The Pandemic Was An Experience In Hedging Your Life

One of the main reasons why I retired at age 34 was to hedge against an early death.

When I was nine, my grandfather died from cancer and I clearly remember seeing my mother distraught for months. Then when I was 13, my 15-year-old friend died in a car accident. Here today, gone tomorrow is a jolting experience.

When I was 24, the Twin Towers went down. I had been at the Windows Of The World restaurant, situated at the top of the north tower earlier that year. Then on November 26, 2008, terrorists attacked the Oberoi Hotel in Mumbai, where I had just stayed a week earlier for a conference.

When the global financial crisis crushed the world economy, I knew I had to make a change. I didn't want to regret spending the best years of my life doing something that no longer brought me joy.

The closer you come to death, the more you will appreciate life.

Now that the Public Health Emergency For COVID-19 is lifted and we're well passed the pandemic, I want to review what I did right and what I did wrong. Just like forest fires, another crisis is inevitably coming. Learning from our mistakes is how we can better survive the next calamity.

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Early Days Of The Pandemic

I clearly remember Friday afternoon, March 27, 2020. San Francisco was in its second week of lockdown and my son (three at the time) and I had cabin fever.

The city had closed off public playgrounds during the pandemic, but I decided to have a look anyway. We used to go to the playground five days a week. But we had resorted to drawing slides with chalk in our backyard as a temporary solution. It was both heartwarming and sad.

The Pandemic Was An Experience In Hedging Your Life - drawing a playground slide structure with chalk

When we arrived at Vicente playground, we saw its 30-inch high fence was chained. Given nobody was at the playground, I decided to enter. Carefully, I lifted him over the fence and away he went screaming for joy.

An Unfriendly Welcome At The Playground

As we climbed to the top of the main playground structure, we heard an older man who was walking around the park yell at us, “Get out of there! You're not supposed to be there!”

I smiled and waved back at him, but he kept on barking. So I told my son to wait for me as I needed to have a conversation with him.

As I approached the man, I asked him why he had a problem with me and my son playing at an empty playground. Why not continue enjoying his stroll? Instead of responding, he scurried away. I guess he didn't like to be confronted.

Moments later, a park ranger drove by to speak to a foursome at the picnic table near the playground. He then looked our way. I waived and he waived back.

But for a moment there, I thought he was going to come over and hand me a ticket or something. Instead, he seemed happy that a father and son were able to enjoy the outdoors.

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Difficult Decisions For Parents Of Young Children In 2020

From that moment forward, I realized all of us had to decide whether to conform to the government's rules or live our lives the way we saw fit. I'm sure some of you believe I was thoughtless for entering an empty playground with my three-year-old.

But I decided to risk it because nobody was around. At least we wore our masks like obedient soldiers. Three-year-olds need to be outside playing.

Eventually, I decided the public scrutiny of others walking or jogging around the park wasn't worth it. So we went to another playground which was unfenced. At “fighter jet playground,” we felt more free.

park closure during the pandemic

The uncomfortable feeling of always being monitored reminded me of my days working in finance. My e-mails were always monitored. And if I stepped away from my desk for more than ten minutes, people would start questioning my whereabouts.

By 2020, I had already experienced eight years of financial freedom. As a result, I had adopted a defiant attitude about government restrictions, especially, those surrounding public spaces outdoors. I knew the government regularly makes carte blanche decisions to protect the minority who can't properly take care of themselves.

Eventually, other parents agreed restricting playgrounds was extreme. More and more families came out in defiance of city rules, which put a smile on my face every time I drove by an occupied playground.

2020 was an especially difficult situation for parents of young kids. It's one thing to be concerned about your own health and safety. It's another level of stress to think about your children's health and safety. Every move we made involving our children involved taking calculated risks.

Examples of decisions parents had to make in 2020 include:

  • Taking kids to the playground (low risk of getting COVID, so we went regularly)
  • Sending children to preschool (medium risk, so we homeschooled our son for 18 months)
  • Going to a packed grocery store (medium risk, so we ordered delivery or I went late at night)
  • Riding on an airplane (medium risk, so we didn't fly, but drove)
  • Going to the doctor's office (low-to-medium risk, we went for all regular checkups)

In 2020 and the first half of 2021, nobody knew exactly what to do. Staying inside our homes forever was not an option. So we did the best we could with the information we had at the time.

Working With Imperfect Information Is Difficult

After about three months post lockdowns, I realized if I completely shut down our lifestyles for who knew how long, I might end up extremely bitter about this unfortunate event. At the same time, I didn't want anybody to get sick or die.

Since I hadn't experienced COVID yet, I was working with incomplete information. If I read the negatively-biased news, then I believed COVID had a high chance of killing us or causing long-term problems. If I talked to people who got COVID, I got feedback that it was similar to getting the flu or common cold.

Making decisions with imperfect information is hard. But we do our best to weigh the pros and cons. Thinking we would have done this or that if we could rewind the past is unhelpful, however, because it is unlikely we would have done anything differently.

The Main Negative Impacts Of The Pandemic

The main thing that impacted our lives was pulling our son from a preschool he had just started five months earlier in September 2019. Getting into preschool is a big ordeal in San Francisco. We spent $1,000 on application fees. And now we had to quit? Ugh.

He was starting to really enjoy his teachers and friends. His social skills were developing too. The holiday party, where he and his classmates sang for us and his grandparents, was a magical moment.

The second thing about the pandemic that hurt us was not being able to see my parents for the next 22 months. They understandably didn't want to fly to San Francisco from Honolulu in 2020. And we didn't want to fly two unvaccinated young kids with nascent immune systems to see them either. The pandemic took away one or two precious visits with grandparents and grandkids.

In the end, I decided to fly to see my parents in November 2021, so at least I could say I saw them once a year in 2020 and 2021. Fortunately, they had visited from December 2019 to January 2020 for the birth of our daughter.

The final negative impact of the pandemic was not being able to better check in with more relatives. My aunt in Hawaii suddenly passed away in 2020 while home alone. If there was no pandemic, my family in Hawaii would have seen her more often over meals. RIP Aunty Mele.

Hedging Our Lives During The Pandemic

Here's how I hedged my life from future regret and misery during the pandemic.

1) We had a second child so we went all-in being stay-at-home parents.

Having a baby in December 2019, right before the pandemic, was completely random. In retrospect, one of the best times to have a baby is during a pandemic.

With a baby, you're ideally always home and looking after them for their comfort and safety. We didn't plan to travel for at least two years after having her anyway.

For those parents who were able to work from home, it was a struggle to work and provide childcare at the same time. But it provided lower risk of infection than having to go into work and drop your baby off at daycare.

Having a baby during lockdowns is like reading your favorite personal finance book during a flight delay. Since you would happily read the book at any time, you might as well read the book during an inconvenient time.

2) We bought a nicer house

Even though we had just purchased a house in April 2019, we bought another house in June 2020. The 2019 house we purchased was a fixer that was taking longer than I had expected to remodel due to the lockdowns.

As a result, when a completely remodeled house came to market in April 2020, I decided to make a move. At the time, the decision was a risky one that had me sweating bullets during the escrow period.

