In this episode, we talk to MoneyFitMD, Dr. Latifat Akintade about student loan debt, achieving financial success, building wealth and how to find financial freedom!
“I get to be that voice that helps you really be more in tune with who you are because I believe that every single one of us has the brain and the character to be multiple seven figure net worths, easily as physicians.” -Dr. Latifat Akintade, Gastroenterologist and Coach at MoneyFitMD
Need to start talking about student debt, but don’t know where to start? Today on DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast, Dr. Jen Barna talks about physicians and their money with guest Dr. Latifat Akintade of MoneyFitMD. A practicing Gastroenterologist and mother of three, Dr. Latifat also runs a coaching program for female physicians called MoneyFitMD. Self-taught in handling finances, Dr. Latifat shares her own story and expert advice on how, specifically women physicians, can best handle their money. She focuses on motivating female physicians to find passion in their field of work, instead of being distracted and burdened by a fear of debt. In her work, Dr. Latifat coaches women physicians on how to start looking at their money, find wealth in places where they weren’t looking, and most importantly, to understand how wealth is defined differently for each individual. Dr. Latifat also offers advice on specific scenarios that doctors face and gives her sage advice for those situations. Listen to today’s episode to learn about how you can start reclaiming your own wealth.
Dr. Latifat is a Gastroenterologist. At MoneyFitMD, she combines personal finance and coaching to help women physicians demystify money so they can embrace their full badassery. She believes that with the right tools, every woman physician can learn to have money, spend money, and grow their net worth so they can practice medicine on their terms.
You can find her talking about all things money & mindset on The MoneyFitMD Podcast. To learn more visit www.moneyfitmd.com.
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Please enjoy the full transcript below
Dr. Latifat: I get to be that voice that helps you really be more in tune with who you are, because I believe that every single one of us, we have the brain and the character to actually be multiple seven figure net worth easily as physicians.
Jen: Thank you for joining us here today on DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast. I want to take a moment and let you know that we’ve been working around the clock at DocWorking to bring you CME credit, so that now you can let your continuing education budget help you to prioritize your own wellness and get on the path to living your best life. Everything we do at DocWorking is specifically designed with you in mind. We hope you’ll head over to docworking.com today and take our two-minute quiz to find out where you are right now on the balance to burnout continuum. Take our burnout quiz and this simple step alone can put you in the right direction towards living your best life. We hope you’ll take action today.
I’m Dr. Jen Barna and I’m thrilled that you could join me today for this conversation with a wonderful guest, Dr. Latifat Akintade of MoneyFitMD. Dr. Latifat is a coach for women physicians around money, and she has a podcast, MoneyFitMD and a website moneyfitmd.com and you’ll hear all about it during our conversation as well as some specific advice from Dr. Latifat. I am especially thrilled to have this conversation, because some of the key points that Dr. Latifat and I discuss hopefully pertain to you as a unique individual. Everything we do both at DocWorking and MoneyFitMD focuses around coaching you to live your best life which requires you to identify what matters most specifically to you. You are a physician, that’s part of your identity. But you’re also everything that makes you unique.
Coaching can help you to identify where you want to go and what is right just for you. We talk about a new era of leadership in medicine. As a physician, you are a leader. The key to living your best life is really figuring out what matters most to you and part of that is managing your money in a way that helps you to get into a place of safety and security. So, thank you so much for joining me and let’s move to the conversation. I’d like to welcome you Dr. Latifat Akintade to DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast.
Dr. Latifat: Thank you so much for having me here. It’s really a pleasure to come chat with you. I love what you do and every time I hear anything about like a wholeness, it gets me really excited. So, I’m really glad you’re doing what you’re doing and I’m really happy to be here.
Jen: Thank you for joining me. I’m thrilled to hear about your story and how you came to be doing the work you’re doing. Would you mind starting out just by telling us about your journey and what has brought you to this work in addition to your work as a practicing physician?
Dr. Latifat: Absolutely. I’m a practicing gastroenterologist. I live in California. I always tell people that I had zero plans of being MoneyFitMD. I had no plans of money coaching, I had no plans of having a business. In fact, I was the exact opposite of all that. My goal in life was to be an amazing physician. That is it. And then I went through med school, I went through undergrad, I went through residency and fellowship. What happened over the course of that time was, like a lot of physicians, I did accumulate debt through my medical school education and all that. I remember asking how I was going to take care of the debt and I was told, “Don’t worry about it, you are a physician, you’ll figure it out.” [laughs] So, that was what I was told.
