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A Fifth Physician Revisited: The $10 Million Dream

A young Dr. Findley, the inexplicable fifth of our four physicians, once dreamed of having $10 million. He wasn’t sure why. It may have been the insurance agent who presented to his residency class, showing them how they had all won the career lottery. After all, 40 years of a $250,000 salary is $10 million in income.

A few years later, as Dr. F was mowing his lawn and allowing his mind to wander. He realized he was on track to have $2 million by age 40, $5 million by 50, and $10 million by 60. The Rule of 72 and a crude understanding of his savings rate (calculate yours) allowed him to make these calculations without breaking stride. He might have left a strip or two of grass in his wake amidst the excitement, but he went back and covered his tracks.


Why $10 Million?


It’s a big, round number. We like big numbers; we like round numbers. $10 million is probably the biggest, roundest number that someone like Dr. F could expect to achieve over the course of a typical physician’s career.

Dr. F was not alone in his dream. Michael @ Financially Alert has publicly stated a $10 million net worth as a goal. So has Dominic, the Gen Y Finance Guy. Dr. F was in good company.

You’ll have to ask Michael and Dominic what their plans are for all that money. Dr. F didn’t have much of plan, and he now knows that $10 million would allow him to spend $300,000 to $400,000 a year at a 3% to 4% withdrawal rate, or about 4 to 5 times as much as he currently spends. Dr. F doesn’t necessarily have a goal of $10 million these days, but he can’t help but wonder what it might take to get there.


dr. f’s future home?

The Path to $10 Million


Let’s math.


Working Full Time


When we met Dr. F, he was financially independent, with retirement assets of $2 million, and contemplating a half time position. With an $80,000 budget, and a $400,000 salary plus match and profit sharing, he was able to invest $18,000 a month. Working half time, his monthly investments were reduced to about $6,000 a month.

How long would it take Dr. F to reach $10 million if he continued to work full time? Dr. F has a spreadsheet for that, looking at the march to millions at a range of returns (presented as CAGR: compound annual growth rate) from 2% to 10%. Dr. F realizes he could have flat or negative returns, but he’s reasonably optimistic that, particularly over the long haul, nominal returns will at least keep up with inflation.



Working full time, Dr. F could be a decamillionaire in 11 [Did somebody say Eleven?] to 24 years with these returns. That is a wide range — he could reach the target in his early fifties or late sixties, depending on returns. Looking at a more modest goal of $5 million, the range is narrower, but quite variable, from 5.4 to 10.5 years.


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Working Half Time


Could Dr. F reach the goal working only half time? Let’s ask a spreadsheet.



The goal remains within reach. In fact, with excellent returns of 10% a year, it would only take a few extra years compared to working full time. On the low end of the returns spectrum, he’s looking at working 44 more years. Not gonna happen. Still, with returns exceeding 6%, $10 million dollars could be had in 14 to 21 years.

Now, $10 million won’t have the same buying power in 14, 21, or 44 years, but we’re more interested in the extra digit than the inflation-adjusted value. Dr. F is never going to spend it, anyway. He’s much more likely to donate a significant portion of it.


Working A Week a Month


Exploring a third possibility, what would happen if Dr. F worked just enough to cover his expenses and neither added to, nor depleted his retirement funds indefinitely? Having read PoF’s post on working 12 weeks a year, he is interested in the ramifications of this scenario.



Letting that money ride, it’s out of reach in this lifetime at a 2% return, but very much a possibility at typical historical equity returns in the range of 6% to 10%. Even with 4% returns, he could see that eighth digit in his early eighties if he is able to keep his hands off the growing nest egg.

While he may not continue working as a physician all those years, he could engage in other activities to cover his living expenses. His wife could always return to work (are you reading this, dear?), he could engage in some freelance writing, or maybe he could start a successful blog of his own.


Retiring Today


Do you have time for one last scenario? Great!

