How to enjoy your journey to financial independence

by The Darwinian Doctor

Today’s post is via Carpe Diem MD and explains how to enjoy your journey to financial independence.

This post may contain affiliate links.

Today’s post is from PhREI Network partner Ian Cook, AKA Carpe Diem MD. As “lifestyle investors,” Ian and his wife Lauren are making choices to enjoy the journey to financial independence as much as the destination. As the Dr-ess and I continue along our own journey, I often wonder if we are striking the right balance between these two priorities.

It’s not about saving and spending money, as luckily we have enough income to do a lot of both. It’s more about how we spend our waking hours — do we have the right balance of work and play?

Today, as I sat in rush hour traffic for literally over an hour, I pondered what life would be like if I had Fridays off, like Ian and Lauren. This pondering was almost enough to make the drive enjoyable…. almost.

So today, let’s read Ian’s advice about how to enjoy the journey to financial independence as much as the destination!

This post below originally appeared on Carpe Diem MD.

Now I know that might sound crazy….  Isn’t this one of the 100s or 1000s of physician financial freedom blogs?  Shouldn’t I be writing about working as much as possible now, savings rates of 80% and retiring in 3 years?   Well… yes and no…   Let’s break the mold.

Lauren and I believe in our motto “Enjoy Your Journey to Financial Freedom” and that is why we blog as Carpe Diem MD.  We do not have a goal of being “retired” before 50…. Our actual number is 55.  Lauren’s number is 58 because she wants to max out her pension.   But honestly, we think that the 50s is still young and we plan on working past that time. 

We are definitely an anomaly in the FI world that considers 55 and 58 ancient, like totally geriatric, but we are good with that number.  If we won the lottery tomorrow we would still practice Medicine because the sense of purpose we receive from helping others cannot be matched by money or from another occupation.  That does not mean we don’t consider other occupations rewarding but being a Physician is the calling we answered…

So, I am little off topic…. Why is working less worth every penny….  Because money later in life cannot buy back the time you spend today.   If you have been reading this blog you know I fell off a ladder, years ago, resulting is massive trauma and near personal and financial ruin.  (click here).  That experience has changed our perspective on investing and our approach to life. 


The silver lining during my long recovery was that I spent a great deal of time at home via 9 months of extensive rehab and a nearly two year “complete” recovery period.  The time home with my Daughters and Lauren was truly a special time even though it was caused by a tragedy. 

As I gradually returned to work I kept Tuesdays OFF because Lauren had Tuesdays off.  We protected that time off together and spent years going to the gym on Tuesday mornings followed by lunch dates, Tuesday Movies (when those existed Pre-Covid), and Disneyland days with the girls. (Disneyland is way better on the weekdays). 

Although, the trauma we experienced as a family was awful…  it resulted in this Golden Period of Family time and protected one-on-one time for Lauren and I. 

But as is common in life things gradually changed…. 

Our schedules changed and I as regained strength I gradually began to work more. 

We protected our Tuesdays off together for years but one day I made the trade to work Tuesdays to have all weekends off. 

But I also went back to my old work ways…

I would work a Wound Care clinic from 7-10:30 followed by an 11am-11pm ER shift and then a quick turnaround Wound Care shift the next morning at 7:30. However, that was a pretty good deal because it allowed us as a family to have weekends off together, I’m not complaining. I’m just highlighting how “work creep” gradually occurred. Does this sound familiar?

I was willing to make this move for increased family time but I honestly missed the Tuesday lunch dates and “our” time together during the “golden years”.

This new scheduled worked for a few years until Lauren convinced me to practice Full-Time Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine.  She knew that I enjoyed my practice but was reluctant to leave Emergency Medicine.  Trust me, she listened to me mull this decision for years.

Emergency Medicine was great but was not aligning well with our goals as a family. 

Lauren knew and patiently guided me to the eventual decision to change my medical practice… She was right and I have zero regrets. 

Lauren has also been suggesting for years that I should take Fridays off so we can share a day off together like we had in the past.   She again has patiently addressed my fears/limiting beliefs about finances.  Especially, my concern about “giving up” a clinic day after it took years to build up. 

Wound Care is not like Emergency Medicine.  In Emergency Medicine you can pick up extra shifts but Wound Care is a small field and building a clinic can take time…

The reality is that we can afford to take this time off and maintain our savings rate.  At our current savings rate, we will be able to easily retire at 55 (I know ancient).  So, the question we needed to ask was whether we wanted to work more now to retire earlier or enjoy our time now and retire at 55… (again with no plans of actually retiring at 55).

So, we went with Fridays off.  Our daughters are 8 and 9 and we would rather spend our time with them now while we can hike, snowboard, swim, bike ride and play games. 

This decision is based on our current income. 

We have not increased an additional income stream and we do not plan on retiring from Medicine into the “full-time” financial blogging world.  We are making this move based off our current Medical income. The decrease in work may decrease the amount that we can invest yearly into real estate but we will continue to invest.

Our plan is to continue to actively invest in Short-term Rentals with some Long-term rental properties in the mix, while still fully funding our retirement accounts….  Each additional property will decrease our timeframe to Financial Freedom… it just might take a little longer….  We are more than ok with that plan.

This is not our first time implementing the work less strategy and it has been great every time…

The first time, was when I took Tuesdays off with Lauren and it was one of the greatest periods of my life.

The second time, was taking weekends off and going full-time Wound Care…  Worth every penny.

The third time, is right now…. Lauren has Fridays off and I am going to join her… Looking forward to this next stage of our lives.

“Enjoy Your Journey to Financial Freedom”

I think I have a lot to learn from Ian and Lauren. By working less and enjoying life more now, they plan to have the sustainability to enjoy more longevity in their medical careers. Now, if I could only figure out how to deal with all the surgical emergencies on overnight call that forcibly extend my workweek! That by itself would buy me a few more years. Until then, I’ll look for more opportunities to trim away the inefficiencies and waste in the workweek to enjoy more of my own journey.


Do you enjoy your journey to financial independence? What can you do now to start enjoying it more? Comment below and please subscribe to my weekly newsletter!

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Since everyone is different, it may not be appropriate to generalize my doctorly advice to your own situation. Please run all medical, life, and financial advice by your own physician or financial professionals before applying it to your own life! Consider all information for your entertainment only!

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