Why would you want to retire early? What kind of fool are you, anyhow?
I’ve mentioned before that reading The White Coat Investor helped inspire me to create a blog of my own. What you may not know is that this particular post was one that really spoke to me. Actually, I was one the one speaking to it, disagreeing and laughing at preposterous line after line.
I’ll admit that’s a bit harsh, and the good Dr. Dahle has said he could just as easily write the 14 reasons you should retire early, but to date, I don’t believe he has. I suppose he’s decided to leave that niche to me.
Rather than simply presenting the post “as-is,” I’ve taken the liberty of responding to each of the bulletpoints below, offering rebuttals to give you the other side of the story.
Ultimately, whether or not you retire early is a personal choice, based upon many factors, most of which we won’t even touch upon today. I do commend those who work a full, traditional career. While it’s not the path I chose, it is an admirable one without a doubt. This article first appeared on The White Coat Investor.
14 Reasons Why the White Coat Investor Doesn’t Want You to Retire Early
Early retirement is a goal for many, including physicians. An extra decade or two to travel, pursue hobbies, and volunteer becomes more and more attractive, especially as bureaucracy increases, paperwork pulls docs away from their patients, and reimbursements are threatened.
However, the odds are stacked against early retirement. It isn’t that it is impossible to retire early, but it often simply isn’t worth the sacrifice. Here are fourteen reasons you shouldn’t retire early.
# 1 You Have to Save A LOT More of Your Income
While it is obviously true that the more you save, the earlier you can retire, to really retire early requires a savings rate that is too high for the comfort of all but the most frugal. Consider a doctor who gets out of residency at 30, earns $200,000 a year, earns 5% real on her investments, withdraws 4% a year from her retirement stash each year, and needs $100,000 a year of retirement income.
If she retires at 70, she needs to save $22,000 a year, or about 11% of her income. But to retire at 50, she would need to save $76,000 a year, or about 38% of her income, over 3 times as much. She not only has half the years to save the money but also loses much of the benefit of compound interest.
[PoF: So, as an individual, she has to find a way to live on more than a typical family spends in a year. How will she manage?
Perhaps she’ll earn more, have a partner who earns more, or somehow spend less than $125,000 a year if she doesn’t. Seems manageable to me.
I’ll also point out that the early retiree also benefits from compound interest — the 4% rule would be the 2% rule without it!]
# 2 You Have to Replace Social Security
For some bizarre reason, a lot of people have stopped planning on having any kind of Social Security when they’re retired. I don’t think this is wise. Social Security is an extremely popular program, and honestly, it’s one of the best government programs out there.
Fixing it is a simple math problem (unlike Medicare.) Raise taxes a little bit, decrease benefits slightly, and increase the full social security retirement age slightly and voila, it’s solvent for centuries.
As an early retiree at 50, you don’t get to count on that income for at least the first 12 years of retirement, and possibly for the first two decades. How much income are we talking about? Well, the maximum social security benefit in 2020 is $3,011 a month. That assumed one started working at 21, paid the maximum each year, and retired at age 67.
Adjusting that for age 70 gets you to $3,790 a month. Remember that your spouse will also have a benefit. Just to make things easy, let’s assume the spouse gets ½ of your benefit. That’s a total of $5,685 a month, or $68,220 a year, adjusted to inflation.
When you consider Social Security, the doc who retires at 70 only needs to save 5% of his income each year versus the early retiree’s 38% (almost 8 times as much savings). Granted, the early retiree will also eventually get a Social Security benefit, but if you don’t get it for 12-20 years, and you need your stash to last an extra decade or two, you really can’t use a more aggressive withdrawal rate to make up for it.
To make things worse, the early retiree gets slightly less Social Security when it finally does kick in because he paid into the system for less than 35 years.
[PoF: I agree that Social Security will be there for us in some form, but I also believe it’s wise to plan on being self-sufficient. If you are a physician depending on Social Security to make ends meet in retirement, you need to reconsider your retirement plan.
A Social Security benefit should be gravy on the potatoes, not the main course on the retirement platter of a high-income professional.]
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# 3 You Have to Bridge the Health Insurance Gap
Medicare doesn’t kick in until 65, and that age may go up as part of any kind of Medicare reform. If you stop working at 50, that means you need to cover 15+ years of health insurance premiums, and at a time of life when the policies are more expensive, if you can get them at all.
