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Retired Again: An Update from the Founder of Physician on FIRE

Hobbiton

In 2019, I retired from the practice of medicine, giving up my day and night job as an anesthesiologist for greener pastures.

I like to think of retirement as an action one takes rather than a state of being. When I hung up the stethoscope, I knew I’d be retiring at least one more time (from running this blog), and I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s yet another retirement in my future.

As you may have noticed, there have been more than a few changes here over the last year or so, including much less input and essentially no output from me since this website changed hands approximately 10 months ago. I’ll touch more on that decision-making process and transition below.

Although I’ve been lurking a bit behind the scenes here, I have effectively been retired from blogging for the better part of a year, particularly from the day-to-day operations.

I asked the good doctors in charge of this place if I could come back to say hello, share an update on my life as an early retiree, and let you know what you can expect from Physician on FIRE in the coming months and years.

 

Where Does the Time Go?

 

A common theme I hear from my retired and semi-retired friends is that they don’t know how they managed life when 40 to 80 hours of their weeks were once occupied by a job.

I concur. How did I ever find time for a real job?

Over the years, I wrote several post-FIRE updates, but of course, I was still putting in maybe 20 to 30 hours a week writing for this site, managing a few key helpers who made running this business easier, and positioning the blog as a viable business that could be acquired and improved by the right people someday.

That day came in the spring of 2023.

At the time the transaction officially closed, my family and I had just finished spending a month in New Zealand and were in Tasmania of all places. We then headed for mainland Australia, eventually cruising back across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii, visiting French Polynesia along the way before heading home to northern Michigan.

 

Hobbiton

 
My summer was consumed with house projects as we prepared to move across the street into our new home on the lake that was in the final stages of construction. My wife and I built and installed cabinetry, put closets together, bought and hung televisions, made hundreds of small but somewhat consequential design decisions, and shockingly fought very little.

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In September, after four years of worldschooling, our boys enrolled in 7th and 9th grade at the local public schools. They just wrapped up their first semesters, and they’re rocking it.

We started moving into our new home in October, and we’re about 99% done. I’m still putzing around in the garage, and I haven’t finished putting my office together; being retired from this blogging business, there really hasn’t been any rush.

I spent most of November touring around Vietnam with my very-much retired parents; my father had been there 52 years earlier as an Army dentist. It was a surreal and powerful experience, and I am grateful to have been able to join them for the journey.

December didn’t give us enough winter, but January more than made up for it. Back-to-back snowstorms brought a couple feet of snow in the matter of a few days, and the ski hills across the state got more like four to five feet of the white stuff in short order. I’ve been skiing on them ever since.

In February, I’ll spend a week in Orlando where I’ll be speaking once again at WCICON, and I’m looking forward to spending our first summer actually living on the lake!

Being retired means I’ve got ample time to take care of myself and my family. I’m still doing pushups, squats, and situps every day. I did take a month off late last fall, ending about a 1,300-day streak, but it’s hard to do that stuff with a broken rib. That’s another story for another day. My Duolingo language learning streak has remained intact at 1,500+ days, but that’s a bit artificial as they let you skip a day here and there without breaking your streak.

Most mornings, I ride along while my 15-year-old drives us and his little brother to school. Most evenings, I’m home to prepare dinner. For the first time in five years, I’m in a curling league, and it’s been fun to get back out on the ice. Now that our kids are old enough to be home alone, my wife has been able to get in on the curling action, as well.

We miss the days where we could travel freely as a family of four, but we know the time will come that the two of us have that freedom again.

The Anatomy of a Small Business Sale

 

I’d like to address why I sold Physician on FIRE and answer the readers who have asked why I didn’t even bother to say goodbye.

The second one is easy. I didn’t say goodbye because I didn’t exactly leave. I’ve been doing what I can to aid in the transition, and I was a paid consultant for four months in 2023. No formal announcement was made initially; the new owners wanted the transition to be as smooth as possible without disruption.

Astute readers certainly knew that something was different, and that became more readily apparent when the site underwent an overdue refresh with an updated look last year.

Shortly after that, Dr. Nirav Shah and Dr. Jorge Sanchez, both medical doctors who have achieved financial independence on their own, introduced themselves as two of the primary owners of Physician on FIRE. I encourage you to read their stories, and I hope you get to know them better through their writings here.

