The Sunday Best (5/14/2017)

The Sunday Best is a collection of articles I’ve curated for your reading pleasure.

Expect most of the writing to be from recent weeks and consistent with the themes presented on this website: investing & taxes, financial independence, early retirement, and physician issues.


Presenting, this week’s Sunday Best:


“You know just how you look through other people’s eyes.” -BH Surfers. Similarly, you never know just how you sound through other people’s ears. Until you record a podcast. Here’s the first of several I will be featuring in the coming weeks. The White Coat Investor and I chatted about early retirement, beer, and our obligation to society. Listen to episode #14 on Overcast, iTunes and others. Load it up and listen as you peruse the remaining articles!

“You may be right! I may be crazy.” –Billy Joel. But I maintain I do have a right to retire early if I so choose. The Biglaw Investor asks, Retiring in Your 30s or 40s — Crazy?


“I wanna go back” –Eddie Money. Let’s go back, way back to where the FIRE movement (or FI/ER as Early Retirement Dude calls it) all began. In a guest post on Rockstar Finance, the dude abides and teaches us The History of F.I.R.E.


“This is how we do it” –Montel Jordan. This is how I do it, and here’s how another anesthesiologist, Tom of High Income Parents does it. High Income Parents Investment Policy Statement. Bonus read: High Income Parent Portfolio


“It’s so hard to say goodbye to Yesterday” –Boyz II Men. Our Next Life consoles all the boyz and girlz who are contemplating leaving a great job for a better tomorrow in You Can Love Your Job and Still Want to Retire Early.


“Send lawyers, guns, and money, and get me out of this.” –Warren Zevon. Have you wanted to get out of a relationship with a financial advisor? It’s best to avoid them in the first place. Those that advertise here or @ WCI answer a lengthy vetting application to weed out the bad eggs. Save Splurge Deny Debt has some great tips on How to Avoid a Sleazy Financial Advisor.


“It’s good to get high and never come down” –Tom Petty. If you’re sitting on the sidelines, waiting for this high market to come down, Mama Mish Saves has a message for you: Why You Should Invest… Even in Peak Markets.


“You’re gonna miss me by my walk, you’re gonna miss me by my talk. Oh, I know you’re gonna miss me when I’m gone.” –The Carter Family, Anna Kendrick. The good Dr. Cory S. Fawcett discusses life, legacy, salary, and family in What Legacy Will You Leave?


“It’s a dead man’s party. Who could ask for more?” –Oingo Boingo. Ty Roberts of Get Rich Quick’ish discusses The Working Dead, Jack Reacher, and how to break the cycle in Worked to Death.


“One of these things is not like the other.” –Sesame Street. When it comes to owning debt, return and yield are pretty much the same thing, right? As the Wall Street Physician shows us, it depends. A 15% Yield Does Not Equal a 15% Return.


Happy Mother’s Day!


I am the product of one amazing mother and the husband of yet another. I hope the Moms out there are treated with lots of love and respect today. They deserve every box of chocolates, bouquet of flowers, spa certificates, and six-second hugs they receive today.

Gifts are great, but don’t forget to clean up after yourself, push in your chair, and avoid doing all the other stuff that gets me in trouble on a routine basis.


Do Physicians Owe Society a Lengthy Career?


In both Thursday’s guest post and my recent podcast, a similar question was raised. What obligation do we doctors have to our patients, ourselves, and society at large? At least a portion of our education and training was partially funded by taxpayer dollars.

I answered the question briefly in the podcast and will elaborate in writing (I write much better than I talk) in an upcoming post at WCI. A number of comments also addressed the question below the aforementioned guest post.

The question was also posted the other day in this thread on the WCI forum. While a few respondents indicated they felt a personal obligation for themselves, none projected that onto everyone, and the overwhelming response was one of No.

Here is a sampling of the responses. Some are taken “out of context,” but the overall sentiment is preserved.

  • “I don’t think we necessarily owe it to society. But you owe it to yourself. And society loses if too many physicians retire completely at too early an age.”


  • “If society wants to start protecting their supply of physicians maybe they should stop treating them as enemies and ways to a insurers pocketbook. I agree its an important issue, but as usual too many docs take the ephemeral, stoic, and “calling” type road to the overall detriment of everyone involved, physicians and patients. Things have to be more collaborative and collegial if it is expected to go on.”


  • “I just don’t see it as being a valid question. Most of us got into medicine to help people, realizing that we would have to go through many years of education beforehand. Once we’re practicing and have helped people our mission has been accomplished, regardless of how many years we continue to do it. At that point it just becomes a job. Hopefully its a job that you enjoy, brings you fulfilment, and allows you to be the patient’s best advocate to receive the highest standards of care while providing excellent bedside manner, but still a job, and once you no longer feel called to perform that job, and have the means to move on to other commitments that make your life feel complete, then do it.”


  • “A resounding NO. People keep forgetting (and need to be reminded from time to time) that this is a free market, we have free choice, and we all make decisions that optimize our own/family’s utility. If that means to continue to practice medicine, then so be it. But if one is miserable, or finds that they want to leave medicine early to be with their family more (for medical reasons or otherwise) how is it remotely reasonable to question their ethics?”