Plus, without the benefit of a group plan with an employer, you have to buy them on the more expensive individual market. Ehealthinsurance.com quotes me high deductible HSA plans that range between $1,000 – $2,400 a month for my family. Let’s average them out to $1,700 a month, and you’re looking at an extra $20,400 a year that must either be saved before retirement or cut from the retiree’s budget.
[PoF: Guess what the author (and I) do for health insurance? We pay for it. What will we do when retired? Continue paying for it. My plan is under $1,000 a month for a family of four in 2020.]
# 4 Immediate Annuities Shouldn’t Be Bought in Your 50s
An immediate annuity is a way to turn a lump sum of money into a guaranteed pension, essentially longevity insurance to ensure you don’t run out of money in retirement. Most experts recommend you buy it around age 70. Annuitizing a portion of your stash is a wise choice for most as it allows a much higher safe withdrawal rate.
Even in our current low-interest-rate environment, an annuity pays 6.8% for a healthy 70-year-old female. Obviously rates for younger people will be lower. At 50 they may even be less than the classic 4% “safe withdrawal rate” and it is almost impossible to find an inflation-adjusted one these days.
[PoF: I agree. I have no plans to purchase an annuity in my 40s or 50s, and probably never will. It’s a completely optional component of any retirement plan.]
# 5 You Don’t Get to Benefit From “Catch-up” Contributions
Beginning at age 50, you can contribute an extra $1,000 to an IRA (for each spouse), an extra $6,000 to a 401K (for each spouse), and an extra $1,000 to an HSA (after age 55). The early retiree is more often forced to use a less-efficient taxable account to save.
[PoF: When you have your retirement savings shored up before age 50, you have no need to make regular retirement contributions, let alone catch-up contributions.]
# 6 You’ll Have to Figure Out How to Get Your Money Out of Retirement Accounts Before Age 59 ½
Both IRAs and 401Ks have a 10% surcharge if you want your money for early retirement. Now there are several ways to get at least some of your money out without the penalty, but a traditional retiree doesn’t have to deal with any of them.
[PoF: When you save enough to retire early, you’re maxing out tax-advantaged space and putting plenty into a taxable brokerage account.
As noted, there are a plethora of ways to access 401(k), 403(b), and traditional or Roth IRA money before that “magical age” of 59.5, but I personally have no plans or need to use them. No figuring required.]
# 7 You’ll Have Less Time to Pay Off Educational Debt
Many of the people who graduated from medical school in the late 90s and early 2000s refinanced their medical school debt at a rate less than inflation. They’re planning to carry that debt out as long as possible. But no one in their right mind would carry student loan debt into retirement.
Thus an early retiree has 20 years to pay it off, instead of 40. I recommend paying off student loans in 2-5 years but in reality, many people pay their loans off in 10-20 years. Dragging out student loan debt often keeps these people from maxing out retirement accounts, something an early retiree cannot afford.
A full career allows you more options in choosing a medical school, a better in-school lifestyle, and more flexible payback options. It’s more acceptable to run up a bunch of debt if you’re willing to pay it off over a longer period of time or if you have to save less toward retirement.
[PoF: Is this the same WCI that advocates for everyone to pay off their student loans within about five years of finishing training? Just checking. A 20-year timeframe gives you four times that.]
# 8 You’ll Have Less Time to Pay Off a Mortgage
The early retiree won’t want a mortgage hanging over her head in retirement. That means she’ll need to be more frugal in her choice of housing and she’ll need a more aggressive mortgage loan, such as a 15 year versus a more traditional 30 year. It turns out you can live in a much nicer house if you’re willing to work an extra decade or two.
[PoF: True! You can be house poor for decades if you want. To retire early, you might have to accept a lower interest rate and pay way less interest over the life of your shorter mortgage loan.
Some diligent savers will skip the mortgage loan altogether and pay cash for their homes.]
# 9 College For the Kids Becomes a Much Taller Hurdle
A typical doc starts having kids around 30, give or take a few years. That means the kids are in college in his early 50s. The early retiree, if she is planning to pay the tuition, not only has to save up for her retirement by age 50, she also has to save up the entire cost of college. A more traditional retiree can pay for at least part of college costs out of current earnings.
[PoF: There must be a scratch in this record, because I keep hearing the same line over and over. “You need to save more and pay for stuff,” or something to that effect.
A physician’s income can allow you to do those things. I retired early with a six-figure 529 plan for each of my kids. College savings is optional, but retiring early doesn’t preclude you from building up those balances for your children.]
