Freedom Is Way More Valuable Than Money: Quarantine Edition Review

I moved from annual reviews to quarterly reviews this year, but with how quickly April flew by, I just had to write another!

April was supposed to be a terrible month based on the downward trajectory we were experiencing in March. It was easy to imagine the S&P 500 heading below 2,000. However, financially, April ended up as one of the best months ever.

The S&P 500 rebounded by an astounding ~30% from its bottom. Over 80 million Americans got a stimulus check. Over 25 million are getting an extra $600/week in unemployment benefits. And over 2 million small businesses are getting 2.5 months of payroll covered if they keep their employees with the same pay for at least eight weeks.

Hospital bed capacity in California

On the coronavirus front, although there have been tragically over 50,000 deaths attributed to the virus, the government had at one point guided us to expect over a million deaths. With much dire warning, it feels like a blessing the government got their predictions so consistently wrong.

Then on April 29, it was announced some of the Bay Area's shelter-in-place restrictions would finally be lifted. Starting on May 4, we will finally be allowed to once again play golf, sunbathe in parks, fish, go to the car wash, buy plants at nurseries, and start doing home construction again. I'm excited to dust off my old golf sticks that haven't been touched in two years.

Once I heard the news, I was reminded what I've always known since 2012, that freedom is way more valuable than money.

Why Freedom Is More Valuable Than Money

If you have money, but no friends, having money won't make you very happy. So much about having money and happiness is being able to treat and help the people you care about. Spending money only on yourself gets incredibly boring after a while.

If you have money, but have no family, having money feels less meaningful. Before I had kids, I was much more cavalier about the way I managed and invested my money. Making money was more like racking up points in a game. Once my son was born in 2017, money became much more valuable because it had more purpose.

If you have money, but have no freedom, you might as well burn your piles of cash or try and bribe your way out of prison! As someone who has spent most of his time at home since 2012, you would think that I'd be much more accepting of a lockdown. Instead, I started getting pissed off after the fourth week.

Quarantine life really isn't like early retirement at all. All the things I used to love doing at will, like playing tennis, playing softball, traveling, seeing family, eating out, and so forth were gone. Worse, I couldn't do anything casual outside without fear of persecution by all the COVID Police out there.

One day, I was playing at a park with my son when I started getting yelled at by two old guys saying I wasn't social distancing enough. They barked at me even though they were walking side by side. I promptly walked up to them and asked who made them park police? They probably thought I didn't know how to speak English and were clearly taken aback. They shut up and started walking away.

Another time, I was playing tennis with a friend at a public park after four weeks in quarantine. We were rallying 80 feet apart when an older woman started scolding us for playing while she was hanging out with some friends. I stopped what I was doing and walked up to her group of friends and asked if I could sit down and chat with them. They were aghast!

It was so annoying to get judged by others. A part of me felt like I was back living in Virginia where I faced random racist incidents on a monthly basis.

I don't understand people who are hell-bent on imposing their will on others. It was fascinating to observe people complaining about a situation despite being part of the problem.

Below is a perfect example.

If you manage to get through the quarantine without judging others for respectfully living their lives, congrats! This means you probably are level-headed. You are unlikely to be upset easily and you will likely end up richer and happier. Instead of freaking out you probably even had the confidence to buy the market dip in March.

Not being easily upset by others is a super power.

Money Buys Happiness Because It Buys Freedom

One of the reasons why I was so happy to escape the rat race in 2012 was because my passive income was large enough to get me away from office politics and a whole bunch of other unpleasant things about work. It wasn't my capital or my passive income that made me happy, it was the freedom to no longer have to be around annoying people. Remember, I willingly walked away from a $250,000 base salary at 34 years old.

Today, it is still not the money that is making me happy. Instead, it's money's ability to enable me to raise my children as a stay at home dad. Teaching my son new things and getting to snuggle my daughter every day are priceless.

Yes, I was absolutely bummed when the S&P 500 was going down 10% a day, losing me hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process. I began to fear that with each sell-off I was one step closer to having to go back to work.

As the S&P 500 began to rebound, my mood began to improve because my fear of having to miss out too much on my children's lives started to abate. I started to feel enough relief that I decided I would stay unemployed for a lot longer.

When the government took away my ability to take my son to the playground or play tennis or softball with my friends, I accepted the decision as an important way for all of us to do our part to flatten the curve. But I would be lying if I told you I didn't also feel resentment at the government for taking away my liberties. The least they could have also done was to eliminate property tax during the restriction.

The lockdown has also made me empathize with people who are willing to retire early on a modest amount of capital. They hate their jobs so much they just have to get out, even if it means living on near poverty wages to do so.

To them, freedom is absolutely more important than accumulating a few more bucks. In fact, these folks get the most bang for their freedom buck because they're willing to live on just enough to survive.

Once you have a minimum amount of wealth to cover all your basic necessities, it is the freedom of choice that truly boosts happiness. The freedom of choice is why mega-millionaires who live in mega-mansions can still be so miserable. When you have thousands of employees relying on you, but you've got to furlough or lay off a quarter of them during a time of crisis, you're not going to be feeling too good.

