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Early retiree's net worth is down over $200,000 since 2021, but he's not going back to work: 'That is the worst-case scenario'

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Steve and Courtney Adcock.
Steve Adcock

When you live exclusively off of your investments, the last thing you want to see is a market downturn. But for Steve Adcock — who retired in 2016 at 35 — the current bear market and potential recession hasn't been a cause for alarm.

Despite seeing his net worth drop by more than $200,000 — from $1.4 million to a little under $1.2 million since last year — Adcock hasn't even considered the possibility of returning to full-time work, or even picking up a side hustle.

"Absolutely, positively not. That's never entered my head even a little bit," says Adcock, who previously worked in information technology for 14 years. "That is the worst-case scenario."

I wouldn't go back to a job unless I absolutely had to. I would sell a lot [of stock].
Steve Adcock
Early retiree

Adcock and his wife Courtney, a fellow early retiree, keep their spending low and have a savings account with two years worth of expenses in it. If the market downturn were to last longer than that, he is prepared to sell off some investments from their retirement funds rather than go back to work.

"I wouldn't go back to a job unless I absolutely had to. I would sell a lot [of stock]," he says. "I probably wouldn't [let my balance] go down more than $500,000, but I might let it get that low."

As for staying level-headed while the market slides, Adcock's secret is simple: Don't spend too much time looking at your money. He spends less than 30 minutes a month checking his account balances, because he has no plans to change his allocations.

On top of that, Adcock doesn't like to spend much time watching financial news. Following the daily ups and downs of the market is a recipe for emotional decision-making, he says, which is exactly what he doesn't want to do.

"Staying out of the nitty gritty financial news is one way that we keep ourselves grounded," he says. "That helps us to make some more intelligent decisions that aren't wrapped up purely in financial emotions."

In fact, Adcock says that the only thing he would change about his investments during the current down market is that he would buy more stocks if he had any income coming in.

"For a lot of people out there who have full-time jobs and make good money, this is absolutely, absolutely the time to buy," he says. "In the last four or five years I don't think there's been a better time to buy than right now. Stocks are on sale, you might as well take advantage of it."

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