Needs Versus Wants

Today I am posting about a very important topic. It is must for us to draw a line between needs & wants. Today’s post is guest post – Courtesy my dear friend Sundeep

We have heard and some of you might have read a lot on wants and needs. And still most of us keep struggling with how to distinguish between them. Before we go there let’s understand these two words:

Need :- Without meeting these, your survival can be in a jeopardy
Want :- Some desires lurking in once survival is taken care of

 

Needs Vs Wants

 

Definitions look simple and understood by everyone. However when people have to apply it in their life many people classify things in wrong category and mostly this mistake is one way. Most of the people tend to count wants in the need category. There is hardly any vice versa case. Why should it be this way?

The answer lies in human nature. Gimme more! is slogan of human life. Being a social animal(don’t get offended I am just reminding we are animals at all), we have learnt to follow social rules, behavior, etiquette’s. In the journey we eventually started following each other’s desires, ambitions, materialistic goals. No animal kills\eat once it is full stomach i.e. once survival is taken care of. Man is the only animal who has so many problems to take care of once survival is taken care of. Life style, social status, peer pressure, relationships, bank balance, real estate,….

Note: Wants and needs are not necessarily limited to monetary things. There are other needs like emotional, psychological, spiritual etc. however those are out of scope of this discussion.

Let’s understand wants and needs in detail

Q: What are the basic needs of life?
Ans: Food\water, clothes and shelter.

Let’s say we have 3 families. Family A which earns 5,000 Rs\month. Family B earns about 50,000 Rs\month and C where it is 5,00,000 Rs\month. Do you think basic needs of life changes for any of these families?

No they don’t. There can be 10 other things listed as auxiliary needs depending on which earning class a person belongs to. However the basic needs don’t change.

What changes is the affordability factor which opens up choices for meeting their needs. Family A buys grains from government rationing store. Family B buys it from wholesale grain store and maybe C buys it from malls or super market. But all they are ensuring is to have wheat flour, rice, sugar etc. available at home. Although the expenses will be different they are still going towards needs.

Now suppose family A thinks that they should have some sweet dish occasionally for dinner. Howsoever small wish it appears, it still falls under wants. The same sweet dish at the the end of meal could be frequent for family B & daily for family C. But for them it doesn’t fall under wants, because they can afford it without altering or disturbing financial priorities. Similarly, there can be some wishes and demands for family B and C which will fall under wants.

This small example can help you apply the need vs. want test on bigger things. For this, you have to be truly conscious about your actions, to be able to judge the difference. Sometimes the line seems so subtle and mind plays games on you in judging a want as a need.

Note that, occasionally going for a wanted thing is no crime and actually sometimes it is required to boost and energize family, show your love and appreciation. One must only be conscious about the decision.

 

Here are few more examples of wants as a thinking exercise for you. Note that the list will change significantly based family income group. Here I am considering middle and well to do class.

  1. You are hungry and decide to go for pizza house instead of healthy rice-plate
  2. You keep changing your mobile, motorbike frequently
  3. You only shop from branded stores and often shop extra clothes
  4. You just had a full stomach dinner, still walking past an ice-cream parlor you give into your temptation
  5. You own two flats and can be easily convinced that you need to buy another one since you have sufficient balance and/or recently got increment in office
  6. You like to change your house interior once in 5 years
  7. Sizes of your fridge, car, wardrobes, TV sets, ornaments(and even body) grow bigger and bigger
  8. You have a masters degree and it feels gratifying to go for a distant learning MBA, although it is not at all relevant to your job profile
  9. Your mutual fund is providing decent returns but you would like to switch to one with even more returns
  10. Your child is doing good in studies, you want him\her to do better and register him\her at another famous coaching class
  11. Your child is good at swimming, but you would like him\her to be good at dance and also play a musical instrument because many friend’s children do that.
  12. You go for weekly shopping at a mall and return with at least twice the number of items you had on your list and when you cross-check items with your list, you haven’t covered even the half of it.
  13. .
  14. .
  15. List can go on…

From all above examples you can see that, mistaking wants for needs is going to take toll on your budget and eventually you.

Once you know that you must choose consciously, and you keep practicing it, it is not that difficult. In case of doubt, ask three simple questions to yourself:

  1. Are you doing something just because you can afford to do it?
  2. Do you think you may ever regret doing it?
  3. Can you do without doing it?

