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2023 Reader Survey Results: A Wealth of Information

Happy Thanksgiving! The PoF family extends heartfelt gratitude to each and every one of you and the incredible community we have formed together.

After a hiatus in 2022, we decided to resurrect the PoF readers survey from 2021.

We distributed the survey through various channels, including email, social media, and directly on our blog post. The survey’s primary goal was to gain insights into how we could better cater to our readers’ needs, and the feedback proved invaluable.

For instance, many requested content for those not yet millionaires or might prefer a leanFIRE future to the fatFIRE lifestyle. Additionally, we discovered that most of our readers are indeed millionaires, with a substantial portion demonstrating proficiency in earning, saving, and managing debt.

Below, we’ve presented a breakdown of our survey results, with the term “reader” referring to the survey respondent.

Let’s delve into the findings.

 

Where do you Live? / Country

Ninety-eight percent of PoF readers are based in the United States. Our second largest source of readers comes from Canada, with 1%. We also received support from other countries, including Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Ireland, Malawi, Mexico, and Singapore.

While our objective is to provide valuable content for physicians worldwide, a significant portion of our material is tailored to the unique circumstances in the United States.

The United States has its own tax code, tax-advantaged investment accounts, and physician reimbursement issues. Writing content within these boundaries makes it difficult to serve our audience outside the United States on a consistent basis.

 

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U.S. residents, In which state do you live in? / State of U.S Residents

The distribution of PoF readers closely mirrors the population distribution within the United States (see table below).

The leading three states in terms of readership are California (8.8%), Texas (8.1%), and Florida (6.3%), together comprising 23% of our entire readership. Interestingly, this aligns with the U.S. population distribution, as these three states are also the most populous in the same order.

Intriguingly, the next three most popular states among PoF readers are Washington (4.6%), Michigan (4.4%), and North Carolina (3.7%). This is noteworthy because these states are not among the country’s top 10 most populated states.

What stands out is that the top ten states account for 49.3% of our viewership, and the top twenty states collectively contribute roughly 75% of our readership.

 

StatePercent
California8.8%
Texas8.1%
Florida6.3%
Washington4.6%
Michigan4.4%
North Carolina3.7%
Ohio3.7%
Colorado3.5%
Indiana3.1%
Virginia3.1%
Minnesota2.9%
Illinois2.8%
Tennessee2.8%
Oregon2.7%
Arizona2.5%
Georgia2.4%
Pennsylvania2.4%
Wisconsin2.4%
New York2.2%
South Carolina2.2%
New Jersey2.1%
Missouri1.9%
Alabama1.8%
Massachusetts1.6%
Utah1.5%
Connecticut1.2%
Kentucky1.2%
Maryland1.2%
Iowa1.0%
Others12.1%

 

What is your age? / Age

The average age of all readers was 48, the median age was 47, and the mode was 39. This falls in line with the age groups that were created when analyzing the data. The youngest reader we had was 25, and the oldest was 80. 

 

 

 

Most of our readers fall in the 40-49 age range with 29.4%. Not far behind, readers aged 50-59 account for 23.9%, and readers aged 60-69 account for 15.7%. The top three age groups account for 69% of all readers. In these groups, most physicians have reached their highest earning potential, likely have significant savings or additional income, and are considering retirement.

 

 

 

The two smallest groups of our readers fall between 25 and 29 years old and readers 70 years old and older. This makes sense because most 25-29-year-olds are still in medical school, and potentially some are entering residency. Many are not at a point where they can start thinking about retiring early when they haven’t started their careers. 

Also, physicians aged 70 or older are likely already retired and would find the information we provide less valuable. 

 

What is your marital status? / Marital Status

 

 

The majority of PoF readers are married individuals at 82.4%. This is no surprise, given the age of PoF readers and income levels. The second most common response was single, with 13.6% of readers.

Two additional responses with a small portion include 2.2% in a relationship/partnership and 1.9% are divorced. 

To take it one step further, we found that 72.7% of women are married, 20.9% are single compared to males, 89.6% were married, and 8.2% were single. This shows that with physicians, women marry at lower rates than men. 

This phenomenon is not new and has been documented by studies and other surveys. One study from Medscape found that 11% of women physicians were single compared to only 5% of male physicians. The difficulties female doctors face in dating are also a common topic of discussion.

 

 

What is your gender identity? / Gender Identity

 

 

From the results, we learned that 59.4% of readers were males and 40.3% were females. This is in line with industry standards for physicians.

Women as a percentage of the physician workforce has been increasing steadily for many years. For example, in 2007, the percentage of women in the workforce was only 28.3%, in 2019, that number had increased to 36.3%. 

