Why Two Physicians agree to a massive pay cut

I remember getting married. I don’t remember the separation. It happened gradually.


Being in a two-physician marriage has its awesome sides and downer sides. When one physician earns substantially more than the other—and you’re striving for financial freedom—it’s painfully obvious who works full time and who is a part-timer. Someone needs to run the household, so our family doesn’t implode (I respect women working full time who manage to be more patient than I am with the various childcare/personal assistant options out there).


So DH (Dear Husband) is the one who works full time. It’s mostly nights, evenings, and weekends—that’s the norm for his field.


But as a partner in a business, working two weekends a month gradually turned into three. I now find myself weary of life as a quasi-single mom (hats off to the real ones).


I’m the one around to hear our boys ask daily—in their-still-small-boys-voices—“Will Dad be awake or asleep today? Will Dad be home today?” It breaks my heart each time. (As I write this, “Cats in the Cradle” lyrics are running through my head).


Our family is tired of living life in a holding pattern called survival. It feels like we’re existing, not living. I’m fed up with trying to jam life into the crevices of my husband’s work schedule. We need a sustainable lifestyle—what we’ve had hasn’t been sustainable in the long run.


Don’t get me wrong; we’ve tried to get away as a family for vacations. But my husband still has to work the same number of shifts a month, regardless of if he takes a vacation or not—that’s life in his field. We’ve tried to be creative, going on vacation at the end of one month and the start of another. Problem is, he’s always in the red. Vacations aren’t much fun when one parent is beyond exhausted. When his circadian rhythm has been flipped twice the previous week, he sleeps a lot on vacation.

I took this little one into Mexico by myself while DH slept in. Something about a flipped circadian rhythm & night shifts leading up to our long weekend away. 🙁

We don’t want to mess up this life stage with our kids. During these next precious 12-14 years we have left with them, if we screw up* as parents, we’ll pretty much pay for it until we die. I don’t want to spend my future controlled by my past. And at this age, I finally know what it feels like to have the proverbial sands of time slipping through my fingers.


Last summer we questioned if we should proceed with what is happening today, May 4th. But we stopped wondering after we took a life-changing course from Montana Money Adventures. It opened our eyes to new possibilities, new ways of seeing things—this is what happens when you listen to Diverse Voices over the years. We also got the courage we needed for what we’re doing in 2018.


Early in January, DH gave his 120 days notice to quit his partnership. Today he changed to working part-time. Now we’ll look at our family schedule and pick convenient days for him to work. I am super excited about an improved work-life balance for DH.


We’re blessed to have an option like this. We have enough and don’t want to keep up with the Joneses. We’ve reached the period in life where we are mentally okay with pulling back and letting our assets grow while working part-time to cover day-to-day expenses.


At 40 and 42 years old, DH and I are already tired and fried. But we’re not ready to call it quits in medicine. Besides, I’m addicted to my VA job’s crack cheap health insurance.


If you’re wondering about the finances behind DH going part-time, you’ll need to return next week. Right now I have to explore some ancient British pub my sister’s been raving about (she’s properly embarrassed that I hate beer. I lived in Germany for a year, and I still.hate.beer. She’s going to disown me, I just know it.)


You see, this post is going out to you while I’m fulfilling a lifelong wish to go to England. Now that DH’s work schedule has lightened, I arrived yesterday to visit my sister who moved here over a year ago.


I leave you with one last thought (besides bad-tasting British beer): take the next step. Whatever it is you need to do this week to help get your finances in better order so you can have options in life…just do that one next step. You got this.


Cheers from England!


For discussion: How are you taking control of your finances? Are you reading a good book? Taking an excellent course? Please share your wisdom in the comments.


(*Go ahead and poke fun at me for putting my oldest in a fluorescent vest while walking around alone on the streets of Mexico for the first time ever with a child. But it took me three years to have said child—I needed a bright yellow vest for him on our first trip.)

