Who Are the Physicians Who Retire Early?


My little FIRE blog is one of many early retirement blogs, but it was the first written by a physician. If you look around, you’ll find quite a few young men and women who have successfully pulled off an early retirement at age 30 to 35, an age at which most physicians will have a negative net worth.

Set For LifeFor example:

Yes, they all have blogs, but their ability to retire is independent of any blog income they now enjoy. Or maybe they’re not real, and I’m not real, and early retirement is a farce. Whichever it is, physicians can’t realistically earn enough from being a doctor by those ages to retire.


Early Retirement for Physicians


If we’re going to talk about early retirement for physicians, we need to define what it means to retire early in the context of a late start, excessive student loan debt, and a self-imposed debt we feel we owe to ourselves or society after so many years of education and training.

It’s also wise to separate FIRE into its component parts. There is FI = Financial Independence, and RE = Retire Early. It is more than acceptable to strive to become financially independent without any notion of wanting to retire early.

In fact, once you have saved enough to retire, and truly have no interest in funemployment, you have proven that you are truly happy in your career. That’s fantastic!

Conversely, if you believe you love your job and wouldn’t practice any differently if you had millions in the bank, well… you might feel differently once you actually have your millions.

Honestly, that’s where I’m at. For years, I thought I loved my job. It turns out I like it alright, but I loved the paychecks more than anything. Now that I don’t rely on the money coming in, I’m more aware of the stressors I once took for granted as normal, the unpleasantness of being at the constant beck and call of the loathsome pager both day and night, and the absurdity of the hoops we jump through to satisfy a multitude of Boards and governing bodies.

Career dissatisfaction can be addressed in multiple ways. “Resiliency training” is the new “fighting burnout.” Working half-time has worked wonders for some, including this radiologist who wrote a physician’s guide to part-time work. Today’s post, though, is supposed to be about early retirement, so before I get too far off topic, let’s return to the subject at hand.


How Early is Early?


How Soon is Now?” asked the Smiths. If I had retired the moment I was FI, it would have been a couple months shy of my fortieth birthday. That would be very early, but I know physicians who stopped practicing even earlier. I’ll break it down into five year increments.


Who Retires at 30 to 35?


Retiring after a career of zero or a few years may sound ludicrous, but there are a few scenarios that are not so far-fetched.


The stay-at-home spouse. I worked with one family physician whose wife finished residency with him years earlier. Diplomas in hand, she remained home to raise and home-school their children. To my knowledge, she didn’t work a single day as an attending. She may have been retired from medicine at age 29, actually.

The Suddenly Wealthy. A large windfall at the beginning of one’s career could be all it takes to transition a disenchanted physician out of practice. The money could come from any number of sources. A startup company could be sold to a tech giant. An app or website that really takes off could be worth millions. Inheritance and lotto winnings could come into play here.


The Career Transitioner. While it’s not exactly “retirement,” pursuing a non-clinical career is effectively a retirement from clinical medicine. Some physicians may realize that the bedside is not where they belong. A visit to the Drop Out Club (DOC) may lead them to drop the stethoscope, laryngoscope, otoscope, or ophthalmoscope for good. Those that pursue this option rather than residency could do so in their mid-twenties.


Who Retires at 35 to 39?


This is the first age bracket where an extremely early retirement can be achieved based on a physician’s career earnings. I could argue against the silliness of working fewer years than it took to prepare for the career, but that would be invoking the sunk cost fallacy.


The Planner. To escape so soon on your own merits requires some serious planning. Minimize debts throughout medical school and residency. Moonlight if possible. Choose a high paying specialty. Work and live like a resident after residency. Take advantage of geographic arbitrage. A well executed plan could lead to a retirement by 40.




The Frugal Wanderlust. This physician has never been concerned with the usual trappings that are typically associated with a doctor’s lifestyle. Renting, or owning a simple home, the doctor has no interest in being tied down.

