How Physicians Can Use Frugality To Improve Their Lives

Ep.115 - Pod Art - Disha Spath

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If you’re a medical professional that is struggling financially or trying to pay off student debt, this episode of “Finance for Physicians” is for you!

Our guest is Dr. Disha Spath: A first-generation immigrant success story, Disha found herself alongside her husband in a precarious financial situation with a huge debt to pay out after medical school.

After living on the fence for a while, Disha and her husband finally managed to pay out the $750,000+ debt that was piled up and then went on to create a financial platform to help other physicians escape their situation

Her secret? A shift in the mindset – Conscious Frugality.

Now, we know what you’re thinking: Nobody likes frugality.

It’s a tricky muscle to exercise and can often be hard to execute as a doctor. After all, you didn’t go to medical school for years to live off ramen and Dollar Tree specials.

We, alongside Dr. Disha, are here to say that this type of frugality mindset is not true!

Frugality is a key financial budgeting skill that, if used correctly, is not about depriving yourself, but about making smarter financial decisions.

Topics Discussed:

  • How to pay off medical student loan debt.
  • When to get that dream house.
  • Why you can still have a comfortable life and save money.
  • Tips for raising a family on a budget

Ready to learn more?

Click play and let’s take that uncomfortable topic, called finance, under comfortable control!

Links:

Dr. Disha Spath’s Practice

WCI Ambassador

The Frugal Physician

Contact Finance for Physicians

Finance for Physicians

Full Episode Transcript:

Daniel: Hey everyone. Hope you’re having a great day. Today, I’m gonna be talking with Dr. Disha Spath. Disha is a practicing primary care physician in hospitals. She’s also a mom and a wife, and a first generation immigrant. Early into practice, like many newly minute physicians, she really suffered from some major lifestyle creep early on.

Daniel: And she actually ended up in a position where her and her husband felt really just stuck financially. Even though salary had gone up a lot. But what was unique about her story is she made some brave and difficult decisions and ultimately made the big change to turn the corner there.

Daniel: And after this mindset shift in a relatively short period of time, her and her husband were able to pay off around $750,000 in debt. And so through this journey, she’s become quite the personal finance geek. Even developed a passion for helping other physicians live more frugal and happier lives.

Daniel: She’s the founder of the Frugal Physician and a white coat investor ambassador and is a regular speaker and writer. And so in our conversation, Disha shares her story of going from major lifestyle increase to this frugal living setup. I think the world tends to tell us that frugality is never fun. I’m sure you’ve heard budgeting and you hear the word and you’re thinking, Oh no, I don’t want to talk about, I don’t wanna budget.

Daniel: But what we discuss is looking at it, how it actually improved her happiness. And really helped her and her husband to gain that financial security and flexibility that they wanted. We also talk about how your childhood has a really big impact on your relationship with money today. And how important it is to gain awareness of this connection.

Daniel: We also talk about how important values are to put first so that you can really use money as a tool to live those out. As opposed to just pursuing more money or more stuff as the foundation. And then we talk about why Frugal Living is a worthwhile consideration. I think even for very high income earners.

Daniel: And she shares how some specific examples of how her and her husband approach money and talks through what their financial date nights look like. And then we wrap up with some specific examples of how Disha is, practicing frugality today. So this is definitely a fun conversation. I’m sure you’ll enjoy hearing her perspective.

Daniel: It’s a great message. I think that really should be more commonplace and I’m glad to hear that she’s talking about it. So with that, let’s jump into today’s episode.

Daniel: Disha, welcome to the Finance for Physicians Podcast.

Dr. Disha Spath: It’s my pleasure to be here. Thank you for having me.

Daniel: I love that you’re speaking up about frugality. I don’t know if that’s not been, It seems like there’s not a ton of people talking about frugality in the physician’s circles. At least I haven’t come across a ton.

Dr. Disha Spath: It’s not a very sexy topic to talk about for high earners. It is a topic that really interests me and I find, just fascinating because as we spend more money, as we have more disposable income, we also can super maximize like how we’re saving money.

Dr. Disha Spath: Wealth building and financial stability is based on having delta between your income and your expenses. And if you’re spending everything, then well, unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how much you’re making, you’re not gonna make that much progress. I think paying full price is for people that are not very smart.

Daniel: There’s lots of ways.

Dr. Disha Spath: There’s so many ways to save money and paying full prices for Trumps guys stop paying full price. There’s like sales and like coupons and there’s so many ways you can not pay full price. So that’s what I like to talk about because these things are super marked up.

Dr. Disha Spath: They’re trying to just take your money.

Daniel: You don’t pay full price for something, I think that’s especially useful for products that you’re buying. If you’re paying less than full price versus paying full price, that’s just tossing money out the window.

Dr. Disha Spath: Exactly. Sorry.

