Category Archives: Finance

Smart Ways to Achieve Financial Goals

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Where will you be FINANCIALLY five years from today?

The financial secret of moving from where you are and where you want to be?

Would you like to know the financial secret behind moving from where you are and where you want to be? Try to answer this question. “Where will you be financially five years from now? 10 years from now…? 20 years from now…?”

You may get answers like “I will be financially stronger”, “I want to be financially better”. Are these answers specific? If you don’t know where you want to go exactly, there is no focus. When there is no focus; there will be lot of distraction. Distraction either leads to mediocrity or destruction.

How to refrain yourself heading towards mediocrity or destruction? You need to set Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound Financial Goals. That is S.M.A.R.T. Financial goals.

Let me take you through step by step to set SMART Financial goals.

1)    List down Financial Goals:
Write down all your financial goals like buying a house, kid’s education, Vacation, Retirement and so on. You may wonder why this mechanical act of writing financial goals is so important. You can be thinking something without actually realizing what that something is. It is intangible and so it is not clearly defined in your mind.

When you start putting that thought into words and you try expressing it, an amazing thing begins to happen. By creating it in words, that abstract thought now takes on body, shape, form, substance. It is no longer just a thought. It becomes something which motivates you, or creates a gut feeling inside.

Your dream becomes a goal the moment you write it down. Say one of your dreams is to buy a house. You dream about it a lot. But the moment you started writing it down, your mind will ask yourself “when, where, how many square feet, how many bedrooms?”  This writing gives clarity to your goal and it forces your mind to find out the ways and means to achieve the goal.

2)    Categorize and Prioritize:

You need to categorise your financial goals based on the timeframe. Generally the financial goals less than 3 years are short term financial goals. The goals to be achieved in the next 4 to 7 years are medium term goals and the financial goals to be achieved after 7 years are long term goals. This categorization will help you in building a roadmap to achieve your goals and also in selecting the right investment products.

Your daughter’s wedding would be more important to you than the international vacation.  Buying a house is more important than buying a farm house. This prioritization will help you in creating a better financial plan. Suppose if you are in deficit, you know which financial goal need to be compromised and which are all the financial goals you want o achieve irrespective of the deficit.

3)    Fixing a target date:

Fixing a target date for your financial goals may look like a dump idea. How do I know in advance the date of buying my house, the date of my daughter’s wedding? But if you are not fixing it, then you will not be financially prepared for that. If you are financially prepared and the goal event is not taking place at that time and getting postponed for some reasons, you will not have any financial worries. You will be financially ready from thereafter with on enough money to meet that goal.

Fixing a target date will psychologically influence your thought process to work on that goal. Also the moment you fix the target date your mind starts running a countdown. Only when you know that after how many years from now you want to achieve the goal, you will be able to make a financial plan.

4)    Estimating the cost:

First you need to estimate the cost as of today. If you are planning to save for your daughter’s wedding which is expected to take place after 10 years, first you need to calculate the cost of the wedding in today’s prices. Then you need to adjust it for inflation of 10 years. Now you will have the future value of your target.

5)    How much to save?
Once you have found out the future value of the goal, you can easily decide on how much you need to invest in order to reach the targeted future value. Initially you may only be able to contribute less. But year after year you can increase this contribution based on your increment/promotion/income growth.

So you need to take into account the expected growth rate on your salary or business/professional income in calculating how much to save towards each and every financial goal.

6)    Budget the savings:

As you know by now exactly how much to save towards each and every goal, you need to accommodate these savings in your budget. If you do this year after year, then you can see all your financial goals becoming reality.

The difference between a goal and a dream is the written word. I am confident that you will come to find that financial goal setting works and that it will soon become a way of life for you.
Start setting your financial goals today.

The author is Ramalingam K, an MBA (Finance) and Certified Financial Planner. He is the Founder and Director of Holistic Investment Planners (www.holisticinvestment.in) a firm that offers Financial Planning and Wealth Management. He can be reached at ramalingam@holisticinvestment.in.

Mutual Funds Mythbuster

http://www.moneyindicators.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/image.pngRahul is working for a mutual fund house. They have recently came out with an NFO (new fund offer). The day on which the fund house announced its maiden NAV (net asset value), he received lot of calls from investors asking why the NAV is at below par. They thought something was wrong.

Then Rahul went on clarifying them that though both an equity fund and a stock extend market-related returns, there are some key differences between the two. If you have similar misconceptions about equity funds and stocks, this article will demystify all those misconceptions.

 

New Fund Offerings:

A new fund offer is not likely to generate amazing returns as can be the case with an initial public offering from a company.

This is because the NAV reflects the market value of the stocks held by the fund on any day. Because a fund holds several stocks in its portfolio, the NAV can only reflect the combined returns on the portfolio between the NFO date and the date of first NAV.

