Browse Category: Financial Independence

A simple budget can save you from 5 big troubles

A simple budget can save you from 5 big troubles

Most of us are scared of the word Budget. We think that the word is too technical for our comfort and should be best avoided. Also, most of us don’t like to budget or keep track of our spending. We are least concerned about the reason for this behavior as we think that the life goes on without budgeting also.

Simple Budget

In spite of living in a Hi-Tech era, we avoid using technology to track and plan our finances.

If we start creating a simple budget and start tracking our expenses, we can cure 5 of our life’s major financial troubles. I am sure these financial woes are common to most of us reading this stuff.

Trouble #1
You have absolutely no idea about your money.

  • Only thing you know that salary credit in the beginning of the month.
  • You are clueless where your money has evaporated halfway down every month.
  • You rely on credit cards for month end expenses – not by choice but more because of compulsion.

 

How making and sticking to a budget can change this?
When you start creating a budget and record expenses

  • You know exactly how much money goes where
  • You can cut down on certain unwanted expenses so that your money lasts till month end
  • You are not clueless about your money- you have a proper track of income and expenses

 

Trouble #2
You are not saving any money

  • You do not have any emergency fund
  • You have trouble with money when it comes to fulfil your needs and goals quite often – e.g. you wish to upgrade your kitchen, but you don’t have savings to do so or you want to go for a holiday abroad, but you can not do so as you don’t have sufficient funds.

How making and sticking to a budget can change this?

  • When you start budgeting, you start saving and investing money
  • A systematic goal based savings and investments can ensure that you have money for your future needs and goals
  • You become more systematic with your money when you start budgeting
  • You can plan annual vacations well and as a family you can have a good time

 

How to make a household budget

 

Trouble #3
Your mindless spending habits

  • You don’t realize but your entertainment expenses are very high
  • You are spending way more than you should on eating out
  • Your clothing expenses are all time high
  • You are paying over the roof for your internet and phone bills

 

How making and sticking to a budget can change this?

  • You will come to know about your money leaks when you make budget.
  • You can free up loads of money vanishing through money leaks
  • You can cut down all unnecessary and expensive money spending when you start writing expenses

 

Trouble #4
You struggle to get what you want

  • You are unable to save for your retirement
  • You want to buy a house but you are unable to arrange for the downpayment
  • You are unable to save and accumulate money for your kids education
  • You badly want to travel abroad for holidays but you can not afford to do so


How making and sticking to a budget can change this?

  • When you budget, you have track of expenses and leftover money
  • Leftover money can be invested wisely
  • With goal based investing, you can ensure you have enough money / savings to fulfil your dreams

 

Trouble #5
Cash Flow problem is common with you

  • You do not have a cash buffer
  • You are unable to go even for a casual meal at a good restaurant over the weekend if some guests drop in
  • You do not have enough money for emergency repair of your vehicle

 

How making and sticking to a budget can change this?

  • With budgeting, you can save cash and have an emergency fund which can tackle emergency situation for you
  • Again writing expenses can plug money leaks and free up money which can be utilized towards emergency fund
  • Freeing up money leaks can also help you in building cash buffer which is useful for events like casual dinner out etc.

 

So, take charge of your money. Do not count budgeting and writing expenses as burden. If you start budgeting and writing expenses, you can avoid many common issues and problems related to money which you are facing in your day to day life.

Remember – Budgeting and tracking your spending is the first step towards financial independence and this has been emphasized by every financial planner.

 

Resource:
Here is how to make a simple budget?

 

Happy investing !!!

 

Want to enter equity markets? Index based ETF funds are the safest bet

Want to enter equity markets? Index funds are the safest bet

Most of us do not invest in equity markets because

  • We are afraid of stock markets as we do not know how they work
  • We think we do not have enough money for investments
  • We think that investment is something which is to be done when you are nearing retirement
  • We think we do not have basic education to invest money in stocks  

what are index funds

 

All have investments in mind but we love to delay it due to reasons best known to us. We all know that we have to accumulate enough retirement funds as we need regular income when there is no salary for us. Still we try to avoid investing money.

It has been historically proved that stock market gives the best returns on your investments. If one is looking to create a retirement corpus, stock market can not be ignored as the returns generated through them beat the inflation by a good margin.

If you do not know anything about equity markets, if you have never invested in equity markets / funds, still you have one option which is quite safe and which does not require you to be an equity market expert. It is INDEX based Exchange Traded Funds. Index funds have consistently outperformed markets and so called equity experts if you look at a longer duration. In fact one of the richest fellow in the world and a great investor Mr. Warren Buffet says “Consistently buy an S&P 500 low-cost index fund. I think it’s the thing that makes the most sense practically all of the time. Index funds make the best retirement sense ‘practically all the time’

 

warren buffet on index funds

 

So what are index Funds?

By definition, an index fund is a type of mutual fund with a portfolio constructed to match or track the components of a market index, such as the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (S&P 500), BSE or NIFTY. An index mutual fund is said to provide broad market exposure, low operating expenses and low portfolio turnover

 

So what makes index funds safe as an investment instrument in equity markets?