And then I went through residency. I knew nothing about money. The only thing I knew was really how to work 80 hours a week as a resident. Then I remember that I didn’t even know how much I owed, because I didn’t know what the numbers meant. I would forbear, I would defer, I would do anything that would literally get it out of my face. Then I was a fellow, finally, I’m going to be a gastroenterologist. I’m going to have a job that’s going to pay well. Then I looked around and what I was noticing was a lot of my attendants were burning out. There were amazing, smart, kind human beings. For some reason, their shoulders were starting to droop, their legs like their feet were starting to drag on the ground.
I had this moment that I’m so thankful to God that I had, which was I literally sat down. At that point, I had two kids. I have three kids now. I said, “If I don’t figure out this financial stuff, I know that I’m going to end up as a disempowered burnout mum.” I don’t know about you, but that’s not why I went into medicine. I want to practice medicine, so I can take care of my patients and actually be there and be confident about being there and not feel like I’m there because I don’t have a choice. I also want to be able to be the kind of mother that I wanted to be. So, that became the reason why I had to stop running away from my money and really face what was in front of me, which was, “How much do I even owe? Where is my money going? Am I even investing?”
If I’m going to be an employed physician that’s doing IBD care for GI patient I know that there’s going to be a loss of autonomy to some extent, but do I want that to be the only option that I have or do I want to always have the moral and the ability to say, “You know what, if this is not working well for me and the quality of care that I want for my patient, I’m out.” That was literally the reason why I decided, “Okay, I’m going to swallow this pain pill of figuring out my money” and that is how I started for myself. When I started, I realized that this was actually easier than everything that I’d learned in medicine. Yes, there were rules that existed that seemed to not have been set with me in mind. So, I had to figure out how to do things my way.
What I found was, as I started to do that, more and more women were coming to me for help. My friends, my colleagues, they were like. “Latifat, you have the ability to simplify the stuff, and you know how to say it and figure it out in a way that’s not perfect, and effective.” That is how I started helping people for fun. But again, remember, I had no plans of having a business because I’m a physician and not a business owner. That’s what I told myself. And then the pandemic started. What I noticed at the beginning of the pandemic two years ago was, physicians were afraid of their money, of their income, physicians were getting fired. My colleagues with the same income clinically were freaking out about the money, what was going to happen to their pay, and I had zero fear, zero fear.
What that meant was, I was able to focus on things that were more important. Like the health of my family, safety. But if money becomes an issue that’s distracting us from the more important things in life, then we have a problem. I literally have this moment where I’m like, “I’m not a business person, I’m not an entrepreneur, I hate social media, but my people need help, and I have the tools”, and I felt I literally had no choice. So, that is how MoneyFitMD started to be.
Jen: Well, I love what you’re talking about because I think what happens so many times for physicians, you really are focused on one thing and that’s being as good of a physician as you possibly can be. The time to learn about money is not there and it’s not taught to us in any way. We typically end up somewhere in our 30s. Typically, we have a huge debt and we also have a decade or more of deferred gratification. We’ve been looking forward to having a nice house, we’ve been looking forward to having a nice car. Often, what we do is we put ourselves even more in jeopardy by taking on things that are bigger, maybe than we are comfortable with. So, I completely agree with everything you say, because I think if we can get ourselves into a good place financially, then we begin to have choices. It’s like when they say, “If you love someone, set them free.” With physicians, “If we can get ourselves to a place of security with our finances, then we can decide to come back to our practice with that sense of purpose and fulfillment that we originally intended.”
I’m also fascinated with the fire movement. I’ve renamed it for physicians, “FIORE” which stands for financial independence with the option to retire early. Because I think for physicians, it’s all about the option. It’s not even that you would really necessarily take that step. But if you’re in a place of safety, then at least, if you have to or you choose to you can walk away, which just gives you that sense of peace and stability. So, tell me a little bit about programs that you have and tell me about a couple of different scenarios that maybe some of our listeners are finding themselves in.
Dr. Latifat: What I have is, I have a money school for women physicians, I call it the MoneyFitMD school. What I love about this is, you’re 100% right about everything you’ve talked about. We’re busy physicians, we’re busy women. Most of us, it’s not we love talking about money, which is to not worry about money. Literally, what I have is a eight weeks curriculum that women go through that teaches us what I call the missing money curriculum, the 20% that you need literally to win 80% of your finances. It’s not just about the numbers because honestly if it’s just the numbers, we are physicians, we’re incredibly smart. It’s all those other things about the emotion surrounding our money, it’s about the mindset around our money.
