Here’s our latest interview with a millionaire as we seek to learn from those who have grown their wealth to high heights.
If you’d like to be considered for an interview, drop me a note and we can chat about specifics.
Today’s interview is with Doc G from Diverse FI.
My questions are in bold italics and his responses follow in black.
Let’s get started…
How old are you (and spouse if applicable, plus how long you’ve been married)?
I am 44 years old and my wife is 42. We have been married 18 years.
Do you have kids/family (if so, how old are they)?
We have 2 kids: 13 and 10.
What area of the country do you live in (and urban or rural)?
We live in the suburbs of a Midwestern city.
What is your current net worth?
Depending on the day $6.3 to $6.5 million
What are the main assets that make up your net worth (stocks, real estate, business, home, retirement accounts, etc.) and any debt that offsets part of these?
- Taxable stocks and bonds: $2 Million
- Retirement Savings 401k X2, Roth IRA X 2, Traditional IRA x 2: $2 Million
- Investment Real Estate: 4 Properties, no mortgages: $1.5 Million
- Home ($850,000 with a $350,000 mortgage): $500,000
- 529 for 2 kids: $320,000
- Owned Long-term care policy x 2: Cash Value $85,000
- DAF Vanguard: $56,000
- Cash: $60,000
What is your job?
I am a physician and own my own general internal medicine practice.
I am a medical director of a nursing home.
I am an assistant medical director of a hospice company.
I am an expert witness.
I also consult on training and teaching of nurses, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants.
My wife is a human resources executive
We are both landlords.
What is your annual income?
My Income: $600,000
My wife: $150,000
Rental Properties: $55,000 (Net)
Tell us about your income performance over time. What was the starting salary of your first job and how did it grow from there?
My first physician job, I was paid $120,000 a year. I worked extra hard and made $250,000 after a few years.
Eventually I decided to stop working for a medical group, and joined another physician in partnership. My salary increased to $400,000.
Finally, I started my own concierge practice and maxed out my compensation at $950,000 a year.
Since then, I have found the FI community and have started to pull back. I have purposely dropped some lucrative opportunities to enjoy life more.
My wife has been working at the same company for the last twenty years. She started at $40,000 a year and now makes $150,000.
What tips do you have for others who want to grow their income?
I think you have to innovate.
To go from X to 5X you must not be afraid to travel down multiple diverse avenues, not be afraid to fail, and most of all…never let someone tell you that you can’t do something.
What’s your work-life balance look like?
I answer phone calls 24 hours a day.
I see patients 6 days a week.
I begin work every weekday morning at 5:30 am and I get home most days by 2pm.
On Sunday I see patients before the children awake and return by 8:30 am.
I am almost always home when my kids return from school.
We generally eat dinner together as a family.
Most family time is interrupted by short phone calls lasting 30 seconds to 1 min from time to time.
My wife works more traditional 8am-5pm hours.
Do you have any sources of income besides your career? If so, can you list them, give us a feel for how much you earn with each, and offer some insight into how you developed them?
Our previously mentioned rental properties return about $55,000 a year.
What is your annual spending?
We spend roughly $175,000 a year.
What are the main categories (expenses) this spending breaks into?
Here are the main expenditures:
- Mortgage: $22K
- Private School: $20K
- Childcare: $25k
- Charitable: $20K
- Travel: $15K
Do you have a budget? If so, how do you implement it?
We do not budget but are very cognizant of how we spend money.
What percentage of your gross income do you save and how has that changed over time?
Even in the beginning of our careers, we always saved one of our salaries.
As our income has grown, we have begun to save 40-50% of after tax income.
What is your favorite thing to spend money on/your secret splurge?
Vacation. We go to Mexico often and have started taking trips with the kids to Europe.
Restaurants: We eat out at a nice restaurant once per week and then fast food (healthy) for lunches on the weekends.
What is your investment philosophy/plan?
We adhere to the three-fund lazy portfolio and use Vanguard.
I fired my investment advisor because the allocation was too stock heavy and the ERs were too high on mutual funds.
We try to keep at least a third of our wealth in investment real estate (not reits).
What has been your best investment?