A frugal physician with few material needs living a middle-class lifestyle can afford to explore the world in a similarly frugal fashion before his or her fortieth birthday. If so inclined, he or she may incorporate the practice of medicine into travel, performing mission work where quality healthcare is needed most. This physician saves $10,000 a year on travel using smart credit card travel rewards strategies.


Who Has Two Thumbs and Retires at 40 to 45?


This guy. At this age, some prior planning and relative frugality remain paramount to a successful early retirement.


Mid-Life Crisis. At roughly the half-way point in life, physicians know all too well that life is precious, and sometimes short. We have courtside seats to the unfolding of cruel and unusual tales of disease and injury dramatically altering or ending a life prematurely. Working long hours, fighting burnout, and crossing our fingers that we’re not as unlucky as this patient or that one, we realize a certain need to start living differently. For some, that will mean retiring early.


The Family Man or Woman. I may have a modicum of mid-life crisis in me, but I’d like to think I’m more of the family man. After providing for my family for more than a decade, I regret that some days, I’m not more a part of it. Realizing that our time with boys at home will soon be halfway over, I want the next decade to be amazing. While it could be good if I were working, we can give them incredible worldly experiences that are incompatible with a full-time job.



Who Retires at 45 to 49?


The Accidental Retiree. Entrepreneurial physicians at this age may find that a side project started years ago has blossomed into something that is more rewarding and/or time-consuming than their day and night job as a physician. The side project could be a restaurant, a website, a life coaching business, or regular television appearances. It could be guiding tours through the Florida’s Everglades or the Alaskan bush. Some doctors will choose to follow their passion or pursue the better income.




The Second Breadwinner. In their mid-to-late forties, a married couple could have a combined 30 to 50 years of career earnings behind them. If one spouse has a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. job they love, and the other has a stressful 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. job they don’t, it might make good sense for the latter to call it a day.


Who Retires at 50 to 54?


The Prudent. This physician shares some commonalities with The Planner, but has had many more years for career earnings and compound interest to pad the retirement accounts. A reasonable savings rate of about 30% can lead to a comfortable financial independence at this age. Retiring at 54 (in the year in which you turn 55) allows full penalty-free access to the 401(k). Compared to The Planner, who would likely have a five-figure annual budget, The Prudent should be able to spend in the low six-figures.


The Passive Income Master. A physician who has focused on creating passive income streams, like Passive Income MD, may eventually witness his passive income match or exceed active income from working. Investments in real estate, for-profit hospitals, surgery centers, or imaging centers come with higher risk, but can pay off handsomely. This doctor is different than the entrepreneurial Accidental Retiree, who will continue to be actively managing a side project when leaving medicine.


The Chase Ink Business Cash Card

No Annual Fee, a $500 welcome bonus with $3k spent in 3 mo. & up to 5% cash back on certain purchases. More on why it's one of my favorite cash back business cards here.


Who Retires at 55 to 59?


The Forced Hand. Remember the Mid-Life Crisis who feared life-altering health problems? Those issues arise all too commonly in the mid-to-late fifties. A physical disability or ailment has sidetracked many careers of physicians in what should be prime years of their career. A healthy physician may step aside to spend time with and care for an ailing parent, spouse, or sibling. Sometimes, the physician doesn’t choose an early retirement. Sometimes, fate chooses it for him.


The Fed Up. Sadly, there are many physicians who love their patients, and love being their doctor, but have had it up to here with the extraneous roadblocks that make it difficult to do the job they once loved. A new electronic health record. An uptick in insurance denials. Increasingly onerous Board Certification maintenance requirements. Fewer support staff. Decreased reimbursements. More metrics measured without any demonstrated benefit. Which will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back?

Who Retires at 60 or above?


We’re no longer talking about an early retirement in my opinion, but for the sake of completeness…


The Unfortunate. Half her net worth disappeared in a divorce settlement, and he used it to take his new bride and her newly augmented bosom on a round-the-world beach tour featured prominently and daily on Facebook. He went to 100% cash at the bottom of the market in 2001. And again in 2008. He got back in when stocks had sufficiently rebounded to previous highs. She wanted to be a Passive Income Master, buying all the heavily leveraged real estate she could get her hand on from 2004 to 2007. Like both John Malkovich and Kevin Bacon, he trusted Bernie Madoff with his millions.