Suppose Dr. F has had just about enough and wants to retire tomorrow, at which point he’ll start drawing $6,000 per month for a $72,000 annual budget. This is a slight downgrade from the $80,000 he spent while gainfully employed, but he saves on the cost of commuting and work Crocs. He and his family are willing to be a bit more frugal to spend more time with him.

Note that these calculations assume a constant return, negating the sequence of returns risk, which isn’t entirely realistic, but are as realistic as I can get with my Excel skills.



The numbers have shifted a bit, but once again, the $10 million dream remains intact. Granted, it will take longer, and the value of that target will be worth less in real terms as time goes on, but nonetheless, the dream is alive as long as he remains alive for another 20 to 40 years and earns 6% to 10% on his money.

Earning an additional 2% on his money essentially wipes out the $6,000 a month he is drawing from the portfolio, as compared to the previous scenario in which the money was left untouched. His nest egg would continue to grow with a 4% constant return, because his initial draw is $72,000 / $2,000,000 = 3.6%. If we had started with a 4% withdrawal rate, he would have to earn more with his investments to outpace the spend rate.


Calculate Your Own Dream


Plug your own numbers in to replace any of the numbers in gray, including monthly contribution, goals, and percentages to learn how long it might take you to reach your dream number. Plug in your current assets for $0 if you’re not starting from scratch.



To download this calculator in one file with all other calculators I’ve created, subscribe to receive new post notifications and a quarterly progress note via this link. You can unsubscribe at any time.

What I Learned From the $10 Million Dream


Personally, I don’t have a goal of being worth $10 million someday. If I had to choose between having $10 million and not having $10 million, I’d opt for the former, but I know what Enough is for us, and it’s a lot less than that.

I did find it fascinating, albeit not entirely surprising, that the ability to reach such a number will depend less on income going forward, and more on investment returns.

To make easier side-by-side comparisons, I’ll bring the four scenarios presented together.



If the goal were $5 million, it could be achieved in 10.5 full time years with 2% returns, or 10.5 half time years with a little better than 6% returns. Increasing returns by just over 4% makes up for working only half time.

To get to $7 million working full time with 2% returns would take 16.5 years. Quitting work today and drawing $6,000 a month from the portfolio while earning 10% on his money, Dr. F reaches $7 million in 16 years.

One more. Earning just enough to cover annual spending, Dr. F will reach $6 million in 13.8 years with 8% returns. If he works half time, investing $6,000 a month, he reaches $6 million in 13.5 years with 6% returns. Again, having established a baseline of $2 million in retirement savings, Dr. F’s future net worth is more dependent on his investment returns than his workload.

You read that right. Having achieved financial independence, by virtue of having $2 million in retirement assets and an annual spend of $80,000, this physician’s future net worth will be influenced more by the performance of his investments than the contributions from any further work.

It is, of course, true that he will end up with more money or reach a certain goal more quickly if he is working. Returns will be what they will be, whether he is working or not. Nevertheless, the whims of the markets will have a more profound effect on his future riches than his ability to earn money from this point on.

Armed with this amazing nugget of truth, Dr. F feels more empowered to make a bold decision sooner than later.


[Post-publication update: While I’m not Dr. F, I can identify with the situation he found himself in. I decided to start working part-time in the fall of 2017, and it turned out to be a great decision for my family and me.

After August of 2019, I have no plans to work in medicine again, but will leave that door open, just in case.]


Have you reached the point where your investment returns are at least as valuable as the work you do? Has this fact changed your approach to work? Why or why not?



