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Hi - 52 and have had Enough! Do I have enough?
Old 02-01-2014, 10:09 PM   #1
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Hi - 52 and have had Enough! Do I have enough?

So..... I have been visiting for some time and thank everyone for sharing all of their experiences and expertise. I have been struggling for some time with the decision to call it a day on my career. I love what I do but it is very stressful and leaves me completely drained. Dealing with the bureaucracy and process changes is slowly wearing me down.

I know in my heart that we have enough for me to throw in the towel. We have lived below our means for years. I am 52 and my DH is 58. We have 4 children ages 17, 18, 20, 22 who are still in high school and university but whom we have set enough aside to fund at least 1 degree for each. They seem to be pretty well grounded and we are hopeful that they will all be gainfully employable. We are couch potatoes with Vanguard funds mainly and have 1.5 million in tax-deferred accounts and another 1.5 million in taxable accounts. We own our home and a recreational property. We have no debt of any kind. We have health care coverage. My DH loves his job and plans to work for another 5 or 6 years making about 100k per year pre-tax. We have no pensions other than government benefits.

My difficulty is probably mainly due to the fact that I feel that I will be letting people down if I stop. I have always had a strong work ethic and haven't missed more than 5 days of work in 30+ years. Thanks to my parents no doubt. So maybe letting myself down. Also, letting the kids down a bit, they will likely be the beneficiaries of all of my toils but obviously less so if I pack it in now. I met with my accountant a few weeks ago to go over last year's numbers and went over our retirement readiness. He actually 'jokingly' asked whether I felt like I was letting those that I looked after down. Also, he made the comment that 'it's pretty hard to walk away from that', indicating the numbers. As far as those I look after (yes I'm an MD), I do love it and it is very gratifying and I still think that I can make a difference but the truth is that there are others who can pick up the mantle and would likely be thankful to do so.

I don't think I will have too much trouble adjusting to not doing what I currently do and I have lots of things planned including teaching which I love but which pays a relative pittance.

Wondering what sage wisdom folks might have to share. Thanks for listening. Nuff.
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Old 02-01-2014, 10:21 PM   #2
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The missing piece in this puzzle is your typical expenses. If you were to retire, do you know how much you would like to spend each year. If it's a low enough number, then you have plenty saved already. If it's a high enough number, then you cannot afford to retire yet.
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Old 02-01-2014, 10:28 PM   #3
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Sorry. I forgot to add that I have run our desired income through FireCalc and it succeeds 100% of the time even using 30% less assets than we actually have. I also don't include any teaching income when I run FireCalc. I will likely have this income as at least as long as my DH continues to work.
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Old 02-01-2014, 10:31 PM   #4
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Have you seen this? Some Important Questions to Answer Before Asking - Can I Retire?
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Old 02-01-2014, 10:34 PM   #5
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In my case, I stopped working "early" when it became a conflict of caring for my aging parents vs the job. Parents were a bit concerned at first, but realized that I knew what I was doing and had enough money. Time spent with them now is not exchangeable for any future time that I would have in the future after a traditional retirement. Megacorp also stopped any future pension contributions the year I left so that there was no longer a reason to work until a formal retirement (ie 30 years) was available.

Also be skeptical of your FA if he/she is hinting or pushing you to continue to work. If the FA is paid on a percentage of your assets, then more working for you equals more $ for them.

-gauss
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Old 02-01-2014, 10:42 PM   #6
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Yes I have looked at it a few times. Honestly on the expense/income side I think we are covered. We have always been LBYM people and we will continue to have income. It is more just about throwing the golden handcuffs aside and getting over doing the things I do.
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Old 02-02-2014, 06:14 AM   #7
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Everything is a "purchase." You can "buy" more money and whatever else you get from your job, or you can exchange all of that for the freedom that comes with retirement. I (also a 52 year old MD) am now two months into retirement with whatever you call the OPPOSITE of buyer's remorse-- buyer's "elation?" I was dreading the reaction from patients when I made my announcement, and yet, of course, they understood completely and better than anyone else the importance of time and freedom and choosing how to spend these precious resources. (I had an oncology practice). The typical reaction was exemplified by their frowns for how they will miss me to almost immediate morphing into broad smiles for me and my taking charge of my life when I am young enough to enjoy it and as blind as everyone else as to how long I might have left to do so. For some, their medical practice is a huge part of the joy they get serving others. For me, that reward, while great- and financially very nice, too- was still too expensive in time and stress and opportunity cost. I would note the overwhelming majority of fellow MDs expressed envy and their own hope or dream to do something similar. Who knows if such expression was an empty gesture or sincere, as for most of them it is not even feasible. I know the oldest MDs were the least understanding. These are those who probably could retire but derive their identity and sense of purpose almost exclusively from their role as physician. I would concede that some even "love" their job, but I have heard their rants, seen their scowls, and felt the tension they live with every day. I guess they have an odd way of showing how much they love it. I certainly had a hard time telling it. Also the older, already retired docs have absolutely no clue. They still remember a time when being a doctor gave you some clout (like my father - he still thinks mentioning he is a doctor will get him a better table at a restaurant?!) and are unaware how times have changed...
As always YMMV.
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Old 02-02-2014, 09:59 AM   #8
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First, congrats on being in such a great place. Obviously the result of great discipline and focus for a long time. Not many folks with four kids to put thru college are in such a great place at age 52. Well played!