# 10 We Have a Progressive Tax System
You are penalized for earning a lot of money in a few years versus earning the same amount of money over a longer period of time. Doctors are already punished by this fact since they get no “credit” for not making anything in their 20s. If you “burn the candle” at the other end of your career, you’ll be punished again.
Tax-wise, you’re far better off making $100,000 a year for 40 years than $200,000 a year for 20. For example, a married tax-payer making $100,000 a year and taking the standard deduction pays $9,024 in taxes. The same tax-payer making $200,000 a year pays $42,048 over four times as much. That’s not counting the additional state taxes, payroll taxes, or phase-outs either.
[PoF: I’m not shooting fish in a barrel for a change here; there’s a lot of wisdom to what Dr. Dahle said. Some of the effect can be mitigated with deferred compensation (I used a 457(b)) and front-loading decades worth of charitable giving with a donor advised fund.
The example does assume steady income tax rates over four decades. I made most of my money in a decade when federal income taxes were quite low from a historical perspective. I’d be surprised if they stayed that way for the next three decades.]
# 11 Retirement is Longer, But Not as Comfortable
Taking all these things into consideration, it really becomes impossible for the 50-year-old retiree to have as much in retirement as the 70-year-old. Thus, not only does the early retiree have to live a more frugal lifestyle during her career, but she’ll need to continue it in retirement.
What do you expect when you want 20 years of earnings to cover a lifetime of living expenses? A standard retiree saving just 10-15% of her income will have much more spending money than an early-retiree that saved 30-40% of her income.
[PoF: Conflating spending with happiness is one of the most expensive mistakes a person can make. Yes, the difference between spending $30,000 a year and $100,000 a year is profound. But don’t expect jumping from a budget of $100,000 to $300,000 a year to make you much, if any, happier.
If happiness and comfort are your goals, there are better ways to achieve them than working longer than you’d like to make more money and spending more of what you earn.]
# 12 You’ll Have to Be Smarter About Investing
An early-retiree can’t tolerate poor market returns, serious investing mistakes, or the sometimes high cost of advice. There isn’t as much time to recover from errors during your career. You’re dependent on market returns for a much longer period of time. You’ll also probably need to learn to do it yourself to save on the costs of a financial advisor.
If the typical life expectancy is somewhere in your mid 80s, a retiree at age 70 only needs to muddle through the markets for 15 years. An early retiree will need a higher percentage of stocks in his portfolio, which will then be exposed to 35 years of market gyrations.
Consider what has happened in the last 35 years – the oil crisis of the 70s, stagflation, super high inflation in the early 80s, Black Monday in 1987, the recession of the early 90s, the currency crisis of 1998, the dotcom crash, the severe bear market of 2008 due to the housing crash, the euro crisis, and now COVID-19.
[PoF: Whether you plan to retire early or not, being dumber about investing is never a sound game plan.
If an interest in financial independence and early retirement gets you to become financially literate earlier in your career, that’s a very good thing!]
# 13 Early Retirement Can Impinge on Lifestyle Decisions
The desire to retire early may push you to have children earlier or fewer children than you otherwise wish. It might preclude you from a lower-paying job you may enjoy more.
It’s almost impossible to retire early if you get divorced and have to pay alimony and child support. You might not be able to get that boat, purchase a second home or donate to charity and still hit your savings goals.
[PoF: I’m going to need some help gathering up this here straw, ‘cuz this strawman just blew right over.
Retiring early can give you more time to enjoy the years you have with your children, and if you’re basing important life decisions like how many children to have on a desire to quit work, you’ve got your priorities mixed up.
Regarding the lower-paying, job, that’s exactly what financial independence gives you — the option to take a lower-paying job, work less, or not at all.
I can certainly agree that divorce is costly. To make your early retirement iron-clad, if married, it’s best to have enough money so that you could each be considered financially independent on your own with half of your combined net worth. It’s also best not to be married to your career. Again, make sure you’ve got your priorities straight.]
# 14 The Identity Crisis
Physicians spend the first third of their life preparing for their career. They may see their job as a calling which provides them a sense of identity and importance.
They might even have been so busy during their career that they don’t have much in the way of hobbies, especially hobbies that can keep them busy all day every day. It isn’t unusual for someone to retire early, then after a few months to return to work in some capacity because they didn’t realize what an important portion of their life and identity their role as a doctor had become.
[PoF: The identity crisis of the retired physician is real, but Dr. Dahle has it backwards. It’s a much bigger issue for those who choose not to retire early.