  • Index fund is a way to avoid the risk that comes with picking of individual stock: Index fund spreads out your investment into the stocks which are top performing on any equity index. This way you are not buying individual stock, but a set of stocks which are like top performers of any equity market.
  • It helps you to buy not “the top company” but it lets you buy all top companies at a very low cost.

 

Costs matter a lot in the investment scenario. Most of the equity diversified funds charge a fund management cost of 2.5%-3.5% per year. In comparison to this, index funds usually have fund management cost of 0.5%-1% per year. So when you invest in index funds, you are already ahead of any equity diversified fund by 2%-3% and anyone who knows a little bit of arithmetic can say that over a period of 20 years this can make a huge difference in investment corpus.

 

Then why ETFs are not recommended by investment advisors / financial planners?

When you talk to an investment advisor, his or her salary is linked to the income they generate for the fund houses. More the fund management charge, more their salary. So it’s obvious that they would recommend top ranked funds which has more fund management charge than the plain vanilla index based ETFs.

There are no free lunches so anyone unless he has a personal interest can not give you honest advice regarding your investments.

 

about index funds


So what is the recommendation regarding index based ETF?

As pointed out by investment mogul Warren Buffet

  • Start buying index based Exchange Traded Funds (ETF)
  • Buy them every month through Systematic plan
  • Stay invested in them for a very long duration
  • You can bank on index based ETFs for your retirement plan
  • When markets are battered or down – do not panic, keep investing regularly. This will help you average your cost of investment.

 

If you stick to the points mentioned above, you do not have to worry about your retirement corpus.

So with index based ETFs:

  • You are saved from headache of actively managing stock portfolio
  • ETFs give you exposure to the gains of stock market over a long period.
  • You can plan your long term corpus goals for retirement / kids education with ease through index based ETFs
  • You can keep the cost of your investments low through ETFs.

 

Happy Investing !!!

Financial problems with an average family

Financial problems with an average family 

Most of us falls under an average family category. Average family usually comprise of husband & wife with one or two kids. In some cases husband and wife both are working and in some only husband is working hard to run the family and wife takes care of the kids and home.

 

average family

 

Everyone strive to be rich and wealthy whether it’s poor class or middle class. We all would like to enjoy the luxuries of life and we keep working to achieve the goal of becoming wealthy. But have we ever thought what keeps the poor class and middle class struggling to become rich? If everyone is working hard why an average middle class family remains a middle class family ? Why don’t they become rich say after 5 years of slogging ?

Let’s take a look at the financial problems with an average family which keeps it pulling back from realizing its dream of becoming wealthy.
average family

 

  • No financial planning: The single biggest problem for most people is that they just do not plan their finances. It just keeps coming and going. Even if they are not happy about the results they got so far, they do not change the way things are they do in their life.
  • Overspending: Many people with not very high incomes have very high ambitions. This is likely to get them to grief. In the stores too, gadgets and appliances are priced as EMI to lure people. It looks cool to have latest gadget and appliances hence people tend to stretch themselves and overspend. We have seen earlier how supermarkets are big traps?  
  • Not talking finance at home: Children are kept away from the finance topics at the dining table. Finance is perhaps the second most taboo topic at home! So many children grow up without knowing how much of sacrifice their parents have gone through to educate them. This makes children ignorant about finances and they repeat financial mistakes their parents made in the past.
  • Parents spending on education and marriage: There are just too many kids out there who believe that they need to worry about savings, investment and life insurance only when they cross 40 years. This means your father, father in-law or a bank loan has funded your education and marriage. Kids should take on financial responsibility at a much younger age than what is happening currently. Or rather parents should take lead and make their kids financially responsible.
  • Marriage between financially incompatible people: Most marriages under stress are actually under financial stress. Either the husband or the wife is from a rich background and the other partner cannot understand or cope with the spending pattern. Or the spending habits of partners are different. One is frugal and one is spendthrift causing severe financial imbalance in the family.
  • Delaying saving for retirement: “I am only 27 years old why should I think of retirement “ seems to be a very valid refrain for many working professionals! Every year that you delay in investing the greater the amount that you will have to save later in your life. Till the age of 35 it might be feasible for you to catch up, but after some time the amount that you need to save for retirement just flies away. We have seen earlier that delaying investments can cost you dearly. 
  • Inadequate life and medical insurance: With all the risks of lifestyles, travel, etc. illness and premature death are common. We buy vehicle insurance because it is forced upon us, but we ignore life insurance! Imagine insuring a INR10 lakh car, but not insuring (or under insuring) the person who is using the car — and paying for it, that is, you! We have seen earlier that Why we need insurance?  
  • Not prepared for medical emergencies: Normally big emergencies — financially speaking are medical emergencies. Being unprepared for them — by not having an emergency fund is quite common. Emergency fund has now come to mean the credit card.This is good news for the bank, not for the borrower. We have seen earlier that what is an emergency fund and why we need it?  
  • Lack of asset allocation: Risk is not a new concept. However, it is a difficult concept to understand. For example when the Sensex was 10k there was much less risk in the equity markets than there is today. However at 10k index people were afraid of the market. Now everybody and his aunt wants to be in the equity market — and there are enough advisors who keep saying, “Equity returns are superior to debt returns.” This is true with a rider — in the long run. It is convenient for the relationship manager to forget the rider. So there could be a much larger allocation to equity at higher prices — to make for the time missed out earlier. We have seen earlier that goal based investing is a good approach to have proper asset allocation. 
  • Falling prey to financial pitches: The quality of pitches has improved! Aggressive young kids are recruited by brokerage houses, banks, mutual funds, life insurance companies, etc. and all these kids are selling mutual funds, life insurance, portfolio management schemes, structured products, et al. Selling to their kith and kin helps these kids keep their jobs, and there is happiness all around! These kids, themselves prey to financial pitches, have now made it an art when they are selling to their own natural “circle of friends and relatives.”
  • Buying financial products from obligated persons. This is perhaps one of the worst things you can do in your financial life. A friend, relative, neighbor, colleague who has been doing something else suddenly becomes a financial guru because they have become an agent! Charity begins at home, not financial planning.
  • Financial illiteracy: Most people do not wish to know or learn about financial products. They simply ask, ”Where do I have to sign” — so buying a mutual fund is easier than buying life insurance! Selecting products based on the ease and simplicity of buying is a shocking but true real life experience in the financial behaviour of the rational human being!
  • Ignoring small numbers for too long: What difference will it make if I save INR5,000 a month? Well over a long period it could make you a millionaire! So start early and invest wisely. It will make you rich. That is the power of compounding. We have seen earlier the magical power of compounding
  • Urgent vs important: Most expenses, which look urgent, are perhaps not so important — the shirt or shoe at a sale. That luxury item which was being offered at 30 per cent discount is such an example. These small leakages are all reducing the amount of money you will have for the bigger things like education or retirement. We have seen earlier that how to tackle money leaks.

