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How to save and invest for your Kid’s higher education ?

How to save and invest for your Kid’s higher education?

It’s not a rocket science to calculate how the cost of education has increased in last one decade. Where some of us paid close to nothing for our schooling, we are paying through our nose for our kid’s schooling. I myself studied in a central government school and paid INR5 per month as fees for my entire 12 years of school education. And these days just to buy application form for school admission one has to shell out INR500-INR1500.

 

higher education

 

Now imagine the cost of higher education. The PGP class of the most prestigious B school in India – IIM – Ahmedabad will pay INR19.5 Lacs in 2018 for the two years course. And behold, this amount is 400% higher than what IIM-Ahmedabad charged for the same course in 2007.

 

Almost same is the story with all the undergraduate courses for engineering, sciences and all other subjects. If you extrapolate the fee for the next 10 years, the figures become scary. If you have not planned well for your kid’s education fund, you could get a rude shock. Remember, here we have only talked about the cost of education. I have not even touched the cost of lodging and boarding during the education period.

 

This sharp spike in the tuition fees in last decade or so is a wake up call for parents saving for the higher education of their kids. Through this post I am trying to cover the means by which parents can plan the savings and investments for their kid’’s higher education.

 

The strategy for investment will be different for

  • A new born
  • 5 yrs of age
  • 10 years old kid
  • 15 years old kid

 

Based on which group kid falls, you can choose the strategy for your kid’s higher education.

I am covering very simple means to build corpus fund for higher education. I am not using any complicated investment streams for this.

 

When planning for a newborn

The main benefit of planning at this stage is one get a target investment period as 15-17 years. This target period for investment is sufficient to ride on the equity wave to get high returns and plan for a good corpus without pinching pockets. One can try the below mix

  • Start Mutual fund SIP in 5 equity diversified equity funds (distribute MF investment amounts across 5 different funds). With this you can earn up to 12%-15% gains per annum
  • Don’t fall for ULIP
  • Don’t fall for any child education or insurance plan from insurance companies
  • For a 17 year target, once you reach 15 years, start taking out money from equity mutual funds and start parking in short term debt funds through STP
  • Open a PPF account in your kid’s name and max out the account every year. This gives tax free returns on maturity.
  • Whatever cash gifts your child gets on birthday year after year, use it to fund PPF account. Also there is no harm in asking relatives to give cash on birthdays as opposed to gifts and feed the PPF account.
  • Make sure that you start moving equity investments through equity mutual funds to short term debt funds when target year is about 2 years away. This will safeguard your gains in case stock markets show fluctuations

 

When the kid is 5 years old

In this case, one has an investment horizon of 10-12 years. This is also a good time horizon for using equity as investment tool. The benefit of using equity is generating higher returns. If always gives good returns over a longer duration but returns could be volatile in short term. Below mix can be tried

  • Start mutual fund SIP in 3 diversified equity mutual funds. With this you can earn up to 12%-15% gains per annum
  • Start mutual fund SIP in 2 balanced mutual funds. They have up to 40% exposure in debt instruments so the chances of losing money is little less during turbulent markets
  • Open PPF account and max it out every year. This gives tax free returns on maturity.
  • Whatever cash gifts your child gets on birthday year after year, use it to fund PPF account. Also there is no harm in asking relatives to give cash on birthdays as opposed to gifts and feed the PPF account.
  • Don’t fall for any ULIP
  • Don’t fall for any child education or insurance plan from insurance companies
  • Make sure that you start moving equity investments through equity mutual funds to short term debt funds when target year is about 2 years away. This will safeguard your gains in case stock markets show fluctuations

 

When the kid is 10 years old

In this case, the target investment horizon is 7 years. Equity mutual funds to be used judiciously to generate good returns for close to 5 years and then entire equity investment has to be moved to debt in order to keep the gains safe.

Below mix can be tried

  • Start mutual fund SIP in 2 equity funds
  • Start mutual fund SIP in 2 balanced funds
  • Open RD account (if you are under 30% tax bracket – better to move to debt funds right away )
  • Open PPF account and max it out every year
  • Don’t fall for any ULIP
  • Don’t fall for any child education or insurance plan from insurance companies

 

graduation - higher education

When the kid is 15 years old

In this case, you have only 2 years as investment horizon. You can not rely on equity so all equity mutual funds are ruled out. Your entire folio has to be debt oriented. You can try below mix

  • Invest heavily in short term debt / liquid mutual funds through SIP
  • Open RD accounts (if you are under 30% tax bracket – better to move to debt funds right away )
  • Don’t fall for any ULIP
  • Don’t fall for any child education or insurance plan from insurance companies
  • Liquidate all your investments in physical gold which are in the form of coins/bars and move the money into short term mutual funds.
  • For those who have invested in PPF when the child was just born, they can move the maturity amount in short term debt fund. For them it’s time to consolidate the investments and try to save the gains through moving all investments for kid’s higher education into debt instruments.