Dr. Disha Spath: And I’m talking specifically here about products consumer items. We’re talking clothes and shopping. And things like that.

Dr. Disha Spath: There’s so many ways to save money.

Dr. Disha Spath: Especially on the higher end market where the prices are really arbitrary. And they will just charge whatever people are willing to pay. And that’s where physicians a lot of times find themselves in higher end markets because, there’s a certain we we’re able to afford it. But, you can get so much better deals if you actually find that item instead of a thousand dollars, you find it for two 200. This is not a conversation a lot of the society can have. But this is where I really felt like there was a need for someone to start talking about how to save money in the higher end market.

Daniel: I wanna get into more of that. First of all, you’re in good company. Cuz I love talking about for reality. That’s always a good start. I want to get into like examples of that. I would love to circle back to that if we can. Sure. But I think before we dig in, I’m super curious.

Daniel: I know a little bit about your story. But I’m sure people listen are like, how did you get to this point of talking about finances and especially frugality?

Dr. Disha Spath: Okay. So kinda a long story,Let me dive in. So I am a first generation immigrant. I moved from India back in 1995 to straight to Augusta, Georgia.

Dr. Disha Spath: Where my uncle was and so that’s where my family went. My mom, my sister and I. And we were like super poor. We were super poor when we moved. We came with our suitcases and really nothing else. No other assets. Initially we lived in my very well off uncle’s mansion. And then we lived in his lake house.

Dr. Disha Spath: So we were in this like very affluent culture of Augusta Georgia. But we were like super poor. And so we were dependent on the good graces of my uncle and thank God for him. After a couple of years, we moved out and mom found a job as a teacher.

Dr. Disha Spath: We lived in like subsidized housing. And then we were in like a completely different socioeconomic sphere. My middle school years were just being super frugal to the point where we couldn’t go to the grocery store and get everything we wanted.

Dr. Disha Spath: We went to McDonald’s for my birthday celebratory dinner cause that’s what we could afford. So it was like we’re super poor at that point. During that timeframe, all I did was like read and play outside which was actually not that bad. But it was an uncomfortable frugality.

Dr. Disha Spath: That’s when you’re really crimping and saving every single penny and just looking at every single thing that you’re spending and this super scarcity mindset. And then worked hard. Studied a lot. Got scholarships to go to college. And then worked my butt off in medical school. And finally it got done with residency and became an attending. And it finally was like, Whoa, I’m making the big bucks right here we are.

Dr. Disha Spath: Finally arrived. Made it out of the projects. Worked really hard and everyone told me like, All right, now you’ve made it, now live the life. Live the good life.

Dr. Disha Spath: YOLO.

Dr. Disha Spath: According to everyone, I had the means now. I took that and went with it and I got my first contract.

Dr. Disha Spath: We decided to move to Savannah, Georgia. And we bought a nice house on an island. Gated community. Is beautiful. It was a beautiful place and a beautiful neighborhood. But, we quickly went from living like residents to living like attendings before I even started my first job.

Dr. Disha Spath: When I was in my first job, I realized that a hospitalist salary, $200,000 a year. Which I thought was like a ludicrous amount of money when I was not making that much. I found that even though I was making this much and my husband at the time was going to school. I figured I’m making a good salary,

Dr. Disha Spath: I can support the family while he goes to school. Because people have done this for years and decades. People have lived on one position salary for decades. A decade, centuries. It has completely been possible. But you know what? We got there and I just found myself not feeling like we had it together.

Dr. Disha Spath: I didn’t feel like we were really making good progress on our financial goals. And I felt like we were living paycheck to paycheck. Everything what I brought in every month seemed to go out every month. And while we were making slow prodding progress at retirement savings and such. It wasn’t the pace that I would’ve liked. I felt like I was living in this scarcity mindset still. Even though we were in a much better surrounding. My breaking point was when I was taking my maternity leave for my second child. I was so stressed out about money that I ended up spending most of my maternity leave sewing the cover to a couch.

Dr. Disha Spath: That was my breaking point. Because I was sewing this cover to the couch, I was downstairs away from my babies. Because they were like little sewing pins and needles everywhere. I couldn’t let them in. I ended up spending my maternity leave away from my child.

Dr. Disha Spath: I had taken the unpaid maternity leave because we didn’t have, as a hospitalist, we don’t really get maternity leave. Or at least in my contract there wasn’t one. So it was all unpaid and it was just stressful. It was just stressful. Even though we had the means, I felt like I was not getting it right when it came to money.

Dr. Disha Spath: I was spending too much. I was spending too much on things that didn’t matter. I was spending too little on things that did matter. Like spending time with my child. I had my priorities all mixed up and we were like $250,000 in debt. We were worth negative $250,000 at the time.

