Rejecting Reasons Not To Retire Early And Live Your Dreams

Since writing, The Dark Side Of Early Retirement, I've sometimes wondered whether writing about early retirement hurts society and the very people who decide to leave the work force early. Being able to do what you want when you want sounds great. But is it healthy? Let's look at all the reasons not to retire early and reject them all.

Imagine going to medical school until age 30, paying all that tuition, and then deciding you want to retire 12 years later. Is that nuts? Or does it not matter if you've earned enough to comfortably cover all your expenses for decades? Here's a guest post from an actual doctor who wants to call it quits. Perhaps if he's allowed to retire early, so can we all! – Sam

Rejecting Reasons Not To Retire Early And Live Your Dreams

Hello, fellow samurai! I am the Physician on FIRE, a 41-year old anesthesiologist with an 11-year career under my belt. A couple years ago, I realized that early retirement was a distinct possibility for my family and me, and I’ve been trying to talk myself out of it ever since. I’ve had zero luck thus far.

It’s not that I don’t have a good job. In many ways, it’s great, actually. I do work some crazy hours, but I’m rewarded with ample time off. The job can be stressful, but I’m compensated quite well. Among the jobs with six-figure salaries, being a physician is rather highly esteemed. Indeed, there are several aspects of this job that I will miss if I follow through with plans to retire early.

Currently, I'm sitting on a nest egg equal to nearly 30x our typical annual spending of $60,000 to $70,000 in a low cost of living area. Add in the cost of health insurance and we might have closer to 26x or 27x, but barring a market meltdown, I'm on track to have about 36x in 18 months, an amount that will qualify us to be financially free.

These are the goal numbers I'd like to achieve or at least be rapidly approaching prior to walking away from my full time job:

  • $1,500,000 between a taxable account and 457(b)
  • $1,000,000 between Roth IRAs and 401(k)
  • $250,000 in our Donor Advised Fund
  • $200,000 between two 529 Plans

If we were to sell both our primary and second home, we'd just about be there today, but then we'd have no place to live. The most likely scenario I foresee is selling our primary home, keeping our second home as a base, and doing some extensive traveling as a family. We have dreams of touring the nation in a motorhome, living a true Spanish immersion experience in a foreign land, and perhaps doing some globetrotting before our boys are of high school age.

Why would a physician want to retire early? I can't speak for all of us, but an extensive survey from 2012 indicated that over 60% of physicians would retire today if they had the means. I've expounded on my rationale, which include more time for family, sleep, pursuing interests outside of medicine, and perhaps most importantly) simply because I can.

But that doesn't mean I should. Let’s see if I can talk myself out of this.

Reasons Not to Retire Early

I can come up with all kinds of reasons not to retire early. This should be easy!

  1. You’re so young.
  2. You’ll be bored.
  3. You’re in the prime of your career.
  4. You’re tied to your boys’ school schedule.
  5. You could work part-time or occasionally.
  6. You could work in an outpatient surgery center.
  7. Your stock market holdings could plummet.
  8. You don’t know what the future will bring.

Now that we know all the reasons to retire early. Let's reject the reasons not to retire early.

Rejecting the reasons not to retire early #1: You’re so young.

Why, thank you, that’s very kind of you to say. The mylar balloons I received on my 40th birthday disagree, but I do feel young at 41. I could work another 20 to 25 years before reaching a more standard retirement age.

Isn’t youth a great reason to retire (if you can afford it)? I’ve got my health, and will have more time to exercise and prepare healthy meals if I’m not working, perhaps increasing the number of healthy years in my future. My boys are home with us for another 10 to 12 years. Wouldn’t it be nice to stop missing family dinners and boys’ activities due to work, and have my weekends free to play?

Reasons to retire early
So many Legos, so little time.

As a doctor, I see all sorts of ailments and injuries that can dramatically alter one’s lifestyle and longevity. By retiring young, I give myself a much higher likelihood of enjoying many good years before the effects of aging slow me down or I am struck by cancer or car, or whatever it is that will eventually strike me down. Sorry, but reason #1 is rejected.

Rejecting the reasons not to retire early #2: You’ll be bored.

I’m not particularly good at sitting still, and boredom is pretty much a foreign concept. My wife is convinced that I invent things that need to be done; when the list grows short, I come up with new ideas to ensure I’ve always got something to work on.

Reasons to retire early - brew more beer
I can always brew more beer.

One day when I was daydreaming about early retirement, I came up with a list of 50 things I’d like to do as an early retiree. I’ll probably come up with 50 more when I actually have the time. So, no, I can’t imagine I’ll be bored. What were those other reasons?

Rejecting the reasons not to retire early #3: You’re in the prime of your career.

Well, that's a fact. I’ve been out of residency training for more than a decade; I have some valuable experience. Some would say that I’m making a real contribution to society. I don’t quite see it that way – it’s more of an exchange with society. I deliver safe, high-quality anesthesia care in exchange for money. It’s more of a transaction than a contribution. Society pays me quite well.

Isn’t that another reason not to retire? The pay? Well, here’s the thing. I reached financial independence based on our current spending about a year and a half ago, and I plan on working about another year and a half. I’m pursuing financial freedom, but I’m essentially trading time for money I don’t need at this point.

Maybe you don’t need the money, but you could help so many others, right? True. This is a good argument for working 52 80-hour workweeks every year for another forty years. I’m satisfying the “help others” urge by adding to our donor advised funds while working. When I retire, the balance in those accounts should be about 10% or our retirement assets. Reason #3 has been soundly rejected.

Rejecting the reasons not to retire early #4: You’re tied to your boys’ school schedule.

Our boys are enrolled in public schools, and they only get a few weeks off during the school year. When co-workers have kids in school, there is competition for those weeks off. Looking at the school calendar, there are are 16-plus weeks off over the course of the year. In early retirement, I’ll have all those weeks off, too!

There are, of course, alternatives to being tied to a school calendar. The current plan for when I break free is to take a motorhome tour of the U.S. while “road-schooling” our boys for the year. We can learn science in the National Parks.

American history can be covered on the sites the settlements were founded. We can learn about wars fought on our soil right where the battles occurred. Physical education and recess can be combined in a hike up a small mountain or a jog through the forest.

Reasons to retire early - relaxing by the beach
School pool?

My wife recently obtained a substitute teacher’s license, and has been teaching in our boys’ elementary school. With her experience and connections, and a world of online resources, we should have no trouble coming up with a curriculum for the boys, who will be in 3rd and 4th grade when we anticipate beginning our first adventure as early retirees. I’m not the least bit worried about a school schedule. What else you got?

Rejecting the reasons not to retire early #5: You could work part-time or occasionally.

Yes, I could. But again, I’d be working for money I don’t think I need, and doing so would prevent us from being able to take that awesome motorhome tour I just outlined.

I will admit to contemplating both possibilities, though, and I’ve examined the monetary and lifestyle ramifications of both a half-time schedule and one in which I only work a week a month. I keep coming back to the fact that I’d rather work one more year (which I’m currently doing) than two or more years part time.

If motorhome life gets me down, and I yearn for the days of sticking long, sharp needles into people again, I may consider a part time job. Don’t count on it.

Related: How To Be A Rockstar Freelancer

Rejecting the reasons not to retire early #6: You could work in an outpatient surgery center.

This thought comes from the idea that if you don’t love your job, change your job. The worst aspect of my current job is living life tethered to a pager, which is how I spend 20% of my days and nights. I am at the beck and call of every surgeon, nurse, ER doc, and laboring mom-to-be in the hospital. I must remain available at short notice for stretches ranging from 24-hours on a weekday, 72 hours on a normal weekend, and up to 120 hours over a long holiday weekend.

Working in an outpatient surgery center eliminates the burden of call. Outstanding! I actually work in a surgery center as part of my current job. While there are fewer surprises and no pager call, the days can still be challenging. The volume of work can be substantial, and I’m often expected to be in two or three places at once. In general, though, I tend to enjoy my surgery center workdays more than the hospital shifts.

If I do feel a need to earn more money (I shouldn’t), I would definitely consider an outpatient position, perhaps on a part time basis. I wouldn't consider this a reason not to retire, but rather a reasonable backup plan.

Rejecting the reasons not to retire early #7: Your stock market holdings could plummet.

The sky could fall! The sky could fall! Yes, and it probably will to some extent. I’ve had money invested when we’ve seen stocks lose 40% to 50% of their value twice in the last twenty years. I “stayed the course” both times and here we are near record highs in major indices.

S&P 500 historical charge close to record high

Risk can be mitigated with a diverse portfolio, and Sam has many excellent articles on the topic.

By overshooting our monetary target, I anticipate having an initial withdrawal rate under 3%. We’ll have ample room to scale back spending if necessary, but the odds of such a need with an exceptionally low withdrawal rate is terrifically unlikely.

Related: Recommend Allocation Of Stocks And Bonds By Age

Rejecting the reasons not to retire early #8: You don’t know what the future will bring.

Could you be any less specific? I suppose we’re talking about a financial catastrophe that has nothing to do with the stock market. A lawsuit or loss that insurance doesn’t cover, for example. Or maybe something more insidious, like lifestyle creep or a newfound penchant for ultra-fine dining and multimillion dollar homes.

If any of these unlikely scenarios develop, I could consider going back to work to cover the expense. If too much time has passed, it could be difficult to get back into medicine, but I do have marketable skills and will always carry the M.D. behind my name. Consulting jobs exist; sales jobs in medicine can be lucrative. I’ve learned that I rather enjoy writing, and if push came to shove, I’ll bet I could find a way to earn money with this QWERTY keyboard.

The uncertainty of the future only serves to affirm my decision to retire early. I don’t know what lies ahead, so I had best take full advantage of the upcoming years while I have my youth, my health, and my family living with me.

Related: To Get Rich, Practice Predicting The Future

I rest my case.

Having rejected eight pretty good reasons not to retire early, I seem to be running out of excuses. I’m on target to wrap up my full time job in the summer of 2018 (when I’m fully vested in employer contributions to my 401(k)).

I think I'll be ready to pull the trigger unless you can convince me otherwise. Hit me with your best shot. Still think I shouldn't retire early?

