Savings the earth and picking up plastic is my hobby. I don’t get paid to plog (picking up plastic and jogging), and I don’t get paid to be a climate and health advocate. I get paid to take care of patients in clinic, and that is it. This blog is non-monetized and purposefully so. I remember back when this all started and Mr. Money Mustache’s blog people approached me about monetizing things, and I stuck with my origianl purpose. I’m an environmental hobbyist and I’m totally into it.
But like most hobbies, it cost money but I want to make sure it doesn’t break the bank. I try to mostly donate money to other environmental organizations like Rainforest Trust, Eden Projects, EDF and want to make it cost effective. The blog cost $25 a year for the domain name. Blogging is fun for me. It’s my environmental journal. But now my silliness is under brute force attack. Not sure what they are looking for on the blog? But it is, and I hadn’t realized it’s sometimes 800K attacks a day. There is an option for $110 a year to install a plug-in to protect this site. I’m not sure how much protection it will provide. I’m going to ask around, but it just brought up the issue of finances.
I have to write a personal finance blogpost at least every 3 months, so that Crispy Doc doesn’t take me off his Physician Personal Finance Blogger Blogroll. https://www.crispydoc.com/physician-finance-bloggers/ Just dropped by his blogroll, and there are some really interesting new physician personal finance bloggers. There are a few new bloggers who are minimalist as well. I hadn’t stopped by this list in a while, so it’s fun to see what’s new on the blogsphere. But I’m still the only litter-picking physician personal finance blogger – YES I AM!
I had been thinking about the hypocrisy of personal finance blogging in general for years. There is so much about personal finance that is out of our control. The reason for debt can be the same as the reason a child is overweight, the systemic forces out there have created the scenarios that increase the chances that someone needs to take on debt or cannot earn enough. I’m changing my approach to childhood weight issues, by acknowledging with families what is out of their control that has pushed their children to gain weight. Skyrocketing housing prices that force families to work multiple jobs, and short change children’s activities. The built environment that has decresed active transport for the entire community. The fossil fuel industry and federal corn subsidies that have flooded our food industrial complex with cheap plastic to encase the food and cheap high-fructose-corn-syrup to make it taste sweet.
Just like it’s still important for me to talk about plant-based diets and evidence based changes families can make to address children’s weight. I will still address pillars of personal financial responsibility, but acknowledge that much is out of people’s control. I guess that is why the personal finance blog part of my writing is specifically aimed at physicians and young pediatricians who do not usually fall into the category of having suffered as many injustices as the rest of the world. Since there are others that read, please take that in mind.
The hypocrisy of my personal finance blogging is that I married a fellow physician who has a high earning potential. The hypocrisy is that I have the cultural upbringing and the demeanor to be able to co-exist harmoniously with my in-laws. The hypocrisy is that other than my own immediate children and myself, I don’t really have to provide for anyone else. All my strengths are still there. I’m financially oriented because my father was an accountant. I work essentailly full time when I could have been a stay-at-home parent (trust me, I tried!). I’m super frugal because for most of the first decade of my life, my parents bought very little extras as they built our family’s financial lives. We didn’t buy many material things, but we had so much wealth in our family’s traditions and affection.
That is it. I wanted to really show you the Buddha Hand fruit collage picture, and just some thoughts today about FIRE hypocrisy. The hypocrisy is true for other personal finance bloggers particularly physicians and those omnipresent male engineers as well. The idea that someone would ask a doctor for financial advice is hilarious. It’s like asking your accountant about your sinuses. Ask your doctor about your sinuses. Ask your accountant about your finances.
Hey, but everything on this blog is free and for entertainment purposes! I’m just trying to help save the earth, and on the side get to interact with some of the FIRE bloggers I had admired for over a decade. They know my name now, which I think has been a great side benefit of all this environmental action blogging with a personal finance twist!
I’m not an easy person. I realize that. I’ve calmed down now in my still youthful early-mid forties. I thought it was being a Crimson University graduate, but Dr. Dear Friend summed it up well. She said I can intimidate people. I honestly can’t help it. It’s not where I went to school, but who I am. I tend to like to get things done. Despite my being more centered and holistic, I am ultimately a goal-driven and project-oriented person. It may be an artificial sense of completion, but I like to tick things off my check list. Number of bags of trash. Number of vaccine quality projects done. Another super interesting place to give a presentation.