 

financial problems

The list can be long but the points mentioned above can well be attributed as hindrances that are responsible for middle class not becoming rich. So if you want to become wealthy, tackle these issues in your life one by one. I am sure you will be able to cross the fence sooner after tackling the above mentioned issues.

 

Happy investing !!!

 

Seven Baby steps towards financial freedom

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?

baby steps to financial freedom

 

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?

 

climb to financial success


Step 1
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)

Step 2
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.

Step 3
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.

Step 4
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.

Step 5
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.

Step 6
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.

Step 7
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 !!!

Stay Fit and be WEALTHY

Stay HEALTHY and be WEALTHY

 

Across the nations and across the cultures there is one very old saying “Health is Wealth”. This stands true even today as it was a thousand of years ago.

 

stay-healthy-stay-wealthy

 

 

Yes, i have read it multiple times since childhood – Health is wealth. But how come health is related to your finances?

If you are fit & healthy, you will have less health related issues. If you try to stay fit till old age, you will save a fortune by NOT spending money on health related issues and remember Hospital visits cost a bomb these days.

Hmm…yes true. It makes sense. Can you brief me on how someone can become wealthy by staying healthy?

You can save a fortune by staying healthy. If you are fit & healthy, you will have less health related issues. If you try to stay fit till old age, you will save a fortune by NOT spending money on health related issues and remember Hospital visits costs a bomb these days.

The very first thing that comes to mind while discussing about health is to eat healthy. This means

  • No Junk food
  • Diet comprising fresh fruits / poultry (you must have heard – an apple a day keeps the doctor away )
  • Balanced diet comprising of all micro-nutrients

The benefits of eating healthy are

  • You have improved physical health
  • You have improved mental health
  • You can avoid being overweight
  • You can have a longer disease free life

Then comes Avoiding drugs/ addiction / alcohol. Drugs abuse can cause

  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Stroke
  • Cancer
  • HIV AIDS
  • Hepatitis B & C
  • Lung diseases

If you are drug addiction free then

  • You can stay healthy
  • You can have a longer life  

Ok ok, yes it’s clear now that by eating healthy and by staying away from drug abuse, one can stay healthy and can have a long life. Anything else that can make a person healthy ?

One very important aspect of healthy life is doing moderate exercise – and that too regularly.Doing regular exercise can do wonders to your body

  • It prevents chronic conditions like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer etc
  • It improves strength so that one can stay more independent in old age
  • It promotes healthy growth in kids when they see you exercising regularly
  • It makes you look and feel good

Doing regular exercise also

  • Makes it easy for you to concentrate on work
  • Sharpens your memory
  • Let you stay focussed for longer durations
  • Boosts creativityReduce stress levels
  • Makes a person happy

In addition to all mentioned above, one more key is not to miss your regular medical checkup. This will preempt treatment for any disease you catch in early stage.