The Truly Happy. Most physicians will retire after the age of 60, and most will reflect on their careers with genuine pride and contentment. Not every moment is wonderful, but amidst the occasional drudgery, we do have the privilege of working small miracles every workday. Most patients are respectful and grateful for the sacrifices we make. For the majority, retiring after age 60 is not a reflection of any kind of failure, but a confirmation of resounding career success.


“For the majority, retiring after age 60 on of resounding career success.”


Who am I? I’m a Family Man with a touch of Mid-Life Crisis. A future Accidental Retiree and Career Transitioner. A Frugal Wanderlust with Passive Income. A little bit Fed Up, but more Truly Happy. Hoping to be a bit happier when I retire early.



Who are you?



  • I am 51 with the following components:

    50% Second Breadwinner
    40% Prudent
    10% Mid Life Crisis

    …so a bit of a late bloomer.

    I am months away from going half time with a couple of side (consulting) gigs lined up that appear to be fun and interesting and could became the main gig over time.

    Great article, fun and interesting.

    • I like the breakdown, Dr. Vagabond. I hadn’t considered breaking it down by percentages, but Family Man and Planner would be my top two, even if I didn’t necessary plan on an early retirement for all that long. I was saving and planning all along; I just didn’t know the reason.


      • FIREDOC

        quitting at 56 . which is next year .

        1/2 because the job has become boring routine ( doing the same thing for >25 years )
        1/8 because as i get older my tolerance for insurance /practice stress is lower
        1/8 because i am rich enough , therefore i can
        1/4 developed some time consuming outside interest/hobbies

  • Subscribe to get more great content like this, an awesome spreadsheet, and more!
  • biglawinvestor

    I am 35 with the following components:

    70% The Planner
    10% Mid Life Crisis
    20% The Accidental Retiree

    Fun article. I’m sure I will change over time.

  • I’m 39 and hope to be the Passive Income Master, Accidental Retiree, and The Prudent all wrapped in one, with the benefit of a Second Breadwinner.

    Unfortunately the concept of retiring from 30-40 is unattainable for most physicians but I think most can start cutting down their time (if the specialty allows for it) in their 40’s with some strategy and plans in place.

    Good stuff!

    • You’re well on your way to being the Passive Income master!

      I haven’t ruled out slowing down / going part-time if I can do so without delaying our adventurous FIRE plans. A little bit of locums here and there to keep my feet wet and my skills sharp might make for a good transition. When I look for overseas locums, no call and a flexible schedule are top priorities.


  • As I am still in training, I haven’t figured out exactly where I would fall on this scale. I feel like I desire to be a Frugal Wanderlust but will may change more towards the Family Man later on. However, my ultimate goal is to become the Truly Happy.

    Thanks for a great read!

  • Well, not being a physician but…ahem…..a doctor, I hope I can still sneak into the discussion. :>)

    Strictly speaking, the Prudent – but throw in the Truly Happy fun(d) and Family man to diversify the life portfolio and maximize returns. The withdrawal strategy will be heavily focused on protecting the Truly Happy and Family Man funds. In the event of a market meltdown, may look to bolster the Frugal Wanderlust fund but no idea yet exactly how…

    Clever how you put this together. Will be interesting to read how many more readers are “all-in” or have a mix of “who are ya”

    • I’m not a physician or even a doctor but I slept at a Holiday Inn once awhile back. Count me in the Truly Happy having already passed through the Family Woman stage in my 30s. Owning my business gives me the freedom to juggle my schedule and babysit grandkids (3 hours away) whenever I receive the call so I guess I have it both ways. Actually, I’ve known many people in their 50s and 60s who hadn’t planned on retiring to move into the Family stage when grandkids come along. The 3rd generation is life altering.

      I really enjoyed this one – you must have spent a lot of time breaking it down, very comprehensive.

