Sponsored meals for one year for 12 kids.

Financial Independence, Uncategorized

In my blog of 10th December 2018, I had mentioned that using Paul Dunn’s concept of Buy1Give1(B1G1.com) in a slightly different way- because I don’t have a business of my own – I intend to give away a dollar for ever new follower of my blog/website and Linkedin –  and achieve my objective of donating to my charities on a regular basis.

Based on the number of followers I have today on my website/blog and the new followers on Linkedin, I have added a dollar for each. I have been able to donate meals for one year for 12 kids on Akshay Patra.  I have a target to reach the capability to sponsor one meal for one year for 100 kids.  If the number of followers on my blog/website and Linkedin keep growing I should be able to hit this number also pretty fast. Right now I am active only on these two.  Slowly I will raise my activity levels on other media as I see success.  If you are interested in knowing more about the work the click Akshay Patra.

If you compare Tony Robbins’ agenda he wants to be able to feed 6-8 million people in a year.  He has written 2 books Money Master the Game and Unshakable and donated all the proceeds to help achieve that objective.

My  achievement seems so small compared to what Tony is doing.  But as I mentioned, I got inspired by Paul Dunn’s Ted Talks that even very small regular interventions can dramatically improve the world.  If you have not heard Paul’s 4 Ted talks, I sincerely suggest you watch them. So what I used to do haphazardly and irregularly earlier, now becomes a system.

In multiple posts earlier, I have mentioned that I follow Mohnish Pabrai, the US based fund manager who runs Pabrai investments.  He runs the Dakshana foundation to which he is every year donating a certain portion of his wealth.  Mohnish is an ardent follower of Warren Buffet and like Warren, wants to donate a certain portion of his wealth every year. This foundation helps poor, deserving  kids in India, who have potential, to get trained so that they can appear for entrance exams and qualify for the best engineering (IITs) and medical institutes(AIIMS) in India.

Now Mohnish has a major lament, which I have noticed in his YouTube videos. He believes that given the speed at which he is donating his wealth year-on-year to Dakshana, there will not be enough deserving kids left who have potential to be trained.  His feeling is that there are not enough deserving kids coming out of the government/municipal education institutes in India.

One of the reason for that, is that poor parents don’t send their kids to school even though school education in India is now virtually free in all states. They want the kids to work and earn some money, so that the family can be fed.  The more hands working the more possibility of earning. If we eliminate the challenge of feeding the kids, that too with a very nutritious meal, then these parents will also send their kids to the government schools. Akshay Patra kind of organisations are helping achieve that goal. Once the kids are fed well, they will be more healthy, have less sickness and  they will hopefully also learn well and then the Dakshana Foundation  kind of organisations will get more kids to train for higher eduction.  Once more kids get educated they will bring up the “standard of living’ of their families.  From the ground-up we will be able to take India and the world forward

Again the 12 that I have sponsored or the 100 that I have a target for, may not create a positive Tsunami but if more people like me keep doing these small interventions we will make this world a better place.

Till next time then….

Carpe Diem!!

Books that have influenced my financial education – part 2

Financial Independence, Uncategorized

After the first 4 books that I listed in my last post which had predominantly US based authors, the first book this time is written by an Indian author.

Saurabh Mukherjea’s – Coffee Can Investing – Saurabh had written 2 books before this book.  Both the books were very focussed on the Indian equity market.  This book however provides a very simple framework of identifying stocks in the Indian context and also builds a case for how asset allocation has to be done with the Indian context.  If you are an Indian investor wanting to get into equity markets then this book is a must read.  I have given copies of this book also to young men who are getting into college or coming out of college.  The other thing about this book that I liked is the typical Indian examples. In India food inflation, medical inflation and inflation related to commodities like petrol can play havoc with your savings. By taking specific examples of Indian people and their saving patterns he goes about constructing portfolios.  Therefore I would reiterate, if you are an Indian investor then, this book is a must read.

