I stared at the computer in disbelief. Surely there was some mistake. The monthly shift schedule for my group had just been released and my name was barely on it. This, despite the fact that I’d recently been made a partner and been told I’d be given an equitable number of shifts – and this obviously was not the case.
Needless to say, I was more than a little alarmed. I called the person who made the schedule and was essentially told that nothing would be changed or could be done, regardless of prior discussions.
It was at that moment that I realized that I am not in control of my career or my financial well-being. In our group, shifts and hours equated directly to money. I was a highly-paid hourly worker, but the job was only as good as the hours I was given. To acquire additional hours, I would have to scramble, hustle, and pick up extra hours when other people were willing to give them up.
I made the decision right then and there that I would never find myself in this situation again. Relying solely on medicine and at someone else’s whim was something I simply couldn’t afford to do. Something had to change. I needed to become financially independent.
A Little Background
Unfortunately, I was never great with finances growing up. In fact, I had only recently rid myself of some serious credit card debt that had followed me from college and through a good deal of residency. I had poor spending habits and treated my investments like gambling – trying to hit the home run every time. Unfortunately, I struck out quite a bit.
However, late in residency, I came upon a book called Rich Dad, Poor Dad. This book opened my eyes. It taught me what it meant to be an owner vs. a consumer, and got me interested in owning rental properties. I told myself someday, when I had more capital and more time, I would start investing in real estate.
Well, after that scheduling fiasco, I simply decided that someday would be today. With this new focused goal of being financially independent from medicine in mind, I decided to start devoting what extra time I had to real estate and businesses – in essence, ways to create passive income. It took some effort, but I found that time wherever I could – reading books during downtime while on call, listening to podcasts in the car, and watching YouTube videos while walking my dogs to name a few.
Creating a Business To Help Physicians
After spending that time learning as much as I could, the next logical step, to me, was obtaining my real estate license. I thought having it might make me a more informed real estate investor, and perhaps I’d be able to benefit from buying an investment property as an agent and save on commissions. I also thought I would potentially have access to deals earlier than the general public.
All that was great, but I hoped I could do more. Having experienced a pretty difficult time purchasing my own home a year prior, I also realized that there were very few resources for helping physicians through that process.
So, armed with my real estate license and this desire to help physicians (and create a business at the same time), I started a real estate company called Curbside Real Estate. My goal was to help physicians buy and sell homes by connecting them to trusted realtors and lenders. It started organically, largely through word of mouth. Next thing you know, I was helping doctors from coast to coast. The business was great and I felt I was making an impact helping physicians, but I still wanted to own my own real estate investment properties.
How I Started Investing in Real Estate
I started devouring every website related to real estate that I could. Eventually, I found out about this new way of investing in real estate called real estate crowdfunding and platforms like RealtyShares and EquityMultiple. It seemed like a good source of passive income, but I was hesitant and afraid.
But greater than my fear of losing money was my fear of not moving forward. Sure, there was also risk in trying something new. However, if I did nothing, I knew nothing would change, and things might be even worse in a few years.
So, I decided to just do it. I took the relatively small amount of $5000 and put it into a debt deal. My hand was shaking as I pushed submit.
A month later, the direct deposit hit my account. The next month brought another. I found myself greatly motivated to keep learning real estate, to understand what some of the terminology meant and the different ways to invest. Now that there was some money on the line, I became more interested than ever. Next thing you know, I had invested nearly $100,000 in total in various crowdfunding ventures.
Inertia and Momentum in Investing
In that next year, I diversified. In addition to those investments, I ended up buying an investment property out of state as well as partnering with another physician to purchase an apartment building. It was amazing how much momentum was formed by that first small step investing in a crowdfunding deal.
Around that time, my wife also got in on the act. She had begun to feel the grind of trying to balance being a physician and a mother. She was looking for a change as well and began building her own business.
Each month, I watched as our bank account balance grew but not because either she or I was working more in the hospital. In fact, when my wife decided to cut back on her work significantly after having our second child, it didn’t cause us any financial stress thanks to our passive income streams.
Start a Blog? No Way…
I was excited about our new ventures and growing freedom, and I became eager to share and help others achieve their own goals. I spread the word to a few colleagues and friends, who began to encourage me to start my own blog so that they could learn along with me.
Initially, the idea held no appeal for me. After all, I hadn’t written anything since I was forced to in college (besides personal statements). No one would care, and as far as I knew, there was only one physician doing it (the White Coat Investor).
Still, I couldn’t shake the idea. It popped back into my head around the time that the Physician on Fire began to gain some popularity. I had just watched a few physicians around me essentially lose their jobs and saw how their lives were significantly stressed as a result. I knew that physicians needed to know more about passive income.