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72 thoughts on “A Fifth Physician Revisited: The $10 Million Dream”

  1. Pingback: How Much Money Does a Doctor Need to Retire? – investingparty.com
  2. Subscribe to get more great content like this, an awesome spreadsheet, and more!
  3. […] A number I’ve seen several times, including in this forum thread at the Student Doctor Network and another on the White Coat Investor Forum is $10 Million. I once had the $10 Million Dream myself. […]

  4. […] A number I’ve seen several times, including in this forum thread at the Student Doctor Network and another on the White Coat Investor Forum is $10 Million. I once had the $10 Million Dream myself. […]

  5. Pingback: Mainstream Media Misses the Mark on the FIRE Movement - The Physician Philosopher
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  7. Enjoyed this article and comments and 10M is my magic number and have a homemade calculator that has me hitting that number in ~2 years although I wonder if I will change the number once I get there as enjoy my job and have a lot of flexibility on work/life balance. Here is a bit about my story


    On a side, love your blog series as one of my favorites along with ESI Money

  8. I made it to a little over 8 million in 25 years. I was very aggressive in saving and investing, plus I started a little low overhead pain practice side by side with my Anesthesia job, which netted another $200K per year that went strait into the market. I was one of the group owners, a distinct advantage. I retired in 2010 but wasn’t mentally ready, so one of my partners and I started another SDSC practice (that retirement job) and I worked another 6 years building that place. it was easy time, no call, no weekends and many short days. I’ve done about 25,000 anesthetics and 20,000 pain blocks in my life, I figure I’ve cared for about a fifth or a sixth of the local population at one time or another in one way or another. I like that concept.

    Careers are more than marking time till you “got enough”. I managed to get travel in all over the world during my practice life and didn’t put it off. I learned a lot, made a ton of great friends all over the place along the way.

    So now I’m about as traveled as I want to be, having sampled KFC in Shanghai and McDonald’s in Hong Kong (just for the kick of it). Don’t check out too early, unless you just can’t stand it. Spend “some” along the way and enjoy the fruit, and fill up the bucket, and in the meantime let compounding do the trick for you. Be entrepreneurial. If you have other skill sets engage them. I trained as an electrical engineer and got hooked up with a communications company out in Austin. They make something called Software Defined Radio. They build em and send em to me to try and break em so they can build em better. It’s a fascinating technology and the engineers involved are some of the smartest good old boys I ever met in my life… I started a couple blogs… In other words there is PLENTY of trouble to get into along the way. Life is a gas so Gasem! People seem so hell bent on getting out of medicine, like it’s some badge of honor to retire by 40. I find retirement at 40 to be a badge of poor self actualization. That mid 6 figure job gives you a lot of options and opportunity.


  9. Being completely honest – I don’t understand why anyone would wait until their 50s to retire when they had the option to retire earlier. Health is not guaranteed and even someone who is relatively healthy has no idea what problems are lurking around the corner as they get older.

    • I appreciate your honesty, Julie!

      And I agree with that sentiment — working an extra decade or more for money that you almost certainly won’t need or spend is not a wise use of some of the best years of your life, unless you absolutely love your job (which I don’t).

      As a physician, I see all sorts of ailments and injuries befall people in their prime. I could have 40 years of good health ahead of me, but not a single day is guaranteed.


  10. Oh, so your wondering what I plan to do with the $10M???

    I thought no one would ask, good thing you can always count on your own curiosity 🙂

    First, thanks for the mention. Second, thanks for the fun post.

    Of course we don’t need $10M to reach financial independence. Our current burn rate is about $115,000 per year and has been there for the past couple years. So, we seemed to have hit a sweet spot. I think after another year or two that spending will decrease to around $100,000 after we finish making the remaining improvements to our house.

    Then, by 2021 or sooner (when we plan to have our mortgage paid off), we should see another decrease to around $90,000/year.

    We could spend more money if we chose too, but right now it is all we can manage based on how much time we are putting into our careers, and will likely be the upper limit for at least the next 2-5 years. But we do plan to ramp up our spending in certain areas in the coming years (especially in the area of travel). We like luxury, but tend to splurge very selectively.

    Once we hit certain milestones, we will feel we have earned the right to stay in the best hotels, fly first class (because coach sucks, if you think otherwise, you are lying to yourself). I want the cocoon!!!

    That said our financial independence number is probably more like $2.5M to $3.0M (in todays dollars).