      • PhysicianOnFIRE

        Your comments are always welcome, Johanna. It must have been a Holiday Inn Express, because you seem to know what you’re talking about. Enjoy those Grandbabies!


    • Physicians, other Doctors, even patients are allowed here. That should encompass darned near everybody. Your plan sounds excellent to me!

      This was fun to write because I didn’t know what I was going to write when I started. I had “how early is early retirement for physicians” as my template. The reason I have so many of these traits is that most were a projection of myself in some way.


  • Financial Panther

    Really like how you point out that most physicians can’t retire in their 30s. Ms. FP, for example, won’t even begin her first job until she’s 32 (after 4 years of dental school plus 4 years of residency). Some people already have a million in the bank by then!

    I think I’m aiming to be a combination of planner and mid life crisis. Ms. FP right now is probably looking like a truly happy, but who knows, maybe that will change once she’s out of an academic setting.

    • PhysicianOnFIRE

      A Panther Planning to be a Planner. I like it! I would also aim for Family Man, and accept the Mid-Life Crisis if it comes to that.


  • I am neither physician nor a doctor and not even a CPA. :O) (BTW – what is the diff between a physician and doctor?)

    I am mostly Happy and a Family Man. I don’t own my own business but work with a small firm and have great flexibility and hours. We take 2 – 3 trips a year and we have done some Spartan races together. I have a job that could be conceivably done well into the later years and hours could be adjusted down. My hours have allowed me to coach my kids and now am taking on a high school coaching job.

    Great post. Great breakdown.

    • If my understanding is correct, a physician is an MD or DO. A dentist, for example, is a doctor, but not a physician.

      • Anyone with a Ph.D. ( Doctor of Philosophy) is by definition also classified as a Doctor. That degree my be in diverse disciplines such as physics, chemistry, economics, literature, history, the list goes on…..A Ph.D. is generally earned as a second degree ( after a Bachelor or Masters degree) and can take 3-5 yrs to complete depending on the discipline and country where the study takes place. For example, I did a three year Ph.D. in chemistry at at UK university in the late eighties/early nineties. More study, often more loans and ideally more potential to increase salary based on an improved skill set and experience.

      • Folks with a PhD would also call themselves the “d” word (Mr. PIE and yours truly, Mr. ERN, included). Which can sometimes lead to confusion, for example when they ask if there is a doctor on the plane, my question back could be: “if someone has a problem related to time series econometrics I can help, otherwise you might ask for a medical doctor”
        But back to the original question: I would probably put myself into the same category as the good Dr. PoF. A Family Man (not Family Guy), with a dose of mid-life crisis. Of course, the mid-life crisis in question here is different from the stereo-typical one for guys my age who end up in “The Unfortunate” category with a costly divorce and a surgically enhanced spouse.
        I like the way PoF described the onset of that crisis. As physicians you all see more of this, but even I have seen disease and death strike, sometimes pretty close to home. Maybe I’m not in “crisis” mode yet but definitely “urgency”.
        Great post, as always!!! Cheers!

        • financialibre

          I once got to sit through a truly awesome testimony exchange between a Ph.D. and a lawyer. During the course of the interview the Ph.D. became increasingly agitated and eventually worked into the dialogue that he did not appreciate being referred to as “Mr. So-and-so” when he was, in fact, “Dr. So-and-so.”

          The lawyer replied that, since her law degree was a “Juris Doctor” degree, she also would like to be referred to as “Dr. Such-and-such” during the remaining proceedings.

          It was a beautiful moment. (By the way, ERN, the Ph.D. in question was a pretty good econometrician. But the lawyer was an even better litigator. I don’t think anybody recalled the particulars of the dude’s analysis, but everyone remembered his petulance.)

          Great article, PoF. Er, Dr. PoF. And great comments, Dr. Mr. PIE and Dr. Mr. ERN!

          One other thought: As a consumer of doctors’ services from time to time, I’ll admit some ambivalence about docs retiring too early. If Little Libre’s pediatrician decided to call it quits, it’d really be devastating. Y’all (“real” docs, that is) do great work, and it’s unfortunate there isn’t a mechanism better than financial straits for keeping docs in the workforce. It’s work I could never do, so it’s much appreciated that y’all are there to step in and help when we need it – on a plane or otherwise!

