The world has become a strange, foreign place; unlike the one I’m accustomed to. I was at the grocery store a couple of days ago and it was packed. There was a line of people that ran the length of the store. The shoppers were waiting to get to the dairy section which was empty.
Yesterday, I took a walk to Main Street which is usually a thriving place on weekends. Stores were closed. The sidewalks were almost empty.
As of this morning (3/16), the stock market is down another 10%. My portfolio is down $274,457 from its all-time high, less than one month ago:
My losses could have been much higher, but most of my portfolio is now in real estate. The fluctuations don’t bother me, but I’m mentioning them here because people keep asking. I’m a long-term investor and think in decades.
With all of that stated, I admit that the reaction to the virus took me by surprise. I underestimated the impact.
Backup Plans For Backup Plans
I’m a fairly conservative person. I’ve never run out of gas. I’ve never been fired from a job. Aside from birth, I’ve never spent a night in a hospital. I play it safe. I’m the type of person who has backup plans for backup plans.
I suspect that financial independence means something different to me than it does to most. The greatest part of financial independence to me is that it’s life’s best insurance plan. Money is a buffer that provides freedom. That freedom allows you to avoid bad places and deflect trouble.
The kids are now home from school for at least the next two weeks. After I hit the Publish button on this post, I’ll hold a family meeting where we’ll chart out our days until life returns to normal.
For now, my life will be very different. No more working on the basement finish or building a deck. No more spring break travel plans. Less personal time. More time breaking up sibling fights.
It’s an incredible luxury to be able to pivot my life to deal with a new and unexpected circumstance. I’m able to do it because of financial independence. FIRE is the ultimate backup plan.
I can see why some people resent the FIRE movement. Reading glamourous stories of millennials who travel the world makes some jealous or angry. However, farting around in Southeast Asia or sitting on a beach or living next to the ocean in a camper van is only half the financial independence story. And, it’s the weak half.
It’s wonderful when FIRE allows you to live a life fit for Instagram. But it’s real value is that it allows you to overcome hard times.
Please take care of yourself and your fellow humans.
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*Only if your life is pretty bad to begin with.