The first NAV declared by a fund can, at times, be lower than the par value of investment. A lower NAV does not mean a cheaper fund: Just because a New Fund is issued at Rs 10, it does not mean it has a chance of giving better returns than an existing fund that has a higher NAV.

Whether the scheme in which you are planning to invest has an NAV of Rs.15 or Rs.150 does not matter at all.

 

There is a difference between the price of a listed security and the NAV of a mutual fund scheme. Listed security has a price, determined by the demand and supply of the security. Whereas the unit’s NAV of the scheme has a value determined mathematically, by the prices of the securities in the portfolio. If the portfolio appreciates by 10% Rs.15 NAV will become RS.16.5 and Rs.150 AV will become Rs.165. So in whatever the NAV you invest your investment will fetch you 10% return.

So instead of concentrating on LOW NAV and more number of units, it is worthwhile to consider other factors (performance track record, fund management, volatility) that determine the portfolio return.

A fund with higher NAV may give higher returns than a lower NAV fund, if its stocks did better in the markets.

Funds Vs Stocks

Point of distinction Equity Fund Stocks
Level of Risk High Highest
Entry/Exit cost No Entry Load; But there will be Exit load. Advisory fee may be applicable. Demat a\c and Brokerage charges
Options Options available like dividend payout, dividend reinvestment, growth. No such options
Minimum Investment Min investment is usually Rs.5000. Even one share can be bought.
Measuring Performance Returns Vs Benchmark Net Profit margins/EPS
Sub-division Classified based on stocks in which it invests. (Diversified, Midcap, sectoral, thematic) Classified as per the industry in which it operates.(FMCG, IT, PSU, METAL)
Pricing Based on the price of the underlying securities Based on the demand and supply of the particular stock

 

Dividends are not extra returns:

 

Immediately, after the dividend payment of dividend the NAV of the fund will fall to the extent of the dividend payment. Let us illustrate.

 

Fund’s cum dividend NAV is Rs.25. Proposed dividend is 50%. You are investing Rs.1 Lac and you will not get Rs.50000 as dividend. It is only Rs.20000 (50% on the face value Rs.10 is Rs.5 per unit) as the unit price is Rs.25 you will get 4000 units. Rs.5 dividend * 4000 units=Rs.20000.

 

And this dividend is not an additional gain or income. After payment of dividend the NAV of the scheme will fall to the extent of the payment and distribution taxes (if applicable). Now your nav will become Rs.20 and your investment value will be Rs.80000 (4000 units * Rs.20 NAV).

 

In a nutshell,

 

Investment amount   Rs.1,00,000

Dividend amount     Rs.  20,000

Present Value      Rs.  80,000

 

It is nothing but investing Rs.80000 after dividend distribution at NAV Rs.20.

 

So investing in a scheme because it is declaring dividend in the near future is meaningless.

Usually a company with a liberal dividend policy may enjoy greater investor interest in the stock market. The same is not applicable to an equity-oriented mutual fund.

 

Investing more number of funds is not actual diversification. It may reduce your return.

 

Owning several mutual funds doesn’t necessarily broaden your holdings. It will be a mistake to buy the same securities over and over again in different funds with different names. You tend to believe they’re diversified. But it is not real diversification.

 

There are only very few funds which are performing consistently. Instead of investing in few funds, if someone chooses to invest in more number of funds (because he intends to diversify) he may be forced to choose some average performing schemes also. As a result his returns will be diluted. The step taken by the investor to diversify his investment is not leading to diversification but to dilution of return.

 

Thus ideally your portfolio should not have more than four-five funds.

NO tax for churning:

When we buy shares and sell them within a year we are accountable for short term capital gain tax at the rate of 15%.

But mutual funds provide the benefit of churning of stocks with no tax implications. A fund which churns its portfolio within a year is exempt from tax because it only redistributes these profits to investors.

The author is Ramalingam K, an MBA (Finance) and Certified Financial Planner. He is the Founder and Director of Holistic Investment Planners (www.holisticinvestment.in) a firm that offers Financial Planning and Wealth Management. He can be reached at ramalingam@holisticinvestment.in.

 

5 Stock Market Blunders

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Lets Start Having A Look:

The present share market dip accompanied by a climate of pessimism in the share market calls for not just shrewdness in share dealing, but also for avoiding the 5 common blunders that I find most long term investors make during a share market fall. It is true that your precious savings needs to be protected and to grow, that makes me quote Ayn Rand, “Wealth is the product of man’s capacity to think”, so let us think and avoid those 5 common blunders.

