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How to Retire Early and Live Your Life Fully – Leif Dahleen

Is there a playbook on how to retire early?  You may find yourself dreaming of early retirement now after reading stories of the FIRE movement (Financial Independence and Retire Early). But maybe you’re wondering what it would really be like to retire early, walk away, and live life to it’s fullest. And perhaps you’ve fantasized about what life would be like without a blaring alarm clock five days a week.


An Early Retirement Story In Progress

Our guest is Leif Dahleen, who at 43, did just that in August. We talk with Leif about his story and:

  • What the FIRE Movement is about
  • What early retirement life is really like
  • Why he wanted to retire early
  • What his decision-making process was like
  • How he test drove his retirement
  • What’s surprised him so far
  • What he misses about work
  • Why he started his blog Physician on FIRE



Leif Dahleen is a former anesthesiologist, who retired from medicine at the age of 43, having achieved financial independence several years earlier. He started his blog Physician on FIRE in January 2016 to enlighten, educate, and entertain other high-income professionals while discussing money matters of all sorts. Leif achieved both his Bachelors and Medical Degree from the University of Minnesota. Leif is happily married with two children. They call northern Michigan their home base and spend much of the year traveling. Leif joins us today from Spain.


Wise Quote

On How To Achieve Financial Independence and Retire Early

“The thing is to Mind the Gap,  as they say by the subway in London. You need to grow the gap between your income and your spending. There are obviously two ways to do that, more income or less spending – and either one will work. If you do both, that’ll work even better. But what will matter by far the most, especially over the short term and now over the long term (meaning decades, multiple decades) are your investment returns – and fees and expenses –  all of that matters quite a bit.

But over the short term, meaning months to a number of years, it’s how much you save and how much you put aside for retirement that’s going to matter the most. So I tell my readers ( and again I mostly speak to a high income audience who already has the earning side pretty well figured out ) to try to live on half their take home. If they can basically live their lives on half of what they’re bringing home and use the rest to either pay off debt and or invest, then they can become financially independent from being flat broke to being Financially Independent, in 15 to 20 years  – more or less –  depending on market returns.”


Follow Leif Dahleen’s blog Physician on FIRE

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Related Retirement Podcast Episodes on How to Retire Early 

Chris Farrell

Ted Carr

Chris Mamula

Fritz Gilbert


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