Now let’s take first example in the list and try to apply these questions. For better fitment I will put an outside student studying in city in the role-play here.

You are hungry and decide to go for pizza house instead of healthy rice-plate option

Q: Are you doing something just because you can afford to do it?
Ans: Yes. It is start of the month and I have just received monthly pocket money from home.

Q: Do you think you may ever regret doing it?
Ans: Yes. At the end of month if I run out of money received from home, I may regret this overspending.
Q: Can you do without doing it?
Ans: Yes. I can certainly have the rice plate and satiate my hunger.

All Yes means definitely you are falling for a want disguised as need. Revisit your decision. If all answers are No you can go ahead without any doubt. Even if occasionally you decide to go with your wants, make sure that a want remains on wants list. Don’t let your mind trick you into slowly converting a want into a need.

I would like to emphasize one thing at this point. One shouldn’t think that having to make this decision every time is sign of miserliness or deprivation,  because it is not. Rather this practice may help you refraining from making some silly or inappropriate decisions which may hurt you over a long period of time.

Respect your needs and be smart with your wants, that’s it. You will surely be in control of your financial conditions and also be a happier family. It’s a winwin for sure.

Compound Interest – Let your money work for you

Don’t always work for money. Instead make money work hard for you

“Let your money work for you”

 

compound interest

 

I think we must have read / heard this saying many times in life. This is quite a famous quote often used by investment advisers. This is related to power of compounding which is very powerful tool if exploited properly.

If you are someone who wish to have good returns on your investments, wish to retire early, wish to have financial independence you need to exploit power of compounding and make it one of the pillar of your overall financial independence strategy.
I will just give a small example to reiterate the faith in this strategy. For assumption, I have taken 10% as returns on investment which is quite possible in today’s scenario.

If you save INR1,000.00 per month for 12 months, at the end of the year you will be left with INR12000.00

Year 1
You will earn 10% interest making total amount INR12,000.00+INR1,200 = INR13,200

Year 2
You will earn 10% interest on INR13,200 and total amount would be INR13,200+INR1,320=INR14,520

Year 3
You will earn 10% interest on INR14,520 and total amount would be INR14,520+INR1,452 = INR15,972

Year 4
You will earn 10% interest on INR15,972 and total amount would be INR15,972+1,597=INR17,569

Year 5
You will earn 10% interest on INR17,569 and total amount would be INR17,569+INR1,756 = INR19,325

So in 5 years, your initial investment of INR10,000 turned to INR19,325 – You have almost doubled your investment without doing anything
Now, to show the outcome of consistent investing, let’s take a scenario where you invest INR1,000 per month for 5 years that is 60 months and let’s see the result.

Year 1
You have invested INR12,000 and your total amount after 12 months stands at INR12,665

Year 2
You have invested INR24,000 so far and your total amount after 24 months stands at INR26,645

Year 3
You have invested INR36,000 so far and your total amount after 36 months stands at INR42,076

Year 4
You have invested INR48,000 so far and your total amount after 48 months stands at INR59,110

Year 5
You have invested INR60,000 so far and your total amount after 60 months stands at INR77,911

If you continue this investment for 15 years your INR1,000 per month investment becomes INR4,14,774

If you continue this investment for 25 years your 00 per month investment becomes IR13,19,273


————Here the magic unfolds ————

 

If you replace investment amount by INR5,000

If you continue this investment for 15 years your INR5,000 per month investment becomes INR20,73,872

If you continue this investment for 25 years your INR1,000 per month investment becomes INR65,96,367

So your INR5,000 per month investment for 25 years @ 10% per year will yield you INR65,96,367

This is simply a huge amount and can give you a big shot in your retirement Kitty.

You can use any compound interest calculator and tweak rate of returns and amount to see the magic. You will be surprised.

Idea is to find an avenue which gives you maximum return on investment for your risk appetite and to stay invested for a long time (>15years) to reap the benefits of compound interest. Compound interest works miracle with large sum invested for a long duration. The best part is it’s a passive income for you as your money is working for you.

Start as early as possible -> Make regular investmsnts -> Stay invested for a long duration -> Reap the benefits of Compounding

If you delay by a year, you will loose lot of money. Don’t think that you will loose only first year’s interest money if you delay by a year. You will loose interest of the final year if you delay. Do your basic math and you will come to know the losses.

No doubt great Albert Einstein has summed it up correctly

“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it … he who doesn’t … pays it.”