        • PhysicianOnFIRE

          I’ve wondered why lawyers never use the D in their JD. It must be because they’re all so humble.

          I don’t want all the doctors to retire early. Fortunately, few will have both the desire and the means, so there should be people to care for us. It’s just the right call for me.


        • I love the FIRE blogs and updates but as another noted, I don’t actually want my DR. to do it. Selfish, I know and I am a bit sorry. But she has been there for all of our kids, appendix problems, allergies, stiches, gall bladder issues, throat issues, hernias, etc. She has been our Dr. for over 20-years. I suppose as a Family Dr. those relationships are felt for good or bad in general for longer periods of time then other specialties. My wife saw the same OB/Gyn though for at least 10-years, but we had 6 kids.

          We do need good Drs. A fairly young Dr finally discovered what was going on with my throat after 15-years of problems and I had begun to think I was crazy in the head (eosinophilic esophagitis). So hopefully for those looking to leave early, hopefully a compromise can be reached to keep you around in some capacity for a bit longer.

        • PhysicianOnFIRE

          My uncle has a PhD in forestry, which makes him well equipped to identify and eradicate Emerald Ash Borers at 36,000 feet should the need arise. “Mid-life Urgency” is a good way to describe it. The situation doesn’t call for a trip to the ER, but Urgent Care is appropriate.

          Oh, and I’ve been the doc on a plane. Dude fainted, a few of us responded. I started an IV to help rehydrate the guy somewhere 6 to 7 miles above the Yukon territory en route to our Alaskan honeymoon.


        • financialibre

          This thread’s gotten so complex I don’t really know where to reply, so I’ll just put it here at the end… First, if I ever head up real far north, I want you on the plane, PoF!

          And my comment wasn’t meant to suggest that life choices for docs ought to be any different from the rest of us. Really just meant that as a shout of respect y’all’s way. I don’t begrudge anybody’s decisions regarding their careers, lives, etc., and naturally I think your plan’s a great one. Just wanted to make that all clear.

          And, absolutely, the de-emphasis on the “D” in “JD” must be all about humility! (Actually, I know many very humble attys, but I also know a few who probably couldn’t even find humility in the dictionary.)

          Cheers, PoF!

        • Who needs a dictionary when you get to decide what the definition of a particular word is. Well, that depends of course, on what the definition “is” is. So to speak.

  • This is so interesting! I am trying to think about it through the lens of teaching, but I really don’t think there are early retirees in my world (IRL) — unless I count people who switch careers or stay home with kids (still a job, in my eyes!). I do think the last two categories apply. There are teachers who stay long past the retirement age because they have to (not enough years of service for full pension, financial issues/loans, etc.) or because they absolutely love it. Such an interesting perspective. Thanks!

    • PhysicianOnFIRE

      The salary is certainly lower for teachers, but with solid pensions, healthcare, and other benefits, early retirement can be an option. Starting at 22, you can have 25 to 30 years in by 47 or 52, when the pension might cover a significant portion of costs. Add a second breadwinner and some compounded investements over the decades, and it’s fully possible.


  • ChooseBetterLife

    Planner/Frugal Wanderlust here! Shiny things don’t tempt me, but travel does. If we chose to work full-time the last few years and never vacation we could already be retired, but we chose to work part-time and travel so we’ll work a bit longer instead.

  • Great thought process. As a non-Doctor, I can visualize your categories, but shift the years given the relatively lower compensation in non-medical professions. For example, a 52 year old non-medical retiree could be called “Accidental”, though they’re 5 years later than the “Doctor Band” of the same category. I’ll retire at 55, and would put myself in your 5-54 Age “Prudent” category. Ironically, my savings rate is ~30%, so your definition is extremely accurate! Nice work.