We bought a house for $400,000 in foreclosure. Fixed it up for $40,000. Rented it for 3 years (making $15000/yr) and then turned around and sold it for $705,000 without paying any realtor fees.
What has been your worst investment?
Our own home. Your home is not an investment!
What’s been your overall return?
Generally our returns in the stock market for the last 10 years have been around 9-10% after accounting for my advisors AUM fee. I no longer have an advisor.
How often do you monitor/review your portfolio?
I monitor daily but change infrequently.
How did you accumulate your net worth?
We have been very lucky.
I graduated medical school with no debt and we paid off my wife’s college debt quickly. Thus, we were able to save a huge percentage of our incomes from the very start.
We generally live well below our means compared to others in our income category. We are frugal but willing to spend money on what we care about.
We also, very early in the game, got the real estate bug and took advantage of the downturn and bought a few properties in foreclosure.
What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your net worth?
We are generally slowing down and trying to focus less on income.
My wife will likely be retiring soon, and I expect to pull back from work quite a bit over the next few years.
Our goal is to make enough to cover our yearly expenses and never touch our investments.
Do you have a target net worth you are trying to attain?
Not really. Maybe 10 Million.
How old were you when you made your first million and have you had any significant behavior shifts since then?
My net worth probably crossed over a million sometime in my early thirties.
My behaviors have not changed much since then.
I have two kids now, and spend on them accordingly.
If you could rewind to when you first started out, what would you do differently?
I would have studied personal finance more and not hired a financial advisor.
If you had to give advice to ESI Money readers about how to become wealthy, what would it be?
Study and learn about personal finance when you are young.
Never outsource your money. No one will manage it as well as you.
What are your plans for the future regarding lifestyle?
My wife and I plan to slow down and work less, travel more, and enjoy the kids.
Are there any issues in retirement that concern you? If so, how are you planning to address them?
We are concerned about healthcare if my wife leaves her job.
How did you learn about finances and at what age did it ‘click’? Was it from family, books, forced to learn as wealth grew, etc.?
I grew up with an accountant and a businessman as parents. They owned multiple properties and ran a number of small businesses.
Do you give to charity? Why or why not? If you do, what percent of time/money do you give?
We try to give every year to my daughter’s school and the ACLU.
Do you plan to leave an inheritance for your heirs (how do you plan to distribute your wealth at your death)? What are your reasons behind this plan?
I’m not sure. I will probably expect my kids to earn their own way and leave money to my grandchildren.
The Physician Philosopher says
Great interview by a great Doc!
Fascinating the road you have taken, Doc G. I think it is wise that you backed off, despite the massive income, to focus more on family and life/work balance. I bet that has paid dividends at home.
Coming out of medical school with no debt really does put you ahead quickly. The average student is coming out with $189,000 right now (which is better than dentists at >$250,000). This goes to show that when you don’t take the massive jump in lifestyle when you finish training, that you can create wealth rather quickly.
What would be your specific advice to those coming out of medical training with less than average debt? Do you think it’s the same as for those with massive debt? (Keep costs down, save a good amount of your income, etc?) Or do you think they can afford the lifestyle creep after training if they came out with minimal debt?
Good post. Really enjoyed it!
Doc G says
Hey Physician Philosopher. I think Jim Dale over at The White Coat Investor has it right. Whether debt or no, you have to live like a resident for several years after your are making an attending physician. You are already used to having nothing. These beginning years are so important in building a base.
Accidental FIRE says
Great interview Doc, congrats! You’ve clearly aced the game and I agree that you should pull back. But you obviously love medicine so all in due time. Love your blog and really appreciate you reading mine!
Doc G says
Hey Accidental FIRE. Thanks for your kind words. Your blog was part of the inspiration to start mine (I even came up with the same name).
Tom @ Dividends Diversify says
Very financially accomplished family. I like the laser focus on maximizing career income. Each spouse has done it differently, but with great success. Tom
Doc G says
Thanks Tom. We really tried to maximize, especially at the beginning.
Lily | The Frugal Gene says
Interesting schedule maximized for spending quality time with kids, I like it. It’s also nice to meet another FI person without the solid RE.