 

Focus more on increasing net worth

In the journey to financial independence, the most widely accepted approach is to earn more and more in due course. The formula is quite simple. Earn a good professional degree, gain experience and keep moving up the corporate ladder. This growth will give you thrust in your income too. So more your income is, more you have money.

 

networth & wealth

 

However there is one more catch. What if you are earning INR1, 00,000 per month and your monthly spend stands at INR1, 00,000 per month. This is something which is worrisome. This will be a kind of status-quo where you are placed extremely well in the corporate ladder and earning a handsome paycheck every month. However on asset / net worth front you are ZERO. You will not be able to create any asset which will appreciate and give you good returns in due course.
So, increase in income does not necessarily mean increase in your net worth. On the road to financial freedom, you must focus on increasing net worth and track it month on month so that you have all figures about your financial growth at hand.

It’s great to have a 6 figure monthly income but not focusing on net worth will make you work like a workhorse till you die. Instead of focusing only on increasing income, once must focus on increasing net worth as net worth again will keep increasing thus making a substantial gain on monitory front through investments and asset appreciation. Here you must note that more your income is, more your tax liability will be. However assets you make are taxed in different bracket which is quite less when compared to your tax on income. You are taxed on what you earn, not on what you own.

Off course I am not undermining the importance of increasing income, but if this increase in income is coupled with serious attempts to increase net worth, your hard work will bear fruits much earlier than anticipated.

Why you should focus on net worth:

  • The major component of the tax is computed on the income, not the net worth
  • Higher net worth gives you much more financial security compared to high income levels.
  • High income can be spent easily and loose its value, but higher net worth is not that easy to dilute and spend. This way the assets, equity you create is safe from impulse purchases
  • Net worth always keep growing – the components will keep on working and giving you passive income hence overall net worth will keep increasing

 

How to increase net worth?

  • Practice frugality: This is the first step. This will ensure that your expenses are always less than your income
  • Pay down your debt on war footing: Debts are trap. They suck money in terms of interest. Though monthly payments look small for any debt, especially consumer debt, but if you consider the entire cost of debt, it is indeed a high figure.
  • Track your expenses: This will give you a very clear picture where your money is going month on month. If you keep tracking, it will give you clear alarms about money drains.
  • Have an emergency fund: This will help you in fighting emergencies like car break down, home repairs, sudden job loss etc. You need not to break your fixed deposit or take out money from retirement savings for emergencies.
  • Start investing based on your appetite and with proper asset allocation: This will help you grow your net worth and in turn your wealth. Also a proper investment portfolio gives you a good passive income month on month and is your best buddy in the race towards financial freedom.
  • Find ways to increase your income and keep investing religiously all the raises you get: This will help you in avoiding lifestyle inflation. Believe me lifestyle inflation is the biggest wealth killer. If you divert salary raises towards investments, you are enhancing your wealth in the longer run.
  • Track your net worth month on month: This will give you clear picture of your performance towards your financial freedom. Also this will tell you every month whether you are moving in right direction or not?
  • Look at starting some side hustle, or some side business in addition to your day job: Again this will bring additional money which can be invested again to increase your wealth. Anything which contributes to your wealth speeds up your journey towards financial freedom.
  • Avoid any consumer debt: Again consumer debts are traps. They force you to pay higher amount for the goods and come with processing charges. Plan to pay cash and learn to live within means.

No doubt focus on increasing income is important in creating wealth. But income is only one part of the overall equation which contributes in creating wealth. But focus on net worth will make you an individual with multi pronged approach on creating wealth.

Save TONS of cash with timely home maintenance

A home is usually one of the biggest purchases in terms of price tag one will ever make. Real Estate costs a big chunk of money going in as down payment and a commitment of 15-20 years in terms of the monthly EMI going against the home loan / mortgage.

In addition to this, homes attract various other monthly outgoes such as

  • Insurance premiums
  • Association charges
  • Annual property dues
  • Electricity charges
  • Water supply charges
  • Any other tax imposed by local authorities

 

timely home maintenance

 

If you add up all the above mentioned charges, homes do cost a bomb. But even after paying a bomb, home can be a big drainer of cash if not maintained properly.

