I’m Coming Out
I started The Frugal Physician in July 2018 almost as an accident. I didn’t really plan on becoming a blogger. I just sat down and wrote an article one day. Then, I needed someplace to share it. So, The Frugal Physician was born.
But, I wasn’t ready to associate my name and my reputation with it. It seemed like a silly experiment… a long shot side hustle.
Also, there was a lot of fear associated with it. What if everyone thought it was terrible?
I could very publicly crash and burn. What if my sharing all these financial details really backfired and people used it to their advantage?
Deeper in the recesses of my mind was this: I’m a brown, immigrant female. Many things going against me here.
Woman: Cue mansplaining… you know when a man talks down to a female and explains everything she already knows to her? Now, think about finance mansplaining. “Moneymansplaining?” It’s like compounding mansplaining. Women don’t know money!
Brown: I could potentially be cutting down my audience down to a minority.
Immigrant: If you’ve been paying attention to US politics at all, you know how some feel about immigrants.
It was honestly so refreshing to have my words judged for what they are, instead of by who wrote them.
But, it is time for me to step out of the shadows.
I can’t fight who I am. I need to own it.
It’s important because so much of why I think differently about money comes from my background. So let me fill you in.
The Beginnings: Not Frugal
I was born into a well to do family in India.
My grandparents spoiled me. They had a servant for everything. Spending money was very much a status symbol. They showered me with their love and lavish presents.
My parents were hardworking- they owned a pharmacy and a pharmaceutical lab, and my mom worked as a chemistry teacher.
Unfortunately, tragedy struck and my father met an untimely end. My mother decided to escape India and bring me and my sister to the US when I was 10.
The Middle: Uncomfortably Frugal
Plopped on the other side of the world with no assets and a very meager income, we did what we had to.
We lived on rice and beans and barely ate out. We celebrated birthdays with a happy meal at MacDonald’s. Reading library books and studying was how I entertained myself.
I started a home daycare business at the age of 13 and then waited tables from 16 onward. Of course, I gave all my money to the family pool… we needed it. I literally sat with my mom and helped her write checks to pay bills.
It was during this time that I developed a healthy respect for money and savings.
I came to realize our life as we know it is very dependent on outside forces. At any moment, something could happen to make your life turn upside down. Savings help cushion that blow and give a sense of control over preserving our lifestyle.
I worked hard in school and made it all the way to being a doctor. Once I got there, I was ready to finally live the good life!
I think of my kind of frugality as “frugality lite” or being a “value-ist.”
It’s not going to MacDonald’s for birthdays. But it is shopping at Walmart for groceries.
It’s not making my children work at a young age. But, it is teaching them the value of money throughout their lives.
It is comfortable frugality– making healthy daily money habits so that we can enjoy our free time and spend on the weekends, guilt-free.
The key to comfortable frugality is thinking of a goal and then working towards it slowly, while trying to make the most of every day. Med students, in general, are very good at that. That’s why I think we all can do it.
So, that’s where I’m coming from.
I’m Disha, but since that inevitably starts a “how do you pronounce it?” conversation, please call me Dr. D, The Frugal Physician.
It’s nice to meet you!
Standard Disclaimer: Not meant as individualized financial advice. Photos from Unsplash.com.