Why Did I Sell?

A “cold call” email from Quiet Light, a broker of online businesses, piqued my interest. I had already written much of what I wanted to write, and I know I had built a valuable company by doing so.

For at least a couple of years, Physician on FIRE was begging to become something bigger, but I never found the time to grow it into something more. I thought about starting a podcast. I considered offering online courses. YouTube? Tik Tok??? I wanted to write a book and I still do.

But… there was no way to do these things while living the semi-retired life I was enjoying. Our boys will only be young once, and I wasn’t about to hinder our travels by promoting myself to a CEO role of a media company, which is essentially what my role in an expanded Physician on FIRE would be.

A team would be needed to help PoF reach its full potential, and through good fortune, I was introduced to a group led by two physicians who already had the experience of building a team and growing a startup. In just two busy years, they launched Alertive Health, a remote patient monitoring company, hired dozens of employees, and accepted an offer from Carbon Health, the nation’s largest primary care clinic, who acquired the company in 2021.

Drs. Shah and Sanchez were readers and fans of the site, and I was thrilled that we were able to come to an agreement for them to lead a team to take PoF to the next level.

There were other suitors. One was a publicly-traded company. Others were businesspeople with no strong ties to healthcare. I preferred that this site for doctors (and other high-income professionals — I see you, too) continue to be led by one (or more) of us, and am continually grateful that we were able to make that happen.

Also, I got paid. AC⚡DC tells no lies when they perform “Moneytalks.

 

What to Expect From Physician on FIRE

As much as we tried to provide a seamless handoff, there may have been a SNAFU or two in the SBAR communication, and anytime you have an abrupt change in care for a machine with many moving parts, there are bound to be hiccups.

That said, as the new regime has settled in, I’ve recently noticed improvements in the writing, better quality control, and a number of important topics have been covered that I neglected over the years.

There remains a possibility that you’ll continue to hear from me on occasion. Retired people are still allowed to contribute to society, in spite of what the Internet Retirement Police may say. I’ve definitely let the anesthesia ship sail by allowing my licensure and certifications expire, but I can still type away on the ol’ laptop whenever I like.

More importantly, I expect you’ll see Physician on FIRE offerings that haven’t existed before and may not have been dreamt up yet. I teased some of the possibilities above, and as the team grows, I expect you’ll be able to connect with PoF in a number of different formats beyond this basic blog.

I can’t promise anything — it’s not my baby anymore — but among the possibilities are audio and video content, course offerings, in-person events, new and improved calculators and spreadsheets, and maybe even an app to bring it all together. Let us know what you’d most like to see with a note in the comments below. Your feedback, both positive and negative, is valuable in shaping the future of Physician on FIRE.

 

An Attitude of Gratitude

 

I thank you, reader, for your time and attention over the years. Your comments, emails, and loyalty over the years made this endeavor a particularly rewarding experience for me. I would not have stuck with this for more than seven years if I hadn’t heard from you and known that you’d found value in what I had to share.

I’m thankful for your patience and understanding as the site evolves. Yes, there have been minor growing pains, but the end result should be a more robust Physician on FIRE that reaches a wider audience. I would love to see the message of financial independence reach as many people as possible.

I am grateful for Drs. Nirav Shah, Jorge Sanchez, and their partners for coming along and allowing this website to remain in physicians’ hands. With doctors at the helm who have faced many of the same challenges that you have, I think the site has a great chance to keep a sense of collegial familiarity while growing at the same time.

Finally, I’m grateful to my family for giving me motivation to retire to something and particularly to my wife for holding down the fort at home throughout these overlapping careers I’ve had as an anesthesiologist turned personal finance blogger. In 2015, when I told my wife I was seriously thinking of starting a blog, I implored her to tell me if and when I started spending too much time on it. She told me she knew that I would, but that I should go for it, anyway.

She was right on both accounts, and I thank her for giving me the encouragement and space to make this place happen.

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34 thoughts on “Retired Again: An Update from the Founder of Physician on FIRE”

  1. The part I enjoyed about your blog were your personal stories. I could tell a major change had occurred immediately based on the number of ads and impersonal posts. I thank you for your efforts and for all of the content you shared over the years. I wish you and your family all the best in the coming years. Enjoy your new home and a relaxing summer.

