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Time vs Money, Is it worth the extra effort?

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  • Time vs Money, Is it worth the extra effort?

    My goal is financial independence, so I can be the best at what I can be. I have about 1.2 million in assets.

    I am a single male physician (specialist), I am a high-income earner. I have been at my workplace for about 6 months, and work is ramping up because the local physicians there really like the work I provided (I think it is partly due to my locum experience, hustling and working my butt off). For the next 3 years, my salary will be a guaranteed $650,000. So far, I am very happy with the work. It is chill, and I get to take care of my health much better due to a fixed routine. And the people at my workplace respect my opinions and as I said before, work is picking up nicely. The one down-side of this practice is I work solo, there are partners, but they all function as solo practitioners. Don't ask me why it is what it is. Hence, every time, I take off or get out of town, I can't see consults. My thinking is when someone calls me for a consult, and I kept on saying I am out of town, they may not be more readily consult me again. Hence, losing business. If I don't take the 6 weeks of vacation and work at my place, I probably can earn about 65k more.

    Now, I have 6 weeks of vacation. I used to do some locums work before starting this job. I make way more as a locum per paycheck. I don't think the workload is the same (in fact way easier because I don't have to hunt for patients). With the 6 weeks, I probably can increase my income by at least $150k. However, my health takes a toll since I can't readily do my work out routines or routines in general. Don't get me wrong, I still find time to work out, but it is sporadic. The benefit is obviously the cash, the elite status for hotels, car rental, and flying status.

    What do you think? I don't mind doing the locums work, but I wonder if disrupting my local employment in which I am building a practice and mess up some routine is worth the extra $150K on top of the $650k. Or just stay put and make $65K more on top of $650k. It looks like to Locum path may accelerate me to my goal faster, but I am not sure if it is worth it. Please let me know how you would approach this?

  • #2
    I would take the vacation and the decision isn't close. Burning yourself out quickly isn't a great way to get to FIRE.

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    • #3
      I would take the 6 weeks vacation. As a retired physician who became FIRE, time is a commodity you can't buy. I think you're smart exercising and taking care of your health. Mental health is just as important as physical health. Those 6 weeks/year will lead to even greater productivity while you're working and result in a longer career (if you want)

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      • #4
        I started a solo practice after cardiology fellowship and thought I needed to be available 24/7/365. I made a lot of money, hated my life, and left medicine (for 13 years) due to burnout. Don't do what I did.
        Erstwhile Dance Theatre of Dayton performer cum bellhop. Carried (many) bags for a lovely and gracious 59 yo Cyd Charisse. (RIP) Hosted epic company parties after Friday night rehearsals.

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        • #5
          Choose time over money. One is plentiful and renewable. The other is limited.

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          • #6
            Are you asking if we think it’s a good idea to work 52 weeks a year??

            If you don’t want to take the full 6 weeks because you think it would hurt your practice building, just take 3. Forget locums. You’re probably going to work well last your FI point anyway so who cares if you get there six months later? You’re not going to look back in 15 years and regret taking a few weeks off a year

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            • #7
              It doesn’t specify whether the amounts you’re talking about are gross or net, but if gross, then you’re really only pocketing 50-60% of that, depending on what state you live in. I understand the thought about making hay while the sun shines—I worked my tail off out of fellowship because it was still way less work than what I was accustomed to from residency, at 10x, or more, the pay. But even with that I wasn’t working 52 weeks a year.

              I personally think it would be dangerous to your mental, and possibly physical, health to work 52 weeks a year with no vacation.

              As a compromise, perhaps you could allot 3 weeks to vacation until you reach a certain financial milestone based on your goals for savings and retirement age. Then once reached, take them all. I also think that other physicians would understand you being occasionally unavailable to being on vacation. The chatter I usually hear in the surgeons’ lounge, at least pre-covid, was almost always about trips or vacations or experiences, not how much people were hustling to accumulate gobs of money. You’ve only got one turn on this ride, and moderation in all things.

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              • #8
                Over time think more passive, tax advantaged income streams with recurring dividends for the effort (mainly management and investment)...not practicing crazy hours with a one time highly taxed payment for each individual service you perform. Over time, it's a recipe for burnout and discontent. It's fine in the beginning as you have to make money to invest it and pursue business ventures (and how I started), but I bet you only have 24 hours in a day too. Reproducing your income producing services is key rather than just trying to perform more of those services. Jeff Bezos did not decide to earn more by ringing more doorbells for package delivery, rather he lets a whole lotta employees do that work for him, and recurring subscription income for his efforts with Prime and cloud.

                Work smarter not harder.
                Last edited by EntrepreneurMD; 12-21-2020, 05:16 AM.

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                • #9
                  Take the 6 weeks of vacation. What are the odds the same person would only consult you on the weeks you were out of town? No one expects you to be at work everysingleday of the year.

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                  • #10
                    From the beginning, I’ve taken every bit of my vacation. Yeah it cost me some business but, as others have stated, time is limited and you’ll never get it back. If you are already making $650k, there’s no way I’d fret about another $65k. And I 100% would not work during my vacations to make another $150k.....unless you have a drug lord chasing you or something weird like that

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                    • #11
                      FWIW I never took 6 weeks of defined vacation in any single year when I owned my practice. I started working less days per week in the office. Different ways to preserve mental health.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Hatton View Post
                        FWIW I never took 6 weeks of defined vacation in any single year when I owned my practice. I started working less days per week in the office. Different ways to preserve mental health.
                        Interesting. There are advantages to being able to tell others that "I'll be back in 2 months" - easy, they make a mental note and life gets back to normal afterwards.

                        I also worked with guy who took every Friday off. We adjusted. I still think he was brilliant.

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                        • #13
                          As someone solo, I can understand the fear of losing out your referrals when you are away. Some solutions

                          Take vacations in two week blocks x 2 and maybe 1 week x 2.
                          Network with referring physicians.
                          Let your office take those referrals and book them soon after you come. Keep some empty slots after you return.
                          People understand that docs need vacation. They will still refer to you.
                          Enjoy those vacations. You need the discharge and recharge process that comes from vacations.

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                          • #14
                            You always know how much money you have, but you never know how much time you have. Single male @ 650k. Unless your taste are buying big houses, nice cars and Yachts, I don't see how a reasonable person couldn't both enjoy practically unlimited reasonable entertainment and also not be FIRE in 10 years.

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                            • #15
                              I'm a solo doc, and have taken at least six weeks off every year I've practiced. I even reduced my hours when my kids were young. Point is, with our types of income, we can afford to take off this much time and still achieve FI. Your health won't care that you didn't take off those weeks when you're 50. Life should be enjoyed not a slave to our work.

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