So, I sat down, wrote a few posts, and posted them on a simple website under the name Passive Income MD. I honestly didn’t expect anyone to read it. Well, that was two years ago and so much has happened since. Most notably, I’m now in a position where I am financially independent from medicine. In fact, I’ve started to cut back at work in order to find that happy work-family life balance. I don’t have any desire to quit medicine completely, but I do intend to retire gradually.
Why Be Anonymous?
I’ve found a real pleasure in writing this blog, and up until now, I’ve done it completely anonymously. I first chose to do this because, honestly, it’s scary writing a blog about your personal life, especially when it deals with work and finances.
Who knows what might somehow come back to bite you? And who knows who’s looking at my information? So, I decided to start anonymously and see what happened.
But then, I started receiving more and more opportunities to spread the word and my mission. I was invited to speak at several national medical conferences, but I turned them down to maintain my anonymity. I was invited to meet up with readers whenever I traveled to different towns, but I turned those down for the same reason. What’s flattered me the most is that I’ve even been asked to mentor some people, but again, I’ve declined to stay hidden.
Then came a few recent emails from readers already on their first or second rental properties since I started the blog, thanking me for the encouragement to get going. Others had started their own blogs or started their own businesses. It was then that I realized my favorite part of this whole blogging journey has not been the financial gains (although you won’t hear me complain about it), it’s been the interactions with other physicians who are trying to achieve the same thing I am.
How am I supposed to do that while hiding behind this veil of anonymity? So, I've decided that I’m stepping out, whatever risks there might be, and allow myself to freely interact with like-minded people and continue to push my mission of helping physicians achieve financial freedom through passive income (see logo).
So here it goes. My name is Peter Kim, and I’m an anesthesiologist who grew up on the East Coast but now live in Los Angeles. I have an amazing wife and two young children who daily remind me why life is so precious, and why time is the most important resource.
I love being a physician and I intend to practice for as long as I’m physically able. However, I also want to be present in the lives of my family – I do not want to miss any moments or life experiences. After all, one of the top regrets of the dying is that they wished they hadn’t worked so hard and missed out on the lives of their loved ones.
The State of Physician Careers
If there’s one thing I’ve realized, it’s that I’m not alone. There are so many physicians who are not at an optimal place with their jobs and are unhappy with medicine in general. Physician burnout is a hot topic these days. According to the experts, a good deal of that comes from the loss of physician autonomy and relationship with the patient, but I believe a good amount of it also comes from the increasing financial pressures heaped on physicians (decreasing reimbursements, rising student loan debt, increased standard of living, and more).
Medicine continues to change, and it’s definitely NOT changing to the benefit of the physician. “They” are not looking out for us, so we have to look out for ourselves and put ourselves in the best position to succeed at a happy life.
Unfortunately, as physicians, we’ve just never been given a true financial education to better make that happen. We’ve been asked to focus and dedicate ourselves wholly to medicine, and we haven’t had the time to properly educate ourselves on all the financial stuff that affects our daily lives.
Moreover, the world of finance and creating a business/passive income is so different from medicine. There’s no one way (unlike a relatively straight path through college, medical school, and residency). So it can be quite intimidating, and many are paralyzed with fear of the unknown. I felt the same way until I was forced into action.
I truly believe that physicians can still thrive today. We make a higher income than most of the general population; we just have to be extremely strategic with how we spend and invest that income.
The Goal In Mind
However, I never want to pretend that I’m the world's expert on all the things I discuss on the site. I’m just trying to share my journey, reveal what I’m learning along the way, and hopefully inspire others to follow their own path to financial freedom.
I also have my issues like everyone else does. For one, no one could ever accuse me or my wife of being frugal. However, when we do spend, we’ve become better at spending with intention, making sure it adds value to our lives in meaningful ways. This is why we’re happy to live where we live (in a high cost of living area), we like to take nice trips, and enjoy eating good food. We definitely live more, but we also focus on giving much more than we used to. All of this has been made possible by our multiple streams of income.
When I first started this journey, I thought it was just simply about not being dependent on medicine or anyone else for my income. What I’ve learned is that passive income and financial freedom is more about having the freedom to choose how you want to spend your time with the ones you love and doing what you love.
I’ve also learned that there is so much joy in the journey. I’m extremely grateful for the people I’ve met and the new things I’ve learned. It’s truly been an awesome experience.
Thank you for being a part of this community. Thank you for reading. I hope that I can continue to encourage, support, and motivate you to achieve your life goals. And if I’m not, let me know how I can better do so. There are so many different platforms to connect with me – on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, but I tend to respond fastest through one of these methods:
FB Group: Passive Income Docs
How has passive income helped you so far? I’d love to hear your stories.