– Physician On FIRE

Related posts:

The Negatives Of Early Retirement Nobody Likes Talking About

If I Could Retire All Over Again, These Are The Things I'd Do Differently

Who Started The FIRE Movement?

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120 thoughts on “Rejecting Reasons Not To Retire Early And Live Your Dreams”

  1. I sold my company when I was 62 as part of my retirement strategy. I could have walked away into the sunset but I wanted to be sure that the company succeeded. I stayed on and managed it for another few years. After decades of looking after employees, I wanted to do something that did not involve managing people.

    My point is that going to the office for me was a choice. I enjoyed my business. Some people can just drop into a chair and watch TV all day, that’s not me. I need more. I started a blog and sell real estate to people who want to retire where they can afford it.

    Many people can not stay retired. So when I hear they want to leave their career early, I wonder what they will do years later.

  2. I’m 56. Operated my own biz for about 26 yrs now , I’m in a declining industry but have accumulated over 10mm. 98% of that has already been fully taxed so it’s free and clear of any further taxes. I agree with all your reasons to go ahead and pull the retirement trigger, although I have no children or spouse to factor in.
    My biz is dying a slow death but still profitable. Guess I’m afraid to retire when it’s still making money. Would like to sell it but not really a market for it . Hope this doesn’t sound like a ridiculous post. I read anything I can on the subject as I’m hoping it will motivate me to take action. Best of luck to all.

  3. Great post, I am also 40 but not a physician. I can’t wait to retire, perhaps within a few months. My wife suggested June 1st, just in time for the kids, and our, summer vacations. What can I say? I just worked extra years in between, instead of going to medical school, married a wife with a decent job who was also a saver and now stays at home, and after five years of doing this, I long to join her to lend her a hand. It’s not fair the majority of domestic duties fall on her while I sweat away in my air conditioned office daily.

  4. I know I’m probably out of the norm on this one, but I feel like I simply can’t retire. Even if I had all the money in the world. I struggled mightily with depression for a decade until I started working in the industry I’m in now. I’m not sure I would say I love my jon, but I do like it a great deal and it gives me a strong sense of purpose. I tried everything to combat depression – therapy, medication, diet and exercise – you name it. Some of these things helped but not enough. I have found purpose through work. Maybe it’s just a grand distraction. But it is the distraction I need.

  5. POF, I had to look up anesthesiologist to get a little glimpse and besides the high salary and that the highest-paid anesthesiologists work in Lewiston, Maine; Youngstown, Ohio; and Wilmington, Delaware, the below seem like pretty good reason to FIRE.

    Stress Level High
    Work environment and complexities of the job’s responsibilities

    Flexibility Low
    Alternative working schedule and work life balance

    Also I’ll be honest my first thought was is he the guy/gal giving out laughing gas?!?! Personally I think Reasons Not to Retire Early as you said are some of the exact reasons to get away from the 9-5 as we don’t really know what the future beholds, why not put yourself in the best position that makes you feel comfortable and enjoy life, explore the world, and eradicate the high stress and low flexibility of your job.

  6. You are in a position to be envied. Grab the bull by the horns and go for it. We get one shot at living an amazing, wonderful life. Go live it! Oh, and keep brewing. Life is even better with home brew!

  7. Great post! It’s such a tough decision to give up your source of income, even if you are financially set. My wife and I aren’t quite there yet, but my wife just quit her job because we thought it would be better for our son.
    My twin brother is currently in his residency for anesthesiology. He just wrote a guest post for my blog about his decision to go to medical school.
    I took a different path of trying to earn as much income as I can with just a bachelor’s degree to try to reach financial independence by the time I’m 35 (in 2020). It’ll be interesting to see where we end up by the time we’re 40 and his income eclipses mine.

  8. DoctorDanny

    PoF, expanding why NOT to retire early, #7, not knowing what the future brings.
    I don’t think you adequately addressed the real possibilities of:
    1) hyperinflation. The 70’s were not that long ago.
    2) How you will buy healthcare insurance, whose cost will probably continue to rise >10% each year.
    3) In the 80’s, the smart investors were buying Japanese stocks. The Nikkei went down and still has not gone back up. Even though we have had some cycles of American stocks dropping then hitting new highs the past 20 years, we may have a prolonged bear market at some point. If you’re a healthy 40, your retirement may last 50 years or longer.
    —BTW, this is the same Dr. Danny who argued in one of your columns that I don’t retire because then I would have too much time for engaging in self-destructive behavior (womanizing, drinking, gambling). Your comment was that I sounded like fun, maybe too much fun.

    1. Physician on FIRE

      I remember that comment, Dr. Danny!

      The best I can do to safeguard myself from any of the financial disasters that could befall us individually or as a nation is to oversave a bit. That’s ongoing, as I was financially independent before I started writing about FIRE.

      By the time I anticipate checking out, I expect to have ~50% more than the recommended 25x and “retire” may not be the best word, since I will continue to write, and as Sam has shown us, blogging and books can be money makers.


  9. We found that when our children applied to college, it was wise to pursue several schools and see what kind of package the student would get. One son got an annual package that was $5000 better than at any other school. The competition was Cornell, Dartmouth, RPI, UMASS, UVA, UNC, Duke and WPI. Ambitious, huh? Got a great education at WPI. He was a Natl Honor Society student who played varsity basketball and cross country and took every advanced placement course he could fit on his schedule. Hired by a Global Leader in its manufacturing field, today his subordinates are plant managers and department heads. That great education at WPI was worth every penny.

    Point is, if you have a son or daughter that is a great student, tell them to shoot high and wide and to hell with the application costs. It can change their life. My $.02

    1. Physician on FIRE

      Good for him (and you)! Like your son, I turned down some excellent schools, including Duke, and attended my state university. It’s hard to turn down the alma mater of your father and grandfather when offered a full tuition scholarship. One of the best decisions, financially and otherwise, that I have made.


  10. TheHappyPhilosopher

    Great one PoF. I would add a couple of things to consider, and want to address a few concerns other have in the comments.

    1. Keep going to show kids some kind of work ethic: I completely disagree with this criticism. Kids are way smarter than we give them credit for. They don’t care if you are working or not, they want your time. By cutting back and looking to retire early I am teaching my kids about freedom, time and the real purpose of money. My kids get plenty examples of people that work way too hard for things that don’t make them happy. Ii am teaching them something different.

    2. There is a physician shortage and by quitting you make things worse: Maybe, but this is a good thing. The more people that drop out of crappy soul crushing jobs the better. Supply and demand force changes in the marketplace. When doctors are in demand they have more control. When they have control they can shape the job to be sustainable. When this happens we end up with a healthier supply of docs in the long run.

    3. Ego. Medicine is different than many other careers. It is more difficult to separate the job from the person. Many of us never really stop being a physician even after the workday is over. For many retiring early is tough on their ego and identity. This is probably the most important reason I can think of actually. From reading your blog for over a year now I know this will not be a problem for you, but others may have difficulty. I think my decision to go part time was in part an attempt to give my ego more time to adjust.

    1. Physician on FIRE

      Excellent rebuttals, HP.

      I believe there is some value to my kids at least remembering that I had to work some when they were young, but you are correct that an early retirement will give a Dad far more time to teach them about how the world works and the things that matter most.

      And I won’t feel guilty about contributing to a doctor shortage. As you say, take away onerous requirements, institute some real tort reform, and you may see more doctors wanting to work full length careers. Docs opting out of the workforce is a symptom of underlying problems.


      1. Plus, I always think, I’ve been in do-gooder professions my whole life. And I’m going to stay in them for as long as I can. And when its no longer viable for me or my family, I’m done. You’ve put in your time serving in medicine–some people who could be doctors, never become them. One rarely asks an accountant if he’s wasting his life because he didn’t become a doc. Do good where you can, when you can, then do some other kind of good.

  11. Reason #9: if you retire who’s gonna move the damn table up and down?
    Try to think of other people here for once

    Just kidding. I feel the same way you do. Especially being tied to the pager. I’m 2.5 years from retirement accounts vesting and then I have a couple of considerations:
    1. Do I want to provide for possible graduate/professional school in addition to undergrad for my kids.
    2. How is healthcare going to settle out once the ACA is delt with.
    3. Is my wife willing to go back to work even part time if I retire (HA! Ha! Ha!!!!! I can dream can’t I?)

    I have a feeling I’ll have “one more year syndrome” for several years but I’m hoping in 2.5 years when I “could” retire the idea of working will be less painful knowing I could walk away if I wanted. It’s just sometimes I want to smash my pager into a little pile of dust.

    1. Physician on FIRE

      As a voice-activated table mover, I take great offense!

      Great considerations, too. I’m 16 months from being fully vested, but it’s just an excuse. In June, I’ll be 75% vested in the employer contributions to my 401(k). Working another year to get to 100% garners me another $10,000 or so in the 401(k). The real meat is the $200,000+ that I’ll save for retirement in that one more year.

      1. I would like my boys to have some skin in the game. Work hard, earn scholarships, go to public schools, and there just might be $$$ left for grad school.

      2. Your guess is as good as mine. That extra $200,000 might come in handy.

      3. My wife “retired” at 26. She’s worked harder than me ever since.


  12. Pof;

    Hi there!! I’d say go for it… Why do we work? Essentially to have money,right?
    If you have the money to retire–enjoy your life. That’s what I plan to do when my kids are all in college. Retire when I’m 50. 5 more years!!!!
    Go for it,doc!!! Like they say,life is short–enjoy it while you can.

  13. “I’m not particularly good at sitting still, and boredom is pretty much a foreign concept”

    Forget retirement, I sometimes get bored in a long-weekend and am itching to get back to work. Am I crazy? I plan things to do on the weekend that will keep me busy and engaged during the week sometimes. I mean we spend most of the time at work and most of the time we’re at home is usually when we’re sleeping (for those that sleep 7-8 hrs per night).

    1. Physician on FIRE

      The S in SMM is for simple, right?

      I have never itched to get back to work after any amount of time away. Too many other things I’d like to be doing. I guess that’s a good argument that I might be ready to move on.


  14. PoF,

    While on your RV trip across America, why not donate your services to people in need. Alternatively, you could work with Doctors Without Borders and bring your family with you.

