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  • Writer's pictureGary Grewal

April Update: Are People Losing Interest in FIRE?

Recently, a few other FI blogger have been lamenting at the fact that readership on their blogs is in decline, and has been so for a while. While there's no shortage of theories why, I think there is a lot at play including social media, shortened attention spans, the explosion of short and long video content, as well as the fact that the stock market hasn't been on it's historic tear.

When the market does well, apparently it draws on people's emotions that they too can strike it rich riding the wave. A rising tide raises all boats, and many people feel FOMO when they see people bragging about their stocks on social media.

Blogging has been around for a while, and I see no reason for it to go away completely. However, it may not be as lucrative for bloggers as it used to be.

I remember hearing about blogging more consistently when I was living in Orange County in 2014. And do you know how this dinosaur over here found out? By reading Money Magazine, which isn't even in print anymore. You can thank Cal Newport and his book Digital Minimalism for my lack of interest in social media and electronic devices. (I'm a big fan of Mr. Newport and his content, so def check out some of his books from the library!)

Why Are People Losing Interest In Financial Independence?

(If there was a literal path to FIRE, wouldn't it look something like this?)

2023 has been rough for some people. Despite people saying good riddance to years like 2020 because of the pandemic and every NYE seems to echo the same vibe, 2023 has started with a rocky stock market, mass layoffs, persistent inflation, and still-crazy housing prices, and yet the job market seems to be ok (for now).

This is an interesting time period for a few reasons, if I may.

First, when inflation is high, as is economic uncertainty, people may feel less willing to invest their money for long periods of time, locking it up or dealing with the risk that the value may fall.

What if they lose their jobs? Or rent keeps going up? Or they have to pay $11 for a carton of eggs for eternity?

If people are feeling less optimistic about their ability to save, not to mention the ability of the stock market to return generous gains, why waste time fantasizing about some far-off scenario of retirement? Many people would rather make up for the doom and gloom by increasing their discretionary spending, or, depending on their outlook, paying down debt and bolstering their savings.

High Interest Rates, Low Investment Returns

(Can anyone guess which state Capitol this is? Hint: it's in a corner of the U.S)

I mean there is a reason for higher interest rates, the Fed doesn't just sit around and say "Let's mess with our citizens this week, let's raise the rates to 7%!".

Increasing interest rates mean people are incentivized to save, because people can earn more money while taking next to no risk.

It also makes people want to pay off debt. Auto loans at 2%? Credit Card APY at 10%? Yeah right. Be ready to pay off any variable rates you have, because it's going to cost a lot more to borrow money.

Without giving too much of a lesson in investments, history tells us that higher interest also work to slow down the economy by increasing the cost of borrowing. Which means when large public companies want to borrow money to hire people or construct new buildings, it's going to cost them more, potentially giving them pause.

Why I think the interest in FIRE should actually INCREASE

(Relaxing outside on a Tuesday at 11am feels a lot nicer than you think)

So, with all the decline in readership commentary, do I think it's a prudent act on behalf of reader?

Not at all.

When the economy slowing down, increasing cost of living, inflation, and the potential for job/business losses, I would think the opposite. That the interest in FIRE would increase, because people don't want to have their livelihood and stability depend on the Fed, their employer, consumer spending or anything else.

FIRE enables you to rely on no one except yourself. Not even the stock market. It enables you to make decisions with a long term time horizon without jeopardizing your current situation.

So while you might be able or willing to direct your resources towards acheiving FIRE, you can still learn about it, plan for it, and read up on ways to save, earn and thrive while living your best life.

So, what am I up to this month?

(I would really consider moving to Eugene, except sunny days like this are rare)

  • I've been reading up more on seller concessions, buyer credits, realtor negotiations, and average days on the market as I zero in on my goal of buying property this year, primary or rental.

  • Got new tires on my bike and learned how to wrap my own griptape!

  • Got a new job! Still working remotely thankfully, and a raise which means a bit more money can go towards FIRE

  • Caught up with a few college friends, thankfully we have more entrepreneurs opening coffee shops in our town.

  • Practicing daily gratitude - it's making a world of differences as I come to like the slower pace of life, and knowing it's ok to just relax, and do some self-care rather than always feeling the need to be "busy"

  • BONUS: I was on a Podcast! Check Out Heidi over at Ordinary Sherpa, you don't want to miss this episode!

See you all next month in May, as we head into summer time, and you know what that means, camping and paddleboarding season!!!


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