Peaks and Valleys

Affirmative action, Karma, Turn around

As I have got older,  I have become increasingly circumspect that nothing is permanent.

Today you identify a winning campaign and tomorrow your very next campaign fails. This is life. When something is going very good suddenly you get hit by a curve ball.

I have realized there’s no point in fighting and thinking “why does this happen to me”.

When you put your ego aside and think how you can utilize that time to improve …..I have seen maximum success after I took the downtime to improve myself . There was a time when I came to a new city and for various reasons my career got into a jam. I took the time to learn IT networking and suddenly within a few months my career took a new trajectory.

Whenever I have seen a valley, its always an indication that I had something to learn which I was missing. The other thing that I have noticed is if I have not learnt something new from that valley then I keep falling back into it.

Some people blame their stars, some people on external things. I also used to feel like that when I was younger.

Today with age I have started feeling a little differently. Today I believe differently, I have started thinking more like what Tony Robbins says”…. its happening for me not to me”. So if its happening for me then there must be something which I need to find and till I find that I won’t be able to climb the next peak.

But its a fact that Peaks don’t last, because we have to learn to go to the next stage. If we put our ego in between and don’t learn the lessons, then we stay in the valley.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

Asset Allocation – key to balancing your investments

Affirmative action, asset allocation, compounding, Financial Independence

Yesterday I wrote about continuing with your Systematic Investment Plans if you have your job and avoind encashing your investments.

My wife and I were discussing on our own situation given that the market has gone down substantially and she was bothered her own investments would be totally messed up.

That’s when I explained to her the philosophy of Asset Allocation and why she need not be so worried about her investments.

While you will see that most of the articles I write are about investments in some form of equity where you own part of business, especially if don’t have one of your own. However I have mentioned this earlier and I will mention again that the way to financial freedom has to do with an asset allocation based on your risk profile.

In simple terms asset allocation is distribution of your investments in such a way that irrespective of the direction the equity markets take or the interest rates take you have your principal amount protected and growing at a steady state. In the picture above if the lady in the picture happens to see a dog come at her suddenly and drops the basket, all her eggs will break and all her effort in building her dish would get destroyed

So if you have $100 to invest and you have put all the money in equity, while in the long run it may give you around 12% or so, in the short run – like it happened in the last 3 months – it would have gone negative by more than 30%. By putting some of your $100 in term deposits of even 5% you would have ensured that your overall hit was averaged better. Its all about ensuring that “all your eggs are not in the same basket”.

No doubt that equity gives the nest returns in the long run and is also the most tax efficient in most countries, however not everyone has the risk profile to do the roller coaster ride that the equity markets go through. This would be true whether you have invested directly in stock yourself or if you have invested via ETFs or mutual funds. With mutual funds and ETFs the ride down could be less severe while the rise upwards could also be slower.

Its always better to have some amount of allocation of your money in debt like in term deposits or bonds. How much can better be judged by your personal financial advisor but have some portion of your total investments in some kind of debt. Fixed term bonds or deposits will ensure that you get a fixed return on the money invested irrespective of the situation in the equity markets. Even though the returns will be lower, an it may not be so tax efficient, the fact that it is a guaranteed amount makes your portfolio a lot more resilient.

There is a very good explanation on Asset Management in the book Money Master the Game by Tony Robbins. He has interviewed multiple fund managers on how they do the fund management of billions of dollars. Some of them also invest in things like commodities and precious metals and real estate. So its always better to consult a financial advisor before deciding on the type of asset allocation you want to do and the risk profile you have.

Yes bond markets also go through tough times and the bank, in which you had your term deposit, can also shut down, but the probability that all the things will go wrong at the same time is remote. Hence the concept of asset allocation becomes even more critical.

Government owned securities obviously are the most secure but they give the lowest interest, then come the bank term deposits and the highest would be the bonds in terms of interest rates. However as the interest rates climb, the risk also goes up.

Spread your risk by consulting with your financial advisor and move towrds your financial independence.

Till next time.

Carpe Diem!!!

Investments as confidence builder

Financial Independence, Uncategorized

I have been writing about how investments can help in getting financial freedom. Have written extensively on how even a few percentage points of differences can make substantial differences in your earnings in the long term. Have also shared about how having different buckets of investments can also help you plan your vacations or other activities, which can make you happy.

Yesterday I was reading a book by Dean Graziosi – Millionaire success habits. While this book is not about investing styles and strategies, I would highly recommend you reading this book for the overall enhancement in the quality of your life. It helped me identify a few blindspots which I didn’t know I had.

In one of the chapter’s. he talks about stacking some money from whatever you earn to increase confidence. This was a new take on a topic dear to me.

I have also written earlier about how even very small amounts invested over long periods of time can make you wealthy, because the amount is never the issue…. it is the duration and the interest rates which determines how wealthy you can become.

Dean’s logic is that when you stack even small amounts, it gives your brain the satisfaction that there’s money for a rainy day and therefore you feel better, more confident and your decision making improves.