    • PhysicianOnFIRE

      Thank you, Fritz! I imagine the math works out because you’ve had more years to earn your salary, even if it isn’t a doctor’s salary. Most of us had a zero or negative net worth when we turned 30.


  • I am almost 45 and not a physician. FI but not RE. We all hanker after safety margins in our FIRE. Interesting post. I clicked on the bosom Facebook link to see how it was augmented but found nothing. ? You tease! ?

    • PhysicianOnFIRE

      Sorry, but I’m all natural, real and spectacular.

      If you have a burning desire to see something different, I imagine a man with your computer savvy could find it somewhere on the internet. 😉


  • Great post. I love the breakdown. I guess I’m a little bit planner, mid-life crisis and family man. Not sure I’ll make it to the 50-55 cohort, but part time work has made it a possibility.

    • PhysicianOnFIRE

      Sorry I didn’t create a Philosopher category. There’s a bit of philosophy in most of them, I suppose.


  • Anonymous

    Get great gratification from my physician occupation and love my lambo and waterfront home! Glory to God.

  • I’m not a physician, but in terms of your categories I will likely fit into the 50-55 cohort of Prudent. Definitely an interesting idea.

    • PhysicianOnFIRE

      I like the Prudent category. Nothing extreme about it; just sensible living and saving to go with a career of sufficient length. It’s respectable, and can lead to a retirement that is still quite early.


  • Mr Crazy Kicks

    Who has 2 thumbs and likes being retired? This guy!

    I suppose I would be the engineering equivalent of a planning frugal wanderlust. And while 34 is probably a bit young for a midlife crisis, losing some co-workers and realizing life is short also played a part. I wasn’t miserable, and was paid well, but doing the same thing for over a decade can get old.

    • Very cool, MCK. I love to see your travel posts. You’re doing early retirement right.

      I’ve been an attending anesthesiologist for just over a decade now. I’m paid extraordinarily well, but padding the retirement accounts is becoming less necessary with each passing month / year. On Thursday, I’ve got an update on my projected timeline. Stay tuned!


  • S.G.

    I’m…deciding. I worked out the numbers and with relatively conservative assumptions I should be FI around 45. That is based on my current spending which is relatively loose (but negotiated with my husband so still conscious). But at that point my oldest will be just graduating high school and starting her own schedule, so I’m considering pushing the pan back to do some conscious time off and spending to do some really cool stuff while all my kids are still living at home, so it may be closer to 50.

    So I’m prudent (50%) family woman (40%) with a side of second breadwinner (hubby really likes his job)

    • Sounds like a winning hand, S.G.

      If your husband is content to work full time, it might make sense for you to slow down sooner than later. Working full time until your kids leave the house only to become a lot less busy all at once is probably not the best formula for happiness. Give yourself more time with the family while you can, and perhaps work at that pace a bit longer.


      • S.G.

        I’ve been PT for a while now. Right now I’m at 80% time which gives me room to get the kids from school most days and volunteer a little bit with my daughter’s Girl Scout troop. My FI at 45 timeline is based on my 80% schedule. My thoughts about doing something cool with my kids is more about cost and taking an extended leave. For example I’m scoping a trip to Scotland that would involve a cruise from/to NY and a couple weeks biking from castle to castle. Full price we’re probably looking at about $25k and a month of no income. If we wait until we’re FI then my older daughter might not be able to take the time off from school/work to go.That sort of once in a lifetime trip still isn’t something I would go into debt for, but I think it would be worth putting FI off for a year to make that happen.

  • I’m nearly 100% “The Prudent”. Adding maybe 5-10% Passive Income Master would be nice, but probably unlikely for me.

    My wife may end up being “The Second Bread Winner” since I am more of the “Truly Happy” camp.

    Being an “Accidental Retiree” would be awesome, but very unlikely.

    Having both my wife and I go part-time once the kids are in college is also a consideration, but that would depend on whether our jobs would allow that or not.

    I like the breakdown.

  • At 30 and a PGY-4 closing in on the first attending job next summer, it’s fun to think of where I’ll be in 10, 20, 30 years. My goal is to be The Planner, who then becomes The Part-Timer (who buys a winter vacation home with a Corvette before retiring with The Prudent..