    But we want the next level, which I believe is Financial Freedom, some people see these as one in the same, but not me. To me Financial Independence will allow us to maintain our current lifestyle without the need to earn any additional income once the target is hit. Financial Freedom lets us indulge in life’s finest luxury’s (at least the ones that interest us).

    We also want to create a legacy with our money. I have grand dreams of creating a family bank. I also love the challenge of creating wealth, it’s just the way I am wired.

    Unlike many in the PF community, I am not currently planning to stop working anytime soon if at all.

    Not many in the community were chasing $10M, so that is another reason, as $1M seemed like the fad thing to do, and seemed inevitable for me. $10M is going to take a lot more focus and effort. And the reality is, like Sam said above, the chase will probably never be done (at least as long as I continue loving the chase).

    Happy New Year!

    • Dream big or go home! If you love what you’re doing, why not aim for the sky (and fly first class while you’re up there)?

      Amazingly, as the numbers bear out, $10M is certainly attainable with or without paid employment once you have surpassed your FI number. Overshooting it a bit and having cooperative investment returns makes it all the more likely.

      I defined financial freedom a bit differently, but agree it is a number beyond that of financial independence.

      Good luck with the hunt!

  11. It was an amazing post and it is commendable how you have described your journey. Being worth $10 million is not the end of the world. There are smaller things that bring greater happiness and I am glad that on your path to achieving $10million you have discovered that greater happiness is more important as long as you have enough in your pockets. Plus the finances you have planned requires a great deal of patience and many can take inspiration from that and achieve if not 10 million, but some great success in life.

    Thank You and have an amazing year ahead

  12. I had a fantastic 2016 of growing my net worth, so this post is timely. Given my historical trajectory, I think there is an off chance of reaching the $10M milestone in my life time, but it’ll require couple of things:

    1) Work for another 10-12 years at my current or above pay range at megacorp. This will require me to work into my 50s – eew!
    2) Need to continue to enjoy what I’m doing
    3) The market achieves growth rates of 6%+ over this period
    4) Live as we currently do

    Of all these, I question #2 and #3. My plan is to take it in stride and continue to work as long as I enjoy it and try not to achieve an artificial number, but $10M does have a nice ring to it. 🙂

  13. Very interesting article. I have a lot lower desired net worth (over 1 mill) and according to your calculations I can achieve this in under 15 years. Now wouldn’t that be fantastic! I know I will have to work hard and make my money work for me if I wish to see a 10% growth year on year. One can only hope.

  14. Love the 10 million goal! It definitely is worth shooting for because it really takes your mind off of money due to the income and I can generate.

    The funny thing is, once you get the 10 million, you want 25 million! It never ends, so just be happy 🙂

    • Thank you, Sam! $10 Million is far more than what I would consider to be Enough. I can’t say it wouldn’t be a nice number to see someday, though. Don’t you have a plan to give away any money that would be subject to estate taxes? Of course, that could all change with the next administration.


  15. Great post! And thanks for the excel-ent spreadsheet! It’s fun to play with numbers. It’s also encouraging to see that certain financial targets are more within reach than you think.

    Have a great New Year!!

    • Nice wordplay, SRGO!

      If only we could return to the 18% returns the markets were giving investors in the 80s and 90s.


  16. Hey Doc, getting pretty fancy with the spreadsheet skills! Cool “app”, and a lot of fun to play around with the “what if’s”. Saw your earlier comment on “Financial Freedom” vs. “Financial Independence”, we think alot alike. I can be “FI” by June 2017, but have elected to work until June 2018 to increase the odds of “Financial Freedom”. We’ll never make the $$ we’re making now, and it’s worth keeping the nose to the grindstone for 1 additional year if it sets us up to avoid financial worries (for the most part) for the rest of our lives.

    Love your blog, keep up the good work!

  17. That’s some good excel-fu there PoF.

    I think it’s also important to remember the effects of inflation. In the 10+ years it’ll take the good Dr. to get there, that 10 million will probably be worth half as much.

