Personal Finance is all about control and FiRe chasers have to be the biggest control freaks in the game. If we don't have all the strings in a firm grip, know exactly how long they are and when to pull them, how else are we going make it happen?
But there are times when the best strategy is to stop trying to make things happen and sit back and ride it out. It's fast looking as if this is one of those times. I've never "seen" a market crash or bear market. Of course I've lived through them, I've even been invested through them as I've held, and regularly paid into, a S&S ISA for around 10 years. However up until 18 months ago I wasn't remotely interested in what I was actually doing or even tracking how things were going, apart from glancing at the annual statements and thinking "that doesn't seem to have gone up much" (or the opposite). I was far too busy with kids, life, work and all the rest. This time it's very different.
Letting go of control and not being able to do anything but roll with the punches, sounds and feels more than a little scary until you realise that doing so should actually be part of the plan. Exactly as a pilot trusts his instruments to know better than he does at times, so we have to trust our PF plan to work to our best advantage when we can't see what's ahead (and as Monevator said at the weekend if you haven't got a plan get one quick:-)) Leaving the plan to do what it's meant to do is the whole reason we have it, it's there to prevent us having to make decisions when we don't have the tools to be able to do so.
I recently watched a television documentary about the terrible Staines air crash in 1972 which killed 118 people. The causes of the accident were complex but at least some of the blame has been placed with the pilot who, just before take off, had had a violent disagreement with a fellow pilot and so can be presumed to have been in an heightened emotional state. It appears that whilst the plane was coming out of take off he didn't climb quite high enough and then, when problems started to become apparent, an automatic stall warning and recovery system were overridden. As a result the plane went into a "deep stall" (from which recovery is impossible) and fell to the ground. Human intervention and faulty decision making disrupted the pre-programmed routines of the take off and tragedy ensued. The parallels with investing are clear.
(Incidentally the notion of a "deep stall" during which nothing can be done to pull the plane back up seems to me to have a financial equivalent in the situation in which many people who take out pay day loans find themselves. No matter what is done, it must feel like even the possibility of control has been lost. Apparently 44% of people who take out such loans use them for everyday essentials such as food.)
Markets across the world are tumbling, and for the first time I'm watching it happen. I'm very glad that I sold our CIS UK Growth funds a couple of months ago and took out the cash that we will need for the next two years as there is no indication of when things will recover and according to some commentators we could be in for a very bumpy time.
For now I'm going to sit tight and see what happens. (Well apart from buying £580 more of the Scottish Mortgage Trust we hold in my husband's ISA which has dropped over 7% since Friday. My husband has just received the final payment from his pension TFLS due when he retired so we have a little extra spare cash). I'll also be buying my Monkey Stocks on iii's next regular investments day towards the end of Sept. Who knows, they may be very cheap indeed by then :-)