January 2017

Resolve to achieve Financial Freedom in your life!!! #Replug

Money and Happiness, Financial Freedom, Financial Planning, Retirement, Child Education

#Replug

Martin Seligman author of ‘Authentic Happiness’ and research psychologist has said that there are three parts to happiness : Pleasures, Engagement and Meaning.

Pleasure is the feel good part, the short term happiness of material possessions in life.
Engagement refers to good life involving work, friends, family and hobbies.
Meaning is using our time and strengths towards a larger purpose.
He reckons, that Although all the three are important , it is the last two which make a significant difference.

Now a lot of time we spend goes into increasing or earning money. Hence it is worth figuring out where money and hence financial freedom comes into play in our overall happiness. 

Does Higher Income really lead to Happiness though? Is the million dollar question.

When researched , the results are surprising. ?  A study from Princeton University found that a larger paycheck does lead to a happier life—but only to a certain point. ($75,000 per annum to be precise)

What really affects our happiness more than how much we make is our attitude toward money and the way that we handle it. When we hold fast to the belief that money directly determines happiness, life becomes a constant pursuit of accumulating ”more”.  

Would winning a lottery make us the happiest people on earth? Harvard Psychologist Dan Gilbert says NO.

He goes on to prove that we human beings are very good at adapting but extremely poor in predicting when it comes to our emotions and feelings. We tend to overestimate the duration and intensity of our future emotions.

For eg: A dream home with all modern amenities couple of extra bedrooms, with a beautiful view gives pleasure for a few months. Before the purchase, we tend to think that the possession will provide everlasting happiness and also experience that the happiness will be the ultimate satisfaction. But the same disappears later. At times it can also possibly have a negative effect on happiness at times.

Even when you change jobs or progress in career he has found out across subjects that in approximately 3 months they are back in the same place in terms of happiness. You can extend the examples to Car , let’s say you buy a porche or a BMW , the impact is the same.

This is one of the most important research subject in behavorial finance. Known as Hedonic treadmill. We work hard, earn more, and are indeed able to afford better and nicer things and yet it dosen’t make us any happier. The deeds and things you worked so hard for no longer make you happy; you need to get something even better to boost your level of happiness.” 

Wouldn’t it be better if we knew exactly how happy a new car, career, house or relationship would make us? It is quite possible if we do the following :

Avoid negative things that you cannot get accustomed to such as commuting , noise, chronic stress
Expect only short term happiness from material things such as cars, houses, lottery tickets, prizes, bonuses.
Accept your present
Aim for as much free time and autonomy as possible since long lasting happiness comes from what you actively do
Follow your passions even if you have to forfeit a portion of your income for them
Invest in friendships

Finally, Understand your relationship with Money. Don’t let money control your life . Rather Get a control over Money.

Have clear financial goals, focus on purchasing assets (rather than accumulating liabilities) and make your assets work along with you in order to achieve those goals. Remember, assets is something which puts money in your pockets, where as liabilities is something which takes money out of your pockets. 

This independence day resolve to achieve financially freedom in your life. 

November 2015

Resolve to Achieve Financial Freedom in your life!!!!!

Financial Freedom, New Year Personal Finance Resolution, Investments advise for beginners, Basics of INvestment Philosophy

Martin Seligman author of ‘Authentic Happiness’ and research psychologist has said that there are three parts to happiness : Pleasures, Engagement and Meaning.

Pleasure is the feel good part, the short term happiness of material possessions in life.
Engagement refers to good life involving work, friends, family and hobbies.
Meaning is using our time and strengths towards a larger purpose.
He reckons, that Although all the three are important , it is the last two which make a significant difference.

Now a lot of time we spend goes into increasing or earning money. Hence it is worth figuring out where money and hence financial freedom comes into play in our overall happiness.

Does Higher Income really lead to Happiness though? Is the million dollar question.

When researched , the results are surprising. ?  A study from Princeton University found that a larger paycheck does lead to a happier life—but only to a certain point. ($75,000 per annum to be precise)

What really affects our happiness more than how much we make is our attitude toward money and the way that we handle it. When we hold fast to the belief that money directly determines happiness, life becomes a constant pursuit of accumulating ”more”.

Would winning a lottery make us the happiest people on earth? Harvard Psychologist Dan Gilbert says NO.

He goes on to prove that we human beings are very good at adapting but extremely poor in predicting when it comes to our emotions and feelings.We tend to overestimate the duration and intensity of our future emotions.

For eg: A dream home with all modern amenities couple of extra bedrooms, with a beautiful view gives pleasure for a few months. Before the purchase, we tend to think that the possession will provide everlasting happiness and also experience that the happiness will be the ultimate satisfaction. But the same disappears later. At times it can also possibly have a negative effect on happiness at times.