Realizing my need to complete tasks is part of my own internal make-up, I have now created earth-tasks that I am hyperfocused on. My current earth-projects are the Rewild Mission Bay work and getting the AAP California State Government Affairs Expert Committee on Environmental Health and Climate Change off and running. Oh and helping our premed advocacy interns onto their journey to medical school.
It makes me not such a popular person at times. That’s okay. It’s never been important to me, popularity. I’d rather be impactful and effective.
But I’m here on the blog today to remind all our readers (and thank you for your continued presence) that it’s okay and actually necessary for all of us do-gooders out there to also take care of your financial house and parent your children. And honestly the last few weeks that has been my focus. I am in the middle of two large real estate transactions, and one came in pretty close to deadline. If I had not gotten that done, it would have cost me thousands in capital gains taxes. We are also in the process of doing a property exchange on a rental condo in Imperial Beach. It’s really nice. My mother called me and asked me why I hadn’t called her, and I told you – I was busy with loan applications! The interest rates are going up mommy! She understood.
Last night, I also had to do something that needed to be done. I can only be Dr. Plastic Picker if my teenage children are on the straight and narrow. They are definitely on the straight and narrow, and generally very good children. But there was a minor issue with one of them and it needed to be dealt with at dinner as a family. In our family if you vere on a questionable path, it’s not just you that is affected – it’s our entire family. That includes your father Mr. Plastic Picker, your mother Dr. Plastic Picker, your grandparents, your sibling, your puppy and your two bunnies. The entire family weighed in and said “that is not acceptable behavior.” Well actually it was mostly me Dr. Plastic Picker that said in a very calm and measured voice “I received an email from school, and we have discussed it. You will email your teacher and apologize for yourself and on behalf of your entire family.” In the end it was such a minor minor infraction, and honestly the teacher dropped the ball as well for not dealing with this in class. And society has become so permissive that for a majority of people it would not seem like a big deal. But again, for my children and for me – I expect more from my children. It’s hard to be my child. All that parenting and that concern 100% comes with strings. It comes with ancestral strings and expectations, that how you act reflects upon me and your entire family. With that, I was a super strict parent yesterday.
But that was how my father was with me. He was happy go-lucky with other people’s children, but very strict with us at home. And that is how I am in general with our children regarding public behavior. So take care of your financial house and make sure your children are doing okay. You are the only one who will take care of those two things. And then if there is extra time, yes – please help us avert the climate crisis!
I am so happy for Crispy Doc! I don’t really “know” him but I visit his blog once in a while. I am also one of 70 physician personal finance bloggers out there on his blogroll https://www.crispydoc.com/physician-finance-bloggers/. To be on his blogroll you have to blog about physician personal finance (which I do all of the time) but he checks to make sure you have a blog dedicated to this at least once every 3 months. It’s not a hard requirement, and I connected with him on a lark. I’ve always been fascinated by the FIRE, financial independence retire early world. Then I coined the term FISE, Financial Independence to Save the Earth. The term is important to me, but it’s just me using it. Once my friend Dr. McFrugal blogged about my term. https://www.drmcfrugal.com/weekend-reflections-9-13-20-fire-and-fire/
Anyway, back to why I’m happy for Crispy Doc – an ED physician who I do not really know. He’s Crispy Doc because he was burned out. But now he is moving into some kind of community health/management position and using his MPH degree. That is it! Physicians are such wonderful people and knowing that he is using his financial independence to do good and work in community health and management is really wonderful.
But the reason I started blogging this morning and meandering around the blogsphere is that I wanted to tell you about something we bought for $30 that for me is TOTALLY WORTH THE MONEY. We are quite minimalistic in our household. I don’t really think I’ve bought much new in terms of clothing in two or three years? Our consumption of material things has gone way down. But Mr. Plastic Picker did buy me a $30 milk frother. I am so happy because it is going to save me money, make me happier, healther, and help me save the environment. This is why.