And to make sure that your health does not affect your finances, you must insure yourself to cover cost of medical treatments and have adequate life cover.

Thank you for explaining in such a simple language how health affects finances and one must stay healthy in order to create & preserve wealth.

Yes, and the bottom-line is by staying healthy you can save your finances which otherwise would go waste in taking rounds of hospitals and paying consultants/practitioners to cure your chronic diseases. This can cause you and your family a big mental trauma in addition to the financial losses.

 

So, Stay HEALTHY and be WEALTHY. Happy investing !!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you an impulsive buyer?

Do you often drag yourself into impulsive buying?

 

“An impulse purchase or impulse buying is an unplanned decision to buy a product or service, made just before a purchase.One who tends to make such purchases is referred to as an impulse purchaser or impulse buyer. Research findings suggest that emotions and feelings play a decisive role in purchasing, triggered by seeing the product or upon exposure to a well crafted promotional message.”

impulsive-purchase

 

In your day to day life, knowingly or unknowingly you go through instances where you succumb yourself to the lure of impulsive buying. The product companies are out there in every shop, every mall, every online marketplace – blaring adverts, offers, packaged deals to you. We have seen earlier that Supermarkets do extensive research on how to push their products and how to compel buyers to spend more in their stores.


Can you give me some example so that I can relate whether I am buying stuff impulsively? As far as I know i am not into impulsive buying

  • When you go to supermarket to buy monthly grocery, you pick up few ready to eat meals as they are packaged beautifully and kept in the front area of supermarket. They always have “buy one get one free” offer

  • You go to shopping mall to purchase refrigerator and you end up buying that 75inch LED TV also just because there was an offer going on that. You , being a sincere shopper, got charged emotionally and purchased the big TV just because your conscious felt that you are saving substantially on this purchase. You didn’t even give a  thought to what you will do with the TV set adorning your living room which you bought last year in similar fashion

  • How many times you have noticed that you enter mall for grocery shopping with a budget of INR5000 and end up spending INR 1500 on grocery + “something else” which had a GREAT offer?

 

Yeah that’s OK, but sometime you need to grab the offer that is going on else you will miss the boat and God knows when such offer will return?

A seasoned impulsive buyer always suffer with FOMO – Fear of missing out. If you add up all impulsive MISCELLANEOUS purchase over a period of time, you will be shocked to know the amount you have spent on these purchases.

 

Below I am listing few reasons – why people shop impulsively

 

  • Love of shopping – some people simply love shopping. For them shopping is like a therapy. They are always under illusion that few items here and there won’t disturb their bank balance.
  • Some shoppers are always in loss aversion mode. They fear that if they do not buy certain items which are on sale, they might end up at losing a big amount of money.
  • Some shoppers succumb themselves to twisted offer phrases. “Buy 2 get third free” , “buy this and get that free” etc. The moment they see these offers, they succumb to it without further researching about the product, service, and quality.
  • Some shoppers have genuine desire to save more. They succumb to the offers on supermarkets which says “you save INR100” , “Buy & save INR1000”. In order to feel good , they buy these items.
  • Some shoppers always feel that they should have an edge over others when it comes to latest gadgets, latest fashion , latest automobiles. They always pick up items which they feel will make them look cool among their social network.

 

 

Hmm.. Sounds right. I never knew impulsive shopping is such a bad habit and I must admit that I myself must have lost a fortune by now through impulsive shopping.

Yes, impulsive buying is harmful. By the time one realise this, he/she would have lost a huge fortune on it. This could hamper your financial planning, your early retirement, your retirement plan and can pose a big threat to your financial independence planning.

Below I am keying in few important actions through which we can avoid impulsive purchase

 

  • Always make a shopping list when you go out for shopping – AND “Stick to it”
  • Follow a mandatory waiting period if you plan to buy anything. If you see anything which you wish to purchase, wait for 7 days and see if after 7 days do you have the same urge to buy that thing? Most of the time the urge is momentary and it dies down soon.
  • If you already owe the item you wish to buy and you intend to replace it, clean it. Now see if you have the same urge? E.g. if you have a pair of shoes and you intend to replace, clean the old pair, wash it / polish it. If you still feel that you should go for the new pair, then go ahead
  • Remember – only fools rush in. All gadgets, the first edition always have some glitches and service issues. Better to wait and go for later releases. They are relatively bug free and cheaper.
  • List down your impulsive purchases – revisit the list periodically so that you do not make the same mistake again
  • Keep decluttering your house often. This will keep you in check of all the items you have and you will not end up buying them again. This is specially applicable for stationary items and tools.
  • Avoid going for shopping with RICH friends or friends who are spendthrift. Believe me, you will save a lot by doing this
  • Don’t save your credit cards at online shopping sites. If you save then it’s a matter of few clicks and online order gets executed.
  • Buy all items cash. Parting with currency notes is much more difficult compared to swiping plastic cards.