Dr. Disha Spath: I figured that out after I realized that how badly like we were managing things. There’s just some things that we needed to change. We had taken on too much debt and we were spending too much. Bottom line. My husband and I, we sat down and kind of took a survey of our situation. We wrote down all our debts. Interest rates. Wrote down all our assets and of course came up with a net worth number that was very depressing. And so we said, Okay, let’s make some extra room. Extra $500 to a $1000 a month and let’s just start putting it towards our debt.

Dr. Disha Spath: And we decided to do a debt snowball. And as we were doing the debt snowball, we started to make other changes that helped us increase the delta between our income and expenses such as, looking for sales, spending less money. Spending money where we actually wanted to spend money doing budget dates.

Dr. Disha Spath: At the end of the month, we put meat and actually go through our spending. ,

Daniel: I’ve done this before. I’ve tried this before. They’re fun when they work Double duty.

Dr. Disha Spath: Double duty.

Dr. Disha Spath: What Do you mean by that?

Dr. Disha Spath: You’re doing a date and you’re doing budgeting. It’s

Dr. Disha Spath: It’s not quite as romantic as a date as, you would love.

Daniel: But like us finance geeks love that.

Daniel: Exactly.

Daniel: When we’re doing well, like when we’re saving money and at the end of the spreadsheet you’re like, Oh, High five. We did great. That’s a good budget date. There are months where’re like, spent too much this month. But that’s a good thing to also realize because then next month you can adjust for that and watch it.

Daniel: We started meeting monthly to go over our spending. And soon we had paid off a $100,000 of my student loans in six months. First we paid off one car. Then we paid off the second car. Then we paid off a $100,000, of my student loans which were $238,000 total.

Daniel: We paid off a $100,000 in six months. And I was like, “Whoa, this is amazing. I didn’t think this was possible. How did we do this? I mean we did it but, Wow. Holy cow.”

Daniel: So I started writing about it. I wrote an article and I started my website, The Frugal Physician at the urging of my husband. And it just took off that first article went viral. And lot of people encouraging me to keep going. So I kept going. Three years later, we got nominated for the Plutus Award for Excellence in Financial Media

Daniel: And best new personal finance blog. And then started writing for CNBC a little bit. It just took off from there.

Daniel: And for four years now, I’ve been writing about finance, writing about my journey, reading and just totally geeking out with other finance nerds.

Daniel: And it’s been really rewarding. Because, I come from the perspective of physician who made the mistakes. I feel like I can help other physicians and it makes me feel so good because it’s so important for us, for physicians, for society, that physicians are financially stable. That our families are taken care.

Daniel: It’s one of the most rewarding things.

Dr. Disha Spath: So I hope, to continue to do it.

Dr. Disha Spath: There was a ton of super important things sprinkled into that story. Those of you listening, especially

Dr. Disha Spath: Those of you that are in training or earlier in the career, a lot of times, when you transition to practice, there’s like a bajillion decisions that kind of tend to get compacted that little time slot. And seems in your story and in a ton of people’s,

Dr. Disha Spath: That’s where you’re, prone to some of these slippery slope type decisions where lifestyle just really creeps up.

Dr. Disha Spath: The unique part about your story is you realize lifestyle creeped up. You realized it was not equating to happiness.

Dr. Disha Spath: I think a lot of people get stuck in this mindset of

Dr. Disha Spath: It’s gonna be okay. It’s for the future. Or I’ll work my way out of it. That kind of thing.

Dr. Disha Spath: But you recognized there was some issues and it was not equating to happiness. And then

Dr. Disha Spath: You changed things. And I think what I also thought was super important about when you decided to make changes is you did it the right way.

Dr. Disha Spath: You involved your spouse, which is huge. And y’all had regular conversations.

Dr. Disha Spath: I imagine they were not all perfect. But date night’s about budgeting and that sort of thing. And then it sounds like you’re recognizing this imperfection. You said some things that kind of made me think like you’re realizing that finances aren’t necessarily perfect which I think a lot of physicians,

Dr. Disha Spath: All of us really, our culture lean perfectionist. Oh And that makes it so hard to do finances. Because it’s not perfect. Ever.

Dr. Disha Spath: Exactly. Exactly. Okay, listen. Life is not perfect.

Dr. Disha Spath: Budget dates aren’t perfect. Finances aren’t perfect. Like perfectionism is a crutch, really.

Dr. Disha Spath: We think

Dr. Disha Spath: It’s like a shield we put up in front of ourselves and we really.

Dr. Disha Spath: Hindering ourselves from really soothing and maximizing the benefits we get from realizing our vulnerability. Anyway, I’m sorry.

Daniel: Going off on a tangent here. But I completely agree with you that this perfectionism holds us back.

