CRNA Finance

Investments without large fees

Investing is not one of our best endeavors and many just don’t take the time to learn. With only a few minutes left in the year, here is some information you might not want to miss.  

I was just listening to the ChooseFI podcast and found out a few things to pass along.  First, I recommend listening to them as you journey through life whether you are planning to retire early or not.  

HSAs or Health Savings accounts for any high deductible insurance plan that is define as 1350 for an individual or 2700 for a family.   You can put away 3450 individual or 6900 for a family in an HSA TAX FREE.   Any medical expenses can be taken out TAX FREE at any time / any year!  This of course means you have to keep your receipts for your accountant for years.  After age 65, it acts like a traditional IRA or can be used for medical expenses later in life.  If your plan started dec 1 you could find the entire amount.  Fidelity now has a zero fee HSA management account (funds or investments places in the account may have some fees).  

This is way different than an FSA as those funds don’t fully roll-over year to year.   these funds are for your yearly medical expenses and are typically use or lose.

We are typically interested in low fees and trying to keep our income in our pockets.  Mutual fund investments are just about the most common across the nation and ChooseFI often touts the Vanguard total stock index fund or VTSAX which had a hefty $10k minimum which has now changed to a $3k minimum for getting started.  This opens the fund up to those who are wanting to get started investing at one of the lowest fee mutual funds on the market at an annual fee of just 0.04%! 

Some of you may know these things but the mutual fund information is pretty new.  If you are thinking of setting up the Solo401k it has to be done and funded by the end of the year and if you are looking at a sep IRA it must be done and funded by April 15.   

It’s time to get your investment on! 

Debt reduction as a locum.

I’ve been so fortunate that Francisco is an amazing parent!  Elizabeth has been at home with Francisco 90% of the time and we found a great babysitter through a friend.  Francisco has been knocking it out-of-the-Park with his YouTube channel/ website   

I looked at our debt 7 months ago and was so stressed that we were over $250k in debt not including our home.  I traded my truck for less than half the cost new SUV.  I went to work on locums and raised my rate while telling the place I needed any hours or call I could get.  I’ve been away from the family returning about every 4 weeks for a few days to a week.  We’ve still had time to visit family and a good “working” vacation.  I’m happy to report that our net worth is positive and debt is below 100K.  I’m going to a 2 week on 2 week off lifestyle with intermittent days on my weeks off that will allow us to keep decreasing our debt and allow me more time at home!  Our rental properties have picked up and are now paying for one new property per year and paying thier own expenses.   

I have approximately 3 more weeks away before getting started on my new locum contract!  I’m 12 weeks into my MBA carrying a 3.8 gpa and learning weekly.  I get to pour over financial reports and am doing better each week with my own reports as well!   

I continue to consider business opportunities and think that with time 1,2 or 3 could become something just like the rentals, YouTube or the websites.   

I just wanted to check in and thank you all for the positivity and thank our Locum professionals for keeping us in great standing so we can work, travel, & provide for our families!  We are so blessed!   


Flexibility with Travel, Work, & Vacations

The flexibility & vacation time in working locums drew me in and kept me as a locum nurse Anesthetist.  

Work flexibility with a few facilities around the country has allowed the opportunities to do more with my time. 

Recently, my family visited Costa Rica and extended family!  I was able to speak and although I was a little excited, nervous, & even got a little lost in speaking; it was great to see other CRNAs and have them meet the family.   

We moved to Virginia for surrogacy and failed our first attempts.  It was a true and sad failure but due to locums I’ve been able to pay down the debt that occurred for this attempt.   

We’re paying down our debt load and continued to build the real estate venture over the past 6 months.  It’s been amazing to follow a move and family changes over the past 6 months.  I’ve been able to build on relationships and although working a lot... we are still well on our way to continued financial success in our lives.  Although, I know it’s possible to do this in one location with one job, it’s getting done on a condensed schedule.   

Life, flexibility and continue strong work ethic are leading to change as I continue all the things that are important in our family life.   

Finally, school is just about to finish the first 10 week term toward the MBA.  Nothing game-changing but working on a business mindset continues to be a fun opportunity for change despite my whining and complaining :).   

