Tag - asset allocation

January 2017

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

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


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. 

October 2012

What are debt funds ~ Know more about this important asset class

What are debt funds , Yield spread, Interest rate risk, Credit risk, Asset allocation, Mutual funds, How to invest in debt funds, Liquid Funds, FMP, Short term debt, Long term debt, Corporate Bonds


Many investors are ignorant of the advantages of investing debt funds investment avenue as an asset class. They prefer to keep funds in FD’s and other traditional debt instruments like PPF/KVP’s/NSC/Post Office etc ~ primarily due to lack of knowledge.

This post will throw some light on the different kinds of debt funds and how they work.

Investment in a debt security,  entails a return in the form of interest (at a pre-specified frequency for a pre- specified period), and refund of a pre-specified amount at the end of the pre-specified period.

The pre-specified period is also called tenor. At the end of the tenor, the securities are said to mature. The process of repaying the amounts due on maturity is called redemption.

Debt securities that are to mature within a year are called money market securities.

The return that an investor earns or is likely to earn on a debt security is called its yield. The yield would be a combination of interest paid by the issuer and capital gain (if the proceeds on redemption are higher than the amount invested) or capital loss (if the proceeds on redemption are lower than the amount invested)

Debt securities may be issued by Central Government, State Governments, Banks, Financial Institutions, Public Sector Undertakings (PSU), Private Companies, Municipalities etc.

  • Securities issued by the Government are called Government Securities or G-Sec or Gilt.
  • Treasury Bills are short term debt instruments issued by the Reserve Bank of India on behalf of the Government of India.
  • Certificates of Deposit are issued by Banks (for 91 days to 1 year) or Financial Institutions (for 1 to 3 years)
  • Commercial Papers are short term securities (upto 1 year) issued by companies.
  • Bonds / Debentures are generally issued for tenors beyond a year. Governments and public sector companies tend to issue bonds, while private sector companies issue debentures.

    Since the government is unlikely to default on its obligations, Gilts are viewed as safe. The yield on Gilt is generally the lowest in the market. Since non-Government issuers can default, they tend to offer higher yields. The difference between the yield on Gilt and the yield on a non-Government Debt security is called its yield spread.

The possibility of a non-government issuer defaulting on a debt security i.e. its credit risk, is measured by Credit Rating companies like CRISIL, ICRA, CARE and Fitch. They assign different symbols to indicate the credit risk in a debt security. For instance ‘AAA’ is CRISIL’s indicator of highest safety in a debenture. Higher the credit risk, higher is likely to be the yield on the debt security.

The interest rate payable on a debt security may be specified as a fixed rate, say 6%. Alternatively, it may be a floating rate i.e. a rate linked to some other rate that may be prevailing in the market, say the rate that is applicable to Gilt. Interest rates on floating rate securities (also called floaters) are specified as a “Base + Spread”. For example, 5-year G-Sec + 2%. This means that the interest rate that is payable on the debt security would be 2% above whatever is the rate prevailing in the market for Government Securities of 5-year maturity.

The returns in a debt portfolio are largely driven by interest rates and yield spreads.

Interest Rates

Suppose an investor has invested in a debt security that yields a return of 8%. Subsequently, yields in the market for similar securities rise to 9%. It stands to reason that the security, which was bought at 8% yield, is no longer such an attractive investment.

It will therefore lose value. Conversely, if the yields in the market go down, the debt security will gain value. Thus, there is an inverse relationship between yields and value of such debt securities which offer a fixed rate of interest.

A security of longer maturity would fluctuate a lot more, as compared to short tenor securities. Debt analysts work with a related concept called modified duration to assess how much a debt security is likely to fluctuate in response to changes in interest rates.

In a floater, when yields in the market go up, the issuer pays higher interest; lower interest is paid, when yields in the market go down. Since the interest rate itself keeps adjusting in line with the market, these floating rate debt securities tend to hold their value, despite changes in yield in the debt market.

If the portfolio manager expects interest rates to rise, then the portfolio is switched towards a higher proportion of floating rate instruments; or fixed rate instruments of shorter tenor. On the other hand, if the expectation is that interest rates would fall, then the manager increases the exposure to longer term fixed rate debt securities.

The calls that a fund manager takes on likely interest rate scenario are therefore a key determinant of the returns in a debt fund – unlike equity, where the calls on sectors and stocks are important.

Yield Spreads

Suppose an investor has invested in the debt security of a company. Subsequently, its credit rating improves. The market will now be prepared to accept a lower yield spread. Correspondingly, the value of the debt security will increase in the market.

A debt portfolio manager explores opportunities to earn gains by anticipating changes in credit quality, and changes in yield spreads between different market benchmarks in the market place. (~ source:NISM)

Remember that Debt funds are more tax efficient that FD’s. You can read about taxation on Capital Gains on debt Mutual Funds here.

Be aware of this asset class and use it to judiciously optimize your asset allocation towards reaching your financial goals. 

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. 

Warren Buffett on Investing in Gold

Warren Buffett Quotes, Gold Investments, Value Investing, Fundamental Analysis, Asset Allocation, Financial Planning

Buffett’s disdain for gold as an investment asset is very well known. Here is a quote from one of the world’s greatest investor on investing in Gold :

Gold gets dug out of the ground in Africa, or someplace. Then we melt it down, dig another hole, bury it again and pay people to stand around guarding it. It has no utility. Anyone watching from Mars would be scratching their head. ~ Warren Buffett