Financial Recovery

After a tremendous rebound in April, according to Personal Capital, my net worth rebounded by about 6.5% from its lows thanks to about 25% exposure to equities. Anything more than a 5% swing in my net worth in a month is considered wild given how relatively defensively it is structured.

My net worth goal by year end is to try and increase it by a modest 7% – 10%. But I doubt the markets will cooperate.

Freedom Is Way More Valuable Than Money

Based on what I'm seeing in San Francisco real estate land, prices are holding up well so far. I'm just surprised so many sales are getting done given the shelter-in-place rules, the need to sign documents in front of someone, and the eventual desire to move into the property or rent it out after closing. I took a private tour for this one house the other day and three other parties toured the house before me.

It's too early to tell what's going on with my real estate crowdfunding holdings as I did not receive any distributions in April. My hope is that I'll see some surprise positive exits, like I saw in February when a couple deals paid out. However, I'm not expecting anything for the rest of the year.

Treasury bonds continue to hold up like a rock and municipal bonds have thankfully recovered almost all of its losses thanks to the Fed explicitly saying it will be buying city and state debt.

As for my beloved Financial Samurai, what I realized since the pandemic began was that I haven't stopped writing, recording, or commenting at my usual pace. In other words, no matter how well or how poorly this site performs, it doesn't affect my joy for writing.

If you find yourself continuing to work on something no matter the income or attention it gets, you have likely found your calling. There's no better time to start your own site than during a lockdown. Ah, to be 32 and full of energy again!

How The Lockdown Has Changed My Views

With how quickly April went, I have a feeling May will go by just as quickly. I've got my new normal routine down and I'm assuming so have many of you.

Here's how my views have changed during the lockdown:

  • De-risk. I've sold practically all the stock I bought in March for a quick 15% – 30% gain (still down overall given the S&P 500 is still down). I'm also selling down some existing stock that has made nice comebacks, like Tesla at over $850. What a crazy ride! I'd be a fool not to take some money off the table. Losing 30% of the value in my stock portfolio felt horrendous. I've had enough volatility to last for the next several years. No more please.
Tesla stock rebound
  • Increase spending. Losing so much and then gaining so much back was a good reminder of how easily money can disappear. Instead of losing so much money again to risk making more money, I'm going to be more aggressive in using money to pay for a better life. Over the past four months, I've already spent a small fortune on a night doula to help with feeding, sleep training, and allowing us to sleep a little longer. Now I'm compiling a list of things to buy once the lockdown is over.
  • Permanently give up on going back to work. Losing my freedom reminded me how much I would hate to be trapped in an office and being told what to do by someone I do not fully respect. The annoyance I feel towards our governor and mayor is exactly the same as the annoyance I had felt towards bad bosses. I've become too used to my freedom and could only do part-time consulting at most.
  • Embrace homeschooling. The reason why most parents don't homeschool is that they have jobs and it takes a lot of time and patience. Well, we don't have jobs and we have lots of time. Therefore, it's worth at least making an effort while also trying to develop our children's social skills. The constant sickness truly was the worst thing about preschool. We just need to make sure our children's immune systems keep getting stronger by going to public places.
  • Get thin and ripped again. When it comes to COVID-19, there seems to be a high correlation between obesity and death. Given I really would like to live until I'm at least 70, I've got to do more than just always tell myself to lose 5 lbs. I've got to lose 15 lbs to get down to 153-155 lbs and stay there. Besides, with my term life insurance policy running out in 2023, I'm more motivated than ever to get in shape.
  • Get out of town before another lockdown happens. Before attempting to relocate to Honolulu in the Fall of 2022, we are going to rent a house in Honolulu this winter for at least one month to try before we buy. There's a good chance there will be a second wave of COVID-19 and undoubtedly another wave of the flu by winter. Instead of subjecting all of us to months of quarantine and sickness again, we'll pull my son out of preschool, save some money, and just go through our own shelter-in-place near the beach this winter.
Freedom is more valuable than money

April turned out so good, I'm afraid May is going to be a big disappointment. Remember, everything is relative when it comes to finance.

It's hard to imagine the government doling out as much free stimulus money in May as it did in April. Instead of the S&P 500 climbing by another 30% to a new record high, it's more likely the index will give up 10%+ of its gains. We're likely going to see ~40 million unemployed by the end of May. More companies we know will likely decide to shutdown. Finally, the coronavirus death count will undoubtedly go higher.

If there was ever a time to “sell in May and go away,” this May ranks right up there. Instead of focusing on stocks, I'm going to be busy hunting for real estate bargains for the rest of the summer.

I believe the easy (recovery) money has been made. It's possible we could reach all-time highs this summer the more we hollow out our economy. But I doubt it. I'm going defensive by holding more cash than normal. If I miss out on making more money, so be it. I don’t want to lose what I already have. Stay safe everyone!

Update: My 2020 Year In Review

How was your April? Has the lockdown changed the way you view things and your plans going forward. What do you expect will happen in May? If you're bullish at S&P 500 2,900+, I'd love to hear your reasons why.