Totally looking forward to the coming weeks and months!  More to come. 

Happy mother’s day

Today is mother’s day and I must say mine has always pushed me to do better.  It doesn’t matter just how much I put in as far as effort, education, level of understanding or time... Mom has always been there pushing my boundaries to improve.  

I think that is missing in today’s generations and I’m hoping I can instill these values into Elizabeth’s core as she grows.  Not to instill negative worth of perception of never quite being good enough.  That isn’t the intent at all.  I see the amount of knowledge, work, time devoted to projects, continuous education, and effort that is put into every aspect of life.  I think the realization is that there is always someone that can do something differently or better in the results column.  I find an appreciation for the neighbor that has the most gorgeous lawn where mine is lucky to be mowed and have a few less weeds than a few other neighbors.  I think each of us have areas where our practice is not as strong as other.  In this area I hope that each of us would take time to learn and grow.  

Likewise, in this community of locums, business minded professionals and those that aren’t are all coming together and we can all learn.  I think our practice, our business skills, negotiation, and our personal lives have to be continually improved upon.   This is all-encompassing and is why you read so much on my personal life.  You read about my finances and how I’m making strides to have this burden significantly reduced by optimizing business, education, and leveraging my hours of work.  You see Francisco and I consider adoption as we want to build a family and seek opportunities to enrich Elizabeth’s life.  You see my real estate and investing strategies that will one day allow for a more diversified risk and likelihood of retirement or at least significantly reduced need for specific hours= specific dollars.  You read about family, conversations, my continued education, insurance and multiple facets as we continue down the road of life.  My hope is that people gain knowledge of life as a locum but also take from the stories the opportunity to enrich other aspects of their lives from family time to vacations. 

I’m continuing my journey by the FI principles of being just 1% better each time and way I can.  I hope it comes through to all out there.   

The busy locum

Another busy week looms in the balance on this Sunday evening.  I am well on my way to paying down the bills as we spoke on in weeks passed.  My Sep IRA through e-trade was set-up and funded.  I’ve traded in the truck for a small SUV that now is less than half the payment and has a better APR with half the balance I was paying.  I’ve also paid off 20k in credit cards.  I still have a long way to go and am paying my dear old Uncle Sam dearly with every paycheck so I can get in the good graces.

Today, I worked at the hospital ... from pediatric code to sepsis and multiple cases in-between it’s been a crazy day.  I was able to get back to my hotel in time to spend some time on homework.  My math class work for the week is complete and now it’s on to business analysis with its’ primary focus being communication this week.  The MBA program is challenging my time management and my brain in ways that I haven’t managed in a while.   

This week is a 60+ hour week and call for the entire next weekend.  I keep my focus on the benefits I see in the long-term as right now I sacrifice time with the family to get us ahead. We are seeking some freedom from the absolute need to work for thought of if things went sideways “what would I do if...” scenarios.   

I’d say in just a few weeks I’ve learned a good amount on every level and look forward to the coming weeks in engaging with colleagues, growing businesses, learning in the structured university education, and then managing life around the critical elements.  

This weekend I spent time on the farm with my favorite veterinarians and did c-sections for sheep.  What an amazing opportunity and so glad I spent a little time with family.   

What an amazing life we lead.  Now it’s off to laundry.  Feel free to e-mail me anytime


I had someway say that I sounded down.  I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to give a negative impression.  I’m excited 99% of the time.  I stress out now that I’m truly focusing on radical family development.  This involves the adoption or surrogate portion of our lives that will be the coming together of our family.  I am focusing on the bills and trying to get us away from paying interest to companies.  I don’t like the amount in interest I pay.  The focus is the revolving debt but I’m working on making my fixed debts lower as well.  