 

 

Great. Very practical points. I am sure I can implement these easily in my day to day life and I can save loads of money by doing this.


Yes, the advice given above is quite practical in nature and easy to integrate in your lifestyle. Always remember it’s your own hard earned money. By avoiding impulsive buying you can use your money in much better way.

 

Happy Investing !!!

What are money leaks? How to find out your money leaks and plug them?

“A money leak in a simple language is the money you have spent but you don’t know where you spent. “

Money leaks are just like water leaks from a container. End of the day you don’t know that water is leaking and container becomes empty.

“For example you draw INR 2000 from ATM on the way back to home from workplace. You buy grocery for INR 1000 , vegetables for INR 750, stationery items for INR 150  and have a coffee for INR 100. Somehow next day you forgot that you had coffee previous night and you still think you have INR100 with you from previous withdrawal. This FORGOTTEN INR100 is the “Money Leak” for you. So when you sit down to write expenses over the weekend, you are able to account for INR 1900 out of INR 2000 withdrawn from ATM and unable to account for INR 100 you spent on your coffee.”

 

Money leak - how to fix it

 

Ok Great. But I am good at accounts and I can remember what expenses I incur. So Money leak for me is out of question.
Good. but still as the phrase indicates “money leak” is small expense here and there which is tough to account for at a later date. You may not remember or you may not be knowing the money going out for some expense. But these small expenses can add up later and over a period of time can be a big financial disaster for you. If you compute total spend over a large period say 5 years, these leaks can set you back by a huge amount when you consider the principal amount as well as loss of investment potential of the leaked money. It can directly affect your net worth and can play a spoilsport while planning your financial independence.

 

Hmm Sounds scary. Can you list down few other money leaks so that I get more clarity on where else i am losing money to Money Leaks?

 

  1. Paying upfront for a subscription:
    You make a resolution to stay fit on the new year eve. First day of the new year you go to the best Gym in the neighborhood and register yourself. The gym has an offer that you pay for 12 months upfront and you get 13th month free. You succumb to the offer and pay for the 12 months at on go. You are pumped up and start visiting the gym. After about a week or two, you come to know that Gym is about 10 minutes away and by the time you return from work it’s already late evening. You don’t have energy left to change and again drive for 10 minutes to the gym , work out for 30-45 mins and come back late night. Hence you gradually stop going to the gym. This is a big money leak. You have paid for 12 months to the gym upfront and you are not using it

  2.  Not switching off power appliances:
    The electrical appliances at home are always switched on like AC/Heating/Fans/Lights /modem etc and often you forget to switch them off when you leave home. This is the reason why you bang your head every month when electricity bill comes.
  3. Having low rated power appliances:
    Electrical appliances at home are not rated good for energy savings hence they drain more electricity and you end up paying more charges for electricity consumption.

  4. Having multiple bank accounts:
    You have to maintain a certain minimum balance in each of the account which makes your money sit in a low interest savings account. You are losing on investment potential with the idle money.

  5. Buying too big vehicle :
    You do not need a truck type gas guzzling SUV for a nuclear family living in city. You will not be able to use vehicle to its full potential. For a city you need a good mileage vehicle which is small so that you can squeeze it in tight parking spaces. A big car means higher monthly payments, high insurance premium, high maintenance cost and lot of inconveniences when taking it around the city which has usually tight parking spaces.

  6. Buying too big house :  
    For a nuclear or small family you do not need too big house. Bank will always try to convince you to buy the biggest lot available based on your monthly income. Their logic is monthly payments will not pinch you after few years. But what about now? A big house always has higher monthly payments, higher maintenance cost per square feet, higher property tax and not to mention, higher cost of upkeep. It also consumes higher electricity in terms of cooling, heating etc.

  7. Paying your fund manager for frequent switching of funds/stocks through Portfolio management service (PMS) :
    Fund managers will switch frequently but the cost of switching would be recovered from you as an investor. At the end of the day, the absolute returns will tell you that how much the switching has costed you.

  8. Not shopping around while taking any insurance : This can cost you dear as there is a considerable swing in the premium paid from different service providers. If you lock in higher premium, entire life you would be paying higher premium which over the years will result in huge money drain.

  9. Not doing price comparison and proper research before purchasing any expensive item :
    Here again the price can vary from store to store. Best is to compare the prices online and then hit the shop for bargaining.

  10. Having multiple internet data connection at home:
    If everyone in the family has his/her own plan for data connection, there will be money going into drain. Almost all service providers give family plan for voice and data or some group connection which can save tons of money over a period.

  11. A big sum of money sitting idle in savings account:
    This also a big money leak. You lose a good 3%-4% on earnings plus the investment potential of the money.

I can quote a 100 more examples from day to day life where there is money leak. I am sure most of the readers too would not be knowing points mentioned above to a certain extent.

Yes, even I was not knowing few things like letting money sit idle in savings account, choosing insurance premium etc. It’s scary. Now, tell me how to identify and avoid money leaks in real life?