The relationship between ourselves and money, and also ourselves with ourselves, and us and others. And so, if we don’t address all that it’s really hard for us to get the money. So, that is really, really missing when it comes to financial education and how we talk about money, because that is really the foundation that we don’t talk about, especially if you grew up in a family where maybe money wasn’t the conversation, maybe wealth wasn’t the conversation. Maybe you had wealth, but your parents just never taught you how to do it. We really need to get through the mind stuff, we need to get through the emotion stuff, we need to get through all that before we can truly have money.
A really good example of that is, right now, as we’re recording this, the stock market is down. I cannot tell you how many posts I read online of people saying, “The stock market is down. Let me get my money out.” The psychology of money and the psychology of wealth, if you don’t have that, you’re going to sell and get out. That’s when you lose money. All that stuff is what I cover with our women in the core curriculum. But then, if they join for the entire existence of my program, which I have no plans of shutting it down anytime soon, they get coaching with me twice a month. What would really help them move from wherever they are to where they want to be, things are going to come up. We’re going to doubt ourselves, we’re going to question ourselves, we’re going to find investments, and we’re like, “Should I do this, should I not do this?” I get to be that voice that helps you really be more in tune with who you are, because I believe that every single one of us, we have the brain and the character to actually be multiple seven figure net worth easily as physicians and get to be a part of that. So, that’s a program that I run for women physicians.
Jen: And just out of curiosity, why women?
Dr. Latifat: I love women. [laughs] Well, the reason why I have it for women is this. When I started my journey, there were no spaces that felt safe for me. There’s mansplaining, there’s womansplaining, and we all do it to each other. But what I found was that, I had so much shame, and guilt, and judgment that I couldn’t have conversations in those places. And also, anytime you had a conversation at all, people came streaming down at you like, “Why don’t you know that?” We should know that. Those things can make us retract even more. For me, I literally sat down and I thought, “What resource would be amazing, would have been life-changing for me to have six years ago?” And that’s literally what I created for women physicians.
As you know, there are certain things that are unique to us, especially, if you’re a woman in a male-dominated field. Women that are divorced, thinking about divorce, single, mingling, all that stuff affects how we think about our money. It’s funny because now that I have the program and I cannot even think about having it any other way. Because [chuckles] last night, for example, we were on our coaching call and everyone that’s there they talked about what’s going on, where they are, celebrate their wins, where they’re trying to get to. There are things that come up that I literally tag someone else with. I’m like, “This lady is a divorced mom that’s having challenges with her ex-spouse.” I’m not divorced. I can coach you, but I’m not going to pretend like I know exactly what it is like for you.
When I’m done with my coaching, guess what I do? I tag another woman in the group and they help you. It’s just so powerful. There’s nothing like having a tribe of women that are like, “We’ll coach, we’ll love, we’ll will kick your butt, we’ll do everything together.” This is literally how we’re going to change medicine, and how we’re going to change money, and I cannot imagine doing it any other way.
Jen: You are so right about the small group coaching because you get the expertise of the dynamic coach, who is leading the group or coaches who are leading the group and the advantage of the whole community, and it’s such a tremendous way to bring yourself forward, and to realize that you are not alone if you’re feeling guilt, shame, or just isolation, it’s okay to be vulnerable. All of those things are really difficult for physicians to step forward with.
Dr. Latifat: Absolutely and we get to normalize all of that. It’s just beautiful. We get to normalize the shame, the guilt, that I suck even though you’re amazing. I literally had women yesterday blaming me for their success. Like “Latift was the one that made me believe that I could own a property and now [chuckles] I own this.” And I would not do it any other way. It’s a perfect combination. They have my brain, they have my support, and they have the pack of women, and there’s nothing more powerful than that in my opinion. If I had that six years ago, my journey would have been so, so, so different. I had to learn all this myself. I had to learn how to not follow the rules. I had to remind myself that the rules are made by humans and if it’s not working, I can change it.
