Are you an impulsive buyer?

Do you often drag yourself into impulsive buying?

 

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

impulsive-purchase

 

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


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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Below I am listing few reasons – why people shop impulsively

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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


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

 

Happy Investing !!!

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 !!!

Appreciate what you have – In pursuit of Happiness

Wealthsamurai – In Pursuit of Happiness in the Journey called LIFE

“Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver.”

 

appreciate what you have


Appreciate What You Have
– I have chosen this topic to re-iterate the philosophy of WealthSamurai that is to achieve happiness through wealth creation and proper financial planning. Today’s post is a guest post by a dear friend SG.

When railway was invented, and routes were getting laid down in Britain, an officer working on field saw a native man carrying faggots on his head. Officer stopped him and asked where are you going. “To sell faggots in the far away village market”, replied the man. Officer asked, tell me your weekly routine. “Monday and Tuesday I chop the trees, carry the faggots to market on Wednesday, sell them on Thursday, return back on Friday, sharpen the tools on Saturday and rest on Sunday. Officer proudly told the man, once the railway starts running on this route, it will take you to market in an hour and back in an hour, so it will save you 2 days. Officer thought the man would be rejoiced instead he looked worried. What’s the matter asked the officer. Man replied in worried tone, “You disturbed my whole routine, now what do I do on those 2 days?”

The world has been changing rapidly since last century. Science and technology has contributed significantly in every field of our life. Just try and compare the daily routine you would have if born 50 years back. Along with loads of convenience and comfort it has brought to us, it also increased the speed of living drastically. Science has penetrated into your daily routine so much so that the routine tasks which would have taken whole day 50 years back are now possible only in 1/10 of its time.

For example:

  • Washing\Cleaning – Washing machine, dishwasher, vacuum cleaner
  • Cooking – Food processor, pressure cooker, microwave oven
  • Travelling – Automobiles, railway, airplanes, rockets

So the same predicament has happened to us.

What do we do with the time that we are saving?

There could have been lot of apt answers but unfortunately the answer we chose was,

  • Work more
  • Earn more
  • Enjoy life more and more

We worked more, we earned more but somehow the latter part was not to happen. We are not happier than our previous generations even though we earn more and have much more comfort and convenience. What went wrong? Only few people come across this question in their LIFE, rest of them do not even have the liberty to think in this mad mad race. People who spend some time with themselves and introspect are soon struck with reality. They know they are not happy at the moment although this might be exactly what they had planned for.

People don’t really know what they want from or in LIFE. They don’t have clear goals. They try to squeeze LIFE as much as they can and then adjust their goals accordingly. A man, who had a goal of buying a car one day, soon readjusts it to buy big sedan as soon as he owns his first car. A man, who dreamed of having his own apartment in city someday, suddenly starts dreaming of a luxurious 4 bedroom suite as soon as he moves into his cozy 1 Bedroom apartment. This is a vicious cycle.

If your goals and priorities keep changing frequently it tells three things about you:

  • You did not know your goals
  • You did not know your priorities
  • You can never be happy in LIFE

Some people may say not necessarily, goals and priorities can change and I would agree with that. But there is always a cost to pay. So what do you put at stake? You put at stake that very thing for which you have been working hard till date – A happy and satisfied LIFE.

Your wants keep turning into needs and you keep running like a race horse to meet them. This cycle is hard to break unless you are ready to swallow some bitter pills.

What is the smallest thing that you appreciated recently? Mind you, the smallest
Do you own that thing?

Answers to first question will differ a lot, however, answer to latter is same – NO.

We never appreciate what we have. We only appreciate the things which we do not have. Ask yourself, how much time you spend in appreciation and gratitude towards what you have – Very less.

Most of our time is spent in appreciating what others have and disparaging our achievements. Stop comparing things. Comparison is what is hurting you all along and it can really kill you. You can never have everything in the world. And even if you do one day, you will soon start craving for moon and stars.

However let’s not confuse contentment as complacency? One should definitely not be complacent. But you have to learn to be happy in the present moment, learn to appreciate the moment as it is. So start appreciating what you have now…

  • Appreciate your favorite ball-pen which you have purchased few years back
  • Appreciate your house you owned just now
  • Appreciate your friends, husband\wife, son, daughter
  • Appreciate your neighbors, colleagues, boss, office boy, lift-man, milkman
  • Appreciate the weather soothing or scorching
  • Appreciate the piece of sky visible from your window
  • Appreciate the flower in the vase blooming or withered
  • Appreciate chirping birds, barking dogs, yelling kids
  • Appreciate the rising and setting sun
  • Appreciate the beautiful wallpaper on your laptop

 

And finally, stand in front of mirror; appreciate yourself for the gratitude you are expressing towards everything in this world which is part of your LIFE. Take pride in things and keep feeling it. If you can do this, you will notice that something around you is changing. Every day when you wake up, you will be a happier, content and a better person than yesterday.

 

 

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 !!!

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.

 

 

Why I need diversification of investment?

Why do I need to diversify my investments?

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

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

diversification-of investment

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

Happy Investing !!!

