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locums side gig in addition to full time job- is it worth it?

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  • locums side gig in addition to full time job- is it worth it?

    I regularly get emails from a locums company that I used to work for during fellowship. I usually dismissed them because of the travel involved and the need to fulfill full weeks. A job finally came in that is about a 30-40 minute commute from where I am, so I inquired about it. In order for me to do this, I had to have a waiver signed by my hospital to say I could work for this potentially competing imaging center. After a couple weeks, my employer approved my ability to work at this additional site.

    To most on here it would seem like a no brainer opportunity.

    Details of my current job-- 150 scheduled work days a year, ~8 hour shifts, and includes ~28 evenings a year (4-10pm). Base pay is $615k. I don't qualify for the incentive bonus until next year (about 70k, this is more of a shifting target than the salary...). We have optional internal moonlighting that is after hours and is paid/wRVU, and is only bound by the time that you choose to work (when one decides to leave, switch to teleradiology). Because of others in the group who want to partake in said opportunities, I have 4-5 evenings that I can do this. The range of what I've made doing this is 7-13k pre-tax, all eventually deducted in my standard W2 (read, no 1099 income at all). With all that, I expect my annual pay to be about 700k for this year (July 19-Jun 20).

    The moonlighting opportunity is 8:30-5 job that has me doing general radiology for 2500/day. It's near where I am, so I can still live at home. A plus is that I'll have some more opportunities to do procedures and read some more general stuff (abdomen MRIs, MSK MRI) which I'm still comfortable with from training. Another plus is that I'll have another way to contribute to the solo 401k that I have set up. The downside seems obvious... I'd have to give up free time for marginal increases in pay.

    In terms of current spending-- I've been sending a good chunk of the money to student loans and I don't think I've realized how much I'm actually making. Monthly spending is around $2400/month including apartment, phone, insurance, food... split about 60/40 between my gf and I.

    I know the time to make money is while I'm young, but is it worth it?

    As always, thanks for the input.

  • #2
    so you make 700K, have the ability to make more, and want to increase your marginal rate for more retirement space.

    i mean, do whatever. you are making 3-4x a pediatrician so does it matter?


    • #3
      Yeah. Before you asked this question you should have calculated the ratio of your income to that of a pediatrician. If that ratio is above a certain level (3-4X) then you shouldn’t ask because it doesn’t matter.

      I think if it’s something you enjoy doing and you can make use of a solo 401k to make it an even more efficient source of income then you should go for it. You can stop any time you want. Give it a try and see how it goes.


      • #4
        Unless I'm having a brain aneurysm, on a back of the napkin calculation. Your blended primary W-2 hourly rate = $615K / ((122 * 8 = 976) + (28 * 6 = 168) = 1,144) = $537.50/hour and your locums offer = $2500 / 8 (assuming) = $312.50/hour. This is hardly the percentage of W-2 hourly rate, $312.50 / $537.50 ~= 60% that I would be looking for in IC work.

        Additional tax-advantaged retirement contribution space is nice, but not when you're getting screwed in the process. I prefer the use of the term economical and not frugal when it come to all things in life. Economical: "giving good value or service in relation to the amount of money, time, or effort spent." These locums are not a good "value" for your time.


        • #5
          Is it really worth your time? Sounds like you have a good gig now. I'd personally just stick with what you have. Although maintaining skills you don't typically use is obviously going to be good for future job inquiries or possibilities.


          • #6
            Ya I'm not sure i would drive an hr and a half to make substantially less than your normal job when you're already doing well money wise. Solo 401k isn't going to be the difference between when you retire.

            Your monthly expenses are less than 10% of your net income... You're killing it and don't really need to work more but I guess if you want


            • #7
              ************************ I picked the wrong specialty. Over double my salary working half the hours.


              • #8
                There's no way to answer this question except for you to try it out: do you enjoy it, and if not, is it worth the extra money that shows up in your accounts?


                The nice thing about locums is that you don't have to commit to anything, you can just stop taking shifts.


                • #9


                  • #10
                    I say go for it. Keep cranking.

                    You can look at it that your “full time” equates to about 0.75 (or even less) for many “full time” docs out there

                    So there’s room to make more (if that’s a goal right now)


                    • #11
                      How much would internal moonlighting pay compared to this other job?


                      • #12
                        One advantage may be that the 1099 opens more tax deductions. I do something similar, mostly also to stay current with the type of studies at the locums site that we do not do at our primary site and as a nice benefit deduct a few more things which I cannot as easily as an employee. I cannot unfortunately do the 401k for the side gig due to a controlled group situation (check that out if it applies to you). I agree with most above - if you like it, do it. If not or something does not go your way, stop doing it.


                        • #13
                          What is the purpose? There is no way to judge if it is worth it without knowing the purpose. If, for example, you have a plan to retire 5 yrs early and this is a way to get there, why not? If, otoh, you are just competing with yourself to see how much you can make in a year, I guess being young and not tied down gives you more freedom to make decisions sans a good reason.

                          What do you want to look back 5 years from now and say about what you're doing? Will you be glad you did it or wish you had done something different?

                          I don't think this is a math problem, so I cannot give you that answer.
                          Financial planning, investment management and CPA services for medical professionals | 270-247-6087


                          • #14
                            A side gig can be fun, it can open up new, unexpected opportunities, it can be an invigorating diversion from the usual day to day, it’s an opportunity to meet new people and learn new things. It can also provide you with additional income and tax deferral opportunities. It’s not just about the math. If you’re curious to give a try then just do it. There’s no risk to doing so. Just stop if you don’t like it.


                            • #15
                              The real question is what is the reason for pursuing the side gig.
                              • If you have a financial goal that you are attempting to meet, then sacrificing “free time” may be worth it.
                              • If you simply are choosing to fill available time with work, then I would take a gander at the temptation of burying yourself in “work”. Not implying that you are doing it, but being a “workaholic “ is a real thing. One can always find a reason why more “work” is a good thing.

                              You are making plenty in your current full time position.
                              Simply stated: work/life balance. Diversification is a good thing too. Just saying.