Is there any reason of expecting kids to DIY and focus on leaving money to grandchildren? Literally just curious. I’ve thought of that too… because if I raised them right they wouldn’t need me to leave $$… righttt?
Doc G says
I think my job is to pay for the kids college and provide a supportive learning oriented environment. I think they need to find their way financially by themselves to be happy. I did receive some inheritances from my grandparents and hopefully will do the same for my grandkids!
Chris @ Duke of Dollars says
You are diversified in your income, get to spend time with your family, and starting to focus on some of the expenses you have.
I’d love to hear more about your travels – sure it is expensive to travel with 4 people though!
Doc G says
Travel is definitely a part I have been slacking on. We go to Mexico at least once a year. My wife has taken the kids to Spain and Italy in the last few years but I wasn’t able to go. Looking forward to ditching work and doing more of this soon!
[email protected] says
Very impressive Doc. I’m curious, considering your current resources if you have any regrets not cutting back on the hours sooner.
Doc G says
I actually like working, so I don’t have major regrets. I did miss out on some great international travel (I missed trips to Russia, Montreal, Spain, and Italy with my wife). I’m am going to remedy that now!
Wow, you are a machine. How do you find time to sleep with all of those high profile responsibilities? I guess that explains your high net worth at such a young age. Your interview was highly motivational. Thanks for sharing it with all of us.
Doc G says
Sleep. Who sleeps?
Very impressive Doc. Question – Can I ask what the funds that you own? (three-fund lazy portfolio and use Vanguard.) Thx.
Doc G says
Mr Defined Sight says
Glad to hear you plan to slow down a bit and enjoy the family, Doc G! Congrats on all of your accomplishments. We enjoy following along on your blog.
Doc G says
I appreciate it. I read yours regularly!
Fantastic interview. I am amazed that you got through med school with no debt. You need to write a book/posts on how you did it. Congratulations sir for your continued success.
Millionaire Doc says
Congrats on the interview DocG. Very impressive financial achievements. The results are not typical of a primary care physician so it goes to show that an unconventional route can lead to unconventional results. Bravo. Also, you have a great blog with some fantastic stories and mad writing skills.
Doc G says
Thanks Millionare! Makes me think about your post on Ladders!
Finance stoic says
Well done DocG, good interview.
Also interested in how you made it through medical school without debt.
I love the dialing back for family time. I’m ~ four years behind you in age, and the age of my children, and 45 is when I want to dial back to be with them. Not too dissimilar to you.
Are you planning on doing more trips now? If so, where?
Doc G says
I don’t want to add links here, but go to my first ever blog post called Irony and Life Insurance.
Finance Stoic says
I’m sorry for your loss at a young age.
That he had the foresight to have sufficient insurance and that your mother invested it the way she did is phenomenal. And, it appears to have paved the way for yours and your brothers success.
Interesting read; my husband is nearing retirement, is an anesthesiologist. His income is less than yours but doubled half way through his career ( reimbursement formula increased, thank goodness). We have 3 grown children, and I never had a career once the kids were born. Looking at your net worth, I can see how my staying at home has affected our net worth (although I always knew it did). We live below our means also, so have been able to save at 50% savings rate. We do not travel much at all except to visit family, and our home is worth about $300,000 after living in it for 30 years! However we have pumped about $800,000 into our children for education, summer camps, high end internship housing, bar mitzvahs, braces, enrichment classes, etc. etc. The list goes on. So we had to have about $1,500,000 to spend the $800,000. When I saw your net worth I felt badly about ours, since we are savers. Guess our income just didn’t quite match yours, and you have not spent the big bucks yet as your children are still young. Just wait! The money begins to fly out the door. It has only been the past few years that our savings has been kicked up a notch since the children are grown, but the youngest is in process of applying to medical school, and we want to at least pay for the first few years, maybe let him take out loan for last year. Will see; just hoping he gets in. Thanks for your transparency.
Doc G says
Hey Ellie. It sounds like you are doing great! Our success is a mix of luck, hard work, and timing. Net worth is only a number. It has nothing to do with the other thousands of things which you are!
