ITF 85 | Financial Independence

Working in healthcare as a doctor will provide you with a high-income stream. But it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. The profession involves stress, burnout, and physical fatigue because of the long hours and weight of responsibility. This urged our guest, Jordan Grumet, to find investments that can enable him to retire as a physician and have the financial independence he is yearning for. He is now a blogger, podcaster, and writer pursuing his passion for deep conversations about money and life. What good is money if your life is miserable? Financial independence isn’t just having lots of money. It should also mean not sacrificing your health and family time. Make every moment in your life count. Join us to learn more about financial independence, building wealth, and living a joyous life!

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Finding The True Meaning Of Financial Independence With Jordan Grumet

What is going on, everyone? I am here with my co-host. How are you doing, Z?

I am doing so great because I am loving this episode. This is all feely touchy deep.

I will be lying if I said I did not love it as well. Doc is such an authentic, genuine human being. You can hear it in his voice, in his storytelling, and who he is. He has experienced so much wisdom more than anyone that I know, because he has been able to take care of the people who are dying and hear their last words, last thoughts, and some of the things that they had wished they had done in their life, which Doc is applying to his life. He is going to help you apply it to your life through the writing of his new book, Taking Stock.

We talk about his book, but go check it out. He let us preview the book and I am already gaining a lot. It has allowed me to sit back and think about my life and do some journaling around it. There are some great workbook activities in it. Definitely check it out.

Doc has got quite the story. We will right. Is, , w we’ll let him tell it, but the quick premise is that a loved one of his had passed when he was young and shaped his whole life. He talks through his identity shift and all of these different things that happen when you hit financial independence and all these struggles. It is such a good episode. I feel like I want to reveal the whole thing, but I should let Doc tell the story. I do not want to steal the spotlight from him. Let’s bring him on.

Doc G, welcome to the show, my friend. How are you doing?

I am so happy to be here and to be talking to you guys.

I am stoked to have you here. We were on your podcast a while ago.

You are talking about TheFITeam, which is an amazing concept. Sometimes I wish I lived in Denver so I could take advantage of what is there.

Denver is accepting new people if you ever want to make it out this way. Doc, it is so good to talk to you. We met back at in FinCon in DC at like this weird underground bar. I do not know, but that is the vision in my head. We had these weird conversations. I would love to hear what you are all about and what you are up to. Let’s get this thing started. Tell us where you first heard about financial independence.

I first heard about financial independence in about 2014. I was lucky. I grew up in a financially-savvy household. My parents were business owners. They owned real estate at one time. My parents owned about 10, 15 doors. They were side hustlers and they always saved more than they spent. I grew up knowing the idea of what being financially savvy was, but I did not have the words or the vocabulary. Fast forward to the 2000s, I had become a physician. I was practicing internal medicine. I was starting to burn out and I was looking for a way out.

I was thinking, “I do not know if I can work the next 20 or 30 years in this profession. How much money do I need in order not to have to work again?” I went to my financial advisor at the time. He did a bunch of Monte Carlo simulations. You guys have all heard this. He put the numbers in. For one, he was not willing to include my real estate. I had owned a few properties at that point. He was not willing to include my real estate as part of my investment portfolio. He put all the money I had in real estate completely aside. He did some calculations and said, “It will be a good 10, 15 more years of working.”

I went to my accountant and my accountant said, “You need $10 million to retire.” They did not have a reason why. They just came up with this $10 million number. I was resigned to the idea in 2014 that I was going to be working for at least the next decade. I was writing a medical blog at the time. I had a bit of a following and I got a phone call in my office. My secretary is like, “There is this guy on the phone. He wants to talk to you about your blog.” I get on the phone and his name is Jim Dahle. He has a platform called The White Coat Investor.

He wrote a book called The White Coat Investor about investing for high net worth individuals. He wanted me to review his book for my blog and I said, “You are going to give me a free book? Sure. Send it over.” He sent the book to me and I read it. It took 3 or 4 hours. I sat down and read it all the way through, from one cover to the other. By the time I had finished, I had understood what personal finance was. I understood what financial independence was. I realized that I had enough money to either severely cut down at work or stop work completely.

If you are thinking about becoming a real estate agent like us, you might want to go to Caplan. That is where I got my license. I found that they made all this dull information interesting and very memorable. If you are looking at getting your license, see if they have your state. They cover a lot of states, but not all of them. If you want a discount, use our code INVEST2. Thanks, guys.

You were financially independent before you even knew about financial independence. My question for you is, why did you become a doctor? Was it because your parents told you? Was it because you knew you would make a lot of money? What was the motivation there? There were a lot of schools and a lot of debt that was associated with that. Do you recommend going the doctor route for people that may want to achieve early financial independence?

