[Editor's Note: I love guest posts from regular readers and I know you all appreciate hearing a different voice. I especially enjoy getting well-written guest posts that require minimal editing. This one had me chuckling the whole time, so I'm sure you'll like it. This one is from Geoff Hubbell, MD. We have no financial relationship.]
Avid readers of the WCI blog will have noted several references to eating Alpo in retirement. Apparently this happens when somebody chooses jet skis and vacation homes over 401ks and Back Door Roth IRAs. This appears to be especially unforgivable in WCI’s eyes if you’re a physician, given the above-average earning power of even the lowest paid doctors. As best I can tell, a physician eating Alpo in retirement is considered to be as bad as a number one draft pick choosing to play for the Cleveland Browns in terms of squandered opportunity.
Alpo in Seattle
After a recent perusal of Seattle real estate prices, (hint: it’s expensive), I found myself questioning the alleged faults of eating Alpo in your golden years. I sure could use all that 401k money for gorgeous views of Puget Sound instead of some nebulous thing three decades into the future. My piano practice would certainly sound nicer on a $200k Bosendorfer 9 foot Imperial grand piano than my current used upright as well. I decided to test the waters of living-for-today by trying out some Alpo to see if I could talk myself into a different way of living.
Right off the bat I had to make a choice at the grocery store between actual Alpo and the slightly cheaper store brand dog food. I eventually chose Alpo, reasoning that I would still have some modicum of pride in my latter years. I’m a doctor: I’m worth name brand. Besides, I’m sure all that money I’m paying into Social Security will have grown handsomely to let me afford the good stuff during the twilight of my life.
There was good news with my choice. Alpo comes with a pop-top. This means I won’t have to invest in a can-opener. That’s 99 cents I can apply to my Ferrari payments right there. The bright colors on the can will also look good as seen through the glass doors of the custom cabinets I’ll be sure to have in my dream mansion.
So is Alpo in retirement really that bad? YES! This stuff is absolutely terrible. The best way I can describe it is cardboard stroganoff. Sure, dogs eat it. Dogs also consider the cat litter box to be an hors d’oeuvre tray. I have a bit of a masochistic streak, (I once put a nasogastric tube in myself during residency so that I could truthfully tell my patients that I knew how awful it was) and was originally planning to eat the entire can in order to prove some bizarre point to myself, but I quickly gave up that idea. I was reluctantly forced to conclude that I would have to tell Gulfstream to cancel that order for my G650.
One Year With WCI
It has been about one year since I discovered the WCI blog, and during that time I have nearly doubled my 401k contributions, changed my portfolio entirely to index funds, refinanced my student loans through DRB, sold a Harley I bought on credit at 7% (forgive me WCI, I was young and stupid…at 31), and started an online savings account for my eventual home down-payment that earns a blistering 1%. Aside from the reams of paperwork involved with the refinance, none of this stuff has been all that difficult. Certainly it was nowhere near as difficult as memorizing the Kreb’s cycle or being on call in the ICU for 30 hours straight.
Good finance, unlike medical school, is an ongoing process with no defined ending. Putting off present benefit for future gain doesn’t come naturally to most people, and most of the world is more than willing to convince you that you should be spending that money NOW. Patience and discipline pay off handsomely however, and I come back to the blog frequently to remind myself of that. If you don’t believe me and really believe that you need that $80,000 Tesla, go pick up some Alpo and let me know if it’s worth it.
What do you think? Do you like Alpo? Did you find portfolio assembly to be worse than the Kreb's cycle? Comment below!