Early retirement isn’t just a pipe dream for doctors or even most professionals. It can be achieved if that is your goal. You simply have to establish a plan and execute it. Routinely (but not obsessively) monitor and track your progress. There are plenty of (non-physician) bloggers who document their achievement of early retirement—many at ages where doctors only are hoping to finish residency or fellowship. If they can do it, so can you.
You Must Define What Early Retirement Means To You
Before you embark or consider early retirement, you must establish what it means to you. Everyone will have a different goal in early retirement. The main reason why people even consider retiring early is to free up your time to pursue activities other than what you’d do in your normal routine job without being homeless. Financially, being in early retirement means that you no longer require income from your routine job. It does not necessarily mean that you no longer generate income either. In early retirement, you still may have passive streams of income or simply a source to draw your living expenses from.
Examples of early retirement include:
- Lawyer who retires early to travel the world with his kids and stays home to blog.
- Software developer who retires early to blog at home and take care of his son. (Retire by 40)
- Software developer who retires early to pursue his hobbies in construction work and later just enjoys life with his family and also runs a blog. (Mr. Money Mustache)
Excessively Lavish Lifestyles Cannot Be Sustained. Period.
Early retirement does not mean that you can take a Four Seasons Around the World trip every year while putting two of your kids through Ivy League schools and funding a new Mercedes AMG every year. That’s just not possible unless you’re able to draw out a mid six-figure living expense fund every year. Most doctors can’t even do that while earning their peak salaries, so it is unlikely possible if you’re not generating doctor income. Furthermore, this type of lifestyle is actually taxing physically and mentally. Eating Michelin-star food every day can even become mundane (and unhealthy).
In order to be able to retire early, your living expenses have to be reasonable while allowing you to live comfortably and enjoy your time. It will be different for everyone. What works for the former software developer may not work for the retired cardiologist. Ask yourself what you need to be able to sustain a happy early retirement and work backwards in your financial plan.
Is Early Retirement Truly Suitable For You?
Before you embark on your financial strategy, make sure that you really know what you’d like to be doing if you gave up your medical career. We went into the field to help and heal people (it also took many years of your 20’s)—is it worth it to give it up? Make sure that you won’t be bored if you do hang up your stethoscope.
Most importantly, is your spouse in agreement? If he/she likes his/her job and wishes to continue working, will it strain your relationship if you gave up your career? What will your extended family think of your choices?
Get A Pen And Draft A Plan
Give yourself some time. Figure out what you want to do, and jot down your goals on a notepad or on your favorite note-taking software. Keep saving money in the meantime. When you’re ready to take the leap, go for it!
What strategies have you implemented towards early retirement, and do you think that it will work for you?