Good news is we are ok. We sincerely hope and pray that this post finds you in good health.
This post is late by a year but I felt like I owed all of you a proper update for all the positive support you’ve given us over the years. Like many of you, the COVID crisis forced us to adapt our work and personal life leaving very little time for other activities.
Quick life updates:
- I’m starting my forties this year 🙂 So working on my health is a top priority for me.
- Our son turns 3 this year! He is growing up in lockdown and has started online play-school. Most of our time is spent parenting him in shifts.
- Our software business took a hit at the beginning of the COVID crisis with many customers cancelling or asking for payment deferrals. It was a stressful time when I honestly thought it will unravel quickly. I clearly remember both of us looking at each other calmly and calculating how long our emergency fund will last. So you can understand why updating this blog was the last thing on my mind.
- Luckily for us, business has bounced back and has gone on to do even better than we expected.
- For the next couple of years, we only want to focus on the two most important projects in our life right now : our son and our business both of which are poised to grow fast.
- With that in mind, we don’t plan on updating this blog until we get a breather. But don’t worry, this blog will still be up and running.
Financial Lessons learnt during this crisis:
- Short Summary of Lessons Learned: Invest money with expert help, Invest more in relationships, Invest more in skills, Invest more in health. Keep growing.
- Long Story:
- From a financial standpoint, this has been a stress-test of all the bookish theories that everyone including myself have been spouting about Financial Freedom & Financial Independence. If our financial situation had become really bad during this crisis, then only our savings would have come to our rescue. So for me that answers the question of whether we were correct to save a lot each month.
- Having our equity portfolio drop by 50-60% last year was an eye-opener for us. So we hired a Financial Planner this year to audit our investments and asset-allocated from equity to debt for the first time. Our portfolio is very conservative now and our return expectations are also much lower. This means our monthly SIP is much higher. I recommend you also take the help of a financial planner. Blogs like ours are good to feel inspired and start the journey but to truly secure your financial freedom, get the help of experts. You can find a fee-only financial planner here. The fee is affordable and for most self-disciplined people it is a one-time evaluation.
- I’m now mostly at peace with our Financial Goals. I don’t really stress that much or check our portfolio performance daily like I used to! In fact I don’t even read Personal Finance articles anymore. I just SIP the amount recommended by our Financial Planner and only plan to check it once a year to asset-allocate. I realised that I was expecting too much returns from equity too quickly worrying constantly about how to squeeze expenses to put more into SIP. I was operating under a scarcity mindset of making do with the money we have instead of a growth mindset of figuring out ways to make more money.
- In fact, I’m so zen right now that I don’t plan to retire early anytime soon. I’m in a very confident and positive frame of mind that I feel like I can keep working on things I like for the rest of my life and keep making decent money. I credit the feeling to having a financial safety net for my family and having weathered multiple crises in the past 20 years. I feel that even if everything goes down the drain tomorrow financially, I can still get back up and prosper again. In that sense, I feel mentally Free already and I believe this is a by-product of pursuing Financial Freedom.
- This COVID crisis also made me realise that Money cannot solve all problems. If all the money in the world cannot get me an oxygen cylinder or ICU bed or a vaccine, then what’s the point. Thankfully we were reassured by an excellent support system of friends, neighbours, relatives and good samaritans online arranging oxygen, hospital beds and food. I had to self-isolate earlier this year due to COVID-like symptoms and my neighbour who was away, asked me to use their empty house to quarantine. Thankfully I tested negative for COVID and it turned out to be a nasty viral infection. It was a scary time and we could see everyone around us pitching in to help the 3 of us. We will be investing more in meaningful personal relationships and actively contribute our time & energy in any small community that we are a part of.
- During the peak of the 2nd wave, we donated more money in April and May than what we had donated in the last 7 years total. I now realise that the money you give away will come back to you many-fold. Both in giving you a purpose to make more money and in making the world a more liveable place. I do feel a bit ashamed and perplexed that I did not have the confidence to regularly donate even a tiny percentage of my monthly income towards charity all these years when I was so focused on financial freedom for myself. In fact, I now consider the ability to donate regularly to charity as an indicator of my financial health and confidence in making more money.
- oh! Increase Life Insurance and Write a Will. Courtesy of my health scare for shaking me out of this inertia.
I could keep on writing about so many different angles to Financial Independence/Early Retirement, but there is only one fundamental message : “Save atleast 50% of your income each month”. If you cannot cut your expenses to 50% of income then the logical next step is to work on increasing your income instead. Do this and your Quality of Life will improve way before you even achieve your target amount as my personal experience shows above.
Wishing that all of you achieve Freedom & Happiness in life.
Naren & Sugandha.
P.S: Do leave your personal learnings as comments. I may not reply due to time constraints but I’ll definitely read them.