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7 Financial mistakes you will certainly regret when you turn 50

7 Financial mistakes you will certainly regret when you turn 50

 

financial mistakes

For a common man, investment just happen. Every working professional becomes an investor for sure at some point during his / her career. It could be

  • By buying tons of insurance policies just because your father also bought when he was young
  • By becoming elite member of a famous get rich quick Ponzi MLM scheme – where only elite and selected few are invited to join. You join this because one of your highflying and partygoing neighbor has selected you to be a part of high flying life.
  • Opening some fixed deposits and some recurring deposits as one of the senior coworker is doing the same.
  • By buying some land miles away from town, purely going by the words of the land developer that the piece will be worth 100 time after x years

Here we see that investment choices are highly influenced by external factors. This external factor could be our family member, coworker, media – digital / print / TV, so called experts or relationship managers from our bank etc.

A common man, influenced by external factors take financial investment decisions. I am going to discuss a few of the financial mistakes made by common man which he will regret once he turns 50. This common man could be YOU – reading this post.

financial-mitakes-2

These mistakes you will certainly regret when you turn 50

Delaying investments

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.

If you think that you will invest once you have sufficient money at a later date – You are WRONG. Believe me, the later date will never come in your life. The more you delay, more you will lose on the benefits of compounding.

 

Delaying investments? It can cost you DEARLY
The magical power of compounding

 

Not taking any risk with investments

For most of us, investing means opening up a fixed deposit or buying an insurance policy from some relative or a friend. While investing we never check for the real rate of returns or the cost of investment we are making. This ignorance results in the earnings which are far below the inflation rate and highly taxed. Though we do investment, but it results in a loss for us as the net gains usually are less when you figure out inflation and taxes in the earnings.

It is indeed surprising that even young working professionals resort to insurance and term deposits as an investment. When you have age in your favor, you must look to invest into equity through various channels.

Investments in equity will fetch far better returns over a long period compared to the money invested in term deposits and insurance. You can not create a sizeable retirement corpus without the help of equity exposure.

You do not have to be an equity expert to invest in equities.

Want to enter equity markets? Index based ETF funds are the safest bet 
When you should start investing in stocks?

 

Not diversifying the 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.

When you do not diversify, you are unable to take advantage of the better performing asset class. Broadly speaking there are asset class like stock market, Government bonds, bank deposit schemes, commodities, real estate. At any given point of time , certain asset class will be giving better results than the other – based on the market economics. When you diversify, you need not to keep looking at your investments constantly and can sit and relax in peace.

Imagine during a bull run if you place your entire money in stock market and suddenly one day the market crashes and by the time it settles down you are down by 30%-40% on your principal. So no diversification is a big threat to your hard earned money too.

Why I need diversification of investment?

 

Falling prey to dubious / MLM investment schemes

We must accept that we are greedy and our investments are also greed driven sometimes.

We have seen in the past – many ponzi schemes come and go. They do not make anyone rich but most of the investors are left with no money when the scheme suddenly disappears.

Speak Asia, questnet and many such schemes are example where people have invested huge sums and lost their entire investment in no time.

There is no fool proof quick rich scheme which exists. If someone promises this to you, it’s a big trap. This is also true for get rich quick MLM schemes. When you invest, do some logical postmortem of your investment instrument. And always be skeptical about get rich quick and MLM schemes.

 

Mixing investment with insurance

Life Insurance covers your life and safeguard your dependents. Health insurance helps you in emergency situation where in you have to undergo some expensive medical procedure. So the term “insurance” assures you that in case of any unexpected emergency – insurance company will take care of you or your dependents.

The moment you try to mix insurance with investment – you are headed for something which is not right for your portfolio. Insurance linked investments can cost you heavy in the short term as well as long run. The thumb rule is not to mix insurance with investment but still millions of policies are bought every year – just for sake of investments or for sake of taking last minute tax benefits. These policies not only gives below par returns but also force you to have long term lock in. you can not get out of them as the exit costs are very high.

Also by investing in insurance linked investments you are locking your precious capital which can be used to generate much better returns.

Why you need Insurance ?

 

Not taking adequate 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.

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

Do not assume that you need to buy insurance policy just because your friend who is a salesman in insurance firm told you to do so. First identify purpose of buying insurance. Assess your requirements, do your research properly and make sure that you are adequately covered with insurance for Your life and your health.

 

money mistakes

 

 

Not having an emergency fund

In personal finance and money management, emergency fund is the first line of defense against the unexpected problems in life. Financial emergencies can happen anytime, and most of the time they occur without warning.

  1. What if your car needs immediate repair?
  2. What if you are out of job for a couple of months?
  3. What if you broke your leg while playing gully cricket?
  4. What if a sudden voltage surge damaged your TV/Fridge/AC and all devices?
  5. How you are going to tackle this?

One must have a sufficient emergency fund to tackle any emergency situation. This fund can be parked in any accessible liquid mutual fund which can give you good return and you can access it pretty quickly when the need arise.

What is an emergency fund? And why you should have one?

 

So instead of being sorry when you turn 50, TAKE CHARGE or your finances. Be active and start investments for your needs.

Happy Investing !!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 !!!

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 !!!

Do you often succumb to Financial Peer Pressure?