 

Again avoiding money leaks is not a rocket science. It’s more of a common sense. You need to be vigilant about what expenses you incur, make a note of them and review the expense sheet periodically. You are home if you follow this diligently.
Below are few simple steps which you can take to find money leaks and fix them so that they don’t trouble your finances.

 

  • Save all receipts of every payment you make for the entire month and tally them at the end of the month so that you don’t miss out on any ghost expense.
  • Use a budget and STICK TO IT. Click here to know how to make a simple budget.
  • Avoid money leak places. For example when you go to multiplex to watch a movie, avoid food court during the break. The price of food items and beverages there are exorbitant. Nothing can justify the prices they have. A family can be down by a couple of thousand rupees if they snack and drink at the multiplex food court.
  • While visiting malls , do not buy anything expensive just because there is discount on the price. Always compare prices across different places, research the product well and then only buy.
  • Beginning of every year, do review all the memberships and subscriptions. Cancel anything which is not required.
  • Study a little bit on how to invest money in mutual funds, stocks, bonds etc. Trust me it is not difficult and if you know what you are doing, you can save tons of money. Plenty of FREE study material available online and plenty of tools to invest makes it easy for you if you know the basics of investing. Why to pay someone else to manage your money? Do you think they will do a fair job?

 

Again it depends on an individual to what extent he / she is able to identify and plug the money leaks. Ideally one should start with every service provider, day to day shopping, monthly grocery shopping and identify where they are leaking money.

After reading this article I am sure you should be able to identify money leaks and then take measures to plug the leaks. First cycle of identifying and fixing money leaks may take little time but once you are set, it won’t be difficult for you to identify leaks immediately and fix them. Money leak should be tackled on priority as it’s a big hindrance in wealth creation and can cause a considerable delay to your financial independence.

 

Happy Investing !!!

Why I need diversification of investment?

Why do I need to diversify my investments?

Very often we come across the phrase “you must diversify your investments in order to save yourself from swinging markets” while going through personal finance articles or during a meeting with financial adviser.

I am new to personal finance. The term “Diversification of investment” sounds quite confusing to me. Why to make my life complicated, if I have a bagful of money, I should go and purchase high performing stock of XYZ LTD and be done with my investments, sit back, relax and enjoy my retirement years? Right?

diversification-of investment

 

I do not know what is diversification of investment?
Diversification of investment is a common practice where your investments are spread across different asset class such that your exposure to any one asset class is limited. In other words you are not dependent on only one asset class to give you returns. This saves you from extreme swings in your net-worth in case of any financial turmoil in the economy

 

Ok, understood. Now why do I need diversification in my portfolio? How it is going to help me?
If you are inclined to stocks for the kind of returns they generate and If you keep investing all your money in stocks then you run a risk of exposing yourself to the volatility of stock market. What if when you need a chunk of money and stock markets crash just when you are about to withdraw? Similarly if you like to play safe and invest all your money in fixed deposits then you are reducing the value of your investments as inflation will eat up your money gradually. Hence you need a balanced approach based on your investment horizon and your risk appetite. You need to arrive at an optimized combination where you are not dependent on one asset class and also you are beating inflation so that your overall wealth increases. Diversification of investment if exploited can help you in wealth creation which in turn will help you in racing towards financial independence.

 

Ok, now tell me what are my options for diversification?
Broadly speaking there are asset class like share market, Government bonds, bank deposit schemes, commodities, real estate.

  • Stocks give high returns but there is a high risk factor associated with stocks.
  • Bonds are safe, they have guaranteed returns but the returns are very low. It is difficult to beat inflation when you are invested in bonds. Also bonds come with lock in and not easy to liquidate.
  • Bank deposit schemes give different returns based on the tenure of investment and the product you invest in. They are easy to liquidate and can be used to park cash effectively.
  • Commodities like gold and silver do not appreciate much but they neither do depreciate. They are usually stable even during market crash and also very safe during economic meltdown and in warlike situation.
  • Real estate is a big ticket investment. It gives you good returns over a period of time. Also the biggest drawback is that you can not part liquidate the investment from this. Though through REIT it’s possible now but if you own a property you can not part sell it.

Based on your risk appetite, you should gradually diversify your investment across all classes mentioned above. There are mutual funds that comes in all sizes and covering all asset classes which you can choose to invest your money. But you need to study a little in order to get yourself acquainted with the asset classes and mutual funds. This is not a rocket science but a study will help you to make an informed decision.