 

Unveiling the 5 common blunders to avoid in stock market fall:

Being influenced with short term share market losses:

 

I have always advised young investors investing for long term capital gains to not panic if the value of their shares came down rapidly in just a year. It is not advisable to sell them to avoid further dips. A strong unchangable fact about the share market is that it is subject to ups and downs. The price of the shares would rise all of a sudden, and selling would only make it difficult to recoup your portfolio to meet your long term financial goals. The share market is like a voting machine in the short run and weighing machine in the long run, hence long term capital creation requires buying shares in an advantageous share market.

 

Short selling to make profits:

Short selling shares at a higher price, in the hopes to replace them by buying at a lower price proved risky for many investors. They all have soon realized that it was always better to have a cotton shirt on their back rather than aspire and fail in getting a silk shirt and have no shirt at all.

 

People believe that investment experts and large stock broking houses will be able to predict the market. If we watch and follow them we will be able to make quick bucks in short selling and F&O trading. Is that so? If there are investment experts who will be able to correctly predict the market they will not be writing or giving interviews about it in the media. They will be silently investing and making money without revealing their secret.

Most of the big names in the stock broking sector were opening more new branches in the upcountry side during the second half of 2007 (when the market was moving closer to 20,000 levels), expecting the market to go up further and hence their businesses will grow. But within six months, market had collapsed.

In the second half of the 2008 these companies decided to wind up their newer branches in the upcountry as they were expecting further downside. But again within next six months market started their recovery.

 

Never enter into shorting deals during a share market fall, but to hold on and invest more if you can make good returns in future.

 

Buying Penny Stocks of unknown companies in place of shares of reputed companies:

Market has fallen. You can invest now. Many investors fall prey for the idea of investing in penny stocks. You may think that you will get more number of shares when you buy penny stocks. Because you will get a very few stocks for the same amount if you choose to invest in large or midcap companies.

 

It is a universal advice that investing in thriving longstanding companies rather than, a less known company would guarantee you a good return in the long run. You should avoid investing a large sum in unknown penny stocks. It is always advisable to take calculated risks and not blind risks. By investing in a penny stock you are taking a blind risk which all successful investors avoid consciously.

Waiting for shares prices to fall further before buying:

When the market falls, that is a perfect time to start investing. Don’t wait for the markets to bottom out. It is difficult to identify the bottom and invest. By the time you recognize, that is the bottom level, the market could have bounced back.

 

Share market commentaries in the media always confuse us. When the market was at 20000 levels during Dec 2007, everyone in the media is predicting and analyzing the possibility of the market reaching 30,000 levels.  But markets crashed subsequently. When they came down to 8600 level during Nov 2008 , everyone in the media is predicting analyzing the possibility of market going down further to 3,000 levels. But markets bounced back.

 

The prudent and smart investors understood this and started investing when the markets started falling. They have staggered their investments over a period of time. They followed simple strategies like systematic investment plan and systematic transfer plan.

I wanted high returns, but cannot see my capital fluctuating:

Some young and middle aged investors invest in high return portfolios with a lot of midcap exposure, and realize that their portfolios have fallen 15 to 20% with a share market fall in just 3 to 4 months. Their panic and decision to sell their shares for reinvesting the same in fixed return investments like Bank deposits or company deposits is wrong, and I would have advised them to just wait. Their present loss and reinvesting in fixed deposits would take them longer to recoup the capital and make sizable returns. The solution lies in sticking on to the share portfolio and be intelligent to buy more shares for long term wealth creation.

 

The final word:

My final word of advice for long term investors is to never allow emotions or short term fluctuations to alter their investment decision, and to always buy in a falling share market. I am sure a rational decision accompanied by safe dealings can make your long term financial goals a reality.

 

The author is Ramalingam K, an MBA (Finance) and Certified Financial Planner. He is the Founder and Director of Holistic Investment Planners (www.holisticinvestment.in) a firm that offers Financial Planning and Wealth Management. He can be reached at ramalingam@holisticinvestment.in.

8 Financial Blunders and their fixes

How to become better at managing money? The best way to start is to avoid making costly mistakes that will be pulling you down and taking months or even years to recover. Many financial blunders are easy enough to avoid once you know what to watch out for.

1.  Decision Paralysis

Today there are so many choices, so many financial products and so many offers. It all bundled with financial jargons. It becomes really difficult for one to understand. Also there is plenty of information available on the web, on the media and on the neighbourhood.  This makes decision making much more complex. All these things coupled with the fear of making a wrong financial decision lead us to the DECISION PARALYSIS. We don’t take any decision and start postponing it.

2.  Ignoring Personal Finance

Most of us think that we need to work hard to make money and build wealth. I agree that you need to work hard but that is not enough. You work hard for money. How the hard earned money can be left idle? If you could focus on your personal finance, your money will start generating passive income with which you can achieve your financial goals with comparatively less effort.

3.  Peer Pressure

Peer pressure plays a notorious role in taking wrong investment decision. One feels very safe when he takes the decision, which everyone around him/her has taken. But a product suitable for your colleague or your cousin need not be suitable for you.

