Episode 43 – Can Veterinarians Really Live A Rich Life? featuring Dr. Grace Kim

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Talking about money can be a huge emotional drain; veterinarians are forced to have these discussions all day long with pet owners. You can see why dealing with their own finances is probably the last thing a veterinarian wants to do after work. Dr. Grace Kim of Richer Life DVM joins me on this episode to share ideas on why it is worthwhile to get your personal finances in order, even if you’re sick of the money talk. She also shares some tactical advice on how to get started with finances if you think that money is just “not your thing.” We both feel very strongly that getting a handle on your personal finances is a major step in improving your overall well-being, so please give this episode a listen!

About Dr. Kim
Grace Kim, DVM, AFC® is a financial coach and educator for veterinarians who want to stress less and find more joy with their money without feeling overwhelmed in the process. Her own journey from six-figure student loan debt as a veterinarian to becoming more financially literate and purposeful with money led to the founding of Richer Life DVM as a platform to educate and encourage others along their own financial journeys.

Resources we mentioned during the episode:

Choose FI Podcast
Afford Anything Podcast
White Coat Investor Podcast
The Veterinary Financial Podcast
Physician on FIRE blog
I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi
The Simple Path To Wealth by JL Collins
-Previous TWV Episodes with Dr. Meredith Jones and Dr. Addie Reinhardt

Find out more about The Whole Veterinarian Podcast
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Email: thewholeveterinarian@gmail.com

Find the full transcript of this episode of The Whole Veterinarian podcast below, but please excuse any erorrs, as it was auto-transcribed by Otter.ai

Stacey Cordivano 0:07 Hey there, it’s Dr. Stacey Cordivano. I want veterinarians to learn to be happier, healthier, wealthier and more grateful for the life that we’ve created. On this podcast, I will speak with outside of the box thinkers to hear new ideas on ways to improve our day to day life. Welcome to The Whole Veterinarian. Stacey Cordivano 0:35 Hello, everyone! Today we are covering a financial topic. And I know that a lot of you don’t love hearing about money, but I’m just going to be over here, gently nudging you and reminding you that financial wellness is a huge component of our overall wellness. So don’t mind me if I’m slightly preachy about it, but it’s because I’m a convert to the personal finance enthusiasm game… because I kept my head in the sand for a long time. And actually, my guest today was not always so involved with her finances either. Today, you get to hear why Dr. Grace Kim got more involved on the money planning side of things in her household and why she thinks many of us vets avoid the topic at all costs. She shares some tangible tips and great resources to further your personal financial knowledge as well. Dr. Grace Kim, DVM AFC is a financial coach and educator for veterinarians who want to stress less and find more joy with their money without feeling overwhelmed in the process. Her own journey from six figure student loan debt as a veterinarian to becoming more financially literate and purposeful with money led her to founding Richer Life DVM as a platform to educate and encourage others along their own financial journeys. I really hope you enjoy today’s episode and first here’s a message from our show sponsor. Stacey Cordivano 1:59 Questions about finances? Vincere Wealth Management is the solution. Isaiah Douglass is a partner of vincere wealth management and the host of the veterinarian success podcast. He is a fee only certified financial planner and he and the Vincere team are dedicated to serving veterinarians in all stages of their careers. Vincere can assist you whether you’re a new graduate getting started or an experienced that trying to navigate selling your clinic and moving into retirement, you have enough stress in your life, finances no longer need to be on that list. You can find a link to download their free resource called A Financial Guide for Veterinarians on my website at thewholeveterinarian.com/resources. Thanks again to Isaiah and Vincere wealth management for their support. And now enjoy the show. Stacey Cordivano 2:52 Hey, Grace, how are you? Thanks for joining me today. Grace Kim 2:55 I’m great. How are you, Stacey? Stacey Cordivano 2:57 I’m good. I’m good. Thanks for being here. I was hoping that we could talk about finances today. Grace Kim 3:04 Of course, Stacey Cordivano 3:05 Do you want to give people a little bit of background about yourself before we dig in? Grace Kim 3:09 Yeah, sure. I’m Grace Kim, I now am a veterinarian, turned financial coach and educator. So that was a very strange journey. I did not expect that at all, when I was in that school, that I would one day be talking about personal finance with people. But it happened. Mostly I would say a couple of events. It