    1. Physician on FIRE

      I haven’t ruled out some sort of mission work, although more likely than not, it would be in a different country.

      In a way, ~10% of my life’s work will have been for charity, as I plan to have donated $250,000 to our DAF before retiring.


  15. Amazing post, thanks PoF!
    I second every one of your point. I actually think you’re being too cautious and you could pull the trigger right now. You won’t need that much money once early retired and at one point, when kids are no more at home, your spending will surely go down. I guess you’ll settle your spending regime at less than 50k today’s dollar. And your plan assumes you’ll NEVER ever earn a dollar anymore in your life, which is extremely unlikely.

    1. Physician on FIRE

      I suppose you’re right, Mr. RIP. I’m extending my career a bit longer than necessary out of an abundance of caution and perhaps some sense of obligation. Our future plans are a work in progress, but are becoming clearer all the time.


  16. I retired early at 60 back in 2009 when the economy tanked and I was facing a significant salary cut (40%) to stay on for 3 days a week. Got a lot of flack, gloom and doom by a lot of people but none of them considered the positive lifespan and health effect of regular exercise, better nutrition, much lower stress, and the satisfaction that comes with rejecting unbridled materialism while embracing relationships. Yoga, meditation, walking, running, biking, hiking, light to moderate basic weights for muscle and bone health. Acquired a broader, healthier taste for fish and red wine, filtered water. Haven’t paid any income tax yet net worth has doubled!!!
    Fly in the ointment: college education for grown children. Tuition rates are ridiculously high. Two year community college then transfer to in-state public university recommended. Low income gets Pell Grants and scholarships. Agree that Net Worth, not income beyond the norm is the way to go. Paul Newman drove a beat up VW beetle full of dents. Warren Buffet lives in the house that his parent’s owned. Happy men, widely respected for their generosity. Plan ahead, cover every base, think of worse possible case scenarios, then retire early if you can. I had a neighbor who rolled the dice at full retirement age (66) and died at 68. Very sad. The longer you work in a stressful occupation (and most are stressful) the shorter your total lifespan. That’s why police and firemen retire at 50.

    1. Poppypbr congrats on your retirement and more fulfilling lifestyle!

      Quick question–Does having a large net worth negatively impact your kids’ ability to get pell grants and scholarships? Or do they just look at your income?

      1. Primarily they look at your income. If you own a home outright (I do), you should classify real estate taxes and homeowner’s insurance as well as estimated repairs and upkeep as “annual rent/12 mos” that you have to pay (because you do). 401K, IRA’s are not included in the reporting. You should max out 401K, Roth and IRA as much as possible if considering an application for financial aid and if planning on retiring early. Young people who are emancipated from their parents can get more aid but they must be 18 and living apart with proof of rent. Cheapest way to get a college education is work for an employer that has a liberal policy of reimbursing tuition for night school for accredited academic courses without consideration of your occupation. Large hospitals (like Mass General in Boston) have policies like that. I know several married men who got their degrees entirely in night school paid for by their employer. One is an Mechanical Engineer and the other is a Controller of a Fortune 500 Company. After retiring, I bought a second house and rent it out for the cost of the mortgage, taxes, insurance, heat, water, internet. Tenant is ecstatic. Don’t actually need the income. In 15 or 20 years we’ll sell the house we live in and move into the second house, live there for two years and then sell that to maximize our sale of real estate $200,000 deduction per person for each of us (use one for each house). It is wise not to go overboard on cost or size of house or taxes may be due when its sold. Important to have a Living Revocable Trust to protect Net Worth Assets from lawsuits from institutions or individuals. Put your children’s name on the deed and they inherit when you die with no will, no probate and no taxes. Inheritance tax starts at $5.25million in Net Worth. 401K and IRA get distributed by your beneficiary designation. If you have extra money, consider buying actual shares of stock by companies that pay a dividend. If your tax rate is low (23% or less) your dividends will not be taxed. Try to stay under the tax radar of $35,000 and live with quality, not quantity. $3000/month for two people in a paid up home easily covers all the bases if you adopt free hobbies and not Country Clubs and excessive travel. Before you die, transfer the shares to the kids. No taxes, You didn’t receive any money for them and they are not compelled to sell them, if they are smart.

    2. It’s interesting that SF announced community college is free for all starting in 2017! That’s one step, and the next step could very well be 4-year colleges free for many, in 10-20 years.

      Check out: The Health Benefits Of Early Retirement Are Priceless

      I had one grey hair at age 34. I thought that was the start of an explosion of gray hairs. At age 40, for some reason, I don’t have any. I attribute this to much less stress as an unemployed person!

      1. Physician on FIRE

        I found my first gray hair at 26 — the year in which I started residency. At 41, the sides are getting that salt & pepper look and in the last couple years have noticed some thinning up top. It’s been a very gradual but progressive change.

        Could retiring early reverse the trend? Only one way to find out!

        1. I, for one, anxiously await your report on whether or not early retirement halts the progression. At 30, my hair is going the way of the buffalo. My forehead is apparently now a fivehead.

  17. That is great that you have been so diligent PoF. Kudos to keeping your spending at 60-70k. Does that include your mortgage payments? You have prepared well and deserve to retire if you want. I think that it would be an awesome experience for your family to take some time to travel. A real Spanish immersion would be such a great opportunity for your kids! Learning spanish plus international living experience would be life-changing for them.

    I am a 40 yo physician myself. I have thought about retiring early but don’t see it on the horizon anytime soon. We spend a bit too much, about 110k/yr including 25k/yr in mortgage payments. We have 20x annual spending saved in investments plus 100k home equity. We have 7 kids and pay a lot to keep them in sports/music/activities etc. I also worry about education/wedding expenses down the road in an early retired scenario with our current investment income. Plus long-term travel or leisure would drive my wife nuts I think. She is a very high energy goal oriented person that wants to be doing something she feels is useful all the time.

    You could always return to work part time if you get bored. An added layer of security is that you have your blog to insulate you against boredom and probably some income to help with unforeseen expenses. I will be interested to hear about your journey as an early retired doc.

    1. Physician on FIRE

      Good to hear from you, Srob!

      I would say you’re doing incredibly well, yourself, and if an early retirement does appeal to you, you’ll be able to afford it relatively soon. Spending $85,000 a year for a family of NINE (exclusive of mortgage) is not at all too much. Given we’re a family of four, that’s equally if not more frugal than us.

      To answer the question, I am debt-free, and have no mortgage payments. I sold some investments to buy our current home with cash, snagging a nice home for under $300,000 in a low cost of living area.

      If you’d like to follow along, I’ll be sharing my story before, and after retirement @ Well, not after retirement. Then I’ll be six feet under. But after I retire — that I’ll be writing about.


  18. If you quit work and then change your mind later on and want to do it again, will you be able to go right back to it or will you be considered stale and unemployable?

    1. Smart Money MD

      Not to answer for PoF, but you can get rusty really quickly if you stopped practicing medicine for a while. I see this in doctors who become full-time administrators–they probably aren’t viable clinicians unless they’re figured out a way to continue medical work.

      Would you want your cardiothoracic surgeon to do your open-heart bypass if he hasn’t done one in two years? ;-)

      1. Yes, this is what I expected to be the case; perhaps PoF should consider this as one of his counter-arguments as well.

      2. Curt Morrison, MD, FACC, CFA

        I left cardiology (to be a healthcare equity analyst) for 13 years before returning to practice, albeit non-invasive upon return.

        While working as an equity analyst in Chicago I learned of an anesthesiologist who had been away for 10 years before returning. She arranged a supervised practice for a period of time before returning to independent work.

        This isn’t necessarily easy, but you can be confident of success if you are determined.

        1. Was it worth it?

          I have a friend who left oncology from some Harvard hospital to be a hedge fund analyst in pharma/biotech. He’s now the head of the risk arb fund and has been crushing it for years now i.e. 8 figure pay days. It’s definitely been worth it for him. But now he’s unwinding to do more cancer volunteer work.

  19. So I would say don’t retire for your kids.

    By retiring early you are really going to be cheating your kids out of a lot of their potential. They will lose access to internships that you can help them easily get to build their resume. That could deny them invaluable letters of recommendation that would have helped them get into prestigious universities, get prestigious scholarships and even get into career fields they would want to go into (especially if it’s medicine).

    One of my old roommates wanted to break into oil and gas and her dad used to work in the field but retired early in his 40s and that pushed her to not being able to get internships and pushed her into retail rather than building her resume with internships in her chosen field and eventually caused her pushed her to get a different degree because of the lack of connections. Had she stayed the course and did get a job she would have been hired at a much lower starting salary too due to lack of experience (internships do boost your starting salary a lot in engineering – not sure how much it helps in medicine). Sure you can get jobs without connections but as a parent I feel you should do everything in your power to help your kids get jobs that make them A) productive members of society B) not leeching off you – meaning you want them to get a well paying job and learning the value of the dollar.

    I would do everything in your power to ensure they get established in their career before retiring. I know I sure would have loved my parents to have been able to get me internships (I got them but it took extreme determination). Not all kids have that drive, so why not try and improve the chances that all your kids can get there foot in the door. So my vote is that you work part time rather than retire until your kids first get their jobs. In addition, relocating your kids gives them less exposure to social connections and developing their communication skills with their peers. I am highly against causing anything that I think could lower my kids chance of success when I could pave the way for them. 200k for 529 may not even be enough. A top tier undergrad can cost 100-200k total, then graduate programs can cost another 200k. You have to ask yourself where do you want you kids place to be in society? If you have the means I would do everything I could to ensure money isn’t their limiting factor to success.

    I’ve just seen situations like yours with numerous people I know and I feel their parents really hurt them by retiring early and seen peers who could have crushed it turn out to be flakes so just trying to help ensure you don’t screw your kids over.

    Also, my mom retired in her early 40s and she regretted it. She could never get back into the field she wanted to later on when she just wanted to work for fun and it made her extremely sad. She had less influence in helping us kids professionally (although my dad still does work).