  • “No. You only get one life to live. Doing something only out of obligation and using up the best parts of your life is ridiculous. If being a doctor becomes such a burden that no one does it anymore, then the free market will react to either make it better or replace us. Where is that robot Doctor anyway?”


  • “If the forces that be stopped treating docs like piñatas, we would likely not be having this is discussion.”


  • “Students compete for admission to med school, and most successful applicants go deeply into debt in order to attend school. They then spend their youth working like pack mules for a stipend of hay and water. In return for this privilege, doctors surrender their right to retire or change careers? I can’t believe anyone thinks this is a valid question. An obligation is created when two parties agree to terms. For example, the military will pay for school and provide a stipend if you agree to serve in the military for x years. That’s a fair offer and students can accept or reject it with eyes wide open.”


  • “The premise that a physician owes society is ridiculous. Anyone who acquires that kind of knowledge and skill has the right to do with it what they want. If they want to retire early, more power to them. If they want to practice clinical medicine for 50 years, more power to them.”


  • “I’m a Wall Street guy, so let’s use an investment analogy. The government has invested in its medical students and residents and hopes to get a return on its investment. Some of us, such as the primary care physician who works in rural or inner-city America for his or her whole 45+ year career, were great investments. Others, like those who quit medicine during medical school or residency (for entirely legitimate reasons), were not good investments.In my opinion, the government has a diversified portfolio of doctors that delivers a good return on their investment. Could the return be higher? Sure. Some investments don’t work out (from the government’s perspective), but other investments make up for it.”


What do you think?


A Trip Up North


When you live up north, where do you vacation in the spring?

Further north, of course! I had some time off last week, so we decided to pull the boys from school and my retired parents from prepping for the fishing opener and spend a few days near the Canadian border.

We found a great AirBNB ($40 off for you) for under $100 per night. 3 beds, 2 baths, and a sauna that we sadly didn’t take advantage of. We did a little hiking, saw a big waterfall, and found a handful of geocaches.

One day, we learned all about bears and their habitat at the North American Bear Center. Did you know bears can shell peanuts, eating the goods and spitting the shells? Me neither, but I saw four different bears do it. The following day, we studied wolves at the International Wolf Center. Gray wolves were the focus, but I learned about an endangered species of red wolf that lives only in North Carolina.


international wolf center
wild animals


It was only a few days, but felt like a preview of the life we have ahead of us. We got outdoors, got some exercise, sprinkled in some education, and did it all as a family. I could easily make that my full time job.



Have a great week!

-Physician on FIRE


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18 thoughts on “The Sunday Best (5/14/2017)”

    • We’re new to geocaching this spring, but it is a fun way to get outdoors and find some “treasure.” It’s got to be better than Pokemon Go (although we never did try that). I think I read that there are now 3 million caches worldwide. They exist pretty much everywhere we go.


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  2. Nice round up PoF….we do not owe it to society any more then another field. Even if you were paid to go to medical school, there are a lot of folks who would not want this job.

    So the investment other’s made for you to get here does not equate to you having to work. If that was the case, there would be a mandatory practice time after training. Something like, “We will pay for your school, but then you have to agree to practice for x years.” Like they do in the military or primary care in underserved areas.

  3. Unless otherwise agreed upon in advance, the idea of being obligated to a certain amount of time is crazy talk. Your time belongs to you and it’s up to you to decide how it’s best used.

    Thanks for the shout out, PoF!

  4. It looks like you enjoyed your time up north!

    The guest post you had was an interesting perspective to say the least. Reading your posts over time, I see you trying to find the balance of winding down hours at work and retiring early to spend more time with your family. I look forward to watching your journey as it progresses!

    • It was great — remarkable to see the difference in the trees as we headed north. By the time we were near the Canadian border, few trees were beginning to bud. Driving back a couple days later, there was already more vegetation than there was on the way up. I love this time of year. Of course, I had to get back after a couple days. Darned job. 😉


  5. I am busy with Mother’s Day and my senior’s graduation from high school (also today), so I probably won’t get to the articles until later or tomorrow. I did enjoy the musical intros–very clever!

    • Thanks, VagabondMD. Congratulations on your child’s graduation!

      I had fun with the lyrics. Don’t think I could pull it off every week, but I may have to repeat the theme again sometime.


  6. I gotta get mine in a big black truck. You can get yours in a ’64. Whatever it is, we have our portfolios underway.
    Thanks for sharing PoF. 🙂
    I’m glad to see you are already getting a taste of the good life before even retiring by combining education, relaxation and exploring.

    The debate about physician early retirement has been lively this week.
    The multifactorial nature of the problem will have a thousand different people spouting a thousand different answers but I think it will boil down to each doc making the best decision for themselves, their families and most docs will also consider society in general before making the leap to RE. If they do that, I can’t really fault them for choosing one way over another.

    Tom @ HIP

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