Who’s more likely to feel lost or have a bruised ego when hanging up the white coat? The doctor who practiced for four decades, or the one who practiced for a decade or two? Which one saw their hobbies fade away over the years? Who’s in better physical shape to pick up new hobbies and other pursuits?
The physicians I know who failed retirement have been doctoring so long they hardly know anything else. Retire young and you can avoid this identity crisis.]
Now, there are a lot of options between retiring at 50 and retiring at 70. With a decent savings rate, retiring at 60 or even 55 is pretty easy for a doc. Transitioning gradually into a part-time position is also an excellent way to bridge the health insurance and social security gap.
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When do you plan to retire? What influences you most towards an early retirement or retiring at a traditional age?
20 thoughts on “14 Reasons Why the White Coat Investor Doesn’t Want You to Retire Early”
I get that, my son is a doctor after spending a few years as an engineer like me. I think we are all different and are probably drawn to careers for different reasons. I hadn’t considered the career profile being much flatter for most MD’s. But only flatter because you start out near the top, something much different than in other careers. Thanks for teaching me something!
Steveark – flip side of the coin:
While still in residency I informed my residency director that when I graduated he was going to hire me for a position which consisted of x, y, and z (a position that did not exist, yet). He did.
Occasionally, over the ensuing years, I would have to put my foot down or raise my voice when bureaucrats, administration, or the board tried to impose changes that, in my opinion, compromised patient care or med student/resident education (the ONLY two things that I care about). After one such exchange, my director “warned” me that I was “never going to get anywhere in this organization” with that attitude.
I had to laugh, Seriously, doc?!? Where exactly do you think I want to “go”? I am doing exactly what I love and plan to do until the day I retire (early). That was 20 years ago! (It’s the insurance hoops and EMR that wear me down – not the doctoring and teaching.)
it doesn’t have to be flat. You start as a regular young attending, “chart pusher” and can then develop your area of interest/expertise, be it research, teaching, ultrasound, critical care etc ( as far as emergency medicine is concerned). Then you aim for a Division Chief. Then- for the Chair… or a CMO… ( it may take many years though and a bit of luck, just like with everything). Only then it becomes a bit trickier. And sure, most people do not go for this kind of a path, but then again, how many people are really motivated enough to go for FIRE?
I have a different take on #14. To me the biggest problem with retiring early is that it could prevent you from achieving enough in your career. Particularly for someone who puts as much time in preparation as an MD. It simply is very unlikely that many people can reach the top of their profession in 20 years. In corporations the average age of a CEO is 59. That’s equivalent to age 67 for a medical doctor when you count four years of med school and 4 years of residency after obtaining a bachelor’s degree. And sure, some people are perfectly happy with having a career that never climbs very high on the career ladder and there are docs and CEO’s that are world beaters at 40, but very very few. For someone who has serious career ambitions leaving a successful career while still in middle management, when you have the potential to make Fortune 500 CEO, or perhaps become a world recognized expert in your field of medicine, means giving up on that form of success. It could feel like retiring from football after a successful rookie year in the NFL, which has never happened a single time in the history of the NFL. Competitive achievers don’t quit until they’ve achieved their goals in life, walking away from a career after 20 years usually would mean giving up on maxing out your career. And I know that is fine for a lot of people, but it wasn’t for me and it wouldn’t be for most of the successful corporate people I know. And sure, some of them have sacrificed more important things to succeed at work, but the fact is many, if not most, are great parents and have made work and family blend with few problems. For them leaving the game early would be to cheat themselves of some important goals. My kids were a huge part of my life but what I achieved at work filled needs in me that were different than the ones family filled. And I don’t think I’m that unusual. A lot of my confidence in life, my ability to lead others and my courage are because I faced things at work that were an order of magnitude more challenging than most nonwork situations. Critical decisions that allowed me to grow in ways I’d never want to have missed. Again, that may have no weight to some people, maybe not to you, but I’m guessing it is very common for people to have a need to stretch and grow in a competitive work arena and to achieve very difficult things.
That’s an interesting take, Steveark, and I think there is a subset of physicians that it applies to. Most are the ivory tower types that remain in academia, working their way up to head up a subspecialty and maybe some day become a department chair. Or they have a particular research focus and they desire to be among the world’s foremost experts. In the private sector, the goal could be to have one of the most successful practices in the town, region, state, etc… or to be the head of a local or state society in their specialty (although many of those are academic physicians, as well).
