High School Investing Student Reveals How Plumbers Could Grow Richer Than Doctors

One of my personal finance students, Lane Peeler, downloaded a screencast on youtube showing how a plumber could end up far wealthier than a doctor.

It was an Opportunity Cost project where students considered the long term costs between two choices. In this case, the choice was between becoming a doctor or a plumber.

After extensive time in school, the doctor begins working much later than the plumber, but earns a higher salary. 

The plumber starts working (and investing!) earlier, on a lower salary, but doesn’t have to pay high tuition costs for his or her education.

Lane’s analysis is fascinating.  Check it out below.


Andrew Hallam

I’m a financial columnist for Canada’s national paper, The Globe and Mail, as well as for AssetBuilder, a financial service firm based in Texas. I’m also the author of Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School and Millionaire Expat: How To Build Wealth Living Overseas. My mission is to educate, motivate and inspire people on basic retirement planning and best practices for investing, using evidence-based strategies. I'm happy to comment on your questions.

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6 Responses

  1. Be'en says:

    Plus, a plumber can get away with flashing his butt-crack, a doctor can’t! 🙂

  2. Kevin says:

    Great project and well thought out! I wish I had a class like this growing up. Your students really are fortunate.

  3. Clint says:

    One problem is he assumes the doctor is spending triple the plumber on living expenses. If you’re purely looking at opportunity cost, you wouldn’t have a different lifestyle in either case. The extra $45,000 a year socked away from years 10-20 for the doctor would make the plumber option a lot less desirable. Plus, you should take into account that the plumber will most likely be forced to retire after 40 years due to physical ability. The doctor may put in 40 years AFTER he graduates; therefore, a 50 year time horizon with equal living expenses is the only way to make this make sense. I would have knocked 10% off the grade for the difference in living expenses, and another 25% for the egregious error of not considering the full life cycle cost/benefit analysis.

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