I would think confidence is a precursor to multiple things other than just pacifying your hyper active brain and taking decisions. When you are confident, you are buy definition not fearful. As per a study human beings have 70-80 thousand thoughts in a day out of which more than 70% are negative thoughts. Since our brain still has “fight” or “flight” response to most things these negative thoughts spiral into some of the other kind of fear.

Fear can be from you losing your job to your health to speaking to an unknown person or speaking in public. Most of the fears however boil down to either not having money (food) or health which are the most primal fears going back to the time when we lived in forests and hunted for food.

By stacking money and investing it you can give your brain positive inputs so it does not go into the fight or flight mode.

In addition the compounding equation starts playing. An ideal way to do this would be putting regular amounts into SIPs from mutual funds or into SIPs of ETFs. You can start SIPs in India from as low as Rs500/- (USD 7/-) per month.

Most people, like Tony Robbins says so often, over estimate what they can do in one year but under estimate what they can do in a lifetime. This Rs6000 (Rs500*12months) will become close to Rs100,000/- (USD 1500/- ) if invested for 20 years at an interest rate of 15%. If every year they were to invest a similar amount, then after the 20th year, EVERY YEAR, even if they don’t invest anymore they will definately have Rs100000/- coming without effort and securing their future.

Now if you know that even the small amounts of money that you are stacking will ensure your future, you would be able to take on your “present” with more confidence. And if you make your “present” better, your future will automatically turn out to be better because your future is based on the foundation of your “present”

How much do you actually need for retirement

Financial Independence, Uncategorized

I don’t know the answer. For each of you it will be different.  So you need to find it out for yourself.

So why this post.

Recently I was having lunch with one of my colleague who is just crossed 60. He was talking about how he had a discussion with a relative on what is needed after retirement.

So he had the following calculation:

If he needs Rs100000/- per month then he will need Rs12,00,000/- in a year.

If he is in the 30%+ tax bracket then he has to account for tax, which means he should make approximately Rs18,00,000/-.

If he has a fixed deposit which will give him 7% RoI then he will need a corpus of Rs26,000,000/-. Now since he is no where close to this figure he was getting depressed on how he will handle the situation.

For all of you who live out of India, the retirement age in India in most offices is either 58 or 60. Some jobs do have 65 as the age.  Private companies do have people working after the age of 58 but that is on contract, not as a full time employee with all the benefits. Even in India the average age of both males and females has been going up every decade. In the cities especially with access to better medical treatment, the average age has crossed 70 now.  Which means a lot of people in the cities will now live to cross 85.

Being an absolute optimist I highlighted a few things that were flawed in his argument.

  1. The tax rate is different once a person crosses a certain age level in India.
  2. 30% tax on the whole amount does not include the deductions which the government allows as standard to all citizens.  So the taxation is rarely on all your income.
  3. While its good to have a large portion of your money in a fixed deposit, so that you are saved from the fluctuations of the stock market, it does not mean that you should have all your money in such low interest yielding paper. There are a lot of decently safe options which could give you safety as well as a higher rate of interest.
  4. You need to account for inflation especially medical inflation in India which is going crazy.
  5. You need to have a financial advisor who can suggest you ways to come into the lowest tax bracket.

If you were to take all the above items into account then the figure may not be the depressing number of 26,000,000/- given above.  It could be almost 30-40% lower.  That got my colleague a little relaxed.

Having given the above example however the fact remains that after retirement, you may want to travel across the country or abroad.  How do you finance those spendings?

For an India perspective, I would suggest you read the book by Saurabh Mukherjea Coffee Can Investing.  He has taken some very specific cases and built a hypothesis of how you should be investing to get to spend your old age well. At a broad level his belief is that for taking part in the stock market without risking majorly, ETFs are the best bet because they have low expense ratios(in one of my earlier post I have shown how an incremental 1-2% difference in returns because of expenses charged by mutual fund houses can impact your returns dramatically).  However for the small cap stocks he still recommends using some of the renowned mutual funds.

For all my readers from the US and Canada, I will not tire of recommending Tony Robbins’ book Money Master the Game.  Its a thick book but it’s a book which will give answers to a lot of your queries.  Most of the so called advisors don’t answer the questions adequately well.  Tony has been able to get you answers from some of the best people in the world who handle trillions of dollars combined.  He has also given a perfect asset allocation breakup.  Also all the advisors are very clear first on not losing money.  And last they all suggest index funds again because of low expense ratios.

All of us have to retire one day. Death and taxes are the only 2 realities of life.  How you manage your taxes and investments so that you live well, till you die. The earlier you start investing the better off you will be in the later stages of your life.  I have been giving various examples of how compounding can do magic even if you don’t earn much – if you start early and invest in decently size returns.

Till next time then…find out how much you would need to retire and then work backwards to achieve it.  Have a life.

Carpe Diem!!!