    He certainly won’t be hurting, but it may not be the wealthy life he dreamed of.

    In many ways, having a lot more money than necessary can become a problem. Lifestyles inflate, spending increases, and hedonic adaptation happens. Eventually, even 10 million won’t be enough.

    • Excel-Fu? Hi-yaaaa!

      Fortunately, the Rule of 72 makes it easy to figure how long it will take for that $10 million to devalue in half. At 2% inflation, it’s 36 years. At 3%, 24 years.

      To lose half its value in 10 years, we would have to see inflation of 7.2%.

      I agree that $10 million is a heck of a lot of money, and if you ramp up spending concomitantly, you could be asking for trouble.


      • OK OK, it wouldn’t be as bad as half. Point made. That’ll teach me to make a generalized statement!

        That said, I still stand by the idea that inflation (and taxes) will significantly erode the value of that money over time.

        If the spreadsheet took these factors into account (both real and nominal), that would be great.

        • I thought about doing that. All I would add is another row above CAGR for Real rates, which would be lower by 2% to 3%. You can do the same thing in your head. To adjust for real rates, look a column or 2 to the left to see how much longer it would take to reach the inflation-adjusted goal.

          The more dividends you earn in taxable, the more taxes will erode that earning power! Unless you’re in that magical 0% LTCG / QD bracket, of course. Don’ let that blog of yours become too profitable!


        • Inflation is a killer… don’t think it’s anywhere near as low as 2% where I live. Housing costs near me have been increasing at 9% for over 40 years!!

  18. Great calculator. Worked on my iPad. I should be there in 8 years. It looks like 2+ years per million with a 60/40 portfolio returning 6%/year.

    • i looked at rocdoc’s comment above about 100mill. I can get there if I get 8% returns instead of 6 and live to be 95 and don’t spend any money between now and then. Oops!

  19. Luv us them round numbers!

    Now I’m inspired to round some of my own numbers. I think I’ll begin training to run a 4-minute mile. It’s a mark of excellent health, and I’m determined: Make it or die trying!

    Thanks for the fun read and great reminder about all the laboring invested dollars do on our behalf. They work super hard so we don’t have to. (And kudos for the Excel work, by the way.)

    Now where are my running shoes..? Cheers, and Happy New Year!

    • That sounds ludicrous and dangerous. Unless you’ve already run a 4:20 mile.

      Good luck, and please don’t die trying!

  20. The feeling of your money making more money than you is pretty awesome. For the first two weeks of December that happened to us (it may have happened before, but I wasn’t paying attention, so this is the first time I noticed it) – our investments made more money than our paychecks. Knowing theoretically that it is going to happen and having it actually happen are two very different things. Mind blown.

  21. It seems like if you keep investing and live long enough, you’ll get to $10M. It’d be nice to get there at a reasonable age, though. You’re sure Dr. F doesn’t want to work 10 more years to get there? 🙂
    Happy New Year!

    • Good question, Joe. I believe your assets are pretty similar to Dr. F’s. Would you rather work another 10 years earning 10% returns to get there, or not work for 15 to 20 to arrive at the same magical number? I think Dr. F likes what’s behind door #2.


  22. It was fun and motivating to see numbers I only dreamed about are actually possible, if even it is out there on the age line a bit.

    Great job on the post, but 2018? I thought you were planning an earlier exit than that?

    cd :O)

    • Thank you, Chris.

      2018 is the soonest I would make any changes. It’s only 18 months away, though. There are a variety of reasons we’ll wait that long, among them the fact that I won’t be fully vested in my 401(k) employer contributions until that summer. Also, we’re shooting for financial freedom, which requires more $ than financial independence (based on my definitions).


  23. I think $10M comes up as the goal for high potential people because for 99% of the population that would be considered F-U Money. I mean who can’t live on $300k + per year, well I know a couple but that’s another story. (I lean more toward the 3% SWR crowd because I’m a wimp) An interesting phenomenon happens though as you creep closer and closer to that number at least it did for me. You realize that you have no desire to spend anywhere close to $300k a year because it brings you no more happiness. You also think to yourself about risk of your financial nut you’ve worked so hard to accumulate at a young age. You blow right by $5M, hit $7M in stride then you start to think about reigning things in a bit.

