Being an immigrant has its own challenges, and I was curious to know from other immigrants how they were dealing with their finances. I wanted to find out the unique challenges they were facing and how they dealt with them. This interview series is an attempt to share the stories of immigrants and how they manage their finances.
I am excited to present the 19th guest of the interview series, Dr. Breathe Easy Finance. His goal is to reduce financial illiteracy among young professionals. Immigrant physicians might understand him more. He is catering to the beginners – babies and toddlers in financial literacy.
1. Can you tell us about yourself? Please include any details you feel comfortable sharing about how long you’ve been in the US, what you do for a living and your income range.
I am Bayo, a.k.a Dr. Breathe Easy Finance. I am a pulmonary critical care physician by day and a personal finance blogger by night. I am married with 2 beautiful daughters. 1 and 3 years old.
A little background : I was born in Nigeria and grew up in Nigeria.
At 18, my mum sponsored me to Canada. At that age, I was in my 3rd year at University of Ibadan, studying veterinary medicine.
When I got to Canada, I had to restart undergraduate studies because they would not allow a direct transfer to veterinary medicine school.
I applied to University of Toronto, and it was a long story but I had to make a pitch to the dean to gain admission. The application deadline was over by the time I arrived in Canada.
You can read the full story here – Wins and losses –Mikedup Blog
I studied Mathematics and Biology and then applied to medical school. Call it peer pressure, but somehow my interest changed from animal medicine to human.
I attended medical school at the Netherland Anthiles on the Island of SABA.
After the first 2 years of medical school, I transferred to the United states for my clinical training. That was my first time in the United States. So I will say about 9 years ago now.
2 years clinical, 3 years of internal medicine training, 3 years combined pulmonary and critical care medicine training, and I am about 8 months into my real job as an attending physician.
Well, my estimated income range is projected to be >500k depends on how busy the hospital gets.
2. What was your relationship with money during the early days of your life? How did it influence your finances?
By virtue of my upbringing, I learned how to save money and live a minimalist life since childhood. We lived in the less advanced part of Nigeria and the principle we lived by is – whatever you have today, you have guard it with your life as there was no guarantee you will have one tomorrow.
My parents love to tell me the story of how I saved all my lunch money and saved 700 Naira at 7 years of age. My mum said it was equivalent of one month’s salary for her at the time and basically saved the day.
I am still the same today, I lived on 2 brief cases until I met my wife. I talked about this in detail in the post about how medscape exposed doctors money habits (its bad).
This makes it easy for me to be a prodigious accumulator of wealth but at the same time, many people think I have the scarcity mentality. I am working on it, especially now that I am married with two kids, sometimes I have to spend money and it hurts even when I have the money.
3. Do you discuss money with your friends, family or colleagues? How do they react when you bring up the topic of money? Is this a taboo subject?
I do discuss money a lot with everyone I come in contact with. You should see my wives perspective here in this post about frugal doctor’s wife perspective. She basically explains how I annoy everyone with money talk.
That was one of the reason I decided to start blogging as this is now my outlet to express whatever I want to. So far, people are coming around and asking me for advice and tips about money.
4. What are some of the money mistakes you have committed? What lessons did you learn from it?
Saving and investing only became a part of my reality recently. I wish I had started doing it much earlier! Compounding is magic and I could really have cashed in on that if I had started investing when I was younger.
If you checked out the wins and losses link above, I talked about one about cryptocurrency.
The problem was that I did not know enough about what I was investing in. I FOMOed (Fear of missing out). This is very common when you hear that everyone is banking millions with a particular investment, people tend to forget their financial mission statement and rush into that investment and often times, regret it.
In my case, I did not get hurt too much, I invested $7,000 late 2017. This went all the way up to 60k, then I got too cocky and started day trading crypto and it coincided with the crash of crypto in early 2018. I think I still have about 4 K left in it at this time.
I guess I did not learn my lesson. But I felt like that’s small enough play money at this stage of my wealth building.
5. What is your view on debt? Do you carry any form of debt? Has it ever been a source of stress in your life?
We are currently debt free. Using some brute force methods and side hustle, we were able to pay off the 300k debt in less than 6 months into my real job.
