. However, good financial health is a powerful tool for physicians to combat it.

Use your financial knowledge and strength to control and improve how your practice.

A strong financial position empowers you to expand your influence at work, home, and in your community.

Mindful Like My Dogs

Mindfulness is one of the first things trotted out when an organization wants to tackle burn-out.

That is for good reason. There is some science to suggest mindfulness has many benefits to our mental health. My dogs don’t do science & I don’t do yoga. However, mindfulness can help our mental and financial health. My dogs can give us some unconventional lessons how.

Build Your Financial Team. Lead it.

To build your financial team, you must know who the players are. Their skills. Their potential biases.

Your are the common link and must lead them. Ensure that you are delegating tasks rather than abdicating responsibility for your finances. Ultimately, you will be responsible for the outcome and bear the consequences.

A Financial Plan To Build Financial Immunity

Even physicians are not immune to financial shocks. Build a financial plan to strengthen your financial immune system.

Learn the basic components that you need to consider to make a financial plan. Come back to this framework as you move through the rest of the financial curriculum.

Money & Wealth

Holistic Wealth: Money, Personal Capital, The Economy & Society

barter system funny

Most people think that financial literacy is about money. However, money is just a tool. A convenient medium of exchange. Learn how money works with your human capital and financial capital to build holistic wealth within the context of our economy and society. Understanding this helps you to allocate your resources to become truly wealthy.

Deploying Personal Capital To Build Holistic Wealth

holistic wealth management

Becoming truly wealthy means building more than just your net worth.

Deploy your human and financial capital to build holistic wealth.

Time is our most finite resource. Learn to be deliberate in how you spend it. The earlier you start being deliberate, the more your returns compound.

Building Holistic Wealth Through DIY Home Maintenance

One way to build more wealth using the limited time that you have is to find synergy.

I find synergy by spending some of my time and energy to save money, learn skills, and build relationships through DIY projects.

How do I decide what to take on & what are the benefits and pitfalls?

Unpacking My Net Worth

net worth canada

Net worth is a commonly used measure of wealth.

Find out how I calculate and use it.

I have tracked my net worth changes for over 15 years.

Join me as I unpack my net worth journey and share insights from the data.

Financial Independence

The Pillars of Financial Independence & Retire Early

Financial independence Retire Early (FIRE) has been around longer than it had a cool name. The retire early part often rings hollow for professionals. We have invested so much into our careers, that they are a core part of our being.

The pillars of FIRE can help professionals build a platform for a fulfilling life without retiring early.

The Flavours of Financial Independence

types of financial independence

Learn about the different flavors of financial independence retire early (FIRE). They each have their own benefits and potential drawbacks. Consider how they could fit with your values and goals.

Determine which suits your palate now. Remember that your tastes may change in the future.

Stick It To “The Man”: Play Your Financial Banjo

life happiness

Physicians and other professionals are steeped in their professional and personal cultures. These pressure us to follow multiple scripts.

Break free from the scripts that will make your professional career suck instead of awesome. Stick it to “The Man” and have a rockin’ career and life. Don’t know who “The Man” is? Look up. That is his thumb holdin’ you down.

Earning & Spending Your Time

Value Your Time Using Your TiMER

time money exchange rate

We exchange a mix of our time, effort, skill, comfort, and security to make money. Time is the common denominator.

We spend money to buy other people’s time, effort, skill, comfort, and security for the products and services they provide us.

What is your Time Money Exchange Rate (TiMER)? Calculate it and learn how to use it to make more rationale earning and spending decisions.

Do You Earn What You Are Worth?

get paid fairly

Do you think you are earning less than you are worth, right on the money, or more than you are worth? How we value our own time impacts how others value it.

Consider whether you have a mismatch and what you are going to do about it. Dr. Ramlall gives his perspectives from coaching fellow physicians to improve their Time Money Exchange Rate.

The Earning & Spending Trap

spending problem

Professionals often have opportunities to work more to pay for more.

The bait can be subtle and alluring. Beware. It could be a trap.

Learn how to detect, disarm, or safely extricate yourself from the trap.

Winter Tires – Are They Worth It?

I change my own winter tires.

I go through the numbers of why this is a good use of my time.

Even as a highly paid physician.

Earning, Spending, & Giving For Happiness

Biology of Happiness: Evolve Beyond The Hedonic Treadmill

spending problem

The fossil record is littered by those who ended up on the wrong side of natural selection.

Learn about the biology of happiness to avoid a Darwin Award on the hedonic treadmill.

Instead, evolve to align with your biology in the pursuit of happiness.

Avoid a Lip-skid on the Hedonic Treadmill

spending happiness

If we are driven by the boluses of our happy-chemicals, then we will ratchet up the speed of the hedonic treadmill. Until we have a lip-skid.

Learn strategies to avoid that based on our biology and behaviour.

Walk, choose your path, and savor the journey. Or add a mouthguard to your shopping list.

Income & Happiness: A Double-Edged Sword

money happiness

Some research suggests that increasing income helps to increase happiness up to a point and then it may decrease. It is a double-edged sword. However, there is more nuance to it than that.

There are clues embedded in that research to help you learn how to use your income to maximal happiness advantage. And avoid cutting off your own appendages.

Income & Happiness: Your Mindset Matters

money happiness mindset

Another method of studying happiness suggests that increasing income helps to increase happiness, but no satiation point. There may be a diminishing return by earning more. Or it may be accelerate happiness gains.

