The Financial Independence Retire Early (F.I.R.E) movement has for the past few decades thrived on the ability to act on whatever you like, whenever you want, wherever you are at the expense of not anyone but yourself who can make that decision.
This post was originally posted here. The writer, Brian Halim is a veteran community member and blogger on InvestingNote, with username known as 3Fs and has 2169 followers.
The unprecedented case of Covid-19 which we are currently living through has clearly changed the whole dynamic of retiring, which as part of a subset also includes retiring early.
For many white-collar workers, including myself, we’re dealing with actual work by working from home for an extended period of time for the first time in our lives.
I must say it has been a very refreshing and invigorating experience on its own having to deal with it rigorously for the past four months or so, even if it means sometimes having to pick up calls at 8pm or catch up on work during weekends.
It works extremely well for an introvert personality like mine and not for a single moment do I relish the old hate-smell of corporate attire of long sleeve shirt and shoes in such a humid country like Singapore.
Still, the appeal of working from home does not work well universally in consensus with everyone.
While some do appreciate the flexibility of working from home, you may find it a distraction if you are staying in an unconducive environment where you have children running around the house or neighbours that are staggering noisy. Others may also prefer a face to face interaction between colleagues when discussion about work and the frequent use of online tools may be disconcerting at some stage.
However, the biggest knock that Covid-19 has done to members of the F.I.R.E movement, apart from the justifiable obvious concerns on the economic and financial turmoil (dividend cuts in this case), has been the need to make some radical adjustments to their lifestyle and investment, may be yet to be set on permanent.
First, there is a need to rethink about the passive income implications which in most F.I.R.E cases this would constitute either a dividend or rental income strategy.
In an extremely dire situation like today, even companies with good balance sheets are lowering their payout to conserve for more liquidity to tide them through the rough year and uncertain outlook. What this means is a smaller dividend payout for every shareholder and this could make or break for members of the F.I.R.E movement who likely has to depend on it as one of their main source of income.
Second, the persistently dragged bear market might also impact the long term bedrock strategy of a 4% safe withdrawal rate.
While most recession is short in nature, the problem starts to rise when the investment return you put in starts to trend in hugely negative during a bear market and it didn’t recover back to 4% return over the long term. This can happen especially if you are invested in the wrong companies or emerging market index that has a few years of lost returns that can’t make up for the shortfall.
Third, I noticed that most members of the F.I.R.E movement enjoy travelling as a means to destress and spend their time.
That activity is obviously out of the question right now, with all the social distancing and risks of spreading involved, along with many of the strict measures being imposed by various countries and states, it is likely not to add meaningful experience to your already attained freedom.
These things can and will surely pass as a history in our book at some point but for the moment these people just have to wait for that moment to come while still being able to find things to do at their leisure time.
Last but not least, Covid-19 has presented an enormously good opportunity for the F.I.R.E members of the future in this decade.
We have already seen an accelerated landscape move towards adopting more online e-commerce presence for food delivery, retail shopping, games, payment, healthcare, tuition lessons and even dating platform. There has also been a huge increase towards adopting cashless payment as a way to transact as with the likes of Square, Adyen and Stripe leading the global market share.
The next decade could see an upward shift in the global lifestyle and towards transformational advocacy which will move the next decade of winners in the list.
Many of us will work differently, live differently, shop differently, and perhaps also invest differently.
Thanks for reading.
Once again, this article is a guest post and was originally posted on 3Fs‘s profile on InvestingNote.
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