I've written before about some of the reasons you should NOT retire early. The early retirement crowd savaged it a bit on Reddit, which I thought was kind of funny given how much I advocate for financial independence (FI) on this site. At any rate, I'm arguing today from the other side. Today we're going to talk about why you should become financially independent as soon as possible. What does financial independence mean? It means you can quit work today and never work again while sustaining a lifestyle that is reasonable to you. A rule of thumb is that you need 25 times what you are actually spending socked away in investments to be FI. Spending $120K a year or $10K a month? Then you need $3 Million to be FI. How do you get there? You make a bunch of money, save a huge chunk of it, and invest it wisely.
Without further ado-
10 Reasons to Become Financially Independent as Soon as Possible
#1 You can retire early
It's called work for a reason- they have to pay someone to do it or nobody would. This is the main reason people go for early financial independence- they hate their job.
#2 You can live somewhere that doesn't allow you to earn a living
Oil workers can make great money…if they live in Texas. But what if you want to live in say Southern Utah? Then you're either looking at a massive paycut or no job at all. But if you're financially independent, then you can live anywhere you want, or even any country you want, or travel all over the place if you want. You're free of your job. A lucky few are able to do this throughout their career (think professional bloggers). Docs are able to get a job in most areas of the country (although the more specialized you are, the larger a city you have to live in), but there are lots of fields where you have significant geographic limits on your jobs.
#3 Your job is more enjoyable when you don't have to do it
Many of us actually like what we do for pay. We spent a decade or more learning how to do it, we find it challenging and interesting, and we feel like we're really making a difference in the lives of others. Want to know what you can do to enjoy it even more? Become financially independent. There's nothing worse than going in to work knowing the money you'll earn there has already been spent and there's no escape.
#4 EMR, HIPAA, meaningful use, preapprovals, managed care, EMTALA or whatever
Every job has a sucky aspect to it. For doctors, the regulatory and administrative aspects can be pretty painful. Guess what? Financial independence provides an escape. You can either walk away completely, or simply refuse to deal with whatever painful aspect of the job you don't like, no matter what the cost. Financial independence is “walking money” (i.e.you can walk away.) It doesn't matter if it takes you six months to get another job. It doesn't matter if you never get another job. You don't have to take that!
#5 Drop call, drop weekends, drop night shifts, or go part-time
Some of the worst parts about medicine come from its all-consuming 24/7/365 nature. People get sick at all hours of the day or night. However, that doesn't mean YOU have to take care of them at those times. In many instances, it is possible to buy your way out of having to stay up all night or be available all the time. Financial independence gives you the means to work when you want to work.
#6 Do Volunteer Work
There are many volunteer opportunities in medicine. Unfortunately, most of them require significant time and commitment. Doctors Without Borders, for instance, requires a 6 month commitment and provides a relatively tiny stipend ($1,913 a month currently.) You might not have to be financially independent to take on an opportunity like that, but you can't be making boat payments.
#7 Spend More Money
If you are financially independent, it doesn't necessarily mean you have money coming out of your ears. What it does mean, however, is that anything you earn in addition to your nest egg can be blown on the silliest of things. Still like that job? Fine, buy a Porsche. Or a cruise around the world. Or a fancy McMansion. Or pay off your mom's house. Or endow a scholarship. Whatever. There's something fun about being able to spend every dollar you earn guilt-free.
#8 Encore Career
Many of us dream of having an “encore career,” you know, the one that would have been stupid to do first because it pays like crap. Maybe you wanted to paint, or run a used bike coop, or in my case, drive big excavators. Now you have the opportunity to pursue any career you like without regard to the financial ramifications. You could even go back to college and get that art history degree your practical father talked you out of!
#9 No More Life and Disability Insurance Premiums
Sick of paying high premiums every month for insurance you'll probably never use? Financial independence allows you to quit paying those premiums since you no longer need the insurance.
#10 Make Hay While the Sun Shines
You may look back on this period of your life and realize that this was the golden era of medicine. In some specialties, pay decreases dramatically from time to time, and it could happen to you. If your income is halved in a few years due to factors beyond your control, you will be very glad that you saved like a madman now, whether it gets you to FI or not.
What do you think? Are you trying to become financially independent as early as possible? Why or why not? What benefit do you think it will give you? Comment below!