If you've dropped by from a CNBC guest post I wrote, I wrote that post in March (~40 days ago) when the world was falling apart. The post was also cut down by about 40% (700-800 words) without my usual action steps to help people get their finances right. Further, I did not come up with the title. Authors have no editorial control when guest posting.

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62 thoughts on “Freedom Is Way More Valuable Than Money: Quarantine Edition Review”

  1. >>I don’t understand people who are hell-bent on imposing their will on others.<<

    The reason is clearly stated in The True Believer: Thoughts On The Nature Of Mass Movements, by Eric Hoffer:

    “A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people's business…."

  2. Smile If You Dare

    >>I don’t understand people who are hell-bent on imposing their will on others.<<

    This quote from The True Believer: Thoughts On The Nature Of Mass Movements by Eric Hoffer answers why:

    “A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people's business…."

  3. Our tennis courts never closed, or our parks and area lakes so we have continued to play tennis and run outside and fish. But for tennis doubles we now use four cans of balls. Each person only serves with their set of balls and nobody else touches the balls, except with their racquet. Plus my wife plays at the same level I do so we hit drills together almost every day. I was watching my friends play yesterday when one lady rolled her ankle, it made a loud pop. Xray showed she had broken it. Never saw that injury happen in tennis before.

    1. Be thankful you do not live in the UK. Every tennis club is closed. Every public court is closed. I have not hit a ball for 50 days now. Nightmare!

  4. Non financail comment….your comments about being harassed (judged) while at the park and playing tennis are interesting. I have a younger engineer who works for me. We are an essential business so he was coming in each day to run our test lab. A few weeks ago when returning home in the early afternoon, a local police officer stopped him when getting out of his car at his apartment. The cop said he had observed coming and going a lot asked him where he was going each day. He explained he was an engineer who worked for an essential company and even showed the cop a letter from our CEO explaining this information. The cop said “I was just curious” and drove off. Our city was under a stay-at-home advisory. They cannot cite or fine anyone for being out. In discussion with many peers, we felt this act by the cop was harassment based on him being a foreigner. Sad.

  5. Our lockdown in South Africa is still rough. We’ve had business after business fail and have had to remain inside. We can finally walk between 6 and 9 in the mornings, but lots of people arrested for making silly mistakes like going to the beach surfing, or walking their dogs after the 3 hour curfew etc. I dont like the prison, but it seems we have no way out.
    Also the government seems to not be helping companies much if they’re all goijg bust. Sad times. At least we were FI.. Don’t know if you are FI anymore though if there are no businesses left to pay you dividends though?

  6. Being forced to stay at home fortunately hasn’t been too rough on me. Prior to this, I worked full-time from home as an engineer anyways. It has sucked though that I now can’t have any social life. It sucks that I can’t even go to the gym

    But I’ve taken advantage of it also by reading alot more about how to make money online, such as your posts about making money with blogging. I likely wouldn’t have spent the time to learn about it if I were not forced to stay home due to the coronavirus

  7. The quarantine was put into place for one reason only – so that our healthcare system would not be overrun by COVID cases which would create a shortage of resources and delay/deny care to patients needing treatments for a wide range of conditions.

    I’m about your age and my life was going along just fine. A few years after graduating from college I started a manufacturing business which we grew for several years until 2016 when we sold the business to a public company. I had a 4 year earn out and was in the 4th year when a routine lab test turned up cancer. I was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer at age 41 with a wife and 3 year old son to support. Previous to this diagnosis, I was a very healthy individual who had never spent any time in the hospital and never experienced any sort of serious medical condition. I lived an active, healthy lifestyle. Over the last year I have endured a month of radiation, 8 cycles of chemotherapy and 2 major surgeries. I spent multiple weeks in the hospital. As you know, chemotherapy and other cancer treatments destroy the body’s immune system making patients susceptible to disease. I spent the early part of this pandemic in the hospital where I could see the early signs of panic on the faces of the doctors and nurses. I anticipated things about to get much worse and did everything in my power to get released as soon as I could. I went home after a few days and began convalescing at home where I continue to undergo treatment.

    I think you’re a pretty smart guy but when I read your comments about resenting the government lockdown and your inability to take your child to the park, your words are at the very least insensitive and at worse, dangerous. Either way they are pretty stupid. There are hundreds of thousands of people out there just like me. People that have very successful, healthy lives only to be upended by a surprise medical condition. Everyone, including you, your wife, and your kids are only one bad test result away from being in my shoes. Life is very fragile.

    Next time someone yells at you about socially distancing, take it in stride and remember people like me that are battling for their lives and are extremely susceptible to a virus like this. So while you may not be able to take your kid to the playground or play tennis with your buddies for a few weeks, it pales in comparison to what many of us went through, are going through now and the risks we now face.

    There are hordes of stupid and principled people (the most dangerous combination) out there that are very offended about there liberties are being taken away. Don’t be one of them. Remember, there are people out there that need your consideration. Being at home for 6 weeks is a small price to pay.

    1. Agree. The problem with me is that I tell the truth too much and share how I feel. Instead, I should probably just keep quiet. But it’s hard as a writer.

      Check out the first chart in this post that highlights the load on the healthcare system in CA. Shows how underloaded our system is, thank goodness.