I enjoy the rentals and I hope to have many able-bodied years to continue the rentals as they are a source of income and throw off 20+% per annum.  There are times I get stressed and it’s usually a mix of buying and working on the houses.  Not with tenant issues.  I could care less if someone moves out and it sits for 3 months until the next moves in ... because I want to be particular in screening and ensuring good tenants will take care of things and pay rent.  I have the luxury of doing this now but in 5 years I may hire a property management group so family doesn’t need to manage but.. that’s a we’ll see thing. 

i start my mba program on Monday.  I have the post 9/11 GI bill for 3 years and am psyched!  It’s free education and housing allowance while I work full time.  I’d have to say that is amazing!  I’m going to see about the reserves and if I can do that in several months but I’m not sure about my history and the ability... but it’s in the back of my brain.  It may be a way we can work less and still get some long term benefits.  there is sooo much I don’t know or understand on the reserves.

i go back to Massachusetts today and I love the people but it’s so hard to leave Elizabeth and Francisco at home.  It’s better for them and stability or I’d just have them go up.  It’ll be something like 5 weeks.  I am pretty sure I’ll miss the first word unless the occasional hi sound counts like a word but it’s not completely intentional.  Elizabeth is so animated and talks to us despite no comprehensible speech yet. I love FaceTime, pictures and video.... I don’t feel I’m missing things and when I’m home... I’m with them as much as humanly possible.  I’m there for the melt-downs, when she just wakes up and is soooo cute and happy.  I’m here to take care of bills, office things, management of the home and supporting every person in the family in ways they need.   

So ... I’m happy, I’ve made my choices that will support my intermediate goals and mission so that we are happier and together more.   

Now I must get the last minute packing done.  We are off to the airport in no less than 2 hours.   

Downsizing or right-sizing

Finances, they are a booger.   Seriously there is no “perfect” way to do anything... if there was we would all be perfect together.  

My car loan... not killing me.  I owe 39k still on my truck.  You know I went into Carnac and they offered 46k and I walked away from that.  The dealership offered 50k which is slightly more reasonable as a trade meaning I have 11k in equity.  Somewhat negative as it’s not exactly equity.  I see dealerships and car people as not exactly liars and cheats but not exactly honest.  Makes it really hard to downsize to something safe, all weather and long lasting once paid off.  Sooo we’ll down size to a 15k loan that I’ll pay on over a shorter time frame and reduce credit card debt by the difference.  So, it’s not perfect... it’s still a new vs used car.  But it’s 2017,  7k below sticker price and has my one requirement of navigation system.   

This is about the time I’ll be bashed by people for not going used or getting a tiny car, lower gas mileage, the base of the base of the base car. Yup, I’m still not perfect.  I looked at these cars.  I spent time contemplating and looking at the amounts the dealerships each offered on different cars and the difference between their quality.  I’ve liked several cars and love the tiny “throw-away” cars that are so small and get you from point A to B. I see Francisco liking the small car and taking our daughter in it more often ... I see an accident that could happen and the very small impact that would total the car.   I can’t buy something I fear a smallish accident would take out my family.  So, I make concessions on not needing the tank I have but I’m not looking for a soapbox derby car.  

I paid off the high interest credit card and now will have decreased my car debt by more than 50% and haven’t lost any quality of life.  I’m going to call this a win for my week off.   

I also received a quote on mowing my lawn... it’s slightly tiny postage stamp... takes less than 20 minutes... they quoted $50 every 2 weeks... I sent them away immediately.  I guess Francisco and EE will be mowing the yard in the coming weeks.  

Thats it for tonight!  Sunday it’s back to Massachusetts and getting ready for awesome!  5 weeks will be soooo long away from home but the end of it comes with a reunion of Francisco and EE seeing her abuelitos... (grandparents from Mexico). It’ll have been nearly 6 years for Francisco.  We’ll be looking for more economical options in the future.... but I’m happy all will enjoy such a beautiful time together.   

Love to all! 

Finances for everything and nothing.

I put my life out there so you can learn from me.  Learn some of the great things and some of the not so great things.  I tell you about my desire to extend my family.  Life is not a solid state and singularly focused.  A financial blog will make it that life has one singular focus of just pay off everything and pay nothing toward anything else... sell everything and know that your life is over. That is not my life.  However...