Even when you change jobs or progress in career he has found out across subjects that in approximately 3 months they are back in the same place in terms of happiness. You can extend the examples to Car , let’s say you buy a porche or a BMW , the impact is the same.

This is one of the most important research subject in behavorial finance. Known as Hedonic treadmill. We work hard, earn more, and are indeed able to afford better and nicer things and yet it dosen’t make us any happier. The deeds and things you worked so hard for no longer make you happy; you need to get something even better to boost your level of happiness.” 

Wouldn’t it be better if we knew exactly how happy a new car, career, house or relationship would make us? It is quite possible if we do the following :

Avoid negative things that you cannot get accustomed to such as commuting , noise, chronic stress
Expect only short term happiness from material things such as cars, houses, lottery tickets, prizes, bonuses.
Accept your present
Aim for as much free time and autonomy as possible since long lasting happiness comes from what you actively do
Follow your passions even if you have to forfeit a portion of your income for them
Invest in friendships

Finally, Understand your relationship with Money. Don’t let money control your life . Rather Get a control over Money.

Have clear financial goals, focus on purchasing assets (rather than accumulating liabilities) and make your assets work along with you in order to achieve those goals. Remember, assets is something which puts money in your pockets, where as liabilities is something which takes money out of your pockets.

Make your money work so hard for you so that you never have to work for money….

Resolve to achieve financially freedom in your life!!!!!

December 2014

JUST SAY “NO” to 7 MISTAKES in YOUR RETIREMENT PLANNING

financial planning, financial freedom, Bad investment products to avoid, Retirement Planning, Child Plans

JUST SAY “NO” to 7 MISTAKES in YOUR RETIREMENT PLANNING

1. Say NO to Horribly expensive traditional life insurance policies like Money Back, Whole Life etc. peddled as investments. Even PPF beats them hands down.  They make money only for the agent. NOT for you. !!!! Don’t ruin your future in the name of tax savings.

2. Say NO to Terrible ULIP schemes, which eat away your capital due to high expenses in the initial years. Mutual Funds are way better than ULIP’s

3. Say NO to Margin Trading / Derivatives trading/ Overleveraging  in Stock Market/Real Estate The markets can remain irrational more than you can remain solvent. !!!!

4. SAY NO to Bank RM’s who sell sub standard hybrid close-ended products for their commissions, which has no relevance in your financial goals. Why should banks be selling insurance products anyways? Think…. RM’s are ultimately trying to meet their targets at your cost!!!

5. SAY NO to children insurance policies pitched emotionally. They DO NOT NEED life cover. Remember they need you & your Love , & so YOU are the one who needs LIFE COVER to protect your family.!!!!!

6. SAY NO to Multiple credit cards & Credit Card Companies as they fleece you by offering you deceptive & expensive high interest EMI payments.

7. SAY NO to fly-by-night fraudulent agencies (Saradha Type Schemes), pyramid type companies who offer unreasonable returns. You will probably lose your entire capital. Don’t become penny wise , Pound foolish…..

Learn to Say No. Adopt a life strategy similar to corporate strategy. Write down a list of ‘Not to pursue’ in your life & investments. Whenever an option shows up, test it against your list. This will not only save you a lot of trouble , it will also save you a lot of time and money. Remember, many doors are not going through, even when the handle seems to turn so effortlessly.

Take the step to Remove BAD investment products and then SAY YES TO Achieving FINANCIAL FREEDOM & SECURING your RETIREMENT & future & Gift yourself financial freedom.

November 2012

Life Cycle ~ Wealth Cycle & Financial Planning

Life Cycle ,Wealth Cycle ,Financial Planning, Wealth Management, Investments, Insurance, Accumulation Phase, Distribution Phase,

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Many people take no care of their money till they come nearly to the end of it, and others do just the same with their time.  – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Financial planning, thus,  is not exclusively about retirement planning or investing or even portfolio management. If distilled to its purest elements, this discipline is more accurately understood as one that involves applying guiding principles to deal with the past, present and future finances. 

Financial planning is the process of meeting your life goals through the proper management of your finances.

It is useful to have a perspective on the life cycle and wealth cycle which you are in before going in for investing for a secure financial future. Understanding Life Cycle and Wealth Cycle is one way to become a informed investor.

These are the normal life cycle stages that people go through, viz.:

Childhood

During this stage, focus is on education in most cases. Children are dependents, rather than earning members. Pocket money, cash gifts and scholarships are potential sources of income during this phase. Parents and seniors need to groom children to imbibe the virtues of savings, balance and prudence. Values imbibed during this phase set the foundation of their life in future.

Young Unmarried

The earning years start here. A few get on to high-paying salaries early in their career. Others toil their way upwards. Either way, the person needs to get into the habit of saving. The fortunate few who start off well have to avoid falling into the trap of unsustainable life styles.

