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Make hay or smell the roses?

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  • Make hay or smell the roses?

    Long time lurker, first post.

    Anyone else struggle with that question?

    Some background on myself. ~ 40 yo married with 2 children. Spouse stays at home, so single earner. Outpatient sub specialist seeing patients 4.5 days a week. No nights/weekends/holidays. Attending 6 years post-fellowship.

    NW ~ 2 M counting home equity and 529s. ~ 1.6 not counting those in index funds spread over 401K, Roths, taxable. Saving 35-40% gross. Finished my student loans recently and have no car payments or other debts besides mortgage (~250K, 9 years left on 15 y). I want a Tesla, but not getting one anytime soon. I have plenty of term life insurance and have as much as I can get of disability (combined group and individual).

    I love my job, but would like to do it a little less so I have more time for exercise, family, etc. Originally felt that I would like to retire very early, now I see that I like my job and want to continue indefinitely. However, I would like to be FI sooner than that for a variety of reasons.

    Improvements in my life I have made so far is not putting up with toxic patients/family and reducing clinic hours slightly. I would like to reduce my clinic hours further, but with that comes a direct decrease in pay. Reasons for not doing it is our office is quite busy and hard to turn away patients. I always have the worry in the back of my mind that it could change (economy/stock market crash). Also, I have a chronic condition that possibly could reduce my ability to work. There are no signs of that, but can be unpredictable. My disability insurance would cover ~ 50% of current salary combined and I cannot get more.

    Just rambling some, but would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks.

  • #2
    I made a lot of hay for 10 years and now I'm cutting less than half the field.

    Comment


    • #3
      i think in your spot i'd be tempted to continue to hit it hard for 3-5 more years.

      you've hinted at some health problems, that prompts me to err on the side of hay not roses.

      $2M is great, you're not setting any records for this site but doing well.

      i don't want this to devolve into a debate about how to calculate NW but i for sure wouldn't count 529 for the purposes of a discussion about when to cut back. i view that as money i've donated to my kids.

      ultimately it sounds like the right move for you is going to be a middle path e.g. going from 4.5 days to 4.

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      • #4
        You're likely well on your way to doing what you want but likely not there yet. If you can continue to control spending and continue to save while cutting back then that is likely your best path forward.

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        • #5
          To me it seems you are early in your career, and have some struggles, work hard or harder for the $, or slow down and enjoy life more.

          In a strict financial sense, slowing down would be the wrong move. But I think overall life satisfaction may take you in a different direction. Some may disagree, buying a Tesla may make you happier but temporarily. In general, what normally makes people much happier is their interactions with family and friends. My advice would be to slow down a little , take scheduled time off to be with you wife and kids. When you kids hit high school and dont care if you are there or not, start working harder again if you choose to.

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          • #6
            I am almost in the same spot, maybe a year or two behind you career-wise (4 years post fellowship, NW around 1.5M), though I am a year or two older (non-traditional path to medicine) and with younger kids (late bloomer). I'm also at a similar crossroads, so I will quietly listen in and see what feedback you get.

            But my 2 cents, personally I am still hitting it hard for the next few years but working toward a setup where I can dial it back when my kids reach kindergarden/early elementary school, such that with some seniority I can have a bit more flexible schedule, and do things I enjoy more at work and have more time outside of work. The problem is that's what everyone else wants to do and we are chronically understaffed, so it takes a lot of maneouvering. So keep working hard on that hay, while setting up a small side plot and go to the rose trade-shows to make sure you're properly set up. Unfortunately sometimes that may mean you have to get your hands dirty with some manure, but so be it.

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            • #7
              if you can prolong your career/reduce the possibility of burnout then you should cut back a little now. It will of course take you longer to get to FI, but you'd be surprised that it may only prolong getting there for 2-4 years. In the grand scheme of things, that's worth it if it means you can have more purpose and enjoy your job and your family. Part of getting to FI is the journey. You don't want the entire journey to suck

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              • #8
                I am in a similar spot as you (4 years post-fellowship, 2mil in investable assets), so similarly will follow along to gain some pearls of wisdom from those who have walked before me.