    Also from my grandparents point of view, my grandpa retired as a big time 1% in the 60s and he said his biggest regret was not working longer to get more money because near the end he just wished he had more (he had much more than what your target goal is). So everything in my experiences from lots of people from people in their 100s to millennials I feel it’s a really bad move for you to do that. This is coming from someone whose parents made him earn every dollar he has, had to pave out his own career, no help with college etc, but still most who I’ve seen in similar situations didn’t succeed like I did. So just trying to ensure maximum probability of their success in society. Just my 2 cents.

    Happy to elaborate on anything you need more convincing on, but remember: do it for the kids ;)!

    1. Hmmm, fascinating insights and good point. Why did your top 1% grandfather want MORE money towards the end though? I don’t get that if he’s already rich.

      Since leaving work, I’ve been able to build a pretty diverse network of people away from traditional finance. Now I’m slowly getting to know plenty of coaches and parents of kids who attend a $48,000 a year school with my new job as varsity boys tennis coach. I believe that helping a persons kid become awesome will go WAY FARTHER than anything business related I could ever do for someone.

      In short, there are many ways to help our kids get ahead, beyond just spending time with them.


      1. He retired with 8 figures in equivalent buying power of today’s dollars. He lived a decent lifestyle his entire life but what got him was the market crash a few years ago when he was in his 90s (I think, I don’t know his full financial situation just know he’s), but he’s still fine just not as fine as he’d like because he used his portfolio for income vs growth. But he just told me his only regret was not just working a few more years for that easy money when it was easy to have because he had no idea he’d live well past 100. He’s lived modestly his whole life, in sub 200k houses, and well below his means, but you just never know what the future holds. Plus look at all the reports out there in the world, lot of target ROI are being lowered to 6% over the next decade, so just need to be cautious.

        See for you Sam, you’re still out hustling and developing connections. That can still prove beneficial for your kid(s). POR said he’s going to travel and become more nomadic which could lose those connections as he would transition out of his professional career. It just comes down to how you manage your life when/if you retire though. For some of my friends, all of the ones who got into our med school in the city I live in everyone had connections to get those slots, I don’t particularly think they worked too hard, had profiles anywhere near my friends who didn’t have connections and got in/didn’t get in (speaking to them all and inquiring about their profiles out of curiosity). So it just comes down to what side of the fence do you want your kids to be on? Personally, I want to give my children the ability to make a career and living as opposed to just give them money that they won’t value so to me it’s a priority to have connections that they can leverage rather than give them massive trust funds and they don’t value what I slaved over getting myself. I want to give them the tools to grow my empire I’ve built, not shrink it. That’s my mindset though, perhaps others differ.

        I agree with the tennis, but unless you leverage your knowledge and show the parents that you have your other skills/knowledge I think that those connections will be less beneficial to you. You really have to try to join some sort of network or “boys club” to really help them. Those parents will all be friends because of their kids, but if you’re just their coach you don’t necessarily get the same interactions to really become close with them (i.e. kids birthday parties). I developed great relationships with my track, soccer, tennis, xc, etc. coaches but my parents not so much. My parents like the coaches and respect them highly but they never had the same relationships as with parents of my friends that I hung out with or their coworkers. So you really need to try and leverage a way get connected with those families to truly see the benefits of knowing them. To me, your main benefit is getting to teach a sport you love though!

        I agree, you don’t need to just spend time with kids to help them get ahead. For me personally, my parents are my best friends but you really need to ensure your kid can develop their independence (be able to accomplish tasks on their own without hand holding) so they can be successful in the real world when you aren’t there to do their job for them. So you need to instill work ethic, help them develop social skills with their peers, and not limit their opportunities because you could have had connections that could have helped them get to where they want to be personally and professionally. At the end of the day most places just look at your resume and what it says, so you either helped them check boxes and look super impressive or you didn’t. It’s just developing a winning algorithm that builds your resume to be the ideal candidate with the correct skills that others desire. Lots of kids don’t start thinking about real jobs until senior year of college, I have been working at tech companies since I was 16. Who do you think has it easier at graduation? My parents wanted me working in professional environments young. So I went out and got the jobs because of stellar grades, this gave me mentors in the field who could guide me, mentor me, give me stellar letters of recommendations. These mentors turned into invaluable connections that helped get me a full ride into undergrad because of their letters of recommendations. Then the scholarships and their letters of recommendations and my grades got me into one of the most prestigious tech companies in the world, who then paid my graduate program upon graduating and employed me with a millennial 1% salary right out of school. It’s a rubber band effect. Plus, working in those environments gets you surrounded by motivated workers young who inspire you to push yourself and never settle. It’s amazing what your peers can do for you. So don’t sell your kids short, get them in the right environments building their profile as young as possible so they can succeed.

        1. Ah, so he was kinda suffering from the “one more year syndrome,” but in reverse since he left! It really is easy money once you start making the big money. One more year, and here’s another nice fat wad of cash in your bank. It takes some life moment to really step away and change.

          I’ve thought about being viewed as “the help” to the parents as the assistant tennis coach, and that’s just fine by me. I don’t want anything from them. I just want to do my best, learn, have fun, and hopefully make a difference. It’s how I view all my tennis buddy relationships at my club (whom several parents are members). I just want to play tennis and have fun. But it was b/c I was having fun with them that I was referred to this role.

          I’ve always had this underdog mentality b/c it’s so motivating, hence that year long stint of driving folks around with Uber. It makes me appreciate what I have and feel alive. When the parents see me playing at the same club they belong to that costs $12,000 to join and requires 5 letters of recommendation, I think they’ll eventually figure it out.

          Perhaps I’ll even write a non-member parent who wants to join as a family a letter of recommendation! And perhaps the parents who currently have kids in middle school and elementary school may find some benefit in knowing someone who works at the very high school they’d love their kids to attend to.

          The consistent theme out of all this is to just be a good person. Sooner or later, something positive will happen when you least expect.


          1. Well he’s now in his 100s and has to be more conservative to ensure everything lasts vs. 100% knowing for sure. Plus you want to still leave inheritances etc. Plus it’s not like work is really that hard on us. If you know you’re stuff, you go to work and get paid to do easy work, because you know how to do it. It’s just a matter of trading time for money…

            Your situation is more unique then, you more implied just by being the coach you’d get the connections when in reality you’ll get them from the tennis club (in that context). Plus you appear to be doing it for entertainment rather than a job to make a quick buck. Lets face it, is 4500 going to make a huge difference in your life? If you make a ton, that’s chump change (but still accepted to build that NW ;) ).

            I wouldn’t say I have an underdog mentality, rather a realistic mentality. I’m really smart, but not the smartest person. I have to make my own connections and don’t have an empire for my parents to just give me so the only way to set myself apart is to outwork everyone and be the best positive influence I can be. Help everyone in the office, volunteer to do everything I have the skills to do etc. This has helped me continue to climb because I want to join the top ranks. So it’s just a matter of analyzing their resumes and roadmap and trying to replicate their successes into my own. No need to reinvent the wheel.

            Yeah, I see what you’re saying on the schools there. But from my experience private schools are a waste of money. I went to the best public school in my state and I’d say everyone I know that went to my free highschool out perform the private school kids that spent 100k+ on their hs + another 60k+ for middle school. They pissed away all that money, and make less than me and my public school friends. Plus we all got into the Stanfords, MIT, Harvard, etc. at similar rates to them. Then at the same uni’s we were actually more prepared because my school was rigorous full of hundreds of overachievers like myself. If you want to be successful you push yourself, and you learn material from books, internet and teachers. The private school students tend to be a lot more kicked back and relaxed (lot of good friends went to them as well as my sister). So it depends what kind of environment you want your kid in. I’d rather put that 200k from k-12 into a college, masters and mba program + living expenses for them if they didn’t get scholarships in which case they can use it to buy a house or investment property or fund their kids schooling.

            But everyone I know at my school has been highly successful so that’s my experience. Friends that went to less rigorous public high schools weren’t as well off because they hung with crowds that didn’t push them. My friends and I all push each other to be bigger and better constantly to improve ourselves… and I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything. That’s the crowd, you still need the resume to accomplish the tasks though. Which relates back to the earlier comments on why I feel physician should still work to give his kids those opportunities to maximize their potential.

            1. I think you’re underestimating one source of income from your grandfather. You! As well as your father and mother and uncles and aunties. If he ever runs out of money, you always have his family to take care of him.

              Also, I’mp making $5500 not $4500. Come on now! Big bucks!

  20. Fellow anesthesiologist

    Hi PoF, fellow anesthesiologist here.

    I love Financial Samurai. Every article is so pertinent to my situation.

    At age 45 I have finally take the plunge into semi-retirement. Since I am a few years ahead of you, let me give you my perspective.

    During my 40th birthday I was jumping off a boat in the Mediterranean, and swimming in the ocean, and contemplating doing a triathlon. Over the last 5 years I started to develop one nagging joint pain after another. Last year I herniated a lumbar disc, and now I cannot even run 10 minutes because of hip pain.

    Last January I developed an episode of A-fib after a poor night of sleep and 3 glasses of wine, and later that year I found out I have pre-diabetes. Pre-diabetes is easy to control if I can exercise, but difficult when you have back and hip pain. So no alcohol, no carbs, and I lost some weight, but then developed orthostatic hypotension. What the???

    Is this all stress related? Possibly. Sure there is one old anesthesiologist in my group in his late 60s who still takes Cardiac calls, and in good health, but you have to be honest with yourself. As one poster stated, listen closely to your body.

    For many anesthesiologist we are in a chronic high adrenaline, high cortisol state. Which was fine when we were younger. Our type A personality convinced ourselves that we can take on any challenge. We were proud to be up 36 hours without sleep. As I got older, possibly due to decline in testosterone, I noticed that my body does not seem to handle stress as well. Maybe it is just me.

    Unfortunately I live in a high cost west coast city, and cannot retire like you ;) But I have chosen the part-time path. It was a difficult pill to swallow since part-time work does not mean proportionally decreased income. Usually it is disproportionately lower. But like anything, you just need a shift in perspective.

    Right now I am sitting in a surgery center with a lot of downtime and will probably only make $300 today. But it is ok. It covers my expenses without touching my nest egg.

    Most anesthesiologist do not tie their identity to their job. Many of us chose anesthesia for the flexibility and the freedom. That is what I have finally come to terms with. My previous partnership track job really tied me down with very inflexible vacation schedule. If we want to be identified with our title, we would have become cardiologists or pulmonologists.

