- The economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic could see the FIRE (financial independence, retire early) movement slowly down, according to one early retiree.
- Sam Dogen, who retired at age 34 with $US3 million, told Business Insider he thinks the trend will be replaced by what he calls the DIRE movement, which involves retiring late.
- He said “there is a lot of devastation” financially in the FIRE community due to the pandemic.
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The coronavirus pandemic might see a slow decline in the FIRE movement.
At least, that’s what one early retiree thinks. Short for financial independence, retire early, the FIRE movement has grown in popularity over the past 20 years among those seeking financial freedom before the typical retirement age of 65. But Sam Dogen of Financial Samurai, who retired from his Wall Street job eight years ago at age 34 with $US3 million, told Business Insider he thinks the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic will send many early retirees back to work.
“And many people who have not yet reached FIRE will probably have to extend their working careers by three to five years to make up for their equity losses,” Dogen said. “The bear market will flush out ‘fake FIRE’ people, those who do not solely live off their investment income because they have a working spouse or simply switched careers to make money online.”
Nationwide shutdowns to help slow the spread of the coronavirus have sent the US economy plunging. Several Wall Street firms have predicted that the US will fall into a recession from the shock of the pandemic. If the US enters a yearlong recession, Dogen said he thinks the DIRE movement will supplant the FIRE movement “as people get much more realistic about their finances.”
People will retire late, not early
Dogen coined the term DIRE, which stands for Delay, Inherit, Retire, Expire. A recession would likely make it difficult for many to save for retirement, thus causing them to delay retiring. With no hopes of retiring early, Dogen explains, they might instead rely on an inheritance to kick in for their retirement strategy, but that typically doesn’t come until later in life.
By the time they have enough money to finally retire, they will likely be well past the age of 65 and retire late, he said. After a life of working, he anticipates that they will look back with regret at not having been able to retire early.
“Unfortunately, I think a recession is all but a certainty at this point,” Dogen said. “Hopefully, we’ll see a V-shaped recovery in the second half of the year as the coronavirus gets better contained. But it’s going to be really tough-going for a while.”
He said that even with his conservative portfolio – which consists of just 20% of his net worth in equities – he’s “still down hundreds of thousands of dollars.” While the rest of his net worth consists of real estate, bonds, cash, and business equity, he says the lost money on his existing equity exposure is still “very painful.”
“A lot of FIRE folks are putting on a strong face,” Dogen said of the current health and economic crisis. “But I can assure you that behind the scenes, there is a lot of devastation.”
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