Accelerate your NETWORTH , Here’s HOW?

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

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

 

how to increasse networth

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Making a simple budget to improve your personal finances

 

Making a simple budget to improve your finances. This is an important step in reaching your financial goals and financial independence

I am sure there will be many among us who have never actually attempted to make a budget or even noted down their expenses on a daily basis. Many of us would have never experienced the need to see all their income and expenses in one single sheet – which is more due to negligence than lack of knowledge.

How to make a household budget

 

 

Why budgeting is important?
All large companies and organizations do their budgeting, write their expenses, do regular audits in order to see if their actual spend is as per the budget or not. They hire specialists to do this job as they want to prevent any money leak and also they want to be on top of their expenses so that they don’t lose money in a big way.

 

How about budgeting at my personal level?
At personal level, we do not need the kind of skill level that corporations employ to do budgeting, but a basic work on spreadsheet which is not too much time consuming is enough. This is just to have a quick access to your financial status at any given day and to plan any expense which is not a regular one like purchase of a new car, or a foreign holiday.

 

I don’t have knowledge of accounting software / tools required to do budgeting
No worries. For keeping track of personal expenses and basic month on month budgeting, you need to be an expert in using accounting software or tools. As this is Information Technology era and all of us are well versed with MS office (MS excel to be more precise), which is more than enough to do the designated task of budgeting.

 

What do I need to do with MS excel?
First make a list of all your spend in a month. For starters, make four columns in the excel sheet.

  • First one should have the date of expense
  • Second should have the place where you spent the money
  • Third should have the amount you spent
  • Fourth one should be the category of expense (classification as food, grocery, housing etc)

 

how to make budget in excel

 

Every single expense, I repeat every single expense you incur should go in this excel sheet. Why? You need data. This data will make foundation of your budget. And the data accumulated over few months will give you enough food to analyze your spending pattern and believe me; it will help you save tons of money.

At the end of the month, sum up all. You will be amazed to see how much you spend, when there is no budget for expenses.

Now – sort these expenses by category. Sum up the money you spent in each category. This category wise spend will be the backbone of your budget for the next month.

Easy so far? Isn’t it?

Now make a new spreadsheet which will be the budget for your next month. Keep four columns in this sheet.

  • First is category name (housing, food & groceries, fuel etc)
  • Second is what I spent on category last month
  • Third is what I intend to spend in this month on the category
  • Fourth is how much I actually spent on the category (this will be filled once the month gets over)

budget summary - household

 

So many things to do? This looks little tough for me. Do I need to carry this exercise every month?
This might look little tough as you are not used to of doing this. Only the first cycle would take time, then it’s a kind of a cake walk. Once you have completed one cycle, format is ready. You only need to enter the data from month 2 onward.

Ok got it. Now how is it going to help me save money?
If you are making your budget for the first time, there are good chances that your spending is more than your income otherwise you would not be taking pains to make the budget. Once you have data for a few months – say three months you can see and analyze the expenses you have incurred in each category. If you are spending way too much on eating out or buying cloths, it would be clearly visible in the category expenses figures. You can dig a little deeper to check and see if you can trim these high spend category expenses which are not required for survival or which are mostly want related expenses.

Armed with the data of few months, you can repeat the exercise of trimming the unwanted expenses. The money which gets generated from cutting down unwanted expenses will improve your cash flow and will give you an opportunity to invest this money in order to generate higher net worth. This higher net worth in turn will lead you to financial independence at a quicker pace. Wealth creation is all about the art of increasing the gap between your income and expenses and keep investing the difference across the investment spectrum to generate higher and stable returns.

Budget is one of the major steps in road to financial independence. If you master the art then you can be assured of sealing the money leaks in your month on month expenses.

Supermarkets are a big TRAP

Why Supermarkets are a big TRAP and also big money DRAIN !!!

All the supermarkets are intelligently designed. What item will come where and in which row is meticulously planned. No wonder why the retail chains hire MBA grads for such a higher salary. The planners sit in a plush meeting rooms, peeping at the historical data and planning how to fit certain useless high margin items in front row of the stores.

Supermarket are money drain

 

The layout Trap

The layout of supermarkets are organized in such a way that daily use items are always found at the farthest place from the entrance. Once you enter to buy your supply of bread or milk, you need to wade through the entire store with each shelf literally shouting the offers to you – on useless items. And being a ‘good buyer’ we always end up picking a couple of useless products because of some stupid offers on them.

It is easy to avoid the TRAP

It is not that there is no way to avoid this trap. Impulse buying can be tackled tactfully by visiting these super markets with a written buying list of items you intend to buy. And you must stick to this ‘buying list’. The buying list is something that requires a little bit of effort from your end to make. This is in order to keep your list as efficient as possible.

Do keep the following points in mind for preparing an efficient buying list.

