Tuesday, July 21, 2020

How Covid-19 Has Changed The Whole Dynamic About F.I.R.E

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.

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.

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  1. uncle168,

    how come singapore university students when they commit offenses under the penal code the law doesn't apply?

    then what is the use of our juridical system?

    the penal code clearly states that voluntereer causing hurt is up to 7 years in jail

    lky abandon the jury system because he think it is better for a judge to decide based on the law

    but now the judge is using irrelevant factors like prospect and chance of re-offending much like what a jury would take into consider which is what lky fear would overwrite the law

    when this happens the citizen would loss faith in the court and gov as the penal code is ignored

    that is one of the main reason youths are voting for the opposition

    what happened to our legal system that caned michael fay?

    in the eyes of singaporeans the law and pap has lost its way

    god speed


  2. uncle168,

    i quote k. sham:

    Take jury trials. There are many paeans to trial by jury as a cornerstone of the
    common law system. But let us be frank. Juries are not selected for their experience
    in adjudication. The average member of the jury will not be able to handle many of
    the complex issues that emerge in litigation. More likely than not, he or she decides
    by intuition and emotion, rather than by logic and reason. When you have a heinous
    crime, or an unlikeable defendant, there is a risk of injustice. We consciously moved
    away from such a system. All our trials, criminal as well as civil, are presided over
    by professional judges. We think this makes for a more reliable fact finding process.

    end quote

    in recent years i find our legal system behaving more like they jury system

    we have to stop this nonsense and change the agc

    i quote lky:

    In criminal law legislation, our priority is the security and well-being of law-abiding citizens rather than the rights of the criminal to be protected from incriminating evidence.


    god speed


  3. uncle168,

    i call for all politician to resign from office and call for a bye election because our legal system is becoming a jury system

    the agc cannot be above the penal code

    a new gov needs to be form to reinstate a new agc

    god speed


  4. if one is fired and have to worry about staying fired, one is not firing right.

  5. Covid good live firing for FIRE'ers. Have been fired since 2010. Covid so far no big deal. GFC much worse.

    PS: Good memories for those who holidayed in Shoalwater Bay.

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  11. Hi,

    The ongoing pandemic is a test on one's determination. I believe that this will not be a problem for those who adopt the dividend growth investment approach.