What is going to happen? It’s the middle of the weekend after Britain has just voted to leave the EU and my Facebook feed is full of gnashing of teeth and wailing.
A lot of people are scared and worried.
Regardless of what our politicians tell us, nobody knows what the next few years will bring. Are we in for a recession? Are house prices about to fall? Will the UK become a flourishing haven as the rest of Europe collapses? Or will a load of treaties be signed that means really nothing will change.
I should probably be just as fearful. If anyone benefits from the status quo being maintained, it is certainly me. I have a business that benefits from European free-trade and a lifestyle that benefits from the free-travel. I also own a lot of stocks and shares and even some property.
But weirdly, I am actually quite excited.
The thing is, the world isn’t really any more uncertain than it was before. Big changes normally come out of nowhere. September 11, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, the 2008 financial crash. We may not know exactly what is going to happen but we can be pretty sure that at some point something big will occur that will change everything.
And although I haven’t been preparing for Brexit, I have been preparing for some sort of turmoil.
Whatever happens, I am confident I am in a good position to minimise the damages and make the most of any opportunities that appear. And trust me, there are going to be a lot of opportunities.
I have purposely not started any new businesses in a while because I am waiting. The word serendipity means a “fortunate happenstance”. That’s what I’m doing, waiting for serendipity to strike and a great opportunity to appear. When that happens, I will be ready and have the time and resources to make the most of it. Maybe Brexit will lead to that opportunity.
Ok. I lied. It’s not all rosy in the world of Sam. I am scared. I am scared for my friends.
When I look around I see a lot of fragile lives. People with huge mortgages, no savings or pensions and a complete reliance on one salary paying job.
2008 taught a lot of people how fragile their lives were. That living month by month with a big mortgage means that they could lose their house, lifestyle and livelihood all in one go. But I fear those lessons haven’t been learnt.
If you are one of those people, I urge you to start thinking about what you will do if something happens.
Here are some of the potential changes we could see and how it would affect me personally.
- Huge inflation – Any mortgage I have with a fixed interest rate, will effectively give me free money. I could also move any cash I have to inflation-linked investments.
- Huge deflation – Mortgages are bad in deflation because the real value of the debt grows and grows. I should aim to pay them off in full as soon as possible.
- House prices shoot up – Property I own will do well.
- House prices collapse – I will lose money on any property I own but I will finally be able to snap up that sweet central London pad I’ve always wanted.
- One of my income streams/businesses collapses – I will shift focus to the other income streams so that no one loss will be enough to force me to get a job.
- Stock market halves – I will lose money on the stocks and shares I own, but I will be able to buy more cheaply as value is created by other investors running scared.
- Stock market double – I will make money on the stocks and shares I own. But it will be harder to invest any future earnings.
- Brits need visas to travel to Europe – I will move abroad and get residency in another country. Only kind of joking. All my businesses can be managed remotely so it would really depend how bad things got in Britain.
- Nothing changes – Great. Business as normal.
Don’t believe any of those events could happen? Well, I am not going to pretend I can predict the future, but the warning signs are here.
London property is currently 16x the average Londoner’s salary, which is nonsense. Some bonds are now negative yielding, meaning you can lend money to the German government and at best get back less than what you lent, which is even bigger nonsense. Interest rates are being held artificially low, meaning that when they rise the interest rates on mortgages will rise too, which is just sad as a lot of people don’t realise it will happen.
Those reactions are very specific to me, so here are two practical action points I think you should do now.
- Start saving. The easiest way to save money is to spend less money. I’m not the best person to talk about that, so check out Mr Money Mustache on the benefits and tricks to frugal living.
- Examine your debt. It might currently be manageable, but if interest rates rise or if we enter a time of deflation that debt could get a lot lot worse.
If you’ve looked at those two and think there are no easy wins. Think about trying to create a new income stream by starting a business on the side. It could end up just being a profitable hobby, or it might just end up saving you if everything else fails.
Short on ideas or don’t know where to start: have a look at Amazon FBA, kindle self-publishing, starting a blog or matched betting. They’re all businesses I have personally started before and know can be done in your spare time.
Don’t just assume life will continue as before. Be ready for anything.