    Reply
  2. Subscribe to get more great content like this, an awesome spreadsheet, and more!
  3. Your article a “Tale of 4 Physicians” was so well written and laid out such an important narrative to me at a pivotal time in my career as a young burned out physician. You literally gave me a decade or more of independence to do whatever I want at the end of my career, just by helping me to understand the importance of the lifestyle you choose. It’s hard to express how grateful I am for your blog. Congratulations on all of your success and the well earned chance to spend time with your family and live the life you find most rewarding. You are appreciated!

    Reply
  4. Leif, aka the OG Physician on Fire,

    You have been an inspiration for me in so many ways. I truly appreciate the help you gave when I ventured into blogging myself.

    The fact that you were able to last 7 years is truly incredible. It takes a fellow blogger to truly appreciate the time commitment to put out quality content. For every 5 min blog post read I can honestly say I spent 4-6 hours.

    I didn’t last as long as you (4 years) but it was a great community to be a part of when I was a physician blogger. Was great to meet you in person and hope our paths cross again one day.

    Reply
  5. Well-played!
    Congratulations!
    I hope our paths cross again soon.
    Please write your book. Even I write one and my writing is so bad it made your April fools post!

    Reply
  6. Leif,
    I’ve enjoyed following your site since the beginning and enjoyed meeting you at the anesthesia CME conference in Hawaii in 2016. You’ve taught me so much about personal finance and motivated me to Live on Half. Thanks for all your time over the years!

    Patrick

    Reply
  7. Leif, you have been such an inspiration to so many doctors – I doubt you’ll ever know the true extent. I’m glad your passion turned into something bigger than you for and inspired others to follow your path. Good luck in your family’s next stage of your adventures!

    Reply
  8. Thank you, Leif, for the update. You had been so personable on this site (and in our previous correspondences) that your latest post felt like catching up with an old friend. Best wishes to you and your family, and thanks for all of the advice and education over the years. Enjoy your FIRE; YOLO!

    Reply
    • Thank you for the kind words and for the contributions you’ve made to the PoF community, Jerome. Wishing you continued success.

      Cheers!
      -Leif

      Reply
  9. Lief,
    Happy for you and your family’s latest transition. And that POF will continue in the hands of physicians. It is definitely harder to blog when there is snow on the ground to ski on. Thanks for the great blog interactions over the years and hopefully I’ll make it to the WCI conference at some point. High schoolers and the lack of skiing in Orlando have been barriers for me.
    -LD

    Reply
    • I hear you, LD. We did a local season pass for two hills each about 90 minutes away, but I just took advantage of a flash sale to get season passes at a smaller, closer hill. We may not ski there a whole lot, but the cost of the pass is about the same as the discount we’ll get on an Indy Pass, which we used last year and loved it. Looks like they’ve got quite a few places in the Canadian rockies.

      I don’t think San Antonio will be any snowier than Orlando, but it’s only a few days, so I think you ought to book the conference for next year. See you there?

      Cheers!
      -Leif

      Reply
      • Hey Leif,

        I am really hoping to go to the conference next year along with my wife. I have it blocked in my calendar. We are just waiting to see which University my daughter gets into to make sure that we aren’t ditching her on her reading break.
        -Mark

        Reply
  10. Good for you! I have enjoyed your blog the past 2-3 years. I really enjoyed the articles sharing your family travels.
    The contributing authors and articles are truly world class.
    My wife and I live in West Michigan, but I grew up near Houghton Lake.

    So hats off to a fellow Michigander. May God continue to bless you and your family on the rest of your amazing journey.

    Paul and Susan

    Reply
    • Good to hear from you, neighbor. 😉

      I consider myself to be a “Minnegander,” having spent the first 23 years of my life (and another 6 or so later on) in Minnesota, but, God Willing, my time in Michigan will eventually catch up to the years I spent in the North Star State.

      Cheers!
      -Leif

      Reply
  11. Thanks for the update! Good luck and blessings to you and your family. You will be missed, and your work and sharing of your journey has been appreciated by many!