4.  Too early to plan retirement

You may be saying ‘who me? I am too young to be thinking about retirement”. It is not so! Rethink. You should have started thinking about it yesterday. Because time flies quickly. If you were smart, and planned for retirement when you are young, your retirement years will be really those “Golden years”. If not you need to compromise and you need to work longer and retire later than others.

5.  Trying to make quick buck

Risk-Return Tradeoff Principle is a very basic and profound investment principle. Low level of risk is associated with low potential returns, whereas high level of risk is associated with high potential returns. So as to generate high returns one need to tolerate high risks. If you are comfortable only with low risks, you can expect only low returns.

No one can defy this basic principle. A scheme cannot deliver high returns with low risk. There were no such schemes in the past. There are no such schemes in the present. There will not be such schemes in the future too.

Finance company deposits which assured high interest rates have defaulted. One of the latest examples would be the ponzi scheme by Madoff.

Whenever you hear about such schemes with low risks and high returns, you understand it is an illusion. It is better to ask more questions and get it clarified, instead of making assumptions.

6.  Investing in things you don’t understand

If you are choosing to invest in a scheme which you don’t understand then you will also not understand what type of returns to expect.

Do you understand the Highest NAV Guaranteed Schemes? Who gives the guarantee and what is guaranteed?

Do you understand Futures and options completely? Ultimately from where does money come if you are profiting and where does the money go if you lose?

7.  Investing in what is hot

If you are investing in what is hot, then you are following the crowd. If you follow the crowd, you will get what others are getting. You will not get anything more. You need to be fearful when others are greedy and you need to be greedy when others are fearful. So don’t go by the market trend or the hot pick of the month. Think like a contrarian and follow value investing.

8.  Too many cooks

If you have different agents or advisors for different investment products (insurance, mutual funds, stocks…….), then none of them will know your complete picture. Their advice will be very limited and biased towards their products only. Too many cooks spoil the soup.

How to fix these financial blunders?

v  Give priority to your personal finance and spend some quality time on that. We all work for money. So we need to efficiently manage our money to secure our future.

v  Set your financial goals like kid’s higher education, buying a home or retirement with more details. Work out a personalised comprehensive financial plan to achieve the goals. Then create an action plan for the year in sync with the comprehensive financial plan. Be committed to your financial plan.

v  Obtain assistance from a professional financial planner who has knowledge and access to all financial products in the market. Ask the right questions and understand the plan and products before proceeding on the same.

These tips will refrain yourself from making those financial blunders and managing your money better.

The author is Ramalingam K, an MBA (Finance) and Certified Financial Planner. He is the Founder and Director of Holistic Investment Planners (www.holisticinvestment.in) a firm that offers Financial Planning and Wealth Management. He can be reached at ramalingam@holisticinvestment.in.

3 ways to save money

Let’s begin learning:

The safest way to double your money is to fold it over once and put it in your pocket. ~ Kin Hubbard

Kin Hubbard is right in saying that if we do not spend money unnecessarily we would be able to save money and double it. However most of us like to spend and would find it difficult to not spend at all. We feel that it could stress us further.

Accepting the3 financial challenges could help you in controlling unnecessary spending. Once you control and avoid unnecessary spending you can save more and invest more. So you can achieve your financial goals easier and earlier.

Here are the challenges:

A Day Away from spending

The challenge of not spending for a day could be difficult, but could help save and render some important life lessons. It is true as most of us have regular daily expenses on coffee, tea, lunch, and snack at regular intervals and fuel to travel to and from work.

Effective planning with implementation of this challenge involves ensuring that your fuel tank is full on the earlier day. Then setting the coffee vending machine the night before could ensure you refreshing brewed coffee to enjoy before you leave for work. Similarly, carrying homemade lunch and healthy snacks like salads, nuts, seed and snack bars could help you eat healthy and save money.

It is not as difficult as it appears. Once you start practicing it, it becomes part of your habit like fasting. It opens new ideas to you on saving on daily routine expenses.

A Week Away from Credit Cards

We all tend to spend a lot on small and big purchases with using the credit card. Credit card tends to make us spend excessively on unwanted purchases.

Buying things on cash would only make us spend on things that we absolutely consider necessary. It is found that sometimes postponing the purchase and preferring to pay cash could make us realize that the need was just momentary.

During the week away from credit card, you will be able to understand some of your spending pattern. You will come to know on what items you make impulsive buying and on what items you make need based buying.

As you are using cash to buy and not plastic money, you may want to negotiate the price. This develops your negotiation skills.

It is also true that buying unnecessary things with credit cards causes financial stress and spoiling of important life relationships. So avoiding credit card for a week could make you a need based buyer and better negotiator.