RANDOM TABLE OF REASONS WHY A MILK FROTHER IS A FISE PURCHASE
After (home Milk Frother)
mostly the organic soymilk, matcha green tea was free, power was free from solar panels paid for already
I use 1/8 of the carton of soy milk or 1/2 a serving which is 50 calories and 1 teaspoon of sugar which is 15 calories
this is the biggest, I need to make sure my dental health stays good
And that is it. That is why my new MILK FROTHER is so FISE (Financial Independence to Save the Earth!). I love it! Mr. Plastic Picker bought it for me. He works a lot of overtime because he grew up with not as much material wealth. I tell him not to buy me things, but he bought me a MILK FROTHER and he also let me buy the OREGON FARM! Well I bought that too, because I work as well. Thank you dear readers. I am so happy with my milk frother. I will make you healthy matcha green tea soy latte anytime you are at my house! It only cost me $0.10 and we will be saving the earth together while we get healthier as well.
Also we are helping to save the planet by drinking less coffee. Here is the environmental impact of coffee “Increasing competition and a drive for increased output are impacting the environment in negative ways, with monocropping becoming the new norm alongside ‘sun cultivation’ methods. WWF reports that because of this, 2.5 million acres of forest in Central America have been cleared to make way for coffee farming, and this deforestation is on the rise in coffee-growing countries. Incidentally, 37 of the 50 countries in the world with the highest deforestation rates are also major coffee producers.” https://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/coffee-and-its-impact-on-people-animals-and-the-planet/
It’s something to think about! I don’t really think about it anymore because I don’t drink coffee. I drink this beautiful cup of every morning which I call my “Green Awakening.”
At just a little over a $1 per carton, the kirkland organic soy vanilla milk is plant-based pediatrician MUST-HAVE! Especially since I stopped drinking coffee, and like to have my “Green Awakening” which is my matcha green tea soy latte in the morning. This morning I’m drinking my “Green Awakening” with non-dairy powdered creamer which I used to drink with coffee but it doesn’t go with the matcha green tea. Therefore, Dr. Plastic Picker is sad and annoyed. I’m sad because I need my kirkland organic soy milk and I don’t have my kirkland organic soy milk.
I don’t know when my palate became so particular and fancy, but now that I’m weaned off a lot of processed foods and try to eat generally plant-based – I’ve just become so particular about things. Case in point, my sad cup of matcha green tea this morning which is not a soy latte. But I refuse to drink it at Starbucks because it cost I’m sure at least $5 and they put tons of sugar in it. Up to 32 grams according to a quick Ecosia search.
I was emailing back and forth with a colleauge yestserday who used to be kind of like my department frenemy who is now a friend, because I decided to just love everyone (in a non-touching totally appropriate plantonic way that would not violate any human resources rules). He asked me how our family’s planetary food plant-based journey was going. It’s funny how the evolution of that relationship kind of echoes generally my evolution as a person. It’s best to be kind and not judge. And that it what I emailed him. That with our plant-based journey there are no absolutes and we try new things and make an adventure of it. I wished him joy in his family’s adventure as well.
But that got me to thinking about what are your 10 MUST HAVES in your plant-based diet? Definitely for me my organic soy milk vanilla flavored is a MUST HAVE. I need to ask Mr. Plastic Picker to get me a case. Maybe I can text Dr. Dear Friend to bring me a carton of hers? She buys it in bulk as well. I’m sure everyone’s top 10 list is different but here is ours.
Dr. Plastic Picker’s TOP 10 MUST HAVES in our current PLANT-BASED DIET!!!
Kirkland Organic Soy Milk!!! Mostly for my matcha green tea soy latte in the morning. But I also now use the soy milk to make soy yogurt, and in a lot of our cooking and baking to replace milk.
Bulk Oat Meal. We eat a good amount of oatmeal at our house and I like to make homemade granola about twice a month at least. I love oatmeal in the morning in the Instapot (which Dr. Young-Ho Yoon taught me!) with in fact I preferentially use my #1 Kirkland Oragnic Soy Milk!!!
