Today’s interviewee is a young 45, has a single fund in his portfolio, and has an extremely low withdrawal rate to cover his even lower expenses.
Even in a high-cost-of-living area, this person spends less than the median household income every year and has a couple of million in the bank to live off of.
But he’s having a bit of a career transition conflict, finding little joy in the daily responsibilities he encounters as a part-timer, and is looking forward to what’s coming after the crossroads.
Read on to find out more.
If you’re interested in participating in one of three interview series, please download the most appropriate form for your life situation: FIRE Starter, FIRE Crossroads, or Post-FI Notes. To see other posts in the series, visit our Q&A archive.
Getting to Know You
Where are you on your financial independence journey? Have you crossed the halfway point in terms of net worth and/or passive income?
I have achieved my FIRE goal. I am at a point where I could withdraw 3% of my assets every year to cover my expenses. My personal expenses are currently under $40,000 per year.
Tell us about your household. How many people and at what ages? Are you supporting anyone outside of your home? Where do you live?
I live in a 3-bedroom apartment with my girlfriend. I am 45 years old and my girlfriend is in her late 30s. We live close to Washington, D.C. I am not supporting anyone outside of my home.
How do I keep expenses so low in a high-cost-of-living area? I only support myself, and many of my costs are split between my girlfriend and me. My half of the rent bill is $1,200 per month, and utilities average $80 per month.
I buy health insurance off the exchange for $360 per month. My long-term disability insurance is $2,100 per year. Auto insurance for myself is $72 per month. My total dining-out expenses for 2022 were $3,200. My half of the groceries were $2,100 for the year, as well. My cell phone service is $25 per month.
In what field are you working? How is your career going? What do you like best and least about your chosen profession?
I work as a hospitalist. I would say my career is going well in that I don’t have to do a ton of hospitalist shifts anymore due to FIRE. I can pick how much or how little I want to work.
Currently, I am doing 5 shifts a month. I like that I can control my work schedule. I like that I get protected time off when my shifts are completed. I do not take any work home with me when my shift is completed. The actual day-to-day tasks of my job as a hospitalist are not enjoyable or rewarding to me.
Do you feel you’ve come to a crossroads of sorts? If so, tell us about it. What options are you contemplating?
I am currently taking some informatics classes to help me potentially transition to a new career.
How is your nest egg invested? Approximately what percentage is allocated to stocks, bonds, real estate, and alternatives?
93% of my assets are in VTSAX. The remaining 7% is in cash.
Are your investments primarily in tax-deferred, Roth, or “taxable” post-tax accounts?
Do you have investments in an HSA? How about 529 Plans?
What has been your best investment?
VTSAX, by far. It is really the only investment that I have ever made that has increased in value.
I tried individual stocks and individual mutual funds and they all lost money.
Your worst investment?
I bought some individual stocks in the tech sector that lost all of their value.
Into the FIRE
Numerically, what is your FI goal?
When do you suspect you will achieve financial independence? Will you retire from your career once you’re comfortably FI?
I have reached my FI goal. I will try and leverage the financial freedom I gained from FIRE to try and find a job that I somewhat enjoy.
What are your post-FI plans? How will your life change? What do you look forward to the most?
Really, I plan on doing the same things I am doing now. I hope that my life will change in that I don’t have to do hospitalist shifts anymore and transition to a new career in healthcare. This career transition is what I most look forward to now.
Have you made any major changes in your lifestyle or investments to accelerate your FI path?
Coming out of residency, I signed a contract for two years working full time for a community hospital. After completing the two-year contract, I realized that I hated this job and did not want to be a hospitalist.
I then started to do locum tenens work full time which worked out very well because I could control my schedule and did not have to work nights anymore. Since the locums company paid for my housing, this allowed me to get rid of my apartment. I was also single at the time, so I moved back in with my family and this allowed me to increase my savings rate to > 85%.
This was huge in terms of accruing wealth and learning how to use my savings to get to FIRE. It caused me to decrease my spending to very low levels and then I could strategize on how I could design a lifestyle that I felt comfortable with and also achieve FIRE.
Having the time and space to think and learn about investing changed the trajectory of my life. I feel that physicians are so busy with their clinical work that it sucks up the bandwidth from their personal lives where they don’t have the opportunity to learn about personal finance and investing.
Are you facing any unique challenges making FI or RE more difficult?
I’m not really facing any unique challenges. Just trying to figure out what a post-hospitalist life will look like.
What advice do you have for others who are seeking financial independence?
Stick to your goals. There are many things that I thought would change my life. I can only think of two things that actually altered the course of my life.
One was my education (i.e. going to med school), and the second was FIRE. It allowed me the freedom to think about many different options. It allowed me to pump the brakes on the course of my life. But most importantly, FIRE allowed me to start listening to my inner voice of what I wanted to do. I think that was THE most important thing.
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I thank today’s interviewee for sharing their story, and I’ve shared my feedback privately with them. I wouldn’t want my opinions to influence yours. Please give your take and answer any questions they have had in the space below!