Monday, April 6, 2020

The F.I Mainstream Movement Is Fueled By Crisis Like This

I started writing articles in this blog barely a few months after we've endured one of the Great Financial Crisis back in 2009. 

I was barely into a few months of working when the great financial crisis and recession hits the world and I recalled the shockwaves hit the entire population hard. People lost their jobs and many were retrenched without package to compensate for their loss. Many businesses had to shut down, some bigger ones had to downsize because of the scale of the crisis and credit liquidities plunge as banks, enabler for businesses, struggled to stay afloat.

I was fortunate to have kept on my job throughout the duration of the crisis. The only thing that probably impacted me was the salary increment that was freeze and bonus that was scrapped. It sucks especially after enduring a year of hard work but it was still better than the wider population out there who had lost their jobs.

When people lost their jobs, they lost their main source of income. This is bad because not only these people have to cope with losing their cash cow but they also have to cope with the existing expenses that remain on the table such as mortgages, car loans, credit cards, utilities, food on the table, and children's education.

Most of these people either do not have emergency funds or other sources of income that could help them tide through the crisis. In short, they were unprepared by the shock and were left hanging by a thread facing unprecedented crisis that could impact their entire years of hard work and survivability.

Because of such unprecedented shock in the economic cycle, I began to join the F.I mainstream community by writing articles and meeting with alike minded people, who believes in the same ideology of achieving financial independence over time.

Financial Independence is not simply just about having sufficient passive income (mostly through the dividends or rental income derived from our investments) covering our daily expenses.

Behind the ideology of Financial Independence, therein lies upon a strong foundation of having enough defence line such as having emergency funds for rainy days, savings before spending and insurance coverage to protect our hospitalization and critical emergency needs.

This is what we called the basic foundation of all personal finance 101.

Without having this, no one can and shouldn't be allowed to move on to the next level.

Most people in the F.I mainstream community began stepping onto the next level by maximizing their utilization of spending through picking the right credit card (cashback vs miles), the right savings account (OCBC 360 vs DBS Multiplier) and the different payment modes (Grabpay vs Favepay vs Shopback).

Once you have achieved this, the next level will be investing your money into the right asset class so that you can allow compounding to take into place during your accumulation stage.

Covid-19 Black Swan

The recent unprecedented Covid-19 black swan has once again proven to be a repeat of the GFC situation 11 years ago.

We saw many businesses closing down their operations or shutting down due to the lockdown worldwide. Many employers and employees that are operating within the Travel, Entertainment and Aviation industries were severely disrupted and hit by the crisis that they either have to retrench their staff headcount or staff has to take on unpaid leave.

An unpaid leave is considered loss of income while expenses will vicariously continue to churn during this period of lockdown. It is an unpleasant and undefining anxiety experience for sure because you just don't know how long this lockdown will last.

The stimulus package rolled out by the government where most Singaporeans can receive between $600 to $900 is probably unlikely to move the needle much. That amount, is probably basic survivability expenses where it can cover mostly food and utilities in one month.

Many companies have announced pay-cut and layoff amongst their employees despite the best government effort to mitigate this action by providing a staggered Job Credit Scheme support to cover the overheads.

While I am fortunate to still have a job during this while, I am likely to be impacted somewhat as there is a strong hint that there will be a pay-cut across all employees during this period of lockdown until business volume starts to return.

I have quickly reverted to my basic such as cutting all unnecessary expenses, boosting up my cashflow, and reviewing my commitments in preparation for the worst. I wanted to see what options there are out there so I began exploring the likes of balance transfer availability, deferment of mortgages and taxes and so on.

At the same time, I wanted to also balance out by taking advantage of the stock market panics out there which means I can now buy companies at a much cheaper valuation than I did a year ago. 

But this is a happy first world problem which I believe will take care of itself once we grounded the basic problems.

Final Thoughts

The mainstream F.I movement is fuelled by events and crisis like what we experienced back during GFC and what we experienced today with the Covid.

I strongly believe that the current turmoil will only lead to more F.I converts which is a good thing in general because what this community believes including what we preach and what we practice are generally good foundation of personal finance.

I'm thankful to be able to be where I am today because of the past F.I mainstream generation that preaches good value and I think our generation today can do the same too for the next upcoming generation and beyond.

Thanks for reading.

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  1. Hi B, I am surprised that STI is still above 2,400 and in fact it is at 2,500! I have been expecting it to fall lower. Having said that I did some nibbling of the banks over the past 3 weeks. As you have stated, this is a good chance to stock up if we are looking at the long term.



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