Welcome to our Personal Finance Bloggers of Color interview series!
Our goal with this series is to highlight the experiences and perspectives of people of color in terms of money and personal finance topics, as these voices are often underrepresented.
This interview features Adebayo from Dr. Breathe Easy Finance.
1. Please introduce yourself by telling us about your background.
I am Adebayo, Bayo for short (like biology) a.k.a Dr. Breathe Easy Finance. I am a pulmonary critical care physician by day and a personal finance blogger/debt slaying ninja by night. I am married with 2 beautiful daughters, 1 and 3 years old.
I was born in Ibadan, Nigeria and grew up in Nigeria till the age of 18.
At 18, my mum sponsored me to Canada. At that age, I was in my 3rd year of veterinary medicine at the University of Ibadan.
When I got to Canada, I had to redo undergraduate studies because they would not allow a direct transfer to veterinary medicine school in Canada.
I applied to the University of Toronto, and it was a long story but I had to make a pitch to the dean to gain admission. The application deadline was over by the time I arrived in Canada. Maybe it was the pitch I gave or just the universe looking out for me, it worked.
You can read the full story here – Wins and losses – Mikedup Blog
I studied Mathematics and Biology and then applied to medical school. Call it peer pressure, but somehow my interest changed from animal medicine to human. Still not sure if it was the right choice, animals are so much nicer.
I joke. Or am I?
I attended medical school at the Netherland Anthiles on the Island of SABA.
After the first 2 years of medical school, I transferred to the United States for my clinical training. That was my first time in the United States.
2. When and from whom did you acquire knowledge about personal finance?
My dad was a chartered accountant and my mum was a teacher and struggling entrepreneur.
The most important thing I learned from my parents was work ethics and how to save money. Frugality came naturally by nature of my upbringing and limited resources.
3. Do you feel that your race/cultural background has impacted your life in terms of personal finance? How so?
Culture, race and background shapes who we are. We might try to deny it and change ourselves but the core value remains.
We lived way below the poverty line and 2 square meals a day was the norm. 3 meals called for a celebration or an important event like Christmas.
I am not saying the story to get a reaction but rather to help people understand my mentality about money.
By virtue of my upbringing, I learned how to save money and live a minimalist life since childhood. We lived in the less advanced part of Nigeria and the principle we lived by is – whatever you have today, you have guard it with your life as there was no guarantee you will have one tomorrow.
My parents love to tell me the story of how I saved all my lunch money and saved 700 Naira at 7 years of age. My mum said it was equivalent to one month’s salary for her at the time and basically saved the day.
I am still the same today, I lived out of 2 brief cases until I met my wife. I talked about this in detail in the post about how medscape exposed doctors money habits (its bad).
This makes it easy for me to be a prodigious accumulator of wealth but at the same time, many people think I have the scarcity mentality. I am working on it, especially now that I am married with two kids, sometimes I have to spend money and it hurts even when I have the money.
My background shaped my opinion about debt and the reason I paid off my student loans even when I knew mathematically it made more sense to invest. In fact, I wrote about it in my 12 toddler steps to financial freedom.
Debt is a shame in Nigeria. In fact, if you die with debt, it is usually a very sad connotation for your family.
Another way I will say my background effects my finances is that despite preaching about stocks and bonds, I am constantly figuring a way to get into real estate. An asset I can touch and say – yes, I own that.
4. How did you become interested in personal finance? What made you want to start a blog?
I have always been a minimalist and frugal by nature. My investment sense was lacking until after medical school when I came across White Coat Investor.
After reading every content of his blog voraciously, I moved on to books (including WCI’s book) and then improved my knowledge over time. After a while, my friends and family started asking me for help and advice about their finances. I loaned people my books, I physically opened Vanguard accounts for many of my friends and family.
Obviously, that technique was not effective. I decided to start a blog to educate young professionals about finance. My blog also has a motivational tone for example, our get out of debt series features people who have paid off debt and how they did it.
It feels more fulfilling to reach lots of people at the same time, rather than one by one. Blogging helps with that.
5. What advice would you give to others with a similar background?
My advice is to understand who you are, know where you are coming from, do not forget your roots.
Pick the good aspect of your culture that helps people become successful and find a way to retain it.
Do not be carried away by the credit nature of the western world. If you want something, save for it the old school way.
Stay out of bad debt.
Have integrity in all your money pursuit and know that money is not everything at the end of the day.
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