What is really difficult is figuring out what we want to do with that money that fulfills us. Click To Tweet

I have wanted to be a doctor ever since I can remember as a little kid. When I look back, it is because of my father. My father suddenly died when I was seven years old. He was an oncologist. It means he was a cancer doctor. At that age, I wanted to be like him. I wanted to walk and talk like him. I idolized him. His dying when I was that age stuck in my mind that I wanted to do exactly what he did, which was no small thing. At seven years old, I was also diagnosed with a learning disability. I was having a lot of trouble learning how to read. I was way behind my peers.

There was this question at that time about whether I would be normal. I would be able to read, write, and do the things that normal kids do, but it stuck in my head. I was like, “I need to fill his shoes.” He was 40 when he died. I was like, “I need to do all those things he never got to do. I need to take his place.” That stuck with me. It carried me through getting over the learning disability, studying like a mad man in high school. I remember in college. I went to the University of Michigan. Everyone would go to the football games on Saturday morning. The University of Michigan has this huge stadium with 100,000 seats and I would be at the law library with my books Saturday morning studying for my Biochemistry classes. That drove me. I never thought why like, “Is this what I want? Is this who I am?”

I knew I had a passion for helping people and I knew I wanted to do what he did. Fast forward twenty years later, I cannot say I regret doing it. There are a lot of amazing, valuable things that came from being a doctor. Being able to help people regularly, become part of people’s lives, and learn their stories has been so powerful in my mind. I would do it again, but if you are looking to get financially independent, there are a lot of easier ways. When I say easier, I do not mean economically easier because as a doctor, you can make lots of money and there are all sorts of side hustling and all sorts of things you can do.

Emotionally, there are a lot of easier ways. You guys talk about real estate all the time. My 48-year old self could look back and say, “At 22, 23, I had a little bit of money and savvy.” If I wanted to take a different route, I could have gone into real estate and gotten to financial independence much faster and with less emotional heartache. It is a good way if you have passion for doing medicine, but if you do not have passion for doing medicine, I would not suggest going that route.

It almost sounds like a Michael Jordan-type story. He was cut from his basketball team and he became the best basketball player in the world. He quits basketball and goes to play baseball because his dad, who recently passed, wanted him to play baseball. There is something bigger and more powerful than the money to the doctor. You just liked helping people.

That is what I tell people all the time too. It is like, “If you are going to become a doctor or a lawyer for the money, you are going to burn out. You may not even get it through medical school. You may not even get through law school.” To do it for your reason is huge. Why do we not jump back to where you finished reading The White Coat Investor? It sounds like that book like rocked your world. What happens there?

I was excited and jubilant for about an hour and then it hit me. The thing I had built my life around, this identity of being a physician, following in my father’s footsteps, and the connection it gave to me to this guy that I lost when I was seven years old. All of a sudden, I had to do the hard work of looking at myself and trying to decide who I am and sever the wisp of that connection I still had with my father. I went through a period of real depression and anxiety for a good six months where I had to figure out, “Who do I want to be? What is important to me? I can walk away from medicine right now. Do I want to completely walk away? Are there parts I still like and don’t like?”

It set me off on a voyage of trying to figure out who I am and what is important to me. In fact, I started writing a financial blog at that time called DiverseFI. I went through a period of writing every single day about whatever was on my mind and publishing it. The whole idea behind that was it was like this online diary of my attempts to figure out what money means and why is it important? Now that I am financially independent, what am I going to do with myself? What does meaning and purpose look like once you have enough money?” It was a hard six months to a year of deep thoughtfulness. I did not change anything with work. I did not quit work. I did not walk away. I gave myself the time and space to figure out who I am and what I wanted. Figuring then I would address the work issue and decide what was worth keeping and not keeping.

I relate to this because when I decided to be financially independent, I stepped away from work at the time that I reached my number. I was going through a hard time. It was right when my mom passed away, but I had this, “I had been working towards this thing and now I realized I am there.” It is almost a depression. It is like, “Now I am responsible for making myself happy.” I cannot say, “I am not happy because I do not have this yet or because this job is making me do this.” It is a lot of responsibility. People do not talk about that in the financial independence movement. I appreciate that as I read through your book and did some of the exercises.

People do not realize we set up money or net worth or even financial independence as a goal. We sometimes forget to see that it is not a goal. It is more of a tool. The real goal is to figure out who we are and what do we want to do in this world? What is our legacy going to be? Something I like to call our purpose, identity, and connections, what those are. It is a low-hanging fruit to go after money. People think that making money and getting to financial independence is difficult. That is true. There is difficulty there, but it is also a low-hanging fruit. What is difficult is figuring out what we want to do with that money that fulfills us and gives us a sense of purpose.

That is a hard thing to do. As I have transitioned out of the medical practice I had, I do a lot more hospice and palliative care, which means I take care of the dying. They have made me very thoughtful about the idea of what are those things I want to accomplish before I leave this earth? They often get a diagnosis and have weeks or months left, and then they have to decide their goals and what they want to accomplish. It is interesting to take that lens and look at our money struggles with that lens. I have been doing a lot of that.

ITF 85 | Financial Independence
Taking Stock: A Hospice Doctor’s Advice on Financial Independence, Building Wealth, and Living a Regret-Free Life

I love this concept of the dying teaching you have to live. One of my favorite books is Tuesdays with Morrie. I do not know if you have read that book, but it is a whole story of the mentor who is passing away and the student learning all these life lessons through him. That is a beautiful reminder that when we have mortality at the edge, we realize that you do not live forever and you cannot be as frivolous with your days.

Doc, what are some of the lessons that you may have learned from these people who are in their last days, weeks and months to live?

There are a few main ones. First and foremost, almost no one says on their deathbed or somewhere close, “I wish I made more money.” No one says, “I wish I spent more nights and weekends at work and less time with my family.” It does not happen. Our monetary goals are less important than we think. We need enough money to accomplish our other goals. That becomes another question, “What do people regret when it comes to their other goals?” A lot of times, they regret that they did not have the courage to face up to what they wanted in life and go after it. Whether that be a place to travel to or a goal to fulfill or people to connect with that they have lost the connection with

It is, “What did we not have the courage to do that is important to us and why did not we try?” interestingly enough, what people do not regret is failure. This is a common misconception. We do not regret what we tried and failed. We regret what we did not have the courage to try. That is something that I took away from the dying.

Talking to people of that age and that amount of wisdom, you have tens of thousands of years of wisdom underneath your belt from 100-year-olds. To listen and to be able to take away those lessons and all of them being, “What matters the most?” If I had to boil it down to two words, what I am gathering is experiences and relationships. Those are the two things that matter if there is nothing else that matters. You can have all the money in the world, but make sure that you look at your life every month or year or whatever timeframe, given a big fat check on your experiences and your relationships. If those are not there, you are going to regret a big piece of it. Is there anything else, Doc, that you may have learned from those people?

There is also a place for personal goals. You are very much right. Experiences and people are big, but personal goals are important. It gets more to giving yourself the courage and giving yourself the okay to go after it, even if it is scary or difficult. For me, a big goal was to write a book that a traditional publisher published. I had self-published books about medicine before. I had been putting that goal off forever. Deep down inside, I realized that there was a lot of fear. There is fear of failure and not doing it as well as I could.

Dealing with the dying also made me realize that time is finite. I either make the decision now and jump in or I put it off to a point where I will not get a chance. I do not think we should discount personal goals. They can be important too. We have to be thoughtful about them and why we want them. No one says, “My real deep down personal goal is to be a net worth of $2 million.” That might be our financial goal, but we are trying to say that we want to have that $2 million, so we can do those things that are important to us. The question is, what are those goals that are important to us? Some of them might be personal goals. I want to be a black belt in karate. That is fine. That might be important to you. The point is that we have to have then the courage to go after those things.

I want to talk about burnout. If Craig wants to say something directly related, do you have something that you want to add right onto that?

I am confused here on the timeline. 2014 was when you read The White Coat Investor. You’re seeing the light of this financial independence thing. Are you still in hospice at this time? Are you working with the dying? When are you working through the dying at this point?

Let me give you the timeline. I started medical school in 1995. During the first week of medical school, I walked into the hospital and signed up to be a volunteer in the hospice program. This was my body telling me something. In the first week or two in medical school, the first patient I ever saw was volunteering as a hospice volunteer. Clearly, this was something that was important to me because I experienced my father dying. I wanted to help other people make that transition somewhere deep down inside because I was seven years old. I did not know what to do with that.

As I started my career, I was interested in this, but as many people do, I put that aside and was a hospice volunteer for a few years and then got my career going and went into general internal medicine. I was taking care of adults of all stripes and kinds, doing everything except surgery. I was seeing patients in an office and in a nursing home. I was occasionally even seeing them in their homes. I was doing very general medicine. About ten years into my career in my own private practice, I remember one day, I saw a patient in the hospital and they were dying. I had consulted hospice. The hospice nurse comes to evaluate the patient.

We need enough money to accomplish our other goals. Click To Tweet

In the meantime, I was doing a lot of “hospice things.” I was putting the patient on a morphine drip because they were in pain. I was getting their comfort medications ready. I was talking to the family about the prognosis and how soon their loved one would be dying. I was doing all these things. This hospice nurse looked at me and she said, “You need to work with us. This is clearly something you are good at.” At that time, hospices were looking for doctors. I had a full practice. I was starting to get burned out in medicine. We are talking about somewhere in the 2010, 2014 range.