      Please also consider the people who need medical procedures who are too afraid to go to the hospital and are hurting or dying as a result.

      This is not a black-and-white issue. And if we can show more empathy for the people who have lost their jobs, lost their savings, suffering through depression, or suicidal, and so forth, you won’t feel that people like me and other people are as stupid.

      All my very wealthy friends are doing OK. They can survive this no problem. But my friends who are less wealthy or who have other issues are not taking things as well.


      GL to you! And if you have the energy, please share with us what you would have done differently in your life, if anything. Thanks and best of health.

  8. “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”

    I’m scheduled to build two beach houses, and now I’m afraid that they will be worth less in two years than they cost me to build today. It’s ironic that that one camp of financial prognosticators says we are heading into a greater depression in which cash is king. Then there is another camp that tells us that all this MMT money could cause hyperinflation. Either way, house prices would drop.

    They dropped like a rock after the 1927 Florida real estate crash and didn’t get back to 1925 prices until 1954 (thanks to the GI Bill). Meanwhile, houses weren’t worth squat during the post WW1 German hyperinflation. I’m guessing that we could experience the worst of all worlds, where asset prices will drop and the prices of necessities will rise. Hope I’m wrong.

  9. I love you attitude. But I’m not going to lie, I love the work I do. All I can really say is I work in biopharma, I have a little passion to say the least towards that work. I want to continue that work unrestrained by masks, and social distancing.
    Furthermore, I always have my own blog. But I was always able to work on that the same day I worked in lab. A day is 24 hours and freedom means you only need to spend some hours for sleeping.

  10. The stay at home order hasn’t changed my life too much (I’m home most of the time anyway). What was a big change for me was the actual “you CAN’T go anywhere,” such as going out to eat, going to the bookstore, getting coffee out, etc…

    These past couple months have been spent saving quite a bit of “fun” money. My wife and I saved several hundred dollars ($500+) in 4 weeks just by buying more groceries and not using any money to go out to eat, given restaurants are closed.

    We took advantage of the market plunge by buying in heavy towards the bottom. We may sell off this week to lock in a quick gain. I haven’t decided if this is what I want to do, but it’s very appealing. Where else will you get a ~20% gain in under 4 weeks?


  11. Ms. Conviviality

    The sheltering in place hasn’t been too bad for me. If anything, it allowed me time to start an Etsy shop. Not that I couldn’t make time for it before, but when there’s other competing things to do like spend time with friends/family, go to the gym, and manage an Airbnb on top of a full-time career, I just never got around to it. My Etsy shop has been open for 3 weeks and this past week has been the best week yet. I made $500 in one week! Lessons that I’ve learned from this experience are 1) it’s possible for anyone to make money if they use the internet to research and set themselves up for success. I was able to educate myself on how to market, write copy, and price my goods. If I keep up the earnings, the annual income will be more than what someone can make with a minimum wage job. I know that this is setting the bar low, but it should give hope to those that didn’t receive a college education and would prefer to not work at McDonald’s. In my case, this is a decent paying side hustle. 2) While there may be other hustles that can bring in more income, if I’m not passionate about it, it won’t be successful. I’m been reading FS for years and Sam encourages folks to create a blog and I’ve considered it many times but knowing myself, writing isn’t something I enjoy. While my product won’t be easy to scale since it’s handmade, that’s ok because I’m doing what I enjoy and the money is just a perk.

    1. I live in Tucson Az and my life hasn’t changed much. Not the fear here. I still play golf go to Lowes, Walmart, Safeway, Costco and such. Seems like the same amount of cars on the road. Set up my home gym and try to work out every day. I quit eating candy and cookies and the such and have lost 15 lbs. I done lots of home improvements some myself and some hiring to get some new windows, fix my golf cart, and new backsplash in kitchen. From my standpoint life hasn’t changed that much. I feel pretty fortunate.

    2. Love the Etsy side hustle! I’ve been an ebayer since 2003 and now as a stay at home mom its provided a nice side income letting me contribute to ROTH IRAs and my kids 529 plans. I literally turn “trash into cash” as my husband says (haha) because I sell random stuff I get at yard sales, rummage sales and thrift stores. All of those things are closed now but I have boxs of stuff yet to be listed so my procrastination paid off

  12. WannabeTrophyHubster

    I ran into a COVID-Karen (or “Regulation Charlie” as we used to call people like that in the Army) right after our local groceries had installed one-way lane markers for all the aisles.

    I was forewarned by an employee going into the store but about half-way through my shopping, I carelessly started to enter an aisle the wrong way.

    A woman about 12 feet down the aisle with her husband literally screeched at me “WRONG WAY!!!”, so, embarrassed, I muttered “thanks”, turned around and did the loop to come up that aisle in its proper flow direction.

    Two aisles later she and her husband entered an aisle ahead of me, then after about half way down she apparently remembered she forgot something so she spun around and went back down past me and out the aisle the wrong way.

    I asked her husband (now starting to follow her out) if she was always this big of a hypocrite. She gasped; he rolled his eyes and said, loud enough for her to hear, “Well, at least you don’t have to LIVE with her”.

