Browse Category: Retirement

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 !!!

 

Thumb Rule for any Retirement plan – Remember Your money has to outlive you

“Always remember – Your money has to outlive you”

Interesting sentence. But why do I need to worry about this? All our forefathers never worried about this so why should I break my head over this?

Things were different till last generation. Till a couple of generation back, things were pretty cool. Life was quite easy, you work for 30-35 years with any corporation and you retire with a regular pension amount per month which could take care of your day to day living. Families were joint and there were grownup kids to take care of you during your retirement years. Medical care was not expensive and life was relatively easy.

 

a good retirement plan

 

Yes, you are right. Things have changed drastically in this generation. Can you let me know what else has changed?

  • Life expectancy has increased by about 20%- 25% in this generation. This means you will need to spend more years on this earth and that too of your old age.
  • It doesn’t take rocket science to arrive at the conclusion that healthcare costs have skyrocketed in last few years and they are expected to climb more
  • Cost of living – day to day expenses have increased with more exposure to urban living. Similarly cost of services have also increased at a steady pace.
  • Biggest change is the family structure. Families are no longer joint families. Due to migration to urban areas families have become nuclear families and aged ones does not have a chance to live with grownup kids in their dusk years.

 

This sounds scary. What can I do to tackle this situation and have a comfortable life after retirement?

Yes this is scary for many of us too. As per many research reports, it is said that about more than 50% people who are about to retire are not in position to retire due to insufficient savings in their retirement funds.

There is no shortcut or a quick fix solution to this issue. You need to take comprehensive approach towards your retirement right from the beginning so that you can avoid retirement blues. As an employee you spend your life in helping company to enhance and balance their balance sheets, now it’s time you also think seriously to work on balance sheet of your life.

 

Ok, now help me out and tell me how can I get control over my retirement finances?

Below are several steps to take in order to make your money outlive you. These steps are simple to execute and if one takes these steps then he/she will be able to head towards a comfortable retirement financially.

  1. Make a proper plan
    It is said that planning is the most important task to do anything. If there is proper planning then things bound to fall in place. Plan, Plan and again plan. Also at any stage of life, do not hesitate to go back and re plan if you think a particular strategy is not working. Have your plan written on paper so that you can constantly monitor and update it when required.
  • Plan your investment portfolio
  • Plan the asset allocation at different life stages
  • Plan the savings/investment targets by age
  • Plan your career in order to maximize your earnings
  1. Always aim for a bigger retirement corpus fund than you have planned
    In any pan there is always room for some uncertainties. Always keep a buffer for uncertainties and go for at least 1.25 or 1.5 times of the nest egg you have planned for retirement. This will help you to sail through any hurdles that comes in your path while contributing towards your nest egg.
  1. Plan to work a little longer
    This does not mean to toil even after your retirement. Idea is to work a little more – may be as a consultant on a part time basis for few more years so that the transition from active work life to retired life is smooth. This additional work will also help you to amass little more corpus fund for the retirement.
    BUT consider this only if you feel like working as during the end of professional life very few would like to work for some more time.
  2. Take adequate health cover
    It is easy and cheaper to take health cover at young age. Evaluate various service providers and take appropriate health cover so that you don’t have to shell out money for medical reasons. Remember – health care costs have already skyrocketed and are set to increase further.
  3. Get rid of all debts as soon as possible
    As I had discussed earlier too, try to avoid consumer debt, personal loans and any other loan as it costs money to service loans. Mortgage/home loan also try to complete sooner than its tenure so that you have sufficient free money for investment targeting your retirement. Any debt is a hindrance in wealth creation.
  4. Do not forget inflation in your plan for retirement
    Inflation is a termite which constantly eats up your money and reduces its value. When you plan for investments, retirement corpus fund do consider the inflation. Inflation factor must be considered so that you achieve your target corpus fund without any surprises midway to retirement.
  5. Re-look at your plan every year
    By doing this you can evaluate your progress and take corrective action. Remember for any long term plan you need constant evaluation-feedback-corrective action cycle in order to maximize the chances of its success.
  6. Budget – Budget – Budget
    Note down every expense daily – month by month (how to do it). It doesn’t take much time but it ensures that you plug money leaks. Money leaks can prove deadly and unless you write expenses you will never come to know where your money is leaking. Budgeting also helps in proper funds allocation to investments which in turn will help in creating a good retirement corpus fund.