The next book which is written extremely well is by Joel Greenblatt – The Little Book of Investing – which still beats the market.  This book explains the concepts of Return on Equity / Return of Capital Employed along with the value of a stock so simply that once you read this book you can read through most financial ratios and easily get an understanding of the relative value of the companies. The tables and the resources however are not of value to an Indian investor.  But if you understand the concepts then you can individually build the relative tables on your own.  One of the challenges which I faced when employing his simple technique was that he suggests selling off the complete portfolio every year.  Since I was buying shares over a period of time, putting this into action became difficult.  However inspite of this, I would strongly recommend, this book to everyone who is getting in new to investing.  Like Dhando Investing by Mohnish Pabrai, which I had mentioned last time, this book explains concepts with simple examples, so a must read.

The third book this time is by Tony Robbins again – Unshakable.  Another of Tony’s masterpieces, simply written, explaining the working of the markets.  Key thing especially if you are in the US market is that every 3 years markets will tend to fall.  Psychologically if you understand this concept then you can drive big returns in the long run.

The fourth book – it is supposed to be the guiding book for Warren Buffet and a lot of other famous investors – is the Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham.  Quite frankly when I read this book for the first time, I was new to investing in equities myself.  A lot of the concepts that he brings out were totally new to me and the book didn’t appeal to me much.  One of the reasons for that was also the fact that this book also had the US context in mind where the markets are more mature and hence not growing so rapidly.  The Indian markets on the other hand are still nascent and reporting is not transparent. Another fact is that the Indian markets are now in a growth phase. It was only after I had spent a couple of years trying to see how things work that I reread the book and understood it. There a lot of practitioners in India also who would like to buy a company at 5 cents to a dollar as suggested by the author.  However I have personally preferred to look for growth stocks, even if they are expensive but they should have ethical management teams.  In India I think that is the bigger challenge.

I will continue with some more books in my next post.

Meanwhile if you can recommend some books to me on investing, please out it in the comment box.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!


Books that have influenced me in my financial education

Financial Independence, Uncategorized

In our education system unfortunately even now we are not taught life skills.  Whether it is on building interpersonal relationships or financial literacy the education system even after 16 years of highly competitive education does not prepare us for living a life.  I know this about India.  You could tell me your experience with other countries.

During one of a recent gathering at home we gave some books to some of the kids on investing. The idea was that if the kids can learn this at a young age then they will be better off.  One of the kids asked on what other books had helped me during my journey.

While there have been a lot of books and company annual reports and videos, I will give you some names of books and what I learned from each book in this and the next few posts.  Maybe we will even go further for the annual reports and videos in later posts.  The books listed here are by no means in any order of ranking.

  1. Tony Robbins – Money Master the Game  – I have given this book as a gift to others and highly recommend especially if you stay in North America because some of the concepts are truly North America focussed.  This book has interviews and experiences of some of the best money minds other than Warren Buffet.  The book is written in a very simple language and has inputs on creating the edge in your investments.  This is a very big book to read. A few key things that stood out for me-
    • Tony was giving away all the earnings from this book to a charity foundation and also adding an equivalent amount from his own.  Most of the rich people I have read believe in giving back to society and magically their investments only keep growing
    • Saving versus investment – if you have to create wealth you cannot create it by saving.  you have to invest.
    • Sir John Templeton – even though he was just earning 50 pounds a month, he created such a big financial empire by saving more than 50% of his income every month.
    • Asset allocation – all investments will have cycles. Equities will rise and fall dramatically.  The fall can destroy your earnings if you entered the equity at a high price.  By having debt and some commodities in your portfolio you can ensure that the rise and fall you have in all types of investments is buffered.  Depending on your risk profile ensure that you have some kind of allocation.
    • Automating and paying yourself first- always automate your investments so that there is no emotion involved because otherwise you will always have expenses which will eat up your money and you will never invest.
    • A third very important concept was fees paid to fund managers and how the small percentages of fees taken by the fund managers can impact your long term growth.  In India SEBI is doing a decent job of controlling the expenses charged by mutual funds.  Especially if you don’t have the bandwidth of researching multiple companies, going with a mutual fund in India makes sense.  Another place where mutual funds in India are better bet is the small and mid size companies.  As an individual investor you will not have the information on these companies which these institutional investors can get.  In India for the large companies like in the US investing with index funds/ETFs where the fund charges are extremely low makes more sense
    • The last key perspective from my point of view was the distributor’s role.  If the distributor is biased by the commission she gets, she will never give you proper advice.  So you should choose your financial advisor different from your distributor to get proper advice on investments.
  2. Mohnish Pabrai – The Dhando Investor. A very simply written book about how the Gujarati community has created riches in America by buying when the markets were low and then capitalising when the markets went up.  Markets follow cycles, they will go up at some time.  Mohnish uses this to showcase how buying quality stocks at low cost can help make huge money.  Mohnish is big follower of Warren Buffet and has his own investment firm Pabrai investments. Like Warren he also does a lot of giving away of his wealth .  His foundation Dakshana is involved in training a lot of financially weaker students to train for IIT and AIIMS.
  3. Alice Schroder – The Snowball – A biography of Warren Buffet.  There are a whole lot of books on Warren.  Even I will list some more which have helped me understand investing.  This one however takes you up and close to the real Warren Buffet from his childhood and how his decisions have helped him today become the richest man in the world even after giving away so much of his wealth.  The biggest takeaway out of reading this huge book for me was the concept of deferring your urge to spend.  There are various examples in the book where Warren thinks if he should be spending a few dollars now or investing such that he could have a multiple of the amount to spend.  Now some people could call him stingy,  Some people whom I have given this advice have also told me then why earn and live if we can’t spend.  You need to be a judge of this for yourself and decide your priorities.  Warren had a goal to be a multimillionaire by his mid thirties and he achieved it well in advance of his target.  One other aspect is his commitment to give away a certain portion of his wealth every year till the time he dies.
  4. Peter Lynch – One up onWall Street – this book gives such a simple advice on how to invest.  His logic is simple.  The numbers and frameworks and everything else is for the big investors.  For the small investor like you and me he gives a very simple idea.  Invest in companies which you use everyday and your investment will be successful.  Out of the mutual fund universe, the shares I invest in are the ones which I use.  Whether it is my bank or my housing loan or the shampoo we use, I have looked at investing in only those companies.  I also get the pleasure of knowing that what I am buying, some portion of the profit would come back to me in the form of either dividends or by the capital appreciation of the stock

This post has kind of become big already.  I still have a lot of books to talk about.  Each of these books gave me a few ideas to form my investing philosophy.  So I will cover these in the next few posts.

Till then

Carpe Diem!!!

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Investments and Bitcoins

Financial Independence, Uncategorized

I was recently listening to the Berkshire Hathaway annual conference addressed by Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger.  This was being beamed live via Yahoo.

In this Yahoo presentation before the conference began they had some of their correspondents check out the people who had cone and then one of the correspondents also did a small interview with Warren Buffet.  One of the questions he asked was – what Warren thought about Bitcoins and cryptocurrencies.  This question kind of has stayed with me because this was something which I myself was not clear for a long time and then a lot of people have asked me.

As is usual of Warren Buffet he gave a very simple explanation for what is an investment and what is trading.  This is something which I found very useful and I thought of sharing.

For him cryptocurrency is not a investment because the cryptocurrency has value only in the eyes of the next person who wants to buy it so it’s a commodity for trading and if someone is willing to pay higher price you gamble on that.

Unlike trading an investment is an instrument of some kind which earns on its own even if there is no one to come and buy it from you… so if you buy farmland in your village and even if the next person is not willing to buy it from you at a higher price, at the farm you can still grow crops and have cattle etc. …. Same would be the case in terms of investment in equity…or for that matter even buying a cow can be an investment and the milk can be sold

So if you are wanting to do an investment keep this fundamental concept in mind …..will this item earn for you  irrespective of somebody wanting that item or not.….if you buy foodgrains with the thought that somebody will buy it from you at a higher price then that is trading. On its own foodgrains will not grow more foodgrains for you

So your house for your own living is not an investment – which is something I had written earlier also is a bad idea, but a house which you buy to rent out to generate passive income is an investment and therefore a good investment

Equity purchase of a company which manufacturers or makes something is an investment because the company will continue to produce its goods irrespective of whether someone else comes and buys that equity from us or not

People become financially free when they make investments. These investments earn for them and compounding grows the earnings multiple times over. The longer the runway –  as Mohnish Pabrai puts it – for compounding to play its part the more wealth you create.

Till next time….when you are in a dilema…think very simply ….will it earn for me irrespective whether the other person wants it or not.

Carpe Diem!!!