Equity SIPs and Whole-life insurance plans are great ways to force the young unmarried into the habit of regular savings, rather than lavish the money away.

This is the right age to start investing in equity. Personal plans on marriage, transportation and residence determine the liquidity needs. People for whom marriage is on the anvil, and those who wish to buy a car / two-wheeler or house may prefer to invest more in relatively liquid investment avenues. Others have the luxury of not having to provide much for liquidity needs. Accordingly, the size of the equity portfolio is determined.

Young Married

A cushion of assets created during the early earning years can be a huge confidence booster while taking up the responsibilities associated with marriage.

Where both spouses have decent jobs, life can be financially comfortable. They can plan where to stay in / buy a house, based on job imperatives, life style aspirations and personal comfort. Insurance is required, but not so critical.

Where only one spouse is working, life insurance to provide for contingencies associated with the earning spouse are absolutely critical. In case the earning spouse is not so well placed, ability to pay insurance premia can be an issue, competing with other basic needs of food, clothing and shelter. Term insurance (where premium is lower) possibilities have to be seriously explored and locked into.

Depending on the medical coverage provided by the employer/s, health insurance policy cover too should be planned. Even where the employer provides medical coverage, it would be useful to start a low value health insurance policy, to provide for situations when an earning member may quit a job and take up another after a break. Further, starting a health insurance policy earlier and not having to make a claim against it for a few years, is the best antidote to the possibility of insurance companies rejecting future insurance claims / coverage on account of what they call “pre- existing illness”.

While buying an insurance policy, there has to be clarity on whether it is a cashless policy i.e. a policy where the insurance company directly pays for any hospitalization expenses. In other policies, the policy-holder has to bear the expense first and then claim re-imbursement from the insurer. This increases the liquidity provisions that need to be made for contingencies.

All family members need to know what is covered and what is not covered in the policy, any approved or black listed health services provider, and the documentation and processes that need to be followed to recover money from the insurer. Many insurance companies have outsourced the claim settlement process. In such cases, the outsourced service provider, and not the insurer, would be the touch point for processing claims.

Married with Young Children

Insurance needs – both life and health – increase with every child. The financial planner is well placed to advise on a level of insurance cover, and mix of policies that would help the family maintain their life style in the event of any contingency.

Expenses for education right from pre-school to normal schooling to higher education is growing much faster than regular inflation. Adequate investments are required to cover this.

Married with Older Children

The costs associated with helping the children settle i.e. cost of housing, marriage etc are shooting up. If investments in growth assets like shares and real estate, are started early in life, and maintained, it would help ensure that the children enjoy the same life style, when they set up their independent families.

Pre-Retirement

By this stage, the children should have started earning and contributing to the family expenses. Further, any loans taken for purchase of house or car, or education of children should have been extinguished. The family ought to plan for their retirement – what kind of lifestyle to lead, and how those regular expenses will be met.

Retirement

At this stage, the family should have adequate corpus, the interest on which should help meet regular expenses. The need to dip into capital should come up only for contingencies – not to meet regular expenses.

The availability of any pension income and its coverage (only for the pensioner or extension to family in the event of death of pensioner) will determine the corpus requirement.

Besides the corpus of debt assets to cover regular expenses, there should also be some growth assets like shares, to protect the family from inflation during the retirement years. 

Wealth Cycle is an alternate view to look at a person’s profile. The stages in the Wealth Cycle are: 

Accumulation

This is the stage when the investor gets to build his wealth. It covers the earning years of the investor i.e. the phases of the life cycle from Young Unmarried to Pre-Retirement.

Transition

Transition is a phase when financial goals are in the horizon. E.g. house to be purchased, children’s higher education / marriage approaching etc. Given the impending requirement of funds, investors tend to increase the proportion of their portfolio in liquid assets viz. money in bank, liquid schemes etc.

Inter-Generational Transfer

During this phase, the investor starts thinking about orderly transfer of wealth to the next generation, in the event of death. The financial planner can help the investor understand various inheritance and tax issues, and help in preparing Will and validating various documents and structures related to assets and liabilities of the investor.

It is never too early to plan for all this. Given the consequences of stress faced by most investors, it should ideally not be postponed beyond the age of 50. 

Reaping / Distribution

This is the stage when the investor needs regular money. It is the parallel of retirement phase in the Life Cycle.

Sudden Wealth

Winning lotteries, unexpected inheritance of wealth, unusually high capital gains earned – all these are occasions of sudden wealth, that need to be celebrated. However, given the human nature of frittering away such sudden wealth, the financial planner can channelize the wealth into investments, for the long term benefit of the investor’s family.

In such situations, it is advisable to initially block the money by investing in a liquid scheme. An STP from the liquid schemes into equity schemes will help the long term wealth creation process, if advisable, considering the unique situation of the investor.

Given the change of context, and likely enhancement of life style expectations, a review of the comprehensive financial plan is also advisable in such situations.

Understanding of both life cycle and wealth cycle is helpful. However, one must keep in mind that each investor may have different needs and unique situations; the recommendations may be different for different investors even within the same life cycle or wealth cycle stages.  (~source NISM)

October 2012

What are Model Portfolios ~ A Financial Planner Tool

Model Portfolios, Strategic Asset Allocation, Tactical Asset Allocation, Financial Planner, Financial Planning, Equity, Debt, Gold, Real Estate.

Model Portfolios

Since investors’ risk appetites vary, a single portfolio cannot be suggested for all. Financial planners often work with model portfolios – the asset allocation mix that is most appropriate for different risk appetite levels. The list of model portfolios, for example, might read something like this:

Young call centre / BPO employee with no dependents

50% diversified equity schemes (preferably through SIP); 20% sector funds; 10% gold ETF, 10% diversified debt fund, 10% liquid schemes.

Young married single income family with two school going kids

35% diversified equity schemes; 10% sector funds; 15% gold ETF, 30% diversified debt fund, 10% liquid schemes.

Single income family with grown up children who are yet to settle down

35% diversified equity schemes; 15% gold ETF, 15% gilt fund, 15% diversified debt fund, 20% liquid schemes.

Couple in their seventies, with no immediate family support

15% diversified equity index scheme; 10% gold ETF, 30% gilt fund, 30% diversified debt fund, 15% liquid schemes.

Please note that these percentages are illustrative and subjective. The critical point is that your financial planner should have a model portfolio for every distinct client profile. This is then tweaked around based on specific investor information.

Thus, a couple in their seventies, with no immediate family support but very sound physically and mentally, and a large investible corpus might be advised the following portfolio, as compared with the previous model portfolio.

20% diversified equity scheme; 10% diversified equity index scheme; 10% gold ETF, 25% gilt fund, 25% diversified debt fund, 10% liquid schemes.

Within each of these scheme categories, specific schemes and options can be identified. So next time when you sit with your financial planner, don’t catch whatever advise gets thrown at you ~ Question him about the model portfolios in his toolkit and the reasons behind them.

It will help you develop a sustainable financial plan

How are Mutual Fund Gains Taxed?

Capital Gains Tax, Equity Mutual Funds, Debt Mutual Funds, Indexation Benefits, FMP's, Balanced Mutual Funds.

Capital Gain is the difference between sale price and acquisition cost of the investment. Since mutual funds are exempt from tax, the schemes do not pay a tax on the capital gains they earn.

Investors in mutual fund schemes however need to pay a tax on their capital gains as follows:

Equity-oriented schemes

– Nil – on Long Term Capital Gains (i.e. if investment was held for more than a year) arising out of transactions, where STT has been paid

– 15% plus surcharge plus education cess – on Short Term Capital Gains (i.e. if investment was held for 1 year or less) arising out of transactions, where STT has been paid

– Where STT is not paid, the taxation is similar to debt-oriented schemes

Debt-oriented schemes

– Short Term Capital Gains (i.e. if investment was held for 1 year or less) are added to the income of the investor. Thus, they get taxed as per the tax slabs applicable. An investor whose income is above that prescribed for 20% taxation would end up bearing tax at 30%. Investors in lower tax slabs would bear tax at lower rates. Thus, what is applicable is the marginal rate of tax of the investor.

– In the case of Long Term Capital Gain (i.e. if investment was held for more than 1 year), investor pays tax at the lower of the following:

— 10% plus surcharge plus education cess, without indexation

— 20% plus surcharge plus education cess, with indexation

Indexation means that the cost of acquisition is adjusted upwards to reflect the impact of inflation. The government comes out with an index number for every financial year to facilitate this calculation.

For example, if the investor bought units of a debt-oriented mutual fund scheme at Rs 10 and sold them at Rs 15, after a period of over a year. Assume the government’s inflation index number was 400 for the year in which the units were bought; and 440 for the year in which the units were sold. The investor would need to pay tax on the lower of the following:

— 10%, without indexation viz. 10% X (Rs 15 minus Rs 10) i.e. Rs 0.50 per unit

— 20%, with indexation.

Indexed cost of acquisition is Rs 10 X 440 ÷ 400 i.e. Rs11. The capital gains post indexation is Rs 15 minus Rs 11 i.e. Rs 4 per unit. 20% tax on this would mean a tax of Rs 0.80 per unit.The investor would pay the lower of the two taxes i.e. Rs0.50 per unit.

Here’s how different funds are taxed and who should invest in them:

Debt schemes held for short term: If you fall under 10% tax bracket, growth option would be better—as there is no DDT (13.519%). Dividend option is better if an individual falls under higher income brackets (20% or 30% & above) as the DDT is lower. Debt schemes if held for short term ( less than one year), then capital gains tax will added to income and taxed according to the slab.

Debt funds held for long term: If you want to invest in debt schemes for more than a year, growth option is a better choice. In case of debt schemes, long term capital gains are taxed at 10% without indexation and 20% with indexation.

This article – Guide to debt funds & article – Debt funds can prove beneficial from Economic times further articulates the tax advantages & other benefits of investing in debt funds. 

Source : NISM

 More on Mutual Funds

September 2012

Procedure for Transmission of Shares, In the Event of Death of the Shareholder

Procedure for Transmission of Shares,in the Event of Death of the Shareholder , Stock Investing, SEBI India

Life is uncertain..But Death is certain

Recently, an acquaintance had to undergo the process of transmission of shares when she lost her spouse to an unfortunate mishap. It is good to be aware of the process of transmission as documented by SEBI. I am putting this here for the benefit of our readers.

“Transmission” is the terminology used for this procedure that means passing of property in shares to the legal heirs. In the event of death of the shareholder procedure for transmission of shares is as follows;

 Where there is a nominee;

For shares in demat mode, you have to send to the Depository Participant (DP);

  1. Notarized copy of the death certificate
  2. Duly filled Transmission Request Form (TRF).

For physical shares, you may be requested to send any of the below documents to the Registrar and Share Transfer Agent (RTA);

  1. Original Share certificates.
  2. Duly filled Transmission Request Form (TRF).
  3. An affidavit / declaration by the nominee declaring his rights.
  4. Notarized copy of the death certificate.

Where there is no nomination: (Part A)

 Shares held in Demat mode;

 Where value of the shares is upto Rs. 100,000, one or more of the following documents is to be furnished to the DP;

  1. Notarized copy of the death certificate
  2. Transmission Request Form(TRF)
  3. Affidavit – to the effect of the claim of legal ownership to the shares,
  4. Deed of indemnity – Indemnifying the depository and Depository Participants (DP)
  5. NOC* from legal heir(s), if applicable or family settlement deed duly executed by all legal heirs of the deceased beneficial owner.

Where value is more than Rs 100,000, the Depository Participants (DP) may additionally insist on one or more of the following documents;

  1. Surety form
  2. Succession certificate
  3. Probated will

Shares held in Physical mode:

 Where the Shares are in physical mode, The RTA (Registrar/Share Transfer Agent) may insist on any of following documents;

  1. Original Share certificates.
  2. Duly filled Transmission Request Form (TRF).
  3. Notarized copy of the death certificate.
  4. Succession certificate or
  5. Probate or letter of administration duly attested by Court Officer or Notary

 * In case of multiple successors, NOC from non-applicants shall be recorded on the share transmission form of the applicant instead of insisting separate share transmission form from each of the successors.

 Transmission of shares is required to be done within a period of one month for share held in physical form and within seven days for shares held in Demat form, from the date of lodgment of the Transmission Request Form by listed companies.

Sources: SEBI

July 2012

National Strategy for Financial Education~Draft Released

RBI, IRDA, SEBI, Financial Literacy, Inclusive Growth, Education Initiative, Money, Financial Planning, Insurance

In a speech in March 2010 (RBI-OECD Workshp) , the then Finance Minister of India, Pranab Mukherjee had said ” Financial literacy, and education, plays a crucial role in inclusion, inclusive growth and sustainable prosperity”.

Well, today the draft strategy is released which lays down the Vision, Mission, Goals, Strategic Actions and various stakeholders (RBI, SEBI, IRDA, PFRDA, MOF etc) who will be involved in this mammoth task. 

Financial Education, being an important life skill, the strategy mentions of introducing the financial education as part of the school curricula. 

The strategy seeks to create a financially aware and empowered and literate India.

The document strategy is here: National Strategy for Financial Education

Comments can be emailed toypriyab@irda.gov.in or kgplramadevi@irda.gov.in  by August 15, 2012.

 

Financial Planning Workbook from NISM ~ An Excellent read

NISM, SEBI, Financial Planning, Risk Management, Insurance, Retirement, Estate, Investments, Planning

The Financial Planning Workbook has been jointly developed by the National Institute of Securities Markets (NISM) and Financial Planning Corporation (India) Pvt. Ltd (FPCIL) to assist candidates in preparing for the non-mandated Certified Personal Financial Advisor (CPFA) Examination.

NISM is an educational initiative by SEBI.

It covers various Concept of Financial Planning , Managing Investment Risk ,Measuring Investment Returns ,  Investment Vehicles , Investment Strategies, Insurance Planning, Retirement Planning, Tax and Estate Planning & Need for Regulation.

It is an excellent read for anyone looking for an overview of financial planning.