We negotiated for months and I almost backed out when the seller didn't give me a price concession. In the end, I decided if we were going to stay home longer, we needed a better layout and more space. Even if we ended up losing money on the home, at least we would have a more comfortable lifestyle during shelter-in-place.

The longer we stay in this home, the better the hedge. I'm not quite convinced this is our forever home. But I could easily raise my kids in this house for ten years.

It is doubtful we would have purchased our existing home had it not been for the pandemic.

3) We homeschooled our son.

Although missing out on social development was a disappointment, the silver lining of the pandemic was being able to homeschool our son in Mandarin and English for the next year and a half.

As homeschooling parents, we learned a lot about his interests and learning styles. We offered better accommodations that helped accelerate his learning. We also learned much about ourselves. Young children will test your patience. And we both quickly found our limits.

Saving about $2,000 a month in preschool tuition due to homeschooling was another benefit.

Now that he's been back in school for almost two years, we realize how much more he learned at home than while at school. The things he's learning in kindergarten today were things he learned two years ago. But the social aspects of in-person learning have been great and something he really enjoys.

Since we were homeschool teachers for 18 months, we're confident we can do it again if there's ever another pandemic or if we decide to long-travel.

4) Lost some weight.

The CDC and the media kept telling us that overweight people were more negatively impacted by COVID than non-overweight people. Given I didn't want to get really sick or die, I decided to watch what I ate a little more carefully. Further, I decided to play a lot more tennis and softball during the pandemic.

Overall, I lost about three pounds, which doesn't sound like a lot. But I had initially gained about five pounds during the first three months of the pandemic. In fact, plenty of my softball friends gained between 10 – 25 pounds during the pandemic.

A pandemic plus a new baby is not a good combination for fitness. But I kept seeing images of morbidly obese folks sadly passing away from COVID. So the mass media kept me focused.

With food inflation still so high in 2024, we continue to eat less and feel more hungry. Our passive income also took a hit after we bought a new forever home in 4Q2023. But there are benefits of earning less passive income I feel grateful for.

5) We made and then lost some money.

After the initial shock of the pandemic in 1H 2020, one of the main things that made the pandemic more palatable was a rise in risk asset values. Stocks, real estate, cryptocurrency, fine art, farmland, venture capital, and venture debt all started performing very well by 2H 2020.

2021 was an especially strong year for all asset classes. Too bad the stock market gave back most of its 2021 gains in 2022. However, overall, most investors are much wealthier today than at the beginning of 2020.

I used the pandemic to write posts such as How To Predict A Stock Market Bottom Like Nostradamus and Real Estate Buying Strategies During COVID-19. These posts propelled me to take more risks that have ultimately paid off so far.

Since I was spending more time at home, I also decided to focus more on making money online. As a result, I built more business relationships. Today, I feel more comfortable taking care of my family because we accumulated a larger financial buffer.

6) Wrote a bestselling book.

After having our daughter in December 2019, I neither had the desire nor the time to write a book. But when lockdowns began on March 18, 2020, I decided I had to make the most of a difficult situation.

I pretended I was a college professor on a two-year sabbatical to write Buy This, Not That. After two years, I was either going to succeed or fail.

When my grandkids or kids ask me in 10-30 years what I was during between 2020-2022, I can proudly tell them dad/grandad spent countless hours writing, editing, and marketing the best personal finance book he could write.

It's one thing to tell stories about what you did. It's another thing to have actual physical proof of what you did. They can even hear an audio version and listen to all my podcasts (Apple) as well.

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Receiving a severance was my #1 catalyst for leaving investment banking to do something new. Looking back with regret because you didn't have the courage to try something new is a terrible feeling.

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7) Gut remodeled a fixer!

Thanks to a reader comment, I was reminded that I spent three years remodeling a fixer I had bought in April 2019! I had completely forgotten about this arduous project because it was too painful.

Phase one of the remodel lasted from May 2019 until November 2019. We remodeled the kitchen, three bathrooms, changed a lot of windows, and installed hardwood floors. This phase took two months longer than expected mainly due to procurement issues. We then moved in in November, a month before our daughter was born.

Phase two of the remodel began at the beginning of 2020 and didn't finish until August 2022! We gutted the ground floor level, which was only about 350 square feet. It consisted of an oddly-shaped room and a disgusting half bath. Below is what the downstairs looked like after the demolition.

we remodeled a fixer during the pandemic

We then built a living room, bedroom, closet, hallway, and laundry room in its place. The total square footage downstairs expanded to about 700. We also ended up removing a failed dining room window and installing a French door and a deck as well. However, we didn't get to enjoy all the remodeling because we moved into our current home on August 2, 2020.

The remodeling process took so long due to the lockdown and supply chain issues. Going through the various stages of permit approvals also slowed us down for months. Finally, my scatterbrain contractor went AWOL for multiple months at a time. Even though he had finished all the work, he didn't call for final inspection for two months.

The good thing about all this is that we were able to get tenants for most of the remodeling duration. Expanding the livable square footage also added tremendous value to the house. Even though the remodel was painful, I'm proud to have completed it during the pandemic.

Biggest Regrets During The Pandemic

Now that I've shared the actions I took to hedge my life against regret, here are some things I regret not doing.

1) Didn't move to Oahu in 2019 or early 2020

I wish I had moved my family to Oahu so I could have spent a good two years with my parents. I've been considering moving to Oahu since 2016, but could never make the move for multiple reasons.

You can read my post called, A Race Against Time: Buying A Dream Home With My Parents to see where my mind was. Seven years have gone by in an instant and I still haven't taken action!

Luxury home prices were gradually coming down since 2016. But then the pandemic created an influx of new Hawaii homebuyers and pushed prices back up. What bad timing.

Although we have less time, at least I called my parents almost every day during the pandemic. For Thanksgiving 2022, I convinced them to visit us in San Francisco. I'm also flying them over this summer again.

Having a larger home in a warm climate also meant we could have spent more time outdoors. Our lifestyles would have improved because we would have less stress and fewer arguments between my wife and me. It's only natural to argue more if you're confined to a smaller space more often.

house in Hawaii during the pandemic

2) Didn't fly more often.

In retrospect, the best time to fly to Hawaii or anywhere was in 2020 and 2021. Fares were cheaper, the planes and airports were less crowded, and the entire state was on lockdown.

But back in 2020 and 2021, anybody who traveled without a good reason was seen as selfish. Most of us were trying to contain the spread as much as possible.

I felt irresponsible to travel if my parents didn't need me. Further, I didn't want to risk bringing back a virus to my family or risk my young kids traveling with me.

But if a pandemic happens again, we are going to fly to Hawaii so I can take care of my parents. We'll homeschool and figure things out once we land.

Flying to Asia wasn't feasible due to two-week quarantines in hotel rooms for countries that let in international travelers. But if we didn't have kids, we would likely have been more adventurous.

3) Should have owned a vacation single-family home, instead of a vacation condo

What made the pandemic more livable for some friends was that they owned second homes in Napa Valley, Sonoma County, Stinson Beach, and Lake Tahoe. These places are between 1.5 – 3.5 hours driving away.

