Embrace the dip.
It’s tough to get on board with embracing anything right about now. I haven’t even shaken the hand of anyone, let alone shared an embrace, with anyone outside of my immediate family in at least a month.
However, when I look back at the last really big “dip” we saw in the stock market, the one that saw the S&P 500 lose 57% of its value, I realize that fully embracing it played a huge role in my path to early financial independence.
When you’re able to buy shares as the market is dropping, when it reaches the bottom (a point that can only be identified in hindsight), and while the market rises again, you come out with a lot of money and looking really smart.
It’s not intelligence, though. It’s persistence and faith that the market will recover, as it has from every other jolt it’s seen in the last century.
What would be even better is to sell at the top, buy at the bottom, rinse, and repeat. Most market timers fail, and mistakes can be costly. I don’t recommend it.
Today, I present the 12th post from Ether to FI, an early-career attending anesthesiologist working towards achieving financial independence as a family of four within a decade of finishing residency. Believe it or not, this current conundrum could really help further his cause. Take it away, E.T.F.
Ether to FI: Embrace the Dip & 2 Net Worth Updates
How is everyone doing?
Things have changed drastically in two weeks. I delayed writing a post because I wanted to write a post titled, “Things I learned at WCI Conference 2020”. Then COVID 19 happened, and my plan to sneak amongst you at the conference was halted. It is a weird feeling when your employer tells you that travel to a conference is forbidden.
Stranger still, when you realize you don’t have a choice in the matter if you want to remain employed. That is a post in itself, but in the age of social distancing, it was the right decision.
Bummed that I could not attend the conference after waiting for two years for this one. Hopefully, I can attend a future WCI conference.
[PoF: Although you weren’t able to be there in person, a video version with all of the talks and panels, as well as recorded talks from some presenters who couldn’t be there in person, is now available. There’s over 34 hours of audiovisual content in the course.
The course is included at no additional cost for those who registered for the conference, and it can be purchased by all others. This does qualify for 10 hours of CME or Dental CE; if you have a CME fund, you may be able to have the cost reimbursed.
Take $100 off Continuing Financial Education 2020 with the code CFEINTRO now through 4/20/2020.
p.s. I’m bummed you weren’t able to make it, E.T.F., but I totally understand.]
This audience has been on a financial ride with my family and me, which has demonstrated the effects of brute force savings on improving your net-worth in a short period. We will be approaching a full three years of attending life in four months.
Our portfolio is currently feeling the dip, and I thought it would be enlightening to share the effects of the correction on our assets. You have ridden the highs with us, here are the lows.
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How does it feel to have a 100% stock portfolio now?
Making countless revisions during our net-worth calculation downwards was not a fun experience. Seeing the lower numbers did not really bother me, but Mrs. ETF was not interested in looking. A long-term vision for investing means that a recession early in your career allows you to make massive wealth gains in a shortened time.
I need this to get to our goal of FI in 10 years; 7 years and 4 months left. We are planning on fully funding both our IRA’s in the next couple of months, so those will benefit from the current decline.
Additionally, we have a stated goal of diversifying our investing by making a rental home purchase this year. If we enter a recession in the next two quarters, likely there will be a discount on home prices. If mortgage interest rates remain low, it will be a double bonus.
That is my mindset, I am sure that is similar to other people in the financial independence movement. Panic selling and locking in paper losses have not entered my mind. If the correction worsens, it will continue to present buying opportunities.
I said in a previous post that I don’t read or watch the news. I was not aware that the market had declined for about a week. The reason I found out is that I had colleagues texting me for a “hot stock” tip. Others wanted to know if they should sell. My standard reply, “I don’t buy individual stocks, and you should continue your investing plan.”
The people texting me had previously heard me talk about index funds and staying the course. However, after the correction, the panic was palpable. Most of my colleagues have a 30-year investing horizon, so there is little reason for anxiety. Hopefully, people listen to their rational selves from a few months ago and avoid selling.
Net Worth Reality Check
Now, what people have been waiting for. We calculated our net-worth on February 21st, before the volatility that we have experienced in the last few weeks. We had continued to make steady progress from our previous post. In December, our net worth was $718,211.74. On that day, we reached a net worth of $751,762.85. We had reached ¾ millionaire status.
Post-correction. Our net-worth on March 25th, after some serious subtraction: $628,082.13. More than two years of residency pay gone in a few weeks. A decline of 16.45%. The market as a whole declined by about 20% YTD as I am writing this post. My take, stay the course.
I was very tempted to spend some of my cash to fully fund IRA’s for the year, or even open up a brokerage account. While others were trying to temper their fear, I had to temper my greed.
Lessons from the Pandemic
1. A larger cash buffer would be beneficial. We have 5-6 months of expenses in our emergency fund, but 9-12 months would make me feel better if I were to become ill and could not work. You will likely see us increasing our cash cushion over the next few months.
2. Investing in the stock market. Our contribution strategy is unchanged. We have continued to max out all retirement accounts. We usually fund both IRA’s by the middle of the year as one lump payment. We will focus on little ETF two’s 529 this year, so it will likely benefit from this dip.
3. Investing in real estate. We are saving for a down payment on a rental property before the end of 2020. This will be reflected in our cash allocation.
Our boring plan will just keep moving forward. Embrace the dip, everyone. Stay safe, and wash your hands. See you in a few months.
Follow Ether to FI’s progress to FI in his previous posts: