When soulmates from vastly different backgrounds find one another and decide to become a permanent team, a whole lotta adjustments happen along the way.
Jake and Laura are living the dream! They both are Certified Anesthetists making darn good money. They are “livin’ the dream”–well, redefining “the dream” after much realization and compromise.
The Early Years: Laura
Big city China was all Laura knew as a child. Her parents divorced when she was six, which left her mom to provide. Her mom did the best she could. Seriously, the absolute best. Her mom worked days and nights at two full-time jobs.
Money, or more accurately, the lack of money, was always an issue. Though in poverty, Laura never went hungry. There was always Ramen to soothe the empty tummy. She was educated, and seriously grateful for that.
Not once does she remember having ANY pocket money. She lived in a 400 square foot apartment with her mom, her grandparents, and an uncle. Her mom slept there and not much else. Even when her mom was around, she was not a stable emotional influence. Mom had a steady stream of boyfriends, and frequently, Laura and her mom would move in with the current man in her life.
Laura learned to rely on herself
Though the beginning of her fierce independence was a few decades ago in another time and place, her independence is still her strongest trait. As a child, she would bike or take the city bus to school.
Yes, a six year old on a city bus, alone.
At the age of five, she was cooking for the family and taking responsibility for household chores simply because she knew they needed doing. Those experiences were the makings of a strong and street-wise child. She continued to add world wisdom through her teenage years which has made her into the young woman she is today.
Laura had never received a single gift. Poverty has no margin.
However, once, her mom was seeing a “well-to-do” guy, and he bought her a backpack. She still remembers what an impression that made on her. Also, because of this “rich” boyfriend, she experienced what it was like to go out to dinner. Dining out was simply not done in their home. Their nourishment came from the farmers’ markets and was always a do-it-yourself event.
Reflecting back on her parents’ marriage, she knows that money, its management, and the priorities assigned to it by its owners was the reason for their divorce. Money was the stressor. Frugality was a necessity, not a choice.
As a child, she dreamed of a high paying job. A job that would allow her to get out of poverty. The professional goal was secondary to the number one goal of never having to be frugal, ever again. For her, extreme frugality continues to be a terrible reminder of a traumatizing time that has long since passed.
The Early Years: Jake
On the other side of the world, Jake was living a pretty comfortable American middle-class life. Born and raised in small-town Wisconsin, he had everything he needed, but not all that he wanted. As he gazed back at his younger, more foolish self, he clearly sees what a natural spending gift he had. He earned money and he spent money.
The spending felt good at the time, but something stirred inside him that tapped his spirit with a warning that his current path would not serve him well long-term.
He was a worker–he worked throughout high school and college, which would put him way ahead of the game considering his parents paid for his entire undergrad education. He worked as a pharmacy tech in high school, and in college he was an Emergency Medical Technician. He even worked the Emergency Room as a tech. All of these jobs netted him about $25,000-$30,000 in a two year period and–you guessed it–he blew it all
The parental gravy train ended for grad school. About this time, he knew he didn’t want to be a doctor anymore, but he wanted to make the most of the education he’d already received, so he decided to become a Certified Anesthetist. He took out the maximum amount of loans allowable and lived on that money. He ate out, partied, and did really well keeping up with the Joneses.
Paying back the loans didn’t even enter his mind.
About this time, he met Laura.
As their friendship and romance blossomed, Laura noticed that he was getting Amazon packages delivered. All. The. Time.
He shopped just to shop, but with some encouragement from this wise woman, he finally started to track his spending. He did a bit of a financial autopsy and he figured that prior to Laura, he’d been spending about $1,000 on groceries, and $1,500 on entertainment and eating out per month!
He made a complete one-eighty turnaround. Laura helped him shape up finances and in 2016 he found Mr. Money Mustache and devoured the content!
Looking back, he could place blame on society, but admits now with perfect hindsight how stubborn and self-indulgent he had been. He slowly realized that “it” whatever “it” was, gave that rush of Dopamine in the moment, but long term, stuff did nothing to feed his soul.
Medicine vs. conscience, mixed with personal hell
While in the healthcare industry, he didn’t like what he was seeing. Par for the course, he worked some crazy hours. He was seeing more and more that his actual experience of “Healthcare” was not matching what he had idealized in his mind as caring for the health of people.
He was the guy that put patients to sleep for surgery. Surgery was often not the path to health but a futile attempt to stave off disease.
He saw that patients were causing much of what ailed them because of their compounded lifestyle choices over decades. A seventeen year old should not be getting their gallbladder out!
His own parents are in their 60's and in great shape. They exercise, swim, eat well, don’t smoke or drink. Most of the people he puts to sleep do not fit this demographic. So, he was having a pretty hard time reconciling all of this against who he wanted to be as a person of great integrity when it comes to health.
He started the old standard inner dialogue–“why should I be helping them? I’m a hypocrite. I earn a great paycheck, but at the expense of the health of all these people. I’m not really helping them because the root causes are still there.”
Western medicine, some part of the body is not working well and “it needs to come out” is the typical answer. It can be a life changing surgery.
There are ways to reverse the damage, which would be with diet changes, exercise, yoga, massage, and even acupuncture. However, surgeons operate on the premise that people are incapable of change, so they may as well make a dollar; lots of them. People are lazy about their health and the industry profits. So many times, the diagnoses could have been prevented or can be cured, if people just took care of themselves.
In Jake’s world, ideally, doctors would treat conditions naturally, patients would be willing and cooperative, and surgeons would only be called when they are truly needed. However, the typical industry standard approach of pills and scalpels has left him unsatisfied and longing for more real impact on prevention and healing of disease.
Lifestyle choices are why people get sick, much of the time. Yes, there is a genetic component to it, but disease, for the most part, equals compounded lifestyle choices.
Jakes Own Health Takes a Turn
After they got engaged, a trip to China was in order to meet Laura’s family. During this time, they had decided to become , cold turkey, to try to reverse some acid reflux problems Jake was having.
He became severely ill and lost too much weight. He learned that health is something many people take for granted and that it's incredibly hard to get back once you lose it. Listen to your body and give it what it needs, and don’t take your health for granted. It turns out the vegan diet exacerbated some of his problems, problems that were created by eating way too much sugar, pizza, and cheese as a kid.
He started suffering from many of the problems that he so greatly feared whenever he saw them in his patients. He realized that those diseases happen because something else is going on and the body can’t tolerate it, and they may lie dormant for years before showing their ugly faces. His health continues to be a struggle to this day.
Laura had her challenges too, and eventually discovered the underlying cause through genetic testing. She can’t eat fruit.
FI is more important than ever knowing that health is never a given. It can also be wiped out in an instant if we aren’t prioritizing our health. One large emergency when your health is teetering on thin ice can derail any independence you thought you had. Sure a car accident isn’t something you can control, but patients recover from broken bones and collapsed lungs much faster when they don’t also have hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and fatty liver.
The difference in health can be seen while under anesthesia, those patients who abuse their bodies with processed meat and sugar and booze are much harder to manage than those who stay clean and lean.
Once you have more information about health and money–you get to choose.
Time To Wake Up For the Sake of Your Health And Your Financial Future!
Bad food decisions.
Bad money decisions.
That is how disease/decay/malfunction starts. They victimize themselves because they choose to put their head in the sand in regard to their health and their money.
Many people are doing the best they can which equals sleepwalking and apathy.
Jake feels like his calling is to wake people up by educating them on better health and money habits.
inding the right balance for these two has been an exercise in expectation and communication. Like a pendulum, they’ve gone from one extreme to the other, but have now reached a middle ground for spending. Jake and Laura have realized that compromise, coming from their vastly different backgrounds, is a concept that is hard fought.
There were lots of discussions to define exactly what life looks like.
Recently, they have both been working a ton of overtime to pay off their student loan debt. For now, that means working six days a week. When the student loans are paid off, they will be living frugally comfortable with a 75 percent savings rate. This will result in FI in just five to seven years!
In consuming so much new knowledge in the FI arena, he, like many of us, realized that you can’t get today back. Figuring out what living fully means to us as individuals is critical. If he were on the Hot Seat, and asked about his favorite article, it would be Is One Year of Your Life Worth 25 Million?
With the vast changes to his financial life, personal life and forward outlook, Jake is so much happier. He’s even less disgruntled with work and the healthcare system as a whole. Being on the verge of paying off the student loans, he is tasting freedom!
Both your body's health and your financial health start with you.
Laura looks to be super happy with her career, as her hard work has manifested itself from the dream she had and looks to keep going for a very long time. The memories are getting a little bit farther away as they step closer and closer to FI.
They travel quite a bit and use travel rewards. They also know their net worth. Real estate also appeals to them. Most of all, their Why of FI is continually stepping towards what they truly value, professionally and personally. They are blessed and impassioned to make a difference on these two fronts in every way possible.