Seven Baby steps towards financial freedom
Do you know how marathon runners are trained?
If someone thinks he should run a marathon, and goes for the run very next morning what will happen? It will be a disaster for him. Right?
A marathon runner must start small initially with 1 kilometer, 2 kilometers run and so on. He has to gradually attain the 42 kilometers mark. He has to gradually build stamina, develop endurance, have many practice sessions before he hits any competitive race.
All this happens over a period of time. This can not happen overnight. Hope you all agree with me on this. A runner has to set small milestones first like a 5 kilometer run, 10 kilometer run, a 25 kilometer run and so on. Once all small milestones are reached, a runner can confidently go for a full length 42 kilometer marathon.
Same is with financial planning. If you are at ZERO level or you have just started journey towards setting finances in order, thinking about financial freedom will look impossible to you. Journey towards financial freedom is a long journey. You have to create numerous milestones which will make the journey also interesting and you will always be motivated throughout the journey. Achieving these small milestones will also give you a sense of accomplishment in the course of the journey. Not to forget, these milestones will also keep you away from backtracking.
Below are some important milestones you can create in order to stay focused and not to lose interest while journeying towards financial freedom. The order is important as you can not run a full marathon without conditioning yourself for a half marathon. Isn’t it?
Start making a budget. Write down all expenses month on month. It is important. It will help you in knowing your spending pattern.This will also give you an idea about your investable surplus – the money which you can utilize for investments moving forward. (How to make a simple budget)
Save about 6 months of expenses in cash or liquid funds. This amount should be easily accessible to you. This is your emergency fund. This is meant only for emergencies like some medical attention or in case you lose your job. This will keep you afloat when you do not have any income to take care of expenses and will help you in not falling in debt trap during any personal emergency.
Gradually but steadily pay off all your consumer debt. Consumer debt is considered as a bad debt for an individual. Debt for TV, appliances, vehicles, furniture etc falls under consumer debt. One these debts are tackled, you free up a large monthly investable surplus.
Start saving for retirement. Most of us will not receive any pension or annuity. Keep somewhere around 25%-30% of your monthly salary as your investment for retirement. Make a good balanced folio and start investing. Your folio can be a combo of Debt, mutual funds, PPF etc.
Start investing for your kid’s education. You can dedicate an equity linked mutual fund for this. Also you can open a PPF account when your kid is born and maximize investment into it every year. A combo of PPF and an equity linked mutual funds can do wonders for your kid’s future.
Pay off your mortgage/home loan. This will remove a big burden from your head. It is good to feel debt free. But this is little tough as usually the amount is quite high. But I strongly recommend you to do this as paying off mortgage will free up a huge chunk of money for you as an investable surplus.
Keep re-adjusting your portfolio once in a couple of years and enjoy life. Keep reading, pursue your hobby, keep traveling but remember that your money has to outlive you.
These are small steps. You can start any time, at any age. Important is you make a START.
Happy investing !!!