Home cannot be “buy and forget”. Instead it must be treated like your car or your bike. You have to do regular maintenance, oil changes, check Tire pressure, do washing and cleaning, fix up damaged parts of your vehicle in order to use it regularly without any problem. If you miss out a couple of cycles of maintenance, your car may stall during an important journey and you may end up spending a huge sum to bring it back in working condition. If you service your car properly, keep it clean, wash it, take care of electrical, change oil as prescribed in manual – you can use it for years and it will never let you down in any of the journey you undertake. Above all you can always get a good resale value. Potential buyers do consider looking at the maintenance record of automobile before striking the deal.

Same is with the real estate/ house.
The list of things which can go wrong if not maintained can go very long.

  • Not keeping bathrooms clean can hamper the outlet of water and can flood your home causing serious damage to your furniture. 
  • Not maintaining AC/Fans can make them stop functioning and can incur heavy cash damage to you. 
  • Not regularly painting the house can make the plaster weak; it may come off and might hamper the resale value considerably 
  • Accumulation of dust particles can take sheen off from the shiny furniture and make them look like scrape material 
  • Not doing regular service / replacement of electrical fittings can cause electrical short circuit and can damage the entire household furniture due to fire 
  • Not taking care of bathroom fittings can damage them and they can start rusting and become useless. Believe me it costs a lot to replace these fittings 
  • Not trimming grass in the lawn will make it look really bad and the sight is not inviting for the visitors at your place. 
  • Unclean flooring can lead to the damage tiles which in turn can decrease potential resale value of your home

There can be n number of line items which can be added in the above list. Bottom line is – the home must be kept well maintained. It gives positivity to your own life plus it increases the life and worth of your home. Later if you wish to upgrade, you can sell your home at good price if you have kept is presentable to potential buyers.

The approach to keep your home properly maintained is very simple

  • However busy you are with your schedule, take time out on weekends, make a schedule and pay attention towards one item per week and make sure on monthly basis you cover all important items from the list once. 
  • This will ensure that your property is safe, appreciates in value and looks good to any visitor coming to your place. 
  • You can plan it in such a way that first Sunday of a month clean all fans, fridge, electrical boards, sockets and check for all electrical fittings. 
  • Second Sunday typically can be spent in dusting your furniture and glass items, arranging your reading interests. 
  • Third Sunday can be spent in cleaning bathrooms thoroughly (apart from regular alternate harpik cleaning) and cleaning of drainage outlets like sinks, kitchen wash basins, balcony outlet for any blockages. 
  • Fourth Sunday can be dedicated to floor cleaning, removing stains, kitchen cabinets/tabletops/counter tops cleaning, and keeping / refilling insecticides and anti rodent. 
  • Make schedule every alternate year to paint the walls and use superior quality of paint which lasts longer. 
  • Exterior painting should also be done at regular interval with superior quality of washable paint. A monthly outside wash can work magic on the exterior looks of your home. 
  • Weeding and landscaping your lawn monthly can make them look better and they will certainly make your house inviting for the visitors.

A small schedule can make your home last longer and can increase its value over time. Above all it can save you tons of money that can go into drain by handling emergency maintenance arising of negligence.

Timely maintenance can also help you in creating and increasing your wealth. more the price of your home, more wealthy you would be.

 

Overspending – the biggest block in financial freedom

We dream about having nice things, big cars, nice homes, latest gadgets, fancy cloths. The moment we start working after graduating from university, we start accumulating the things we dreamt as a kid or student. Thanks to the media around us – be it print media, social media, electronic media, TV channels blaring advertisements 24X7. They make us convinced that if we do not owe the latest, we are not human in sync with the world. The tone of modern day advertisements is that we are inferior if we do not have the latest gadget, latest fashion.

Overspending - hurdle in personal finance

 

Once the income starts coming in Post University, we welcome all the stuff, toys to keep us happy. We submit ourselves to frequent outings with friends and relatives and many more things which we could not do being a student. Owing the stuff and frequenting restaurants is considered as a new COOL. Suddenly we feel urge to buy new automobile because all our peers have one. We want to outshine our peers hence we want the best automobile, fully loaded with all amenities – just to show off and in our heart we feel “we deserve it”. We look to get hold of the well deserved large house in the toniest neighborhood which we were eying from long. Consumer credit is readily available. This gives us a good excuse to buy the latest 80 inch 3D LED. Obviously we need these gadgets to flaunt ourselves in our circle. Also this reflects in the society that I am cool and doing well in my professional life.