                I’ve chosen a more middle ground and now work 3.5 days (with call in addition). My spouse works, so that does change the equation. If he didn’t, I likely wouldn’t have scaled back so early in my career.

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                • #9
                  I think if my spouse was not working I would be working more.

                  Between us, we work 5 days per week. I work 3 and she works 2. So one of us is always there to pick up/drop off kids each day or be at home with them if needed if they are sick.

                  I was working 5 days a week until year 10 out and we had a nanny for 2 days a week for 8 years. When eldest was in K, the nanny finished and I worked less.

                  Although I work 3 days, they are quite long, 11 hour days so it is more like 4 days I guess.

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                  • #10
                    I could have written this post. I plan to work 10 more years. If we get normal market returns i probably do not need to save anything else for retirement or college funds. If i keep grinding i could retire earlier. I am picking roses at this point. My plan
                    - cut savings rate. Loosen the strings and spend more. Figure out a plan to transition to part time work

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                    • #11
                      It sounds like you are actually perfectly content with the work and the comp, and the comp would take a hit cutting back. To me it seems pretty simple, you entered a mile race and are two laps in. I would keep the steady comfortable pace for the 3rd lap. The race is with yourself and you trained for it. Don't take a chance on pulling a muscle (that is your health risk). Run lap 3 at your planned pace, see where you are for the final lap. Hope you don't need a big kick, that muscle might not take it. Your goal is to finish as planned.
                      PS, you are not on pace for a world record, just finishing is the goal.

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                      • #12
                        I recommend this video



                        I'm a bit older that you, and not quite where you are with regards to Net Worth (though pretty close), and have struggled with the same issue of "work your tail off to sock away cash" vs "enjoying life a bit more". What I can say is that during the times I've taken the "enjoy life" route, I've never overall regretted that choice.
                        From a strict financial standpoint, my best move would have been to go to work directly after residency in the same town where I did my training. If I had done that, and remained in the same house where I lived during residency, etc. I'd likely be in a very strong financial position at this point (of course this assumes that this path didn't include some tragedy that unbeknownst to me was avoided by leaving that wretched place), but had I done that I would have missed out on quite a few very rich life experiences.

                        So, it's hard to say what is the best path forward for you, but just from the brief blurb you've revealed in your post above, I'd be in the "cut back on your hours some" camp.

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                        • #13
                          You sound like you have lived sensibly and kudos for getting the disability insurance. Full disclosure I tend to be a make hay person but in the presence of a chronic condition I'd recommend get the Tesla now and continue working full time until you either reach FI or something else forces a change. You are very young and chronic illnesses can remain stable for years but the bottom line is they are called chronic because they are chronic and in many cases progressive. Your current schedule doesn't sound especially taxing. My advice would be push hard for as long as you can while saving for your family's future.

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                          • #14
                            Other thing I found was energy levels reduced after age 45. Most of my colleagues are still working 5 days a week, not sure how they do it.

                            I am 14 years out this year and age 46. I do pretty easy work compared to when I was 40. Also fewer hours (32 cf 50).

                            Am glad I put in hard yards earlier. Am happy to know if I died tomorrow kids would be well taken care of financially.

                            Have FU money. Which is nice.
                            Not quite at a level where no one can buy my time, but getting there.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              As someone noted, you'll likely not regret more time spent with family. 3-years ago I bought this business. But, I didn't want to ever be a slave to it. So I keep a little bigger staff so when I want to go on vacation or need to take time away for coaching I can do that without much hesitation. FYI - I'll be gone two days next week celebrating our 29th anniversary. I won't regret it even if volume is down.

                              cd :O)
                              Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary. -- Isaiah 40:31

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