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I'm a part-time doctor earning $250,000 a year and I plan to retire next year at age 43 — here's what a week of my spending looks like

real money physicianCourtesy of Physician on FIRE

  • The Physician on FIRE is a part-time anesthesiologist and blogger who plans to retire next year at age 43.
  • He abides by the "Live on Half" strategy: Spending 50% or less of take-home pay and investing in passive index funds.
  • For Business Insider's "Real Money" series, he shares how he and his wife spent their money during a week in July.
  • Want to share a week of your spending? Email your money@businessinsider.com.

A few years ago, I discovered the concept of financial independence. I was 39 years old and planning to work at least another 15 years in my chosen field of anesthesiology. However, I experienced inception of an idea — the idea that I could retire early, and it was an idea I couldn't shake.

I also realized that my wife and I were in a position to pull that trigger at any time. Mine was an unintentional path to financial independence, but a path that got us there in about 10 years, nonetheless. I had been saving, often more than half of my take-home pay, but I never knew what I was saving for. It occurred to me that I had been saving for my freedom; I just didn't know it.

Financially, I could have afforded to give 90 days' notice right then and there, but mentally, I was not at all prepared to do so. I had not even worked a decade since finishing residency, and I had a family and a lot to think about.

After spending some time browsing a growing number of FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) blogs and forums, I began to feel more comfortable with the idea of retiring early eventually, but I did not find any sites discussing FIRE from the perspective of a high-income professional.

I decided to start a website of my own to both fill that void and give myself a platform to continue sorting out what an early retirement might look like for my family and me, and how eager I was to pursue this path less chosen.

In January of 2016, I started Physician on FIRE and pledged to donate half of my website profits. By the definition of financial independence, I don't really need the money, and it feels great to pursue a charitable mission while spreading this message.

Today, I'm 42 years old, and I'm still working part-time, but I plan to retire from medicine in 2019 when my replacement, a final-year resident finishing his training in the same program that trained me, arrives and is ready to work on his own.

I started tracking our spending about the same time I started my blog. I had to prove it to myself and to my readers that we were indeed financially independent!

My wife, a registered dietitian by training, has mostly stayed home to raise our boys, who are now in third and fourth grade. When I do retire next year, we plan to do some extended travel and "roadschooling" while hopping from one family adventure to the next. I can't wait.

Here's a detailed look at our expenditures from a recent week in July.

We live in northern Minnesota and spend around $5,000 a month, or $60,000 a year. Here's how our spending breaks down:

Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

My wife and I both had student loans, totaling about $75,000. I paid off the remainder in 2012, ten years after graduating from medical school, with the signing bonus from a job.

My employer currently provides healthcare for me and my family, but when responsible for all of our own healthcare costs, I anticipate our annual budget to be closer to $80,000 or $90,000. I consider our spending to be on the low end for a fatFIRE budget, but certainly higher than that of most early retirees you'll encounter online.

We're in the process of building a home on a 7-acre parcel of lakefront property we purchased last year. Eventually, it will be our primary home. Since we have no mortgage (we purchased our primary home with cash) or other debt, and our charitable giving comes from our donor-advised fund, I feel we live quite well at this level of spending. 

I'll be working full-time in the last two months of this year, earning more than I currently do. I expect our total income to be around $400,000 for 2018, which includes income from my blog as well.



Altogether, we spent just under $1,300 this week.

Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

There were some atypical expenses related to an upcoming family wedding (about half of the weekly output), but that's the thing about atypical expenses — they're pretty typical.

If we spent this amount every week, our annual spending would be about $67,000. In the first six months of 2018, we spent $33,000, further proving that the week was typical in some ways, after all.

As a part-time anesthesiologist, I enjoy a schedule with quite a bit of time off and we like to travel.



On Monday, we took a long drive to our cabin in Michigan, spending just over $100, mostly on gas and groceries.

Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

We woke up bright and early Monday morning to get started on the 550-mile drive from our home in Northern Minnesota to our cabin in northern Michigan.

It may seem odd to leave cabin country to stay at a cabin 10 hours away, but we used to live in northern Michigan, and we have quite a few friends and much of my wife's family nearby.

We also got the place for a steal, spending all of $15,400 for the place at an auction in 2011. It's a long drive, but one we've made many times through the beautiful terrain of northern Minnesota, northern Wisconsin, and Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

We had lunches, snacks, and drinks packed, and we made two stops for gasoline, spending $39.61 and $42.11 on fuel.

We reached Cheboygan, Michigan, at 6 p.m. (almost there!) and had dinner at Mulligan's Bar and Grill which set us back 5.3% of a Room & Board sectional sofa and a $5 tip.

That sofa bit deserves an explanation. Three years ago, when we were selling our house on the river, the owner of Mulligan's was moving into a home just upriver. I had him swing by to see if he wanted any of our furniture. He liked the sofa set and I suggested a barter for a $500 gift certificate to his restaurant. We've been enjoying that sofa one family meal at a time ever since.

Before heading to the cabin, we stopped in at the Cheboygan Brewing Company, a tasty microbrewery in which I happen to have a 4% ownership stake. As investors, we're entitled to a couple beers on the house any time we stop in, which we do fairly often in the summer. The beer was free, as was the popcorn, and we left another $5 tip.

Once we were unpacked and settled in, my wife realized she had no charger for the Garmin Forerunner watches that she and our boys wear. We spent $15.80 on a charging cable from Amazon.com before heading out to join our friends at the campfire.




See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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