What that has helped me do is build wealth in a way that is just so me, not like anybody else. That’s what I tell my women, “You are meant to have money and it’s going to be different from what mine is going to look like” and that’s a beautiful thing because we all now get to be examples of what is possible for people that look like us. Whether that’s your country of origin, the color of your skin, your sexual orientation, your relationship status, whatever you got. Your neurodivergent brain, whatever you have, bring it. You don’t have to change a thing for you to be successful. I think that’s different from the narrative that we tend to see where success looks a certain way. I’m here to say it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s a joy to see women go through that journey.
Jen: So, that brings me to a specific couple of scenarios that I’d love to get your input on. What if someone’s listening and they are young in their physician career, perhaps, they’ve recently finished residency or they’re looking at finishing residency with a large amount of debt, and they haven’t yet begun to make significant purchases, what would be your advice to that person?
Dr. Latifat: My advice to that person is this. “The worst time for you to make big changes is when you’re going from residency and fellowship to attendantship.” I remember when I graduated fellowship, all the nurses at work, the question they were asking me is, “So, what are you going to buy? What purse are you going to buy? What house are you going to buy?” There’s nothing wrong with all that. But there is that societal expectations of us that if we’re not careful, it becomes the main thing that now gears us towards this expectation that people have of us, which honestly burns us down to the ground. If you’re just starting out, I’m just going to say, “Don’t change anything when it comes to your spending. Maybe give yourself a 1% raise. Give yourself a little, like, enjoy something you haven’t been, but don’t go binging right away. Just let the dust settle.”
The other thing to keep in mind is, most people are going to change their job. I definitely advise against buying like a huge house in that place where you just got your new job, you may hate your job in six months and the key is to help yourself have a choice. Look at what you owe. I did not do that until way later. Just ask yourself with curiosity, “What do I owe?” Just look at it. From a very neutral, curious perspective, look at your interest rates like, “Are these things that are going to qualify you for some sort of a governmental payoff plan or is it something that you’re choosing to pay off yourself based on the career path that you’ve chosen?” Maybe you’re only going to work for yourself, maybe you’re going to work for a for-profit organization, whatever it is. Just have a plan, but don’t change too many things at a time.
I want you to understand that, yes, you’re a physician. You’ve spent six to ten years perfecting your art. And now, you’re a badass. What that tells me is that, if you can learn to be excellent at something you knew zero about, like six or 10 years ago, that means you can learn anything. I want you to make sure your identity is really important. A physician is part of your identity. It doesn’t have to be your only identity. You can be a physician, and a business owner. You can be a physician and a model. You can be a physician and podcast owner. You get to choose what you want to be. So, be careful to not fit into that narrative of this is who you are. This is what you have to be like, you are unique, you are different, and you get to bring that into your future including your finances as well. But don’t change too much at a time. You’re already listening to this podcast that means you’re already on the right track. Go check out my podcast. I will send you a lot of stuff and teach you a lot of stuff about money there. You are on the right track, but don’t change too much at a time. That’s going to be my simple instruction to you.
Jen: And your podcast is MoneyFitMD.
Dr. Latifat: Absolutely.
Jen: I highly recommend it. Here’s my second question. If you’re a listener, and you are in your mid-career, and maybe you haven’t really prepared for retirement, and suddenly you’re realizing, “Oh, retirement isn’t as far away as I thought” what would you advise for someone who really is just getting started on the path to financial security from more than just student debt and little retirement mid-career?
Dr. Latifat: What I’m going to say is from my experience, the number one challenge people like that have is, the thought that I’m already too late. I’m already too late and I’m here to tell you that you’re not too late. Honestly, this is the least late it’s ever going to be. So when you think it’s already too late and you keep avoiding it for that reason, you’re even making it later and later. I’m a GI doc. I do say shit quite a bit. I tell people that everything compounds including shit. If you keep dragging it along, it gets bigger and bigger. This is the least late it’s ever going to be and I can tell you that I’ve worked with women physicians that within three years, the change is remarkable. What we know is so far you’ve been doing an experiment and now you’re seeing the results of that experiment and it’s time to start another experiment.
Yes, you may have to take bigger risk if you think that the time that you have is maybe not as extended as someone that may be in their early 30s, however it’s not too late and the same thing applies. One is the power of pausing and stopping is really important. We already know what you’re doing. You already know what you’re doing, you already see what you’re spending, you see what you’re earning. Sometimes just pausing and just getting a lay of the land is important. Just look at, “Okay, yes, your student debt is this way.” Maybe you have credit card debt. Look at your credit card. What is it saying like what are the interest rate on it?