We try to do everything except saving & investing money. It’s always good to pretend that we do not have sufficient income to start investing now and we will have much better success with investments when we have higher income than what we are earning now. A big chunk of our earning is dedicated to the monthly payments that are going out for the nice house, a big car, 80 inch 3D LED and many more gadgets which we have accumulated – just to show off that we are doing well.

This tendency to spend salary as and when it comes makes us struggle financially month on month. Every month we have a list of TO BUY and the list never gets trimmed. One item leaves the list, another item occupies the place. So what can we do if we are making 6 figure incomes and still struggling to pay for necessities to survive day to day life? We must put a cap on non – essential spending. Cut it down so that we have precious cash saved for essential spending and investing. It will hurt for a month or two, but we will not die if we do not have latest iphone 7 in our kitty or if we do not have the latest Honda or Toyota parked in our garage.

Unless we stop spending recklessly, we will not come to know what is essential and what is non essential spending.

A simple plan: How can we check overspending

1. Make a list of monthly expenses without which we cannot live like Home loan EMI (mortgage), electricity bill, maintenance charges, telephone bill, and internet bill. Mark them as NEED

2. In another list, keep all expenses which are our WANTS, like eating out, buying latest phones, new cloths, and outings during weekends etc.

Now once the list is made, strictly write every penny that you spend under respective list. Over a month or two you will get a very clear picture that what you are spending on essential items and what is being spent on non-essential. Cut down on non essential, put brakes and see the magic. In a couple of months you will have a very positive cash flow and loads of money freed up for investing.

This is basic money management, not a rocket science. We need not to be an expert in finance to make money work for us.

Overspending has to be tackled at the earliest if you are not having a positive cash flow month on month. Overspending can ruin your retirement plans and can even upset your life’s balance sheet. If you wish to retire early to pursue your passion, if you are looking for financial independence, if you want to generate passive income so that you do not have to depend on your day job – you must sit down and do the basic exercise to assess your expenses and come harsh on overspending.

Believe me; cutting down overspending can work miracles on your cash flow. You can free up a lot of money which can be invested judiciously to generate good returns over a period of time.

Habits of Financially Successful People

 

financial independence

7 Habits you can observe in financially successful people

I am sure you must have come across loads of successful people around you. It may be through media, social media, print media, or electronic media. I am also sure you must have wondered what makes them so successful. No doubt, there is hell lot of hard work that goes behind anyone being successful, but a successful person inculcates certain habits in their daily routine which makes their chances of succeeding much more.

Just like merely saving money cannot make you wealthy, it is same with success. It’s not only hard work, but smart working and making use of resources around you optimally make you successful.

One needs a proper plan and a proper execution both in order to get successful in any task. If you are preparing for any examination, you should plan in such a way that you cover your entire syllabus systematically and make sure that you do it well in advance of examination date. Also, getting fit and healthy just before during exam time is important which will ensure proper success in the examination.

Same holds true for financial success too. By financial success we mean a stage where you feel financial independence in your life – that is you no longer need to work for money. This is what is called as early retirement, where you “work what you like” – not “Like what you work”. As per some of the major financial planning books and personal finance websites, there are 7 common habits/traits exhibited by financially successful people

 

  1. They live their life “goal oriented”. This means they create elaborate plans for finances and keep changing them as per the external conditions to keep themselves on track. Measuring goals give them a perspective of what they are doing is on right track as per planning or not.

 

  1. They are organized in every aspect of their lives. They plan properly for every task, allocate proper resources and keep measuring the progress. This is true with the work they do at their workplaces as well as their personal lives.

 

  1. They are open to suggestionsplan adjustments. They are capable to adjust their plans with changing dynamics around them. This is must as a good plan has always scope of adjustment in order to achieve the desired outcome.

 

  1. They are action oriented. They take actions, quick in decision making based on facts and accept accountability of their decisions. Same is the quality of a good leader.

 

  1. They are frugal. This is the most common behavior among all millionaires. They stay away from lifestyle inflation. Lifestyle inflation is one of the biggest hurdles in financial independence and wealth creation.

 

  1. They are good team worker. They team up with spouses and near friends to work collectively towards the financial goals and plans. When you are a good team worker, you get inputs from all members and this ensures success of overall plan.

 

  1. They are persistent. They have plans, they work towards achieving the goals and they try out hard to work towards it. They do not give up easily. When a plan is laid out, persistence and perseverance can only guarantee its success. Wealth creation is all about persistence as it cannot be created overnight – except when you win a Jackpot.