    Reply
  12. Thank you for the update, and congrats on the second retirement. I think DB iterated my thoughts and sentiments perfectly. Thank you for sharing all you have – I learned so much to help refine my goals/strategy/approach. You made the Sunday Best a weekly staple for me and one that I still enjoy. You are and will be missed on this site tremendously but know you’ve much else to enjoy in life and wish you the best there!

    Reply
    • I’m pleased to hear you continue to enjoy the Sunday Best on a regular basis. MH. That’s a popular series that I was happy to see continue beyond the transition period.

      Cheers!
      -Leif

      Reply
  13. Leif,

    It was wonderful to hear an update on what you guys have been doing (along with classic music references LOL). I respect your decisions and life direction greatly. It was a pleasure to have contributed to this excellent blog!

    Reply
    • Thanks so much, Dawn. After years of leaning in, I decided to “Lean Out” and take a break from the busyness. So far, so good!

      Cheers!
      Leif

      Reply
  14. Congratulations on the new retirement and lake house! I am jealous.

    Thanks for all your writing over the years and supporting our charities! I have learned so much and enjoyed hearing about your travel adventures. We did New Zealand this past year as well!

    Reply
    • Wasn’t NZ great? So much natural beauty, wide open spaces, and not nearly as expensive as I thought it might be. The lake house, on the other hand….

      Cheers!
      Leif

      Reply
  15. Leif/POF,

    Thanks for the update. I, like I suspect many of your former readers, have indeed wondered what happened to and with you with the transition to the new owners. I do hope that as the dust settles from your many recent transitions you will find time to again write about the Personal Finance, Investment, Travel, Tax, Charitable Giving, and other Retirement/Early Retirement issues you have experienced and navigated and your thought processes steering your decisions.

    I’ve found them extremely helpful and worthwhile over the last 5-10 years and have missed them a great deal over the last almost year now. I found your voice and rationales to be amongst my best guidance as I’ve navigated many of those same treks and with apologies to the new owners, it really has not been the same without your voice. While I appreciate you took the time to find invested physicians to take over the day-to-day, the site really does miss your voice, expertise, and thoughtful explanations of your thought processes. I, and I imagine many others, would greatly value seeing and hearing your voice and byline again more frequently in well-researched, honest explorations, and good, detailed explanations of how you’re navigating the ongoing challenges of retirement/early retirement.

    DB

    Reply
        • Agreed … i didn’t know about the change… just that it wasn’t as personable, so I also visited less. I realize that after a time, he hasn’t as much to write about.. it happens to most blogs. I remember back 4 years ago following daily, I was inspired to also start Duolingo and have gotten to a 1500+ streak as well. Unfortunately I haven’t had a chance to allow follow up with similar travel…. as covid hit, and life, but maybe sometime.

    • Leif,

      I’d like to echo DB’s comments. You are one of the first FIRE bloggers I discovered and reading “A Tale of 4 Physicians” and “The $10 million Dollar Dream” really put me on my path to FI. You truly have a gifted way of communicating your journey and your expertise and it has been my privilege to have been able to learn from you.

      Best wishes in your future. I hope to be able to read more from you soon.

      Gene S

      Reply
    • I’m glad to hear you found value in what I had to say, DB. I did my best to cover topics that were pertinent to me, and, by extension, to many other physicians and other high-income earners who had to figure out what to do with their money.

      I enjoyed the process of writing, growing an audience, and the myriad other tasks that come with building a community and online business. Eventually, it did feel more like a job and a business than it did in the early days, and after I’d said much of what I had to say over 7+ years, I felt it was an appropriate time to pass the torch to new voices.

      Cheers!
      -Leif

      Reply
  16. Leif,
    Thanks so much for your work on POF, you certainly inspired me to start my journey and now in this post COVID era experiencing some level of burnout, having the knowledge I’ve gained here has helped me start to figure out my next steps.

    See you in June 😊

    Reply
    • Thanks a lot, doc. I’m glad we were able to help you get to a good place financially.

      Looking forward to seeing you and the FSA crew in a few short months.

      Cheers!
      -Leif

      Reply
  17. POF –
    So great to hear from you and what you’ve been up to! Wishing you all the best as you and your family enjoy Retirement #2.

    M

    Reply

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