Why the fuck did I choose to do this in my spare time?
I would say that I’ve always had the natural tendency to be a math nerd, although I didn’t really appreciate it until graduate school. When I was younger, I made it through algebra and geometry and all that, then pre-Calc started to fuck with my mind, and by the time I got to trigonometry in college I just gave up. It wasn’t so much the lack of ability as a lack of motivation or interest. But then I went into psychology, had to take a lot of statistics classes, and I thought those were kind of okay. When I got to grad school, I realized I had an unusual penchant for research, and luckily due to a supervisor seeing great potential in me, I was selected for a research-based postdoc which is where I learned to code syntax and really delved into the Rainman side of my brain. What I mean when I say that is when I get really in the numbers, I can literally feel my left hemisphere turn off. I remember one time after several hours of coding, I went out on a dinner date and had difficulty making conversation because my brain was still coding in the background. I was never particularly interested in finances until I started making money though. I understood that compound interest existed and very much worked to my favor and I had actually started investing at an early age, around 20, although not consistently, or intelligently or any of that, but I was still doing a lot better than most 20-year-olds.
Eventually I was introduced to be FIRE movement. Now, as fate would have it, this was actually foreshadowed a couple years ahead of when I learned that there was a name for the movement and all that good stuff. I happened to put in an online dating profile that I was interested in investing and I ended up going out on two or three dates with a very nice young man who clearly had more Aspergian traits than I did and who repeatedly rubbed me the wrong way. I won’t go into the details, but there’ll be some future blog posts potentially referencing some comments he made about how I chose to spend my money. Anywho, that didn’t work out, but to make a long story short, he was investing the vast majority of his income and intending to retire pre-age 40. Couple years down the road when I was spending more time reading about finance and investing, I came across the Millennial Revolution blog and that was when I learned it was an actual thing. From there, of course, there’s links to Mr. Money Mustache and all kinds of other resources, which I will not bore you with here because if you made it here, you know how to use a search engine.
Okay, so all that to say, I’ve been reading those other blogs. Now, to put it lightly, I cannot imagine living in a more diametrically opposed archetype of the previously mentioned three individuals’ worlds. Let me do a bad caricature here of how I feel a lot of these blogs read, or again, if you talk to just your average FIRE enthusiast, what they have to say about it.
“I’m 22 years old and I just graduated college! I have a bachelor’s degree which I got for free because I live in a country which pays for the vast majority of my education and gives away lots of grants to students! I do super cool technology software coding type stuff, so I walked right into a job where I can make $90,000 a year while working in my yoga pants from my studio apartment! On those rare occasions I have to go to work, I just walk there because I live in a major metropolitan area and housing is located super near jobs! Also, I happen to live with a partner, and like six roommates, so my rent is four dollars a month! I had to do was cut back what I was spending on $19 basil-infused gastronomical cocktails, and all of a sudden, next thing you know, I’m putting away $80,000 a year! I can retire in two years, and because I also live in a country where healthcare is considered a basic human right, I’ll never have to worry about going bankrupt or paying for health insurance! And by the way, you can totally do all this too!!!”
“I was able to retire at 30 because I love bicycling so much! You don’t think you can not own a car and his bicycle everywhere? Well you’re wrong! You can! Do you live in the middle of the desert? No big deal! Do you live in Siberia? Still no big deal! Are you professional has to wear a suit to work? No excuses! Do you have Multiple Sclerosis? Even better, it’ll be good for you!!! I also do all my own car maintenance because I’m awesome, and it’s more efficient for me to spend 18 hours doing it myself than to pay somebody the $40 to do it, and you should do that too! Also, you should make everything you own! That shirt you’re wearing? Grow some cotton and by a loom, you’ll save $75,896 over the next 30 years with compound interest! That chair you’re sitting on? By an ax, a circular saw, a jigsaw, a wood turner, and fucking build it! No excuses!”
“Oh, you have a dog? Dogs are totally a luxury, they cost money, I would never have a dog. Oh, you live alone because you’re an introvert? That’s super expensive, you should self-impose hardship and get like 14 roommates, and then you’ll be able to retire earlier. You know, because then you’ll be retired and you won’t have to work anymore so it doesn’t matter you’ll be miserable the whole time while you live with 14 roommates and no dog. That’s FREEDOM!”
So, yeah. The running theme here, is that a lot of these people if not all of them, have not accrued six figures in student loans that they have trouble imagining paying off in the next 10 years. Many of them either don’t have to worry about health insurance at all, or are apparently young and healthy and don’t have to worry that much about chronic conditions and how much those cost. As far as I can tell, they don’t have physical limitations to work around. (Now, I’m not saying that I or you, dear reader, do, but I’m just saying as a healthcare professional I see that a lot, and I haven’t seen anyone address that shit yet.)
Many of them also aren’t single, and don’t have to worry about what would happen if they had to stop working tomorrow and not be able to pay their six-figure student loans. A lot of the things suggested in other blogs also are not practical for individuals in the healthcare professions. I’m sorry, but if you’re most kinds of health professional and you’re on-call, your patient may not be able to wait for you to ride the 18 miles on your fucking bike to get there to try to save their life. I genuinely believe that if you live in a country where you have to pay for your health insurance, where you have to go to school for an extended period of time and probably accrue at least some debt in order to do what you love, if you genuinely love what you do and you feel like you help people (which is why most of us in healthcare professions get into it, but it’s not universal, I admit), you have professional responsibilities that you have to shape your life around inside of some utopian lifestyle ideals… The FIRE movement as it’s currently presented probably pisses you off. It does me.
What I want to do with this blog is tackle all those issues and see if those of us in the healthcare field can still accrue significant wealth and improve our quality of life despite these challenges. One thing that these blogs do not address is that we really need healthcare professionals – there’s a shortage in almost all healthcare fields. That’s why nurses make so much. That’s why in my field of psychology, I will always have a secure job and occupational satisfaction is so high. That’s why we’re licensing an ever-larger number of para-professionals like a APRN’s, CRNA’s, and physician’s assistants, and even extending prescribing privileges to people like psychologists. Somebody’s got to do it. We need people with high levels of education to make the sacrifices they’re making of their time and their life to push forward healthcare and technology and improve the quality of life and quality of care for the entire population. Science continues to be the future, the sacrifices many in academic professions make aren’t recognized, and to be basically looked-down upon and judged for our lifestyles is just wrong.
So, I invite you to join me; let’s start off by dousing this FIRE bullshit in all the places those other blogs went wrong. Then we’ll try to build it back up and craft a new movement. At the moment, I'm trying to come up with my own acronym for this thing. I’ve heard young professionals, not just healthcare workers but lawyers and the like, called HENRYs, which is High Earners Not Rich Yet. I prefer to think of at least my healthcare brethren as HENS; Healthcare Education Nothing to Save, because the first thing we gotta do is pay off the fucking student loans before they eat us alive.
Okay, that's not the best acronym. I can't be good at everything. What the hell do you think the catchy acronym should be?