 

As a parent one has to take charge and start investing for kid’s higher education. Cost of education is rising and educational loans are an expensive bet. Though it’s good to encourage your kid to part fund his/her higher education through educational loan but since the cost of education is very high, a parent can also chip in some amount with the help of steps discussed above.

 

One final word:

If you start planning and investing when the child is just born or up to 2-3 years old, you have a good time horizon to ride the equity markets. A small amount per month for about 15 years can give you excellent returns without straining your finances. For example if you are targeting INR25 lacs over 15 years, you need to save only INR5000 per month in equity funds. If you delay investing for 6 years, your monthly investment figure becomes INR9200. If you wait for another 3 years, the monthly investment amount jumps to INR23800 and with this you may not be able to take benefit of equity market. So be active and start planning now.

 

Happy Investing !!!

7 Simple ways to control spending and start saving money

7 Simple ways to control spending and start saving money

Everyone among us wants to invest money. Whether you are a fresher out of college, someone who has just got married, new parents, someone in 40s heading towards retirement – each one of us want to save and invest for our future.

invest now

The biggest challenge for us is to find out money which we can invest. You may be a graduate from one of the ace universities earning a fat pay package or working as a senior manager with some MNC – but when you look at the savings and investments you have – less said is better. The common excuse is “I don’t have sufficient money to invest”

People, especially young people finds it difficult to save and invest in the initial years of their professional life. Discretionary expenses are quite high among the youth. In one single outing, huge expenses on food and lifestyle is common among youngsters. Gen Y is more focussed on EMIs instead of SIPs. They love to indulge in buying gadgets and newest cars but they don’t have money to save and invest. Most of the youth have same story to tell. They have lavish lifestyle but when asked about savings / investments, they always come up with a  sorry face.

Investments require a lot of disciplined approach and this discipline is the only mantra to make your investment strategy a successful one. Below is the list of 7 mantras that can make you control your spending and help you save money for investments.

Mantra #1
Save before you spend or Pay yourself first : The common approach towards investment is save whatever is left after all expenses. This way most of the people can not save as they don’t have any leftover money by the end of month. They spend their entire income month on month and are left with no surplus money for savings and investments. The best way to tackle this is set aside a sum – say 25% or 20% of your income and at the beginning of the month and invest it via SIP or recurring deposit so that it’s not within your easy reach. Learn to live on 80% of your salary. This will ensure that you are never short of money for investment.

Mantra #2
Avoid using credit cards and don’t save your credit card information on shopping sites :  It has been proved by many researchers that one tend to spend more if he uses credit card or the payment information is saved in online shopping websites. Always buy things with cash. Also when you go to shopping mall, don’t carry your credit / debit cards. Carry cash instead as you can understand the impact of your purchase when you see actual money going out of your pocket.  Remember – Overspending is the biggest block in financial freedom

Mantra #3
Wait before you buy something expensive: When you are fascinated by the new LED TV during the weekend outing at shopping mall – Don’t buy it immediately. Wait for 30 days. If the same urge is there after 30 days, buy the item in cash. Continue this practice with every expensive item you intend to purchase – be it TV, Car, refrigerator, AC etc


Mantra #4
Avoid peer pressure for spending: You don’t need to go out every evening for a coffee when all your team members go. Once in awhile it is fine but there is no need to have it everyday. Same way no need to go out for a drink to the exclusive (“expensive”) pubs every weekend to chill out with friends. It’s perfectly alright not to indulge in theses practices. Remember these practices are big money drain. We have seen earlier how not to succumb to peer pressure 

Mantra #5
Start investing in small amounts without any excuse: Whatever little money you have saved, start investing in Mutual funds/stocks/recurring deposits without making any fuss. If you keep thinking that you don’t have enough money for investments, things will never improve. You must start with whatever little you have and keep growing your portfolio gradually but steadily. Start goal based investing which can simplify your investment strategy. We have seen earlier – Do not delay investing as it can cost you dearly 