  • Hopefully somewhere around 40-45… if I can 35-39 would be totally awesome.

  • Great post. I didn’t started my attending job until I as 36 (two years ago) so I have some catching up to do. I also started behind the eight ball to the tune of $300k in loans. I’ll probably end up being Prudent Guy with a smidge of Mr. Fed Up.

  • MD

    I am soon to be 40 with a mix of the family woman, midlife crisis, 2nd breadwinner and mostly fed up. I am FI but it is the fed up portion that is pushing me to RE. It is not the patients that are the cause – without all the administrative bureaucracy, I would be truly happy. I love medicine, I love my patients and I never considered RE until this past year. My husband and I are frugal by nature. When I started to become fed up, we looked over our finances to find that we were FI. (That’s also when I discovered your blog.) My husband loves his job and we would like to ensure we can help our kids with college, so I am looking more and more seriously at RE and getting to make the most of the time we have left with them. I do wish that the bureaucracy in medicine hadn’t gotten so bad – I feel like it is hard to treat patients properly anymore and if you can’t do something right, better to not do it at all…

    • S.G.

      I’m curious bc I’ve never known a doctor well enough to ask, but your comment seems a nice segue: Do you know anything about being a cash only or concierge doctor? I would assume the administrative costs would go WAY down, and if you’re FI you wouldn’t have to worry about keeping a full case load. I know insurance would get you, but if the point is to avoid the administration I would think that would do some of it (unless the problem is the law, in which case I guess you’re still hosed).

      • MD

        I am in a surgical specialty so not a lot of opportunity for concierge practice. If I were in primary care, I would definitely go that route! I am a hospital employee and it is the direct micromanagement by nurse or business administrators who don’t understand my job and priorities and the constant focus on the $ that is getting me down. I may enjoy locums better and may also look for a physician-run group/hospital for a job down the line if I miss the patients too much in RE. 🙂

    • My story is pretty similar. I stumbled into a position of FI shortly after I learned what it was. In reality, we were already there; I just didn’t consider it official until home equity we had in a former home of ours was sold and in our bank account.

      The bureacracy hasn’t gotten me beaten down too badly, but I find it more aggravating now since I know I don’t need to deal with it.

      Thank you for sharing!

  • Great post PoF! Being a consumer marketer at heart, I love a good attitudinal segmentation (which is what you did, btw)! For me, I’m a mix of Family Man and Prudent. I’ve definitely put my career into cruise control the past few years to enjoy time with the kids while they are still at home, but was not enough of a Planner to actually be retired at this point.

    My goal is to be completely out by 55 with enough income to completely replace our current and expected future spending, well into six figures. If I become an early Forced Hand before then, based off a layoff, for example, I should still be fine at any point after 50….hopefully! 🙂

    • So you’re to blame for society’s ever-increasing desire and demand for consumer goods! Well, you and Mr. Firestation.

      I kid, but do you find that your purpose at work is at odds with your values at home? There is definitely an undercurrent of anti-consumerism in most FIRE minded folks.


  • We are hoping to be in the “family club” by 40 but with our student loans where they are right now, it feels like we’ll be in the “unfortunate” club aka never pay them off until we die. Haha. We have a combined student debt load of $600k that we are blogging away– thanks for this post! Good reminder that just because some of my friends (and especially FIRE bloggers) are retiring now, doesn’t mean I should be comparing myself to them. We are just getting started in our careers (dentist and lawyer) and maybe that is ok 🙂

  • GXA

    41 year old physician. I have a little of many of these in me. At or near FI, I have some family man and mid-life crisis with regards to some activities and vacation planning. Still working full time (truly happy) and plan to until about age 50 (prudent). Great post!

    • You sound a lot like me, GXA. The odds of me making to 50 seem to be shrinking, though.