Once you diligently follow the 8 steps listed out above, you will have a better control over your retirement finances.

If you still find things not getting better at retirement age, do not hesitate to look for reverse mortgage option. You have paid monthly payments for a good period of your life towards your home, why not capitalize it through reverse mortgage. This will give you sufficient money for day to day expenses.

One final word, if you are alone or feel you could be burden to your kids, plan well ahead for a care home for elderly. Plan a retirement corpus fund well in advance which can enable you to move to an elderly care facility where you can have a dignified life.

Bottom line is , it is your life and your money. Only you have to plan it as none else would be interested in doing it for you without any personal interests. So take charge of your life, plan out things, work on a proper retirement plan and early financial independence so that you can spend your golden years in peace.

 

 

Do not wait to invest

It is often said that “the best time to start investing is NOW!”

Do not be surprised with the fact that most of the new investors are always confused about what is the right time to invest. Quite obvious, the educated ones want to save their principal amount and with whatever knowledge they have gathered, they know if they enter at extreme market highs, they could stare at huge losses few years down the line.

 

right time to invest

 

Everyone knows that one cannot time market. Instead of fretting about when to enter the market, tie your investments to how long you wish to stay invested. Always associate a goal with your every piece of investment. Along with the goal, also try associating a timeline too to your investment. For example, if you start a PPF account – you have a time period of 15 years (lock in period) to invest. In addition to 15 years, you can add blocks of 5 years to this term. So now you can associate the goal of buying retirement home with the proceeds of maturity amount after 20 years. INR1,50,000 systematic investment for 20 years can yield approximately INR4,50,000 on maturity.

Once you start working, you have enough financial goals staring at you

  • Buying an automobile
  • Buying house
  • Finances for wedding
  • Starting a family
  • Kids education
  • Retirement planning
  • Medical expenses
  • Taking care of dependents

And the list can go on…..

Take control of your life. Be at the driver seat. Identify goals in your life, assign a timeline and start investments for specific goals. Do not wait for the next salary increment, next promotion, your marriage, markets to go high or markets to come down and any other lame excuse that you can come up with to start putting money aside for your retirement years.

There are enough indicators for you to start investing the moment you start earning.

  • If you are in private sector, you will not get pension
  • Due to betterment in medical facilities and healthcare, average age of a person is increasing. You may have to live around 20 years in retirement before you die or may be longer. How you will fund your expenses?
  • Inflation is eroding the investment portfolios at a greater rate than ever as medical costs, housing costs, energy and every other service cost is increasing at a greater rates.
  • Cost of education for kids skyrocketing
  • Day to day living expenses are increasing

Whatever your dreams about retirement are (playing golf, traveling etc); you have to make sure that you outlive your money. If it’s the other way round, you will have to struggle a lot to place food on your table.

As I had mentioned earlier, your money is your money and only you can manage it better. You will have to invest and make your money grow so that you have enough funds for the retirement years. This will make you not to rely on your children to feed you during your old age and you can maintain your self esteem.

Investment is not a rocket science. If you are reading this, you must be having access to internet and internet is the biggest source of information in today’s world. It does not take special skills to get information about various avenues for investments based on your investment appetite. There are plenty of online tools which can compute returns over a period of time, based on historical data. Use them to tune your investment planning and you are good to go. Most important is the first step. Unless you take first step, you cannot climb the stairs. Same is with investments. Study, identify your goal, associate a time period to it and take plunge. You will learn many new things and there is always room to correct your mistakes in this journey, but the most important thing is the first step.

Do not think that your real estate property will take care of your retirement years; this thinking has created many house rich, cash poor individuals. You have to spread out your investments, must have proper asset allocation so that you can earn a regular income from your investments in your golden years. If you do not know how to invest, where to invest, start reading and do not hesitate to take help of experts. Investing has to be continuous process, month on month, year on year till you retire.

