Yes, my blog is still alive! Time sure flies. It has been 3 months since I last posted in May.
Although I am a newbie blogger, I have a newfound respect for bloggers who routinely pump out great content. Kudos to them! I guess I am simply a lazy, part-time blogger. 🙂
As I had mentioned previously in “Have you reached career fulfillment?”, I was planning on scaling down to part-time next year, after 10 years of working post-fellowship/residency. Well, I lied. Kind of.
Instead, I decided to pull the plug this year. But a different kind of part-time status. Allow me to explain.
I have realized that one of the major benefits of posting random thoughts down on a personal finance blog is the process forces you to really think about what exactly you are really striving for financially and in life.
This is part of the reason why I haven’t posted in a while (another reason is the summer weather in Ontario has been awesome!). I have been a bit pre-occupied with trying to set up my current work life to reflect what I ideally want it to look like. Not when I “retire”. Not in 1, 5 or 10 years. But now.
When I ask family and friends what they want to do when they retire, they often respond with:
“Spend more time with family and friends”
“Become healthier by exercising more”
“Take up a new/past hobby or sport”
“Read more books”
“Pursue a second career”
I’ve been thinking about what I wish I could to do more in my life now, and the things I have come up with are eerily similar to the above common “retirement interests”. Why can’t I do these things now? How can I do these things now?
Having family and friends who work as professors and teachers, I often hear about their treasured paid sabbaticals and summer vacations, in which many of them use to pursue their “retirement interests”.
I began to think that the best way for me to pursue my “retirement interests” is to take an extended vacation, which would be similar to sabbaticals and teachers’ summer vacations, except that mine would be unpaid.
If planned properly, then perhaps these extended vacations can act like mini-retirement breaks throughout my career.
What defines an extended vacation?
In my experience, most people would consider themselves lucky to have 2 consecutive weeks of vacation off. 3 weeks would be extremely lucky. 4 weeks of vacation would be getting into uncommon territory for most people. Therefore, greater than 4 consecutive vacation weeks would be considered an “extended vacation” in my opinion.
As a father of middle school kids, I can see that summers with my kids are limited. This may sound depressing, but there really aren’t THAT many summers that parents can spend together with their kids before they are off to university. Many of our friends who are a decade older with us constantly tell us this fact. Time flies by when you have children.
After discussion with my better half, I decided to plan for an extended vacation this summer. 6 consecutive vacations weeks. This is on top of my regular allocated vacation weeks throughout the year. Instead of the traditional part-time status of a 3 or 4 day work week, consecutive weeks off were more appealing to me.
I realize that finding coverage from partners or locums may be easy or difficult depending on your specialty. Fortunately for me, this was doable.
To plan for this, I obviously had to plan for this financially, which included:
- Have savings to cover fixed monthly expenses
- Have savings to cover variable expenses for my “retirement interests”
That’s it. It’s actually not that complicated.
As physicians, we are essentially highly skilled, highly paid “widget makers”. You make a widget, you get paid. If you don’t make a widget, then you don’t get paid.
If you are planning for an extended vacation, then you obviously won’t get paid at your “widget making” job. Personal finance, financial independence, FIRE or whatever you want to call it, simply boils down to saving and investing. When I look at my immigrant parents and their friends, they were all great savers who lived below their means. (Sorry, but if you are not a great saver by living below your means, then an extended vacation is likely out of reach for you)
I learned to be a great saver from watching my parents. However, my parents did not learn about the second part of the equation for achieving financial independence earlier. Investing.
Although I may not earn any “active income” from my day job during my extended vacation, I know that I am still earning “passive income” through my passive index investments and passive real estate investments during my time off. Knowing that my net worth would still be growing during this “mini-retirement” period, made my decision to sell off my shifts easy.
What is the down-side of this decision? Not earning any “active income” to add fuel to my growing portfolio.
Will this make any difference in the long-term? Nope. When you start to play around with investment growth calculators, like this one, then you begin to realize that once you have amassed a “sizeable portfolio” and then plan to let compounding do its magic (i.e not draw down your principal), then an extended break from your day job will not make a dent in the long-term. The number at the end of the journey is simply that. A number. When you start to worry about how much you will be leaving in your estate when you pass away, I think that is a sign that you probably have a “sizeable portfolio” now.
This post is not meant as a brag about my financial independence and I hope it did not come off this way.
I simply wanted to demonstrate that an extended vacation to pursue your “retirement interests” can be done when you are still relatively young. If you have thoughts about this, then you are not alone. If you are thinking about a longer “mini-retirement”, then check out Matt’s blog.
I am curious to see how I will feel after this extended vacation is over. Fortunately, I still enjoy my day job as a physician. However, I wonder if I will come back to work recharged and enjoy my work even more, or will I dread going back to work. Hopefully, it is the former, and not the latter! 🙂
Being in my early 40s, I have thought about whether this is my”mid-life” crisis moment or if this a change in my mindset from achieving financial independence. At the end, who cares? All I know is so far at the beginning of my extended summer vacation (aka “unpaid sabbatical”, aka “mini-retirement”), I have absolutely no complaints at all! 🙂
Hope you enjoy the rest of your summer!