    I completely agree with all of the bloggers out there who are 70% or higher correlated to the markets steadfast that it will give you the best results, but I haven’t really come across one yet (that I am aware of) with an 8 figure net worth that is still letting it all ride. No doubt almost all with get to $10M plus if they live long enough and stay disciplined, but I look forward to hear how their risk appetite changes once their net worth passes 50x-70x-100x their annual burn. First world problems for sure, but its worth thinking about for those on the glide path to that level of net worth. You’ve already won the game, why blow it?

    My only other suggestion is do a little vine swinging once you pull the trigger. Being young, highly motivated, intelligent, and wealthy you’ll eventually want the next challenge. It doesn’t have to be paid, but it can be…If I were you (we are all different I understand, but we’ve had similar paths) I’d take 9 months or so to get some traveling and fun in, and then transition back to a part time gig or new location gig like you talked about for a short period of time. Keeps things fresh and exciting, and best of all you never really think about $.

    • Hi, I’ve reached 8 figures and am letting most of it ride. Why not… I’m not buying lottery tickets with it, just leaving it in the market like everyone else. I hedge with a 10% cash position and 15% in rental properties. The rentals throw off ~$80k a year in income.

      Another reason for letting a lot of it ride is that selling would trigger a 37% tax.

      $10 M in bonds wouldn’t keep up with inflation and only generates $200k a year.

      Some may think it’s aggressive but my being too overly conservative kept me from achieving 9 figures (diversified out of an asset that has gone up 100x).

      • Nice work! Sounds like we have pretty similar situations. Only thing real difference is I had an event trigger me going ahead and paying all the taxes (7 figure bill ouch!) on some major investments. In my case it was the right call to bite the bullet but in general I think it is smart to let it ride vs. pay the taxes in many cases. My question really is if you’d already liquid net of any taxes due would you still let your a significant portion of your $10M ride in the stock markets (by significant I mean 70%+)? I mean it is all going to be invested in one way or another, but dialing down the risk curve through non-correlated stuff like debt service, hedge funds, apartment buildings, & various alternative investments. Basically smoothing out the curves…you may not see a 25% year to the up side, but you won’t see a 20% down year either? Like I said, maybe I am just too much of a wimp because I remember how challenging it was to get here in the first place lol.

        • I would still have 8 figures net after taxes, but do let 60-70% ride in the stock market. The 8 figures is investable assets only, I live in a paid-off house. I think the 10-15% cash cushion (running a bit high at the moment due to this extended run in the market), stable rental properties, and paid-off house lighten the risk in my mind. The cash cushion is enough for 15 years of living expenses.

          Another factor is that the asset I diversified out of is extremely volatile. Yes it is up 100x from 16 years ago but in these 16 years it’s also lost 80+% of its value multiple times over this period. With that kind of volatility, the moves in the stock market seem tame.

          I actually consider myself a wimp too, otherwise I’d be sitting on 9 figures. I think no advisor would recommend 15% cash even at these levels. I still do worry about inflation! I left the workforce almost 10 years ago and have watched prices for everything (housing, health care, education, autos) shoot up these years. You pay more attention to prices when out of the workforce.

          Even with a paid off house, my living expenses are 100k per year. 20k+ health insurance, 20k childcare, 10k property taxes, 10k insurance, leaving 40k for living expenses and travel. Comfortable but definitely not living large. Houses in my area are $3M for a 2200 sq ft home (I’m in a $1.8M, 1600 sq ft home), so unbelievably $10M doesn’t seem like much in this area. Like I said, I still need the assets to grow to keep up with unrelenting inflation if I want to continue living in this area.