I was thinking about, “How am I going to accrue enough money to have enough to eventually pull away from medicine?” I was even thinking about side hustles and then a woman comes up to me and says, “You should do hospice with us. You could be a medical director part-time for us. They will pay you this many thousand dollars a month and you will have to go to a few meetings and do a few things here and there.” I picked up hospice as a side hustle to my general medical practice back around 2011, 2012. It was a way for me to make extra money. It was something I happened to be good at. When I realized I was financially independent, instead of leaving my job, I used something called the art of subtraction.

After being thoughtful about life and realizing I had enough money, I said, “Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. There are still some things about medicine I like, but let’s systematically get rid of everything that is not bringing me joy or causing friction.” What was causing friction in my work life that I could do without? I am like, “My medical practice is stressing me out. I am going to get rid of that. I will see patients in the nursing home and I will keep doing this hospice side hustle.”

After a while, I am like, “This nursing home is stressing me out. I am getting calls at 3:00 and 4:00 in the morning. This is not worth it. I have enough money. Why am I doing this? Let’s get rid of the nursing home.” I went to the hospice and I said, “I have some extra time. Why do I not take out a few more teams?”

I was doing hospice work and then, at some point, I said, “I love doing this hospice work, but I do not want to be an employee anymore. I want to be a contractor and I do not want to work any weekends. I do not want to take any night calls. I want to do the things I want to do.” I started ruthlessly subtracting from my life the things I did not like. From 2014 to 2022, I have kept on getting rid of everything. The only thing that stuck, the thing that I am like, “I will do this even if you do not pay me,” is to do the hospice work.

Now I do hospice work in a very different way. I run teams that take care of patients. I do not even see patients anymore. I run teams of nurses, social workers, and chaplains. We meet on a regular basis, they come to me and ask me, “Is this patient appropriate for hospice, yes or no? This patient is having pain. How can we manage this pain?” I tell them what orders to give. For the very high-level discussions where there are real problems with families or patients, I will come in and have a family meeting and talk to the patients and families about what should be done next.

It was a process of subtracting out all those things I did not want to do in my career. I am left with the thing that feels much more aligned with my purpose. I found the part of medicine that resonates with me that I would do, even if I did not make any money at it. It is funny looking back. It was also the first thing I did as a medical student. It took me a bunch of years to get back to who I was.

Picking up hospice as a side hustle is so interesting because I do not know the difference between regular medical care and hospice in the workload and the emotional load, but I would assume that being around death and the dying is intense. I am surprised to hear you say that that was less of a burnout scenario than your traditional work. Can you go into that?

It is funny because we traditionally think about burnout as emotional strain and trauma from work. I was incredibly comfortable talking to family members and patients about death. That was not burning me out at all. Do you know what was burning me out? It was the reams of paperwork that I had at my desk for all of my outpatients.

It was the phone calls in the middle of the night. It was the medical-legal threat of being sued every time you took care of an extensively ill patient in the hospital. The things that were causing me burnout had nothing to do with hospice care. Hospice care, in some ways, was very rejuvenating for me because it was part of who I had become.

Dealing with death as a small kid and then dealing with it all the time in my general medicine practice, where I was taking care of the elderly on a regular basis, I was dealing with death all the time. That did not burn me out. In fact, that could be very uplifting, especially when you did it with a hospice where you were bringing families together, taking care of pain, and helping people die so that they were surrounded by people they loved and that they were comfortable. That energized me. What was burning me out was the other parts of medicine that did not feel authentic or good anymore. I felt like I was rushing through patient care as opposed to sitting there and spending the time people needed to solve their problems.

ITF 85 | Financial Independence
Financial Independence: There are a lot of amazing, valuable things that came from being a doctor, from being able to help people regularly, becoming part of people’s lives, and learning their stories.

To go into your book, I love that you chose to make it like a workbook where you are taking some of these lessons and some of the activities you do with people in hospice where they are taking stock of their lives. Bringing that to people that do not have this finite timeline. What made you choose that direction as a format for the book?

The book is highly theoretical. There is a lot of philosophy in there. I wanted to make sure that people did not read it and say, “I get the philosophy,” but then did not know how to use the lessons from the book in their own lives. At the end of each chapter is a workbook format. It is a list of questions you can ask yourself and then work through a process to help you think about how you view life, death, your finances, and how you want your career to look like. I wanted them all to be very practical lessons at the end of each philosophical chapter so that people could feel like they could use this in their everyday life as opposed to, “This was a thought experiment,” but they did not know what to do with it.

I want to talk about one concept that I learned in the book that I am only at the halfway point or less than that. I have been enjoying it and I did a lot of sitting and journaling with it. It is perfectly coming to me at this time that I need to reflect on these things. One of the things that I thought was interesting was the concept of Coast FI, which I had not heard of before. You can explain it better than I could because it was confusing, but I liked how the person was working backward and realizing, “I do not have to do it all right now. If I keep up with a certain pace, I can still achieve my financial goal, but it does not have to feel like it is taking up my whole life space.”