Remember you have to outlive your money without being burden on your children.

Happy investing !!!

 

Power of Compounding

The Magical power of compounding

Albert Einstein is purported to have once remarked that the most powerful force in the universe is compound interest.

In simple terms, compounding is the financial equivalent of a snowball, rolling down the hill and gathering momentum as well as weight. More the ball rolls down, more weight it gathers in terms of the snow that get attached to it and more its momentum increases. By the time it reaches down the hill, it can well translate into a small avalanche. More the distance of travel, more is the impact of snowball.

Almost all personal finance websites/blogs and all financial magazines emphasize on power of compounding. If you start early, use compounding effectively, the end result could be a huge avalanche of money. The key is to start early and remain into the game.

I am not going to give chart of person A starting early and person B starting at later stage in life and the potential gain for person A over person B. But if you start early in life, it makes a HUGE difference.

Same is applicable to the money that you spend on material gains or for momentary gains. If you put the figures in any of the online compound interest calculator available for the money you spend in leisurely sipping cups of tea / enjoying junk food day by day, month on month, you will be astonished to know the amount of money you stand to lose over the years. The loss is two ways, one in terms of actual money you spend and other is the health you stand to lose by gulping junk food.

So gear up and use compounding as an efficient tool to maximize your gains in investments.

Money & Life stages

From one’s point of view, there can be different stages in life with respect to money. Remember, this is only perspective – in general for a common man.

As one goes through different stages in life, the financial condition & goals are likely to change. They cannot stay constant over the entire life span. What holds good for you at early employment stage may not hold true when you are at the peak of your career. What is good for you at the peak, will likely change when you retire. If you manage your money well, you can strike a balance in all these years and can have a good plan for the years to come.

Stage 1:
Initial career years
From an Indian context, most of the parents pay for the kid’s education till University stage. So the first stage I am taking is early career years. The immediate goals for this stage may include buying a vehicle (a car or a two wheeler), planning for home, home furnishing, building a good credit history. However this might change soon as kids have started moving out on own soon and since education has become quite expensive, education loan is gradually become a trend now.
There is lot of energy and dreams at this stage. This stage decides how you will shape up your life, hence decisions taken are important and have long term impact on your life.

 

Stage 2:
Starting a family and career building
One may switch jobs for earning higher compensation to increase financial kitty, growing savings, buying home, start to plan for retirement funds, start a family, begin saving for kids education, buying adequate insurance etc Income typically rises in these years.
The right investment decisions taken at this stage leaves a long lasting impact on your life. Also since these are initial years, money accumulated and invested wisely comes handy at a later date.

 

Stage 3:
Pre-Retirement years
Your expenses more or less stabilize now due to high income. Kid’s higher education, their marriage , prepayment of home loan, any other long term loan prepayment, putting away more funds for retirement, taking professional help for financial planning/ retirement planning. At this stage you become more organized for retirement planning.

 

Stage 4:
Early retirement years
You are officially retired, but you may want to work for sometime more as you are in good health. This is just to support the lifestyle, travel. You now work towards consolidating the retirement savings into a regular monthly income, managing taxes, and do everything in making your savings last till you breathe last. Preparing will also come during these years.

 

Stage 5:
Twilight years
You may become less mobile due to age and health issues. The goals include planning for assisted living (trend is picking up in India now), tax optimization, efforts to make your money / savings outlive you. Prepare yourself for this stage well in advance when you are at stage 3 & stage 4. You can consult people who are undergoing stage 5 and plan well in advance.

To sum up, your goals will change with each stage and if you are well prepared mentally for each stage, you can plan well. A well planned, goal oriented life will put you in less stress financially and ultimately make you sail through your retirement years.

The ultimate retirement goal for anyone it to outlive his/her retirement fund.
If you plan well at different stages of your life, this goal is quite achievable.

~ WS

9 Ways you can ruin your wealth creation plan

 

In spite of being well educated, well traveled across – still we are prone to making mistakes in life. Some mistakes can be corrected easily but some have long term impact on your life. In financial journey too, there are some mistakes which have long term negative impact and after a point it’s impossible to come back from red zone into the green zone.