Daniel: It’s a killer. It goes under the disguise of success. So it’s like you’re telling yourself or culture’s telling you that it’s actually a good thing, but it kills you. When you peel back the layers, it’s actually the source of a lot of the problems with finances and life in general.

Daniel: Absolutely. I think the other thing you said that was super important too, that I don’t wanna skip this point, seems like you recognized that your values were really important and you saw money as a tool to help you move that direction. I don’t know.

Daniel: Did you just have a light switch flip? Or how do we flip the light switch?

Dr. Disha Spath: Oh You I don’t know. I’ve always had a anti-consumerism mindset. I don’t like being a consumer of goods. I like goods that make me happy. But I like nice things, don’t get me wrong.

Dr. Disha Spath: I need my freedom. I think that’s what it is. I have a freedom to pursue happiness is my biggest driver. I never wanna be stuck in a place. I’ve been stuck in a place when we didn’t have enough money to make the choices that we wanted to make to live the life we wanted to live when I was younger.

Dr. Disha Spath: It’s very important to me that money is available to me so that I have my freedom. But it’s not to the point where I wanna be the richest woman in the graveyard. I don’t. I don’t want to amass like ludicrous amounts of wealth. I just want money to make the life that I wanna live possible.

Dr. Disha Spath: And most importantly, I lost my dad when I was 10. He was 35. I have outlived him now for two years. It really just brings home the point that life is very fleeting. Things change very quickly. I went from living in India and not even never getting on a plane. Had no idea like what the American lifestyle was like to being here. And now, here I am, living in America for decades.

Dr. Disha Spath: And things change overnight. It was those kind of like big life experiences that made me realize that having a financial cushion is important. Having financial flexibility is incredibly important. And I definitely never wanna be in that situation again where something greatly changes and then my family has to live like poppers again. While I was sewing this couch downstairs and I was also listening to the White Coat Investor book because I was trying to learn about finances. So I’m like, Okay, so I’m gonna listen to this book, sew this couch.

Daniel: I shouldn’t be laughing, but that is just a semi comical combo of events.

Dr. Disha Spath: What am I doing? I realized all the things I didn’t know.

Daniel: I’m sure a lot of you’ve heard of the book. Were you reading his original book? Yes. The first one. It’s about kind of like the basics of personal finance and all the things you really should know in financial literacy. It’s a good kind of first step into financial literacy and a little bit of mindset. Did that help?

Dr. Disha Spath: Absolutely. Definitely opened my eyes to all the different things that I was feeling. It helped me narrow down that this is the problem. It helped me identify the problem.

Dr. Disha Spath: And then, we fixed it. Realizing that we are imperfect. Realizing that there are always gonna be ways that we can be more perfect. But that’s not the point. Right? The point is to make progress and to be aware of where our money’s going. Where our shortcomings are with stuff we don’t know about. But also still taking steps to make our families have a better more financially stable future.

Dr. Disha Spath: You take little steps, you keep learning. That’s all what it’s all about. That’s why I think it’s so important to do this, to talk about finances and learn about it.

Daniel: It sounds like you’re pretty aware of your childhood’s impact in your current financial leanings. Is that accurate assessment?

Dr. Disha Spath: I’ve done a lot of thinking and therapy.

Daniel: Good. Ok. Cause that’s where my mind was going because I grew up in a similar childhood. Not completely similar but there’s similarities in it. And not well off at all on the low end, lots of kids.

Daniel: I developed this scarcity mentality. I was fear based financially focused. We were talking about before we started recording about how I used to work horse shows and near where you live, and this was when I was like 16 years old and I was like fighting to earn money so that I could never get in the same situation as what I grew up in.

Daniel: Which is not entirely the healthiest route because I had to shift gears to where I’m not so fear focused in that kind of thing. Part of it was like awareness and my wife’s been great cuz she is direct and gives me another perspective and therapy has been helpful for me the best thing ever to get a little bit more of a grip on how childhood is impacting today with therapy.

Daniel: Everybody has different views on therapy, but my view is like everyone would benefit from therapy. It’s like a self development.

Daniel: Exactly, yes. Not like a negative fix me tool.

Dr. Disha Spath: Exactly. I a hundred percent agree with that. I’ve done a lot of therapy in my life.

Dr. Disha Spath: And it’s a really good way to identify your thought processes. The whole point is to, identify, okay, this thought came from here. I can choose to act on it Or I could choose not to. But when you identify that this is where it came from, it gives you power over that thought.

Dr. Disha Spath: And that thought does not rule the rest of your life. Doesn’t create the rest of your life. Whereas with the finance stuff. It’s been tough for me now that we are in a better place. Now that we’re in a place where we’re actually financially stable.

Dr. Disha Spath: We’ve, broken into the Double Comma club where we wanted to be. But sometimes it’s difficult to get out of that scarcity mindset and just be like, All right, yes. Then we need to, Okay, so I have to like actively work out, okay? And this, my budget actually helps me do this is enjoy yourself, right?