  13. Social Capitalist

    FS, flat out inspiring article. You do a great job of getting zen-old white guys like me off our duffs- physically and mentally.
    I am sorry that in 21st century America so many remain mired in a system conceived by wealthy landowners in 17th century Virginia to prevent economic rebellion – see Bacons Rebellion. Racism has many aspects, but both as a vestige and an institution, it denies everyone of the freedoms you mention- mobility, MONEY, dignity, health and ultimately life. The love of racism is the root of America’s social ills (sorry to the authors of the Bible, there).
    This may not be the forum but experiencing light racism as you often do ( not trying to mitigate what happened to you but it’s not being pulled over for skin color either), I hope that you work to provide a bridge to those, whose skin color subjects them to even worse racism- so much so that people won’t walk up to them, but won’t hire them, provide funds for a good education, etc.

    It isn’t my place to tell you how to live- I certainly should do more, I just hope I inspired you a little in the way you inspire us so much. Even when we are critical.

    1. As a long time reader of your blog, I found some inconsistencies in what you have been saying. You published an article on that talked about you lost 600K so far and you planned to get a job. Here you talked about the importance of freedom. So, are you going to find a job or not? You seems to be waffling …

      1. That article was written at the end of March and was edited down by 40% (~600 words cut) with a title I did not choose. Too bad it was released on April 30 when so much has changed.

        I wonder if readers realize guest post titles are not determined by the author on big media sites. And the final post can be very different in tone and substance from the initial draft. Probably not.

        Rest assured, what I write here and what I write right now is the latest on what I feel.

        1. WannabeTrophyHubster

          Sam – interesting to sort of “peek inside” that process. So a news organization like CNBC can ask you for a piece but then can just sit on it for weeks or months?

          1. Yes, as a guest writer, you lose editorial control and they can do whatever they want. It is the risk you take to contribute as it is their platform. They can also squash the post too and never publish.

            1. Thanks for clarifying! I read that article as well and was a bit confused. Figured you probably wrote that article in March.

        2. Canadian Reader

          Thanks for clarifying this. I was wondering the same thing! It would have been better if they released your actual piece on time- as indeed much has changed.
          It might be better if external articles were directly posted on FS homepage – To help keep FS narrative more cohesive for readers.
          … back to watching Buffet :)

  14. Glad to hear April turned out better than you thought! I felt like the month flew by. March was tough and felt longer but by the time April came I felt like I was in a new rhythm and readjusted to this new lock down lifestyle. I sure wonder if we’re going to have to go through something like this every year. Hope not.

    I’m glad SF is starting to bring back some activities and that Newsom didn’t shut down the beaches up here (yet).

    Here’s hoping May turns out ok!

  15. Freedom! My business partner and I discuss this topic all the time. Sam, you are correct, it’s more valuable than money. You need to make/create enough to live comfortably, but after that it’s all about freedom. From the time my oldest was in about 6th grade and my wife went back to teaching, I became the designated drop off and pick up person for school due to the flexibility (freedom) of being a small business owner. This time with my oldest was absolutely immeasurable. We became best friends. I learned to love the game of volleyball (and actually became somewhat adept) having practiced daily after school with her in the backyard. We would discuss her day. She would confide things to me, share her successes, ask for advice. Because I was there during these pivotal years of adolescence. It was all about freedom.

    Sure, I could’ve made more money, lots of my agent peers make 500-750k a year or more. But they work a lot more. Half end up divorced. It never made sense to me? Work and spend. Work and spend. Lose it in a divorce or have kids that despise you. Meanwhile, your kids grow up without their Dad (or mom) around. Some turn out to be Drs or accountants. Many turn out with problems or issues.

    It’s all about creating the system that affords you maximum freedom.

    1. By the way. The folks that play verbal gymnastic racism with you, and then you engage only to find them unable/unwilling to respond, are cowards. That is why you do not get a response. They are emotion, you are logic.

      I love your belief on Liberty. Speaking from a strictly statistical perspective, you are exactly correct about your governor.

  16. Thanks for the thoughts. Hopefully a civil war doesn’t break out on your post.

    I was able to throw a bunch of money into the stock market in April. I missed the lows, but still got in low enough to see some gains.

  17. “Quarantine life really isn’t like early retirement at all.”

    Thanks for making this statement. I started a mini-retirement in December 2019, and it’s been a tough going. I was planning on visiting a ton of friends and family during this time, but alas that did not happen. Luckily, my partner and I were able to go on an extended vacation before things got crazy at the beginning of March.

    Also, I finally took your advice and started my own website. I’ve been writing everyday, and it’s been such an awesome experience.

  18. Financial Freedom Countdown

    Great timing Sam on Tesla. I agree with you that Hawaii makes the most sense. They are enforcing quarantine on any incoming visitors which makes sense.

    CA on the other hand has us all locked up but doesn’t ask people coming in the state to quarantine which will ensure that we will have several waves going forward while residents suffer lockdown for no reason.

    A more sensible policy would be to force incoming people to quarantine for 14 days and lock down state borders like Alaska or Hawaii has done.