I didn’t have those particular ambitions (like >95% of physicians, I would guess) and without those aspirations, I realized after maybe 5 years in practice that there wasn’t really a next level for me. I was OK with that, but after so many years of longing for and reaching the next level, whether it was graduating from college, getting through the first two years of didactics in med school, choosing a specially, completing internship, completing residency, etc… it was weird to realize that there were no more ways to level up. At least none that interested me.
Medicine is different from most fields in that, once your training is finished, you’re pretty much an equal in many ways to those who have been practicing for 5 or 25 years. You may be a little wet behind the ears and have some “real world” lessons to learn, but you also have more recent clinical training and study that the guys my age may not be as up-to-speed on.
I have heard from quite a few docs in their late 30s and 40s who come to that “I guess this is it” realization and it’s not very motivating. The best you can do then is find joy and purpose in the day-to-day work you do. If that’s not doing it for you and money loses its appeal as a motivator (once FI), the RE becomes more appealing.
Glad to see I wasn’t the only one to write a countering opinion.
I saw yours on FB — looks like we agreed in a lot of ways.
Personal savings is personal responsibility.
Two greatest factors that cause sustained inability to save and become financially independent are uncontrolled spending and accumulation of Debt.
Most people for some reason see debt or loans as a good thing. I personally see them as an evil that may be required in very limited situations, but never left to pay over time. As soon as you can pay, pay extra, pay early and pay often to get rid of it.
Having no paper/debt over your head is one of the most liberating things I think a person could ever really have.
Stay safe, stay healthy and keep preaching concepts of self reliance.
It doesn’t really have anything to do with finance but if your ever board check out my personal journal and tell me if my writing is legible. Kind of a life story of trying to find joy after years of war. It can be heavy, so I don’t expect everyone to be interested ?
JoyAfterTrauma.com you can edit that out if you wish or hit me up again and I’ll delete it.
Don’t join the military just to retire early, but we do have a counterpoint for every one of the WCI “financial” arguments! 🙂
(As always – you should only join the military if you want to serve your country – not for financial reasons.)
Military retirement begins as soon as you retire, as early as 20 years after finishing med school. Benefit will range from about $50K at 20y up to $102K at 30y depending on which retirement plan (BRS vs High 3). Similar to an inflation adjusted annuity! Comes with (okay) health insurance. Post9/11 GI bill lets you send one kid to school for free if you don’t use it on yourself. 20 years Active Service will get you to the first SS bend point. The new withdrawal rules for TSP appear to make it possible to arrange a mega-backdoor Roth once you retire using all the extra money you stash during deployments – could make up for lack of catchup options if you retire prior to 50. No medical school debt. Amazing investment options within the TSP.
Full disclosure – My early-ish (age 55) retirement has lasted for 3 weeks now. My $100K pension feels very nice in the face of market volatility, although I have been good at ignoring the market numbers, staying invested with 100% equity index funds for the past 30 years. Didn’t panic through any prior crisis, and my retirement pay covers all of our “needs.” Despite this, I can’t stand to do nothing during this COVID crisis, and I am pushing to go back (part-time) as soon as I can get credentialed. So WCI is spot on regarding how hard it is to change your identity, especially if you love your work…
For sharing your experience with the military pension.
For you 20+ years of service.
And for going back to help out during this crisis.
I’ve made myself available to my old group, and when I made that offer I figured it was just a matter of time before I got the call. Now, I’m not so sure — I may get to remain retired after all.
“Well, the maximum social security benefit in 2020 is $3,011 a month. That assumed one started working at 21, paid the maximum each year, and retired at age 67.
Adjusting that for age 70 gets you to $3,790 a month. Remember that your spouse will also have a benefit. Just to make things easy, let’s assume the spouse gets ½ of your benefit. That’s a total of $5,685 a month, or $68,220 a year, adjusted to inflation.”
Your non-working spouse will only receive half of your benefit at full retirement age (e.g., 67 in this example), even if you defer until 70. Therefore, the benefit at 70 yo will be $3,790 + (0.5 * $3,011) = $5,295.50.
At least that is my understanding after purchasing Kotlikoff’s Maximize My Social Security.
Correct, CM. That one slipped past the editors. I came to the same conclusion as you when researching and writing up my Social Security post:
“My wife has done a lot of hard work, but most of it has gone unrecognized by the Social Security Administration. Obviously, the SSA has never had to clean up after me or my kids. But not all hope is lost.
As mentioned earlier, if she doesn’t qualify with 40 quarters, or if her benefit would be less than half of mine, she can file for Social Security at full retirement age (67) and receive half of my FRA benefit as long as I’m still alive,and she would receive my full benefit if I happen to leave this world before her.
