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This week we have: Dr. Breath Easy Finance!
Dr. Breath Easy Finance is a husband and father, a pulmonary critical care physician by day, and a personal finance blogger by night. He is on a mission to help others breathe easy financially. One of his favorite sayings, “When you can’t breathe, nothing else matters.” And his site is all about applying that principle to finance. His mantra – save more, spend less, earn more, and invest. You can check out his site here.
Let’s get to his Wins and Losses
Some background for my wins
The first win that comes to mind is being the first doctor in my family. So my wins would be centered around this theme. Hear me out on this, before dismissing this as a regular achievement.
To get a clearer picture, let me go through the series of event that led to how I got there.
Although my dad is an accountant, I came from 5 generations of teachers. For example on my mum’s side of the family, all 4 of her siblings are teachers of some form. This is a little bit of my background few people may know. So get ready for an autobiography.
Since the age of 10 years old, I knew I wanted to diversify out to another profession. I settled on the medical profession. However, I wanted to deal with animals and not humans.
The budding veterinary doctor
In Nigeria, I applied to veterinary medicine and got into the University of Ibadan. I spent about 3 years there until my mom sponsored me to Canada. When I got to Canada, I wanted to continue with veterinary medicine, but after a lot of haggling with the schools, they required that I go back to undergraduate studies. Some of the reasons are:
- Although I was in my 3rd year of university, I was 18 years old when I got to Canada. They felt that I was too young.
- Some of the courses I took in Nigeria do not correlate well with the Canadian curriculum.
First Win – undergraduate admission
I did not have the typical admissions process. Let me explain. When I arrived in Toronto, I spent my first few weeks trying to get into veterinary school. It did not go smoothly, as mentioned above. While dealing with the hassle of trying to get into veterinary school, I missed the deadline to apply to the University of Toronto. I was set on going to the University of Toronto, mainly because, in Nigeria, U of T, had an impeccable reputation. So what did I do?
I prepared my application and was somehow successful at landing an interview with the dean. To be honest, I was surprised that he granted me an audience at the time. I had to make the best pitch of my life and somehow convince him that I belonged at his university.
For 20 minutes, he listened as I pitched on how I have always dreamt of attending the University of Toronto. I explained that I just arrived from Nigeria and listed all I had accomplished in the mere 2 weeks since I arrived in the country.
At the end of my rant and to my surprise, he said: “We would be glad to have you”. I was granted a full admission without conditions. It was one of the moments in life, where you feel like the universe bent to your will.
The lesson so far – Never give up on your dream. Always take a shot, even if it seems like a long shot.
Fast forward 3 years, I managed to complete my mathematics and biology double major at the University of Toronto. Thanks to some transfer credits and 120 to 125% course load per semester.
Second win – Getting medical school admission and getting through medical school
I felt like time was wasted since I essentially completed undergraduate school twice. Therefore, it took me 6 years to finish undergrad technically.
I heard horror stories about how difficult it is to get into medical school in Canada. I became resourceful. Caribbean medical school to the rescue. So I applied to SABA university school of medicine in the Netherland Antilles.
One mini win here was during my interview. I was asked why my mathematics grades were far better than my biology grades. Verbal judo in me was able to spin the story somehow. I think it went along these lines –
“Mathematics is actually closer to medicine in terms of how my brain works. When you are working to prove a theorem, you work hard at it trying different ways and pulling from all the past knowledge to complete it. And when you finally get to the end and you are able to say A = B, you get that satisfaction that cannot be measured. Even, if it took you 10 pages to solve the theorem. This is the same as medicine. The satisfaction of getting that diagnosis after multiple differential diagnoses cannot be measured, just like a proof” I know, that was the mini-me, full of excitement.
To cut the long story short, I was granted admission
The real win was surviving financial obstacles through medical school. There were many obstacles that I faced in medical school such as running out of money and almost getting kicked out due to financial hardship. I lived with someone in exchange for taking care of her cat. That would be a story for another day.
The lesson so far – Persevere. Learn to think on your feet.
Loss #1 – Fish farm unrealized
When I was in veterinary medical school in Nigeria, I started to have a desire for entrepreneurship. After my first year, we had done some botany courses and learned about fish farms too. I discussed the idea with my father.
At that time, I needed 50,000 Naira. I am not sure how many dollar equivalences at that time, but it is equivalent to about 138 US dollars at the time of my request.
My plan was simple, my friend and I would build a swimming pool size pond, populate it with specific types of fish and manage it ourselves. Sell the bigger ones, while they reproduce and automatically restock. Since we are going to be veterinarians, we would be able to manage it.
My dad was a banker at the time and rejected my proposal. Interesting, enough, my friend ended up starting a chicken and egg farm and he is very successful in Nigeria right now. In fact, when he visits the USA, it is for vacation and never to stay.
Lesson- Always have a good business plan. Take rejection with a stride, if one door closes, another way will open.
Loss #2 – Cryptocurrency Mayhem
I know there are some of the readers wondering when am I going to insert something financial into this post. I have not forgotten you. This chapter of my learning experience is only known to very few people. Here it goes.
Cryptocurrency has been the hip thing for some time now and I was at the sideline, just watching and skeptical about it. Somehow in October, November of last year, I finally couldn’t watch anymore. FOMO set in. So I invested about 7,000 dollars into cryptocurrency. I bought bitcoin, bitcoin cash, ripple, etherium, electroneum, and even dogecoin just to name a few.
I even day traded for a while but had to stop because it was taking too much time from my family.
At one point I gained so much that I almost 10X my money. So I harvested, if you may, my initial investment and left the rest in the market. At the rate I was going, I would be a millionaire in a year.
Except… drum roll…
In January, in just about a week, all of my gains evaporated down to 3,000 dollars. This is mainly because I was too greedy, and I invested in what we call the “alt-coins”. The thing about alternate coins is that they grow rapidly but then they crash quickly as well. Think of them like the penny stocks of crypto.
I still have the rest of my money in there. HODL (Hold for your dear life) they say.
Lesson learned – Invest in what you are knowledgeable about. Do not take too much risk for higher gains. In investment, the higher the yield, the higher the associated risk. Do not be fooled.
Wow! I was just blown away by Dr. Breath Easy’s stories – he has truly been through some difficult, unique, and awesome times in life. I love how he always seems to find a way to make things happen. Although it may not seem easy at first, he’s seemingly always finding a way for it to work out in the end!
What was your takeaway from his stories above? We’d love to hear in the comments below!
Thanks for reading!