The Road to FISE: Wannabe Personal Finance Blogger, But I Don’t Want to Retire Until 58
It’s my last day of my week of vacation. It’s been a mentally exhausting week because a lot of important work issues crept up that needed to be completed. Today is my last day and I will enjoy the day with the kids. Mr. Plastic Picker said he will try to work from home. He usually ends up getting called into the hospital to do an emergency fluoroscopy study. But I am hopeful he will stay home for some of it and we can be together.
There were many important tasks I had to complete this week despite “vacation.” I am proud that they are done. They were big tasks that only I could complete because I care about them. Since it was vacation, the usual annoying issues of pediatricians essentially whining about this and that – I just ignored and punted to the managers that were actually on duty. One of our pediatric GI nurses used to have a sign on their door that said, “NO WHINING.” I loved that. At some point I’m sure someone from compliance or customer engagement made them take it down. This week I did not deal with the whining. I did receive messages about clinic issues that are meant for Dr. Dear Friend, who leads the clinic and is not on vacation. Another physician sent a message about a going away party for a graduating resident and a special caterer he likes which does not have anything to do with me, unless the other physician was subtly asking for department money for that party? But in this COVID-19 pandemic and the financial stresses we are facing in healthcare, there is no budget for that. I punted it to Dear Dr. Friend and told her I’d chip in my own money, but no departmental funds are available for extraneous costs that do not have to do with actual departmental business.
But the work I completed this week on vacation were all tasks close to my heart. I finished assigning the new physician leads to our Pediatric Anti-Vaping campaign. I also completed three pieces of Anti-Vaping Trash Art that I sent over to our regional team. At some point, I will write a longer piece and submit to KevinMD about my Vaping Trash Art. I think he’ll really like it! I finished coordinating our HMOs partnership with UCSD School of Medicines PRIME HEq Program, which is their honors program track for medical students that seek to work with underserved populations. In this time of #blacklivesmatter this is very important. Our clinic will be the site of one of the 3rd year medical student rotations since we serve a very diverse and high MediCal population. I was able to give those mentoring roles, which are highly sought after, to two young phyicians who are clinically excellent. Both have also graduated from similar programs at Stanford and UCSD respectively, and they are also Latina/Latino/Native American in their heritage and fluent in Spansih. It is vital that we continue to build them as leaders within our organization. I love both as individuals, but their cultural, linguistic and ethnic heritage by definition makes them better equipped to close health care disparity gaps than doctors that look like me. Although my Spanish is decent. We need to recruit another stellar black pediatrician. This is very important.
Then there was the Pediatric Quality Presentation yesterday which I had blogged about https://drplasticpicker.com/two-assistant-bosses-together-work-life-balance/. It was a success. I stirred up the emotions that I had meant to stir up, which is concern, shame, and renewed sense of purpose among our pediatric clinic leads for increasing these vaccine rates. But at some point during the rapid exhange over the virtual video conferencing system, I had to defend one of the graphs and one of the measurement tools on vaccine success. I was getting emotional forgetting that this was my plan to begin with! I checked in later with Dr. Dear Friend and RN Plastic Picker and they said the presentaion went over well. We now have multiple volunteers to lend their voices and efforts in our vaccine efforts, including creating an MOC project on vaccine measures, and volunteers to help with our social media campaign. I strategized with RN plastic picker as to how to delegate discrete quality projects to the other nursing managers, and also I want to encourage her to write up one of her projects on signing up patients on our virtual portal for a nursing conference. We also set up meeting times on the discussions about the drive-through vaccine set up, and thought through those templates and the workflows. We have to strategize on how to sell our story and get budget from upper management.
Most of this week was vaccine quality work that needed to be done and even waiting a week was not reasonable. I had to explain to my tween daughter about work, and my thought processes on why I had to sarcrifice some of the time this week because of these deadliens – but that I’d have more time today and this weekend and next work week as well. And I apologized to her that it seemed to be all about work this week, and I tried to actively listen to her yesterday during our walk.
But I did make time to help organize our Girl Scout Troop End of Year Party. We have been doing weekly Zoom Girl Scout meetings Saturday mornings. Especially during quarantine, the weekly time of connection and community is even more important for our daughter. I have been in charge of a subgroup that has organized the End of Year Party Zoom party. I try to lead them how I manage the clinic. I sat back and let them figure it out for themselves. They have done an excellent job. Our party is tonight. But my job as the adult was to drive around and drop off all the bags we needed for the party. So that was part of the last few days coordinating that and actually driving around. It was good to see the faces of the other moms.