Dr. Disha Spath: Stop trying to save every single penny. So in my budget we have a fun. fund and I make it a point to spend my fund every month, and I’ve let myself slowly, and living to the point where I have the things that I want, that I’m not living in this scarcity world. Of course, the hard part is to keep it in check. And not go overboard.

Daniel: Yes go the other direction.

Dr. Disha Spath: Yes, exactly. And not spend everything. Again,

Daniel: Where a budget helps is, it’s gives you regular awareness of things. But, I’m right there with you.

Daniel: I budget relatively regularly. I’m more of a cash flow guy, like I look at the high level spending and not the categories. Okay. And then when the high level gets off, I look at the categories. So that’s just my flavor of how I do my own finances. But I can’t get away. It’s been difficult for me to get away from this anxiety that comes up when we’re making decisions about buying things.

Daniel: Especially like my wife. My wife got me some custom snow boots for Christmas a couple years ago, and I absolutely love skiing but I’ll just use the lowest end of everything and just cheap it out. When I realized how much they cost, I was like “UHHHGG” I had trouble with that. We could completely afford it, it was just difficult.

Dr. Disha Spath: Yes. It gives you those sweats. Do you get those sweats when you spend too much money and you’re like…

Daniel: Yes, I have ’em all the time. Frugality in itself I don’t think makes you happy. Agreed. It can actually cause problems.

Daniel: But what is it that makes you happy? Maybe we could go back there because I think.

Daniel: What makes me happy about frugality? Okay, so like those snow boots. What would really make me happy is if I had, if I deal stacked a couple of coupons and didn’t pay full price for it.

Daniel: But this was a gift too. So that was where my mind went. I’m like, Oh, we could have gone In October off season and gotten these half off. But then I started thinking that, and I didn’t wanna say that cuz my wife was standing right there. And she’s the one that did a nice thing for me.

Daniel: And I’m like, my coupon mind, jumped into full gear and…

Dr. Disha Spath: This is your wife’s decision. This is a it is a present, something nice for you. Exactly. You gotta let that one go.

Dr. Disha Spath: My husband gave me like this really nice spa certificate recently too.

Dr. Disha Spath: It was like $500 for the spa. No, 250, but the entire thing actually ended up costing $500, like massage and a facial. And I was like, Oh my God. There’s so much money that’s like half the shift.

Daniel: What’s helped me is to lean into that, like what causes me happiness?

Daniel: The snow boots, I keep going back to the snow boots, but the snow boots I use a lot they are enjoyable. And if I can remind myself of that’s helpful. And then I really love digging into the research around what equates to happiness financially and super interesting research has indicated things like experiences with people you love, especially are impactful for your happiness? Positively impactful. Time, which you have referred to is positive impact on your happiness. Absolutely.

Daniel: Giving money away is one of the best, which is super. It throws people off a lot. And it’s uncommon too. If that’s true everybody needs to be more generous and whatnot.

Daniel: Absolutely.

Daniel: Those kinds of things have helped me a lot. But have there been other things on your end that have helped you through that?

Dr. Disha Spath: Through the scarcity. Yes. Honestly, personally, I agree. Giving money away, I love hosting people in my house and like hosting events and just and making people happy that way.

Dr. Disha Spath: We go out cook food for the Ronald McDonald House every once in a while as well, and do the charity stuff too. But I love just doing it like myself and being there having that experience. Yeah. Because it does, it gives you this feedback to your brain that you have enough, right?

Dr. Disha Spath: There is enough. And then of course, sitting down, meeting with my husband, doing the budget date, but also tracking our net worth, tracking our investments every month. When we do the budget date. It reinforces the financial concepts that we need to practice, but also tells you there is enough.

Dr. Disha Spath: Listen, you’re still making progress. And that’s the important part. And it’s not about the destination. It’s really about the journey. So you really have to enjoy the journey as well.

Daniel: What’s your husband like, in this regard?

Daniel: Is he similar to you?

Dr. Disha Spath: He doesn’t spend much money. He doesn’t have expensive tastes. I’m the one that has expensive tastes, have to keep it in check. But he’s a pretty, steady guy. He’s generally like very accommodating to what makes me happy?

Dr. Disha Spath: I’m very lucky in that he does usually unless his bad foot comes down and then the foot’s not moving, there’s a few things he’ll put his foot down and then it’s okay, that’s not gonna change like ever. But so a pretty, he’s a great partner too.

Daniel: That’s what marriage makes it a little more complicated in the end.