Physician on FIRE says
Good to see you here chatting with ESI Money!
Your income is remarkably high for an internist (and quite a bit higher than mine, even when I was working full-time as an anesthesiologist), and I point that out for two reasons.
For the general public reading this, $600,000 is double to triple what most internists earn. For the physicians who say they struggle to get ahead, your income is an example of what’s possible by thinking and working outside the box and really hustling.
Thank you for sharing your story and numbers here.
Doc G says
Hey PoF. Thanks for your comments. Running your own business and side hustling helps. Now if I could just get 600K pageviews on my blog, I’d be set!?
POF, I’m a internist too working as a independent hospitalist, hard work pays off, out of residency 2013, no student loan as I’m foreign medical graduate, wife never made more than 50k per year, never used financial advisor, bought stocks in 2008, 2009 when everybody else are selling. Core investment are the same as Doc G. NW over $9M
Sorry typo, out of residency 2003
Doc G says
Wow! Good work!
Great interview DocG! Slowing down and enjoying the kids sounds like a great plan:)
Doc G says
I’m doing my best!
Dr. McFrugal says
Great interview Doc G! It’s always great to hear how physicians like you achieve wealth, financial independence, and a meaningful life! Keep up the fantastic work on your blog. You are an inspiration and I think all young physicians like myself can learn a lot from you. Thanks!
Doc G says
Thanks. And thanks for reading and commenting!
Amy @ LifeZemplified says
Nice to see you over here, Doc G! 🙂 I hope you are able to dial back your work schedule and spend more time with the family. One of my regrets is being too driven to succeed in my own business when my kids were teenagers. Luckily they still turned out pretty good. Coincidently my daughter is an RN working for a hospice organization. I don’t know how you guys do it. Much respect!
Doc G says
Thanks Amy. I’m definitely slowing down. Kids are 13 and 10 so getting to those critical ages.
Great Post Doc G. I notice that you are another doctor worried about health insurance if you fire. I just did a post on health sharing organizations. My blog is doctoroffinanceMD.com. So far one commenter has actually used one. He is a retired anesthesiologist. He was positive.
Doc G says
Thanks Hatton. I’ll check it out!
Susan @ FI Ideas says
Thank you DocG for opening up with all of the details of your life and finances. I really am inspired by your commitment to your family and your patients, and the way that you have managed to find work/life balance. And still write a blog post every day!
It is interesting to me how your are thinking about the inheritance issue. I like that you want to follow the lead from your grandparents. It is clear that what you are “giving” your kids is much, much more. They are lucky to have you. Now go and find a way to join them and your wife on those interesting trips. Go!
Doc G says
Thanks Susan! Now if only I travel hacked!
Was with you until the support of the ACLU.
Ms ZiYou says
I love these articles, hearing from those that have made it to the two comma club.
Mr. Shirts says
Great interview Doc G.
One question: Are you struggling at all to take your foot off the gas? My personal experience (and with others wired the same way) is its incredibly difficult to do, even if you know all of the benefits. You must have a high motor/drive both to get through medical school / residency, then choose to work that much more to drive your income into the very high six figures.
I hope this interview also shows the readers that you win twice by busting your rear early in your career: Your human capital is worth more because of your skills/reputation/network AND you get the compounding interest effect of earning and saving those dollars earlier.
Doc G says
Yes. Totally struggling! I write about it often on my blog.
Thanks for providing answers I can copy and paste into a future interview.
Just kidding! Nice work my friend. I wouldn’t mind being closer your number, but I have few complaints where we’re at today.
We actually have a lot in common, I also manage doctors in medical service facilities. One thing Im doing differently is that, instead of staying in the clinics to see patients 5 days a week, I hire associates. As long as you have a right system in place, the business should be able to run itself, and I’ll just have to supervise from far away. We shouldn’t be working more than 10 hours a week after we turn 40 years old 😛 I also invest in rental properties, which supplements my healthcare business perfectly. Good luck Mi-47!
Net worth, 6.3 million + . . . any issues in retirement that concern you?
‘We are concerned about healthcare if my wife leaves her job.’
I always notice 800 lb. gorillas as well.