And one of the last tasks I had to do yesterday on vacation, was attend a retirement party. The image from above is from that retirement party. I snapped photos and took a video. I posted it on the physician facebook page and added hashtags. I am in my heart an introverted person so these events although outwardly fun and I smile and laught, I actually find mentally exhausting. I would have rather been home with my daughter. In addition, multiple people tried to hug me yesterday, and I scurried away half laughing but half terrified. Do they not realize there is a pandemic going on? This retirement party was at one of our “clean” clinics. I do my clinic work at a “dirty” clinic where we are doing COVID-19 swabs and are very cognizant of the pandemic.
But the retirement party got me to thinking about my own retirement? Most of this blog is journaling about life and middle management, our kids and trying to do some environmental advocacy. At some point I had wanted to be a personal finance blogger, and had considered early retirement. We could easily early retire but I’m not really a personal finance blogger, I’m a wannabe personal finance blogger. I have rejected the idea of FIRE (Financial Independent Retire Early). I try instead to push the idea of FISE (Financial Independent Save the Earth).
Mr. Money Mustache, Financial Samurai and Retireby40 all left work about the time they hit my current age and managment roles and did FIRE. That was probably the right move for them. But for me early retirement in my early 40s is just a numbers game. We can do it now, no problem. Remember I’m the daughter of an accountant, with easily >50% savings rate, and married to a high income earner specialist specialist and we are both Assistant Bosses in our HMO. We are also very simple people who prefer simple frugal lives other than private school (yes I admit it). Mr. Plastic Picker still drives his 8-year-old Toyota Prius which we bought in cash.
I’m a wannabe personal finance blogger and have personally rejected FIRE because I find my work too interesting and meaningful right now. I was talking to some of the wonderful people I manage and mentor, young pediatricians, our scheduling and administrative stuff and shared with them the offer from the MMM multi-blog user app and how MMM offered to include my blog https://drplasticpicker.com/fise-the-case-for-the-environmental-hobbyist/. I was so moved that someone from over the other end of the blogsphere actually stopped by my blog, especially their readership is supposed to be in the millions? And the answer from the real people I know was “Mr. Money Mustache who?”
And that is what I realized. I am living my passions now. There is no real reason to run from work because if you start looking at your world upside down, you will begin to see that within your work – there is meaning and passion and opportunities. I would not be able to do the things I did this week unless I was still in the game, still working as a middle manager pediatrican.
And this is our retirement plan. Both Mr. Plastic Picker and I will retire at 58. This is when it makes the most sense for our organization in terms of retirement plans. Even just with the current retirement funds we have, not including the expected stock market appreciation and not including our real estate assets, we have enough to live a extravgant for us life for 50 years. Our expected income in retriement if we keep on working and saving at our current rate is more than 7X more than what we will need. That is why I’m a wannabe personal finance blogger because I already figured that part out. I’ve hacked the personal finance dilemna. We are going to retire at 58 because that is when I predict our children will need us to care for our grandchild, and my focus has always been our children.
But the harder question to answer, is how are we going to figure out this climate crisis? How are we going to hack the rising carbon emissions? Much of the reason I still work is that it is easy. It’s easy for me to make money. And with money, I have more tools that I can save the environment. I realize that with money comes influence. And with professional positions and fancy titles, comes more ability to move my world in my subtle way to where I think we need to be.
So I wish everyone a Happy Retirement. There is an amzing pediatrician who has done her fair share for the world. Her retirement had signs up reading “I’m Retired. Do It Yourself.” “I’m A Legend.” Happy Retirement to Mr. Money Mustache. Happy Retirement to all those FIRE bloggers. Happy Retirement to that pediatrician. Dr. Plastic Picker realizes that there is more work to do. Real work to do in medicine. Real work to do for our children and on behalf of the environment. I saw on one of the FIRE blogs people debating whether climate change was really happening and if real estate prices were going to be affected. And that shocked me. I had gone through that thinking process already 5 years ago. We have rental property in several different geographic locations and ready with multiple contingency plans for climate change. But I cannot get over the fact that these seemingly smart people on the FIRE blogs don’t realize there is no Planet B. Are they seriously even still debating climate change?
So I have about 15 years until retirement. And we have just about 15 years to avert the worse of climate change. This is an opportunity. So Happy Retirement to those that choose to sit this out. Dr. Plastic Picker is taking one day off, and then I’m back being a pediatrician, a physician middle manager, Girl Scout Leader, mother and ECO-WARRIOR!!!
My environmental mentor Dr. Bruce Bekkar was quoted in an thought-provoking article in the New York Times on climate change, racial justice and obstretic heatlh (he is a retired OB-GYN). Now that’s what a call a retirement with meaningful work worth emulating! https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/18/climate/climate-change-pregnancy-study.html?searchResultPosition=1