We, on the other hand, owned a vacation condo at Everline Resort in Palisades Tahoe. It would have been great to go up there, but the hotel shut down for months! Not only could we not go up to our place, but we couldn't earn any rental income either.

When the resort finally opened up at the end of 2020, we still didn't want to be around lots of people. If we had a single-family vacation home with a pool, hot tub, and lots of land, however, we would have had more variety in the day-to-day mundaneness of 2020 and 2021.

Now that things are back to normal, we are glad we have a vacation condo at a resort with massive amounts of space and amenities. I asked both kids which they prefer better, a single-family mansion vacation home or a vacation condo, and they both prefer our vacation condo.

4) Should have speculated more

The pandemic provided another great opportunity to make gobs of money in speculative assets. With everybody stuck at home, people spent more time looking for investments online and putting capital to work.

If there is another pandemic, I will earmark at least $100,000 in capital to punt on “greater fool” assets like NFTs. Then once there's another vaccine and signs of people returning to normal life, I will take some profits. I know I won't get the bottom or top right. But I will leg in and leg out.

Making big money requires intentionality. So not only will I earmark $100,000 to speculative assets, but I will also spend an hour a day hunting for speculative assets.

Today, I'm investing heavily in the Fundrise Innovation Fund, which invests in private AI companies and other private growth companies. I strongly believe artificial intelligence will revolution our world. IT will also make getting good work more difficult for our children.

5) Should have sold more stocks at the end of 2021 or early 2022

So many of my tech high flyers came crashing down in 2022.

Although I got a little more conservative by selling some stocks at the beginning of 2022, I didn't do enough to sell names like Netflix (I should have sold when Squid Games came out), Amazon, Tesla, Redfin, and DocuSign.

These stocks did so well for so long that I figured I'd just let them ride. It all felt like funny money! But when you treat your stocks too much like funny money, and not enough like assets that could be converted into buying stuff for a better life, you sometimes hold them for too long.

I also didn't want to experience investing FOMO given I didn't work in tech, despite living in San Francisco. My tech investments are my main way of participating in the boom.

In the future, I will be more disciplined in selling down expensive stocks that have risen far beyond their fundamentals. But funny enough, stocks rebounded in 2023 and 2024 so far. Hence, holding stocks for the long-term is generally a winning move!

The thing is, everybody needs to occasionally sell stocks to buy something or pay for a better life. Otherwise, there's really no point in investing in stocks.

stock performance over time - percentage chance of earnings a positive return

Hedged My Life In A Pandemic By Taking Action

The longer you live, the more good and bad things will happen to you.

Please also don't wait for anybody to save you. If you do, you might be waiting forever. Everybody is too busy dealing with their own battles to help you with yours. Therefore, you must take calculated risks in order to improve your life.

Take a moment to add up how many good years you have left to live. Ask yourself what you will regret not doing. Now methodically complete those things you've been putting off.

I'm glad the pandemic is over. Hopefully, we'll all be better prepared for the next one.

Reader Questions And Recommendations

Readers, how did you make the most of the pandemic? What were some of the things you did during the pandemic to minimize regret? What were some things you wish you did during the pandemic?

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it's that life is not guaranteed. If you have debt and/or dependents, getting life insurance is a must. Get custom quotes through PolicyGenius. Once my wife locked down affordable 20-year term policies, we felt tremendous mental relief.

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67 thoughts on “The Pandemic Was An Experience In Hedging Your Life”

  1. Hi Sam, the playground story is the highlight of this post for me, brought a smile to my face.

    My biggest regret was selling stocks at the bottom in March ’20, I am in the Oil & Gas industry and after oil was trading negative for a day or so I knew I would not be working for long, ended up working through April ’20 and not coming back to work till Feb ’21. We paid our house off with savings as soon as I was laid off and still had plenty of cash. In hindsight I was sitting just fine to weather the storm and did not make that decision rationally.
    I sold a rental that had been a pain in Dec ’21 and made out quite well on it so that was a big positive, have not put that money back to work yet though just sitting in treasuries. I do wish I would have been more agressive in investing early on, especially in real estate.
    My daughter, our third child, was born in Feb ’20 so it was great being off work to spend time with my wife, our two oldest boys, and our new baby girl. We also welcomed our fourth child in June ’21. We live out of town in the country down the road from my parents so in many ways our lives were pretty normal. Our boys attend a private school so thier school life stayed pretty normal. We took a family trip to Estes Park for a friends wedding in Sept ’20 which was pretty enjoyable.

    The dark side of the pandemic was peoples reaction to the hysteria and their fear, and the govenments willingness to capitalize on it. It was quite apparent early on what was going on when anyone, professional or not, with a disenting opinion was mocked, ridiculed, and silenced. A great example is Dr. Peter Mccullough, this nations most publshed cardiologist, among many others. My wife is a nurse and was working part time through most of it, she was a float nurse and spent most of her time working on the covid floor. How she was treated once the vaccine rolled out was an embarrasment. She worked that floor while pregant throughout the pandemic without issue but as soon as the vaccine became a requirement and she refused it they made her get tested daily, double mask plus face shield, all the while people who got it didnt have to wear any of that and were treated normally. And we know that they could still get it and spread it. She decided not to go back after our fourth child and I am glad she made that choice. My brother and two sister in laws are also nurses who unnwillingly took the vaccine after plenty of harrassment and threat of losing thier job, they all worked througout the pandemic taking care of the sickest in the hospital. My Grandma passed away in a nursing home during that time, alone. My family and I were shouted at by masked hikers for being maskless while hiking 10 miles into the wilderness in Rocky Mountain Natioanl Park. We had a successful peition drive in our state that stripped our Govenor of her emergency pandemic powers, only for them to turn around and clamp down harder through local county health departments. It was amazing to me to observe what was deemed essential and non essential. I would wirte enough to fill a book on this topic. All in all i would say it was quite the learning experience.

  2. Ms. Conviviality

    Before the pandemic, I was preparing for a pole sport competition that was going to take place during August 2020 but there was no way I was going to a competition with a large crowd presence so I postponed that goal of competing. Now I have other priorities so I’m disappointed that I never completed that goal. I had been training almost everyday and was in the best shape of my life. I’ve only stepped into the gym a handful of times since then so I don’t feel as strong as I used to be. At least I’ve still got my health.

    Another regret was that I didn’t start my online business, but at the same time, kept very busy and accomplished the following during the pandemic:
    – During April 2020, I opened up an Etsy shop with handmade face masks since there was a shortage of face masks. It was a good experience to run an online shop even if it only lasted for a few months before face masks were mass produced.
    – Purchased a fixer upper in November 2020 for $150,000 and started renting it out as a short term rental in November 2022. One guest this month liked the place so much that she offered us $350,000 for it. Zillow has it estimated at $300,000.
    – During December 2020, my husband and I went to Salt Lake City, Utah, to pick up a gifted Infinity coupe from my brother-in-law and had a nice road trip home to Florida. It was a six day drive and it was fantastic staying at the discounted hotels that would normally cost twice as much.
    – My husband and I participated in a Federal government program to distribute tablets with internet access to low income individuals between June-November 2021 and were paid for each tablet distributed. We made enough money from the tablets that it’s enough to put a down payment on the next rental property. This was in addition to the regular jobs that we both already had. I continued working 40 hours a week but my husband being a handyman, he was able to work half days while repairmen were in hot demand. The tablet work paid more per hour than being a handyman but people usually only stopped by the makeshift tent to get a tablet after 5pm.
    – With extended family only being a couple of hours drive away we still visited on the normal basis but spent more time hanging outdoors with them.