The difference in response to income appears to depend on your baseline happiness. Almost half of that is impacted by your mindset and relationship with money. Learn how. So, that you can learn to bounce like Tigger rather than be an Eeyore.

Synergistic Spending for Compounded Happiness Returns

money happiness

Spending is an essential financial skill. We only have so much time and money to spend. So, we must maximize the return on that investment.

Learn how you can spend your time and money effectively. There is much more to it than “buy experiences, not stuff”.

Happiness research can inform how spend effectively in different domains. Even better, find ways to spend synergistically.

Spending Wisely: Lessons From My Patients

Spending wisely is a pillar of personal finance.

Many equate that simply with being frugal. My patients have taught me that it is much more.

Is Our Motorhome A Money Saver Or Sewer?

RV vacation budget

We have been using a bus-like motorhome for vacationing in. It cost a lot of money and depreciates quickly.

Many would say that is money down the sewer. Others point to RV travel as an economical way to vacation.

How did we get here and has it been an economical way to travel for us?

My Dirty Little 10000 Square Foot Secret

too much house

Buying too much house, or too soon, is a classic doctor mistake.

There are diminishing returns on spending and it goes beyond just the financial aspects.

Learn how I fell for this one. Yeah, that was my house. We have since downsized.

The Best Toys For Kids Are Free

spending on kids

We can buy our kids the most expensive coolest stuff we never had as kids. There is plenty of social and media pressure to do that. Some buy their kids stuff to make up for their time away at work.

We have done all of the above, but that stuff doesn’t see the same usage as free toys.

Give Your Capital To Receive Happiness

charity wellness

Philanthropy or pro-social spending is a skill we must master to maximize our happiness and life satisfaction. There are many ways to give, but some are more effective and rewarding than others.

Learn how to give effectively. Both to maximize your impact, and life satisfaction. You don’t gain much satisfaction when you are dead. So, don’t save your giving for your estate. Make it a part of your life.

Giving To Our Kids At Christmas

give effectively

The holiday season is all about giving.

The best giving includes giving human capital, building relationships, developing skills, and seeing concrete results firsthand.

While we do buy stuff for our kids, but our best gifts were built. Not bought.

Spending Time On Yourself: Kick Work-Life Imbalance’s Ass

work-life balance

It is very difficult to find time for everything at work and home that demands your attention.

We have many accountabilities and our self-care is usually what gives. Find external accountability for your self-care. Even better, find synergy in doing so.

Mental Accounting: Be A Financial Vulcan To Live Long & Prosper

personal finance errors

As humans, we compartmentalize to be able to handle all of the information and tasks the world throws at us. That can lead to mental accounting and illogical financial mistakes.

Learn to recognize these common financial mistakes and tips to prevent them. Be a financial Vulcan.

Debt Management

Logically Get a Grip on Debt

debt management

Most professionals accrue debt at some point. Often a lot.

Some become numb to it. Others overwhelmed by it. Some use debt wisely. Debt can have a major impact on our current and future financial and mental health.

Humans are wired to think about debt illogically at times. Learn to think about debt logically to release your inner Vulcan boss. How you think about debt enables you to use it and deal with it more effectively.

Spending & Debt: A Chat With Future-You

spending debt

Debt is actually spending your future income. Future-You will need to earn it.

If used wisely, Future-You may benefit from how you spent their money. In that case, they will thank you. If your spending puts them into a bad position, then they will have something else to say.

Best to chat before Current-You becomes Future-You.

Dealing With Medical Student & Resident Debt

medical school cost

Medical training comes with a high upfront basic cost. The debt load can be overwhelming and scary. It falls outside of the realm of most people’s experience. However, many doctors have trod this path and it turned out okay.

I will give some suggestions of how you can make it easier to be okay. Not just okay now, but to make yourself a financial super-power for the rest of your career.

Medical Student Debt Repayment In Early Practice

doctor debt repayment

When you become an attending, the future has arrived. You have felt the growing burden of your debt and now it is time to the turn the tables and crush it. That requires you to pay attention and make a debt repayment plan.

The basic variables are your income, spending, debt repayment, and investing. This post looks at some Canadian data and applies that along with some tips to boost your success. There is also an embedded calculator to plug your own numbers into.

Pay Off Debt or Invest More?

loans investments

Most people face competing priorities for their income. One of the most common dilemmas is whether to more aggressively pay off debt vs invest more.

Debt interest and missed time in the market can both result in compounding losses over time. You need to make a deliberate plan and then execute it.

Pay Debt vs Invest in TFSA, RESP, or RRSP

invest tfsa vs pay debt

When faced with the competing priorities of paying debt vs investing, many will choose a compromise and do a bit of both.

Once your debt is at a safe level, starting your investing journey can help you take advantage of a longer time horizon.

You can also build good investing habits right from the start.

Learn why the TFSA is excellent for this. Also, consider when an RESP or RRSP may be even better.

Make A Loan Repayment Plan To Trash Your Debt

loan repayment plan

You need to make a concrete plan to eventually eliminate your debt.

That may mean consolidating some of it. For Canadian student debt, that decision should factor in opportunities for loan forgiveness, interest relief, and tax credits.

There may also be fine print for some loans like financing and mortgages.

Besides the math, you must also consider your psychology to make a plan that you can execute.