        • Also some of those investments you mention don’t seem any less risky than the stock market, e.g. hedge funds, leveraged real estate, alternative investments (which ones?), and debt servicing. I’ve had alternative investments and debt servicing blow up on me during the financial crisis. I do invest in private equity with 5% of assets but consider that riskier than the stock market as well, it also takes a lot more work.

        • I think you are absolutely right, my risk quotient is probably about the same overall when I think about it. Maybe it just helps me sleep better at night when it really shouldn’t. Similarly to you the investment I cashed out of 2 years ago is now down at least 60% in value and ripe for another kick at the cat so to speak. Funny because I don’t view putting 20% of my net worth in business investment I can be directly involved in as risky when it is extremely volatile, but it is my area of expertise.

          My way of looking at it is hey I can live an amazing life on $80k year (single no kids, no debt paid for home/boats/cars), so set aside about $3M that is my fortress of solitude (basically a 50/50 portfolio) and then let the rest ride. I’m probably doing myself a disservice though because the math doesn’t lie about inflation and the impact of diminished returns. Hope you all have a happy new year!

        • I think investing in yourself and being able to leverage your area of expertise is always a good investment.

          Are you saying you invest $3M in a 50/50 portfolio and let the remaining $7M ride in riskier investments? That doesn’t seem conservative to me at all.

          Happy New Year!

        • Basically yes that is what I am saying. I am a little overweight in real estate currently, which I’m in the process of adjusting, but its been a nice run. I don’t know that I look at the $7M as “risky” just more like this: I live off what my $3M nest egg generates and look at the rest as something I am never planning to touch. Some stuff has done extremely well, some stuff not so well lol. But my historical investment performance and wealth creation has not been tied to the stock market, moving forward I see it being more correlated.

          I am fortunate to live in a lower cost of living area, but not tied to it long term, but $10M is pretty damn comfortable. Neither of us are big spenders it seems, so really at the end of the day it would take some sort of crazy 6 sigma event for our plans to be derailed…so in the mean time enjoy the time we are blessed with!

    • Great advice from both of you. Thank you for sharing!

      I’m far from eight figures, but I have surpassed 25x my annual burn rate, and my philosophy for the “overage” is more aligned with Joe’s. The 25x should be invested in a manner that gives it the best chance to last and survive a market downturn. An allocation from 60 / 40 to 80 / 20 Stocks / Bonds for the first 25x.

      With the additional money, I would like to see the balance grow as large as possible. It’s money I don’t need to maintain our lifestyle, so why play it safe and invest conservatively? A more aggressive portfolio is likelier to grow larger, particularly when I won’t be drawing from the balance in bear markets. This money is more likely destined to be inherited and or donated. The more, the better. I suppose my attitude could change if and when I actually have a substantial overage, but that’s how I think about it currently.


  24. Thank you so much for this excel sheet, it was very motivational and helpful for me!
    I’m a family practice doctor about 3 years into private practice with hope to be significantly part-time in 10 years or less.
    One question, which may be obvious so please forgive me — Let’s say my plan was to save $6000 per month. Should I rely on employer match to help get me to that number? I am guaranteed at least 5% from them into my 401k [which I have all in their only index fund option] and that would help bring down how much I have to put aside each month to get to that $6000 total goal.
    Love your site, glad I am found it!

    • I’m glad you found it, too, Chris!

      To answer your question, yes, count any and all contributions towards your monthly savings goal, including those that come from your employer. The only caveat would be that you may need to remain with your employer for a certain amount of time to be fully invested in the match or other employer contributions.

      Good luck with your goals!

  25. I love seeing the math behind FI; it’s freakin’ bada**. I don’t have a “magic number” like $10 million; for us it’s just having enough money to live off the dividends. Ahhhh. I’m pretty jealous of his physician’s income, but I know it’s a demanding job. 🙂 Almost anyone can actually attain FI as long as they save a majority of their income, whether they make $40,000 a year or $250,000 a year. Naturally it’s easier if you have a higher income, but it’s doable at almost any salary range.