Eggplant. Of course this list will include a lot of veggies, but eggplant has been a fantastic substitute for meats in a lot of our meals. We do eat lentils and beans, but I love to use eggplant in our Instapot pasta dishes as it enables me to sneak some other veggies in and take out half of the carbs of the pasta itself.
Onions and fresh minced garlic. This is a must for us to be able to eat savory without meats. Everytime we go to costco, we also buy bulk garlic and we are lucky that my in-laws will mince the garlic. We store it in one of those mason jars and life is always better with fresh garlic and onion to sautee with.
Bananas. We are kind of banana-breaded out right now, but in general cooking with bananas has been wonderful. There are many variations of muffins and pancakes that include bananas. And sometimes eating a banana just takes that edge off when you need a snack. Our kids don’t love bananas, but banana pancakes where I sub in mashed bananas in lieu of some of the liquid in the pancake batter works great. And all the sweetness comes from fructose (real fruit sugars).
Spices. I never truly realized how important different spices are in plant-based cooking. But we have proudly displayed on our counter now tumeric, paprika, curry, and truffle. oooohhh, maybe I’ll make some vegan omelette with besan flour and add truffle seasoning this morning? That would be soooooooooooo fancy and plant-based.
Matcha green tea. I’m still working on the powder my father gave me, but it’s so good. That has been a godsend really.
Salad Mixes. We are alternating between spinach and the spring mix salad in bulk. I hate the plastic container which is recyclable but at least we usually have a side of salad for dinner.
Flaxseed meal. I need to be more diligent about using the flaxseed meal. But when I’m baking, using flaxseed to make “eggs” is a great easy substitute.
Veggies veggies and more veggies. And honestly for us it has been about exploring and explanding our vegetable repertoire. It’s hard to be plant-based if you don’t like vegetables. I do have to brag that we love vegetables here at our household. Each child and adult likes theirs slightly different but we are usually big purchases of asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery, mushrooms, green beans, normandy vegetable mix at costco, radishes, beet greens, tomatoes, different types of asian gourds, bok choy, parsnip and on and on. Fruit is a definite must-have as well, but vegetables are a big must have at our household.
So that is it. That was my fun top 10 MUST HAVE list of things we buy a lot of. We have very little food waste these days because I have some go to food-waste recipes that use all those bits and pieces, and most of the scraps are composted. I have this big meeting at 2pm but right afterwards, I am going to walk to Sprouts which is literally 2 blocks from my house and buy a carton of soy milk to get me through the weekend. I could also just pick up some Beyond Meat Sausages and buns for dinner to go with a side-salad. Exciting times! Have a wonderful PLANT-BASED day dear friends.
I’ll be honest with the blog readership. I’m pretty financially savy, but I’m no savant. Actually most phyisican personal finance bloggers are full of hot air. My personal finance journey has been simple. I’m super frugal (hey, I make trash art for fun!) and we are a dual income physician family, and our savings rate is in the 50% range. And everything we save, we invest back into safe target date mutual funds, retirement accounts, 529 college saving funds, and real estate. I bought fancy Challa bread at the local bakery yesterday, but buying a $8 loaf of bread is a luxury for us. We drive paid off cars. Indeed Mr. Plastic Picker still drives his 2012 Toyota Prius with a small scratch on the side that my father-in-law had a great time coloring in with a special kind of car coloring marker?
I wanted to share with you the funny story of the San Diego downtown condo we just sold in the fancy Fahrenheit building. I love real estate, because each property we buy and sell is a story. And it’s the story of my life. Real estate is in my blood because that is what our family does. Some of why I love the earth so much, is that the earth is all of our real estate. Our collective real estate. So this particular condo was a studio in East Village. It was not particularly a good buy. But I still made money off of it, because in general real estate prices in San Diego are skyrocketing. It makes sense right now to sell my single family house rentals and reinvest in other parts of the country.