 

Financial success is not an overnight affair. It requires a planned approach where you are persistent and it may take few years to take shape or see initial results. You may face many hurdles in due course, but staying put, fighting odds bravely can lead you to financial independence. You have to believe in yourself, stay focused and stick to the basics. There is no rocket science involved.

 

 

 

Recipe – How to be wealthy ?

If you blow up all the money you earn every month, you will always struggle financially

We all need money to survive in this world. The reason why you and I wake up every morning and doesn’t matter how dreadful is our job, we go to work religiously to work every morning. We go to work to pay our monthly bills, have a roof on head, have food on table for you and your immediate family, pay for the commute etc. These are all known as basic needs. Almost all of us earn enough to take care of our basic needs.

How to be rich

We all want bigger home, nicer car, to dine out in better restaurant, more and more nice and trendy apparels for our wardrobe, latest smart phones, latest gadgets and the list never ends. The reality is that a majority of working class spend their entire salary what they earn every month. By month end they have to wait for the next salary to come in to take care of their basic needs & never ending list of wants. This cycle repeats every month and the same way every year.

If the above description portrays what you are, indeed you are in deep trouble. Unless you hit a lottery, you can never be rich in your life. You will always be struggling with your finances. If you wish to avoid this financial struggle, you have to take control of the situation. You have to save money. Not just one month, every month and keep investing money such that it gives you returns.

 The key ingredients in the recipe here is

  • You have to spend less than what you earn.
  • Keep working towards increasing the gap between your income and your expenses.
  • This gap, you need to invest such that your money works harder for you to generate more money.
  • Repeat above steps month on month – year on year for as many years you can
  • One of the most important tip – Do not fall in DEBT trap

This is what is required to be wealthy. There is no magic to become wealthy. You have to change your mindset; the money you earn is not for spending in entirety. Once you master this, you are on right track. If you have control on your spending, you have control on your money and on your future finances.

There is only one magical formula “You have to spend less than you earn”

One you achieve this, you need to focus on investing the amount you save each month. It’s not just about investing – its about investing wisely to maximize your returns. Keep on repeating this for donkey years; – you will end up as a rich guy/girl.

Only thing you should focus is consistency in investing money. Yes, I repeat consistency in your approach of investing. Just like you earn a monthly salary – pay your investment kitty also a monthly salary. This amount you invest every month will keep on increasing your net worth.

“Money is not everything in this world, BUT money gives you a cushion which is a mean to survive in this world. ”

Money instill a kind of confidence in your life to take on life’s challenges.

When you should start investing in real estate?

People when they purchase a place to live in, they consider it as an investment. It is indeed a big investment as the ticket price is very high. With easy credit availability, aggressive advertising and last 10 years of upward trend in real estate market, people start thinking that why not to buy another home/flat as an investment and keep it. The general belief is that the price will increase in proportion with how it has increased in the past decade.

This is a kind of greed which is churning out a category which is house RICH and cash POOR.

real estate investment

Investment in real estate is not a bad idea, but one must have done basic investments rightly and must have enough cash buffer to take on emergencies. Also, the person should factor in the potential extreme property market swings. Since house purchase is a big ticket investment, one must weigh all necessary parameters carefully before taking the plunge.

Purchasing first property for self occupation cannot be considered as a pure investment. Everyone needs a roof over the head. First property provides this roof over the head and even in worst scenario, you will have your house intact – a shelter for you during your bad times.

When you are out to buy your investment property, then a lot of parameters kicks in to be considered before you buy your investment property. You have to safeguard yourself from emergencies, invest certain amount at other avenues which can be cashed in bits and pieces when required. An investment property is a big chunk of money parked and you cannot sell it piece by piece.

Some thoughts on when you should start investing in real estate

  • You are adequately insured (life cover)
    There are plenty of thumb rules and formulas floating around which will give you an idea of how much insurance you should buy. Do a little bit of research and purchase a good term plan to cover your life.

  • You have sufficient funds for taking care of emergencies
    Again as told earlier, property is a big ticket purchase. You cannot sell it at will and money gets locked when you make purchase. So to safeguard yourself, you must create one emergency fund which will take care in case of any emergency.

  • You have adequate medical insurance
    Whether buying property or not, you must be covered adequately for your health. Cost of medical treatment is increasing hence you must take adequate cover for you and immediate family.