I have in the past week gone to advocate in Washington DC for our amazing profession!  I have been able to see friends from long ago and meet others that are future colleagues.  I have been able to learn about the political arena in DC and those that work behind the scenes with little to no thanks and with little to no monetary support from our colleagues.  I learned that we are fast attempting to put ourselves out of business by not being active in the community, donating to our own cause and having no interest in helping others understand our profession and differences in providers.  

I have in this time received a decent paycheck to apply to our debt.  So I wanted to update you that the highest interest rate credit card has been paid off!  Thats 22.6% interest that is not being paid!  OK, that means 1/3 of the credit cards are paid off.  I still have a significant amount to go and it'll be weeks before I can make such a significant foray against the debt again as I do have the next check helping to pay taxes, insurance, mortgage, and typical bills.  I would have normally waited on paying down the debt so drastically and saved a bit more just in case I miss something or have a large bill come.  I have a 5K savings backup just in-case and am not going down to my last dollar.  I also put away $9K into my sep IRA for last year which promptly lost 10% of it's value ... freaking stocks.  Also, This week I'm expecting a signed 11 month lease for my college rental home in Kansas.   This will bring rental income up to 2200/month positive cash flow and that will go directly into the improvements of the two newest rentals.  I don't count on the cash flow from the rentals but do make sure they will pay for themselves and the improvements in 5 years.  Granted we did have an unexpected water heater replacement at a property ... that is happening today.  I keep funds in a separate account that is ready for the cost of this expense and won't effect my credit bills or otherwise.... so nice knowing it is covered and not a huge stress.  We also re-bid on the home that needs all plumbing, HVAC, Electric etc... we went from a $14000 bid to a $5500 qualified known quantity bid on doing the bulk of the HVAC and plumbing.  $9000 savings.  I may not have extra money in my pocket but it is keeping it from becoming a sinking ship and money pit.  

This is the current financial picture for this month.  I have given myself until the end of August to get significantly ahead on the finances and save as much as possible for our financial health.  Others are very much ahead of me and to them I would have to say ... AWESOME!  Remember to be active, love family and time home, and enjoy the fruits of your labor!  

I said Finance for everything... because you have to decide what your everything is.  Mine is to not forget family time and what we need for living and someday in building our family.  Nothing, because no matter what you do ... on payday the money goes somewhere and there should be next to nothing left.  REALLY, I mean it.  Your money should go into a trust for your estate, retirement accounts that have an attached succession plan, go into childrens' savings accounts, or pay down the bills so you can set up these accounts.  

Money isn't everything.... but having some available sure helps the world go around.  My ankle is causing me some difficulty and I'm reminded of insurances and disability and all the things that go with this.  I don't think the ankle pain rises to that level but I do know that as life changes and I get older insurance for large things like disability, long-term care, and to cover assets will all be important.  We'll continue to cover things like this as we go.  I hope you like the blog and I know it's all over the place... I'm going to see if I can't get it divided out into sections should someone want to see a specific topic... I have so much to learn.

Work a little more

I seem to be one that says... “OK, I’ll just work a little more...”. I think it’s fine to say that once in a while for a one time expense but I have learned that saying that on long term expenses... stinks.  I honestly think I’ve thought about this and am much more attuned to.  It always seems there is something that happens just about the time that you make a little extra.  The dog has a vet visit, a crown is needed at the dentist, or a plumber is needed.  So, FI movement says pay off things rapidly and get 6 months or more in savings etc... I get it, I have to work on this and I know it’s do-able!  This is the first weeks of my 6 month run on this.  I get a paycheck next week and that already has it’s assignment.  But I’m assigning 3/4 of it and leaving 1/4 in the bank account for safety.  I know most emergencies can go on a credit card but I have a tendency to fear over-drawing an account ... it happened once 20 years ago!  Mom would tell me to get a checkbook register and write it all down.  Many people recommend writing down every single expense but I have yet to do this while on the road.  

This week I’m home and I want to go through and make sure I’m not stuck in subscriptions or reoccurring payments for apps or things I don’t need or worse just don’t use.   

I’m so exciting to be sitting in the airport and heading home for the week.  Many people tell me it’s about being home and taking the time to be present.  I totally agree and know that in the coming 6 months I’ll be going against that somewhat but those 6 months will make possible time to be home with the family more often and more in tune with all.  I’m feeling so excited to just be working toward a little freedom from payments ... not to mention the anticipation of the road of financial independence.  I hope all know I appreciate the comments... despite my reluctance to get rid of everything in a fire sale ;).  Have an amazing weekend and I’ll write more while at Mid-year Assembly! 

What about earnings?

What about earnings and potential earnings?  So, many offered the advice of... 

Selling off all assets in order to pay off debt and then re-buy assets.  

Selling the houses in a stagnant market that doesn't really go up or down would basically mean selling at a loss and then trying to re-buy them later as they are money making assets vs stocks or retirement which doesn't really make $$$.  Now, if you said take a leverage your IRA for a reduced interest rate that might make sense but I don't have enough in those IRAs to make it worth doing.  

The homes are a life insurance policy that my family would be ok if they had to go and return to a home and I died.  They would have money coming in for life that would ultimately cover the bills.  So, to sell them would give no piece of mind.  The life insurance would more than pay the bills and what's owed and they would be ok.  

The goal in going through all of this is to think about earnings as a 1099 and where the $$ go.  I may not have $200K in student loans but $100K in credit cards is pretty bad but not Rock Bottom as someone mentioned.  I say that because I have never been at the point that I can not pay the bills.  

There are some slow months that came in at about $10K for the month and having 2-3 of those months and not actively paying down the debt is what caused me the point of freaking out a little.  As a locum though, I know that if I'm willing to travel and work hard with a plan... I can wipe out most of this debt over the coming 6 months.  So, that is what I'm writing about.  I'm tired of not wondering if I can pay my bills... I'm just tired of having the bill altogether.  

I figured out the payment of the bills comes to just under 7K/month with the house-payment, rental payments and income not included as those are a long term play.  That doesn't include paying extra or paying much in taxes.  Sounds like a ton to those not sitting in the position that I can work hard and pay down over 100K in just about 6 months and be much more healthy from a balance sheet perspective.  

I have a monthly running total of debts and will be updating all of this over the coming week.  That said, I have paid in 9K to my Sep IRA this month, 10K in tax payments and 10K toward credit card debt.  That is substantial for being 2 weeks into the month.  As I continue down this path to financial independence... I don't expect it to be easy.  I don't expect to be blowing 10K here and there but making a concerted and real effort to be more responsible.  

With that said.  We are holding off on baby number 2.  This process will have to start over in 6 months as it is a 2 year process each time we do it.  We started the process and made a valliant effort with our surrogate without the agency fees etcetra. However, that attempt failed twice.  Had we been successful the $50K would have been well worth it.  Unfortunately, we did not have success and that means we have to stop, regroup, re-fund that savings.  We are not rushing into this and we are not trying to our detriment.  We knew that this was possible but we also discussed that had we failed we would have to take the time before starting over.  

I took the truck to car max and offered to sell it back but they took blue book value and slashed 20% off of that value and then offered that for the truck which would have put us at zero for the truck.  Then when I went back to wanting a truck I would have been paying carmax more for a truck in 6 months than I would have saved in truck payments and that they had offered for a smaller less equipped truck and so it was a better option to keep the truck and just continue the plan to pay it off after the credit cards.  

The house in Virginia.  We like the home and need a place to be.  We have friends in the area and it is central with good community and school for Elizabeth in the coming years.  It's not perfect and hindsight being 20/20.... I'd have done that differently but there isn't a way to sell the house and just go down the street.  We could rent it in a year or two and be just fine or at least break even but the family is happy there and I can hopefully get credentialing done and start locums in the future ... in that area.  Had the credentialing not been delayed for 5 months by ... I don't know exactly whom, I wouldn't have to be traveling away from family so much.  

So, maybe this helps with some insight into the thinking.  Honestly, this is so all can see the flexibility and ability to pay down significantly utilizing locums to do so. This also will show how in the future that debt pay down can then be used to advance my rentals and our savings to a more comfortable place and the same locum job used to bust my butt working.... can become an opportunity to slow down and be with the family as we grow the family.  

Have an amazing weekend and enjoy the journey!  I know we are :)