    To sum up our experience during the pandemic, we made the most money we could.

  3. speaking of insurance and covid… has anyone who has lost someone close or know someone who has lost someone from covid, and that person had life insurance, did the insurance company pull the card that says that they have a pandemic exclusion, and they dont pay claims if the decedent was lost due to the pandemic? I have heard this was happening to families who have lost loved ones, and now that the pandemic is officially over, how wide spread of a problem is this with families dealing with denials from the insurers, and why hasnt it been a topic of open conversation?

      1. Luckily for me, I dont know anyone this has happened to personally, but an attorney I know who deals in trusts and estate law told me that his colleagues are dealing with a lot of this. Maybe the tip of the iceberg, or maybe not a widespread issue. I found it surprising to hear since I havent seen any mass media reports about it, but then again, it doesnt really surprise me…

        I also wonder if many new life insurance policies being issued today have pandemic inspired updates to the exclusions given all the games insurers play in general. I have had a lot of “gotcha!” moments with insurers… whether filing homeowner claims or for applying for new liability policies. This life insurance situation may be an exception, but no one knows unless they read thru their policy in detail to see specifically, what is, and isnt covered for their particular policy.

        What is true for one person may not be true for another. Seems insurance is getting more and more invasive (thru collecting personal information) in assessing each individuals’ risk, and I have a hunch that no two policies are the same anymore or wont be for long.

        I hear insurers are using the black boxes in cars to monitor driver behavior, and I suspect they trolling fitness tracker data or social media online for liability, medical, disability, life etc. There is an old saying… Fool me once, shame on you… You fool me, you cant get fooled again!

  4. i remember the pandemic mostly fondly although i do feel sad for healthcare workers that has to deal with everything.

    but during the pandemic:

    1. no one close to me died. almost all of us got sick but not such that needed tertiary care. almost everyone i know got vaxxed and nobody had any complications.

    2. forced me and loved ones to slow down and rest. basically working from home was a 6 month sabbatical for us.

    3. my engineering company somehow still thrived and we made record profits.

    4. we got quality time with our two adult kids who had to live at home and do college online for a year. what fun!

    5. drastically improved my golf game. outdoor sports became an emphasis and it was great.

    this experience will
    drastically change how i approach the next similar experience.

  5. Lady Dividend

    Even though my partner and I lost some family members during the pandemic, overall it was a very good time for us.

    We both got higher paying jobs (my husband 2x). I had sold a property in Feb 2020 and had cash flow to invest when the market was down and into properties. We got married and having a pandemic wedding scared away family who was not close to us, from coming. Our wedding was small, luxurious and intimate. We traveled and worked in many other cities. Our relationship strengthened many times over.

    I lost a lot of lifelong friends due to tensions brought on by the pandemic. That was initially very sad and hurtful, but opened the possibility for many new, kind and interesting friends, so was for the best.

    My regret is that the funerals for our family members were not well attended. We could not travel to the US and attend.

  6. We never stopped working on our many properties. In fact during the height of masks & vax or no-vax peer/social pressures we prevailed, yet lost some friends who were stubborn adherents to the Guvt cause.

    Fed up we immediately sent our grandkids to a private school & they never missed a class & literally excelled. My grandson had 6 kids in his class & loved the constant interaction with his teachers, who were true heroes.

    To escape the draconian NYS mandates we travelled & stayed at our homes in Scottsdale & Florida for months at a time. Then while in Scottsdale we converted 2 of the 6 bedrooms into one huge master with a bathroom & walk-in closet. Contractors were scarce so we literally did it all ourselves.

    Then at the still spry ages of 62 & 72 & Covid bored we decided to build another 1 bedroom apartment onto an old 6unit Farm House we owned.
    Then while at our pandemic deserted Lowes the Pro-manager begged me to take 65 sheets of culled edge damaged drywall for $50. We used it all.
    Hardly ever saw the then part-time, fully masked code enforcement guy & we had it done & signed off in two months & immediately rented, $875/month. Brought the Gross on that building up to $85k with an ROI of 45%+.

    Thankfully, none of the many tenants in all of our properties missed a Covid duration rental payment. Even our commercial tenants, though suffering a downturn, still direct deposited their rents.
    However, last year after the Covid rental moratorium had decimated some investors we ‘acquired’ a 7unit, two 3 units & a double for cash. Much older now & at a slower pace we were able to turn these around & have better tenants paying on-time. The ROI’s are running 25% plus, even after the cost of some self inflicted rehab we completed.
    One 275sqft studio that we literally only cleaned & painted was on Craigslist for $550, but it went to a social services group who offered us $950/month. They furnished it & have tenants that they have full control over, we just get their direct deposit each month. They also want to view our other apartments when they become vacant. Our taxes at work!!

    The most extensive rehab we literally completed last week was adding 3 bedrooms & a bathroom with ensuite laundry to an old country store double we acquired.
    The 24×36, 12ft ceiling store front was a blank canvass & we pulled it off in 2 months doing it all ourselves for $8k, (our young drywall guy bailed on us). In fact it was viewed & rented ($975) before we even started the rehab, demand for rentals around here is VERY strong. That ROI is now around 28%.

    Sadly we lost a number of older friends to Covid etc & a couple of them to years of smoking & some younger ones to drugs.
    Stay healthy, stay busy & debt free …

  7. Jan 2020, My husband(a freight pilot)called to tell me something strange happening in China.and to stock up on everything..I also texted my friends so they could be prepared.
    Hubby flew all over the world in 2020, as people still wanted their amazon packages. He & most of the pilots never got sick. He witnessed countries completely open and others locked down to the extreme.
    Back home in Hawaii, We enjoyed empty beaches, took photographs of normally busy spots(Waikiki), traveled often to see family on the mainland with cheap airfare, cooked comfort food for my kids, did remodeling projects, stayed healthy, & helped some neighbors having a hard time. It did hurt to watch people around us suffering from lost businesses, suicides, & fear.
    Hubby decided to retire early(2021) instead of dealing with crazy govt policies that changed weekly as He was circling the globe.
    Yes, you should move to Hawaii asap. So many people have left the state over the past few years, the population is now under a million. We love the lifestyle and weather & culture. If you can afford it( and I know you can) its a great place to raise a family.

  8. I have young children like you, and fortunately their daycare was open for most of the pandemic so our life wasn’t as disrupted as it was for families with older kids. We shifted to working from home, which i still do full-time now… The pandemic gave me the push to close our office and shift our workforce entirely remotely. I consider that a win from the pandemic.