Mantra #6
STOP using window shopping as a de-stressing tool : Using window shopping as an excuse to de-stress can harm you in the long run. Buying / gathering stuff without any objective can drain your money like anything. It also puts you under undue stress as you keep looking for deals on anything and everything which you don’t need. Always advisable to make shopping need based with a list in hand when you go out to buy something. This will keep your life as well as home clutter free and free up a lot of investable surplus money. We have seen how supermarkets are a big trap earlier and how to avoid impulsive buying

 

stop spending

Mantra #7
BUDGET- BUDGET – BUDGET : There is no way around the exercise called BUDGET. Don’t buy any WANT items if it’s not budgeted for. Keeping track of expenses also keep your expenses in check as the figures will give you a real picture. When you start budgeting and writing your expenses, you will free up a lot of GHOST money which usually gets disappeared in your window shopping and unplanned entertainment. This link will help you on how to start budgeting 

If you stick to these practical 7 mantras, you will find yourself saving and investing regularly for your future. Remember, it’s your own money and none other than you can take care of it in a better way.

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 !!!

Wealth Mantra: Buy assets and avoid liabilities

Wealth Mantra: Buy assets and avoid liabilities

 

Is there any formula which can make me or someone like me wealthy?

Keep on accumulating assets and keep on avoiding liabilities – This is a fool proof mantra to become wealthy.

 

Asset and liability

OK, but can you elaborate as I can not understand this? The terms liabilities and assets are too technical for me.

Don’t go into too much technical details about ASSETS and LIABILITIES. To keep things simple and easy to understand let’s consider asset as something that generates a positive cash flow regularly. This is something that was explained by Robert Kiyoski in his famous book Rich Dad & Poor Dad. Also, we will consider anything that takes money out of your pocket as liability.

The above assumptions are quite simple as you have a very clear demarcation between assets and liabilities. Let’s scan through some of the common items and check if they add up as your ASSET or qualify as LIABILITY to you.

HOUSE:
I am sure like everyone you also must be having a strong belief that your house is your biggest asset.

Yes, I have a big house with a big monthly payment going out against the home loan/ mortgage I took out to purchase it. It is indeed the biggest asset I have till date.

Keep our initial definition of ASSET and LIABILITY in mind. Let’s go through the expenses associated with a house.

  • You take out home loan/mortgage to buy a house. You pay processing fees, lawyers fee and several other charges while purchasing
  • You pay monthly maintenance charges to Association/Society for the upkeep of the common area and housekeeping charges for the common area
  • You pay sinking fund
  • You pay annual property taxes
  • You dole out money to keep the house in proper shape – maintaining cleanliness inside the house, make sure all taps, fittings, fixtures etc are in proper working condition.
  • You pay money for the repainting job every couple of years


The list can be pretty long. If you see, every single head mentioned above results in money going out of your pocket. Now if we go back to our original definition – it says anything that gives you regular return or puts money back into your pocket qualifies as an ASSET.

Now here we have our house which is not fitting in the definition of ASSET.

Sure, you can say that house price will appreciate in due course. But the appreciation can not match the kind of money that goes out of your pocket month on month to maintain the house.

So the house is a kind of liability. To counter the liability factor, one must buy the house which is of right size. The house which fits your need in terms of space and pricing. The moment you buy a bigger house than you need, money starts going into drain. Here I would like to add that if you have a rental property, then it is your ASSET not LIABILITY.

Oh, I was under the impression that I have a big house and it’s a big asset for me. Your arguments seems to be logical.

Let’s take CAR now:

It is said that the moment a car comes out of a showroom, it loses about 15% of its value.

On top of this, your car consumes money in

  • Fuel
  • Regular maintenance, oil changes, servicing etc.
  • Car depreciate with the passage of time
  • Wear and tear of tyres, other parts
  • Annual insurance premiums
  • Road tax

Here again we see that the car is consuming your money regularly. Hence your Car is also your LIABILITY. The takeaway here is unless you are super rich, don’t buy a bigger, expensive car. Remember a car is a mere tool to take you from point A to point B. So here again buy what you need, not what your neighbor drives. More details can be found here – Your car is not your asset

 

Hmmm sounds right. What about the items I owe like my belongings etc?

Now list down all your belongings. They are your LIABILITIES as they lose value over time. Be it your furniture, appliances, gadgets, books, DVDs, gaming devices etc. All depreciate. We have seen it earlier too here 

liability is bad

You have listed down almost all my possessions under LIABILITY column. I am now curious to know what qualifies as ASSET?