  19. Great article
    The most valuable thing money gave me in daily basis is mobility , the possibility to be everywhere , which i really miss right now.
    having 75 % of my assets invested on real-estate made me really worried.
    I feel like i want to be liquid at least 50 % , even if i don’t make any money of it.
    the sensation to have in mind that i can be 5 , 6 years of life cost paid is priceless.

  20. I thought we were gonna fall a lot deeper and harder… But I live in Los Angeles, where the entertainment industry is getting crushed! I thankfully did not fear sell much… I did sell about 5%-10% of my equities at about DOW 22K after a late March bounce / early april bounce. But I mainly made defensive moves like opening a $100K HELOC. Thankfully, my wife and I kept our jobs and are working comfortably from home.. but I did have to take a temporary 20% haircut in salary. But with no need for daycare, gas, child activity fees ect… we are still coming out ahead financially. I’ve actually been humbled to realize how much money it costs to WORK… the expenditure just to travel to work, pay for childcare and activities so your young children are cared for while you work is enormous. That and not eating out easily saves us $2-3K a month. I was feeling like our $240K combined salary was not enough end of 2019… now, in quarantine… it feels like an enormous amount of wealth.

    It makes me realize that when we retire… we won’t need nearly as much money as those online calculators estimate… unless we plan on traveling the world in luxury of course.

  21. Rich Akiona Williams

    Aloha Mai kakou Sam. Yes I’m just the opposite of you. I’m an expat Honolulu native having relocated from Hawai’i to the Bay Area in 1985 with a wife and 4 kids in tow. Thankfully due to my wife’s job travel benefits we have been literally commuting to Honolulu for almost every family event – around 6 to 8 times per year ever since. But now for the real question. Recently there has been a lot of talk in print and radio shows about preparing for a sudden disappearance of cash we all have in financial institutions such as banks etc. It goes like this: when these institutions have a melt down and no chance for another government bailout – due to some type of legislation- you are no longer a “depositor” but an unsecured creditor. Which means they can take a chuck of your money for self bailout. This is probably some joke to cause some type of panic by interested parties. Have you heard anything to debunk such conversations. Mahalo. Rich

  22. Thank you for posting this-puts things into perspective. Freedom is everything and more people see this when it is taken away-both freedom to go out as well as freedom to work. It’s a very odd time. I’m sorry that people were getting on you for social distancing, people seem to be more irritable these days, with everything going on (very understandable). Here people are still out and about but far fewer than normal. Take care and glad that you have found something that you love to do (write/maintain FS). You’ve helped a lot of people!

  23. Ok so I understand I was supposed to understand that you were facing some unnecessary (ahem racist) comments due to your appearance when you went into public. you can remove my previous comment instead of posting this or that if youd like.
    I was probably coming from a more personal place of seeing people not care and im worried about my loved ones.
    so please delete this and my previous comment.

    1. The incidents I experienced from the Covid Karens weren’t racist. They just reminded me of my racist incidents back living in Virginia because all the Covid Karens were white. Everybody else minded their own business and didn’t go out of their way to impose their will on others.

      I do believe the wealthier you are and if you are still getting paid during lockdown and getting stimulus checks you will be more OK with staying home. So consider yourself fortunate.

      But i think we need a balance and to think of others who do not have the same opportunity.


  24. I’m a bit disappointed with you. You come off as one of the people complaining for having to stay at home. I have absolutely no problem with you going to the park with your son or playing tennis with a friend. But if you think the measures taken by California governor were unnecessary I beg you to rethink your approach. People do still have to go out, including people at risk. If we weren’t flattening the curve as a society, we would all be responsible for the pain and suffering of others.
    It’s our civic duty, just like voting, to stay home as much as possible. If your money allows you to go to a more remote location, perhaps a vacation house, please do so. We’ll all be happy you get to go out without putting others at risk.
    Just like voting, it can feel like doing our part doesn’t matter. But it matters just as much as the next person. You get strength from numbers.
    Keep your distance while being able to enjoy more freedom
    I thank all of you for doing your part

    1. Lara, may I ask if you are a white woman? If so or not, why do you think white women are so judgmental and angry? Or is it a specific type of white woman, one that went through a divorce, illness, financial loss, of are single that create the Covid Karens?

      I’m an Asian woman btw.

      1. RetiredinSFBay

        Racist much? Replace “White women” with any other group and you would be banned! Yikes. Should I ask you why Asians are so racist given the horrible treatment African-Americans experience while traveling in China, Japan, Korea on a daily basis?

        1. You’re all off the mark in terms of your assumptions. Maybe you should check where those come from.
          People can have principles and be compassionate without being a “Karen”

          Or are we categorizing all women who have opinions to this stereotype now?
          Use “Karen” to describe men and women who act like a “Karen”, not to describe any woman who disagrees with you.

    2. Karen (Lara, does it really matter?!) says stay at home. Boo hoo germs which have been around for centuries. Boo hoo!!

  25. I volunteer at a skill nursing facility in my town and the folks I talk to there always remind me that we cannot make more time and to use it wisely while we’re young. This inspired me to focus so much on FI because it’s one way that helps me buy more time with family and friends. I really love your post today! Thank you and stay safe!

