Americans are starting to feel the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, which has left few industries untouched. Some employees are already out of work and millions could end up losing their jobs in a potential recession.
The pandemic could even wipe out what's become known as the FIRE (financial independence, retire early) movement, which embraces the concept of saving the majority of your income in your 20s or 30s so you can retire in your 30s or 40s.
That's according to Grant Sabatier, Millennial Money founder and author of "Financial Freedom." "I think the whole idea of retiring early ... will disappear because of this," he tells CNBC Make It. "It's just not going to be as easy, even for people who have been saving up, and it's not going to be as attractive of an idea."
Sabatier started his own financial independence journey in 2010, before the movement really took off. He saved over $1 million in five years by launching a bunch of side hustles and setting aside upwards of 80% of his income.
Despite the movement's growth over the past decade, Sabatier says the concept of retiring early has already started to lose steam among younger generations. And the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy and markets could be enough to eliminate the movement altogether, he says.
But that wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, he says. "I think that idea of retiring early is, thankfully, disintegrating — in the sense that, work is an important part of life. Work is healthy," he explains. "Doing something that you're passionate about is healthy. And money is often a byproduct of the things that we do to create value in the world."
Sabatier, who became a millionaire before 30, didn't work a handful of side gigs and save an extreme percentage of his income to stop working and settle down. For him, it's been less about retiring and more about "having freedom and options and choices," he says.
If you're intent on retiring early, use the extra time you may have right now to reflect on why, he suggests. "I often see people who want to retire early because it's something else to chase — it's another trophy to get. When, in reality, so much of what they want they already have. Or, they're much closer to what they want than they realize.
"In this time when we're all quarantined and have a lot of time to think, think about why you really want to retire early. Do you still want that amidst the increasing uncertainty of our times?"
Sabatier encourages people still interested in the movement to focus less on the "retire early" part of FIRE and more on the "financial independence" aspect: "At its core, it's always been about using money to build a life you love and being intentional about your spending so that you have more time and options in your life."
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