A Month Away from Eating Out

The last challenge of not dining out for a month could be difficult for many today. This is difficult but you would realize on implementation that it saves you a lot of money that is usually spent eating out in restaurants and cafeterias.

Avoiding eating in restaurants would not only create huge savings, but also would help you avoid excesses in foods. In addition eating out only on special occasions as a family would help you enjoy the food. It would make the family realize the value of spending money lavishly.

When we have a kid around one year old, we won’t offer any outside food. We will pack the home made food or snacks for the kid. You can follow the same for the grownups.

Again this is not as difficult as you think. Think of having a homemade food as a family in a park or beach. This will bring a different experience and enjoyment to your family. This will give you new ideas on having more fun with lesser money.

A Final Note

All these challenges do not mean that you should not spend at all on dining out or on getting good things of life. It only means you should spend the right amount of money for the right reasons. This self-control would not only help you save more but also in preparing you psychologically for a consumerism

I am sure you would learn a lot with these spending challenges once you try them.

The author is Ramalingam K, an MBA (Finance) and Certified Financial Planner. He is the Founder and Director of Holistic Investment Planners (www.holisticinvestment.in) a firm that offers Financial Planning and Wealth Management. He can be reached at ramalingam@holisticinvestment.in.

When to sell Mutual Funds

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Start making the decision:

It is vital for an investor, to have long-term investment plans. But he needs to constantly verify if these funds are helping him to achieve his financial objectives. You, as an investor need to keep track of how your investments in mutual funds are growing. Also you need to make sure that you do not suffer huge losses due to non-performance.

As an investor you need to learn not only when to buy but also when to sell a mutual fund. Learning the principles of when to sell a mutual fund helps weed off investment in unprofitable mutual funds and build up a desirable and profitable portfolio of mutual fund investments.

Look at situations to sell mutual funds:

Chronic Under-performer:

Investor should stay invested for long tern in a risky asset class like equity. You should wait patiently for a minimum period of 5 years to watch your investments grow. Making comparisons between similar funds proves futile.

However you should make a note if your fund is continuously under performing. Comparing each of your funds with the respective fund benchmark index for various periods like 2 years, 3years and 5 years helps. You may need to move out of a continuous under performer and move in to a continuous performer.

Changes in objectives of your mutual fund:

Next, an investor like you, investing with definite financial objectives with allocation to different sectors and market capitalization may feel uneasy and suspicious with the change in the fund’s objectives that exposed you to greater risk or risk in other sectors also.

Fund takeovers, change of ownership and mergers change the level of risk in a mutual fund portfolio. So you as an investor may find your need, not met and may want to sell the fund. This was the reason why many investors, who invested in UTI Mastergrowth Fund, sold their funds when it changed to UTI Top 100 Fund.

Repositioning of a fund:

Though the fund has got an investment objective to invest in various market caps, so far the fund may be investing only in midcaps and positioned in the market as a large cap fund. But later, the fund may reposition the same fund as a multi cap fund and start investing in large cap stocks also. This change may not be a suitable one for an aggressive investor.

So as an investor, you need to be careful in watching the funds after investing. That too when a fund changes its positioning, you need to keep a close track of the same to prevent your investments from any adverse effect.

Appreciation in investment attained:

It is quite possible that your investment could have been shrewd and calculated and achieved the targeted appreciation ahead of time. I congratulate you, but would like to tell you that greediness may also make you lose on that foresighted gain. Selling off your fund in full or part and investing in safer avenues like debt funds, fixed maturity plans and fixed deposits of companies and in banks would safeguard your money yet give you some small return.

Say you wanted to accumulate Rs.10 lacs for the higher education of your daughter/son in 5 years time. Your investments have appreciated to 10 lacs at the end of 4 year itself. It is better to change it immediately to safe and non-risky investments. If you leave the investments in the same fund, it may come down in value because of the subsequent market fall.

So when the goal value has been reached, one needs to protect the appreciation by moving out from the existing risky investments and moving in to a safer investment.

I am sure you would have understood these principles of when to sell a mutual fund. This will assist you in taking better investment decisions and achieving your financial goals.

The author is Ramalingam K, an MBA (Finance) and Certified Financial Planner. He is the Founder and Director of Holistic Investment Planners (www.holisticinvestment.in) a firm that offers Financial Planning and Wealth Management. He can be reached at ramalingam@holisticinvestment.in.

Fear and Greed

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Let’s start having a look:

An experienced long-term investor once told me that when he looked at his face after a share market fall he found despair and fear, while the same face showed enthusiasm and happiness with a share market appreciation. This made him realize that greed and fear were the 2 magnetic forces that caused confusion in investment goals. A balanced and objective approach would help him achieve his long-term financial goals.