was because I had graduated with six figure debt. So I do relate to a lot of the recent graduates in terms of the burden that that is and how stressful that can be. But also the the second turning point for me was when I started doing finances as a family, you know, I was used to just handling my own finances and things were pretty simple. But once you add in the spouse and the kids and all of the expenses that go along with having a family, I was really shocked at how I felt like expenses exploded. And I lose track of where they’re going, Yes, you start losing track of your money. And it just felt so messy to me. And I did not like that feeling at all. So that started my journey of just being like how, how am I supposed to budget now where’s the money going? And that eventually morphed into me learning more about financial independence, financial freedom. So for me that was a really big turning point was, oh, you can actually have control of your money and actually do things with their money that are more exciting than just paying the bills. That’s how I really started getting really into personal finance. Just seeing how transformative that information could be and learning the amount of control I could have over the money. Stacey Cordivano 4:44 Got it. And how long ago was that that you sort of dove into figuring out more for yourself? Grace Kim 4:50 That was about maybe four to five years ago. Stacey Cordivano 4:54 Okay. And were you still practicing as a clinical event then? Grace Kim 4:57 No, I stayed home full time with the kids. And I think that was another factor as well was me just not making income anymore. So learning how to deal with that, and not really understanding, okay, well, we now have this household income, but I’m not contributing. So how else can I contribute and still, you know, do something with our finances. Stacey Cordivano 5:19 I think that’s a really important point, actually, because a lot of mothers do end up staying home, whether they planned on that or not. And I know several friends that feel that way that they’re not contributing anymore. And so that’s an important point that taking control of the household finances can be a very important way to contribute to the household. Okay, you are now coaching people on what to do with their money, things like that. Is that right? Grace Kim 5:45 Yes. So I started out blogging because I felt much more comfortable behind the keyboard and just giving people information. But I wanted to go beyond that. So last year, I pursued my accredited financial counselor credential. So it’s different from being a financial planner. So a financial counselor is more dealing with budgets and how to pay off debt and educating people on credit scores, what people typically think of as more fundamental knowledge, but to me, I feel like people jump into the financial planning without having that that fundamental foundational information. And that’s where I love to meet people. Because I do feel like the financial industry is more geared towards people who already have wealth, or who have very high incomes. And that never made sense to me. To me, it was like, you know, regular everyday people need information and advice about their finances. It shouldn’t be year to just those who have wealth or who have high income. So for me, it was important to really talk to people who are in the beginning stages of building their wealth. Because I mean, how else are you supposed to learn? Yeah, exactly, exactly. So I really relate to those people much more than people who already have amassed wealth. Stacey Cordivano 7:09 Gotcha. That’s great. From my experience that, haha, I didn’t have any of that knowledge before digging in with my husband. So that would have been very helpful. I’m curious if you have thoughts based on your experience, and then now working with people in that sort of beginning stage. Do you have thoughts on why people or maybe talking about us veterinarians, specifically, why we tend to avoid the money subject altogether? Grace Kim 7:36 Oh, gosh, yeah, it is multifactorial. So these are sort of my hunches here. Number one, veterinarians tend to be type a perfectionist. So if we feel like we can’t do the money thing correctly, then we would rather not do it than to try and perhaps not be the best at it. Right? How dare we not be good at something. So that’s one thing is we just, we always want to be the best at what we do, and to maybe not admit to ourselves that we may not have a lot of knowledge in one specific area. And I think really with money, it’s one of those things where a lot of people just assume, okay, you become an adult, you automatically know how to deal with money, how to manage money, and it’s been sort of ingrained in society that adults just know how to do this just magically. And I always like to inform people that especially to veterinarians, you know, nobody taught this to you. So don’t expect that you should have this knowledge all ready to go if no one gave you the building blocks to build this knowledge. So just like learning how to do surgery, or