Personal Finance Blog – Financially Free to Save the Earth (FISE) – Dr. Plastic Picker

Category: Personal Finance Blog – Financially Free to Save the Earth (FISE)

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What I got after I bought the condo 5 years ago. LOL. From the internet.

October 8, 2021

by drplasticpicker

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!!!!!

May fix up this little cabin.
My walk home across the East Village after dinner.

August 1, 2021

by drplasticpicker

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.

Parked for free! I have a Ford and a downtown condo.
24' Yurt With Picnic Table
OMG, we are now saving up for our yurt!!! About $15K for a spruced up model. Maybe a tent for now.

June 22, 2021

by drplasticpicker

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!!!

Wildlife sanctuary nearby. They breed cheetahs. Hopefully one does not escape onto our land!
Lots to due near the property. It’s not as remote as we thought. Can’t wait until we can go with family again!
We are going to put my parents there! Random cottage that wasn’t even listed on MLS. Needs some work. LOL.

June 8, 2021

by drplasticpicker

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.


View Of The Reservoir.

May 31, 2021

by drplasticpicker

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.



May 21, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I think the reason a certain family does not understand why another family member and I are in contract to buy an Oregon Ranch, is that he does not understand that Dr. Plastic Picker is an introvert. I could not understand why this senior family member did not approve of my joy in this property. But now being in my mid 40s and a student of human nature, I know that even I did not not truly know myself before embarking on this eco-avatar journey. The writing/blogging. The walks in nature. The time I’ve spent doing things because it felt right and I wanted something new. I know myself. I know what makes me happy. I know to listen to the earth. And mother earth told me to buy this 193 acre ranch on Southwestern Oregon I think mother nature gave me that cavity I mentioned yesterday that required the root canal that required me being incapacitated in bed, and then allowed me time to stumble upon this property searching on my iPhone. I’m totally serious.


We will close on this one.

May 20, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I found the property when I was curled in bed in complete exhaustion and embarassment. I’m just trying to figure out life and had been drinking less milk to try to be more plant based, and I wonder if this resulted in my teeth being more weak? I think it must have been switching dental offices to the one that I had been at for over a decade and then to a new office that I didn’t quite mesh with. Now I realize why some people blame the doctor’s office. I’m blaming the dentist’s office. Anyway, I’m back with my own dentists office and I have some work that needs to be done and several visits. After a root canal and feeling very exhausted and tired like someone literally punched me on the side of the said root canal, I was in bed incapacitated. I was questioning all this plant based stuff, and realized that drinking some lactose free milk here and there would be OK. I’ve never been about absolutes. I’m going to try to eat yogurt more and honestly just need to floss better. I will try to eat soy based yogurt which I make at home.


Lava Zones. By Dr. John G. Van Hoesen – Previously unpublished. Provided directly to me for uploading., CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

May 16, 2021

by drplasticpicker

My family member and I (our two families) put in an offer for a 25-acre ranch on the Big Island of Hawaii. It’s surprising that even with the hot real estate market, there are only two financial entities in the world looking for a 25 acre ranch on the Big Island in that particular lava zone. Yes we have to know about lava zones if you are buying on the Big Island. As always we are trying to get a reasonable deal, so offered lower than the asking price. We will be the back-up offer as they accepted an offer already. But it is contingent on financing and selling another property. With real estate, many many things can happen to derail a transaction. We are experienced buyers in a strong position who can get the deal done. This is reflected in our lower offer though. So we will wait and see, and if it happens – it happens. If it doesn’t, than that’s the market and we move on.


I need to get back to my art.

May 14, 2021

by drplasticpicker

Yep. It’s going to happen. I’m going to buy half of that Big Island Property. The math works out. It’s crazy when the math works out. I have our portion of the downpayment easy, and we are still investing in the other commercial project but this will be for fun and for creativity. The mortgage payment and taxes we split with my family member, and the monthly cost is actually not that much. Even if we just keep the land and let family and friends use for free (or you just pay to make sure it gets cleaned), it will be worth it. And when organizations like the posh private school we send our kids to ask us for donations, I can just donate a week at our vacation home and deduct it. I can do the same for Girl Scouts. But more importantly, we will get the land that I’ve been dreaming of.


Just screen shots of a virtual tour of a big property somewhere on a big Island somewhere.

May 8, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I’m just having random fun. I told Dr. MM in clinic yesterday, that sometimes that dream you had of something you always wanted to do – it can be easy to get. The trip to Paris was just sitting there and staring her in the face. I said, “GO!!!” Just buy the flight and go with Dr. AF. He’s going anyway. $450 round trip for a flight and you guys split a hotel room, and go to Europe. Sometimes attaining your dreams doesn’t have to be hard, it can be easy. I told them I’d cover both their inboxes.

A similar dream, a dream that I never thought I had, was staring me in the face. It was looking at me and kind of danced around and said, “why don’t you grab this opportunity?” As the blog readership well knows, Dr. Plastic Picker is always financially savvy so if the numbers don’t add up – I’ll take a pass. But the dream was looking at me in the face and said, “HELLLLOOOOO, it makes sense financially.” I’m literally looking at the dream and flabergasted that it could happen? If the numbers work out, than it makes sense.

So I’m having just random big dreams and taking steps that financially make sense. I’m selling a rental property that I was meaning to sell for a while. That particular rental property was never a really great buy, but it wasn’t a bad buy. I was going to sell it last year, but it was a blessing in disguise that I didn’t sell it last year. Right now the market is HOT HOT in our area, So I’m pretty sure it will sell for 50K more than the one offer we got last year. And then Mr. Plastic Picker and I since we have a 50% savings rate, have our cash cushion war chest ready. Between the equity on that rental property that I’m going to sell and our war chest, I’m going to buy some land somewhere on some big Island somewhere in the United States of America. This big land somewhere has foster cows, a lava rock bar, sauna, and two all done houses. Its just 25 minutes straight shot from an airport. It has avocado trees and citrus trees and solar panels. And I can buy it outright without a mortgage with a family member. Even if I keep just said land for fun, and just vacation on it – it will make financial sense.

But you know Dr. Plastic Picker! When there is land, there is opportunity. Thinking of earth and planetary and physician wellness. I’m pretty sure I can organize a physician wellness retreat on that land, and charge less and provide a better program than other people. I’m pretty sure I can use the profits to put back into my climate work. I’m pretty sure we can heal physicians and heal the earth at the same time. Because Dr. Plastic Picker just wants everyone to be happy. And my physician wellness institute will be better because I actually really care about my colleagues and I won’t be making money off them. I’ll charge a reasonable rate to cover the cost, and proceeds will go to paying the instructors who will be physicians themselves and everything going back to climate advocacy. But I’ll get to have the physician wellness proceeds pay for the land and I get to keep the land. But I will love the land and not hurt the land, and be a good steward of the land. That’s it. And below is more pictures of the virtual property viewing I had with a family member. It was so much fun and one of the most joyous moments I have had with this family member. Of course I blocked out his face because he is truly anonymous.

OMG I may by partial owner to 8 foster cows. If you come to this physician wellness institute, you will get to adopt a cow for your stay. LOL. Just thinking about crazy dreams and crazy things on the blog. Who knows, right? Shoot for the stars and you’ll hit the moon. I may just land on this Big Island. If I don’t show up at work one day (because I’ve shown up to work every day for over 12 years without fail), you’ll know where I am. I’ll send a postcard and maybe some avocados.