Certified Financial Planner Advisor Workbook from NISM (National Institute of Securities Market)

September 2010

Top Performing Balanced Mutual Funds

Top Performing Balanced Mutual Funds, India, .

I was looking up for good Balanced Funds to help a friend and thought of putting this up for my own reference.

Balanced mutual funds invest in both equity and debt. Here is the list of some of the good – balanced mutual funds in India, based on the 5 year returns.

Balanced mutual funds are treated as equity funds for tax purposes when the fund allocates at least 65% into equities on an annual average fund amount.

There are various kinds of  Mutual funds for Investors to choose from. Balanced Mutual Funds is one category where there is a mix of Equities and Debt. These mutual funds take care of the asset allocation between equities and debt for the Investor.

Fund 5 Year Return (%) Inception Date Expense Ratio
HDFC Prudence 17.02 Jan-94 1.82%
HDFC Children’s Gift-Inv 12.08 Feb-01 2.10%
HDFC Balanced 13.7 Aug-00 2.15%
Reliance Regular Savings Balanced 16.06 May-05 2.22%
Birla Sun Life 95 15.54 Feb-95 2.33%
Canara Robeco Balance 11.57 Jan-93 2.39%
DSPBR Balanced 14.13 May-99 2.08%
Tata Balanced 12.75 Oct-95 2.50%
FT India Balanced 11.85 Dec-99 2.35%
Principal Conservative Growth 13.32 Aug-01 2.50%

(Source: Valueresearchonline.com)

July 2010

The Simple rules to Successful Investing – Part 1

The Simple rules to Successful Investing , Understanding Investing, Stocks, Mutual Funds, Tax, Insurance, Estate, Wills.

“No amount of talking or reading can teach you swimming. You will have to get in the water.”

There are these little general rules which are applicable and useful for decision making and taking actions. And these simple rules are applicable in so many aspects of life, they are just some small reminders, some common-sense stuff which are really useful.

And yes most of them are applicable in investment planning as well.

a. Perfect Plan – Forget it.There is no such thing as a perfect investment plan and no such thing as a perfect time. The right time is now. Tomorrow is and always will be uncertain. Perfectionism is the enemy of action. Do not let perfect investment plan or a perfect time to invest stop you from starting.

b. Analysis Paralysis – Too much thinking will often result in getting stuck.Some thinking is good — it’s good to have a clear picture of where you’re going or why you’re doing this — but don’t get stuck thinking. Just do.

c. Get the Broad Picture and Start. You need to get the broad picture in your mind. You need to understand your future requirements or what do you want to achieve (goals). You need to know the time you have to meet those requirements. And, then you should have the broad plan to meet the goals. Once you have the broad picture. Get going.
All the planning will take you nowhere unless you take that first step, no matter how small it is.

d. Keep things Simple and take Small Steps. Small steps always work. Little tiny blows can break down that mountain. And then each step counts. Keep the big picture in mind, but start by taking small steps.

Understand the advantage of Investing Early here.

The Little Rules to successful action To be contd … Part 2.

Sensex touches 18000 again , two kinds of investors, two different views ….

chart.

“The investor’s chief problem – and even his worst enemy – is likely to be himself.” ~ Benjamin Graham

Sensex is at 18000 once again.

(A) Many Investors who had invested since 2007  when the markets were around the same levels are not happy. Most of them are waiting to get out of the markets when they are able to get cost to cost. Reasoning — they could have got better returns in Bank FD’s in last 3 years.

(B) Many Investors who invested in Markets in 2009 are super excited as almost all their investments have doubled.  Most of these investors have become developed short term view. They believe that they know everything about markets and they can easily generate good returns time and again. Many want to get out at these levels and reenter at sensex 12000 levels only now. They are experts you see.

Greed and Fear works in both the directions of the markets.

Investors who fall in the above categories do not realize the following fundamental rule of nature which is applicable to markets as well : “THIS TOO SHALL PASS AWAY”.

My view is that investors in either of the above categories will probably never be successful over a investment lifecycle of 3 – 5 – 10 years.  Period. Because the above reasoning of exit from market is based purely on market returns and not based on fulfillment of life objectives. And this kind of reasoning falls in the category of speculation.

Do you fall in any of the categories mentioned above…..

May 2010

You can SIP in stocks – The 10 Steps

You can SIP in stocks , Systematic INvestment Planning, The 10 Steps, Dollar Cost Averaging, Rupee Cost Averaging, .

SIP or Systematic Investment Planning is a concept. It means that you periodically invest your money. It inculcates discipline, takes out the emotional part of decision making and allows you to seamlessly participate in investing.

However, many people associate or assume that Sipping is available only with Mutual Funds. Thereby, they miss the whole essence of what SIP is all about. Indeed, mutual funds offer automatic withdrawals from your bank account to be invested in Mutual funds. And they promote SIP (albeit, not aggressively, you see, they want you to make the payments upfront and not by SIP).