    The main regrets i have are for us as a society. As visible in the comments above, too many Americans put personal preferences (“freedoms”) above the collective well-being of our society. But that extends way beyond mask wearing (social safety net, guns, etc). Sam, since you grew up in other countries, this contrast to much of the rest of the world might stand out to you too. I definitely think as a society we came out of COVID weaker, while many other countries dealt with it better (although this is based on anecdotal evidence).

      1. We absolutely had concerns about the kids in daycare. It was a constant exercise in risk assessment. Fortunately the state health authorities put solid safety requirements in place for how daycare centers could remain open, which helped alleviate some of our concerns. Given that us parents worked from home, the daycare was the main exposure vector for our family. We learned to live with that risk and made it all the way to omicron in 2022 before we finally caught the bug.

  9. My biggest regrets are that I didn’t sell my assets sooner. I sold everything in August 2022 so I am currently in 100% cash!!

    I was hoping this bear market would be the average and only last 9 months but that’s been far from true :( I felt so low last year, I couldn’t imagine what I would’ve done if I lost my job on top of all the six figure+ investment losses I experienced. That was painful.

    I also regret getting the booster vaccine shot. And I wish I took care of my health issues (digestion) a lot sooner. After 1.5 years of looking for a solution, I think I’m close to finding one.

    Let’s make the next years the best ones yet!!

    1. I hear you on not selling more in 1H2021. Oh well, until the next bubble.

      Glad you didn’t lose your job. Why do you regret getting the booster? Any lingering side effects?

      Give barley green juice a try for digestion! Every time I drink that and eat fruit in the morning, my digestion gets better.

  10. Let’s not allow the tyrants to rewrite history. The economy and monetary system were destroyed over a flu with a 99.9% survival rate, and everything that would have been good (outside time, sun, gyms) was shunned in favor of fake vaccines. Never again!

    1. Well, I’m certain the next time around people will ask differently. I really thought about the downside of pausing my life for so long. I’m glad we had children to take care of because they can utilize all of our time.

      Do you have any regrets?

    2. Alot to clarify here. Nobody is trying to rewrite history, what happened happened, good or bad.

      1) Economy and Monetary System were not destroyed. All the major indexes are still riding high and the US dollar is stronger than before.

      2) It was technically not a flu, but I agree with you completely that the survival rate was very high, especially for younger people. The fact that older adults were more worried about their kids than themselves was totally insane and misguided fear for this virus. But many people forget or don’t know that other viruses such as polio WERE life threatening and left people with lifelong nerve damage, so it depends on the virus. Before you know the long term effects we needed to be cautious.

      3) Everything that was good was not shunned, in fact most people ended up taking a break from work and spending more time with their families.

      4) The vaccines were not fake, in fact they were a miracle of modern medicine and the technology has many other applications including to help fight cancer. Now whether everyone needed the vaccine is another question. I for one am not getting any additional covid vaccines.. because at this point the risk is so low. Also the Coronavirus is now essentially the common cold so its very difficult to make a vaccine against the common cold..

      5) There will be another pandemic, probably in 50-100 years.. many people who lived through this one will not be around or remember what happened. Those that do not study history are doomed to repeat it. There were the exact same fights and arguments over masks during the last pandemic in 1918. I personally think masks did very little, but its not black or white.. in some cases they certainly helped, in others masking did nothing.

      Everyone wants to rail on Fauchi and sit from the comfort of their couch thinking they could do better. If Fauchi took the other stance and didn’t recommend any masking or protection and the exact same number of people died he would have been attacked and crucified by the same people and perhaps even worse, so it was a no-win situation for him. 99% of people if they were put in Fauchi’s position would have just crumbled under the pressure, so again we need to move away from extremes and polarized single minded thinking and consider both sides. His job and job of government was primarily focused on safety, so they took a conservative safe stance initially. Did they overdo it? Probably.. but you can’t expect perfection. They rolled out a national vaccine in 6 months which is light speed, and they did so safely.

  11. Canadian Reader

    We had our first baby at in November 2019, so when lockdown happened we were home for the long haul anyway. We had just FIRED aim summer 2019…

    We went on to have another baby in 2021 and another at the end of 2022.

    We also went through a major gut renovation during 2020, and finished off the basement and exterior in 2021-2022. We moved twice and are now raising our kids in a new city.

    The last 3-4 years are a blur.
    The pandemic motivated me to have more kids because I realized how small and vulnerable our aging families are. The timeline for a return to normalcy was unclear and I didn’t want my kids growing up lonely. I was very lucky to be able to achieve this goal.

    It changed my outlook about work and I decided to return casually last summer. The benefits of mobility and connections made when working in the hospital have value- especially now with 3 kids to consider. I’m also working a volunteer job as the Chair BOD of a non profit organization that runs family drop in programs, preschools, and work placements for newcomers.

    It’s been a real shake up!

      1. Canadian Reader

        It was 3 babies back to back to back. I guess 2 technically were born during the pandemic. Haha!
        I’m not sure- magically FIRE life, and possibly moving to a different climate seemed to cure long standing fertility issues. If things hadn’t happened spontaneously, I probably would have only pursued 1 more regardless of the pandemic because they would have been more spaced and I would have been too old for a third. I feel so lucky for this to have happened because we always wanted this. Just wish we were younger!

  12. Sam:

    Way to stick up for your family and your God given rights.

    We did something’s right during the pandemic: sold our house in town, moved to our place on 70 acres, and started ramping up our side business. We also sold a small apt complex we had, a luxury sfh rental and plowed that money into passive income (reits, the broad market and Div etfs). That allowed my wife to “retire” early from her Corp job and expand the business.

    We were able to spend more time together as a family, as a result of the lockdowns. I do wish we had traveled more…we’re working to make up for that.

    Thank you for your insights. I purchased your book and have worked to apply the learnings and share with my college age led kids to give them a leg up.

  13. I decided early on I wasn’t going to be told what to do. I traveled extensively and enjoyed cheap airfares and empty cities. Was wonderful. Oh, and I didn’t wear a mask either. For flights I purchased a “fake mask” which was basically two layers of pantyhose. Political leaders (mostly democrats) caused irreparable harm to many, especially children. Now they deny they ever did such a thing. Kudos to you for using the playground.

    1. That’s good you enjoyed your time during the pandemic. I hope more Americans can travel the world, experience different cultures, and learn new languages. Our country visit count is stuck at around 60. It helped to grow up overseas in five countries before 13. We also traveled extensively after retirement and before children.

      The playgrounds were great. And I added a 7th thing we did during the pandemic, which I completely forgot about. We remodeled gut remodeled a fixer! It was such a tough time I wiped it from my memory until another commenter mentioned it.

  14. Oh, I made some terrible financial mistakes… panic selling low, buying back in high… but money will come and go and i need to forgive myself for that (and not do it again!)

    Work was grueling in 2020 as I put in long tough hours, making hard decisions that helped keep the company afloat, helping to save people’s investments and nearly 90 jobs. It was exhausting and helped lead to a good personal decision…

    By the end of the summer of 2020 we bought an RV and resumed traveling to see family and the country, to get out and present a normal life for my young son, and to make irreplaceable memories. I didn’t tell colleagues, just scheduled my meetings carefully. Through the first year, we spent 8 weeks traveling. In the second year another 8 weeks. Who knows how long this will last, but it was a COVID escape/survival decision that I’ll never regret (even knowing that the RV will eventually be worthless).

    This time, this rebalancing of priorities, has led to a revaluation of what’s needed for retirement, or a prolonged period without gainful employment, and the answer is simply to arrive at the conclusion of 2025 with just 10% more than we have today. Fingers crossed we all arrive there healthy and able to still enjoy what’s next…

    1. Thanks for sharing. And weeks of travel a year in an RV sounds like a wonderful adventure that you will always cherish.

      Having a target not worth 10% higher to years from now sounds very feasible. Good luck!

  15. The lockdowns, were in many ways, a test… a test of your finances, your relationships, your will, your ability to think clearly, your ability to adapt.

    I passed some tests, failed others. I don’t think the rate of failure is what matters most. I think being honest about the results and making changes today is the most important thing.

      1. My company quickly went from in-office to WFH in March 2020. With face-to-face meetings now impossible, we didn’t have much to do except try to accomplish this virtually. Once the company announced pay cuts instead of layoffs, I decided to start a side hustle with all this new free time. I got a personal financing coach certificate and started helping people with personal finance. I started going on walks with my young child, working out, reading books, and making better relationships with my neighbors (who were mixed on their views of the pandemic). I stayed true to my investment strategy, except for one dip into the crypto mania which I was able to actually get a positive return on. Then I started my other side hustle: DIYing. After all, every $1 you don’t spend on a GC is a $1.30 you don’t have to earn.

        Failures were largely on the opportunity side. I wish I had invested more aggressively. I wish I would have attempted to get closer to my family.

        Now thinking about it, I am in a way better position than before the pandemic. I guess I shouldn’t get too hung up on the failures.

  16. I was the odd duck that actually enjoyed the lock downs (from a personal perspective only). My family of four (2 young kids) spent a lot of time together and we took advantage of that time enjoying the nature that surrounds us. For the first time in my career (medicine) I was able to work from home (thanks telemedicine). My forever home sits on over an acre looking at the valley, mountains, and red rock formations that make up my area. My secluded neighborhood abuts three county parks filled with trails that venture into the wild. I was able to mountain bike to my heart’s delight and didn’t feel bad that I was skipping out on social events to do so.

    1. That’s great to hear. Going from long hours in the office to more leisurely hours is great. For those who already had a lot of freedom, the pandemic was not as good.

      Any regrets or things you wish you would’ve done?

      1. I wish I stumbled upon your website at the beginning of the pandemic. I would have gained a lot of financial knowledge sooner rather than later and felt more comfortable investing the cash cushion I was sitting on at a more opportune time. Oh well, back to work for me!

  17. I became ill and disabled concurrent with the COVID lockdown in 2020 and missed most of the anxiety surrounding the pandemic. I recovered enough to re-enter the public square about when the vaccines became available. In 2021, while living on my excellent LTD policy distributions, I reevaluated our retirement assets and moved assets into a professional asset manager. Multiple streams of income allowed us to avoid touching retirement assets throughout the pandemic. Eventually I found part-time work associated with my profession to help cover expenses and begin contributing to retirement funds again. The professional asset management helped avoid a great deal of potential capital losses in 2022. In 2023 are approximately where we were in 2021 with regard to retirement assets. I have decided that retirement is the best encore activity to my over-drive career; we have enough streams of income to let the retirement assets work for the forseeable future.

    1. I guess 2020 was one of the best times to be ill! Kind of like if you ever wanted to have surgery with a 3-6 month recovery period, having surgery. in January or February 2020 was probably good timing too.

      Please enjoy your retirement! Saving your retirement assets from the 2022 bear market is great.

  18. We upgraded homes (in terms of cost) in Jan 2021. It was a fixer with a nice lot near in one of the most desirable areas. I was bored out of my mind and it gave me something to do and I couldn’t ignore what the interest rates were at the time. I learned 1) that fixers are a lot of work but totally worth it if you enjoy making something beautiful and getting the best value and 2) mentally it’s a lot easier to deal with fixing a fixer when the value is going up so much and so fast. In general, anything that allowed me to be outside, be constructive, and get some Vitamin D during the pandemic made me feel better than being trapped indoors. I was also very thankful for so many of the workers risking their health and their family’s health. For me, at 40, noticing the differences in everyday life during the COVID-19 pandemic and during the 2009 financial crisis are memories I will probably never forget.

    1. Nice job finding the positives in buying a fixer and working on it. I went through remodeling a fixer between 2020 and 2022 myself and it was a frustrating experience full of stops, starts, missing parts, delayed parts, and some cost overruns.

      But now that you remind me, I need to add doing the gut model to my positives list! I totally forgot I went through that painful ordeal!

      Thankfully, real estate prices are coming back again. So hang on!

  19. Great post Sam. I’ve followed your blog well before the pandemic. It’s always been at least a 3x or more stop throughout the week I check out to read what you’ve posted. And now a days I listen to podcasts while I workout. Thanks for always offering your advice and various perspectives for free for folks to come and enjoy.
    My wife and I built and moved into our home right before the pandemic started. I mean it was a razor thin line which we lucked out with. We built on 6 acres a nice size ranch so we could grow old in and not have to climb stairs in retirement.
    As the pandemic took off, we became laser focused on paying off our mortgage. I still have the paper I drew up the plan on of how we’d tackle this and March 2021 we made the final payment. We had our mortgage just a little over a year. Doing so got that weight off our shoulders and allowed us to invest the cash flows elsewhere. We removed our daughter from childcare permanently because she kept getting sent home for quarantine purposes.
    During the pandemic we realized the gift we had being able to work from home and spending time with our two daughters. We began keeping bees, created vegetable gardens, planted numerous trees across the property. All enjoying and introducing it all to our kids which was priceless.