Hindrances to positive and objective approach to investment decisions:

My close look at investment behavior has made me realize that fear and greed is not separate but complimentary emotions in an investor. Greed is merely a mental state born out of fear, with investors feeling the fear to lose money and then being unable to meet their family financial obligations. In addition, social pressures to earn in line with close relatives and friends and provide for benefits like higher education in a prestigious college, a grand marriage for children and a house with all modern amenities and furnishings leads to greed.

It is interesting to observe our brains dwell in the middle of negative emotions like fear, disappointment and greed, and these emotions influence our investment decisions, creating confusion in investment decisions. So we as investors start looking for security and confidence in our investments.

This makes me highlight 2 powerful influences on investor behavior namely 1) An investment portfolio based on ones personality

2) The follow the flock policy.

Basing investment portfolios on ones personal likes and dislikes are the first of the powerful influences, it is like investing in cars and fancy gadgets just because you love them. Investing on shares just because you think they are smart or flashy is ambiguous, for they could sink in the long run. It is better instead to invest in profitable ventures that pay in the long run. It is true; our investment fancies make us pay a heavy price.

The follow the flock for fear of being the black sheep policy makes you as an investor to believe in following others in the share markets. You would then be playing a vital role when the going is good and exiting never to return when the share market goes down. The pitfalls of group behavior lead us to buying high and selling less.

It is also true that follow the flock behavior leads to unbalanced investment emotions of black or white (wrong or right) with no shades of objectivity and rationality. In addition, group behavior leads to extreme situations of profit or loss and price swings in the share market that is highly undesirable. Buying high and selling low has made many investors suffer heavy losses in the long run.

A look at positive investment behavior:

Aim at lower returns for market forces play a very vital role in deciding the price. It is good to be investment smart with humility and lower aspirations that makes achievement of financial goals a reality. I have never known of any high return investments that did not have high risks.

Patience over a lifetime and being able to assume stress helps in aiming for long term positive returns and contributes to assuming less financial stress after retirement.

Positive investment behavior requires balanced moods, one of neither elation nor panic. Neither selling in a panic due to share market positions or adverse world or country conditions is advisable, nor is a reaction of extreme financial prosperity, both can destroy a lifetime of healthy investment. A long-term investor needs to realize that neither despairing nor elation of situations in civilization proves worthy for long term financial portfolios.

Let’s just sum up:

I am sure you would be congratulating yourself with all the knowledge gained and would neither allow emotions, group behavior nor your personal likes and dislikes to influence your long term financial goals. It is true you would have also realized that patience, humility and appetite for stress could contribute to long-term achievement of your financial goals.

The author is Ramalingam K, an MBA (Finance) and Certified Financial Planner. He is the Founder and Director of Holistic Investment Planners (www.holisticinvestment.in) a firm that offers Financial Planning and Wealth Management. He can be reached at ramalingam@holisticinvestment.in.

Stocks Investment Post Retirement

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Inflation and Retirement

Most Retirees feel great getting a bulk sum as provident fund and gratuity, and wish they knew a magician, who could spin their money 2 to 3 times in just 5 years, in addition to ensuring a regular return for their day to day expenses. It is true we all want it to keep up with the inflation rate in the market. I know of no such magicians, and it is practically not possible to multiply your money 2 to 3 times in just 5 years. But I definitely know of smart investment planning and investment advisors that could help you to beat inflation.

A step by step look at your considerations to come out with smart calculated investment decisions:

¨ Post-retirement, you know that you would no longer earn a regular income and would have to stay on your savings, provident fund, gratuity, and other benefits that have been given to you. You would definitely want more good returns on your investments, but your appetite for risk is low, for you would not want to lose your precious savings. So you would prefer to shift your portfolio of investment from risky ones to safer ones like fixed deposits in banks and good rated companies.

¨ However your need for more income, capital gains to keep up with inflation, and rates of interest on fixed deposits decreasing each year may make you puzzled about coping up with the increased financial needs. You, as a senior citizen are lucky to be getting additional interest, however taxes leave you with not much more. However you are not prepared to subject your savings to the volatile bullish and bearish trends of the share market of over-confidence and pessimism.

¨ You retire at 60, considering 5% is the rate of inflation annually, with life span as 85, and spending Rs.20000 per month, you would require a retirement corpus of Rs.42,00,000 if the return rate was 8%, while you would require Rs.47,00,000 if the return rate was only 7%. I am sure you would invest smart, reducing your retirement corpus by 10.5% by just investing for 1% more return.

¨ It is true that stocks and shares gave an annual compounded return of 17 to 18% in the last 15 years, with long term stocks giving a compounded returns of about 15 to 18% annually. However you have not appetite for risky and volatile investments, and may want to play safe with low or moderate risk to capital and in not putting all your eggs in one basket or to divide your risk.