I'm about 10 years behind you so I can't offer the wisdom of hind-sight, but one thing I'm trying to do and suggest you might want to consider: free yourself of guilt. Your kids will be fine -- guessing you're leaving them more than you received.

If you're pressing on because you want to put some more financial points on the board to increase security, improve lifestyle or set up the ability to do something purposeful on the charity front then by all means keep going.

If you're pressing on because you're aware that you have valuable skills to offer society and want to live up to your full potential but don't feel you've done it yet, then keep going. It's personally fulfilling.

If you're doing this for guilt -- that you owe someone your time, your taxes, etc -- the pack it in. You've earned your freedom and done right by those around you and to society.

Ask yourself what YOU want to look back on when you're 60. If you want to look back on another 8 years of career/financial accomplishments keep going. If you want to look back on something else, hang it up.

My $0.02.

Good luck!
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Old 02-02-2014, 11:31 AM   #9
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Congrats enough for reaching FI and having the option to focus on teaching if you wish.

Like urn2bfree, I've also noticed a generational divide among docs re FIRE. Forgive the gross generalization, but docs now 60-65+yrs old seem to be the last generation intending to "die with their boots on" (i.e. never retire). They are perhaps last generation for whom medicine was their main identity. Docs under 40-45 (at least in US) trained & socialized under a different system with huge educational debt, much greater bureaucracy, greater practice risks, & less professional respect (both in & outside of HC system). To most of them, medicine is mainly a job. To be sure a well-respected job with the personal satisfaction of helping others, but not the main focus of their identity. Retirement is a goal they value, and many actually are planning well for it. Docs in their 50's seem to be split, but attitudes may be leaning towards that of their younger peers. However, many have not saved nearly enough to support their lifestyles so will not have the choice to ER.
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Old 02-02-2014, 01:01 PM   #10
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Welcome to the forum Enough.

Everyone goes through some sort of thought process as they contemplate early retirement. As you said, you have been doing this for 30+ years while only missing a handful of days work. When you do something consistently for this long, it's a major life change to stop doing it, and it requires tremendous thought. Only you know whether you are ready to move on or not, and I'm sure you will make the best decision as you think it through.

I retired last year at 46. Work was always the most important thing to me during my career, and I was extremely hesitant to give it all up for something I had little experience with (free time). It's been less than a year, but I've learned a lot about myself this past year. Having free time is so much more important to me than spending a lot of money on material items or expensive vacations. I have enough to live comfortably now anyway, and I've always practice LBYM. So working any longer only ensures my heirs will be well off. It wouldn't give me anything I truly desire, and it would greatly detract from my ability to enjoy my life. I continue to think about it a lot since it's relatively new to me, but I wouldn't change a thing about my decision at this point.

I do work part time, but in a very casual low stress situation. Perhaps you could find something like that for yourself as a bridge from full time work to ER. It's a nice way to ease yourself into the situation if you can make it work.

Good luck with your decision and keep us informed of how you are doing!
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Old 02-02-2014, 03:01 PM   #11
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Thank you all for your thoughts and support. All of the points are great to hear and reflect on. Krotoole's points are well taken. Some time ago I think there was a thread about 'why do we work' or 'why do we continue to work'. Was in the same vein as these thoughts - expectations of ourselves, society's expectations of us and so on.

Financially I think we are good and feel that our children will have quite enough resources provided from us. Our goal is to give them just enough to get them on their way but not so much as it cripples their motivation to make their own marks. At this point we have enough to do everything that we have planned.

Definitely I could keep working because of the skill set but I think that there are others that could takeover for me. I still also have the opportunity to teach and work in developing countries for a few weeks a year if I want to continue doing that.