This particular condo I bought five years ago. We had already had a larger downtown condo that we still own, and that one was a good buy. I guess I got greedy or overconfident. We had saved a sizeable downpayment about 80K because we just don’t spend money from our take-home pay. So I went shopping, and I found this condo. In retrospect, I think I was just trying to get attention from my older brother as he was my broker back then because he said he’d buy me lunch if we were looking for condos. I’m the younger sister and as the younger sister, I’m always trying to get attention from my brother. This particular condo was modern and concrete, and the building had won the coveted architectural Orchid award. And it was literally within spitting distance to Petco Park. Only a large studio though and one parking spot. But I bought it, and was happy. Didn’t get a particularly good nor bad deal, and I thought my older brother was going to take me to lunch. Instead, he took me to Carls Junior drive through because he had another meeting and got me a burger. I remember being so sad that day, and realized some of my real estate shenanigans were due to trying to get attention from him as he is a REAL real estate investor. He is a much better real estate investor than all the physician supposedly real estate savants masquerading on the blogsphere. They are so annoying.
Fast forward five years, I just sold this condo and used the proceeds to pay off my portion of the Oregon Farm. Now that’s a LIFETIME INVESTMENT. I love love love our Oregon farm! But I sold this condo, and I’m reviewing the numbers are trying to figure out if I made money? And indeed, even this “not great investment” – I did make money. These are my back of the envelope calculations.
55 000 (property appreciation after 6 years) – 22 250 (real estate agent commission) – 7500 (cash for keys) = 25 250 (net proceeds but closer to 20K because there were other fees)
20 000 (gain after 5 years in my pocket) / 97 000 (original investment) = 0.206185567 (percent yield I made)
20%/5 years = 5% gain per year?
So in this transaction I made about what you would make just on normal real estate apprecation or a little less than the stock market in a normal year. The real estate brokers always do well. But I did decently. Our renter made out like a bandit, given I had to pay him off to get him out of the condo so I could sell it. I always had a good mortgage, a 30 year fixed at about 4%.
But the reason that this condo ended up being a great buy, is that the 80K that I used as the downpayment is money we had saved from our takehome pay that most other physcians would have spent. The key to financial independence is easy, save a good chunk of your take-home pay and invest it in things that are safe and will grow. And for 5 years, it did grow and I made money even though the property was vacant for a few months. Those were painful months. Real estate is not for the feint of heart and you need a good sized emergency fund. But I now have paid off a family member the rest of our portion of the Oregon farm!!! Yippee!!!! I am so happy. And I still have about 20K extra to do something. And see, with that 20K – I am going to “spend” it. But I’m going to “spend it” improving something on the farm which continues to raise it’s value. We are finally going up sometime in November and we’ll decide as a family whether to build that bridge across the creek or fix up the small guest cottage.
That is it. That is the story of the Fahrenheit condo. You were not a good buy, but because I had equity in Fahrenheit, I got to be a FARMER and buy half of an Oregon Farm!!!!!
I love this town so fiercely it hurts. It’s the city that accepted a family of Vietnamese political refugees, and allowed a little girl who did not speak any English until kindergarten to attend Crimson University. It’s a town that is tolerant, diverse and open. It’s a town that is my home. It’s a town that has values, deep down military and family values to our core. I had to leave San Diego for over 15 years to fully appreciate the warmth of our climate and our people. The innate goodness of us. Especially the south bay, there is something special about the south bay.
Life has been absolutely crazy with the delta variant. My meager career as a middle-manager keeps on keeping on. Likely more from inertia from the organization than anything. I’m still here, doing my job but doing it in a more sustainable way. I’m able to weed through the HMO nonsense still, and focus on the core issues that should be addressed. It’s another COVID surge due to the delta variant, and it’s really all hands on deck right now. I worked this morning in our weekend clinic, and it was not as bad as I expected. Mostly because phenomenol nurses and MDs the day before pulled together and leaned in and blasted through messages.
The culture of taking care of each other, and watching out for each other – has 100% to do with just the people who work. Those of us who see patients, put in IVs, triage messages. It has nothing to do with middle-management or upper-management. Those that grab the glory, they are very rarely the cause of said glory. Just talking-heads, many of them.
I haven’t been blogging as much as life has been full and beautiful, and also worrisome with the delta variant. But I did have dinner with a good high school friend who I hadn’t seen in over 27 years. It was a lovely dinner with her family, and well behaved children. We went to a old downtown place that I’ve wanted to return to for decades, but wasn’t able to. But we ate there together and we all caught up on life.