¨ After your retirement you would do best to follow the advice of financial experts and invest no more than 10 to 20% of your retirement corpus in shares and stocks. A novice to the share market, or lack of time, inclination or shrewdness may not prove right to deal in the share market, and most financial advisors advice senior citizens to invest in mutual funds. These companies have experienced fund managers and researchers with in-depth knowledge of various industries and valuation principles and also offer diversified investment options in shares in companies, debt instruments and government securities.

¨ The choice of retirees should be to invest in big cap funds, funds investing in huge paid-up capital companies, while mid cap funds suit those who do not mind medium risk-taking. However small cap funds, invested mostly in start-up companies are to be avoided, being highly volatile in nature.

¨ Time plays a vital role in investment in mutual funds, and a good investment advisor would advice you appropriately. The best option for senior citizens would be to first invest a lump sum in a debt based funds that promise good, safe and regular return. This could be followed up by a systematic investment/transfer plan of investing or transferring through ECS regularly a fixed amount for units of a mutual fund. This definitely proves beneficial to take advantage of the volatility of the market, as buying different number of units each month helps to spread the risk also.

A Final Thought:

However your smart calculated investment choice of mutual funds requires evaluating every 3 to 6 months. This would help switching between mutual funds at the right time. My last but most important advice again especially to senior citizens is never go in for stock trading in a big way without proper knowledge and inclination and lose due to volatility of stock and share market.

(The author is Ramalingam K, an MBA (Finance) and Certified Financial Planner. He is the Founder and Director of Holistic Investment Planners (www.holisticinvestment.in) a firm that offers Financial Planning and Wealth Management. He can be reached at ramalingam@holisticinvestment.in.

Role of Spouse in Personal Finance

http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/LIVING/personal/02/17/p.couples.money.balance/art.finance.spouse.parenting.jpgIn most of the Indian families, the personal finance is something which is not managed by the couples together. It is only one person who manages the personal finance and money management of the whole family. In most of the cases the male partners and in a very few cases the female partners mange personal finance. Only very rarely both of the partners together manage their personal finance aspects.

What would be the outcome in an organisation where the purchase department works totally independent and without any understanding with the finance department of the organisation? Purchase dept may overspend; finance dept will lose control; misunderstanding and conflicts between both the depts; the result is the organization’s growth gets destroyed.

Similarly, if the personal finance is handled by only one partner, then there could be a lot of mismatch between you and your partner in saving and spending pattern. This will lead to misunderstanding and marital stress. Instead of having independent saving and spending plan, having an interdependent plan will help you in managing your money effectively and achieving your financial goals.

You go out for dinner together. You go to the movie together. Why don’t you manage your personal finance together? This will build money compatibility for you and your spouse. Both of you can have a better relationship and understanding with each other.

Why it is so important?

You may wonder why personal finance should be managed by both of the partners. Here are some points to ponder over;

1) In case of Emergency:

Suppose the partner, who is managing personal finance, met with an accident and need to be hospitalized for one month or so, then how does the spouse will run the show?

During the accident, if the partner has missed his wallet which had all the credit cards and debit cards then how does the spouse block those cards before it is misused? Where does she or he find that information?

In case of emergency, nothing will help except the practice of managing the personal finance together.

2) Real Workable Budget:

When you alone prepare the budget for your family, then you can’t expect your spouse to spend according to the budget. If you prepare the budget along with your spouse, he or she will come forward to help you in saving more.

You just try this. Involve your spouse in budgeting and monitoring the spending. You will see the spending coming down day by day and both of you will start spending consciously.

3) Combined Financial Goals:

It is better to identify the goals of your spouse as well as yours and check that is there any goal which is contradictory to the goal of your spouse.

You may want to retire and settle in the same work city. But your spouse may want to settle in the native place.

You may plan to buy a farm house to spend your leisure. But your spouse may be interested in spending her/his leisure at different places like hill stations and other tourism places. For this goal a time share slot with a resort provider may be suitable.

So identifying and settling your difference of opinion regarding the financial goals at the blueprint level is much easier and cheaper, instead of doing it at the execution level.

Overcoming the barriers:

There are some barriers or objections in involving their spouse in managing personal finance. How to overcome that?

1) No Time:

My spouse is not having enough time to look at these things. ‘No time’ is a false excuse. If it is one of your priorities, then definitely it will somehow find its time. Only thing is you have not realized it as one of your priority. Personal finance is definitely a priority item for each and every family because it is going to secure your future.

2) Not interested:

My spouse is not interested in personal finance. Everyone is interested in their own future and their kid’s future. So logically everyone needs to be interested in personal finance. You need to motivate them and make them understand, how this personal finance management is important in achieving their life goals.

3) Doesn’t know:

My spouse doesn’t know about personal finance. No one has born in this world with the skills of money management. We all learned it here. So why don’t you educate him/her on personal finance. Money management is an important life skill. Everyone should know. You want your kids to manage the money better and wiser. Why don’t we educate our spouse first?

