Most people in society mark the traditional company “silver pen” at age 65 as the milestone of being retired.
And at one point, my husband and I were one of them. We had no idea what retirement really meant. We also assumed age 65 was retirement, and that’s it.
Then we came across the idea of FIRE. If you haven’t heard of it before, FIRE = financial independence / retire early. It’s now a large movement in the world for people who want something different in life than the usual.
At first, most doctors are VERY skeptical of FIRE. Hearing somebody wanting to FIRE sounds like this:
“I hate medicine.”
“I’m ungrateful for taking the place of somebody else who could have gotten accepted into medical school and served their community for longer.”
“I want to saddle other doctors with the responsibilities of taking care of society while I go on permanent vacation in paradise…”
My own husband kinda had that reaction.
“I’m sure I will work until I’m 80,” he told me.
But we were ignorant because that’s not what FIRE is about at all.
FIRE Has Two Components
There is FI, which is “financial independence.” And then RE, which is “retire early.”
The difference is FIRE means retiring and quitting medicine, the whole thing. FI is being technically “retired” but still working the way you want to without money being a factor.
FI Is Having The Freedom To Work The Way You Want To
Early FI is the best remedy that medical families have against the spiral of burnout because it gives you the freedom to practice medicine the way you want to.
When you reach early FI, your DrSpouse can have the freedom to work the way they want to, and not because it’s good for their paycheck. Money isn’t an issue anymore, so they can work the way they want to.
This is how their work could look like:
No call or work many nights or weekend shifts.
No mental burden of student loan debt looming on their mind that’s pressing them to take on more shifts.
Ability to take a vacation with the rest of the family without being stressed about not making a profit. (Especially true in private practice.)
No procedures they don’t like.
Ability to take a job in a high cost of living to be exactly where you guys want to live.
Ability to make decisions that are good for patients, not just good for the bank account. (Especially true in private practice.)
Work a job they like, so patients get to experience a good side of them.
Now, your DrSpouse is happy at work and at home!
And that’s good for you and good for our communities!
So How Do You Get To Early FI?
Early FI will require you to be debt adverse, to live way below your means, and following the adage you hear, “live like a resident,” especially the first 2-5 years as an attending so that you have margin to throw money at your student loans and retirement savings.
The instructions are simple. But the implementation is not. You know (as much as I do) that resisting the urge to get the Tesla and “doctor house” is not easy, especially when you’ve been sacrificing so much already while in the tunnel of training.
But if you can make sacrifices for just a few more years as a new attending family, you’ll be on the trajectory to early FI.
Now having discovered what FIRE is really all about, my husband and I believe that doctors who are FI are better doctors, and are happier in their families and communities. That’s why we made it our goal to get out of debt fast and becoming early FI.
Early FI is one of our greatest tools against burnout that’s common in medicine.
I think if you want to fight burnout, being FI should be your family’s goal, too.
I’m a hugger. I’m hugging and supporting you ❤️
To your strong medical family,
Are you trying to FIRE or FI? Why?