The current social model for the elderly is to become a dependent elderly retiree. We work for several decades and settle into non-productivity – a word which I’m not using negatively but factually.
Retiring early allows a medical professional to find something that they would love doing and which can continue earning them enough money to live off of indefinitely. Sort of as an antidote to retirement.
One issue with our society is that the elderly retiree is a dependent citizen. A non-producers whom the rest of society has to support.
In the US, the Medicare and Social Security systems are such examples. The young who have a high human capital pay for maintenance of the elderly.
It doesn’t have to work this way. Far better than volunteering or donating would be retiring securely and remaining a productive member of society.
One downside to retiring late in life is that it gives you very little wiggle room to develop a lucrative interest.
By age 65 or 72 the average human is a little less energetic, a little more burdened with health care issues, and just doesn’t have enough years left to figure out a way to generate some extra income.
For most of us it will take 3-5 years to create our ideal retirement income source. Most of it will be spent trying different things to see what clicks. The rest will be figuring out a way to make it lucrative.
A Lucrative Retirement
So why have a lucrative retirement? What’s wrong with just kicking back and living off of investments?
As our society is currently structured, the elderly become a burden on society even though a lot of money is made off of them.
In a lucrative retirement, the retiree continues to contribute to society. Sure, volunteer work is one way of giving back to society but there are many other forms which are less one-directional.
A cardiologist colleague of mine left his cardiology practice and started practicing internal medicine after he turned 50. He just didn’t enjoy cardiology as much and found the interventional aspect draining. I got to know him when I started doing the moonlighting rounds in residency – a focused, gray-haired dude, who spoke so intentionally.
He decided to retire at 50 and buy out primary care offices in his town. He bought nearly 15 such practices. He streamlined them, added PA’s, and increased the number of Medicaid/Medicare patients.
He added value. He generated more income by allowing his clinics to see more patients. And he was able to do so because he retired early.
I asked Joe how he figured out how to do it. He said that he just followed a successful clinic model and emulated the same model in each subsequent clinic. All 15 were carbon copies of each other. So much so that his staff could float from one clinic to the next and they wouldn’t miss a beat.
Current Retirement Model
The current retirement model is a reprieve from work.
We escape work with just enough to live a comfortable life in retirement, constantly worrying whether our retirement savings will last. Will they generate adequate passive income? Will tax law changes hurt our portfolio income? Will market crashes wipe out our gains?
To compensate for these fears, many of us work far longer than we need to. We save way too much for retirement and thus are left with very little energy in retirement.
Retiring with Enough
In order to avoid being a dependent elderly retiree, it’s necessary to retire early. Early enough that you still have a little in you to pursue something you love. My cardiology colleague enjoyed the shit out of running those offices, on which his wife commented that he was like a child with a new toy.
In order to retire early we must develop the concept of enough. How much is enough?
Personal finance advice can at times seem daunting and it’s riddled with rules. If you can’t reach the 4%-rule then you can’t retire! … if you don’t have at least $1M then you’re financially fucked! … you need at least $5M for a happy retirement! … you need 80% of your pre-retirement spending covered in retirement!
What’s the chance that you can’t find an income stream which you enjoy? I’d say incredibly low. And guess what, you can always fall back on medicine – not bad.
Earning Income in Retirement
For some medical professionals it might make sense to work part-time in order to earn a little income in retirement. This will make us less dependent on our investments and we’re still producing value.
But I don’t see retirement as a time when we should just do the same old shit. You’re retired and it’s time to enjoy it! Take some risks, have some fun, pick up a few STD’s!
If you’ve always enjoyed teaching then open a language school.
If you love writing then write a book.
Maybe you’ve wanted to make movies but never had the time. Or sculptures or paintings.
Maybe you have an opportunity and desire to rehab dilapidated real estate.
The Outdated Model
The outdated model is the dependent elderly retiree living off of their investments, taking a few touristy vacations, and then spending the rest of their time figuring out how to not get bored.
The new model is the young early retiree who is trying to develop their next passion. I’ve been working on developing my passion since 2012.
Keep Trying New Things
I started out with an auto-mechanic shop and loved it. It was definitely the right direction for me though it tied me down too much.
I tried writing and enjoyed it but it takes a lot of practice to get good at it. Definitely excited when that day comes and I can make it a lucrative passion while creating value for others.
I dabbled/dabble in consulting. I got a great gig with Remedy and then did some work for JustAnswer. The time commitments asked of me for ongoing projects weren’t desirable at the time so I now only do that sporadically.
I also taught at the community college. By far my funnest experience to date. Eager, young, stoned minds who ask amazing questions and are excited to learn new things in new ways.
The past few weeks I’ve been getting coached by a friend on how to market myself better as a medical consultant. She does work on IRB committees, specifically dealing with FDA compliance. She enjoys the work and isn’t a physician but earning nearly $200/hour as a consultant.
In the end I might do a combination of things or find something new altogether. But the point is to keep trying new things and retiring early allows for such an opportunity.