  • Your assets include your investments (FD/RD/ULIPs/Mutual funds, shares, ETF, Bonds)
  • Any commodity (Gold/ ornaments)
  • Collectible items
  • Art (paintings etc)
  • Rental properties
  • Cash you are holding

All the line items listed above generate income over a period of time. They put money into your pocket regularly so they all classify as your ASSET

The key here in accumulating assets is to make financial goals, stay focused and never crib about your income but keep investing regularly.

Now, let’s see something interesting based on the classification of ASSET and LIABILITIES. Let’s see what poor, middle class and wealthy people do.

Poor: They mostly own liabilities and keep spending on feeding their liabilities.

Middle class: They have some assets but they keep on buying liabilities and spend their chunk of income in feeding their liabilities. They avoid investments and usually spend money to buy and maintain things they don’t need.

Wealthy:They generate a lot of income from investments and keep reinvesting. They accumulate good amount of wealth which can be passed to their next generation.

Now financially independent class: This particular class has plenty of good assets and income from investments is enough to take care of all their expenses. They constantly look for investment opportunities and never averse of buying good assets.

Bottom-line is one must keep buying good income generating ASSETS and avoid LIABILITIES like plague. If you stick to this, none can stop you from becoming WEALTHY. As you go on accumulating good assets, you get more freedom to take calculated risk in order to go for higher gains.

 

Happy investing !!!

Delaying investments? It can cost you DEARLY

Delaying investments can cost you DEARLY

When it comes to decision making about finances and investments, most of us like to postpone it to some other day. This stands true not only for decision making about investments but also for evaluating existing finances.

 

delaying your investments

Yes, I agree. Even I have not thought of investments as of now. Somehow I feel it is not my cup of tea and anyways my money is safe in bank, I can always invest it at a later date when I feel the time is right.


Unknowingly, you are ignoring an important fact that there is a REAL cost which is associated with the delay in investments. Most of us tend to get away with this as there are no immediate visible effects of these delays. Nor we proactively calculate the potential damage it can cause. 


Your money laying in savings account gives you 3%-4% returns whereas it can give you 12%-14% if invested in proper channels. Imagine the difference a 9% returns can make on INR10,00,000 over a period of 20 years. As per compound interest calculator – it comes to INR5,604,410


You realize this only when you need funds for a certain life goal. Then you realize that had you invested your money at the right place, you would have got much better returns. Be it while buying a car, buying a house or for kid’s higher education or a wedding in family. If you keep delaying, you need more amount as investment at a later stage to achieve desired funds. The early you realize this, better it is for you. You must know how to use the magic of compounding to your advantage.

 

What could be the possible ways to avoid this delay and properly set the investment cycle?


There could be many things responsible for the delay at your end. You first need to identify the problem which is withholding you. It could be

  • A large sum of money laying around in savings account
  • Multiple savings accounts you have opened over the years – each with certain minimum balance and other service charges
  • Some investments got matured, amount in savings account but no re-investment done
  • Your own belief that “this is not the right time to enter the markets”
  • Not taking any decision to exit from certain bad investment
  • Not nominating anyone for your accounts/ investments


Your reason for postponing investments can be many

  • You are too busy and you do not have time to build and manage your portfolio
  • You think that you do not have enough money to start investing
  • You are afraid of making some wrong investment decision and you fear losing money
  • If someone suggests some investment product and handover the brochure, you find it too technical to read and it seems decoding the product attributes is too complicated job for you
  • You are comfortable with what you know that is you have done some fixed deposits as they are simple and easy for you to understand. For this reason, you do not think beyond fixed deposits.


Rightly said, looks like I am also holding some of my investment decisions because of the points raised above. Now tell me how to break ice ad keep going strong on investment front?

 

You have to overcome your fear. To learn swimming, you need to enter the waters. You then need to test the depth of the water and then swim where you are comfortable. So

  • You think that you do not have enough money to start investing – Investments can be started with an amount as low as INR500 per month. If you keep thinking that you do not have enough money, you will never be able to start investments. Remember – “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

 

  • You are afraid of making some wrong investment decision and you fear losing moneyStart small. Start with products which gives you fixed returns and keep reading about investments. The only way to overcome your fear is knowledge about investment basics
  • If someone suggests an investment product and handover the brochure, you find it too technical to read and it seems decoding the product attributes is too difficult job for youDo not enter into complex investments. Start with basic and simple products which your bank offers over the counter like fixed deposits, recurring deposits etc.
  • You are comfortable with what you know To diversify and to make an optimized portfolio, you need to add different forms of investments at some point of time. Even if you are comfortable with fixed deposits only, you will still have to gradually add mutual funds, stocks, commodities etc in order to make your folio slightly more stable and to give you returns which are above the market inflation rate.