  • You have a good Debt folio
    Again in investment pyramid, a good debt investment comes at the bottom stage – that is initial stage. You should invest some amount in instruments like FD/RD/Debt funds/PF/Bonds etc.

  • You have a good asset allocation and a mix of equity into your investments folio
    Based on your age and investment appetite have proper mix of equity and debt. You must have relevant equity exposure to gain from the rising markets.

  • You have at least 40% cash for making down payment for the investment property
    Having 40% as down payment, you save yourself from huge EMI going out monthly against home loan / mortgage. You must aim for maximum down payment so that the EMI doesn’t pinch you and you can have a peaceful life.

  • You have adequate funds to cover schooling of your kids
    Again the investment in property should not leave you with insufficient amount for your kids education. Amount for kid education should be kept and invested into a separate account.

  • After paying off your EMIs you still have 70% of your in hand salary at your disposal
    You should aim to restrict your monthly EMI for home loan to not more than 30% of your monthly take home – post taxes. This will give you a good 70% amount for running house and incurring other expenses. This is a healthy ratio.

  • In case of job loss, you should be able to support your EMIs for a good 6-9 months
    You should have enough in your emergency fund to tackle job loss scenario and you should be able to sustain 6-9 months with your EMI in case of job loss scenario.

If all the above basics are in place, then only one must look forward to buy an investment property. One should not become House RICH and cash POOR, as you have many other costs associated with your life & family.

If you play it too tight, the EMIs will hurt you, you will be broke if you lose your job, you will not be able to pay property taxes /maintenance. The cash flow will hurt you and you will be rich only on paper.

Consumer Debt & personal finance

Malls are filled with loads of white goods showrooms. Not only they have latest models of TV (LED, 3d, HD ), refrigerators,  kitchenware, washers, dryers, food processors, microwave ovens, cutlery, music systems but also they buyers lined up to buy them. Hardly anyone buys all cash. Most of them lined up to buy stuff are through consumer credit.

 

consumer debt & wealth

 

One of the greatest hurdles in creating a positive net worth is consumer debt. With easy credit availability, everything in the market is available at easy EMI (equated monthly installments – monthly payments). This is luring consumers to buy anything and everything they want.

  • Our neighbor has bought a new 85 inches LED, so we must also get something similar, if not bigger.
  • I must have a new car to show off my status; after all I am working so hard.
  • I must go to Malaysia / Singapore trip this winter holidays as my neighbor had done this last season and they boast it a lot.
  • That Tissot watch is so tempting; I must have it alongside my Seiko to go well with my casual dressing.

The list is ENDLESS

Above are the lame excuses we make to ourselves to get into consumer debt. Since today’s generation is earning well, and coupled with easy credit availability, everything seems to be within reach. EMIs make us think that we can afford anything, but in reality, by increasing EMI burden, we are harming our savings and investments in the long run. What if a bad economy patch hits us, times are not always going to be on your side. Suppose you are out of job for few months due to a sudden slowdown in economy, how you are going to manage so called EMIs?

Consumer debt is like a black hole. Once we get sucked in it, it is impossible to get out of it. We get more and more tempted by LOW EMIs or low monthly payments. We are then not bothered about the percentage of our take home that is going out in terms of monthly payments towards these loans. Once we add up the processing fees, interest charged on the loan, the final costs escalates and this makes our purchase financially not feasible by the time the loan term ends.

We see TV’s , print media, online media all tempting us to buy something or other. We tend to flow with the marketing pitches and buy the items which are in WANT category. Sometime we ignore our basic NEED category and give preference to WANTS. These WANTS will not serve any good to you in the long run as they are negating your savings and investment potential. Remember in later years, these things are not going to support you. You need funds in terms of retirement savings to take care of you.

Avoid consumer debt like plague; invest money smartly for your retirement years. Ultimately you are the decision maker of your life and you have to make sure that these little EMIs do not end up denting your retirement savings.

There are some good credits and some bad credits. You need to wisely distinguish between them. Good credits increases your net worth in terms of appreciation of the item purchased and also they give you tax breaks. Home loan or mortgage is an example of good credit.

Consumer loans come under bad credit. You buy the stuff which loses its value considerably the moment it comes out of the showroom. Also, you pay interest, processing fees and you do not get any tax break on this purchase. It’s your choice now, what kind of loan you should pick for your financial independence.

Have you bought anything recently on easy credit?

Do not wait to invest

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

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

 

right time to invest

 

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

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

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

And the list can go on…..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy investing !!!