So maybe a wee bit of guilt. Just the work ethic thing. I agree that the generations of MDs are quite different and certainly I would have thought that I was in the older cohort with the ridiculously long hours and nights in the hospital but perhaps it is my exposure to the younger generation that has me questioning the wisdom of working forever. And of course there is the changing role of the MD though not so much in the eyes of patients' but moreso in those of administrative types!

The struggle continues! Thanks again for all of the comments. Enjoy the Super Bowl!
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Old 02-02-2014, 06:48 PM   #12
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......And of course there is the changing role of the MD though not so much in the eyes of patients' but moreso in those of administrative types!
+1 on that.
While one large hospital recently I noticed everyone's ID badge (from janitorial types to docs) displayed their FIRST name only in bold type, with their full name & position in type too small to read unless standing right next to them. And most nurses & clerks were calling all docs by their 1st names. As a patient, this struck me as rather unprofessional. Made me feel like I was not in a hospital but in a hotel chain commercial.
"Hi. I'm Doug & I'll be doing your colonoscopy..... Why, no I'm not a doctor, but I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night."
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Old 02-02-2014, 07:07 PM   #13
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It is hard to leave a good paying job that you don't hate.

I retired when I was 56 mainly because I decided I wanted a break. I found out I really enjoyed not working and having more time to do as much or as little as I wanted to. Currently on vacation with DW in Hawaii watching the Super Bowl and feel I am blessed.

Also saw too many people my age in obituaries when I read the paper. You never know how much time you have left.

Tough decision.
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Old 02-02-2014, 07:45 PM   #14
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Can you ease into things by taking a year off, a sabbatical or working less hours and see how you like it?
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Old 02-02-2014, 08:10 PM   #15
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Can you ease into things by taking a year off, a sabbatical or working less hours and see how you like it?
Excellent suggestion. But there is a risk that voluntary personal sabbatical &/or decrease in hours might change the way you are viewed by colleagues (e.g. not fully committed, not a team player, etc.). That depends entirely on the individual w$rk situation.
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Old 02-02-2014, 08:41 PM   #16
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Excellent suggestion. But there is a risk that voluntary personal sabbatical &/or decrease in hours might change the way you are viewed by colleagues (e.g. not fully committed, not a team player, etc.). That depends entirely on the individual w$rk situation.
That is the risk. I do know someone who retired, then un-retired and had to take a demotion to get a position back at the former company. But if the alternative for "Enough" is to just quit completely anyway, then she doesn't have a lot to lose.

"Enough", one other thing to consider is what are you making per hour after you subtract out income taxes, work costs and the things you have to outsource in your life because of work (cooking, cleaning, gardening). Doctors are usually in pretty high tax brackets without a lot of deductions if they just have W2 income. If you look at the after tax, after job costs, after life outsourcing costs your salary may be a little bit easier to walk away from than if you just look at the gross amount.
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Old 02-02-2014, 09:41 PM   #17
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I did consider just taking a year as our group does allow for it and that would be the safe route but I know in my heart that I would not go back to the same place. I figured that if after a year or two that I wanted to go back to making big money that I would land in different place. I love the patient care but the administration and logistics side has become too much. Also the day to day interactions with patients are great but the life and death decisions have been wearing for some time. It just feels like it would be good if someone else could make them.

My net income has been very good but we have managed to live on about 30% of it for the last 5 years so I'm not looking at too much hardship there. As well, teaching offers me not only great satisfaction but the potential to replace most of that 30% if I desire. I am very much looking forward to doing many of the things that are currently outsourced!

Thanks again. It is nice to hear some more objective voices.
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Old 02-03-2014, 07:21 AM   #18
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... but the life and death decisions have been wearing for some time. It just feels like it would be good if someone else could make them.
I'm retired law enforcement but I can sure relate to that. A few years after I retired we came across an area the police had blocked off and guys were wearing vests and carrying rifles/shotguns. So I said to DW "I think we should be somewhere else". It was kind of neat to be able to just turn around and go the other way.
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Old 02-03-2014, 08:33 AM   #19
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Enough,
Are you near any teaching hospitals? How about universities?

Good fortune!
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Old 02-03-2014, 10:27 AM   #20
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Enough,
Are you near any teaching hospitals? How about universities?
Yes I am a 5 minutes from our local university which has the medical school that I am able to teach at. This is a huge bonus of course as it will keep me engaged and give me a little extra money. I love the university atmosphere and very much enjoy interacting with the students.
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