Financial Peer Pressure

What is Financial Peer Pressure? Do you often succumb to financial peer pressure?
If yes, here is a guide about how to fight financial peer pressure effectively.

 

financial peer pressure

 

What is financial peer pressure ?

Financial peer pressure refers to people developing new habits because of people they hang out with. For example, you start working and you get a new set of colleagues. You may not be regular with your evening coffee but since new colleagues regularly visit cafeteria for evening coffee dose, you also start visiting the tony coffee joint daily for the same.

Financial Peer Pressure in the longer run can suffocate your financial planing and it has capability to put you down morally too.

Looks like same thing happened to me too when I joined my company last year. Can you give some more examples of financial peer pressure so that it’s more clear to me?

 

In our day to day life we encounter many instances of financial peer pressure.

  • We often plan our summer vacations at exotic places with stay at signature hotels just to show off our relatives and friends.
  • Weddings are the place where people love to show their wealth – be it designer clothes, designer jewelry or lavish spending at the wedding functions.
  • People rush to buy latest gadgets just to show off them to their colleagues.

 

The typical financial peer pressure is visible everywhere around us. Knowingly or unknowingly we also succumb to this financial peer pressure.

  • At home

 

    • Financial peer pressure comes to us in the form of holiday trips. We get tempted by the trips made by our neighbors and relatives and try to go to the same places they visited so that we do not feel inferior to them.
    • We often plan a movie at the multiplex followed by the dinner at signature restaurants on the weekends so that we do not feel inferior to our friends and colleagues. And we have good masala updates for our Facebook timeline.
    • We make it a point to visit malls over the weekend to do some window shopping to satisfy the shopper in us. Do read this to know how supermarkets are a big trap.
    • We always look to buy new gadgets so that we can match the standard of our neighbors. If our neighbor buys a 60 inch LED TV, we try to better it by buying 75 inch LED TV.
    • We always look to buy / upgrade our automobile to show others that we have big car and we are no less than others.

We always buy latest toys for our kids, we send our kids to popular summer camps, we send them to expensive schools just to ensure that people see we are doing good financially and for the heck of not feeling inferior to others.

  • At work

 

    • You make it a habit to join end of the day coffee at coffee joint with your team members
    • Weekly lunch outing to expensive restaurants
    • Event celebrations at expensive lounges / resorts like birthdays / anniversaries etc
    • You join regular office parties and snack parties  
    • You keep updating your mobile phones just because your office colleagues have the latest models.

 

financial peer pressure - workplace

Oh my God, the list is long and well diversified. Unknowingly I am also spending a lot of money just to show off others – which is not required. Can you help me out on how to tackle financial peer pressure in day to day life?

The solution to this menace is not that complicated. Below are few points I am mentioning which will help you out in tackling financial peer pressure.

 

 

  • Stop trying to keep up with others

 

      • You do not have to plan your vacations based on your neighbor’s vacation plans or your friends vacation plans. Plan your holidays based on your likes and more importantly based on your budget. Intelligently planned vacations can save tons of money from going into the drain
      • For kids – stop buying expensive toys just because your neighbor buys them for their kids. Kids are more happy when you spend time with them and they are more happy with activity based games.
      • Say a clear no or fix the frequency of the parties your colleagues arrange. You need not to attend every single party. Right?
      • Don’t follow your friends and neighbors and go for shopping sprees. Whenever you go for shopping make it a point to have written shopping list as frequent window shopping can make a big dent in your budget.
      • It doesn’t make any sense to visit multiplexes every weekend to watch the latest movie and have food in expensive restaurants. You can have a movie night at home. Now with Netflix and host of other service providers it’s possible to have movie watching a less expensive affair. Also food tastes much better if prepared at home with entire family pitching in as helping hand.
      • Stop getting into FOMO – Fear of Missing Out. This will make you feel inner happiness in a better way and you can enjoy life more.

 

  • Take experience – Create memories instead of buying stuff

 

    • Kids would love to go out and have a match of football instead of going to the mall for watching movies every weekend.
    • Take kids to museums, parks, forests, outdoors – help them to see beauty of nature, identify plants, birds, insects. This will make them more happy than sitting in VR room playing video games.
    • Plan vacations such that you see places of natural beauty, historical importance in and around your town. No need to go to maldives to experience beaches when you can have same experience in Goa for less than half the cost.
    • Instead of having theme based parties for kids birthday, you can have activity based party wherein all the kids do some activity which interests them. Kids always love doing activities together.
  • Focus on your monthly budget
    Keep track of your expenses. This link will help you out on how to budget for expenses. Make sure you keep an eye on useless expenses like subscriptions, eating junk, mall visits etc and cut them down.
  • Do not get influenced by Social media
    If your neighbor is visiting Switzerland for summer vacations, you need not to visit the same place just to show that you are no less than your neighbor.
  • Learn to draw a line – Learn to say NO
    This is very important. If you master the art of saying no to the things which harms you, you can overcome the financial peer pressure to a good extent.

 

Some good insights and some practical steps which I can take to counter Financial peer pressure. Thank you for elaborating these for me.

Yes, and one final thing – Your life should be driven by you NOT by the likes of others. This will not only make your life better but will improve your finances in long run. Also this can be considered a positive step towards wealth creation.

 

Happy investing !!!