Here’s the scenario:
You wake up one rainy morning and after checking on your accounts, you find out that you have been wiped out by a cyber-criminal! You’ve lost all of the money and assets that you’ve ever owned and can’t get them back. What will you do?
The assumption here is that a hacker will overnight siphon off everything in my accounts, by which I mean all the cash sitting in my current accounts, savings accounts, cash ISA and premium bonds account. Also, the investments in my S&S ISA and my SIPPs will have mysteriously disappeared (unlikely for the SIPPs, seeing as they can’t be accessed til I’m 55 but humour me!). Shockingly, my DB pension is also gone and there’s a mini-meltdown in the US as it was part of a global pension pot and not only my pension was targeted!
Even the cash I have in my betting and exchange accounts has been hoovered up! Contacting said providers prove futile, the money has disappeared into the ether. I don’t have any cash around the house (around £20 change in moneyboxes and at the time of writing, £12.58 in my purse).
I will assume however that the hacker hasn’t managed to persuade HR to fire me overnight, so I’m still employed, that I will still have my rental property and I will still have a roof over my head.
So not quite starting from absolutely zero, but still a bloody nightmare scenario.
What to Do?
The first thing I would do would be (in no particular order) to panic, swear a lot, beat myself up about how I should have changed my online passwords more often and then drown my sorrows in vast quantities of alcohol.
I would probably spend hours trying to find out if anything could be done about recovering my DB pension since there will be over half a million other people in the same situation.
Once I’ve calmed down a little, I would tell my family (though not my parents or my grandmother – don’t want them worrying needlessly) and probably a couple of my close friends. My message however will be that despite what’s happened, I’m alright, because I know they will want to help me. I would probably get a short term cash loan from the family, to cover expenses until I get paid.
It won’t just be the fact that I’ve lost all that I’ve saved up, but I’ve lost the ticket to achieving financial independence, retiring early and retiring comfortably.
With my FIRE plan down the pan (heh!), I would need to draw up my new plan, which would be probably be to ensure that I end up retiring comfortably at normal retirement age.
What would I do differently ?
I would set up an emergency fund first and foremost. I would then see about building up my pension/SIPP investments again, more so than in my ISAs. Seeing as I won’t need the money until later in life, I may as well take advantage of tax relief.
I have a feeling that I would be a lot more frugal, verging on the extreme side as I try to claw my way back to a comfortable financial situation. In desperation, I might even cross the line and become stingy and penny-pinching, although I hope not!
One thing I would probably do would be to go back to my strict budgeting, which I haven’t done since I was eyeballs deep in credit card debt. It’s no fun logging every penny spent.
Perhaps I would consider looking for a better paid job but more likely, I would certainly spend my spare time just hustling and looking for more money. And yes, I’ll be scouting out for coupons!
More time spent matched betting (even consider multi-accounting which I don’t do now) and I would dial down on my social life but not completely as my friends are important to me.
I’ll still put money aside to travel to see my family once a year – that’s one thing I wouldn’t ever change.
And finally, I will just get my head down and be a worker bee to earn a steady salary.
This all seems to point to me leading an extremely focused but not very happy life, being obsessed with trying to build up what I lost.
Yet if I think about it, there are a lot of people who are in this situation, where they do not have savings for their future and yet they are happily going about their lives.
I think due to the fact that I had saved up and then lost it all, it’s
possible probable that I would become quite obsessed about it all, which doesn’t sound good at all.
Plus I would need to get my head around working until my mid-60s, something which I was quite happy to do before I discovered and planned for FIRE. I really shouldn’t have taken that FIRE Red Pill, which made me see the light!
I would hope that I would still be able to enjoy my life and my work but knowing me, I think it would take a while before I could get over something like this.
Gosh, that’s gone a bit dreary and bleak, hasn’t it?
Anyway, below is SavingNinja’s take on the thought experiment and as and when I see other bloggers taking part, I’ll add below:
- Ditch The Cave
- Finance Your Fire
- Merely Curious
- Fire v London
- Gentleman’s Family Finances
- Young FI Guy
- What Life Could Be
- A Simple Life
- Fretful Finance
What would you do if this happened to you?