  20. Prior to the pandemic I was traveling six to nine months a year. My girlfriend who lives in Mexico would either join me at a foreign location or we would travel together and then I would continue. I’m retired and she’s still working. In November 2019 I was in China and returned back to Mexico. In February she accepted a tutor position and was able to work from home for 10 months. We began a trip to southern Mexico by car as the pandemic finally arrived in Mexico. We started seeing empty hotels and restaurants but discovered a charming town in Veracruz and made the decision to rent a home there to begin the pandemic. We drove back home to Monterrey, packed the car and drove to Veracruz; we would spend “our two weeks to slow the spread”. We settled into our new rental, a small riverfront colonial home. That night we listened to the news and found out that the first reported covid death in the state of Veracruz just happened to be in the town we were staying. Out of fear, i told her it would be better to return home; in Mexico funerals last days and much of the town would gather around the corpse and family. I could only imagine this becoming a superspreader event.
    We arrived back in Monterrey and I began searching for a more rural location to live. I found a property about a half hour from the city but in a area with large yards, dirt roads, and few people. We stayed there for six months. We would only go to the grocery store once per week and at times when we knew it would not be busy. I was bored so I started cycling. At first I was a bit concerned and I remember one day when I approached a group of people, I actually put on a mask. Quickly I realized this was no way to live and never wore a mask outdoors again. I went from cycling a few kms per day in the hills to being able to easily ride 50. I lost nearly 20 pounds.
    Every day we would watch the news and Mexico reported cases per state. Winter was approaching and we decided to head to southern Mexico again. Again we stayed in hotels with few people and either cooked our own food or ate in outdoor restaurants. Unlike the rest of Mexico, life in the state of Chiapas almost seemed surreal. In many small towns no one wore masks at all. We felt like life was once again normal.
    We returned back to Monterrey after a few weeks as my wife had to return back to work. Shortly thereafter she was asked to be a tutor again and was able to work from home again.
    Around this time, the vaccine was announced and soon one was able to make an appointment in the US. My girlfriend who is a doctor in Mexico was one of the first to be offered the vaccine. She declined; she had almost died from a flu shot and was not willing to take an untried vaccine. I tried to schedule an appointment in the US but without success; the phonelines were always busy. At this point, I began to actually read much more about the virus and vaccines. I learned about the differences between Relative Risk Reduction versus Absolute Risk Reduction and the problems associated with giving a vaccine during a pandemic for a virus that mutates quickly. I decided to wait until the winter and see how the vaccine would work. I remember going to the US to funeral in August of 2021 and being one of the few unvaxed persons in attendance. I actually stayed outdoors. At the time, I read quite a bit of news from other countries and realized the vaccine was not going to prevent transmission. I remember telling my mother that masking would shortly be reimplemented. Of course, shortly afterwards it was. The winter came and it was obvious the vaccine was not preventing transmission as Omicron arrived. I had also read enough to realize that even though it was proclaimed to prevent serious disease and death that these claims were not based on unbiased evidence. I decided to not get vaccinated and in retrospect realize that it was likely one of my better decisions.
    In August of 2021 we again began driving around Mexico and did not return back to Monterrey until late November. We lived predominantly outdoors and I returned to enjoying being around people. I often spent hours talking to guests at the pool, on the beach, etc. always in an outdoor setting and never masked. My fear level had subsided substantially.
    In January 2022 my girlfriend contracted covid. I remember telling her it would be better to stay in a hotel and I would stay home and take care of the dog. The next morning I developed a fever; I called her and told her she might as well just come home. My fever lasted a couple of nights but that was the only symptom I ever really had. I remember cycling to the lab to confirm I had covid. From that day forward, life truly returned to normal for the both of us. We immediately took our first trip by bus, train, and ferry. I remember one bus ride where nearly every passenger was coughing. I referred to it as the covid express, yet we did not even wear masks (later my wife would tell me that she knew they would do little to reduce transmission but out of my fear, she would wear one).
    Covid remained in the news but we ignored it. Then in March, came Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and covid was mostly gone from the news. In September I began traveling overseas again and visited 10 new countries.
    I do have a couple of regrets. We looked at quite a few homes in 2020 and 2021 and even made an offer on one. But I kept searching for my “dream” home. Unfortunately prices in pesos have now risen by at least 35% and the dollar has fallen in value by more than 20 percent. I also wished I would have traveled more overseas when no one else was. Of course, I did not know how my body would react to covid so the fear factor was too great. I almost wish I would have gotten covid much earlier. When I was in China in late 2019, I developed a strange cold but I tested negative for covid antibodies so undoubtedly it was not covid.
    Mexico also taught me and the world a very valuable lesson, although the media has yet to discuss it. Mexico was to the best of my knowledge the only country in the world to never close its borders nor require any tests or vaccines to enter. At first I thought this was a bad policy (when it was announced that the US/Mexican border was going to be closed, I quickly applied for Mexican residency) but in retrospect Mexico provides the world with an example of how these policies made absolutely no difference in the long run. Mexico did not perform substantially worse than anywhere else in the Americas.

    1. I think you ticked almost* every antivaxxer box there is. Congrats on your holy mission of misinformation.

      * You let out the “friend who got vaxxed and died a week later – so it was totally due to the vaccine” trope.

      1. Instead of attacking him, Liam, how about you do some research of your own. Check out the book Cause Unknown by Ed Dowd. He uses stats not opinions and discusses how there was a 40% increase in deaths for working age people after the Vaccine came out and the majority were NOT due to Covid. Statistically that is earth shattering.

        My brother in law was one of those stats. In his 30’s, incredible athlete, could run up a mountain and beat everyone at any sport, died suddenly within two weeks from taking the vaccine. No underlying conditions or family history, and had an aortic aneurysm during dinner.

        And just because someone didn’t take the Covid Vaccine doesn’t mean they are an antivaxxer. Plenty of people came to a similar conclusion as Alan as approx 78 million or 1 in 4.3 people didn’t take any Covid vaccine in America.

        Alan, I found your account very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

          1. Yes, but the correlation is highly significant, statistically. What else could be the cause of this then…

            “And what we saw just in third quarter (2022), we’re seeing it continue into fourth quarter, is that death rates are up 40% [according to insurance company actuarial data] over what they were pre-pandemic,” he said. “Just to give you an idea of how bad that is, a three-sigma or a one-in-200-year catastrophe would be 10% increase over pre-pandemic,” he said. “So 40% is just unheard of.”

        1. I am sorry about your brother as well, but the vaccine had nothing to do with an aneurism. It’s usually a defective vein that has been there all along; they are horrible and I watched my mother in law recover, but unfortunately there is just not much that can be done. Her’s was small and reaction swift, so she survived but was forever changed after that.

          1. Thanks, Ms.b and I’m sorry to hear about your mother-in-law.

            My original post was not about my brother-in-law per se, but about not attacking Alan for his experience or anyone else’s. Being humble and looking at other viewpoints and data that conflict with your own beliefs is what is going to give you a heads-up in life and financially.

            One of the most significant real estate investments I made was in a small energy town that no one wanted to invest in. It enabled me to 10X my net worth and have enough passive income to retire. If I had listened to the conventional wisdom without having done my own research, it would have taken me probably 20-30 acquisitions and many years to do what I was able to do in a matter of two years with one property.

            As they say, the more you know the more you realize how much you don’t know!

            So, why not learn from other people’s experiences instead of attacking them?

            Thanks, Financial Samurai, for providing such great content and a forum for engaging comments.

            1. My sister in law (37, F, healthy) based in Seattle passed away 12 days post taking the J&J vaccine due to ‘rare’ blood clots stemming from the vaccine (see here:

              Love Financial Samurai – Thanks Sam!


      2. I am quite aware of the antivaxxer boxes and quite honestly I have not ticked off nearly any of them; I remember debunking several of them with those individuals who did believe some of the nonsense that was being published (one example was related to a a vaxed individual generating a bluetooth signal). I simply approached the vaccine as I would any vaccine and evaluated its benefits based upon actual data. To be honest, this was not simple; much of the media was heavily censored. One only has to review the concepts of Relative and Absolute Risk Reduction and Healthy User Bias to know that subject itself is not as black and white as the CDC and mainstream media made it out to be.
        I will leave you with one simple question:
        During the phase 3 Pfizer trial, how many individual died from covid, either in the vaxed group or the placebo group? I believe the answer is extremely important in the context of claiming the vaccine prevents death.