22 thoughts on “Why Two Physicians agree to a massive pay cut”

  1. Glad to hear you are taking the steps needed to make a happy family. It can be done if you notice the problem and decide to fix it. That was why I wrote the book, The Doctors Guide to Starting Your Practice Right, so doctors could set up the life they want from the start and not have to learn the hard way about what won’t work for the long run.

    Best of luck in your new life style.

    Dr. Cory S. Fawcett
    Prescription for Financial Success

    1. Wish I had read a book like that 11 years ago 😉 Thanks for putting one together so hopefully Physicians can avoid the mistakes we made starting out!

  2. Yep – family time is too precious to let slip away. You are right about reaping in the future what you’ve sown into the boys’ lives at this point. Thanks for sharing your courageous decision.

    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence! It was a bit nerve wracking/difficult to make the jump!

  3. You won’t regret the lost income, only the lost time. Kudos to you for figuring it out before the “We’ll get together then, dad” lyrics of life became painfully resonant.

    After the fog of sleep-deprivation and the mourning of lost income give way, it’s exciting to have a world of possibilities open to you like when you were 20 years old and life felt limitless.

    Best of all, shaking off the yokes of everyone else’s expectations empowers your kids to feel they can do the same.

    Excited to read more about your journey,


    1. Thanks Crispy Doc! Words of wisdom from you, for sure. It’s good to have reassurance as it’s been a bit scary to make this jump, hoping for the best but preparing for the worst (as I often tell patients in my line of work). Shaking off the yoke of other’s expectations has been an interesting journey. Thanks for stopping by, BCK

  4. Best of luck with your scaled back schedule. Kudos to you for recognizing what’s important and necessary for your family. We, too, are a two physician couple in a similar situation you describe. Looking forward to following your blog despite your feelings towards the nectar of the gods.

  5. I have taken pay cuts that were more than 2/3. Since we were so frugal it was barely noticable and I have no regrets looking back. Good luck.
    P.S. I had a hard time reading your post due to all the ads. I think there were four ads interspersed through this short post. Feel free to ignore my comment though because my blog likely makes the least money of any physician blogger.

    1. Thanks for the comments—I am desperately trying to figure out how to fix the darn ads! I am the least techy person EVER. The person who is helping me fix this blog doesn’t know how to fix them either, so if you have any suggestions on how to fix them without removing them completely, I am totally open. TIA.

  6. David Byrne says of his “Once in a lifetime”:

    “We’re largely unconscious,” says Byrne. “We operate half-awake, on autopilot. And we end up with a house and family and job and we never stop and ask how did we get here.”

    When you leave the job behind, you regain the time and in regaining he time you become fully awake

    Funny, I didn’t even notice the adds.

    The FIRE theme song:

    1. What have I done and where does that highway lead to? I LOVE the FIRE theme song 😉 (I am still working on the ads 😉 )

  7. Congrats on pulling the trigger. Im also in a 2 physician household at the same age and our late night conversations sound like they mirror yours. It kills me to miss milestones for my 3 year old and we also have a newborn. These are absolutely the best times to be a parent — the kids years before age 8 — and I feel like my wife and I are going to miss them all with our ridiculous schedules.
    We’re going to try and make it work for another year or two but I can tell that something is going to have to give. My dad died at age 62 after working a job that took him away from family 2/3 of the year. Life is too short to miss out on the best parts.

    1. Wow. Thanks for your heartfelt comments. Life is way too short to miss out on these times—BUT that being said, DH (dear husband) said something recently that made sense to me: “I quit working so hard just when they’re about to start to actually remember these times. When they’re little, they don’t remember me working as much as they would now.” I don’t know if that helps, but hopefully it does, in some small way. Being WestCoast, maybe consider a drastic life change like we did to do an about face with your finances? We left a HCOL to move to a LCOL area. I think I’m gonna write about it in a few weeks—what it was like and how incredibly much it turned our finances around to make what we’re doing now possible. Best of luck on your journey—you got this.

Leave a Reply