I first heard of Coast FI from a guy named Zach, who writes a blog called Four Pillar Freedom. Coast FI is reverse engineering. It starts at the end, decides what you need, and then builds a very reasonable life that will get you to that end. In the financial independence community, we have ways of figuring out how much money we feel we need to be financially independent and not work anymore. Some people use a safe withdrawal rate of 4%. Some people use the 25 times rule. The 25 times rule is the idea that if I live off of $40,000 a year, multiply that by 25, that is $1 million.

If you have a net worth of $1 million and it is invested, that should make enough money for you to live at least the next 30 more years without making any more money than what your money makes off investments. The idea behind Coast FI is, let’s reverse engineer this. Let’s say I am going to want $1 million in savings in investments at the age of 55 so that I can not work anymore. That $1 million will give enough money off of appreciation and dividends to live for the next 30 years. I am 20 now and I am looking at the next 35 years of working. I do not know if I can put my head to the grindstone and work from 20 to 55 to accrue that $1 million.

Coast FI takes advantage of compounding. We know that little bits of money put in the stock market, making a certain amount of return every year over decades, compounds quickly, and you end up with a lot more money than you thought you had started with. Compound interest is the interest you make off your interest. You can calculate, “At the age of 20, how much money do I need to be saved up such that I will have $1 million at 55?” 20 to 55 is 35 years. You can use a compound interest calculator and calculate making 7% in the stock market on your returns. How much money do you need now that, put into the stock market, making 7% annually for the next 35 years, will be $1 million by the age of 55?

You can work towards making that money as fast as you can, get it into the stock market, and then let that money slowly build itself up to the $1 million without you touching it. In other words, you are coasting to financial independence at 55, but you put the money away in the stock market and let it sit there and it will do all the hard work. You are not financially independent yet because you still need to make enough money every year. Once you hit that number in the bank, let’s say it is $100,000 or $200,000 that over 35 years will eventually be $1 million.

Once you get that money in the stock market, you are not done. You are not financially independent because you still have to work every year to make enough money to pay for your yearly needs. If you live off of $40,000 a year, you might still need to do a part-time or full-time job or at least an easier job that makes enough money, the $40,000 a year, so you can pay for rent, food, and travel. You can stop saving because you know that money is in the bank compounding that is going to eventually make it to $1 million by the age of 55. It is a complex explanation, but the idea is to get enough money early saved away, let the power of compounding get you towards financial independence, and then support yourself with whatever you need for your yearly needs up to that point.

The hardest thing to do here for some people is to make a ton of money and then stop seeing that money come in. It seems like you have gone through that with your transition. How did you experience and go through the, “You are making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, saving $100,000-plus a year,” to now, “You got all your time back, but you look at your bank account and it does not look as nice?”

There are a few things about that. A part of letting go of my identity as a physician when I reached financial independence was also letting go of my identity as a high earner. There is a certain credibility we get in the world as well as we feel internally when we know, “I make upper six figures. I make a lot of money every year. I can take that money and invest in and builds and builds.” It feels good, but there gets to a point. In my book called OverDrive, we love this idea of making money and making money feels good. We set these goals of how much money we need. Once we get there, we feel empty because we met this goal and we do not know what to do next.

The easy thing to do is to set higher money goals. That is what a lot of us do. We get into this overdrive situation where we stop thinking about what that money represents, which is time or the ability to work on the things we care about. We start seeing it as an endpoint in itself. I am not going to say it is easy. Being a high achiever, making a lot of money, and to then all of a sudden step away from it and say, “I am not going to make a lot of money anymore,” it isn’t easy, but then you also come to the realization that, that money is not making me more happy. Why was I not fulfilled when I reached that goal? Why does that fulfillment only last for a short period of time? I feel like I need another dopamine hit, which means another higher goal. I need to make even more and more money.

We don't regret what we tried and failed. We regret what we didn't have the courage to try. Click To Tweet

The reason why I am not fulfilled is because that goal does not fulfill my sense of purpose, identity or connections. It is not feeding my sense of needing. It is an easy, low-hanging fruit goal that I can put out there to avoid thinking about the much more difficult things like, “Who am I and what am I about?” We need to stop doing that at some point. Money cannot be your endpoint. It has to be a useful tool.

That is almost the premise of the book because you have been talking to all of these people who have been dying. The one thing they do not care about is having more money or working harder. Do the hard thing. It may be uncomfortable for a lot of people to get up on stage and deliver a speech to 1,000 people. However, it is even more uncomfortable for that person toit, to not have any money comiin, to live off their investment and to figure out something else to do with their time.

