Chicago Is One Recession Away From Going Bankrupt

ChicagoWith the Puerto Rico default fresh in the news, there’s a far bigger danger looming on the horizon: the potential bankruptcy of America’s third largest city . Moody’s, a professional rating agency that assesses the creditworthiness of borrowers, recently downgraded the city’s debt to junk status. City officials are desperately trying to downplay the possibility that the city will not be able to pay it’s bills, but the reality is one good recession will destroy the financial solvency of Chicago. Everyone knows that Chicago is full of shady political practices and backroom deals, but the financial crisis in Chicago is so bad it puts thousands of retirees, students, public workers, and taxpayers at risk. Continue reading “Chicago Is One Recession Away From Going Bankrupt”

The Real Reason Donald Trump Is Running for President

Real reason Donald Trump is running for president
Photo I took from a birthday party at an apartment in Trump Tower overlooking Central Park. People who build views like this are pragmatic opportunists motivated by money not by ideology.

[Editor’s note: When I wrote this back in August 2015, I had no idea that the Republican party would fail to stop Trump from winning the nomination. I stick with my initial assessment of his candidacy. The real reason Donald Trump is running for President is money. He also loves the fame that comes with it, but that is only a sideshow compared to the main focus of the Donald, shoring up his brand dependent net worth.]

Though the polls put in the front of the pack, Donald Trump does not want to be President of the United States. At the very least, he knows that’s not a realistic possibility. The real reason Donald Trump is running for President has everything to do with money. He wants nothing to do with “making America great again.” Continue reading “The Real Reason Donald Trump Is Running for President”

How I Would’ve Handled Money if I’d Gone Into Medicine

gone into medicineOn my way home from the Middle East in summer 2009, I contracted swine flu somehow during the trip home. Luckily, I had the good fortune of making it back to the US before I found out or exhibited symptoms. In my agony while laying in quarantine, I decided that if I made it through I wanted to see if I could help people. So naturally, I signed up for Bio 1 with all the pre-med students for the fall semester. Thankfully for thousands of potential future patients, I decided to try my wares in finance instead, but what if I had gone into medicine? How would my financial life have looked? To entertain this hypothetical, let’s go back in time to 2011 to meet future aspiring med student Travis, a senior in college.

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Why Everyone Depends on Social Security: We Stink at Saving

*5% real return assumption, 5% savings assumption

Why are there so many articles in the newspaper that complain about how the middle class is being crushed and how retirement is an impossible dream? Is it really impossible for a family to afford to retire eventually? The reality is that we just don’t save very much in this country and thus everyone depends on Social Security. Retirement is a problem of math. Continue reading “Why Everyone Depends on Social Security: We Stink at Saving”

Discover When You Will Retire By Looking at This Wine Glass

discover when you will retireHave you ever wondered how different people can afford retirement at different ages? What is the magic sauce that allows one person to afford retirement in their 40s while another person works until they are 75? The good news is we can show this in terms of a wine glass instead of a more boring bar graph or pie chart. Think about the shaded area representing percentages of American workers and the age cutoffs shown with red arrows.  The spending examples I use should be viewed in the context of a household with a solid middle class income. You can discover when you will retire by looking at this glass! Continue reading “Discover When You Will Retire By Looking at This Wine Glass”

Learning from the Explosive Life of Alfred Nobel

While I was in Stockholm, I visited the home of the most famous award in the world, which is named after a calm and regal looking man by the name of Alfred Nobel. His life story is extremely colorful, being that he is the namesake of the award that confers the ultimate level of societal prestige. First off, the guy whose name is synonymous with the greatest recognition for peace on this planet made his money from weapons of war. Hence the joke about learning from the explosive life of Alfred Nobel.


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Top 10 Low Cost or No Cost Things to Do in Oslo, Norway

The first thing one might notice going into the convenience stores here in Norway’s capital is how a hot dog is about $5. Holy cow that better be made with grass fed, free range, organic pork with a freshly baked in a brick oven bun. Sadly, hot dogs are hot dogs everywhere. How do you figure out things to do in Oslo, Norway and see the sites in a city with an international reputation for its high costs? The good news is I got you covered. Continue reading “Top 10 Low Cost or No Cost Things to Do in Oslo, Norway”

Doctor Wants to Quit and Become a Journalist

doctor wants to quit


I have some unique choices coming up to make about my professional career. This doctor wants to quit. I am about to finish a fellowship in surgery, and I have been thinking about doing another fellowship. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the fellowship process but basically if you want to specialize further after residency you pick a program, generally three years in length, to hone your skills and do research.  I would love to do a second fellowship or even pursue something totally different like journalism, but I have a debt load from medical school of about $120,000 that carries an interest rate of 6%. I was curious to hear about some of the financial implications of the choices I’m having to make. To give you some salary information, if I did the fellowship option I’d make about $60,000 a year for three years and if I followed the surgery route I would start at about $200,000, which would increase pretty rapidly over five years to $300,000 before growing more slowly. I don’t know how much journalists make but I’m guessing it is less than I would make even as a fellow. 

Sincerely, Conflicted Doctor*

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Cheapest Way to see the Golden Circle in Iceland

If you are staying anywhere in Reykjavik from the City Campground at Laugardalur to the Hótel Leifur Eiríksson in front of the Hallgrímskirkja Cathedral, you will be marketed to about going to see the Golden Circle. Besides the Blue Lagoon, it is the most visited group of places in Iceland. Most of the tour companies charge around $80 to see the Big Three: Geysir, Gulfoss, and Thingvellir National Park. However, you can do yourself a favor and knock off $20 from your bill by taking some initiative. Continue reading “Cheapest Way to see the Golden Circle in Iceland”