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I was already in my early 40 s when I realised I was a financial illiterate. This happened in the wake of a little professional crisis—when I also envisioned a risk of getting exhausted from my work schedule (which at the time involved 7/8 periods of oncology clinics) before being able to achieve my financial independence. This concept—potentially unfamiliar to many physicians—means the time point where the wealth you have accumulated allows you to continue living on revenues for the rest of your life, without counting on further income from work. Importantly, this does not necessarily mean retirement, but instead breaking free to do only the type of work that gives you true pleasure. For some, this could mean continue to run clinics 7/8 periods; for others, shifting to a 1/8 schedule and taking the rest of the time for academic activities; or instead, working part time and using the free time to run a parallel activity, such as a passion you never had time to enjoy. Physicians should be extremely cautious in assuming they will be willing or able to run busy patient clinics until the late years of their careers and make plans to achieve their financial independence as early as possible (I personally recommend by age 50–55 years). However, reality shows a different story. For instance, in a recent survey of 20.329 US physicians, 53% said they did not have a goal for how much they wanted to save by a certain age.1
The financial life cycle can be simplified as follows: an average person works hard and saves little until age 40 years, then continues to work hard from age 40–60 years, usually being able to accumulate wealth; …
Contributors MSM is the single author of the manuscript, responsible for the overall content as guarantor and for the submission of the manuscript. There was no writing assistance for this manuscript.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.
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