  26. Hit a mark again! Freedom is everything! I am truly sorry you’ve had to experience that when you were out with your son. In my neck of the woods, there are people biking, running, hiking, and playing baseball in the parks since the playground is off limits, but keeping their distance. I have still been working, as I work in a hospital so I’ve seen how bad this virus can be but also how much fear it has created. What has puzzled me is what is deemed non essential vs essential. Joan Fabrics is open (love this store!) but my dentist office is not?!

    Another issue I see is the frustration people feel not being able to go to work but actually I would love to be furloughed for 2 weeks or even a month. I can survive financially just fine and would love to spend more time with family! When I get off work and see people biking with their kids and then hear people talking about the projects they are doing at home since they are off of work, it makes me envious! Ahhh, the grass is always greener on the other side….But I guess with the restrictions being slowly lifted, everyone will eventually start going back to work ( and then will soon complain about being back at work! )

  27. Reverse The Crush

    Well said about comparing money without freedom to prison. It’s absolutely true. I also don’t understand why people are so hell-bent on imposing their will on others. I’m glad you said that because I’ve been wondering the same. The rebound in April was quite amazing. And it’s awesome that you realized you enjoy the writing no matter what. I love what you said about finding your calling. I agree with that philosophy. If you just keep doing something for years and years, you’re probably doing the right thing. Great post, Sam.

  28. Sam,

    There’s no Karen like a COVID Karen. I had a question about that. Have you had an openly xenophobic incidents happen to you since this all started? I worry that the longer this goes on (and some people seem to want to continue it forever for some reason), the more stress this creates and the more people cast blame far and widely.

  29. Right on. Freedom is much better than money. Who needs money if you’re stuck at home 24/7.
    Sorry to hear people judging you. We (son and I) go bike riding and shoot hoops almost every day and nobody bothered us yet. If the basketball courts are too busy, we just come home.
    I think it’s a great idea to head to HI for the winter. Why not? I’m not looking forward to more school closure, though. I don’t know how much longer I can take homeschooling.

    1. No worries. I’m used to these type of folks offline and online. It’s sometimes fun to try and get in their minds about why they can’t mind their own business. But every time I confront them and ask, they shy away or just fumble about and can’t elaborate. I don’t know why.

      I’m glad you and your son are not getting harassed during your afternoon PE time!

  30. I’m actually very bullish. Governments around the world are all talking about an exit plan from this crisis. A few weeks ago all I was hearing is rumors that the world is going to be shut down until 2021. For crying out loud, 2021! Now it’s pretty clear this is not going to last for more than a few months. The economic impact will be disastrous and everyone knows it.

    I don’t have a crystal ball, we could definitely tank lower. Much lower. What will happen in May is just a guessing game but medium/long term, we all know what will happen.

  31. Peter Berardi

    In New England, people are pulling their properties off the market. There is literally nothing to buy which indicates people aren’t motivated or they have hope the economy will be normal in 2021 which it will not. You don’t go from 40% unemployment to 3.5% in one year. There’s no feeling of recession in many parts of New England. There’s too many affluent white collar types jobs with people working at home getting a paycheck and perfectly happy taking leisurely walks. They think they’re on vacation.

    Reality will set in once the market tests new lows and realizes we won’t have a V shape recovery. There are too many restrictions on open economies let alone closed ones. Therefore I really can’t take advantage of any deals right now. Besides, property taxes are only going to get worse once towns realize they are broke.

    Sorry, but the only liquid game in town for average Joe’s like me is stocks and bonds. Crowdfunding is fine but those properties were bought at higher levels and will likely suffer a decline in value. You also run the risk of commercial tenants defaulting on rent which makes dividends risky. Heck, I’m not even seeing car prices drop with respect to articles saying they are. The only assets dropping are mine! Everyone else’s is holding up (lol).

    Anyway, this was a great article and I agree, freedom and liberty is everything. I’m making myself miserable waiting for my John Templeton moment of investing in a state of depression only to come out a multi-millionaire in 30 years which I don’t have. I’m investing in my career by studying for a three part professional exam to augment my MBA which doesn’t seem to have much meaning these days.

    1. Hey Peter,
      I agree with you that we will probably not see a V shape recovery but rather an upwards snake which could take 3-5 years. However yesterday the government announce that it will be buying cities and states loan to help the general population. Now I admit that it will not solve the issue but i believe that it will bring some hope back into play.

      On the other hand if no properties are on the market to sell it means demand will eventually rise. This will rise the Real Estate market leading to some more profit in property owners. I would agree that this is not the time to over leverage but rather cut down and be ready to buy low sell high.

    2. Low stock means demand will rise, and with it prices. I would hold off as well. Unless you have to sell in the next year for economic reasons, why not sit on it for another 3-5 years till the rebound, if not earlier?

      That being said, not all of New England is created equal. There were some suburbs that were already experiencing a slowdown since 2018, but not everywhere.

  32. Definitely agree freedom > money! I’m really missing jiu jitsu classes. I wasn’t any good at it, but was learning, having fun and getting a great workout every week.