Daniel: Think it makes it better, but it does make it same sort of thing. If you’re in business, if you have a partnership, anytime you introduce multiple opinions and views and it’s never gonna be the same, that makes it more complicated. But it also forces you to work through some of these things and there’s accountability and there’s positive aspects of it that I think that help both people come out ahead. I wanted to ask you financial literacy versus mindset, cuz I think those are super important topics. Both of ’em. Absolutely. But I’m curious of your thoughts on which should we focus on first? Should we get our mind right first or should we learn the books first?

Dr. Disha Spath: I tend to fall more towards the practical, learn the practical stuff first.

Dr. Disha Spath: Okay. Because honestly, if you start with the mindset stuff first, you go too much towards, spending too much. You start, you go, Oh, you have enough. The problem is, okay, so the mindset stuff we are working on getting out of scarcity. We’re working on creating the life that we wanna live. And a lot of the times that goes towards, Okay, then let’s spend more, let’s take out more debt.

Dr. Disha Spath: It can, Yeah.

Dr. Disha Spath: And let’s take out the money from our retirement accounts and start buying real estate properties. , I’m not saying that’s wrong, but I wouldn’t do it. We start getting into this really risky pattern of financial management that I’m not a fan very conservative, I think it’s a better starting point to start learning about finance. Start off, a little bit more on the scarcity side, and then work on mindset and then fix the mindset, afterwards because it’s important to get the system set up that will not get you in trouble.

Dr. Disha Spath: That won’t make you take on a whole bunch of risk. And I think that’s why Dave Ramsey, the Dave Ramsey style is so important in the financial world because we get the live YOLO. Take on a whole bunch of debt. Invest, if you invest in earn X amount of interest, then the amount of interest on your debt doesn’t matter.

Dr. Disha Spath: You’re coming out ahead. We get this message from really, the entire consumer culture. It’s all there. We need something anti that. To get our stuff together. Just have being so istic to stop taking on so much debt. And that’s why debt is not bad, but debt is a tool, a dangerous one.

Dr. Disha Spath: It’s like fire. Fire is an incredibly important tool for humans and for humans in our lifestyle. But if you don’t know how to control it, it takes over. You need to know how to use this tool , and have appropriate amount of respect for it and fear of it.

Dr. Disha Spath: Not to the point where you don’t use it, but to the point where you respect it.

Daniel: I think that’s good to get to, at least to that point where you recognize money is a tool and recognizing money is a tool for living your ideal life. Having that foundation and then I agree getting into that financial literacy, it’s like both of ’em. You gotta do both of them and they interrelate completely. But I think first of all, we all should be working on self education development. Forever. Absolutely too. I guess that’s a mindset thing too.

Daniel: It’s like I finished my education, I’m done forever. The lifelong learner mindset, I think is important too.

Dr. Disha Spath: Absolutely. There’s so much to learn. There’s so much to learn. And yes, you can learn the basics and get started. And that’s the thing. A lot of the times physicians are so perfectionist that they wanna learn everything and know everything before they make any moves.

Dr. Disha Spath: And they get stuck in this analysis paralysis. There’s a balance to be struck there. When do you know enough to get started? Really you need to know enough to manage your first paycheck. Manage your first contract. And that’s really where you need to make that first move and know what to do.

Dr. Disha Spath: So learn the basics and then continue to learn cuz there’s so much to learn. What makes life fun is definitely that learner mindset is very important. I totally agree with that.

Daniel: And I think budgeting too is very difficult for perfectionists. I struggled with my first multiple years of budgeting was challenging for me because I would do the perfect budget basically. And it never worked.

Daniel: So I see it regularly with people we work with one on one with families and we do the budgeting part and it’s 99% of the time we finish the budget and then it’s somehow not what they’re spending. It’s always less than what they’re spending, but that’s just because there’s this like margin money that life happens. Things don’t go as planned or we underestimate or whatever it is. Right?

Daniel: I think for perfectionists, that’s not exactly correct. We gotta get this thing correct. And sometimes they just throw the budget away.

Dr. Disha Spath: Then just scrap it.

Dr. Disha Spath: Yeah. But

Daniel: I don’t know that’s the best way to do it. So I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this. I think budgeting, a negative connotation. A lot of people, it’s not cool. A lot of people view frugality as equated to being cheap and all those sorts of things are running through people’s heads.

Daniel: So I think we need to make a better case for budgeting. We’ve already started to sprinkle some of that in, but like, how do we make a better case for budgeting? I think it’s a great tool and you’ve already hit on that.

Dr. Disha Spath: I think people try to call it like Cash Flow Management or try to give it a sexier name than the B word.

Dr. Disha Spath: And a lot of people don’t realize that there are different ways to budget. It’s not just an Excel spreadsheet. You could just do pay yourself first, and that’s a type of budget, right?