Today, a study on physicians found that 35.8% of physicians were females and 64.2% were males.

 

What is your primary profession? / Primary Profession

 

 

It should come as no surprise that most readers are physicians for a website designed for physicians. Approximately 64.9% of readers are physicians, and an additional 13% work in healthcare but are not physicians. 

We really enjoyed seeing that approximately 22.1% of readers worked outside of healthcare. While the information and content we share are written from the perspective and experience of a physician, it applies to all professions. 

 

Do you believe you’ve experienced career burnout at some point? / Career Burnout

 

 

Our survey found that 69.8% of our readers have experienced career burnout at some point in their lives. 

This is not surprising, burnout is one of the most common reasons physicians leave their jobs. In a recent survey, we also found that 59% of physicians left their jobs due to career burnout. 

Other independent research paints a similar picture, with about half of all American doctors acknowledging symptoms associated with burnout.

A revealing AMA survey highlighted that 56% of doctors under the age of 35 are unhappy with the current medical system. 

It would make sense that we tend to attract readers and physicians disillusioned by their careers at one time or another. We pride ourselves on providing readers with information to reach financial freedom so they can leave their jobs or that work becomes optional. 

If you are experiencing career burnout, we recommend battling career burnout with a combination of strong savings and targeted spending

 

Are you currently experiencing career burnout? / Currently Experiencing Career Burnout

 

 

While nearly 70% of readers have experienced career burnout at some point, only 24.8% are currently experiencing career burnout. We consider this good news because this implies that physicians overcome career burnout. 

A positive sign is that 56.3% of readers are not currently experiencing burnout. Finally, 18.9% of readers are possibly experiencing burnout. This likely shows that this group of readers is on the border of experiencing burnout and is not fully burnt out. 

 

What is your household income? / Household Income

Now it’s time for the money.

 

 

The key takeaway is that 93.7% of our readers earn a six-figure salary yearly.

Most of our readers, 44.6%, earn between $250,001 and $500,000 annually. This is in line with our findings from our survey in 2021 as well as the average salary of physicians. Based on a recent report by Medscape, they found that the average salary for all physicians was $325,000. 

Additionally, the six-figure bracket of our readers comprises 24.5% earning $100,001 to $250,000, 21.7% earning between $500,0001 to $1,000,000, and 3.2% earning over seven figures annually. 

Only 6.3% of our readers earned less than six figures each year. During our previous survey, we expected that most readers earning less than six figures each year were students or residents. This year, we did some digging to give you the answers. 

First, we found that approximately 56.1% of those earning less than six figures were in healthcare, and 43.9% worked outside of healthcare.

 

 

Of the physicians earning less than $100,000, 27.3% were between the ages of 60 and 69, and 22.7% were between the ages of 25 and 29. 

Our initial assumption was partially true, that a significant portion of physicians earning less than $100,000 are students or residents. Another big portion that we didn’t expect is that another significant portion are likely retired between the ages of 60 and 69.

 

 

Approximate Annual Household Spending

So, how much are you guys spending and saving each year? Considering most of you earn between $250,001 and $500,000, let’s see how you moderate your expenses.

 

 

The most common annual spending range was $100,001 to $200,000 at 45.2% of readers. This is to be expected, given that most readers earned between $250,001 and $500,000. 

To prove this, we can show that approximately 57% of those spending between $100,001 and $200,000 earn between $250,000 and $500,000.

 

 

This shows that PoF readers, as a whole, are making excellent decisions towards achieving financial independence. We recommend living on at least half of your take-home pay, and the data shows that many of our readers are doing so. 

An interesting finding is that there were approximately 7.4% of you are spending less than $50,000 per year.

 

 

Of those spending less than $50,000 per year, 10.4% earn between $250,000 and $500,000, and 4.2% earn between $500,000 and $1,000,000. These PoF readers are savings heavy and spending wisely to ensure they reach financial independence as quickly as possible. 

 

Do you consider yourself financially independent (i.e., you could maintain your desired standard of living indefinitely without earned income)? / Financial Independence

 

 

The million-dollar questions. How many of you have reached FI and are ready to retire early?

Approximately 61.6% of you are still working towards financial independence, while the other 38.4% are financially independent. These are very similar results to our survey of readers in 2021, but we’ve increased the financial independence ratio by approximately 3%.

 

 

To take things a step further, we wanted to look at which age groups experience higher rates of financial independence. As we expected, older age groups have higher levels of financial independence than younger age groups. We found that 35.8% of financially independent readers are between the ages of 50 and 59. Followed by 33.4% between the ages of 60 and 69 and 18.7% between the ages of 40 and 49. 