But the best part of the evening was walking through the seeing our town. I remember when downtown was run down and dangerous. I hardly ever dared to drive in downtown during highschool except once to attend an opera at the Civic Center, the one-way streets were so intimidating. But now, I pulled into East Village via the 94W and glided into a parking spot that I own. Yes I own a piece of downtown, as I invested in a condo over a decade ago when the real estate market had dropped. The condo has two parking spots. I marveled that parking as there was a Padres game was $33! I parked for free. And I walks from the parking spot across the revelers, pass the stadium and all the beautiful people having fun. We had a wonderful dinner, and then I walked back. And every step and every sight was lovely.
WE CLOSED ESCROW! WE CLOSED ESCROW!!!!!! I really didn’t want to believe BELIEVE it would happen until we closed CLOSED. But we closed yesterday and my family member and I were so so so happy. It was a bit of a rough ending of the deal, as things can often happen when you are closing on big financial deals, but we closed and all parties are happy. My family member is for the most part taciturn, but he was so happy he sent me this. Their family is actually up there now with friends staying in the very nice house there which has a kitchen range that is more expensive than anything I would have ever paid for in my house that is worth more than twice what 197 acres in Oregon.
Actually I just looked it up the Wolf Kitchen Range is actually worth over 10K. We can sell it used, and I can bring my KitchenAid one from my house (and buy an induction range) and then use the proceed to buy my yurt! I don’t think my family member will let me do that, but it’s fun to think about. I’d rather have a nice yurt!
Anyway, I don’t have anymore money. No – let me clarify, I’m done with buying any more properties for now. There is no secret to real estate investing. Most of our networth is actually just simple savings from have two good incomes and spending about only half of what we make and we invest the rest. Most of our investments are in old fashioned target date stocks through our retirement funds and college savings for the kids. We have a good portion every year and try to buy as much real estate as we can. We always put at least 20% and sometimes 30% down. Nothing fancy. And we did the same this time, after selling another rental and buying a farm instead. But I am so excited about the Oregon Farm!!! I’m still living in our area and I’m still happily working, because I’m going to buy a YURT!!!
And this is the secret to Dr. Plastic Picker’s financial success. When I buy things, I buy things that hold VALUE!!! I will buy a yurt and I’m going to rent it out to YOU (well not YOU, because you are my friend, but other people), and then teh yurt will pay for itself. I “spend” money on things that will increase in value. And the earth that the yurt sits on is increasing in value as we speak! It’s over 90 acres of timber forest and lumbar is up 400%. We aren’t going to clear cut the forest, but the forest has to be maintained and thinned periodically to keep it healthy. This makes the lumbar you buy at Home Depot to build the addition to your house. And more importantly, we are going to be stewards of the land. More oxygen for all of us!!!
I think we are waiting for the home inspection this week on our Oregon farm? Until paperwork is signed and funds are transferred, things can change. But for now, things are proceeding as planned. I’m wondering if I can go up the week that I’m planning and am free in a few days? We have the week off but my family member already has plans to go with friends. On this 197 acre property, I’m not sure there is room for us even though we co-own the place? We may be able just to pick up a tent on the way up and sleep in the tent. I think there is room as the house is 3000 SF. It will be fun. Let me check how much the flights are right now. Now sure if we will drive versus fly for the first time? The flights right now are about $400 a piece and it’s at least a 5 hour flight. Considering the time it takes to drive from the airport about 2 hours, and then wait at the airport about 2 hours – honestly 9 hours? We might as well just drive up. It’s better for the environment and cheaper and we can bring out stuff up. Maybe we can drive the KIA up. Eventhough it’s gas, it’s less carbon than flying the entire family up there.
The thoughts and dreams of Southwestern Oregon and our hopefully family farm sits in the back of my mind, and makes me so happy. There is not much for me to do right now. I’m sitting on our portion of the downpayment and ready to deploy whenever it’s time. The way some people love luxury purses, is the way I love real estate. It gives me this fuzzy and warm feeling, knowing it actually grows our networth if we do it the right way – but at the same time gives me so much enjoyment in other ways that actually doesn’t cost me any money.