  • Plan main grocery shopping trip only once or twice in a month. This applies to the items like flour, pulses, rice, cooking oil, spices, supplies like sugar, tea powder, coffee powder, cheese, sauces etc. Estimate the quantity you would require of these supplies and enter them in your beginning of the month main shopping list. At the most when you enter the super market, you can strictly look at the offers on the items in this list and weigh them by arriving at per unit cost of item – with discount and without discount. Take whichever is the cheapest BUT the price point – with discount should justify the quantity you are buying. Use common sense; do not buy 25 Kilograms of sugar just because you get 10% discount on buying 25 kilograms pack when your monthly requirement is only 2 kilograms of sugar.
  • Reserve a weekly visit just to buy the stuff which is perishable and you need their supply often. This is for the products like eggs, milk, paneer, curd, juices, yogurt etc. You cannot stock these items for long at home and they are always better if consumed fresh as they come with a short shelf life. You can include your weekly bread supply too in this list. Go to the supermarket on a weekend, check offers on these products and purchase them. Here again use common sense when you are comparing discounted price with the quantity.
  • Add items from your main shopping list into the weekly list for which you are low on supply. For example, if you have some unexpected visitors at home for a few days, you are sure to go low on the supply of cooking oil, wheat flour, rice, sugar etc. Do not go separately to buy these items on a weekday. This is waste of time, fuel and energy. Instead, add the low stock items in the weekly shopping list and buy them on a weekend. Since weekends always have some discounts running to attract buyers, a chance of you getting a better price is always there.
  • Take review of the stock levels once in 15 days and again add items which are low in quantity in the weekly shopping list. Here again it should not be the case that you have monthly rice consumption of 5 kilograms and in spite of having 10 kilograms in stock you have gone ahead – added the item in the monthly shopping list and bought another 10 kilograms just because there was an offer running on the item.
  • NEVER ever enter any super market for shopping with empty stomach. When you are empty stomach, your hungry stomach guides you through the fast food stuff and compels you to buy stuff like cakes, pastries, ice creams, snack items. Your hunger makes you succumb to buy sandwiches and pizzas thus killing the purpose of entering the super market to buy grocery items and save money by buying your monthly requirements in one visit.

Super stores play mind games with people. Armed with the data and analytics, coupled with brainstorming of grade A pass outs from business schools, they literally direct you on what item to place in your shopping basket. You need to be a little smart and systematic to dodge the useless offers thrown at you when you enter a super market and only buy the items you need to buy.

A visit to the supermarket for grocery shopping could turn a big money drain and destabilize your budget for the month if not planned carefully. Over a period of time, these visits have potential to derail your financial planning and can make a big dent in your wealth creation plans.

When you should start investing in stocks?

When is the right time to start investing in stocks?

Most of the people who start looking to bring their financials in order have a question in their mind. “When should I start investing in high return instruments?”

They are fascinated by high 20%-30% annualized returns from equities. They have some extra cash which they want to invest for some time and even before anything happens, they convince themselves into investing the spare cash in high risk equity markets in order to rush towards achieving financial independence.

 

stockmarket

 

This reminds me of one of my friend, who reaped exceptionally well returns during the dot com boom and used to tell me how easy it was to tame equity market and double your money in no time.

Unfortunately he had invested all his eggs in one basket that is into the stock market and lost big time during the 2008-2009 market crash. This friend of mine had borrowed a lot of money to buy stocks in hope of making big and that too very quickly. But things didn’t work out as he expected.

There are two basic investment criteria of investing in stock which every investor should consider before taking plunge in stock market investing

  1. You do not have high interest loans looming at you:
    This implies that you should not have high interest loans like personal loan, consumer loans, credit card balances and rotation of balance on credit cards etc. The basic home loan is perfectly fine as home loans create assets and the home you bought is giving you shelter. Stock market investments are high risk investments. If you have high interest loans and still you go ahead with investment, you might land in trouble. There is no fixed investment life-cycle in stock markets. Sometimes you may have to remain invested if market conditions are not good. This might affect your loan repayment ability if you are planning to pay off the loan monthly payments from the returns on your investments in stock market.
  1. You have sufficient emergency fund to bank on during emergency situation:
    Emergencies never give you written intimation before they come. Emergencies bring mental trauma as well as financial hardships too. What if you lose your job due to some meltdown and you do not have money to pay for utilities and your home loan? To counter this type of situation, you must have sufficient liquid emergency fund to pay for rents, monthly home payments (EMI), utility bills etc. Ideally you should have an emergency fund to fund your 6 months of unemployment which should take care of all your bare minimum expenses in case of emergency. This fund should be somewhere stacked in liquid fund which can be accessed quickly. Never put your emergency fund in debt funds, equity linked mutual funds, insurance or stock market. Idea is you should not depend on market conditions to take back your money.

Also, one more important aspect you should consider. Being educated, you should know what you are doing. Take charge of your investments as it is not a rocket science to do a bit of arithmetic before taking the plunge. You need not to be an expert but a basic idea on how mutual funds work should be alright to start investing into mutual funds. Central idea is to avoid the risks posed by high risk investments as a naïve investor.

Investing is fun, it can be highly rewarding but to enjoy it you must set your house in order first, explained above in two simple points. This will cover yourself from the risks posed by the high risk investments in equities and you can do proper asset allocation to counter the risks.