Something I have always wanted to do is coach a kid’s basketball team or a high school basketball team or something like that. That will pay nothing. I may not even accept salary when I do that someday, but it is fulfilling and it is exciting. That is it. What other thing is totally not on your identity that you can switch to? That might be something for a lot of people to think about as they hit this financial independence marker.

Look at my dad. He died at 40. Let’s say my dad wanted to coach a soccer team or baseball team. He kept on putting it off. He kept on saying, “I am not far enough in my career. The kids are too young.” There are a million excuses because we always think we have enough time. We want to believe that life is not finite. We want to believe that we live forever, but the truth of the matter is it is finite. You have to come to terms with that. You have to come to terms with the fact that eventually you are going to die to realize that there is a set amount of time on this earth to do the things you want to do. Putting those things off has a cost. In some ways, that cost is way above money.

I want to hear a little about what made you take a step towards doing the book. It was on your list and it was something you always wanted to do, but there was that fear there. You had been writing this blog. Is some of that a transition from the blog?

This is the importance of figuring out who we are and pursuing our sense of purpose. I have always said this before. I never felt comfortable in my skin as a doctor. I never hung out in doctor’s lounges. I have almost no doctor friends. The reason why I never built a community around being a doctor is because the identity I had built as a physician on the outside did not feel like my true identity on the inside. They did not match. I never felt comfortable in my own skin. When I became financially independent, started thinking about all these things, and started working with the dying, I had a renewed sense of figuring out who I am, “What is my identity? What is my purpose?”

What I learned was that my identity and purpose were much more surrounded by communicating by public speaking, by doing things like podcasting. I happen to like to do that in the personal finance realm. When I got in touch with that, I started going to meetings and hanging out with people who had the same interests. For the first time in my life, I felt community. I had never felt community before. I never felt connected to people. We three have met in different venues in different places. For instance, I feel an immediate connection to you guys that I never felt with the doctors I knew in my life.

Why am I talking about this? My sense of community was built because of my interest in being who I want to be in pursuing my own purpose. One of the people who became part of my community is a guy named Grant Sabatier. He wrote the book Financial Freedom. People know him in this community. He and I had become fairly close. We talked a lot about my writing. He had read my blog. We had met at a bunch of meetings. One day, he came to me and said, “I love what you write about. You have this unique perspective about money that none of the rest of us have. You need to write a book.”

That was something I so deeply wanted to do inside and was so afraid that having a member of my community come up to me and say, “You need to do this,” it dropped all my inhibitions. Not only that, he said, “You need to do this. I have done this before. I am going to help you. I will help you write a book proposal. I will help you send it to some agents. I will help you send it to my agent.” All these things that had been scary and unknown, like, how do you get an agent? How do you get a publisher? All these things that I did not know how to do.

This person who I cared about, who had become part of my community, was all of a sudden going to help me do that. It was part of the magic of undergoing this process myself. By becoming a better me, I surrounded myself with people who have more connections. One of those people helped me tap into something that was deeply important to me and I was too afraid to do.

I loved this part of the book where you are talking about identifying yourself as a communicator because I have been going through some of these identity crises of first, “My goal was around money because I needed to achieve financial independence.” That was all-consuming. Later, I was lost and I was thinking, “It has got to be about helping people somehow or teaching or helping people figure out how to do what I did.”

ITF 85 | Financial Independence
Financial Independence: People really don’t realize we set up money or net worth or even financial independence as a goal and sometimes forget to see that it’s not really a goal. It’s more of a tool.

What I realized in reading your book is that I am a connector. It is something I am good at. It is putting two pieces together. It is collecting people and then realizing where they fit in. Some of the connecting I do is teaching people or putting them with the right people that are going to help them learn to invest, but it is not the money and it is not the concept of the real estate investing. It is the connecting of the community. Thank you for that.

The role of a connector in any community in my mind is so utterly important. Connectors are the people who bring communities together and often, connectors are the ones who take two content creators and align them in such a way that something more amazing is formed. There are two connectors who I very much love in this community. One is Vincent Puglisi. He has Total Life Freedom mastermind. He has written a bunch of books. He has just come out with a book. Another group of connectors that are Stephen and David Baughier who do Fiology and the CampFIs. Three people who I very much rely on in this community. They are all connectors. It is an incredibly powerful role in any community.

These are the conversations I want to be having every week, Craig.

Doc, before we head into our last part of the show, I want to ask, do you have family? Are you a dad? Give us that background on you.

My wife and I got married in 2000, which makes me old. We have a son and a daughter. I live in the Chicago land area. My wife’s parents live close to us as well as my parents. After my dad died, my mom remarried. I have two brothers, a stepbrother and stepsister and lots of nieces and nephews now.