Do not delay your investments

 

You can take few small steps on how to start investments and be consistent with it

  • The key is planning – You must spend some time in evaluating your current status, identify the problems and plan the corrective actions based on your findings 
  • Study a little bit – Read finance blogs, magazines, read economic times and gain some basic knowledge about investing, mutual funds, equity markets, portfolio diversification etc.

 

  • BUDGET This is the most important step as it will tell you how much investible surplus you have for investments month on month. A simple budget can be made using this link

 

  • Automate investments – Do not wait till the month end to invest the leftover amount after expenses from your salary. Learn to pay yourself first. Your monthly investments should be done within the first week of the month. With the budget thing, you will know how much investible surplus you have for a month. Plan investments based on it and automate your investments. 
  • Review your investments every quarter – If possible, take stock of your investments every month. This will not only motivate you but also will keep you on top of your investments. You will have figures handy about your exact net worth, liabilities etc based on the monthly data you compile. 
  • IF NOTHING WORKS, hire a financial planner – Take professional help. But do involve yourself in planning and execution so that you can learn and you are aware of what is happening with your money. Afterall it’s your money. But make sure that you hire a good professional, not the local insurance agent who is always eager to sell you insurance policies.

 

We at wealth samurai always believe Your money is your money – it is you who has to take care of your money. None else is more interested in growing your money through investments than you. Whoever shows interest will have his/her personal interest attached in helping you. So take charge of your money, your financial investments, your budgeting and work towards achieving financial freedom

 

Happy Investing !!!

Goal based investing- A must to be successful with finances

Goal based investing- A killer plan which will always succeed

As per experts and veterans in personal finance, GOAL based investing will always result into success.

 

One of the keys to every project or every task is to have a PLAN. Same is with investing .You need to have a proper plan. Setting right investment goals can go long way in developing a proper plan that works for you.

goal-based-investing

 

Why do I need to set Goals for investments? I have money I can directly put that into stocks as they give higher returns and I am done with it. Every month I will keep buying new stocks with investible money.

 

Taking goal based approach will ensure the below

  • With goals in place it’s more likely that you end up saving required money before you reach goal
  • By having goals you have proper time horizon with you. This makes you to utilize proper asset allocation and minimize the risk by spreading investments across multiple assets over a period of time.

 

Why you invest money? You invest money so that in future the same can be utilized for various needs such as retirement, health care, education for kids etc. When you put money for investing, ask yourself a question – For what I am saving this money? IF you attach your investment to some of important goals then you know how much you are investing and for what specific purpose.

 

Ok, what could be the generic goals to begin with for an investor like me who is not seasoned and just starting?

 

Goals for investment can be

  • Retirement
  • A foreign holiday 2 years down the line
  • Buying a second home
  • Kids higher education
  • Kids wedding
  • Buying a vacation home
  • Upgrade of existing car after 5 years and so on

 

Good. but why goal setting is required for me? Kindly explain this to me

Below are some reasons why goal setting is important and required for everyone

  • Goals help you to avoid under saving.
    If you have planned to save INR10,00,000 for car upgrade in next 5 years and you set aside INR15,000 per month for the same, you would be able to accumulate INR9,00,000 after 5 years of term as principal and well over INR10,00,000 including the interest which will enable you to go for the purchase without scouting for money elsewhere.

 

  • Plan ahead for the goals – save less money
    When you plan for a goal like retirement which is say for example 25 years away, you need to set aside small amount per month towards it. You can also take help of equities as the investment term is fairly large. This will give you better returns as equities tend to give best returns over longer duration.  Same is applicable for the other goals too.
  • It helps you achieving the target more practically
    When you start investing keeping a goal in mind with some target amount – you have flexibility to tweak monthly investments towards it if the target amount value changes. This will help you in staying flexible and moreover you will be more realistic in your approach. 
  • Goals help you save for tangible outcome
    When you have goals, it’s more likely that you will achieve them.When you attach a real outcome, it’s more likely that you will work hard to achieve it somehow. Human is more motivated by real things than by some abstract numbers 
  • Your budget never goes haywire  
    With goals in place, you know how much your monthly spending would be. This will help you in doing proper budgeting month on month and you will be in control of spending and your budget will never go haywire