    • It’s all relative, isn’t it? I’ll admit that it’s far easier to make it happen quickly with a six-figure salary. If you don’t have any prospects for a six-figure job, a couple with two $50,000 a year jobs can combine finances. Or just marry a doctor. 😉


    • Wait, I thought we were talking about Dr. F… 😉

      As for me, I’m committed to continue in my full time job until the summer of 2018, but after that, all bets are off. I’ve given serious thought to doing locums in an exotic locale after that, but a post like this makes me think I might be happier visiting the exotic locales without burdening myself with work in a new and strange environment.


  26. Boy, this Dr. F is pretty ambitious to aim for $10 million! If he gets there, either his kids or charity will be very lucky. Someone else will be spending his hard-earned savings.

    The examples show that he maybe should focus on increasing his earning potential if he really wanted to reach the 8-figure club.

    • Well, he could bust his butt and start putting in more weekends and locums work, but he’d rather let his greenbacks do the heavy lifting.


  27. Fun!! I played around with the numbers and though I’m not going for 10mill it was fun to see how long it would take if I really tried for it (way longer than I intend to work!).

    Anyway you slice it, Dr. F is sitting pretty. To know he doesn’t have to contribute to reach his relatively low yearly spending is ideal in any situation. Knowing he can still work more is even better! Yeah for compound interest!!!

    • Nice, Miss M. I don’t think many of my readers are dead set on a big number like that, but it’s fun to do the math and see that it’s possible. I also built the spreadsheet / calculator to see every $1 million increment and allow you to set your own numbers. Did you notice the $100 million goal at the bottom?


      • I did see the $100,000,000 you sneaky! The interesting thing is this exercise showed me that even $100 M is possible (not probable-but quite possible.)

  28. When you’re already FI and still working, that’s when the compounding really takes place. I was skeptical of the 13.8 years vs. 10.7 years to getting to $10m, but then remembered at $2m in their stash, Dr. F is FI.

    • Good point, FF. I reread it this morning, and added in that clarification. The baseline assets of $2 million set him up nicely.

      In the calculator where you can enter your own info, I have a start point of $0. You can enter any number in there you want to get a better idea of your own potential future.


    • Late to reply to this, but reminded me of a conversation with my uncle at Christmas this year (he is a retired dermatologist). He said he had enough to retire comfortably at age 60, but kept working. His untouched nest egg-to which he continued to add-doubled between age 60 and 65. Working when you don’t have to (if you still love what you do) for even a few years gives you a lot more breathing room…..

      • That’s impressive, isn’t it?

        Just earning enough to cover expenses will allow the nest egg to grow untouched. To double in five years, using the Rule of 72, he must have gotten a little better than 14% CAGR over those five years. If that could happen in the next five, I’d be a happy man.

        -PoFthe Rule of 72

  29. I use to dream about winning the lottery to the tune of 10m under the assumption that then I’d be done working. Over the years I’ve realized like you I need much less. Now it’s more if I splurged on other lottery winnings I’d save the ten million. Then again I don’t buy lottery tickets so it’s not really a reality. Your findings on returns trumping pay intrinsically make sense. There comes a point when investment return is greater then savings. Based on your model he saves 216k a year when working full time . At 10 percent he makes more from investments at 2.2 m or starting next year. It grows from there. I find that inflection point interesting. At that point the yearly whims of the market are .ore important then your job..

  30. Great Excel POF, I love it. I ran some of my numbers and somehow $10M isn’t totally out of the question in my lifetime. That amazed me – I’ve never even thought that’s in the realm of possibilities. I guess I’ve been so focused on reaching seven figures that it never even occurred to me that I could reach 8.

    • That’s cool, Liz!

      If you get to seven figures, and spend significantly less than your investments earn annually, eight figures is inevitable given enough time. Of course, in fifty years, $10 million will have a real value of maybe $2.5 million in today’s dollars if we experience inflation close to the historical average of 3%. But it’s still $10 million!



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