Note that she won’t receive half of the benefit I can take at age 70, but rather half of the amount I would have gotten if I had started collecting at age 67, my full retirement age. That works out to be about 40% of my age 70 benefit.”
Loved the point-counterpoint of this. It is clear that you two respect each other a lot! Both of you make very good points. As for me at age 59 and financially independent my goal is to work part-time and turn my profession into a hobby. Thank you both for continuing to share your wisdom with the world. I have profited so much from it and I’m very grateful.
When I first read of MDs wanting to retire in their early 40s, my first thought was that maybe they didn’t like their careers… and it was a shame to spend 10-12 years training for a career that only lasted about as long as the training period. But then I see these MDs are usually still working in some capacity but they just wanted to quit working so much. I get that.
Biggest issue with retiring before age 65, to me, is health insurance. PoF might get it for $1,000 a month now for a family plan, but let me tell you the premiums rise exponentially once you get into your 60s. A friend paying full cost of ACA Marketplace coverage was paying $1,100 a month for the $8,000 deductible plan when she was 64. That is for ONE PERSON.
I’m coming to understand why many age 60-64 people just fly uninsured for a few years before Medicare kicks in. But that, to me, is taking a big risk.
Right now we are guaranteed coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions, but if certain politicians have their way and repeal the ACA, a lot of people will suddenly find themselves uninsurable. Then what?
As far as annual income and lifestyle goes, it is hard to miss what you never have. I’ve lived on a fraction of my actual income for so long that I don’t know how to do it any other way. Yet I can comfortably buy necessities and an occasional splurge without budgeting, and am still saving money in spite of working part time. I guess my needs and wants just aren’t that high.
Agree with both the WCI and PoF on this one, however one could definitely argue if a doc (say, the PoF) retires after only 10 or 15 years of working in medicine, they simply chose the wrong career. If they didn’t love (at least parts of it) to continue working, that says a lot. It’s indeed possible to have a wonderful life, make all the kids’ concerts and games, take amazing family vacations, have engaging hobbies, yet still work full time, at least until mid or late 50’s. Just need the right practice structure, right partners and right attitude.
Haha, this is great. I love hearing a counterpoint. I totally agree with PoF that living on less than $125,000 is really not hard and doesn’t feel uncomfortable in the least. For those of us that grew up on less than $40,000 a year, it’s a fortune! I do think about the feeling of loss of purpose in life, though, with FIRE. Having a steady gig that gives you something to go to a couple of times a week does add a whole lot of satisfaction. I think probably a lot of people are probably realizing this right now as COVID causes furloughs and decreased work for many. My ideal life at this point in my life would be to be financially independent with an option to retire but to continue to do clinical work 2-3 times a week but ideally in a job that lets me travel for 1-2 months at a time.
Agree it’s best to know the sacrifice before starting. Both paths and frankly just being a Physician require sacrifice. Pick your sacrifice. I chose to sacrifice new vs used, the Audi for a Honda, first class for coach, Opus for house red, boat/beach house/RV/lake house and picked one. I’m 51 and FI, able to RE very comfortably and now just working less, traveling more, enjoying life. Being positioned to retire early and choosing to stay in the game is a terrific place to be, but wouldn’t be possible without a little sacrifice along the way. My .02
Thank you for the content, this is a great comparison of perspective. I think you would both agree it’s not the FI part that is in disagreement, it is the RE. That being the case, the RE in my opinion is never really comes to fruition. If your smart enough to achieve FI at a young age, chances are you are going to continue to make money in some form or fashion. Even if it is modest income compared to what you are making now, it will make most of these arguments moot on both sides. POF I think you are a good example of this, you got to FI, realized that you wanted to pursue other interests, and did it. You still can contribute to social security, you could still get catch up contributions when you hit the appropriate age, etc. You figured out what would make you the most happy, and had the flexibility to do it. Hopefully for most physicians they can achieve FI and practice in a more balanced fashion. Keep up the good work and thank you for this content.
To be fair, I’ve written a lot about early retirement, such as this post:
and may even retire early myself (although certainly not at 43).
The point of this post was simply to point out that retiring early requires a lot of sacrifice you may not be willing to make once you understand what it is. Certainly many things work against you in this regard.
Fair points. The hardest one to argue against is unanticipated life events — divorce, disability, natural disaster. As a physician, once you retire, your ability to go back and get relicensed and recredentialed is not a given.