 

What would you like your household net worth to be (in 2023 dollars) before retirement (or what was it when you retired)? / Ideal Net Worth at Retirement

To take things a step further, we wanted to look at which age groups experience higher rates of financial independence. As we expected, older age groups have higher levels of financial independence than younger age groups. We found that 35.8% of financially independent readers are between the ages of 50 and 59. Followed by 33.4% between the ages of 60 and 69 and 18.7% between the ages of 40 and 49. 

 

 

So what is everyone’s FIRE number? 

The most common net worth range at retirement is between $5,000,000 and $10,000,000. Depending on your lifestyle and family size, this amount of net worth should provide you with a comfortable retirement. 

The second most common net worth at retirement was between $3,000,000 and $5,000,000, with 28.8% of readers with this FI goal. 

Approximately 11.2% of readers want an eight-figure or more net worth at retirement. This means quite a bit of you are aiming for FatFire and to live the best possible life during retirement. 

We wanted to see if there is any difference between the retirement goals of female and male readers. What we found was quite interesting. First, the most common retirement range for females was $3,000,000 to $5,000,000, with 32.5% of females. On the other hand, the most common retirement range for males was $5,000,000 to $10,000,000, with 40.2% of males. 

The second most common range for females was between $5,000,000 and $10,000,000, with 27.6% of females. The second most common retirement goal for males was $3,000,000 to $5,000,000, with 26.4% of males. 

It shows that women tend to have lower retirement goals than males. This is also shown by the fact that only 4.9% of females have a retirement goal of $10,000,000 or greater compared to 15.5% of males. 

 

At what age would you like to retire (or did you retire)? / Retirement Age

At PoF, we pride ourselves on helping our readers achieve financial independence and retire early. With that, we assume that many of our readers would have a retirement age lower than the standard retirement age of 65. 

The results were quite surprising. The dispersion of ideal retirement ranges is spread out quite evenly across four categories. But we can see that 49.5% of readers want to retire sometime in their 50s, and another 16.1% want to retire in their 40s.

 

 

Only 10.6% of readers have an ideal retirement age of 65 or older.

 

Current Household Net Worth

 

 

Similar to the ideal retirement age, the current net worth of readers is quite evenly distributed. We can see that approximately 56.3% of PoF readers have a net worth between $1,000,000 and $5,000,000. 

The most common response was a net worth of $1,000,000 to $2,000,000, with 21.7%. A close second is a net worth between $3,000,000 and $5,000,000, with 20.4%

Interestingly enough, more of our readers have a net worth of $10,000,000 or more than those with a $0 net worth, 6.4% vs. 4.4%. 

 

Student Debt

Physicians are known for completing medical school with high student loads. As a result, we expected that a good portion of our readers would still be working on paying off their student loan debt.

 

 

What we found was the opposite. Most of the PoF audience has paid off their loans, with 81.0% of respondents. 

The second largest category was a maximum of $50,000 in student loan debt, with 5.8% of respondents. 

We want to consider that our readers are following our path to FIRE. We recommend paying off all debt before you can start building your FIRE goal.

 

How often do you visit physicianonfire.com?

 

 

Our goal was to ensure that regular readers took our survey to ensure that our data was representative of our core viewers and audience. This data shows that we achieved that 79% of respondents visit the site at least once per month. 

In addition, approximately 51.1% of our audience visits the site at least once per week. 

 

How do you prefer to consume personal finance content?

We want to determine if we deliver content to our audience how they prefer.

 

 

78.7% of readers prefer to read their personal finance content. The second most preferred way of consuming personal finance content is listening to audio, with 17.6% and 3.7% prefer watching a video. 

 

Do you belong to either of the physicians on FIRE’s Facebook groups?

 

 

The results show that approximately 41.7% of readers are members of at least one PoF Facebook group, and a whopping 13% are part of our Facebook groups. 

Another striking finding was that 33.8% of readers don’t use Facebook. Also, 25% of readers are not a part of any PoF Facebook groups. 

 

Final Thoughts

Our hearts swell with appreciation for the camaraderie that defines the PoF family. Whether you’ve been with us from the beginning or have recently joined our community, we thank you for being a part of our cherished community.

May your Thanksgiving be filled with joy, laughter, and the warmth of those you hold dear.

 



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3 thoughts on “2023 Reader Survey Results: A Wealth of Information”

  1. If you’re reading this site, financially you’re not average! (or if you are, you won’t be in the future). There is selection bias at play. Only those highly interested in fiscal responsibility and financial independence are reading this site and contributing to the survey.

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  2. Subscribe to get more great content like this, an awesome spreadsheet, and more!

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