    So my suggestion is to take the plunge. Our health can take a drastic turn in our 40s-50s. As you know an once of prevention is worth more than an ounce of cure.

    If you can still have plenty of vacation time, work on your own terms when you want and when you don’t want, few hours in the traffic, get plenty of regular sleep and exercise, not feel much stress, then sure by all means keep working. If not, retire or dial back.

    I chose part-time because I cannot afford to retire, but also to keep up my skill set. As you know anesthesia is like a sport. Much of it is based on rhythm, reflexes, and instinct. If I take too much time off it will be hard to come back.

    Funny how many physicians responded to this thread. Really shows you the burn out rate among doctors. I certainly will follow you blog, and try to figure out where in the US I can retire for $70,000 a year fora family of 4 :)

    Best of luck!

    Fellow anesthesiologist

    1. If there is one thing I can recommend you reading, it is “healing back pain,” by Dr Sarno.

      It change my life for the better about 15 years ago. I had chronic back pain on the lower side and also sciatica for two years. After reading the book, about two months later everything went away. I have been back pain free and sciatica free since then.

      Please spend the $12 and buy the book today. You will not regret it.

      This post is one of my first post I ever wrote back in 2009:

    2. Physician on FIRE

      Glad to hear from you, fellow anesthesiologist, and I’m bummed to hear about your recent run of bad luck in the health department. Or, as you suggest, it may not be luck so much as years of a stressful job finally taking their toll.

      Either way, I’m glad you’ve found a way to work a more favorable schedule. I’m planning to do something similar for a year or two after much contemplation as a transition of sorts to a more complete retirement. Fortunately, I believe I’ll be able to do so with a drop in income that’s directly in proportion to the decreased workload. Look for a blog post from me later this year on that.


  21. I retired at 45 and now I’m back in the workplace. (And not for monetary reasons.) For five years I had a lot more freedom than most people my age, and a pretty darn good life. I frequented the beach daily, played tennis here and there, enjoyed long hikes, and dined out several days a week for both lunch and dinner. We moved. I renovated a few properties. But yes, I still got bored. And lord knows, I didn’t want to admit it! I’d heard over and over again, from everyone and their mother, “You’re too young to retire?”

    Maybe I was. I don’t know.

    In any case, here’s a quick list of the challenges I faced, every situation on it being very personal, of course, and noted in hindsight with 20/20 vision.

    *Spouse not retired (this was a big one)
    *Travel…without my spouse?
    *A career = pay. Housewife = …….. Are those crickets I hear?
    *Everyone else my age works!
    *Adult children tend to have their own lives
    *Even dogs grow tired of daily walks on the beach
    *Tennis partners are hard to come by–free partners, that is. I could play five days a week with my instructor…for a fee. : )

    All kidding aside, while they weren’t the best five years of my life, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. My journey brought me to where I am today: learning a new business, surrounded by brilliant and passionate people, and feeling productive (and busy!) again.

    I’m a worker bee.

    1. KJ, you sound exactly like me!

      The boredom does get to you, which is why I did three part-time consulting gigs for fintech companies from 2012-2016. It was actually very exciting to meet knew people, learn new things in a field I had no experience in. All the meetups after work and the conferences were very cool.

      But really, it was Financial Samurai that helped beat the boredom at bay. 6am – 10am work on FS, and then 10:30am – 12noon to play tennis with other unemployed people. Now, it’s the same routine but 3:15pm – 5:15pm coaching high school tennis. It’s enough now and I don’t want to go back to Corporate America ever again.

      Glad you found your new gig! You really should try blogging. It’s a great outlet that can also be quite lucrative.


    2. Physician on FIRE

      Nothing wrong with being a worker bee.

      “*Even dogs grow tired of daily walks on the beach”

      When even the dog finds your walks wearisome, you must really be overdoing it. My wife’s full time job has been to take care of our kids and be available when I can’t be. She’s 110% on board with our plan, and would like to hurry it along if possible.

      Like Sam, I intend to continue writing and that may be enough to keep me busy on top of the hobbies that I’ve shelved or struggled to maintain over the years.

      I appreciate your perspective as a former early retiree. I can’t guarantee it’s for me until I experience it, and I’ll have contingent plans in place to return to the workforce if I discover that’s where I want to be.


  22. IBFRee @ saveinvestbecomefree

    Nice guest post PoF! I do have one to add but I know you can already crush this one. Reason #9 Your significant other is not on-board yet. I’m in a very similar situation as you except for #9. I don’t want to retire until it’s an exciting and positive thing for the whole family. So I forwarded your guest post to my wife as part of the master plan to get her excited about the idea of early freedom in life. She still thinks this must be impossible/risky despite the math (we’re at a 2% SWR right now). Thanks for your help :)

    1. Physician on FIRE

      That’s a USWR, IBFree! Ultra-safe withdrawal rate.

      If you can’t sell her on the safety of an early retirment at this point, you clearly didn’t earn your money in sales. ;)


  23. Of course you should retire early. You have clearly been busting your butt and have probably worked harder than most people do in a lifetime. Getting into med school, getting through med school, working as a resident, paying off debt, and saving like a champ all while working crazy hours and raising a family. Most people would have started earning that big income and decided it was time to reward themselves but you stayed disciplined.

    Best part is if you decide that work gave your life meaning or just made you happier the door doesn’t permanently close on going back.

  24. Wall Street Physician

    Reason #5a: You enjoy your job too much to leave it.

    Reason #9: You have an identity crisis, and can’t imagine yourself not working as a physician.

    Not saying these apply to you, but these are possible reasons why some doctors may choose not to retire early.

  25. The Green Swan

    The boredom factor is one I’ve thought about, but would not have any worries about. It’s great that you have hobbies and things that can keep you buys. And I’m talking fun things, not chores or projects that you have to get done, but don’t really want to do. With that in mind I, of course, say retire early! You’ve put your time in, made good money and now it’s time to enjoy your family more.

  26. Sam, (or PoF)

    Any good thoughts on how a physician or other clinical professional might negotiate a severance either while negotiating the first contract or after starting to work?

  27. hi,
    I’m also a physician about to enter retirement this year (I’m 50) – things I’ve thought about that you must have also as considerations to overly early retirement:

    1) social security benefits beginning at age 70.5 should be considered. I know you shouldn’t assume you’ll get this, but it will probably be there, because if it isn’t, 80% of Americans would be impoverished without it and there would be rioting in the streets etc. Remember that social security calculates benefits based on 35 years of AIME on only the max amount yearly allowed (only $127,200 for 2017). So if you retire at age 41, and if you’ve only worked say 11 years of contributions to SS, that’ll work out to something like only $3500/yr that you’ve contributed over 35 yrs (24 “$0” year contributions are a bitch to average up). So you’ll get very little social security benefits.

    2) Obamacare is unreliable, and you won’t qualify for medicare til age 65. The premiums for my state skyrocketed in the past year from about $650 for my wife and me, to $1,560 for this year. I guess we’ll have to pay it or go without. Going without could be catastrophic if we got in a car accident, ended up in a coma in an ICU etc – you should know very well the $200,000+ potential hospital bills for such an occurrence for the uninsured yet wealthy people. I can foresee how these premiums could keep going up until some breakpoint is reached – who knows where it would be – could it be $2k-$3k/month?! If so this could really take a bite out of your monthly expenses.

    3) Travel hopes: A trip to the Far East, New Zealand, Europe, Patagonia etc. As you know to do it well – either for more than 2 weeks, or with delightful accommodations, can easily cost $12k for a couple. In order to do such a trip yearly or every other year, you’d want to have this amount to spend.

    4)kids education/college expenses are a crapshoot. Currently a decent flagship public school might be $20k/year, so 100k per child seems decent, but a private college is easily $70k/yr, or about $280k for 4 years. Law school would be about $100k/yr x 3 years, medical school $100k/yr x 4 years, grad school for masters or PhD $200k – who knows how much. Surely you could ask them to consider various scholarships, ROTC, or loans, but when the crap hits the fan, it can be difficult to turn down your kids’ begging for money for education.

    5)personal/family tragedies can’t be planned for, but your retirement should be kept strictly secretive. Once word gets out that you’re retired, questions will come up like how much money you’ve saved. Don’t be surprised to find your closest family and friends hoping to plunder your nest egg. It can be difficult to refuse a small loan of 5k-20k to one’s struggling siblings, parents, closest friends, etc.

    6) Federal and state taxes are taken out of 401k, 403b, 457b accounts, so you will get to keep only about 80% of these amounts, assuming you keep your withdrawals below ~$75k and your state taxes are low. So when you take out $60k yearly, you only pocket 48k which equates to 4k/month to live on. Not bad, but perhaps not a luxurious lifestyle. If you retire at age 41 with 2.75M, you have about 45 years of expenses assuming you keep to this budget and your funds +/- at about even over that time (conservative projection is wise). Will you live much beyond 86? Perhaps unlikely, but with very little social security benefits, you’ll being gasping for air.

  28. Freedom is worth it, but I wonder what our healthcare system needs to do to ensure we lose fewer talented, compassionate professionals. You can’t fix it yourself, obviously, and have no duty to. I just wonder how we could give you a better life while still being able to use your skills.

  29. Great summary! I’ve always wondered how feasible it really is for a doctor to be able to reach that scenario in such a short amount of time. You’d have to really play yours cards right in picking the right specialty and finishing “early” in your training. I finished my fellowship at age 32, for instance.

    Most doctors I know (myself included), start their first real jobs with some amount of debt that may take a few years to eliminate. After that, there are often situations that might even limit earning potential such as entering a job that doesn’t have good earning potential and having to move/leave.

  30. Millennial Money

    PoF is the man! FYI – One of my best friends is an ER doc and he says that all anesthesiologists are crazy, but the most fun people to hang out with.

    I think you should negotiate a 1 year sabbatical with your employer and test it out. Commit to coming back in exactly 1 year or giving them at least 3 months notice if you aren’t coming back. Once that 401k is fully vested then you can really call the shots! Seriously though, test it out. Take some extended time off and see how it feels. You can always get back into the game. Who knows, you might miss it.

