Circuit breaker is real, and most people globally are in semi or full lock down. This is not a scenario one could have pictured, when we thought of a crash, as we were consistently in an “upward trend” environment ever since the 2008 crisis.
In other words, this has caught most of us by surprise, with little back up plans and full of worries.
While our circuit breaker (in Singapore) is planned just for a month, most other countries have extended their “lock down” period beyond the initial time frame that was planned for, and truthfully, we must be prepared for that.
During this time, I have heard from friends who are impacted by the circumstance. There are mixed emotions; some are thankful to be able to spend time at home picking up a new skill such as cooking or doing some exercises, some gets busier with their children, while others feel lost and lonely.
Friends who are working in non-essential services but requires physical presence are the greatest hit, financially. That includes those in hospitality and tourism, contractors, interior designers, beauty salons, fitness centre, retail stores and a long list more. Rental and workers’ salaries alone are huge expenses that poses a threat to the sustainability of their business or jobs even when the circuit breaker ends. Even the strongest companies experience a financial slump during this time.
Friends who are working in non-essential services but able to work from home probably had minimal financial hit. However, to accommodate the new regulations, many of those especially with young children, may experience exhaustion and mental stress. Like what everyone says, WFH + HBL is the worst combination. Restrictions of not being able to freely go out and meet our friends, dine in our favourite cafes or coffee shops have also caused quite a bit of pend up anger, and it affects us psychologically.
I would also like to thank friends who are front liners and working hard for us during this tough period especially healthcare workers, law enforcers, F&B and grocery stall workers, delivery workers, drivers, just to name a few. While most of us get to stay home with our family, they had to work so much harder and constantly having to fear if they could be infected and end up infecting their loved ones.
During this week of staying home, I pondered a lot. It felt like early retirement was forced upon us. Some of our jobs are suddenly taken away from us, and we scramble for a new income source. All these in just TWO MONTHS! This is what it feels like if we are not prepared for retirement when the time comes.
For just a few months, most of us may still be able to survive through our savings. What will happen if this situation prolongs for 30 years when we are in our 50s? If things don’t turn out to be how we expected them to be, do we just stay home all day to save some money, or worse, forced to find work to supplement our retirement livelihood? Some of us like to work and with the exception of physical constraints, would gladly continue to work for the rest of our lives (I totally understand that because I belong to this category). The caveat is, only if you like what you’re doing, and you’re healthy enough. But how many of us, today, is fortunate to enjoy our work? That could be a likely scenario when the time comes for retirement.
How many of us have the type of reserves or plans that our Singapore government have painstakingly set aside for rainy days like now?
Even as a financial advisor myself and I know the essence and importance of planning for retirement, I have never felt the threat as much as I do now. Having to worry about whether my income will be affected by this pandemic with piling bills, wanting to get out of my house to work and meet people but unable to, not being able to go for holidays or for my usual yoga lessons that I enjoy, makes me a little unsettled. The circumstance now seems to be emulating how I would feel if I had to retire, unprepared.
We did not and cannot choose or plan when a pandemic like this happens. What we can do is to be prepared and minimize the impact of it. At the very least, if you have some time on your hand, shouldn’t retirement be something that you can still prepare for?
Disclaimer: Information written is to my best knowledge as per the date posted and has no legal rights. It represents my personal opinion, which may be different from yours, and that’s totally cool. It is important to read the policy contract and documents for the full terms and conditions. This post does not constitute a recommendation. Please seek professional advice before committing to a plan as it is a long term commitment.