how to, you know, read labs like, that’s not something that we just have in our brains automatically. We had to have learned that at some point. And to really come into personal finance with that beginner’s mindset and to be okay with that. I think another reason has to do with the fact that when we are practicing, we talk about money all the time. And it’s usually not the best conversation, and I’m talking specifically when it comes to our clients, having to feel like maybe we’re negotiating certain things with you know, we can only do certain procedures within a certain budget. So when we are now having to be on the receiving end of other people’s money and what they can do with it. To me, it’s no wonder it’s not like we go home and then we’re just fired up to deal with our own finances. When all day every day. What we can do is partially dictated by what people can afford, especially when people are going through very stressful times. We just internalize that there’s just no way that we can’t enjoy realize that all of their money, stress becomes our money stress too. And veterinary medicine is in a its own category when it comes to how people pay for their services. We don’t have the insurance providers that are the middlemen there, it’s, we have to directly ask for the money and the payments, and that can make these money conversations very awkward for us. So that’s one of my theories as to why vet med specifically has a hard time talking about money. Stacey Cordivano 10:30 That’s an excellent point. I’m not really sure I would have considered it in that light before. But I can see that would be pretty impactful on a day to day basis. Grace Kim 10:39 Yeah, I know, that was one of my least favorite conversations when I was practicing was talking about the estimate. And I’m sure I’m not alone with that. And I did have one other thing I wanted to mention is that that med is so overwhelmingly female at this point, and women in general don’t feel like they have enough financial knowledge or financial literacy. So I think that can also be a stumbling block as well, when you have a profession that is overwhelmingly of the female gender, or those who identify as female. And we have these societal norms when it comes to men. Men do the investing. They’re the ones that are you know, the stockbrokers or when you imagine or visualize a financial planner, it’s usually a man, you know, a man in a suit and a tie, right? That’s what automatically comes to mind. So we have these ingrained notions of what women should be doing with their money, what they know about money. And of course, that’s going to filter down to our everyday choices, as well. So that is another thing that I think that men specifically there is this other challenge that comes to how we deal with money. Stacey Cordivano 11:50 Right, right. And that’s not just like a gender generalization. That’s like, in studies been shown, women. Grace Kim 11:56 Yeah, right. Yeah. Stacey Cordivano 11:57 Got it. Yes. Just wanted to clarify that for listeners. So when people come to you, or when you’re thinking about talking to someone who’s at the very start, do you have like a few suggestions on how someone’s, besides hiring you? How they could start to sort of even wrap their head around the idea of personal finance? Grace Kim 12:19 Sure, sure. I always like to start off by again, just the beginner’s mindset, it’s okay that you don’t know everything, you’re not supposed to know everything. But to approach it from a way of, okay, what can my money do for me, rather than I don’t know what I’m doing, and I don’t know where to start. So getting in that right mindset, I think is really, really important. And one of the easiest things if you want to talk about just tactics is setting up an automatic withdrawal into a savings account from your checking account. That is just a super easy way to automate your savings, you don’t have to think about it, you automatically adjust your spending, because you don’t have as much in your checking account. So that’s just a super simple way that you can start saving your money. I always recommend people save on the front end, rather than waiting until, say, the end of the month when you don’t have very much left. Yeah. And just, you know, just doing automating as much as you can. And at the same time really prioritizing what is important to you. Of course, we can’t expect to have unlimited amounts of funds to do whatever we want. That’s just reality. But you can pick out at least a few things where you’re going to be unapologetic about this is my money for this category. If you love getting coffee at Starbucks, don’t feel guilty about it, just set some aside and spend without guilt. And that’s something I really do emphasize because I do feel like a lot of us have a lot of guilt spending money. It’s just a difficult thing for us to do. Maybe we are spenders. But it’s just hard for us to maybe justify sometimes spending money in ourselves. I know a lot of that’s our natural savers, and it can be hard to convince people to say, Hey, it’s okay to put aside a