        1. No, MFA ticked off the last box (the one I mentioned). So the antivaxxer suite is complete.

          It amazes me how people in the U.S. utterly ignore scientific findings* that they just don’t like, look for equally utterly unsupported nonsense on the net and claim they are “doing research.” No. You. Are. Spreading. Misinformation. Nothing less and unfortunately, nothing more.

          As already pointed out in this thread, correlation is not causation, no matter how hard you hope (or fear) otherwise. Unless you acquire the training and do actual research in the relevant field, you can sit the hell down and stop pretending that your opinions have equal weight to such research.

          Reality (and people who have a basis for providing an informed opinion as mentioned above), doesn’t care about your opinions or feelings and if this mentality doesn’t change, our species won’t make it to 2100.

          * Over the last century alone, the U.S. has had campaigns against the following being true: evolution, lead additives being bad, tobacco being bad, the average temperature of Earth is not rising, nuclear energy can’t be clean, coal can be clean, GMOs are evil and will destroy the food supply, etc. Both the left and right back much nonsense.

  21. “Everybody is too busy dealing with their own battles to help you with yours.” – Yes. I learned that I cannot count on anyone, including family, to help me. It is liberating in some ways, as I can be guilt free in knowing that I don’t owe anyone anything either.

  22. One of the biggest mistake I made was not to buy into real estate when the world was ending ( well at least what everyone thought) Being a scientist I knew we have some of the best Pharma companies and we would have a vaccine sooner or later. Real estate prices in Austin/Las Vegas / or vacation cabins in Tennessee have skyrocketed. Lot of regrets here !

    1. True about Austin, Vegas etc. my heartland real estate investments made in 2016-2017 finally took off. But prices have come back a little bit in 2022 and I think there is another opportunity this year.

      That’s interesting you felt strongly a vaccine would be made so soon. I had no idea, and I think a large part of the population distrusted whatever would come out within 12 to 18 months.

      Your comment reminds me actually that so many of us also thought that once the vaccine was out, it would stop Covid soon after. But Covid continued to linger for two years! Hence, it’s hard to really know.

      The good thing is, your existing investments rebounded, and climb to new highs!

    2. Don’t blame yourself for not acting sooner. It was prudent to take a wait and see approach, despite it turning out to be a lost investment opportunity. The most recent pandemic occurred in 1918. There was not a single human on our planet in 2020 that had any experience living through a pandemic or had any idea how things would play out. The advent of mRNA vaccines, and more specifically, time to market was incredibly fast by historical vaccine standards, truly anomalous.

  23. Greg Gibson

    I was very disappointed with society and how quick everyone was to give up any rights and liberties that they had. I was also disappointed how finger pointing and tattle-taleing became the norm, instead of looking to reasonably protect yourself and your family as you see fit, while letting others determine their acceptable risk level.
    I’m a pilot so I didn’t have much of an option to work remotely. As a veteran of flying combat missions in SW Asia, I adopted the attitude that if no one was shooting at me, my odds were at least decent I was going to survive!
    Traveling around the country during a very odd time in our nation’s history allowed time to see how differently people handled the situation. People were literally paralyzed with fear. I began to see this fear in my children’s eyes and realized my mail goal was to not let them live in fear. I made them come with me to the supermarket to see that life did indeed go on, and when I saw a news story on a local news channel across the country, I organized our local Knights of Columbus chapter to do shopping for the elderly residents of our town and drop food at their doors. I again enlisted my kids in this and immediately saw a much more resilient attitude. The need to take care of the weaker among us creates a better attitude towards the risks we all faced during these times.
    My main worry now is that our adversaries have seen how easy it would be to defeat a nation by simply tapping into fear. I hope and pray that we haven’t lost the spirit of bravery that got this country through World War II!
    God Bless America!!

    1. “ As a veteran of flying combat missions in SW Asia, I adopted the attitude that if no one was shooting at me, my odds were at least decent I was going to survive!”

      Good attitude! Do you have a very interesting perspective given your occupation. Yes, all the finger-pointing and judging often got heated. I understand why. And I also understand why we should let freedom reign as well. This is part of the attitude that I wanted to capture at the beginning of my post with the playground story.

      Do you have any regrets? Is there anything you would’ve done differently?

  24. Sam,
    I’m a long time (decade?) follower of your blog. I discovered it well before the pandemic. Yet, during the pandemic, it became both a security blanket and primary source of inspiration for me. I eagerly checked your site or my email daily, for updates. I am eternally grateful to have had the “escape” of your writing during that time.
    From a monetary standpoint, I made the most of the pandemic by acquiring our forever home in October 2020. We locked in a great rate (2.5%) on a near acre home with a pool and movie theater. It is/was a wonderful oasis from the real world, both today, and especially during Covid.
    More importantly, my family made the most of the pandemic by spending time with eachother. With 3 teenage daughters, “normal” circumstances would’ve pulled us in different directions daily. Yet with Covid, we were obligated to spend our time with eachother almost exclusively. Like most, I was mad/scared/pissed about the new restrictions on our freedoms and life during lockdowns. My wife would constantly remind me, the bright side was, we were experiencing solid family time with eachother, before my oldest headed off to college. I am now facing reality of another daughter off to college this Fall, and I am so appreciative of the added time with her. So thank you, Sam, and thanks to my wife for her family first perspective during that time.

    1. You’re welcome Jim. I’m glad my writing helped you get through the pandemic easier.

      This was one of my goals, as I remember during the global financial crisis in 2008-2009, how clients appreciated those of us who kept keeping in touch, providing insights, and value. As we got out of the crisis, stronger relationships were created. Even though I no longer have clients, I still wanted to be there as much as possible for folks.

      When I started this site at 2009, I was also filled with fear and dread of being laid off or losing most of my net worth.

      Let us fight on! That’s great you spend so much time with your daughters. And congratulations to a couple of them for going off to college. You will never regret your time with them. And maybe one day, they will read Buy This Not That! The book is perfect for their demographic as it will help minimize them saying “if I knew then what I know now!”


  25. The pandemic was such a crazy time. And even though I’ve thought less and less about it over the last many months, I am thrilled that it’s officially over. It’s unfortunate that it lasted so long and impacted everyone around the world. But at least we learned from it and will be prepared if another one ever occurs.

  26. As a physician, the pandemic made me realize I couldn’t depend on someone else to pay me a salary. I think I started reading your blog around then.

    I started a real estate investment company with 3 friends and now we own one property and are working on our next. I also started a second company in the crypto space that ended up failing but lessons learned were invaluable. Now I started writing on Medium and love doing it.

    The pandemic reiterated my notion that life is short. My dad died in 2017 after a short battle with stomach cancer and I wanted to make sure to live my life to the fullest. COVID only made that clearer.

    My motivations now are to work less, make cash flows elsewhere and spend time with the people I love. Nothing else matters.

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