Then, the other thing that’s really important for us to have conversations about is, I think a lot of times with financial education, people with women, they focus a lot about spending, and with men to talk more about investing. I want us to change that. I want us to flip that balance a little bit, which is I want you to ask yourself, “Where is your money going right now?” and not just in terms of spending, but also in terms of investing. What are you investing in? I cannot tell you and I’m telling you this, listener, because I think it’s important for you to hear this. I cannot tell you how many times I work with women physicians, I think they have no money because they haven’t looked. Then when they start looking, they’re like, “Oh, my goodness, I just found $10,000 that I wasn’t even investing. Oh, my goodness, I found a 401(k) that I didn’t even know it was there.”
The key is, we already know what happens to your money when you and all your brilliance is not in it and now, it’s time for us to change that experiment, which is let’s bring you into it. Let’s help you learn how to look at your finances without judgment and only with curiosity. Look at what you invest in it and see how can you do better. Just asking yourself really, “What is my plan? What is my short-term plan, what is my medium-term plan, what’s my long-term plan?” You get to curate a plan that is specific for you based on what your goals are. Again, it’s never too late. I just told you guys, I had nothing. I knew nothing six years ago. Within four years, it completely changed. I’m not saying that that’s going to be every human story, but I’ve seen that enough times to let you know that a lot can change in a short amount of time. The most important thing is for you to start right now.
Jen: The important thing is to take a step forward starting today and it almost doesn’t matter what you’re starting with in a way because the indecision can be the biggest barrier to success.
Dr. Latifat: Absolutely. I tell people that being decisive is the biggest character you can develop that’s going to make you a whole lot of money. I cannot tell you. There’s a huge difference when I’m indecisive versus when I’m decisive. When I’m decisive, I execute, I rest, I waste less time. So, if you’re listening and you’re like, “What? Can I?” That is the most important thing you’re ever going to do for yourself is make decisions.
Jen: I’m again so thrilled to have you here on the podcast. This is Dr. Latifat of MoneyFitMD. Please tell us how people can find you.
Dr. Latifat: You can reach me by going to my podcast, The MoneyFitMD Podcast and I release two episodes a week. We talk about all things money to help you build wealth from the inside out. You can also go on my website, which is moneyfitmd.com and look at the program, the money school that I have is on there. Of course, like, everyone else, you can find me on Instagram and also on Facebook, @moneyfitmd.
I don’t care what your money story is, I don’t care what your money journey is. You’re never going to find a less judgmental space than what I’ve created, because judgmental is just rubbish. It costs us a lot of money, it burns us out, and we’re done with all that nonsense. It’s time for us to change the directions and help you live the life that you want. If there’s any way we can support you, reach out and of course, DocWorking is here for you as well. You have resources, please tap into it. We have kids, we have things to do, we choose to be here, because we truly believe in you, and we’re here to help physicians. I love, love, love that I’m seeing more physicians helping physicians. There’s a change in the air to change lives and you start with yours. So, let’s get going.
Jen: You’ll also be able to find Dr. Latifat on DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast because I’m looking forward already to our next conversation, which I hope you would be willing to come back and talk with me about educating our kids. I think a lot of us are coming from backgrounds where money wasn’t really talked about and ways that you can help your kids to be educated as they come into adulthood about money.
Dr. Latifat: That’d be a pleasure. Thank you very much for having me here.
Jen: Thank you so much and thank you for listening to DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast.
At DocWorking, we’re here to help you maximize your potential on your own terms and help you live your best life. You told us what you need and want, and we built this for you. Whatever your journey is, you have options. You can choose to live the life you want to live. We see you, we get you, and now, let’s get you in the driver’s seat of your own life, so, you can find purpose in your work, and everything you do, and every choice you make. Top executives, athletes, actors, all achieve greatness with the support of professional coaches. As a healthcare professional you deserve ongoing coaching support toward achieving your career goals and living your best life as you define it on your own terms. We have created this specifically for you with CME credit at docworking.com. Please go to docworking.com and check out our quick balance to burnout quiz to see where you are on the balance to burnout continuum right now. The results might surprise you. Taking this simple first step may change your life for the better. And until next time, thank you for listening to DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast.
Amanda: I’m Amanda Taran, producer of DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast. Thank you so much for listening. Please don’t forget to like and subscribe, and head over to docworking.com to see all we have to offer.