However, it is to be noted that SIP is a concept and can be applied while purchasing shares or equity as well. Yes, you heard me right, you can SIP in stocks.

There are many cases, when you would want to SIP in equities like – (a) You want to build your own portfolio of stocks with a tilt towards a particular sector (b) You are a Buy-and-Hold type of Investor (c) You are interested in investing in good Dividend Yielding Stocks (d) You do not want to incur the annual AMC charges in the range of 1.75 -2.5% on your portfolio value year after year which all the actively managed Mutual Funds charge. Check this post. (e) You are interested in investing in ETF’s (Exchange Traded Funds) etc.

There could be ‘n’ number of reasons where you are interested in investing in stocks. Once you have made up your mind that you want to invest in equities, you can go about doing a Systematic Investment Plan for your equity investment.

10 Steps to SIP in Stocks :

1. Decide on the intervals (or periods) in which you would like to SIP. eg: Monthly 25th of every month

2. Decide on the periodic SIP amount you would like to invest e.g.: Rs 14,000/- every month

3. Use a Calendar to set reminders. (I am a google addict You can use google calendar) or use whatever means (Physical Calendar, tell your wife etc.)so that you will receive a reminder call about the periodic investment. And you can set aside the funds to be allocated for investments.

4. Decide on the asset classes to invest. e.g.: ETF’s like Goldbees, NiftyBees, Stocks like HDFC, Cipla, BHEL, ITC etc. Debt ETF like Liquidbees (can be used for the for the debt component)

5. Decide the amount to be allocated to each asset e.g.: Rs 2,000/- each.

6. And that’s it you are all set to start sipping. Execute the Plan. Once you get a reminder Just go ahead and buy the assets.

7. Do a periodic review of your purchases every quarter in order to assess the performance.

8. Have a performance yardstick. Aim for good returns (Hey, there is no harm for trying to beat the index by a couple of percentage points year on year).

9. Measure your performance against the returns. Review.

10. Apart from TIME-WISE SIP, you can also go a step ahead. You can also do a PRICE-WISE SIP as well intelligently. If there is a > 10% drop in price of a stock between your two planned purchases, you can go ahead and pick up the stock and skip the next installment of that particular stock.

Eg: You pick up Rs 2000/- worth of Cairn India @ Rs 200/- on 25-Jan-2010. You have plan of picking up Rs2000/- worth of Cairn India on 25-Feb-2010. However , if Cairn India were to drop by > 10% or more in Jan itself , then go ahead and pick up in the stock in Jan and skip the Feb-2010 installment.

There are many Index ETF’s which are available and which are a good, low cost alternative to mutual funds which you can (or rather should) avail.

Understand what type of Investor you are, if You are the Saver Kind of Investor, go ahead SIP in Stocks. Step-by-Step over a period of time you would have created a portfolio of stocks which will generate income for you in form of dividends and which will also appreciate with time to generate wealth over a period of time.

April 2010

12 sure shot investment tips for life.

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The Best Investment you can make is on yourself. These 12 tips (In no particular order)will definitely enrich you in the long run and make life successfull, peaceful and happy

1. Get up early
Let the fresh and powerful energy of the early morning charge you for the day.
2. Exercise
Walk, Jog, Do Yoga, Pranayam, Swim, Play …. Any one — Just Do it, Do any one of these on a regular basis and keep yourself Fit and Healthy.
3. Meditate
Enjoy the silence within, find the power within, connect with your own self at least for 15 minutes in the day. This will de – stress you.
4. Contemplate
Take time out from busy schedules to contempate, so that you can achieve clarity in your thoughts and become productive and achieve more with less efforts.
5. Become aware of Breath at will
During the day , take time out to become aware of your breath, this helps to bring focus to the tasks at hand, it also helps to align to your larger goals
6. Cultivate Reading Habit
Feed your mind with good books, good thoughts, and make it grow.
7. Cultivate Optimism
Think positive, Think Big, Have goals, Reach for the sky, Imagination is your only limitation – Go ahead – dream , visualize, It is all in your mind.
8. Become Humble
Be Flexible, you cannot change the direction of the wind , but you can always adjust your sails. Grass survives a storm where trees are uprooted.
9. Learn to Be forgiving
First be less demanding on your own self, be forgiving on yourself and then also with others, it saves a lot of energy, which can be put to use for better purposes.
10. Learn to Say no
Time is a precious resource, use it effectively, learn to say no when you want to say no especially in close relationships. It will save you tons and tons of energy, and save your most precious resource — Time.
11. Have Purposeful goals of life
So that your energies , subconciously, every minute, every day, every month throughout life are working towards the larger satisfying goals of life.
12. Who will cry when you die?
Have this question on your mind when dealing with friends, family, coworkers, children, parents , strangers….. It will make you grateful, compassionate, helpful, selfless human being.
Oh By the way, Investment in stock markets is something which you should definitely do and which I will cover in some post later.  My earlier post , delves into the purpose of investment. Investment has to be done with a purpose……… Enjoy and Enrich.

