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Anniversary dinner

July 13th, 2019 at 10:01 am

Yesterday was our 27th anniversary. A couple of weeks ago, my wife had asked if we could go to The Capital Grille to celebrate. She had never been there and I've mentioned it a few times, so I made a reservation.

For those unfamiliar with the place, it is a high end chain steakhouse. Top notch food and service all around. And they really do a nice job with special occasions.

When we arrived and were taken to our table, there was a single long stem red rose on the table and a pre-printed card wishing us a happy anniversary and thanking us for choosing to celebrate it there.

Our server was fantastic, wished us a happy anniversary as soon as he came over, and reviewed all of the menu details. He happily took a photo of us after we got our drinks and then again later when dessert came.

Our meals were excellent. Every single item we ordered was cooked to perfection from my wife's steak, my scallops, all of the sides, and dessert.

Speaking of dessert, my wife ordered from the Restaurant Week menu which included dessert, but our server also came over with a special celebration plate. Happy Anniversary was painted on the plate in chocolate and there were 2 mini desserts to either side of that along with berries and fresh whipped cream.

At one point, the manager also came by to check on us and wish us a happy anniversary.

The topic of dining out, and the associated cost, comes up from time to time on the forums and many say they can't even imagine spending $100 or more on a meal but I have to say, if you've never had a meal like that, you don't know what you're missing. With tax and tip, our dinner came to about $210 and it was worth every penny. Sure there are lots of places we could have gone for less but they wouldn't be nearly the same. It's certainly not something we would do regularly but for a special occasion, you can't beat it.

Bought new socks

June 5th, 2019 at 08:50 am

You probably can't think of a more boring title for a blog post but sometimes it's the little things that get us excited.

For years and years, one would go into the men's department at pretty much any store anywhere and they would have black dress socks, blue dress socks, and brown dress socks. They'd also have patterns and argyle and other funky stuff but the basics were always there: black, blue, and brown.

A few years ago, for some unknown reason, blue stopped being a thing. Apparently the fashion gods decided that men no longer needed blue dress socks. I don't know why. I never got the memo. But I searched all over from Walmart to Nordstrom's and everywhere in between and blue dress socks no longer existed. I even looked online and nothing.

A year or so ago, we happened to be driving somewhere and passed a sock outlet store. We stopped in and they actually had some blue socks. Not the kind or material I usually bought. These were the nylon kind, not the cushy cotton ones, but I bought a few pairs anyway. It was better than nothing even though I don't particularly like them. Most of my blue socks are really worn on the soles and some even have holes but I keep wearing them since I can't replace them.

Finally, about a week ago, something made me search on Amazon again and I found a couple of places that had blue socks again. I immediately ordered a 6-pack. They came the other day and I put a pair on right away and they were fine. I wore them to work the next day to make sure they were comfortable. I came home that night and ordered another 6-pack. I don't really need 12 pairs but I'm not taking the chance that they will disappear from existence again. These will last me for years so I'm good for a long time.

So yeah, that's my sock story.

Update and an attempt at blogging more

February 15th, 2019 at 07:01 pm

I've never been that active over here on the blogging part of the site although I'm very active on the forums. I'm going to attempt to change that. I like answering questions and helping people there but I'd also like a place to share more of my own (our own) journey.

Let me start by re-introducing myself here. I'm Steve. I'm 54, married for 26 years, one daughter age 23. I'm a family practice physician who spent 24 years in private practice. Starting in April 2016, I gradually transitioned to working in urgent care, first going per diem, then part time, and finally full time in November 2017.

The result of that job transition has been a dramatic change in our financial situation. I went from earning about 120K to earning about 210K. The new position also has much better benefits including cheaper and better health coverage, a 401k with match, and more.

Another big change in the past year was our daughter graduating college. We paid for the 1st 2 years with the 529 money we had saved since she was little. We paid the 2nd 2 years mostly out of pocket so that was a bit tight as we were spending about $3,000/month for that. Once she graduated, our disposable income jumped up basically overnight.

The next big change will happen in a few months when we pay off our mortgage. I'm not exactly sure when that will be but no later than the November 1, 2019 payment. I expect to do it before that though. That will free up a total of about $1,700/month. I'm still debating what to do with that money going forward.

One thing that has been on our future list forever is buying a house in Florida and potentially moving there. As I am very happy in my job now, which wasn't the case previously, I'm actually finding that the drive to move isn't really there, but I do like the idea of getting a place of our own down there for vacations. We rent a condo or townhouse every time we go down, almost always in the same development. Last time we were there in November, I started looking at the real estate listings and we can definitely afford to buy one of those homes as a second home once our house is paid off. We haven't seriously talked about it or looked into it in great detail but I know that we can swing it if we decide to. I know a couple of realtors down there who I trust and plan to contact when we're actually ready to look for real.

I'm going to stop there for now but, as I said, I plan to make an effort to hang out here more and tell more of our story as long as people want to hear it.

Have a great weekend everyone. I'm working but also have some fun plans as we're going out to dinner with friends tomorrow night.

Job Update

February 20th, 2017 at 07:29 am

I realized I haven't posted for a while and a lot of you don't frequent the forums.

As of this Sunday, I will be starting part time with the urgent care job and cutting back to part time in my family practice. I'll be doing 20 hrs/week at urgent care. For the first month, my family practice hours will drop to 22.5. After that, I plan to drop it to 21.5.

Doing this will boost my income for 2017 by about 20% over what I made in 2016 and in subsequent years a bit more than that since I'm making the change two months into the year.

I will still be able to pick up per diem shifts if I want to (and based on availability). I only have one extra shift scheduled for March at this point but stuff opens up pretty regularly due to people calling out sick or other things cropping up.

Right now, the plan for the extra income is twofold. First, more money will be going into the 401k. I'm keeping my contribution rate at 10% for now but 10% of a higher income is more money.

Second, we took a PLUS loan for our daughter's college costs back in August and will take another this coming August. We are already aggressively repaying it ($1,000/month) but will also use some of the additional income to pay those loans off even faster. She will graduate in May 2018 so the end of college costs is rapidly approaching. Last tuition payment will be due in January 2018.

Urgent care job scheduling issue

November 21st, 2016 at 10:40 am

I've been working at the urgent care since May and have been very happy with the work. I've been trying to do 1 or 2 nights a week and that has been just enough without being too much. This month, I will have worked 8 shifts which is great (and great money).

The problem is that when the December schedule came out a few weeks ago, there were hardly any open shifts to choose from. I was hoping it was just a fluke but the January schedule came out today and it was the same or worse. I may actually end up with no shifts in January based on what's available and when I'm free to work.

I sent the director an email with my concerns about this. I also told him that if a part-time position becomes available, to keep me in mind as I might be interested. I'm not sure how that would work with my regular job but I figured that conversation was going to happen eventually. If it comes down to picking my full time practice or the urgent care, I'm picking urgent care. I was just hoping that wasn't going to happen.

Report on the new job and a family emergency to deal with

June 4th, 2016 at 06:19 pm

I realized I never posted anything after my first day at the new job.

To give a quick review, I'm a family practice doctor. I've been in private practice for 23 years, 16 at my current job. For various reasons, I decided it was time to start exploring other options and Urgent Care centers are popping up like weeds and in desperate need of doctors to staff them all. I interviewed with a couple and signed on to work per diem with one chain of centers connected to a big local hospital group. They currently have 5 centers, a 6th one not far from my house will open next month, and 1 or 2 more should open by the end of the year. So they are expanding rapidly and that just means more and more shifts to fill.

I did my first shift a week ago Thursday evening 5-9pm. It actually went pretty well I think. It got a bit hectic in the last hour or so and I was still muddling my way through the computer system but I managed (with the help of my one-on-one IT support person who was with me the whole time).

My next shift wasn't scheduled until 6/16 but I decided I needed to work before that to keep up on the learning curve so I picked up an open shift last night, also 5-9pm. That went much more smoothly than last week. I felt a lot more comfortable and confident in what I was doing. My IT guy was with me again and I made sure to work with him to clarify some specific workflow routines on the computer and I took good notes of the processes so that on future shifts when he isn't there anymore, I'll be able to know what I'm doing.

Right now, the 6/16 shift is the next one I've got booked. I was going to possibly pick up more but we got some bad news this morning as a very close relative was just diagnosed with colon cancer. He's in the hospital now getting worked up and will likely have surgery in the next few days. My wife and mother plan to fly down to Florida to be with him. My daughter and I will stay home. I don't want to commit to any more shifts until I have a better idea of what's going on with him. If not for that, I'm all set to jump into the new position on a regular basis.

The question now becomes what to do with my existing job. I'm still working full time there. My partner and I have already talked about me possibly reducing my office hours so that I can split my time more with the Urgent Care. Part of me really hates to leave the practice as I like what I do for the most part, but personally, professionally, and financially for sure, the new job has a lot of advantages. I don't think I'm going to make any decision for at least a couple of months but I've got a lot to think about. So for now, it's just a side gig and some nice extra money.

First day at new job! Ahhh!

May 26th, 2016 at 05:51 am

I will be officially starting and the new Urgent Care center job tonight. I'm working 5-9pm. I'm both excited and nervous which I suppose is pretty normal.

I had my orientation on Monday. That was pretty interesting but wasn't specific to my position. It was just general stuff about the hospital system, being a good employee, human resources info, etc.

I did shadow the medical director for 2 evenings last week to start to learn the workflow. That helped me at least feel like I have some clue what to expect when I walk in the door tonight.

I'm hoping it all goes well and I feel comfortable working in that environment because the opportunity is a great one. I'll report back tomorrow if I remember.

Update and some parental bragging

May 15th, 2016 at 09:18 am

For those following along on my new job, my first shift at the urgent care center is scheduled for May 26 in the evening (5-9pm). I'm going in 2 days this week to shadow the director while he's working so I can start learning the flow of the place.

My orientation for the hospital system is May 23. I'm sure that the vast majority of what they cover won't apply to me since I won't be working in the hospital but I'm required to attend and they pay me for it.

I've got 2 more training days for the occupational medicine department at the end of June.

On to the bragging part. My daughter is not the type who is comfortable with us talking about her accomplishments so I can't share things like this on facebook but I wanted to tell someone Smile. She finished her 2nd year of college with her best performance so far. For the spring semester, she had all A's or A minuses giving her a 3.88 GPA. That raised her cumulative GPA to a 3.398 I think. Last semester we were kind of nervous because she needs a 3.2 to keep her scholarship and a 3.3 to stay in the honors program and she was in danger of missing those marks but she pulled it together this semester and firmed up her position. That puts her on Dean's List for the semester, too, which is always a nice thing to have on your resume.

Accidentally banned from forums - HELP

December 27th, 2015 at 02:40 pm

Hi all. I went to check the forums today and a message popped up that I had been banned. I'm sure it was a mistake and I sent a notice through the "Contact Us" link so hopefully they'll fix it.

Has this happened to anyone else?

August 2014 Survey Income

September 3rd, 2014 at 05:23 am

For the newbies, I'm a family practice physician and get to do a lot of medical surveys, market research, opinion polls, etc. These are not available to the public.

I had a great month in August, earning $1,440, making it my best month of the year. That number was really boosted by a single program I did that paid me $500 which is pretty unusual, but even without that, I would have been at $940 which would have been my 2nd best month.

I was on vacation for almost 2 weeks last month so I'm not sure how much that will impact my September numbers. Time will tell.

Update to stuff

June 13th, 2013 at 06:07 am

Well my wife is officially unemployed. Her last day was May 30. I ran the numbers and her average monthly take home pay was $385. On top of that, a total (with match) of $480 was going into her 401k, so $865 total that we're down as a result.

We're addressing that in a few ways. We are tightening up the spending particularly in the area of groceries and dining out. We have typically averaged about $300/month eating out. For the past few weeks, we have cut that back significantly and have been doing a lot more cooking at home. For example, I used to go straight from my office to our synagogue on nights when I had meetings and I'd stop and pick up dinner on the way. Now, I've been stopping at home and getting dinner there instead so that probably costs $2-3 instead of $8-10 when I'd eat out.

We've also started using coupons which I haven't really been in the habit of doing for a while. It saves $2-3/week but it all counts and all adds up.

I've been more careful about where I buy gas and have been paying cash a lot more since many stations charge more for credit. I used to stick to stations that charged the same for cash or credit. The problem has become that those stations are charging more. So instead of $3.33 for cash and credit, I'm going to the station that is $3.27 for cash and $3.37 for credit and paying cash. Again, not a big savings but it's something.

The main thing I'm doing is really focusing on my survey participation. It's probably too soon to make a dependable prediction but I've started tracking my actual surveys done. Previously, I only tracked the money when it actually comes in.

For the week of May 27, I did $291 worth of surveys.
For the week of June 3, I did $210 worth of surveys.
For the week of June 10, I've done $185 worth of surveys and the week isn't over yet.
I also do an ongoing survey that pays me $150/month which works out to $34/week.
So for the past 3 weeks, that means I've generated a total of $788. That's a weekly average of $262.66. Multiplied out for a year, that's $13,659. I realize I can't really extrapolate based on less than 3 weeks of data but there is certainly a high probability that I will earn more in 2013 than I was shooting for originally (8K). At that rate, I could earn almost 8K just from June to December and I already took in $3,000 through March, so 10-11K for the year is certainly doable.

This also includes only online surveys. I regularly get invited to do in-person studies but don't usually get to them for scheduling reasons. I'm paying more attention to those and trying to find ones that I can work around to do. Even if I could only do one every 2-3 months, it could add another thousand or more to my total.

On my wife's end, she is doing the sewing/quilting thing and has already sold 20 or more items. A friend bought 9 $5 tote bags from her yesterday for teacher gifts plus a $60 patchwork beach bag for herself. Our neighbor bought an iPad cover for a gift and a Kindle cover for herself. And there have been numerous other sales so that's doing well so far.

I'll post at the end of the month with the monthly survey total as always. I'm at $322 so far so it should be good.

2nd college visit completed

March 24th, 2013 at 03:52 pm

Our daughter is a junior in high school and in the process of exploring her college options. She is looking to go for mechanical engineering. Our first college visit was in November at Rochester Institute of Technology. That was and is her first choice. She loved the campus, the people, and the program. That's a good thing but it also makes subsequent visits tough as everything gets compared to RIT.

Anyway, we just got back from a trip to Univ. of Virginia. Nice campus, very impressive engineering program, well-equipped labs doing high end work, but the overall feel and experience just didn't do it for her (or us for that matter). We all agreed that it wouldn't be the right fit. In fact, we didn't even bother staying for a campus tour. Went and hiked a bit on the Appalachian Trail instead while we were in the neighborhood. By no means a wasted trip as she got to see another school, got some great advice on the whole college application process, and it is just as important to learn what you don't want as it is to learn what you do want.

We don't have anything else set up yet but Rensselaer Polytech, Univ. of MD, and Rutgers are among other schools on her list.