 

I am a conservative investor. How can I take benefit of diversification?
If you are a conservative investor, still you have to plan your investments such that you beat inflation which is the biggest killer of your money. As a conservative investor you need to pick the mix of Bank deposits, bond funds, debt funds based on the tenure of the individual investment. Also you will need a certain exposure to stock market so that you can beat inflation. This can be achieved through investing in balanced mutual funds or a small exposure to diversified equity funds. You can have a folio where you invest 80% in bond funds/ bank deposits / debt funds and remaining 20% in diversified mutual funds. Diversified mutual funds will reduce your risk by investing in a range of stocks across sectors and will give you returns which will make your overall folio beat inflation (hopefully)

 

I am an aggressive investor. How do I diversify?
Being an aggressive investor you should focus on generating maximum returns. Also at the same time you should be careful enough that you do not lose money during economic meltdown or stock market crash. You can have a good 60% – 80% investment in stock market and 20% – 40% investments in bond / debt funds / commodities. Here again mutual funds can help you as within stock investment you can further diversify by investing in diversified equity funds, sectoral funds like banking funds, pharma funds, infrastructure funds etc. You can also use mutual funds as vehicle to invest in bonds and debt funds. This will reduce your risk from exposure to uncertainty of stock markets.

 

Ok, all this is fine but what are major concerns with diversification?
The biggest concern with diversification is “over diversification”. It’s human tendency to worry a lot. If as an investor you worry a lot and over diversify yourself by investing across all asset classes with investments in too many sub-classes like all sectors covered by buying top 10 stocks from them. This will create a huge portfolio which will be difficult to manage over time. And also it is difficult to study each sector and re-balance portfolio if you have too many stocks with you. Also there is a cost associated with buying and selling calls each time you execute. Hence it is always advisable to keep the diversification to a level where you can manage it profitably.

 

To Sum up the diversification of investment
There is no generic diversification formula which you can apply to your investments and run your investments on autopilot mode. There are dependencies on time horizon of investment, risk appetite, investment goals, your knowledge about investment and your experience in the investments. All put together, it’s always better you yourself arrive at the diversification distribution of the asset class for your portfolio.

But one thing is sure, if you diversify well based on your risk appetite you can be sure to create wealth over a period of time and you can cut down the risks of wealth erosion due to economic meltdown or share market swings. This balanced approach will also help you in achieving financial independence quickly.

Happy Investing !!!

Accelerate your NETWORTH , Here’s HOW?

Here is a post on How to accelerate your Net Worth & achieve Financial Independence. Increase in net worth will accelerate your journey towards Financial Independence

Net-worth gives a clear measure of your wealth. In accounting terminology, net worth is really everything you own of significance (your assets) minus what you owe in debts (your liabilities)”. Assets include cash and investments, your home and other real estate, cars or anything else of value you own.

 

how to increasse networth

 

Now when it is clear what is net worth, I am sure you would want it to keep growing at a healthy rate. A healthy growth rate in net worth will give you a confidence in your life with respect to your finances.

Here are some of the methods I am listing down which can accelerate growth in your net worth. All these steps are simple and you can implement them in your financial plan to stay on top of your finances and off course net worth.

 

  • Work towards paying all debts.
    Kill the debt with highest interest first. Usually the personal loan which we take for some holidays or some family function carry the highest interest rate. Same is with the credit card debt. Make sure that you get rid of personal loan and credit card debt. Then focus on getting rid of consumer loan which you took for buying that 85 inch cool TV, auto loan for your cool SUV. The EMI on these loans might look small but if you do that math you end up paying a lot in interest on them. Remember the price you pay for any item bought on these loans are the cost of principal plus the cost of interest. Once you are done with all high interest loans, target home loan. Yes, though you get benefit on home loan but a loan is a loan. The feeling of having freedom with no loan is something out of the world.

  • Increase your contribution towards the Employee provident fund.
    If you do not have PF – Provident fund account with your company, open a PPF account with any public sector bank and max-out the limit of yearly deposit in the first month of every financial year. These account ensures that over a long run, you accumulate enough corpus which can help you plan your retirement years they way you want.

  • Make a budget.
    This article details on how to make a basic working budget. Once budget is made, trim your unwanted expenses. Remember you will not be able to trim your unwanted expenses unless you make a budget. Be on top of your expenses and cut down all unnecessary expenses.

  • Do not let your extra cash sitting idle in low interest savings account.
    If you have huge amount sitting idle in savings account, it is losing its value. Currently savings account give only 2%-3% interest. And the inflation is 6%-7% which means your money is losing its value. Immediately put your money to work harder through mutual funds, sweep in deposits, fixed deposits, stock market based on your risk appetite. The returns in these investment streams are higher than the regular savings account and money in them ensures that you are beating inflation and not losing value of your money.

  • Start building a mutual fund portfolio.
    This is from long term perspective and invest into this through systematic investment plans across a diversified range of mutual funds consisting of diversified equity funds, balanced funds, large caps, mid caps. This does not need expertise, it only requires basic knowledge which is available freely on the internet.

  • Reinvest all the income generated from your investments.
    Do not blow away the gains from your investments. If you keep re-investing, it will help in increasing your investment corpus considerable and that too quickly. Also this exercise of yours coupled with the brilliance of compound interesting will accelerate your net worth growth.

  • Invest a fixed amount regularly, every month.
    Pay yourself first – this should be the mantra. Automate your investments. Suppose you receive your salary in the first week of the month, keep your systematic investment plan SIPs automated for the first week of every month. This will ensure that you keep investing every month without a break. Remember – the one who invests regularly and over a long duration reaps the benefits.