Overcoming the barriers in getting your spouse involved in personal finance management and getting them involved will be a life transforming exercise. Don’t miss it. Together you will be able to achieve your life goals easier and sooner.

The author is Ramalingam K, an MBA (Finance) and Certified Financial Planner. He is the Founder and Director of Holistic Investment Planners (www.holisticinvestment.in) a firm that offers Financial Planning and Wealth Management. He can be reached at ramalingam@holisticinvestment.in.

Retire Sooner and Richer

http://photos-d.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc4/40970_145042245527431_144758378889151_302094_6137448_s.jpgThe mindset of today’s young professionals is changing radically. They would like to have a semi-retired life in their late forties or early fifties by taking up a hobby instead of a regular job.

Somewhere within all of us, there is a dream to reach a point in life where we have enough wealth to be able to choose the work we would like to do and the pace at which we would like to work, if at all we feel like working; a point also referred to as financial freedom. Financial Freedom is also interpreted as being able to spend whatever amount you like, on whatever things you like, month after month.

Here is a step by step guide to Retire Early.

How long you expect to live?

First of all, you need to decide on “How long you expect to live?” This is going to be the starting point for your retirement plan. This you can decide by your health history and your family health history.

Will you run out of money?

You need to accumulate enough money required to live up to that age. You need to calculate the corpus amount required for retirement based on when do you want to retire?, how much you need to spend every month after retiring?, Inflation, tax, investment returns and the like.

There are two things which can make you run out of money in between. One is inflation and the other one is medical expenses at the old age. So you need to be very careful in assuming inflation when planning for retirement. Also you need to be adequately covered with right health insurance policies.

Retirement corpus Break up:

You need to divide your retirement corpus into two portions. One portion of it is the corpus required to retire at the regular age. It could be 58 or 60. The other portion is the corpus required to live between the early retirement and the regular retirement. Say if you want to retire at 50, what would be the corpus required to live between the age of 50 and the regular retirement age of 58 or 60.

First you need to accumulate money for your regular retirement. Then you need to proceed to accumulate for your early retirement. This way you break your targets and it psychologically gives you a lot of comfort in achieving early retirement.

Don’t fall for get-rich-quick schemes

To retire early, definitely you need a sizable corpus. Don’t look for any short cuts and get-rich-quick schemes. Only with the increased risk comes the increased return. If any scheme assures low risk and high return, then it is going to be another scam. So stay away from those schemes.

Don’t fear stocks

You need to consider investing in a well diversified portfolio for long-term. Diversified Equity mutual fund schemes are better. By investing in a diversified equity portfolio you will be taking calculated risk and not blind risk. Equities will beat all other asset classes in the long run. So it is an important option for those who want to retire early.

Reduce your annual cash requirements for when you retire by working out a careful budget

The monthly income required after retirement is going to be an important criteria for deciding the retirement corpus. If you are comfortable with lesser income you can retire sooner. So you need to be careful in drawing a budget for cash requirement post retirement.

Investigate a better return on your savings

Better return on your investment portfolio will help you retiring early. So maximize the return on your portfolio as far as possible.

Cut your current spending so you can save more

Money spent is money saved. Spend less; save more; invest smarter and retire sooner. There are more number of ways to spend smarter to save more.

Earn more now

Time is money. Don’t waste your time. Invest your time in revenue generating activities. Apart from your regular income source, there are other opportunities which you can exploit. You can create blogs; you can be a freelance writer; you can do internet marketing. There will be numerous opportunities based on your knowledge and skills if you take time to think and implement.

Take advantage of tax-deferred opportunities

Tax deferment is an important tool for early retirement. Tax deferment means less tax now. If you pay less tax and you will have more money to save. You need to pay tax on FDs on maturity even if you renew them. Income funds and MIPs could be a better alternative to this. You need to pay tax only when you actually redeem.

Find out some ways to have an income

Even after retirement you can have an income by way of a hobby or interest. You need not work on a regular schedule. Say you can be a trainer, you can be a blogger, you can be a consultant, or you can be an advisor in your chosen field. It generates money as well as it keeps you engaged after retirement. One of my clients has written a book and he is able to generate income from the copyright of that book year on year. If you are able to generate this kind of income, then you can retire early.

Retiring early is possible for each and everybody. You need to start planning for it little earlier. Professional assistance from financial planners will be of definitely useful to you, if you desire to retire sooner and retire richer.

The author is Ramalingam K, an MBA (Finance) and Certified Financial Planner. He is the Founder and Director of Holistic Investment Planners (www.holisticinvestment.in) a firm that offers Financial Planning and Wealth Management. He can be reached at ramalingam@holisticinvestment.in.