  31. Good article PoF. I am a 33 yo Interventional Radiologist at the early stage of my career, 3 yr post fellowship. I would be interested in an article outlining your path to your current financial state in some detail and your thought process behind your major financial decisions.

  32. I’d think about working part time before full on retirement. With how many hours you’re used to working, there’s a lot of time to fill gaps with….either way you’re WINNING at life!

  33. Living Returns

    Go for it! Thanks for the thoughtful article. Worst case, you could plug back in for a while if you decide it’s needed. Unlike some other professions, your skills will always be in demand for a relatively good time ROI. BTW, I laughed at #3 – my mom used to say that only boring people get bored. :-)

  34. What about the good of the work you do? I don’t mean that you are obligated to help people, but what kind of life do you lead if the purpose of getting up is to keep your body healthy and/or enrich your mind? Those are worth while pursuits, but they are totally self centered. I personally don’t see them as a goal in themselves, but by making myself better I make my world better, but only if I turn around and apply them, and myself, to service. Every time I think of being FIRE I think about the fact that I actually believe in the purpose of my job. I wouldn’t do it without being paid, but I don’t do it JUST BECAUSE I’m being paid.

    I’m not saying that you have to work 80 hour weeks or put yourself through a lot of pain for it, but so much of the FIRE community is so focused on not being bound to work that the value and good of work seems to get lost in the shuffle. I have known a lot of people who have retired and have been shocked at how much they actually believed in the cause of their work and travel/leisure/self centered pursuits leave them empty.

  35. I’m not implying anything when I say the doctors and specialists I’ve questioned give me the same answer always to my question. I ask, “Now that you are a doctor (and not a student) how do you want to spend the next 10 yrs after working hours?” I don’t get it, but they always answer, “My house, family, buying things for my home.” “Don’t you want to focus on your career?” “No.”

    Now no one loves throwing out old knowledge while reading the new and the rat races more than me but I want to play with my cats and sit on my pouch and do nothing. I do this 3 days a month, but it certainly feels inadequate. It feels the same as not sleeping enough, eating enough, grooming and washing oneself. You can do these things, but your body certainly tells you when you haven’t spent enough time on it.

    I’m pretty sure you have one month vacations each year, taken in 1 week session each quarter. But they could most definitely feel inadequate over the years.

    Imagine really really loving tennis but being limited, by corporate work scheduling constraints and routines, to only 30 days a year to play it. It would feel not enough.

  36. My major concern for retiring early is healthcare costs. I don’t just want the basic healthcare, I want to have instant access to the best doctors, and that often require a tier-1 healthcare plan. I work at a tech company that has the best healthcare plan where I don’t pay anything on a monthly basis for the plan. I am afraid that it will just be way too costly if I retire early. I am still a healthy individual but you really never know.


    I say go for it. You never know what the future will hold, whether you retire now or 20 years down the road. If you can do it now comfortably (which it appears you can), you open yourself up to so many more life experiences. And if something does happen, it sounds like you have contingency plans.

    I absolutely love what I do, but it can be very stressful at times and I very much look forward to the day where I can retire (hopefully 45-50 if all goes according to plan). I don’t believe boredom will ever be an option.

  38. Hi PoF,
    I have one reason that I struggle with that you didn’t mention…..I have 3 kids ages 6, 8 and 10. If I retire now, at age 38, after 15 years working what does that do to their work ethic, understanding of money, etc.

    I worry that my kids will confuse my assets with their income if Dad isn’t working. Or is that a silly worry? It’s hard to see how your 8 year old is going to react to something like that a decade from now.

    I can’t remember how I would have felt about Dad being home when I was that age, but I do remember that in my early 20s I would have thought it was great that my parents saved enough to retire in their 50s. So maybe that’s why sometimes I think I should work til the kids are out of the house, even though I could retire much earlier.


  39. Fiscally Free

    I’m with you on pretty much everything, although I don’t think I’m inclined to try and home-school my kid(s). It seems like it would be a lot of work that I can have somebody else do for free (thank you, public schools).
    I think I’ll be happy to do the extended trips in the summer and stay closer to home during the school year.

  40. I wouldn’t mind going part time and picking up locums shifts every so often for a few years until I was really sure I was done with medicine.

    I my experience, it’s the doc’s in our demographic, 10 years out with a lot of mileage left on their careers that actually want to retire the most.

    I think a lot of is due to all the sacrifices that were made along the way without taking/or having an opportunity to take all the trips, etc.. you want to take. Another commonality is having young children at home and realizing that those years pass quickly.

    On the flip side, I know quite a few “retired” docs who are in their early 60s that come to work because their kids are out of the house, they fished with their buddies all weekend or the week before and really didn’t have much else that they rather do this week than use the skills they built over a 30 year career. There is some satisfaction in doing a job well, in a way that only you can do it.

    I vote for taking some time off but I would keep the options open for going back in a few years when a lot of those bucket list items have been checked and you are ready to get up from the keyboard for a while.

    1. And a more minor point: medical school and residency are subsidized (whether public or private schools), so those of us who were fortunate enough to benefit from that have a certain responsibility to work long enough to enable society to get a good ROI. Not that that determines whether one continues working or not, but it is a consideration.

      Mostly, however, I enjoy doing my job well, which is what 25 years of clinical experience brings. So count me among the physicians who aren’t retiring yet.

  41. The only thing better than reading about someone preparing to take the FIRE plunge, is reading about someone who’s already made it.

    Congrats on reaching your numbers! I’m looking forward to hearing more about life on the other side.

  42. Smart Provisions

    Pretty hard to convince you when you have such great reasons to not retire early, PoF.

    It’s also great that you can add some more padding to your funds and possibly have to withdraw less than 4%. Both options are great and already having enough allows you to make such flexible choices.

  43. Dollar Habits

    I really enjoyed reading your rebuttals, PoF. Thank you for walking us through your early retirement thought process.

    I have a long journey ahead of me before reaching FIRE, but the absolute number one driving factor for me is to spend more time with my boys. Thankfully, they are still quite young, but I definitely envy the early retired bloggers with young children. Time passes by far too quickly and they will only be little for a short while.

    I look forward to reading about your adventures and travels after you retire.


  44. Jack Catchem

    Thanks for the inspiration, Physician!

    I would love to emulate, but will need to remain patient for now. In your shoes I would pull the cord too. Recently I lost a former partner and supervisor in the same week due to cancer. Their ages were different, but they were both at work until a few weeks prior. Swift and unexpected.

    If you have the time, TAKE THE TIME! It’s a precious resource. My optimistic retirement still won’t happen until early 50s.

    Still, I have spent a lot of time considering my “conditions for retirement.” I was amused to see they were somewhat similar! (1. Paid off house. 2. 1-2 million in savings 3. Full active income replacement through passive income)

    My target is 57 (Earliest point my law enforcement pension would kick in) but if I can do better with saving and investment, I’ll let you know. Thanks again for the inspiration, I love your tactics!

  45. My ophthalmologist hubby is in total agreement with you. He loved his work but worked to live and not the other way around. He worked part time the last nine years of his career and then completely retired in 2008. Yeah…that 2008… when the stock market actually DID crash! Fortunately we had a stash of cash in a money market account, no debts and I was still happily working full time as an RN. Those factors allowed us to just leave the investments alone and most eventually recovered.

    He is busier in retirement than he was when he was working (but in a good way) and he hasn’t had a moment of regret. Follow your own path…no one can decide for you and it sounds like you’ve thought of all contingencies.

  46. I will get burned for this one….work long enough to instill a good work ethic in your children. I believe it is done by the children seeing the parents work. You can tell them all day long, but until they realize how hard mom and dad work for the things they have…they will not understand it.

    I do not believe it can be taught…the child must see it.

    Note: Do this if you expect your children to go to college and work for a living and succeed like you did. If you are going to set them up for life financially, then it will not matter.

    1. I disagree with this argument. My wife and I have been coasting the last 5 years or so. My daughter who is 16 has a terrific work ethic. It is very easy to teach. If she wants something she has to work and buy it herself. The bank of mom and dad is there for food, shelter, and education. Not Phones, cars, or lattes. The gratification she receives for working for her stuff is very rewarding to her.

      I believe kids are far smarter than we give them credit for. Like you, I don’t think telling them to work hard works, but if you don’t give them a choice they learn very quick.

      Thanks, Bill

      1. Bill,

        So your daughter was 11 and you were still working. It might have something to do with it. She might have seen your hard work, success, and it clicked. His children seem younger. Maybe 6 and 8?

        I have seen too many successful people have kids that struggle and are still living off mom and dad at 40+. Ridiculous is my mind, but it happens.

        I think that could strain the best of early retirement budgets.

        Kudos to you and your wife for raising a good young woman. Society needs them.

  47. Have to say I’m a bit envious- I’m lucky in that I love the clinical medicine that I do, but work crazy hours, and have not been nearly as financially disciplined until the last few years. I’m in my late forties, and expect to ‘retire’ in the next 10 years.

    The one caveat I have to your counterargument regarding being at the ‘prime of your career’, is that rather than viewing it as purely a societal financial obligation (quite depressing it that’s all it is), is that many view it as both a profession and a calling to serve society.

    Perhaps some non-financial clinical fulfillment can be found at your own pace and leisure with worthy travel endeavors such as being an anesthesiologist for Operation Smile or other worthy causes to provide care for those that otherwise wouldn’t have access.

    Obviously a personal decision, but I always find it sad when someone of immense talent and education walks away from the table. The VAST majority of folks could never be an anesthesiologist- not only the intelligence required, but the diligence and the compassion required are rare qualities indeed that are not at all easily replaced in society.

    A personal decision, and God-speed with whatever you decide.

  48. Chris Minasian

    I say retire early. We are looking at colleges for our 18 year old….it is true what everyone says- IT GOES WAY TOO FAST. Enjoy them now while they want you around…you can always go back to medicine down the road if need be. You should be commended on your savings! Most doctors we know spend a lot of money and have no clue how to budget. Good luck and enjoy your kids!

    1. Physician on FIRE

      Thanks, Chris!

      I hear that all the time. And I work with quite a few nurses who are grandparents — I can’t imagine having a job that interferes with spoiling grandkids!


