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IMG_3252I like to think that I’m your typical millennial for the most part.  I graduated college in May of 2009 – right in the midst of the financial crisis.  Naturally, it wasn’t a great time to be finishing school. Finding myself underemployed, I did the thing almost everyone does when they have no clue what to do…I headed off to law school.  And like most law students, I ended up taking out a bunch of student loans in order to do it.  $87,000 worth to be exact!

You never fully understand the impact of student loans until you actually have to start paying them back.  On paper, $87,000 didn’t seem like all that much.  It was just a number to me.  But once the bills started coming in, it began to dawn on me that I now had this huge bill to pay for the next decade or more of my life!

Financial Panther
A little over $87,000 in student loans once you add in capitalized interest and some remaining undergrad loans.

Luckily, I was “fortunate” enough to land a job at a big law firm making a great salary.  I had plenty of money coming in – more than enough to live a totally normal life as a big shot lawyer.  But a normal life meant spending money on stuff that didn’t really matter all that much and seeing much of my paycheck going out the door to pay student loans and other bills.  It meant being stuck in a job that I might not really like all that much.  If I fell into the trap of lifestyle inflation (i.e. living like every other lawyer), the big paycheck wouldn’t mean all that much.  I could have nice things if I wanted.  But all of my income would just be going out the door to pay for those nice things.  I’d be trapped, just like everyone else.

After graduating in May 2013 with $87,000 worth of student loans to my name, I gave myself one goal – to pay that debt off as fast as I could.  I started my first real job at the end of 2013 and began seriously repaying my student loans in January of 2014.  I made my final student loan payment in June of 2016, just two-and-a-half years after I started my debt payoff journey.

With my student loans gone, I then left my high-stress, big law firm job, and took a government attorney job paying me $50,000 less per year!  But because I had gotten so used to living on less, I took the job and didn’t even notice the pay cut!  Most people get so reliant on their paycheck that they’re forced to stay in jobs they might not like all that much.  I didn’t ever want to be in that position again.

Nothing looks better than a $0 student loan balance.

While I was in law school, I was fortunate enough to meet my now wife.  She was in her second year of dental school at the time, and like almost all dentists, she also took out a ton of student loans.  She graduated from dental school a few years ago and is currently completing a residency.  Her plan is to start up her own practice once she’s done.

Besides the two of us, our household also has a small dog – we’ll call her Financial Pup.  She spends most of her days sleeping, barking at the mailman, or trying to steal food.

A pretty typical day for Financial Pup.

Discovering The Personal Finance Community

At the beginning of 2015, I started trying to figure out what I was doing with my 401k and stumbled upon the personal finance community.  The stuff I learned was amazing and the stories people shared helped push me along in my own debt payoff journey.  I couldn’t believe that normal people could know so much about how to handle money!

During this time, I also stumbled upon the world of side hustling using all of the new sharing economy and gig economy platforms. I ended up trying my hand at a number of side hustles, including:

A lot of people thought I was nuts.  Big-shot lawyers aren’t supposed to be doing weird stuff like this.

But I didn’t care.  Normal meant having a ton of student loan debt and spending money on stuff that didn’t really matter.  It meant being stuck.

I wasn’t trying to be normal.  I wanted to be weird.

What’s This Blog About?

I started this blog to share what I’ve learned about money and side hustling over the years, as well as to document my own journey towards financial independence.

It’s my hope that my experience and knowledge can help you out in some way.  As a lawyer and dentist couple, I like to think that this blog can be a particularly helpful resource for future or current lawyers, doctors, dentists, or anyone else with a solid income, too much debt, and not enough knowledge about what to do with it.

Some of the topics you’ll find on this blog include:

  • Personal Finance Stuff
  • Investing
  • Paying Off Debt
  • Journeying Toward Financial Independence
  • Merging Finances With Your Significant Other
  • Side Hustling Using Sharing And Gig Economy Platforms
  • Sharing Apps That Have Helped Me In My Personal Finance Journey
  • Finding And Selling Sweet, Sweet Trash

What Is A Financial Panther?

The name Financial Panther comes from an episode of the Simpsons, where Homer mishears the words “financial planner” for the words “financial panther.”  I’ve always chuckled at this joke.  You can see a clip from that episode below:

Whenever I need a definition for a weird word, I look over to the good folks at Urban Dictionary.  They define a Financial Panther as:

A large jungle cat that can be trained to maul a person’s creditors and bill-collectors if that person is short on money.

That seems like a pretty good definition to me.  I think we could all use a Financial Panther in our lives.

If you’re interested in following along, be sure to sign up for my free email list below.  It’s a great way for you to stay up to date with all of my newest posts.  I promise you won’t regret it!


  1. Great story! I can’t wait to read more about how you paid off the debt so quickly, particularly with the side hustles. Did you do this while you were in Biglaw as well?

    As a fellow lawyer blogger, welcome to the neighborhood!

    • Thanks! Love your blog as well. It’s got great info!

      As to your question, I didn’t really start these side hustles until mid-2015, but have loved trying these new gigs out.

  2. Thanks for sharing your story. Where are you guys based?

    I’ve had a lot of friends who stopped practicing law after 5-10 years to do something else. Have you noticed this trend as well? The law industry seems to really spit people out after chewing them up, just like the banking industry.


    • Hi Sam! We live in the Twin Cities, which has a lower cost of living, but still pays pretty good salaries. It’s not rock bottom cost of living here, but combined with the good incomes folks seem to make, you can really carve out a comfortable life.

      You are correct in your observation of the legal industry. The attrition rate in “big law” (which is what we call working at the largest firms in the country) is horrendous. The pressure of billable hours wears you down. Plus, dealing with multiple bosses (every partner is basically your boss), competition between associates, and the general unpleasant atmosphere means that the vast majority – anecdotally, I’d guess 80% or more – will move on to a different type of legal environment within the first 3-7 years. I do know some lawyers that have left law altogether, but lawyers are a pretty conservative bunch, and I’d wager that most will just stick around doing some type of law, just in a less high pressure environment. Most likely in-house or government.

      The interesting thing about sticking it out in big law is the reward. You’re basically rewarded with even more work and worse hours. Once you hit partner, you don’t just get to sit back and do nothing. So if you’re miserable as an associate, there’s not really a light at the end of the tunnel for sticking it out and trying to make partner (other than making obscene amounts of money and spending it all on housekeepers and nannys to take care of your home, since you’re never home).

      So long winded answer, absolutely, the law industry chews people up and spits them right out. It’s basically the nature of the money making machine.

  3. Saw you post on another blog and just KNEW you had to be a Simpsons fan! Loving all your side hustles, got to see which I can start doing 🙂

    • Thanks Mr. SLM! I’m a big Simpsons fan, at least up until around Season 10 or 11. Glad you enjoy the side hustles and you should totally see which ones work for you.

  4. Great blog! I love the side hustles and the Simpsons anecdotes!

    How many hours are carved into the week for your deliveries and are most of these activities on the weekend? Impressive that you are able to side hustle with your full-time job.

    • Thanks Smart Money MD! I don’t try to carve any specific time to do these. In the summer, I like to try to get an hour of bike riding in after work, so I’ll often just do an hour or so of deliveries if I feel like it. Same with some weekends. I’ll just wake up and do some deliveries in the AM on my bike, again, for the exercise. The key is, I find it fun and I’m getting exercise. But I don’t really purposely set any hours to do these gigs.

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