Our world has been turned upside down recently. The Coronavirus has wreaked havoc across the entire globe, killing many, sickening more, and grinding the world economy to a halt all in the matter of a few short months.
This sounds stranger than fiction, and yet it is true. As we're currently in the middle of this situation, it will only get worse before it gets better. Many people we know could die, be sickened, lose their jobs, commit suicide, etc.
FIRE MINDED INDIVIDUALS CAN GET THROUGH MOST ANYTHING!
So, what does this all mean for you and me? Fire Minded individuals like ourselves seem to be in a better position to weather the economic impact of this shit storm. With plenty of reserves and a mind towards frugality, we can get through just about anything. The future doesn't seem quite as bad as some people have predicted.
CASH RESERVES ARE KING
Our reserve of cash has been the most comforting thing throughout this crisis. We know that we could survive for a year or two if needed, because our budgets are smaller, debts lower, and the frugal habits we maintain.
Personally, I recommend a reserve of 1 year minimum. Who knows when the markets will stabilize or your renters will be able to pay rent again. That amount should give you enough time to figure out a plan of action and get through the roughest moments.
So, step 1 on your path to FIRE should be to save an emergency fund. This moment right now, is an amazing example of how things can go horribly wrong. If you are prepared you can come out the other side in a better position, able to take advantage of opportunity that is sure to sprout up.
INTEREST RATES ARE SET TO 0%!
The Federal Reserve has lowered interest rates to literally 0%. For the Fire person who chooses to use real estate as one of their investment vehicles, this is an amazing time. We'll be able to borrow money at some of the lowest rates in history.
Even if you just want to purchase a primary residence to live in, now would definitely be the time to do that. Also, rates historically will remain low for the next 5-7years as we claw our way back to some sense of normalcy.
Again, maintaining large reserve funds to weather the storm are a definite must and would be considered foolish not to have.
Real Estate is my personal favorite vehicle for FIRE. As you may have read in my article on House-Hacking. I've used that strategy more than once to add to my net worth. I recommend it to every prospecting buyer or investor I meet.
There will be many opportunities out there to position ourselves for the future and come out in a better place. I'm not saying to prey on the weak and take advantage of people. In fact, one of my favorite quotes comes from Paul Stamets, "People over Profits". We are investors, who do the right thing for people and the planet.
DO NOT CHECK YOUR PORTFOLIO BALANCE!
The Stock Market is down and I mean way down, at this time of writing it's close to 30% down. If you ever wanted to know when a good time to buy stocks, now is the time! You're going to be getting those stock on sale, I wish I had more money to invest. Maybe you're worried that the entire economy will fail and you'll lose your money, if that happens you will have bigger problems than money and probably be running around scavenging for food with a gun.
The best advice I can give at this moment, is to stay the course, keep investing while prices are down, and keep investing as prices go up. This is what we call "Dollar Cost Averaging". By buying equities over time in this way, purchasing stocks at regular intervals, we spread out the money and reduce our risk, the article explains it much better than I can.
Since the FIRE community loves low cost index funds, like vanguard, we have the advantage of investing in the whole market and not individual stocks, also another way to mitigate risk!
The Stock Market usually recovers much faster than the rest of the economy, which is true for any country. You also only realize losses when you sell! So, stick in there and ride the wave!
THIS IS NOT THE FIRST CRISIS HUMANS HAVE FACED
Mankind has faced many problems in our short existence here on earth. Asteroids, super volcanos, plague, ourselves, war, etc. Surely, we can weather this storm and come out the other side better and more able to keep going than ever before. As the kids say, "it's not my first rodeo!".
This is not the first crisis we have faced, nor will it be the last.
It might be a fantastic time to work on yourself and prepare for a future where there will be inevitable obstacles to overcome. I've wrote about this here. These tools and techniques will help anyone who wants to improve their lives and ability to withstand crisis.
THERE COULD BE A SILVER LINING
I know, I'm an optimist most days and there could be a lot of good that comes out of this horrific moment.
This current downturn in the economy will result in improvements that will increase efficiency, retooling of factories, more remote work, less congested roads, perhaps healthcare for all in the U.S., one of the only industrialized nations to not have it.
Almost ever major city throughout the world has reduced pollution and people can once again see the blue sky. My hope is people will be reminded that we don't have to live with this smog in our cities and emission free electric vehicles will start to outsell their fuel burning counterparts.
What if we as a society started to value human powered transportation! With the roads less occupied by cars, there is more room for bicycles, skateboards, and rollerblades more than ever before. Mr. Money. Mustache wrote an amazing article on this very subject, "Get Rich With...Bikes", I highly recommend the read. This could be that pivotal moment in history when we the citizens of this fine world move in a better direction, more in a homeostatic trajectory with earth. Did I mention it's good for the old wallet?
HOW LONG WILL THIS LAST?!
We don't know the exact amount of time this pandemic will be terrorizing the world before we can create a vaccine or more effective treatment for this disease. Best estimates put a vaccine to be distributed to the public as soon as the end of the year or early next year.
These current measures of social distancing and closure of non-essential businesses will likely be in effect of some kind until we do have a viable vaccine or treatment.
We will adjust to this new normal of a life and those implications will stick with us for quite sometime. The nervousness from diseases of the past, like the Flu Pandemic of 1918 lasted for years. People were nervous about social interactions and large crowds until 1922 by some reports.
The same will probably happen for us with the COVID-19 flu. As they say, "history does not repeat itself, but it rhymes".
AS WE LOOK INTO THE FUTURE....
Looking into the future, I remain optimistic about the prospects for our species, and I also remain optimistic about our economy. This event will change many things for us as a society and economy, hopefully, for the better.
I'm a major fan of Ray Dalio and his thoughts on economics and society, here is an article he has written about our current events and his thoughts on them. I'm most interested in his debt model he has created and economic models that could potentially show where we are in that cycle. We are viewing just a small portion of that cycle right now and maybe we can prepare ourselves to be in a better position to take on the upcoming challenges that we'll face.
I wish for everybody to remain healthy and happy in this difficult period. My Mindfulness article might be able to help you in this time of need and give you the tools to deal with these emotional rollercoasters. We will endure and life will go on once we get past the next few months. Thank you for reading this article and if you have any tips, advice, or criticism please let me know.
Remember to stay FIREMinded out in the world! Cheers