  49. Overall, I think you’re set up fairly nicely and can continue to use the next year of working to contemplate more extensively. But, since you asked, I’ll attempt to shoot some holes in this in an effort to help you reach a new level of confidence in your decision:

    I’d say this list is great… if you were single. But, what does your wife think? There are an awful lot of “I”‘s in your article and not many “We”‘s. I don’t doubt you had many discussions with your wife on this topic, but it’s not apparent in this article. One of the most important talks I had before choosing early retirement was with my girlfriend. It’s important our loved ones understand the breadth and depth of such a life decision and what that means to their standard of living going forward and the reality of how it could impact their life goals and dreams. Some things you may or may not already discussed with her… What are your wife’s life goals? Is she as excited about extensive travel and scrapping your primary home as much as you? Does she love her job and want to continue it? If so, how would that impact your dreams of travel? Do you cohabitate well enough to be in each-others presence for potentially an extra 80 hours you would have been at work each week? So on and so forth… Secondly, I may have missed it, but I’m not clear how many children (read: financial liability) you have. Even with $3 million, if you have multiple children with college aspirations (read: more financial liability), you may want to include a plan on how both your wife and you plan to address it should money become tight.

    Best of luck!

    1. Physician on FIRE

      Thanks for playing Matt, and you’re right, I asked for it!

      Fortunately, we (yes, WE) started talking about early retirement as a couple about a year before I launched my site, so about two years ago. She trusts me and the math, and proofreads most of my posts. She’s definitely on board.

      As far as career aspirations, I’ve thought about writing a snarky post about how my wife miraculously was able to retire in her mid-twenties, i.e. when she married me! She has a masters degree, has done a little bit of very part-time teaching, but has been a “stay-at-home” Mom who’s constantly on the go with our two boys (ages 6 & 8 now).

      As far as college goes, we plan to have $100,000 in each of two 529 plans with enough time for the balances to double if we can get 8% to 9% returns (using Rule of 72).

      Thanks for the comments!

  50. I’m going to combine comments from another previous post, When Forsaking Stealth Wealth Is OK.

    It sounds as if you can check many of these off as well, however even though my checklist looks pretty good, my major concerns are similar to yours.

    #1. Age… you should go for it, if you can overcome the other issues.
    #2. Boredom. Yea, I too manage to always stay busy, but I’m more worried about self-worth busy; not piddling busy.

    But a larger concern is the Health Care wild card. Right now, while working, insurance costs are minimal, $200 / month for two (my wife & I). Yea, I’ve got a high deductible plan, but it is still wildly better than what I can find on the open market. I’d probably be looking at $800-1,000 / month, with a $5,000 deductible, for semi-lousy coverage. And no dental / eye. So big differences in coverage.

    So I’d say you ought to go for it!
    Financially it looks good for you & I. I have a hard time pulling the trigger and ‘retiring’ similar to you (yes we have serious age differences, but reasons are similar). I don’t work for the money any longer and that alone has been a nice feeling. But yes it is a very scary endeavor, never knowing what the future may hold for us.

    Forsaking Stealth Wealth is allowed if you qualify for at least THREE of the following conditions.
    1) When you hit age 40.
    Check #1; Yep, way past that number – over 60.

    2) When your net worth equals 20X your gross income or more.
    Check #2… but you don’t specify… W2 income, or ALL income? With Investing income + W2 income, still exceed it by 25X

    3) If you’ve owned property for at least 15 years.
    Check # 3; house has been paid for five years; Owned a farm (sold) before that

    4) Your house value is at least 20X your car’s value.
    Flunk.. .sorry, I like a nice car. House is probably closer to 5-7 times; but both are paid for, so who cares?

    5) You have at least one additional income source equal to at least 30% of your day job income.
    Check # 4? Back to investment income — If I can add dividends & Bond Interest, I’m probably closer to a match, equal to my W2 income.

    6) You’ve consistently saved 50% or more of your income for 10 years.
    Another flunk. But I did have my 401k contribution at 20% for quite a while

    7) You have a profitable business that earns at least 2X the median income of your city.
    Flunk again – no business

    8) Your kids are independent adults.
    Check # 5, both are independent professionals (Pharmacist & Engineer)

    9) You’ve got a pension that covers all your living costs.
    Flunk — who has a Pension these days? 401k, that I’ve got (exported out of Company management)

    10) You got a full-ride to college.
    Nope, way too late for that

    11) You’ve successfully not told anybody how much you truly make for 10 years.
    Check # 6, except for my wife and tax accountant, Zero, no one, nobody….

    12) You pay more than $150,000 a year in total taxes.
    Nope (call me Donald?) Nowhere close

    13) You’re donating at least 15% of your gross income to charity.
    Possible…. compared to W2 income, I’m over 10% for sure. Compared to all income, no way!

    1. Physician on FIRE

      I hit 5 of the 13 in the Forsaking Stealth Wealth post. I guess I can flaunt it now, but I’m happy with my stealthy ways for the time being (

      Health Care is indeed the biggest questionmark when we look at our potential retirement budget. I’m hoping we’ll have some clarity in the next 18 months, which is our current timeline.


  51. OlderAndWiser

    OK, I’ll be the Debbie Downer and weigh in on #8. These scenarios are based either on ones that I’m facing or people I know have faced.
    Are you absolutely certain that your parents or your wife’s parents won’t require substantial financial assistance in the future?
    Are you certain that you won’t be in an accident that leaves you alive but with serious injuries, unable to work but requiring expensive specialized care for the rest of your life? Are you certain that such a tragedy won’t befall one of your loved ones?
    Are you certain one of your grandchildren won’t be born with special needs where you will want to provide significant funds to make their life and the life of their parents (your children) easier?

    If it were all about you, my answer would be different, but it’s not all about you.

    I don’t know how physicians fare in terms of age discrimination, but for a lot of us once we pass 50 it gets harder to get hired. I would personally opt to keep working a bit longer to build up more of a “what if” cushion.

    Is it an option to enjoy some of the benefits of early retirement (pursuing new interests, extensive travel) while continuing to work?

    1. Physician on FIRE

      You raise a lot of good “what-ifs.” Well, they’re all bad things, actually, but good to consider.

      I can’t be absolutely certain of anything, including whether or not I’ll wake up tomorrow. But the odds are in my favor, and I feel that way about most of the scenarios. Nevertheless, it’s good to have redundancies and contingencies, and I’ve factored some in to our plans.

      I am working two to three One More Years (, will have a low withdrawal rate if we maintain our current spending of ~ $70,000 a year, and like Sam, will be supplementing retirement income with online income.

      Thank you for your thoughts,

      1. Congrats Pof!
        Wondering if you have factored life insurance into your analysis? Seems like a basic term plan could offer an additional security blanket for the big what ifs. My personal FIRE plan includes allocating $200/month for a basic term policies. For me, the peace of mind it more than worth the expense. I believe there can be policy limits for non-working spouses… perhaps something to check out prior to jumping ship. Cheers!

        1. Physician on FIRE

          I had a term life policy, but dropped it once I became financially independent. I consider my family to be self-insured at this point.

          Umbrella insurance is a good product to cover many what-ifs that don’t involve death or disability (i.e. lawsuits).


      2. I had two of those “what if”. Injuries to myself, recovery taking years and illiness/legal issues for a family member. $100,000 – $200,000 for years took its toll on my 2.5M stash. Don’ think it won’t happen to you, and You have 2 small children to THINK OF. 2.5M is not enough. Keep your life & disability insurance until your children are grown. Crazy to drop them until then. Also look into long-term care policies for you & wife. You can no longer get a one time payment policy as I did at 133k with 5% inflation, unlimited duration (after I recovered). But there maybe 10yr term policies still available.

  52. David Michael

    I’ve retired a number of times starting around 48. Took time off, usually travelled to some exotic part of the world, by bicycle, foot, or kayak, and then returned home to start over again. For those of us who have a small business with employees, the work can be stressful by the nature of having to feed a number of families, keep the company afloat, and oversee the well being of the staff as well as raising your own kids. That was totally different from my initial career of community college teaching where I had a support staff that took care of me and I just had to show up and do an exceptional job of teaching and helping my students. I have continued to work off and on even at my age of 80, now more with physical jobs like for seasonal work. For the past two years, I have been a wine ambassador where I work for a wonderful winery in Oregon and set up wine tasting demos in Costco and Safeway.

    I have a friend who is a doctor, as well as two children who are MDs. One is a retired orthopedic surgeon, who works intermittently on weekends for three days once a month on call. He makes $7500 a long weekend. Yep! $7500 a weekend. My daughter is a wonderful physician, but she already looks forward to more freedom, 15 years from now. Yet, another doctor friend of ours, retired very early, in his early 50’s, was a neighbor in our gated community, traveled, got hooked on wine, and really didn’t seem all that happy. He just wanted to escape Arkansas where he worked.

    I do know this about retirement, it’s important to listen to your body’s messages as you get older. My business was very stressful and it seemed I could never get away from it. I loved it and hated parts of it but I was paid to travel and photograph anywhere in the world. Who wouldn’t love that. My downfall was management which was incredibly difficult for me. In the end after 20 years I came down with cancer which I believe was caused by stress. Fortunately, I was in Stage One and was easily cured with radiation. I sold the business and have been healthy ever since over 23 years ago, with a wonderful supportive and loving wife.

    We recently spent 12 years on the road traveling around the world, teaching ESL and RVing for the most part. Loved it…every minute of it. So…listen to your heart and body, you will know when it is time. If not, your body will tell you in not so subtle ways.

    1. Physician on FIRE

      Wine ambassador — that sounds like a great job. Do they hire beer ambassadors?

      You’re clearly very familiar with physicians. $7500 for a weekend is a pretty sweet gig. I’ve worked quite a bit as a locum tenens physician, but I’ve never been paid that well as an anesthesiologist. I’ve thought about working just a little bit, but when I do the math (, it makes more sense to me to work one more year full-time rather than just occasionally over a number of years.

      Keep living the good life, David Michael!


    2. Steve Adams

      Thanks for sharing that David. My business isn’t really stressful and the kids are soon out of the house so I’m not sure I need to retire more. 35 hrs a week doing interesting challenging things at my business isn’t bad.