      • GXA

        Ha! 50 has been my plan, but I may not make it either. I figure once the youngest heads to college, we can travel freely and head home as needed for the kids. Emergency Medicine also affords a fair amount of time off each month. The cost of college and potential grad school is a small concern, so the longer I work, the more I will be able to help out and get them off to a great start!

        • Good for you! When I call it quits, each of our boys should have a six-figure 529 fund with another 8 to 10 years for it to grow before we would access it. We started when they were babies. Smart, college-bound babies.


  • I spoke at a conference for surgeons last week. 59-62 was widely considered “retiring early.” Just some perspective.

    I can relate to the family man comments and the sense of feeling that anything could happen to me and there is so much in this world I want to do. Some of that involves paid work, but it seems less and less each year. The other issue is I really like spending 6 figures a year (I just planned a heli-skiing trip for January tonight with a friend), which pushes out my “number,” seemingly keeping it always tantalizingly close.

    Of course, I still really like a lot about practicing medicine. Had a guy with a temp of 22.4 today. I was pretty excited to get it up to 25.5 before he was put in the helicopter. Won’t it be cool if he actually makes it with a neurologically meaningful outcome? What we do can be truly miraculous, even if there’s a lot of crap to muddle through between the miracles.

    I mean, go heliskiing, spend like a wild man, and even save an occasional life while only practicing 20-25 hours a week or retire early. I dunno, still not hearing the siren call to retire early yet. Financial independence is nice, but it’s not the holy grail.

    • Thanks for chiming in, WCI.

      It is all about perspective, isn’t it? Retiring at 62 would seem early if you had planned on 70, or if your partners all worked well into their sixties or beyond. In a previous job, there were a couple orthopedic surgeons who still assisted on total joints after age 80.

      Today’s post speaks to the heli-skiing and other splurges that might not be part of your core budget, or the budget you were on that allowed you to reach that certain number. Financial Freedom, a goal beyond Financial Independence will allow you to spend a lot more than you’ve become accustomed to spending.

      It’s awesome that you still enjoy so much of what you do. If I could carve out 20% of my job, and do just that, I’d be thrilled. That job doesn’t exist, unfortunately.


  • Looks like I’m a little late to the retiring early game, but you are absolutely correct in that most physicians are actually starting their careers with six-figure negative net worths while many/most of the early non-doctor retirees on the web call it quits.

    I do wish that I fell into the category of ‘stay at home spouse doctor’ who never had to work a day as an attending. I know seven couples like that. The stay-at-home spouse still has a bit of bragging rights.

    Now, which spouse in this situation actually has the easier job? 😉

  • happy1

    I really enjoyed your blog post. I am an over 60 and Truly Happy. It has never occurred to me to consider retiring early. I have however not worked more than 12 days in a month for over eight years. I made a conscious decision that I did not want to work every day.
    I had an opportunity years ago to work with 2 doctors who were 82 and 84 working part-time. They knew so much about the specialty and were excellent diagnosticians. I don’t plan on working that long however.

  • Pingback: Should a Medical Resident Rent or Buy a House? | The Happy Philosopher

  • Pingback: Early Retirement Chose Me - Physician on FIRE

  • KingT

    I’m in my early 50’s, a surgeon in a two physician family. I work at an academic center, and enjoy the patients, med students, residents, and fellows, and going to some professional meetings to present research or give talks. As with WCI’s post above, I do feel gratified when I can make a real difference for a patient on death’s door. However, my tolerance for middle-of-the-night surgeries is steadily waning, and I just don’t see myself working full-time after 60.

    My plan is to cut back to half-time at 60, and stop taking call. Some surgeons keep working because they don’t have any hobbies and have nothing else to do. I have the opposite problem, too many things I want to do. In addition, I have an entrepreneurial side gig that hopefully will pan out in the next 5 years. However, the retirement plans don’t require that to happen.

  • Pingback: Who Are the Physicians Who Retire Early? | The White Coat Investor - 24 Seven

  • Pingback: I See Dead People - Physician on FIRE

  • Pingback: Physician Retires Early and is Met With Scorn - Physician on FIRE

  • Pingback: Blog: I See Dead People – My Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *