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The great dilemma: Go part-time now or retire early?

Early retirement is a hot topic these days, particularly in the field of medicine. It is associated with the concept of financial independence, and together they are known by the acronym FIRE (financial independence and retiring early). In essence, FIRE means having enough saved that you can live off your investments, and no longer need to work for a salary. While FIRE is not for everyone, it is something my wife and I hope to attain someday.

Dual-physician families can be especially challenged by the time demands of busy medical practices. Both my wife (pediatrics) and I (radiology) work full-time. Life is busy but not too insane: a majority of days we work 8-5, but there are occasional mornings, afternoons or even full days off scattered throughout each of our schedules. We also employ a babysitter in the form of Mr. D — a retired CPA and neighbor who got bored in retirement. He picks up our son from daycare saving us 45 minutes of travel time each day.

One of the biggest choices any young family struggles with is whether one or both parents will work. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (2016), both parents work in 61% of married-couple families and one parent works in 36% of these families. Employment decisions are often made with an eye toward balancing desired income and time spent with children. Who doesn’t want to spend more time with their children, right? (OK, smart alecks, you can put your hands down.)

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