Are you teaching your kids as they are coming of age? Are they aware of financial independence? Have they been saving? Have they got 401ks or whatever they can have?

I have been thoughtful both on the podcast and in life about how kids learn. My theory is kids learn in 2 or 3 different ways. They learn the way I learned, which was modeling. I saw all the great things my parents did and eventually did them in adulthood. They learned by didactic teaching, which is the least helpful. It is when you sit your kids down and say, “This is compound interest. This is a savings account. This is a checking account.” Last but not least, they learn experientially, meaning you give them a safe way to practice out in the world a way that they will not lose too much.

For instance, my son edits my podcast. He listens to two episodes of my podcast every week. We do a lot of talking about this, but then we also try to give them some experiential knowledge. For instance, instead of giving them a weekly allowance, we give them a yearly allowance and then define their responsibility and our responsibility. They have got to allocate that money appropriately for the rest of the year, including some savings to figure out what to do with it. We have worked the whole thing, but I am not as stringent or put together as a lot of people.

In fact, my son works for me. We have talked about Roth IRAs, but he does not have one yet. To me, that stuff is important, but much more important is the knowledge that he will eventually take with him. Compounding works best when it starts early. If you can teach a young person how to start investing and doing good things with their money when they are 20, they are going to be psyched about it when they are 40.

Time is the best time is the best return. Before we head into the final four, any last parting words of wisdom?

We have not talked too much about real estate yet, and it is a real estate show. I also became a real estate investor. We had four doors at once. I have sold them after many years when they have fulfilled my need, which was to diversify my portfolio at the time. I love real estate, but I also realized that if you are going to do real estate, you have got to do it. I was always trying to do it on the side when I was doing lots of other things. You have to put the time and energy into figuring it out, especially upfront if you want to do it right.

Money can't be your endpoint. It just has to be a useful tool. Click To Tweet

Now you have piqued my interest. Did you get burned at all in real estate or was it a heavy lift for you?

I got burned during COVID because I was not willing to put the time and the energy in. I owned a series of rental condos. It started by accident, but eventually, the cash flowed fairly nicely for me. I owned it for a good ten years. During COVID, we had a rat infestation that was incredibly hard to get rid of in one of our units. We had cockroaches in a high-rise building that had nothing to do with our fault, but that did cause problems. In the midst of work from home, the city of Chicago came to our high-rise building and decided it needed external work. They were doing incredibly loud work from March 2020 for the whole year, when everyone had to go home and work from home.

I was getting daily emails from my tenants about how they could not work from home because the noise was horrendous from 9:00 to 5:00 every day. We got 1 or 2 difficult tenants who had great credit scores and had professional jobs but were calling us every day for things that were completely out of our control. At that point, I realized it’s not a bad time to sell. I have gotten what I need out of real estate. We decided to sell 3 of our 4 units. I still have one

Sometimes it is the universe telling you that you are not supposed to do that anymore. It is like, “Here is a bad thing. I am going to keep giving you bad things until you are ready to let go of this.” I am glad that you listened because it gets worse if you don’t. I want to be the first to say that real estate is not for everybody. I do not want people to think that our show is only about real estate because it is also about financial independence. It’s just that we have both used real estate as our vehicle there, but I do not think everybody has to do real estate to get to where they want to go.

Hands down, it is of the best ways, especially as a young person and especially if you do not have a lot to start with to get to financial independence. It is a great path.

Z, how do you say we head into the final four? Z, kick us off.

Doc, aside from your book Taking Stock, what are you reading?

I read lots for my podcast and I happened to be reading a book called The XX Edge: Unlocking Higher Returns and Lower Risk by Patience Marime-Bella and Dr. Ruth Shaver. It is about how having more women involved in investing, businesses, venture capital, and leadership positions is better for us individually and for our economy. I have read about the first 100 pages and my mind has been blown a number of times about the data out there about what happens when women are more involved in complex decision-making, whether it is financial or not.

One of the examples they use early in this book is talking about the response to COVID and we see that there are a number of nations with female leaders who had a faster, better response to COVID than the rest of the world. Everyone talks about New Zealand, Germany and Iceland. There are a number of these places with female leadership. They go on to tell the story also in business of how this is true. For instance, a quick story. The crash test dummies used for car accidents developed in the 1970s were made for the average size and height male.

There are a bunch of safety improvements that came of that. What they found is that after they started using those safety improvements, women were dying like 2 to 3 times more likely than men when they were in accidents in the front seat. They realized the reason why is because the people who had developed the crash test dummies had not even thought of making ones that were more appropriate and sized for women or children.

For instance, women tend to sit closer to the steering wheel because they are not as tall. No one had taken these things even into consideration, but a few women who were involved in the research realized this. The improvements they then made to using crash test dummies that were more appropriate for women and children have created much more safety in the automobile industry. It is a fascinating book, even in the first 100 pages.