little bit of that first spending. So either way, people tend to spend with guilt, and I like to break them out of that and tell them, It’s okay. Just if you set the money aside, you can give yourself permission to spend that money. Stacey Cordivano 14:26 Yeah, great advice. I know you’re also involved in the Mentor Vet program, and I did want to talk about that. We’ve had Dr. Reinhardt on the podcast already, but I wanted to hear from you kind of how that’s playing out and your involvement with them. Grace Kim 14:41 Sure. Yes, I am so excited to be a part of the MentorVet team. Dr. Reinhardt is amazing and I love what she has built. So I really do consider you know, the the financial piece to be part of the holistic, you know, support of these new grads. With for sure. So that’s why I feel like we’re so closely aligned to because she really did want to not just focus on, say, career burnout or the mental health piece, but the financial health piece, she thought it was important enough to bring someone like myself on onto the team. So I think what mentor vet is really good at doing is providing that holistic support. And understanding that our well being is made up of a number of different components. And if we can get all of those components working together, and it’s just so fitting, because you’re the whole veterinarian, right. So you totally get this kind of guy. Yeah, yeah. So I’m just really there as that as their financial mentor, I do one on one consults with them. We look at their budget, we talk about what their priorities are, and get them started on saving towards certain goals. We talk about our student loans, and I give them some suggestions on on ways to pay that off, as well as any other debt that they may have. So it really is a great way to connect with these early career veterinarians and get them started on their financial journey on the right foot. Stacey Cordivano 16:11 Yeah, that’s amazing. I agree. I think what she’s doing is amazing. And I’m so glad that you can be a part of that. Because like you’ve already said part of the bigger picture. And so important, so important. And I wish I’d had that earlier. I’d Grace Kim 16:27 like where was this when I Stacey Cordivano 16:28 came out? Yeah, it should really be required forever. Yeah, grad for, like so. Okay, so I wanted to give people some besides you as a resource and your blog, I wanted to give people some resources that you like that they might be able to check out. So are you a podcast listener? Do you have any podcast recommendations for people? Grace Kim 16:47 I do, I have so many podcasts I listen to. I think that ChooseFI is a great resource. So F I stands for financial independence. And one of the founders of ChooseFI is actually a former pharmacist. And so he he also came out with a lot of student debt. And he started on his own financial independence journey just going through that. So I just love their take on finances, and really being your own boss when it comes to your money. And I love to listen to afford anything by Paula Pant. Her tagline is, you can afford anything but not everything. So nice and simple. Just to remember, of course, we we know that we can’t afford everything but you can afford anything that you want. You just have to be very specific and intentional, purposeful about that. Stacey Cordivano 17:47 Yeah. Those are great recommendations. Grace Kim 17:49 Actually, within the veterinary community. There’s the veterinary financial podcast, I believe you’ve had Dr. Meredith Jones on before. And so I think that’s wonderful that we have so many more veterinarians in this personal finance space to reach out to our colleagues. We just need as many people as we can. Stacey Cordivano 18:10 Yes. Okay, how about books, let’s do a book for maybe someone just starting out in like the money journey. Grace Kim 18:16 So I would say I really like the book, I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi. And it’s funny because I originally started out as financial wellness, DVM, and then I changed to richer life DVM, and then I found the book after I had changed my name. So I was like, Oh, my gosh, someone’s already talking about this. Of course, right? There’s no original idea out there. But he does focus a lot on Hey, what is your rich life, you have to decide that for yourself, if you want to splurge in one area, just do it. Of course, understanding you’ll have to cut back on other areas to make that happen. But he’s got some really great tactical tips. And they’re very, you know, just actionable steps that you can take with your money. So I think it’s a great book for those who want an overall view of their personal finances. And when it comes to investing, specifically, The Simple Path to Wealth by JL Collins, it’s a really quick read. For those people who, when you say the word stock market or investing, they just want to shut down. It’s a really great introduction to how to approach the stock market, what what it is, you know, really that bird’s eye view is really important, because it’s really easy to get caught up in the jargon