I did extra coverage while in training, used my sign on bonus, stipend and my job offered to pay 36k of the loan. I also used geographical arbitrage and moved to a small town in Arkansas to get the best income and bonuses.
This might change with a mortgage. We decided to rent after training to pay off debt and supersize our savings.
We have our most popular post – 12 toddler steps to financial freedom. In this post, I discussed how Dave Ramsey is outdated and I put a twist to make my own steps that I follow. As I am a mathematician, I use a bit of leverage when possible. I did make sure I get my 401K match while paying loans. I also paid a higher interest, which I defined arbitrarily at >5% first.
Having over 200k loans just by myself, adding my wives loans for nursing school tallied us up close to 300k. That is bondage and it was very stressful. In fact, I talked about how student loan is bondage and how to set yourself free.
6. How is your money invested? Does being an immigrant have any influence on your investment decisions?
I am currently investing in stock and bonds. I utilize a modification of the 3 fund portfolio. Our current asset allocation consists of about 90% stocks and 10% bonds. I am actually thinking of getting rid of bonds but I haven’t had the courage to do it yet.
The only way I can say being an immigrant influence my investment decision is that I am looking into real estate investment. Something tangible, that I can touch and feel.
Something I can point to and say – that is mine.
7. Do you have any specific money situation as an immigrant (e.g. supporting an aging parent or family overseas) that influences your finances?
I currently support my parents but not heavily at this time. There was a time I had to help them repair their basement for $25,000. It paid off, as they are now able to rent the basement out for $1100 monthly in Toronto. That helped replace my monthly contribution to help with their mortgage.
Ultimately, when my dad can no longer work, I will be happy to support them. It is our way, especially as the first born child and son, it is my responsibility.
The responsibility has motivated me to be a leader, worked harder and save like a maniac. I knew I had to go for a high paying job and also be very good with my finance to be able to help when the time comes.
8. Are you aware of the FI or FIRE movement? If yes, where did you hear about it? Are you pursuing (or have you reached) financial independence?
I am aware of the FIRE movement. My first encounter with FIRE movement was after medical school when I started reading the white coat investor site. In fact, I was so motivated, that I finally started my own blog in late August 2018.
My blog is aimed at helping young professionals like myself achieve financial independence as early as possible. My timeline used to be to financially independent at 55. Now the goalpost has moved to about 45 years old. I just turned 33.
I don’t care for retiring early really. Might retire from medicine or cut back, but it is obvious from my personality that I will be like the law of conservation of energy.
I can only transform from one form of career to another. Perhaps a financial coach or start my own company.
9. What are some of the apps or tools you use to manage your finances?
We use personal capital to track our net worth and do basic budgeting
We use Ibotta app to save on groceries.
We use excel sheet to budget monthly and dig deep into it at our monthly family financial meeting. You can download our template and E-book on our homepage.
10. Are there any specific books, blogs or podcasts on personal finance that you’d recommend to others?
I read lots of books but I reviewed some of them on my site that I will recommend.
- The richest man in Babylon
- The Millionaire next door
- Total money makeover
11. What money advice do you have for new immigrants who arrive in the US?
Do not lose sight of your root and don’t be distracted by the way of life here. Don’t get into credit card debts because it looks like they are giving you free money. Trust me, it is easier to get into debt and much harder to get out.
Save for everything you need just like you would have done in most undeveloped countries.
Teach your financial values to your children, let them understand we are not here to play, we are here to live a better life. So they won’t waste the opportunity. The American dream is either alive or dead – it depends on you.
12. How can people connect with you on social media?
Dr. Breathe Easy Finance
Pulm/ICU doc, Personal Finance Blogger.
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/drbreatheeasy/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/@drbreatheeasy
Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/DrBreatheEasyFinance/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/drbreatheeasyfinance/
Are you a first-generation immigrant in the US? If yes, would you like to be part of this interview series? This series will focus on personal finance for first-generation immigrants and the unique challenges they face.
You can check out my page Immigrant Finances – Interview Series for more details on how to participate in this series.