ITF 85 | Financial Independence
Financial Independence: Real estate is probably one of the best ways, especially as a young person and if you don’t have a lot to start with, to get to financial independence.

Doc, what is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

There are many of them, but ultimately when I put it all together, the best piece of advice is you have got to learn it yourself. You can use experts and help and you can outsource to other people, but all the important things in life, whether that is investing or real estate or is important to you, having experts does not mean that you let go of the responsibility of getting in there and understanding some of the nuance on your own.

I learned this, especially with investing. I had an investment advisor for years and as a busy doctor, I said, “That is for him to do.” I never learned any of the details. I never understood what he was doing. I almost feel ashamed at that now as I learned so much more about investing. I needed to learn and understand myself if I wanted to make the right decisions.

Question number three. What is your why?

That goes back to what my true purpose is. I love to communicate with people, public speaking and podcasting. I love writing and storytelling. If I had to condense it down, I love to tell stories that have meaning and connect to what other people are feeling in their life.

Doc, if you could be in any movie, what would it be?

I love reading fantasy books, so I would love to be in Lord of the Rings.

What character do you think? You could replace a character or you could like insert yourself in the book and add a whole other dimension.

The one who ends up being the king. I like him. The warrior type and always knows what to do. I love that idea of being the strong and the swift and being the ethically and morally right and physically capable. I love fantasy books. Get me a fantasy writer who has science fiction or fantasy that has a twenty-book series. I am in heaven. I will sit and read them one after the other.

Where can people find out more about you and about the book? Where can they get the book? Give us all the info.

The book is called Taking Stock: A Hospice Doctor’s Advice on Financial independence and Building Wealth and Living a Regret-Free Life. The easiest way is to find it at I also have a podcast called Earn and Invest. That is at You can find me in various places on social media, but I have done such a bad job of using different names for things. The best way is to visit those two websites and find all my social links there.

The real goal is to figure out who we are and what we want to do in this world. Click To Tweet

Thanks so much, Doc, for coming on. You have such an enlightening and inspiring story. I know that you have heard many other inspiring stories and you are sharing that through your book. Thanks again so much. We will talk to you soon.

Thank you for having me. You can get the book anywhere books are sold, Amazon, Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble, wherever you want to get it.

Z, what do you think of Doc?

I loved his story. He is a natural storyteller. I went along on the ride with him. It is great to hear his wisdom, thoughtfulness and how he structures everything. I took a lot away from it. Even what I revealed there about realizing through reading his book how I am a connector and understanding more of my purpose has been profound and helpful for me.

Another thing he said too is that, “I know a lot of people reading this are involved in real estate.” Real estate may not be for everybody. We all agree on the fact that it is the quickest way to financial independence, but it takes some work. You are going to hit some bumps and bruises and we all know that and we are all ready to take those. If you do not want to handle those, there are other ways. Even with Doc, he did real estate. He sold a lot of his real estate off and now I suspect he is mostly in the stock market doing the 4% rule thing and living a Coast FI-type of life.

There is no one way. We all can do it our own way.

If there is one takeaway you get from this episode, think about what your true purpose is in life. Don’t think about the money. Get rid of your money goals. What would you do if you had enough money? What do you want to do? Do you want to coach your kid’s soccer team? Do you want to travel? Do you want to spend time with your family? What are the true things that you want to do that, on your death bed, you will understand and will not have to regret? Think about that and let us know what your true life’s purpose is by sending us a DM. I am @TheFIGuy.


If you have not already, please leave us a rating and review on iTunes. It helps us out. It helps us broadcast the show out to millions. Once you do leave that review, send us a message on Instagram and let us know so we can give you a thumbs up and say thank you. Z, anything else before we head out of here for the week?

That is it. We will see you next time.

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About Jordan Grumet

ITF 85 | Financial IndependenceJordan Grumet was born in Evanston, Illinois in 1973. His interest in becoming a doctor was ignited when his father, an oncologist, died unexpectedly in the prime of life. This profound loss not only inspired him to practice medicine, it has given him a unique perspective as a financial expert, challenging him to think deeply and critically about concepts like wealth, abundance, and financial independence.

After graduating from the University of Michigan, Jordan received his medical degree from Northwestern University, and began practicing Internal Medicine in Northbrook, Illinois. He currently is an associate medical director at Journeycare Hospice.

After years of blogging about financial independence and wellness, Jordan launched the Earn & Invest podcast in 2018. In 2019 he received the Plutus Award for Best New Personal Finance Podcast and was nominated in 2020 and 2021 for Best Personal Finance Podcast of the year. His book, Taking Stock: A Hospice Doctor’s Advice on Financial Independence, Building Wealth, and Living a Regret-Free Life is being published by Ulysses Press in August 2022.