and the specifics. And I like to look at that more bird’s eye view. And this is a great intro book to investing to give you that 30,000 foot view. Stacey Cordivano 19:44 Perfect, perfect. Okay, and then let’s do a recommendation or two for maybe someone who’s a little bit more seasoned but wants to dig into more specific investing tactics or maybe on the five paths of financial independence track. Grace Kim 19:59 Yeah, You know, I really enjoy reading physician on fire. So he was an anesthesiologist who is now financially independent. So a lot of his content is focused on those who are either trying to retire early, or they are retired early. So he gives lots of tips on his blog about ways in which you can invest to ensure that you can retire early. Stacey Cordivano 20:26 Yeah, great. Also a podcast, too, right? Grace Kim 20:30 Actually, he does not have a podcast now white coat investor, That might be you might be thinking of Yeah, so yeah, he has tons of content as well. So for those who want to get into the nitty gritty with their investing and their finances, he’s a great resource as well. Stacey Cordivano 20:48 Okay, great. And then speaking of resources, I know you have a bunch more recommendations for books on your blog. And yes, what else are you offering to people currently, Grace Kim 20:58 For my email subscribers, I did a three part video training series about student loans. So we know that student loans have been paused for so long. They’re, you know, we’ve got 2020 grads who have never had to make a single payment under student loans. So I know as the deadlines getting closer, because the payments are supposed to start up at the end of January 2022. There are a lot of newer grads, or even those who have been paying on their student loans, but haven’t haven’t had to since last March, where they’re getting really worried and anxious about the payments starting up again. So it’s really just an intro to student loans and how to look up your repayment plans just to walk people through the decisions that they will need to make in terms of whether they should try to pay off their loans in full, whether they can afford to pay off their loans in full or not. And to talk more about the forgiveness option, because I feel like when it comes to those income driven repayment plans, people tend to get confused about what that actually means. So I’m just trying to clarify those points for them as much as I can. And try to keep it as short as I could. Because, honestly, I mean, the topic of student loans, I have been following this for years. And I still don’t know all of the nitty gritty details of how all of it works. It really is to get that high level view to start making those key decisions. And then also offering resources for people who need some more support. Stacey Cordivano 22:31 Got it. Okay, I’ll make sure to put a link into where to sign up for your newsletter to get that. Yep. And then are you doing any personal one on one work these days? Grace Kim 22:40 Yeah, just my own clients, as well as the mentor vet clients, and I am doing some speaking engagements. And I actually have plans to put together an online course to help people with their budgeting. So that’s something that I’m really excited about as well, because my time is limited. As much as I want to meet with everyone. I simply can’t. So if I can offer a way for people to get this really good information, and they can do it on their own time. I’m all for that. So that’s that’s my focus over the next couple of months. Stacey Cordivano 23:16 Awesome. Well, even more reason to be on your newsletter. So people Grace Kim 23:18 Yeah, yeah, get the latest on that. Perfect. Stacey Cordivano 23:22 I finished up all my interviews with one question, which is what is one small thing that has brought you joy this past week? Grace Kim 23:30 Oh, wow. That’s a great question. This past week was Halloween, right? Just the ability to go out and enjoy it because we missed it last year. And my kids missed it last year. And as hectic as that day can be I was just so grateful to see everyone out and about in our costumes, getting their candy. Even with all the sugar highs and lows, it was all worth it. So that was definitely a joyful experience this past week. Stacey Cordivano 24:01 That’s awesome. Okay, so where can people find out more about you? Grace Kim 24:05 You can head over to retro life dvm.com My social media handle is @RicherlifeDVM, and my email is Grace@richerlifeDVM.com. Stacey Cordivano 24:16 Perfect, I’ll make sure to link all those. Thanks again for your time and insight today. Grace Kim 24:20 Thank you so much Stacey. Stacey Cordivano 24:23 Thank you, as always for sharing some of your precious time with me. I so appreciate it. If you’re enjoying this podcast, please hit follow or subscribe. If you feel so inclined. leave a review on Apple podcasts or just send me a direct message and let me know what you think. I always appreciate the feedback. I hope you have a wonderful week and I will talk to you again soon.

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