  53. DadsDollarsandDebts

    Ah early retirement. None of us should feel obligated to work if we can afford it. I personally agree with your reasons and think it is okay to say no to doctoring (as I discussed here . My dreams include taking my son out of middle school. I figure that is 9 years away (about the time I am vested in my pension). So from now to then it is debt pay down and money saving mode. I will be 14 years in my career, but that is still respectable.

    Good work PoF and keep it up.

    – EJ

    1. Physician on FIRE

      I wish you all the best in chasing that dream, DD&D!

      And yes, having the ability to FIRE (and a pension!) is respectable.


  54. Hey Doc! Great post! Since I’ll be retiring early at the same time you are, would you mind if I jumped in that awesome pool at your kids’ new school?

    We’ll see you “out there” next summer.

    Nope, no good reasons not to retire early. None at all. I’m in!

    1. Physician on FIRE

      Hop in! The water’s warm.

      I took that picture in Oahu on our first trip to Hawaii a few years ago. Sam could probably tell you exactly where that is.

      We went back last year for a conference in Maui, and I’ve already requested time off in early 2018 to attend a similar conference on the Big Island.

      On one hand, I’ll miss the free CME travel when I retire, but I’ll love having a lot more time to spend there and everywhere. Slow travel is where it’s at.

      Cheers! And I’ll see you on the open road!

  55. Erik @ The Mastermind Within

    Great post Physician On Fire, you really are on FIRE :)

    To your point, you are in your early 40’s, have been working your rear end off for 12 years, and have a sizeable nest egg. Why not retire?

    Financial success and freedom is about having options to do what you want with your time and money. If you want to keep working, then you can work. If you want to travel, then you can travel. There are many possibilities once you have reached FI!

  56. Go Finance Yourself!

    I say go for it! As you stated many times in your post, you would just be working for more money you don’t need. I don’t buy any of the sky could fall reasons either. This could happen no matter what age you retire at.

    The biggest reason in favor of retiring, IMO, is you have a plan for what you want to do in retirement. I wouldn’t trade those experiences for working another year.

  57. I can think of only one. A strong bequest motive. I know this is frowned upon in the FIRE world. But it is what drives me. To each their own. I will continue to follow your blog with interest, I’ll just join you a decade later at the beach!

    1. Physician on FIRE

      I don’t frown upon bequests at all. I’ll have the quarter million in the donor advised fund before moving on to the next chapter. And the chapter after that? I could consider bequesting my body. I benefited from someone else having done the same for my medical school.

      Also, retiring with more than Enough and a low withdrawal rate increases the likelihood that our net worth will continue to grow in retirement. Philanthropy may be a bigger part of our plans sometime after traditional retirement age.


  58. Do I still think you should retire early? Hmmm…call me crazy, but I think you might be asking the wrong audience :) Of course you should retire early! You can NEVER replace the dinners you miss with your boys. And who could ask for a better way to spend a year or two than traveling around in a motor home and giving them the world as their classroom! What’s the worst that can happen? You decide you’re not enjoying early retirement as much as you thought you would enjoy it? In which case, you go back to work. I’m pretty sure your medical degree and experience will still be quite valuable.

    Go For It!

    Mrs. Mad Money Monster

    1. Physician on FIRE

      Mad$M says I can. I love it!

      The worst thing that can happen? It would be unfortunate if we left one of our boys behind at the Grand Canyon and he became the next Joe Dirt. Or if the motorhome were to fall into the Grand Canyon. I’d better be extra careful when we visit the Grand Canyon.


  59. Financial Panther

    Reason #3 is the part that has Ms. FP (Soon to be Mrs., or should I say Dr.) hesitant about the retire early movement. Everything we’ve read suggests a dentist shortage looming in the future, and for her personally, she’d hate to take herself out the market in what would probably be the prime of her career.

    Of course, it’s not fair for anyone to say that docs or any medical professional has some obligation to keep working. And there are many more ways to help people beyond doing medicine for money.

    Question for you PoF. It seems like medical docs tend to work for someone else more often, such as in a hospital or clinic setting. Do you think you’d feel differently if you were running your own doctor business (my doctor lingo is not so good, fyi).

    One thing I noticed that makes dentistry slightly different compared to other medical specialties is that most dentists are also running their own business. I’ve always thought that a lot of people are more apt to stick it out when it’s their own business.

    1. Physician on FIRE

      A looming dentist shortage might be a very good thing for Mrs. FP. I was reading recently about declining salaries in the field.

      My father and godfather shared a dental practice for many years, and were partners with my grandfather before he retired (not early). Being your own boss can be great, but of course there are additional burdens when you’re a business owner.

      You are onto something, though. There is a big movement towards physicians being employed by hospitals and venture capitalists are buying up group practices. A loss of autonomy has been identified as a key driver in burnout, and surveys show rapidly rising burnout among doctors.

      As an anesthesiologist, there’s only so much autonomy you can attain. Even if you own the anesthesia practice, you’ve still got to be where you’re need when you’re needed. I wish I could dictate that pregnant woman only hurt really bad between noon and 3 p.m., but in reality, it seems to happen most often between midnight and 3 a.m. C’est la vie.


      1. Biglaw Investor

        Venture capitalists are buying up group practices you say? Why, I might know a thing or two about that. In my experience, it’s not really VC money – it’s the PE guys that are ready to lend a helping hand to society’s doctors that just want to focus on practicing medicine.

        But behind every good PE fund that’s holding a can of gasoline there seems to be at least one doctor with a match in hand. So while you COULD be one of the employed doctors, you could also become the management doctors that are running the show and looking for his first $20 million payday.

        Of course I’m not suggesting that for you PoF. You should retire early.

      2. What do you think is the reason why most labors happen late into the night?

        Also, what is your opinion on introducing the epidural drug to a baby and any long-term or short-term side effects?

        Finally, I know in Hong Kong in Brazil, C-sections are more popular and the majority way of delivering. Do you have any thoughts on just setting up an appointment for a C-section, instead of trying for a natural birth, spending hours, feeling, and then going for a C-section anyway?


        1. Actually, the lunar birth cycle and night birth myth are not ‘born’ out by evidence. Lots of studies looking at epidural drug exposure to babies with no major effects noted. In the past, large epidural narcotic doses caused some sedation. We don’t use those doses anymore. In fact, drugs are barely detectable systemically in the maternal circulation much less in the baby. Significantly less than if given IV.

          Currently there is alot of concern about the long term effects of general anesthesia on the pediatric brain. However, there is no clear evidence that there is a problem despite a recent FDA alert. The real problem is that most operations on kids tend not to be elective. Really, we will be looking at different types and benefit vs. harm rather than eliminating anesthesia for kiddos. But I digress, is the epidural safe? Yes! Are there risks? Yes! Are there benefits? Yes! probably more so for protracted labor (and not just pain relief). Talk to your anesthesiologist and read to learn more.

          The second question, C-sections….ugh. A recent article found that we have already started to alter human evolution (narrow pelvis) by our high rate of C-section. Aside from the genetic makeup of the specie, babies need the ‘trauma’ of coming through the birth canal to ‘wake up’ and get going. Without it they often need more resuscitation than a vaginal birth.

          I don’t think anyone can argue that a routine non-medically indicated C-section is a good idea. Not now and certainly not for the future of the species. Can you imagine a specie dependent on surgical delivery of their offspring lasting very long?

          Highly caffeinated anesthesiologist, part-time because I love it but don’t need it! FIRE rocks…..

          1. Physician on FIRE

            Very well said — I have little to add. The fact that very little medication gets to the baby is one of the biggest advantages of an epidural.

            As far as them happening at night, they happen at all hours, but it’s the overnight ones that come after a long days’ work that tend to leave a bigger imprint on the memory.

            A C-Section results in a longer and more painful recovery for mom, and the baby benefits from exposure to microbes in the vaginal flora when being born the old-fashioned way. I would not recommend a purely elective C-Section to anyone.


            p.s. I’ll bet I’m the first person to mention vaginal flora on the pages of Financial Samurai.

          2. Thanks for the color! I’ll be sure to pass this on to my wife and two other women wondering about C-section versus vaginal delivery.

            I love how you talked about having the baby struggle to get out to work itself up. That’s kind a like life in general! All the sweeter the victory the greater the struggle.

            Andy Dufrane from the Shawshank redemption is what I always think about.

  60. Ultimately early retirement is a very personal decision. Some people actually enjoy work. Some people don’t. That’s ultimately a choice you have to make. If I met my personal retirement number my second action, after my happy dance, would be to ask my boss to work part time from home. Then I’d do the things I want and work from there. I enjoy work so I’d be happy. But the point is the cash gives options, not the other way around. Options bring happiness depending on what you do with them. So saving to a point where you could retire should be in everyone’s ambitions, regardless of whether they actually will.

    1. Physician On FIRE

      Very true, FTF.

      “Retire” is probably not the best word. My plan is to retire from clinical medicine, but I don’t know that I’ll be retired in the traditional sense. I’ll still be writing, for example.

      Look at Sam. He’s “retired” (except for the new tennis coaching gig) but is busy sharing his views on finance and generating income.


  61. $1,500,00 between a taxable account and 457(b) <—- missing a zero!

    Sorry about that. Killer article! That's about where I am yes I could retire but putting in 1-2 more years will probably help immensely in the long run. A little savings means less ramen and more stroganoff for dinner every night.

    1. Physician on FIRE

      Yes! I’ll bet Sam can fix that, but the goal is $1.5 million there.

      And thank you also for the kind words. I’m guilty of One More Year syndrome a couple times over, but it allows me to build up the Donor Advised Fund, firm up future plans to explore this world, and eat more stroganoff (with filet mignon).


  62. Max Your Freedom

    Hi PoF! I’m having a really hard time with any counter-arguments. You seem to have covered all your bases. Your last point on always being able to backtrack and go back to work is an important one. Nothing is ever set in stone. I’m not too far behind you on early retirement, and I have to admit that I do get some anxiety when I think about walking away. It does feel like skydiving a bit, you’re at the plane exit door, and once you leap, who knows ?!

    1. Physician On FIRE

      Thank you, Max!

      I’ve got my parachute, my backup chute, and I know the way down. Always good to have redundancies and contingencies.


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