  • Invest all the windfalls you get. Do not splurge.
    Gifts and inheritance money can be very helpful in accelerating your net worth.  Remember more money you put in investment, more your investment corpus would be and more money it will generate.

  • Do not go crazy about new vehicles every few years.
    Remember that vehicles are merely an instruments for going from point A to point B. Also remember there is a huge cost associated with the new vehicles in terms of insurance, maintenance, running cost etc. And it is a fact that a vehicle loses about 20%-25% of its value the moment it comes out of the showroom and it is a depreciating asset.

  • Do not accumulate loans to purchase stuff.
    Every new loan you take is a liability and is a hindrance in your plan to financial independence. Every new EMI / monthly payment added to your monthly income will surely decelerate the net worth growth.

If you follow the above listed steps diligently and track your progress, I am sure you will see a positive movement in your net worth. You need to improve, evolve your approach constantly in order to see your net worth moving northward. Each one of us has different lifestyle, different expenses but what is discussed in this article are basic building blocks to improve your net worth.

Improvement in net worth will result in creating wealth and early financial independence. Don’t you want the same?

Why you need Insurance ?

Make sure you are adequately insured:

Definition of insurance: A promise of compensation for specific potential future losses in exchange for a periodic payment.

The definition clearly says it all. However, the companies which offer insurance provide a bouquet of products. Whole life insurance, term insurance, endowment plan, ULIPs, health insurance is some of the product categories. However, each classification may have one or many products with slight variation

Why you need insurance

 

Why you need insurance?
You never know what is going to happen in near/distant future. If someone is the only earning member of a family and due to health reasons, he is unable to work, or due to sudden demise of the sole earning member, family goes in no earning mode.

  •  Who will pay the EMIs of home loan, vehicle loan?
  •  How the monthly household expenses would be taken care of?
  •  How to pay kid’s school fee & tuition expenses?
  •  How to pay expensive nursing care? Hospital expenses are skyrocketing these days.

    Leave apart human life, what if your vehicle needs emergency repair? If the repair cost runs into few thousand of rupees and you do not have contingency funds at hand for this repair, it will be pain for you to arrange the sum and repair your vehicle right?

Answer to above questions in case of unexpected happening is INSURANCE. Insurance make sure that there are no financial hardships to family if something goes wrong.

Do your own research – A little bit of homework is a must

Do not assume that you need to buy insurance policy because your friend who is a salesman in insurance firm told you to do so. First identify purpose of buying insurance. Insurances can be of few types

  • Life insurance: The only purpose of life insurance is to provide safety net to the people if the person taking insurance dies a premature death. This is for the ones who have people financially dependent on them. This gives them means to offset financial losses in case of their demise. The best or rather ideal route here is to take term insurance policy. This is the least expensive solution and serves its purpose well. There are many online calculators available for calculating premium by various service providers online.Other life insurances like whole life policies / ULIPs are also available but they are usually not worth due to the cost associated with them. The investment returns from these products are poor compared to investments in other options.There is no benchmark formula, but general thumb rule is that take insurance cover equal to your liabilities plus 10 times of your annual income. So if you have a home loan + vehicle loan of INR20 lakhs, your insurance cover should be of INR20 lakhs plus 10X your annual income. 10 times of income will give your family a sustained monthly income to cover the expenses for family members
  • Health insurance: If you go back a little in history and compare historical cost of medical treatment, it doesn’t take rocket science to arrive at conclusion that the cost of medical treatment has gone up considerably. And keeping the trend, it will keep moving upward. You must insure yourself to cover the cost of medical treatment. There are host of factors on which the health insurance premium depends. But it is worth comparing offerings from different service providers and to take the best plan based on your requirements. Health insurance will safeguard you from cost of medical treatment and will save tons of cash for you. Also, a healthy family of four, husband, wife and two kids should have a INR8 lakh family floater health plan to cover emergency medical expenses.
  • Vehicle insurance: Vehicle repairs are expensive. Imagine a situation where your vehicle meets with an accident. The vehicle becomes immobile and you need to fine a tow truck. Then the cost of repairs which can break your back. As per the government rules, it is mandatory to take insurance and people usually opt for a third party cover in order to cover any litigation cost arising post accident. But you must opt for a comprehensive plan as there are a lot of costs associated with repairs once your vehicle is involved with an accident. Again loads of online calculators available and based on your needs, opt for the best plan that suits you.

There are other insurances also like home owners insurance, renters insurance, asset insurance, travel insurance but the most important and must have ones have been covered earlier.

If you are not insured and some mishap occurs, your financial plans will go haywire. Also taking proper and adequate insurance is one of the building blocks of financial freedom and wealth creation. Not taking insurance or not taking adequate insurance can make a serious dent in your investment portfolio.

Bottom-line is that one has to make sure that he/she is adequately covered through insurance, both for life as well as health.

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