Worst money mistakes one can make

The journey to wealth requires a series of correct steps at right times pertaining to your finances. However there are a set of mistakes that exist which can ruin the hard work & self control of years.

I am listing them down below, they are not in sequence, but randomly placed. Anyone of these can ruin your financial plans and rock your retirement years

  1. Over spending: Overspending means spending more than you earn. This will keep increasing gap between your income and expenditure and ultimately the black hole will such all your resources.
  2. Not working to grow & maximize your career: Basic education is required and it is a must to embark on journey to wealth creation. Education helps you in understating things better, take rational approach, take timely decisions, plan strategies etc. Aim should be to maximize your career through education so that you have steady income for expenses and investments.
  3. Waiting to invest till right time comes: There is a Chinese proverb, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” The same goes for investing. Albert Einstein was amazed by the power of compounding and called it the eighth wonder of the world. The key is to start as soon as possible and to stay in the race as long as possible. You cannot time the markets hence the right time is now to start investing.
  1. Not saving enough: Unfortunately there is no magic figure or magic formula that if you save X% of your income you will become wealthy. The perspective of X% differs for a fresh graduate starting job and someone who has spent 30 years in corporate world. Most of the people make mistake in assuming “Things will work out eventually” They absolutely ignore inflation and rising costs of housing, costs of healthcare, education. These costs can make a big dent in your savings.
  1. Marrying the wrong person: Creating wealth is a team effort involving family members. Once you start working, gradually you tend to settle in life by marrying, planning for home, kids etc. It is very important to choose life partner carefully. A careful selection can make or break your plan of becoming wealthy. Both the spouses should be on same page as far as road to financial freedom is concerned.
  1. Not having enough insurance (life as well as health): People usually tend to ignore insurance. They take insurance to save tax and mix insurance with investments. This leaves them neither here nor there. Result is they are neither covered adequately nor their investment cum insurance policy sold to them by their trusted advisor is yielding any positive returns post inflation deduction. By doing this they are leaving their wealth creation plan in limbo.
  1. Investing heavily into real estate: Real estate investments are usually advisable once you are done with all other investments with proper asset allocation. House/flat for self consumption is not counted here. Reason why because real estate investments are big ticket purchase. Also the returns are usually good in long term. The process of buying ad selling could take up to 6-12 months. This makes them illiquid to certain extent. If you tilt your asset allocation towards real estate, you may run a risk. What if real estate pricing falls? One should take holistic approach towards real estate. Also since ticket size is big and you cannot sell part of the asset if you need money unlike stocks/mutual funds/bank deposits.
  1. Not having a will: No matter what’s your age, you must have a will. Creating a will is not grandpa / grandmas job. Whatever you have earned, whatever wealth you have accumulated so far should be passed on to your successors in case of something going wrong with you. Will also prevents strife in families at a later date. Even you should have nomination forms properly filled with banks and financial institutions where you have deposits. This makes life easy for family members in case of something going wrong with you.
  1. Buried deep in debt: Easy consumer loans lure you to fall into temptations of buying what your neighbors buy. This keeping with Joneses syndrome can be a big debt trap. Buy 80 inches 3D LED TV when you deserve, not on EMIs. Buy when you are ready financially. If EMIs are taking ac hunk out of your monthly income, you are not going to succeed in wealth creation. Have a practice of buying with cash.

 Avoiding above mistakes is not a rocket science, but takes a balanced well planned approach. As I said earlier, any one of the above is capable to derail your train to wealth creation.

About Wealth Samurai

 

Welcome to my blog, WealthSamurai or WS in short.

As per dictionary, samurai is “a member of a powerful military caste in feudal Japan”. Samurais were traditional warriors. I am using this term along with the word “Wealth”. This literally means building wealth with the war like ‘tactics’.

Over the next several posts I will gradually give details on what this website is all about (also what this is not about), my philosophy of making money, preserve money and increase net worth.  This can help you also to grow your net worth and in turn help you in accumulating “wealth”.

WealthSamurai is not going to be the platform for over the night investment ideas.

But for now, I would simply say “welcome aboard”. Thank you for reading, and I hope we will travel this journey together.