 

  • You can avoid debt using goal based investing
    When you associate goal based investing with every large purchase, you will have actual money to pay for the purchase. This way you can avoid getting into debt and can remain debt free
  • You can optimize your investment portfolio and maximize returns
    With a set target tenure, you get more insight into your portfolio. You Allocate assets based on the tenure and this way you have an optimized portfolio which means you manage the risk well.
  • You have guilt free spending money at hand month on month
    When you allocate your money monthly towards different goals, the leftover money with you can be spent without any guilt, without thinking that spending the leftover money will cause financial problems at a later date.

 

 

Thanks, I got to know a lot of things and with goal based investing I can do my financial planning in a much better way and the most important thing is I can avoid debt.

 

Yes, and above all goal based investing will make you a better and disciplined investor and can optimize your investments

Happy investing !!!

Financial success : It’s not about the Stuff you gather

Remember: Financial success is not about the Stuff you gather

Financial Success

If I ask you “What are the the changes you would make in your life if more money starts reaching you – that is you have a better job paying higher salary than existing one?”

Most probably the answer would be

 

  • Buying a better smartphone
  • Upgrading the laptop
  • Buying a bigger house
  • Taking a nice vacation abroad
  • Upgrading your car

 

 

The list would be infinite. Isn’t it?


Yes, that’s true. But I need to buy these things as these things will add comfort to my life. Since I am earning more, don’t you think I deserve these? Others should also know that I am doing well in life.

 

“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.” — Will Rogers

 

It’s easy to spend money to buy stuff, to buy things that make us look cool and gives impression that we are well off financially. But the truth is most financially well off people do not need to show that they are well off. They know very well that their financial success is not indicated by the money they earn and spend it in buying the stuff every year. It is indicated by how much they earn and keep for growing it year on year.

 

Yes, true but I need to buy a decent SUV as I had a dream of buying it when I was in college. True that I can not afford it outright but I am eligible to buy it on monthly payments.

You are looking to buy a SUV which is not meant for city driving conditions and costs you a bomb. Any sports utility vehicle is expensive & comes with a huge list of expenses with it. Expensive car means more monthly payment, more maintenance cost, more insurance premium and expensive spare parts. Moreover, you will not be able to use majority of its features when you use it as a daily commuter vehicle. Instead of buying you can always rent it for a spin or two when you feel so. Read here why your car is not you ASSET

 

Hmm sounds good. But if I am not having a big house, an expensive car and latest gadgets, how will others know that I am doing well. Also I need to justify to myself too

Right but this is your life and why you have to buy stuff to show others that you are doing well in your life? You can not spend your hard earned money simply to please others. Remember, money is merely a tool to attain happiness, money itself is not happiness.

 

True, I agree but how to measure financial success? How anyone can come to know that he is heading towards financial success?

A simple and quite accurate measure of financial success is NET-WORTH. If you have a reasonably high positive net worth and it’s growing at a decent pace then it means you are doing well financially.

 

net worth is really everything you own of significance (your assets) minus what you owe in debts (your liabilities)”.

 

  • Do you have a house which is mortgage/ loan free
  • Do you have a sizable emergency fund
  • Do you have a vehicle which is paid cash
  • Do you have no consumer finance
  • Do you are covered adequately on insurance front
  • Do you have an investment account and you are regularly investing
  • Do you have a positive net worth and a retirement fund which will give you regular income post retirement

If you have “YES” as answer for most of the above points, yes you are doing well financially. Do remember, age also plays important factor in the points listed above. But even if you are young, a positive net worth indicates that you are on the right rack and doing well financially.

 

Remember – you are accountable to yourself. Do a tight scrutiny periodically on your finances, on your investments, on your budget. If you honestly (you can not lie to yourself , right?) find that your net worth is growing, you are heading in the right direction.

 

You have some valid points. But all seems too much complicated. How can a beginner like me can proceed and implement this to my finances?

It is not complicated. You need to move step by step.

 

Always remember

  • Money alone doesn’t bring happiness but it sure can help
  • You only have to take care of your money and ensure that it grows – none else will do it unless they have their own personal interest attached to it
  • Money can not solve all your problems. Yes but it can help you sail through most of your problems

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 !!!