I don’t even remember how I got here. I am guessing it was those smart search engine and website cookies that catalogued the content that I was brushing up against with every search, article and link I clicked on. Perhaps it was a little banner somewhere or a link embedded in another story. Whatever it was, I can honestly say I stumbled on the FIRE community, completely by accident.
To put this into context, I was recently back to work following a nearly yearlong absence during my battle with cancer. This coincided with what I imagine was a concomitant midlife crisis. I had opted to go back part time and was, at the time, still wondering if I was making the right choice. I was jealous of the time my work was taking from my personal life, even working part time. I began to even doubt if I had made a mistake choosing medicine for a career! Looking back, I assume this was because of the mental trauma of my disease. I wanted my free time to be with my family, but this conflicted with the fear of what would happen to them if something happened to me, being the primary bread winner in our home.
The first articles I came across were from two physician blogs, Passive Income MD (PIMD) and Physician on Fire (PoF). It was sometime in the first half of 2017. Whichever one I discovered first (I don’t remember), had links and references to the other. I had never even heard of The White Coat Investor at that point, widely considered the most influential physician finance blogger. I immediately took to their content. They were both anesthesiologists like myself. They seemed to be relatively close to my age. One spoke of ways to expand your income by pursuing streams typically outside of medicine, for the purpose of becoming Financially Independent and able to work your doctor gig less. The other spoke of making financial decisions with the income earned as a physician (saving, investments, real estate and frugality) so that you could Retire Early from medicine all together. Get it? “FIRE”= Financially Independent Retire Early. Both messages moved me, and I began to read more and more on the subject.
One thing for certain was that I realized I had inadvertently put myself on the path to FIRE because of my life style choices and by making some fortuitous decisions early in my career. Because of those things, I was able to stop working for a year without a care about my financial situation. More importantly, it also allowed me to pursue part time work when I returned.
I still consider these blogs on physician finance I found early on this journey incredibly valuable, but I thought I would add my voice to the caucus of this movement. Where many share technical financial advice, I will share my personal experiences and decisions that have helped (or hurt) my pursuit of FIRE from the perspective of a part time physician, a cancer survivor and a part time stay at home mom of a young child. I hope that by so doing I will inspire and/or empower physicians to take control of their schedules and stave off exhaustion by modifying their financial decisions and their relationship to money.
One interesting thing has come out of all of this. My mindset has gone from resenting my job to one of having a new deep appreciation for the work that I do. Most certainly this is because I work part time, and none of this would have been possible if I had not found myself on this path to FIRE.