Dr. Disha Spath: It’s not really what we are talking about here, but if you do pay yourself first, which is basically you set up the auto withdrawals to go towards what the goals that you wanna achieve first and then spend the rest, that’s another type of budgeting. But budgeting is just being mindful about where your money’s going, and then taking account of it at the end of the month.

Dr. Disha Spath: I think it’s part of just being an adult, right? People used to balance their checkbooks. That’s what right?

Daniel: That was budgeting.

Dr. Disha Spath: Now we spend money so many other ways than just checks and that’s why it’s more important to sit down and go through it because now the entire culture is set up to slowly take money out of your bank account.

Dr. Disha Spath: The subscription model is, the reason it has, taken off so well is because it’s so easy to set those up and then forget. And then you have this cash flow of consumerism just going out of your account every month. And that’s why it’s so important to sit down and look at it every month and do your own personal assessment.

Dr. Disha Spath: Balancing your own checkbook digitally, and or paper if you could.

Dr. Disha Spath: Oh Yeah paper! Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

Dr. Disha Spath: But it’s so important because I feel like if, when we’re not budgeting like. The last two months, Josh and I have missed our budget dates for one reason or another. And we have it on the calendar tomorrow cause we gotta get it done cuz I feel so disoriented.

Dr. Disha Spath: Without knowing what we spent and what we’re doing, what our accounts are doing at the end of the month. There’s just so many different ways the money goes.

Daniel: One of my favorite quotes, It talks about, show me your checkbook and your calendar and I’ll tell you what’s most important.

Dr. Disha Spath: So it’s show me your budget and I’ll show you your priorities, Joe Biden.

Daniel: Show me your budget. Show me where your money’s going, and I’ll tell you what’s most important. A lot of people are like, of course it’s, I’m doing what’s valuable to me and blah, blah, blah. But let someone else look at your budget and they’ll be able to tell you which you value cuz you know that tend.

Daniel: Same with time. So it is very important where your money’s going. That’s what budgeting is. Yep.

Dr. Disha Spath: And if you’re not looking at it, then it’s just going everywhere that everyone else wants it to go to.

Daniel: If you lose, that’s losing awareness and that’s never a good thing.

Daniel: Can you share like what the date nights are?

Dr. Disha Spath: So Josh and I have like this setup where his computer is right in front of mine. We’re both sitting across from each other. We have our two desktops, with two screens each, and pull up our accounts. We have our Excel spreadsheet.

Dr. Disha Spath: It used to be that U S A would do some of the breakdown for you. Give you the categories, but they stopped doing that. So now we have to go to the individual accounts and actually, put in the actual line by line numbers, which is annoying. But each card does add up each category spend.

Dr. Disha Spath: So we just go through each line item, visually and just make sure that it’s all kosher. That there was no fraud or anything. And then we put in the numbers into our Excel spreadsheet, as a total if for each category. Write down each small spend.

Dr. Disha Spath: And in our Excel sheet, we have the income, we have, the withholdings for our, retirement, payroll, HSA and all that stuff upcoming out of our paycheck. And then we have the expenses for the month. , And so that’s how we do our household. And then we have rental properties.

Dr. Disha Spath: So we try to track the rental property expenses below that separately. And the business expenses separately.

Daniel: So you’re documenting each category, like broader category, dining out and shopping.

Dr. Disha Spath: Shopping, whatever,

Daniel: Groceries. And you’re putting each transaction into one of those categories and then looking at the total.

Daniel: And then is it usually just that to that and you’re like, Let’s actually have the rest of the date and not look at the numbers, or does it depend on what the numbers look like?

Dr. Disha Spath: So then we do what’s the delta for the month? And hopefully we’ve saved some. We try to keep track of our savings rate and if the savings rate is not where we want it to be, then and when we shoot for 30 to 50% at least.

Dr. Disha Spath: Also taking into account our retirement savings.

Dr. Disha Spath: And if it’s not there, then we talk about how okay, next month we’re gonna just project out what the spends are what are the big things coming up? Try to come up with some rough numbers for what next month’s gonna look like and shoot for a goal.

Dr. Disha Spath: Then we take the Delta and transfer it over to our savings high yield savings account. So that’s where our auto withdrawals are from for the investing. Then we have set amount that we’re investing every month out of there Into five 20 nines and brokerage and such.

Daniel: All the fun things. Gotcha. Cool. First of all, the most important thing is taking a step and doing something like having a conversation, like a date night itself, and everybody has, it’s, I like asking cuz I’ve, they’re all different. Every person I’ve ever talked to about this, which is not a lot of people talk about this, but I think it’s a good thing to talk about.

Daniel: Everybody’s got a different flavor of how they do things. The more important thing is that you’re taking the initiative to do those things and have the conversation with your spouse and coming in from a positive frame of view, which you’re doing a great job. So kudos to that. Thank you.