    That’s messed up how those people scolded you when they weren’t practicing social distancing themselves! I’ve been a bit surprised by how dividing this pandemic has been. I see so many people arguing. I would think we might be able to put away our differences and come together during a global event like this, but I’m not sure that’s even possible now. People enjoy fighting too much.

    1. ive done jiu jitsu for 15 years and i miss it. I realized more so that its my only form of exercise i maintain. Ive been trying running/walking and calisthenics or even trying cardio jiu Jitsu videos but i get early bored.

  33. Part of the sad part of this social distancing response to the pandemic is some latent racism.

    Although it hasn’t happened to me (likely because I am not “Asian Asian’ but Indian) my fiancee experienced some of it (she’s from South Korea). Her daughter and her were walking on the side of the street away from everyone and another walker on the opposite side yelled at her to please stay on her side of the road.

    Quite saddening as I am sure if she was not Asian that would not have occurred.

    My net worth too rebounded this month, actually hitting a new personal high and just barely topping out my previous high from mid Feb. Hard to judge how long the good times will last.

  34. Hi Sam,

    Thanks for the article. Very true about imposing their will on others. Freaking out and panicking over anything doesn’t help solve any problem. Taking a step back and taking a rational approach and viewing a situation from a 3rd person perspective can really help people make a less emotional and usually a much more educated decision.

    I know you mentioned you didn’t receive any dividends in April from real estate crowdfunding as I know you are invested in individual deals, but I wanted to provide some insight into my experience as it relates to Fundrise’s eReits and how those dividend payments have been affected so far in 2020.

    January I made too many contributions to calculate so starting with Feb 2020, they show dividend accruals daily so I already have the 1st day of May showing:

    Feb 2020: $15.74 in daily dividends
    Mar 2020: $17.14 in daily dividends(an 8.9% increase)
    Apr 2020: $11.73 in daily dividends(a 31.6% decrease)
    May 2020: $10.89 in daily dividends(a 7.16% decrease)

    I am invested in most of their income ereits, 2 of their growth reits, the heartland, east coast, and west coast reits. The initial decrease in April saw most of the income reits take a small hit in the dividend payment. Both growth ereits had dividends throughout March, but 1 was cut completely in April and in May and the other one was cut significantly and April and is completely gone in May. The East, West, and Heartland reits also had significant cuts in April, and in May another significant cut to the East and West, and Heartland went to 0 for May. No NAV values have changed yet, but curious to see how they value NAV at the end of Q2.

    Lastly, I’ve been looking at refinancing and all quotes I’m getting on ARM’s right now are higher than the 30 year even with great credit, 60% LTV %, and existing relationships, but maybe I’m just not looking in the right places.

    1. I was buying small amounts of ereits and when the crash happened i decided to buy public reits like O, STOR, and NNN. i’d prefer companies with thousands of tenants. Im averaging 6.75% yield and hopefully potentially upside with the price. The problem with ereits is that they are so new and hard to gauge what they do behind the scenes and during a recession. Have you looked into public reits?

      1. I also stopped buying eREITS when the crash happened, and now Fundrise won’t allow new investments into existing NAV valued eREITS. Pretty much the only ones you can invest in have 0 or 1 property currently, and the only fund out of those paying a Divy is Income REIT V, and this month its at a rate of 1.50% compared to 2% last month(to be fair it has one property). I know Fundrise was touting a downturn and their performance during it, is what is going to prove their business model to become more mainstream. If you get the same returns as the market and less protection, why invest when you get less transperency? I will be interested to see how it all works out.

        I do own and have bought many public REITS. I was buying on the down turn, some too early, others got the bottom perfectly(for now). I have O, WPC, VER, EPRT, STAG, AVB, ESS, EQR, MAA, ACC, EPRT, HASI, SPG(unfortunately), CCI, CONE, VTR, DOC, LTC, FCPT and CONE.

        1. If you get the same returns as the market and less protection, why invest when you get less transparency? Reits weren’t returning the same yield, they’ve only done so since the crash.

          Great choice of REITS, I’m a becoming a bigger fan of REITS as well.

  35. Exactly. I believe money is a tool to buy complete time freedom. For me, that’s the core purpose of money. I simply design my life to provide maximum freedom even though I’m taking a small financial hit in the short term.

    Assets compound well into the future once you get the ball rolling. I’ve owned my own business since 2006 and haven’t worked a JOB since 2008. I read the many stories of people without work or income and couldn’t imagine what I would do without my own business.

    I work in the online digital content publishing & marketing industry dealing with websites & Youtube. Money buys freedom which gives you lots of hidden power. In fact, my small business income increased during the downturn because I increased my publishing quota.

    If you’re looking for work or a side business then consider online publishing like a blog (like FS) or Youtube. All you need to do is hit that WordPress Publish button or Youtube upload button on a consistent basis.

    My stock portfolio has increased and my online assets continue to spit out income. Don’t quit your day job but “Mind Your Business” as Robert Kiyosaki says. Everyone needs to have a small business on the side for enhanced income security.

    Never depend on the government or boss to give you the basic necessities of life. Take control and create something that the world can enjoy for the next 10, 20 or 30 years.

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