March 2010

Costly Investment Mistakes to avoid at all Cost – Final Part – IV

Costly Investment mistakes Part 4, Investment Planning, Financial Advise, Stocks, Mutual Funds Investing, Life Planning, Goal Oriented Planning.

In the process of investing, one often makes mistakes.

Here are some of the most common investing mistakes which investors generally make and some of which even I had made in the earlier part of my investment years

Of course, learning from the mistakes, continually, the investing experience has truly been rewarding experience.

You can also cultivate good habits of investing by avoiding the following mistakes.

This series is in continuation to the earlier 3 posts which contains the first 7 common mistakes committed by investors. You can read posts here. (Part I, Part II and Part III)

This post (Part IV) will throw light on the following common 3 mistakes generally committed by investors:

#8. No proper grip on Diversification – If Too little is bad , Too much is no good either

Don’t put your all your eggs in one basket.

There is wisdom is this old saying. Diversification is essentially spreading out investments across different types of asset classes.  (Different kinds of asset classes like Equities, Debt, Gold, and Real Estate etc.)

Even within one asset class – say, equities / mutual funds, portfolio has to be diversified eg: having stocks spread across sectors like Power, Banking, Oil, Telecom sectors, FMCG etc.

Example of over diversification: Having 20 different mutual funds, 50 different stocks and portfolio size is say 5lacs.

Example of under diversification: Having 2 stocks each of 2.5Lacs and both are from Oil sector.

Now, Great investors like Buffet and Munger of Berkshire Hathway, do engage serious money in specific stocks. However, you need to understand that they do intensive research, have access to top management of companies and are into serious investing business.

But for people , looking for investment avenues with the objective – that over a period of time it beats inflation, generates sufficient retirement corpus, provides emotional security, beats the debt instruments by couple of percentage points annualized, which does not provide sleepless nights —- for all such investors,having an optimal diversified portfolio is the way to go.


#9. Not paying attention to Fees, Expenses, Commissions, Taxes involved

If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.

Do you know that themajor earnings source of Mutual fund Providers(Players) are not via entry load (which is now banned by SEBI) , or via exit load (Incidentally these costs are the most advertised). They make their money thru thejuicy AMC charges, which each mutual fund charges you annually. So if you own around 10lacs of mutual fund. You are paying around 25,000/- Rs annually just for holding the units(Assuming highest expense ratios of 2.5% pa). The expenses get factored into the NAV (Net Asset Value) of the Mutual Fund Units. It is intangible and most investors do not feel the pain.

Do you know that over a period of 10 years, or 15 years what kind of negative impact this annual expense ratio business can have on your portfolio? This is over and above the widely known fact that around 80% of the mutual funds worldwide areknown to underperform the Indices. And the fund manager is also subject to performance pressures from the fund house and so has to keep churning his portfolio in order to keep up with the pressure of performing leading to further expense costs. This is one of the reasons I personally do not like mutual funds which do a lot of churning. (You can get the information on portfolio turnover and various expenses of mutual funds from websites like www.valueresearchonline.com or www.mutualfundsindia.com.)

Do you know that ULIP’s (an Investment+Insurance product) carry various expenses which ca be as high as 45 – 60% in the first year. There are umpteen number of charges like (premium allocation charges, mortality charges, admin charges, fund management charges etc, service tax) However the same is never explained by agents.

Do you know the various types of charges associated when you buy/sell shares? There are brokerage charges, service tax, education cess, securities transaction tax (STT), Stamp Duty, Exchange Levy etc.

It makes sense to be aware of these and various other charges involved so that you can make informed choices towards your way to successful investment.

#10. Stop trying to Copy others and Understand your self

Always be a first rate version of yourself instead of a second rate version of somebody else.

Please understand that there is no one-size-fits all solution in the field of investments. Needs and Wants, Risk taking capabilities, vision, emotional quotient, varies from person to person. Many investors make a mistake in simply copying a friend’s (or a relative’s) strategy. Please understand that the strategy might work for him or her. But you need to assess your own situation before jumping into investments and regretting later.

Example: You friend might be doing Futures and Options and Speculation and he might be perfectly all-right with it. He might be having a substantial portfolio base (maybe a good ancestral inheritance) and would be willing to take the additional risk in search for higher returns. However the same strategy of jumping into F&O might not be good for you, if you are basically looking for investments to fulfill your child’s education needs.

Avoid the above common investment mistakes mentioned in this series and become a aware, intelligent and wise investor.