I’ve been home for 11 days now. I’m currently out of work, like many, because of the Coronavirus. I have no idea how long I will be out of work, but the assumption is through the month of April, possibly some or all of May. My journey to reach financial independence and early retirement is officially on hold indefinitely. I can’t even think about a timeline for reaching financial independence when I am making zero money. But all is not lost in this time of uncertainty.
I keep reading from many of the FIRE gurus that everything is going to be “just fine” and as it always does, the stock market and economy will bounce back and large gains will be made as we recover. They aren’t wrong. Historically, that seems to be the case. I have all my money in index funds and my balance decreased by $60,000 in a matter of days. I know that I will get all this money back, though it may take a year or two. As I am nowhere near retirement I knew not to move my money, despite loads of temptation to shift it all to something less risky.
I haven’t seen a single FIRE blogger, who has already successfully retired, admit to needing to go back into the work force or write anything about being remotely close to a state of financial hardship at this time. So it seems to me that the leaders of the movement know what they are talking about. I would like to point out that most of them live on less than 40k a year. FIRE is achievable when you make your cost of living LESS than the average American.
During this time of “safer at home” I am seeing our life in a different view. We are in a much better situation than most I know. We have six months of living expenses saved but, as my husband is “essential” and still working, our savings extends to one year of expenses. We are financially better prepared than others to deal with the current economic crisis our country is facing and I’m grateful for it. Last August when I started looking at our spending and attempting to reign it in I had no idea we would be inadvertently preparing for this.
One thing I’ve realized is that we absolutely cannot stop working until our mortgage is paid off and our daughter is out of preschool. These two expenses require me to continue to work. When they are gone, we will be financially independent.
Having a personal trainer is the most luxurious expense we have. At $450 a month, he provides twice a week sessions for me and my husband. Many would advise us to end our working relationship with him but I can’t bear the thought of it. Working out with a trainer is the only exercise I’ve ever been consistent with. We’ve found what works for us and we can easily argue that spending on our health is not the same as spending on frivolous purchases.
My No Spend Year came at the perfect time. Though I did break down and buy some boardgames prior to our government issued time at home, I have been committed to my No Spend Year and am finding great pleasure in using up items in our home. As we are trying to limit our trips to the grocery store and reduce food waste we are eating food items that have resided in our pantry for too long. I can honestly say that I will NEVER EVER again purchase rice cakes, dates, or macadamia nuts!
Our grocery budget has doubled for obvious reasons but so has our restaurant budget. There are two reasons for this. The first is we are getting take out from our local places in an effort to support them during this difficult time. The second, is going out to pick up some food is the only time we get to leave the house. While I’ve always known that going out to eat was a treat, it feels more special than ever now.
This is prime gardening season and I’m finding it difficult to NOT break the “safer at home” order and go to a gardening store to buy plants and dirt. With the newly acquired free time I keep thinking of projects around the house I would like to do. All these require spending money, which I don’t want to do since I’m not making any money and I know that we don’t have to have any of these items. Everything can wait. Everything has to wait.
Now, from the other side of life…I’m taking great pleasure in laughing at social media posts of women who are obsessing over their gel nails and hair color. We really are a vain society aren’t we? I’m rather appalled by the grossness of just how vain we are.
This is the most time I’ve been able to spend with my child since I was on maternity leave with her and I’m learning so much about her. She’s full of fire. Her temper is short and explosive. She’s funny and beautiful in ways only a child can be. Explaining this virus to her has been hard and I’m trying not to scare her. I feel like a broken record all the time…”don’t put your hands in your mouth” “don’t pick your nose” “don’t waste toilet paper or soap”…and she will say “I can’t wait for this virus to go away”…me too honey, me too!
I’m learning a lot about myself during this time too…
- Cooking, while listening to music, is my version of meditation
- I love a clean house, but its currently impossible to maintain with a shedding dog and a 4yo
- I like to make my bed every morning
- I like minimalism and simplicity
- I enjoy sitting in a rocking chair, in my driveway, watching the world go by.
- I love a good nap and a long soak in a bathtub
- Growing my own food is an accomplishment I’m very proud of
- I love my husband and child so much it overwhelms me with emotion
During this second week of staying at home, I’ve taken the pressure off myself. I’m ok if we take a day and spend it watching movies while snuggled on the couch. I’m ok if we play outside all day. I’ve been letting my child have a big say in how we spend our days and as long as a little learning is thrown in, I’m fine with whatever makes us happy.
I’m very lucky that I can look at this time as an opportunity to rest, cook, and spend time with my child. I know that not as many are as lucky as I am.
Stay safe everyone!