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 So when you sit down to write expenses over the weekend, you are able to account for INR 1900 out of INR 2000 withdrawn from ATM and unable to account for INR 100 you spent on your coffee.”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.

 

 

Why you need Insurance ?

Make sure you are adequately insured:

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

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

Why you need insurance

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Car is not your ASSET !

Your Car is not your ASSET !

Yes, you read it right. Your car is not your asset. Or as a matter of fact, none of your vehicle is your asset unless you are into transport business. If you ask any literate human being about “what is an asset?” you will get a spontaneous reply as “It is something that has value and the value appreciates over a period of time / or it generates some regular income”.

 

Car is not asset

 

But if you ask same person to list down his assets, he will most likely to write car as one of the line item. Cars are no ASSET. A fact which is hard to digest?

Car does not appreciate
• Car does not give you income, unless you are a taxi operator
• Car does not keep your principal safe (what you chipped in to purchase it)

When you are writing line items in your asset lists, cars are definitely no-no. They are money drain and are more status symbol in today’s world.

They depreciate quickly, they drain your money quickly –

  • You need to pay insurance,
  • You need to pay fuel costs,
  • You need to pay maintenance costs,
  • You need to pay registration and
  • You need to pay emission related expenses to keep them road worthy
  • You need to pay for wear & tear costs

Imagine, one fine day when you do not have a monthly income coming in, you are retired from your day job. Even though you have a big car parked in porch, it will not give you good or money to buy food. My point is this – a car cannot generate a regular income for you hence it is not an asset. An asset is something which generates monthly income for you like your real estate property given on rent, a fixed cash deposit with your bank, a commercial shop you owe generating monthly rentals for you, gold coins appreciating over the years.

Here I am not saying that Car is bad. I am aware of the convenience it brings when you are moving from point A to point B. My statement is just to make it clear to you so that you do not consider your car as an asset. I want to de-link you from the thinking that you are really doing well in your life by driving a big nice car which is taken on monthly payment. It is absolutely absurd to think that you look wealthy by owing a big car.

Bigger the car – bigger the money drain it is.

  •  You incur more expense on monthly payment,
  •  You incur more expense on insurance payment,
  •  You incur more expense on periodic maintenance, and
  •  You lose more money when you dispose it off

Cars are means to carry you from one place to other. They should not become status symbol in your life. Buy what you need, a decent piece not a luxury metal object.

Bottom-line is that if you keep buying expensive cars on payment and think your car as your asset, you are moving away from financial independence. An expensive car is never a good investment decision and is a hindrance in early retirement plan.

 

CHOICE is yours as MONEY is yours !!!

 

Lifestyle inflation – Why it is bad for you?

What is lifestyle inflation?

When you are fresh out of college, you get a job which is usually an entry level job. You start earning with this entry level job and you move out to a place of your own – either in the same city or some other place. Once you are on your own, you start spending money on all essentials. You have to pay for stay, groceries, internet, utilities, internet etc. You somehow manage all these expenses with your limited income. Gradually time passes and you get regular salary hikes. With these hikes over the years you increase spending. You now make frequent trips to restaurants, you move to a bigger home in a nice neighborhood. You now have a big car for commute instead of using public transport, you have pets, and you now wear branded cloths with the really nice Swiss watch to match your stature.  

lifestyle inflation

Lifestyle inflation comes in picture when someone raises his lifestyle – standard of living in relation to the increase in earnings. If you see it, lifestyle inflation is not a bad thing. After all we all work hard to improve our standard life & comforts. When we get promoted, we need new cloths to match our profile; we need nice vehicles that match our status to commute.

Lifestyle inflation creeps up slowly, we will not know unless we start having serious problems with money we earn. Our food expenses will skyrocket, fuel expenses, expenses to maintain home and vehicles will increase gradually and they will reach to an extent where the total outgo starts pinching us. Lifestyle inflation is a big hindrance to financial independence and wealth creation as once you succumb to it; you have very little cash flow dedicated to investments for future in order to have a sufficient investment corpus to fund retirement.

How to tackle Lifestyle Inflation?

One can easily tackle the lifestyle inflation. There are some ways which can keep you on track and combat lifestyle inflation

1. Budget the expenses and note down every single expense you incur. By doing this you can flag any expense which is steadily increasing. Once you single out any particular expense skyrocketing, you can easily curb it

2. Keep your financial goals in mind. Have the goals written and the plan to achieve them also in writing. This will help you in sticking to your plans. If you stick to your plans, lifestyle inflation cannot cripple you.

If one follows the above two simple steps, it’s easy to limit lifestyle inflation. The entire premise is to stay within your limits, never make expenses column more than income column in your life. Plan wisely and stick to your plan.

To Sum it up: Though there is peer pressure to incur expenses, but increased expenses with increased income to a certain extent justifies your lifestyle inflation. But if it increases more than your income then it will cause a serious dent in your future life. Take charge, have control on your spending and keep investing regularly is the mantra to beat lifestyle inflation. Once you master this art, you are set to taste financial freedom much before others.