Daniel: One more thing before we wrap up. I know we gotta wrap up here, but I’m really curious to circle back to your favorite ideas for how to be super frugal with day to day living.

Dr. Disha Spath: Okay. So I think, first of all, I used credit cards. The reward and all the perks that come with them.

Dr. Disha Spath: I think they’re a great way to stack deals. So like Amex will or Chase will give you, 10% back at Target if you go and spend this month. So there’s that. And then you can get the Target Circle savings as well. Or you could just go and buy something on sale and then you get the extra money back on your card.

Dr. Disha Spath: And it’s pretty easy to start stacking deals like that. Or if you have a coupon, stack that on top. And it’s easy to start doing that if you’re actually just paying attention and thinking about it. But it requires some brain space. And that’s usually what holds people back from doing it.

Dr. Disha Spath: But if you’re able to do that, there’s very easy, easy ways to save money there. And of course Rakuten and Capital One shopping. Now I’m throwing out names, brand names, but there are many different sites out there that will apply coupons for you now online if you’re shopping online.

Dr. Disha Spath: So that’s a great way to start stacking deals is, by just running that up on your browser and having it put in coupon codes for as you buy something on sale. I tend to get most of my clothes. I like high end clothes, but I don’t like paying the high end prices.

Dr. Disha Spath: I tend to get them from rental subscription services. I think they’re a really great way to get a good deal on designer products is to sign up for the rental subscription where a lot of the times they’ll give you a huge discount to keep what you already have at home.

Dr. Disha Spath: So I have a subscription right now to Vince. And Vince has like ludicrously overpriced items, but really high end. So like silk and cashmere, I really enjoy that and that makes me happy. I get them from 90% off, I’m also doing the subscription.

Dr. Disha Spath: So that way I can have what I want, but not pay full press parent.

Daniel: I didn’t even know that was a thing.

Dr. Disha Spath: Rent the runway. Same, similar stuff. You can get really high end stuff that’s been in rotation of course it’s used. If you’re buying like more of the synthetic stuff, if you buy cotton, from a rental subscription site, it’s most often, like it gets worn out.

Dr. Disha Spath: It shows its way pretty quickly. So maybe not the best thing to buy used. But if you buy something more synthetic, they generally hold up, over time. And so you can buy some really nice designer stuff for cheap that way. So that’s how I tend to buy my clothes. And then of course, just some nice stuff some basics from Target.

Dr. Disha Spath: There are ways to save money out there. Especially, of course buying things off season, like you said, buy winter clothes at the at the beginning of summer and you can get so such great deals, or buy Christmas stuff. In the beginning of summer, or right at the end of Christmas, at New Year’s to buy Christmas stuff is you get huge deals there.

Dr. Disha Spath: So there are definitely ways to think about and maximize where each dollar goes and how much each dollar brings in to your value to your house. Those are some of my favorite ways.

Daniel: That’s like low hanging fruit stuff cuz if you can. Get the same thing for a lower price.

Daniel: Why not? Why not? As long as it’s not gonna take days and days.

Daniel: Sometimes I get in the cycle of researching too much. And then you gotta watch that one draw a line somewhere. But there’s all kinds of. Easy winds out there.

Dr. Disha Spath: Groceries, for example. It’s really about habits, right? How you set up your habits. If you’re shopping at the highest cost grocery store, you’re gonna be spending a lot of money on groceries, Whereas you just switch to something lower cost, like all deer, Walmart, and and you’ve shaved off a bunch of money that you could be putting elsewhere

Dr. Disha Spath: It’s just a matter of fixing the daily habits. I think a lot of frugality is habitual. And so if you can fix those habits and just set yourself up for the future in a way that you’re spending less and saving more. And then you can use that money for stuff that you really wanna spend on or, really want to put to use in investing.

Daniel: It’s not like you’re saying, not spending ever, you’re saying, I’m not spending it this second. Not being frugal doesn’t mean necessarily that you’ll never spend it.

Dr. Disha Spath: You just spend it smarter,

Daniel: That’s all. You’re more intentional with the spending.

Daniel: Exactly. And improving your future self. Absolutely.

Daniel: There’s so many different things that we didn’t get to that I wanted to talk about. So hopefully we can chat again about this cuz there’s a lot of stuff within this topic, but I think this has been a very enjoyable conversation and I always love talking about for frugality and I’m excited I found someone else that enjoys the topic and you’re doing it the right way too.

Daniel: You your values first, and I think that’s super important. But thank you for coming on to chat with me. It’s been very enjoyable.

Dr. Disha Spath: Yes, absolutely. It’s been my pleasure. I’m always happy to geek out of up frugality and money, whoever’s willing to talk about it.

Daniel: Awesome. Thanks for coming on.

Dr. Disha Spath: Thank you, Daniel it’s My pleasure.