The mistakes do-it-yourself Investors make when the going gets tough

The mistakes do-it-yourself Investors make when the going gets tough

The last few days have been unprecedented and will be part of stories which we tell our grandchildren. We have been proactively in touch with many of our customers over the last few days, to understand their worries and allay their fears. And we are pleasantly surprised by their typical response to the situation.

 

On the other hand, we get a lot of calls from DIY customers who want a sounding board during difficult times. They are looking for some advice, they are essentially gauging if they are on the right track. What we notice with a vast majority of them are the following

 

Read more about this in our latest article, published on Moneycontrol.

 

https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/business/personal-finance/the-mistakes-do-it-yourself-investors-make-when-the-going-gets-tough-5078681.html

 

 

Image credit: Moneycontrol

 

Finwise is a personal finance solutions firm that helps both NRI and resident individuals and families plan for their financial goals, follow their passions and achieve financial independence.

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Dear woman, don’t be risk-averse in choosing your investments

Dear woman, don’t be risk-averse in choosing your investments

Last week, I did a financial well-being session at a well-known corporate, the participants being predominantly women in their 30s. While they were all keen on taking charge of their finances and made for an attentive audience, most of them were extremely risk-averse.

 

This was startling, since women, usually, are not in a hurry. They are very patient, and once they understand the way a product is built and have realistic expectations of the short-term as well as long-term performance, they wait out the turbulent times patiently and truly stay put for the long term.

 

Given this fact, it was surprising to see that most of the women mentioned earlier were shying away from equity since they perceived the volatility in the short term as risk. There are several compelling reasons for women to take more interest and understand the best options available to them when it comes to investing. Here are three big ones.

 

Read our latest article, published on Moneycontrol.

 

https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/business/personal-finance/dear-woman-dont-be-risk-averse-in-choosing-your-investments-4981251.html

 

Image credit: Moneycontrol

 

Finwise is a personal finance solutions firm that helps both NRI and resident individuals and families plan for their financial goals, follow their passions and achieve financial independence.

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Why discussing finances is mutually beneficial for spouses

Why discussing finances is mutually beneficial for spouses

I always wonder why it is so difficult to talk about money even with your spouse. You are comfortable talking about almost anything under the sun, but talking about money seem petty and crass. To my surprise some women refuse to do it even when they have a gun to their heads.

 

Why should you wait to be pushed against the wall to have a conversation? Marriages are meant to last a lifetime and it is impossible to traverse this journey without discussing money. At some point of time in a relationship one needs to move from Mine to Ours.

 

Read our latest article, published on Moneycontrol.com

https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/business/personal-finance/money-matters-why-discussing-finances-is-mutually-beneficial-for-spouses-4877221.html

 

Image credit: Moneycontrol.com

 

Finwise is a personal finance solutions firm that helps both NRI and resident individuals and families plan for their financial goals, follow their passions and achieve financial independence.

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For advice, please reach us at getfinwise@finwise.in or +91 9870702277/9820818007.

Protect your loved ones from lifelong guilt – have the conversation

Protect your loved ones from lifelong guilt – have the conversation

The last couple of weeks has seen a couple of friends go through unimaginable trauma. Can you imagine helplessly watching your parent slip away bit by bit? One would think what a terrible thing, there can be nothing worse than going through this. But there is! What if the decision of continuing further aggressive medication and lifesaving treatment (albeit with highly degraded quality of life) or letting your loved one go with basic treatment rests with you? Suddenly the situation is many times worse!

 

Huge dilemma, right? It is natural to wonder what the sick person would have wanted in such a situation. Why then, is it so difficult to have a conversation about death and disease with our loved ones? Somehow our culture forbids us from talking about these unpleasant situations. Even if you broach the topic, you are likely to the shooed away saying “yeh kya apshakun bol rahe ho?”. It is almost as if you are inviting death and disease just by talking about it.

 

A small minority does think of what happens to their material wealth post death and manages to make a will. While this is a very important step, and everyone must do so, is it not our responsibility to ease the guilt and emotional trauma for our loved ones? All one needs to do is to have a conversation on what you would like them to do in case you are to be put on life support or given aggressive treatment which will reduce the quality of life.

 

When you are sick, they may choose not to follow your wishes. If they do, they will live guilt-free that this is something you would have wanted for yourself had you had your mental faculties intact to decide. As against not knowing and doubting if they should pursue all means possible to keep you alive and living with the guilt of ‘not trying enough’ if they choose to relieve you of your suffering.

 

While we are on this topic, it would be good to dwell upon a document called “living will”. A living will is a document that sets out a patient’s wishes regarding how they want to be treated if they are seriously ill. It allows a person the right to die with dignity.

 

In March 2018, the Supreme Court of India passed a landmark judgement, where it recognised that a terminally ill patient or a person in a persistent vegetative state has the right to die with dignity, and to do this the person will have to have executed a living will.

 

The difference between having a conversation with your loved ones on what you would like them to do if you are seriously ill and have no scope of recovery and any treatment that would prolong your life is likely to compromise heavily on the quality of life versus making a living will is stark. In the first case, all that the loved ones can do is decide not to pursue aggressive treatment and let time take its course. Whereas in the case of a living will, subject to a lot of conditions, including having a board of doctors granting permission, among others, it is possible to end one’s life immediately without any suffering.

 

The concept of a living will is new to India, and while being a step in the right direction, it remains to be seen how it practically pans out. It is for you to evaluate whether it makes sense or not to go for a living will. However, having the crucial conversation with your immediate family (spouse, children, siblings, parents) is non-negotiable. Let’s put aside our inhibitions to do just that, this week.

 

Image Credit: Gerd Altmann, Pixabay

 

Finwise is a personal finance solutions firm that helps both NRI and resident individuals and families plan for their financial goals, follow their passions and achieve financial independence.
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For advice, please reach us at getfinwise@finwise.in or +91 9870702277/9820818007.

Dear woman: Take these 4 small steps to be on top of your money life from 2020

Dear woman: Take these 4 small steps to be on top of your money life from 2020

It is again that time of the year to work on New Year resolutions. The word has become a joke and it is now accepted that resolutions never work. We all know that a turning of the calendar is not going to weave its magic and get you started in the right direction.

 

What I have noticed is when we endeavour to make small changes rather than daunting makeovers which require a whole lot of change, we tend to stick to our resolutions. The same applies on the personal finance front – both whether to increase your financial awareness and to improve your financial situation.

 

As a woman if you wish to make your financial life better than what it has been thus far let us without much effort, here are four simple things you can do.

 

Read more about this in our latest article below, published on Moneycontrol.

 

https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/business/personal-finance/dear-woman-take-these-4-small-steps-to-be-on-top-of-your-money-life-from-2020-4763791.html

 

 

Finwise is a personal finance solutions firm that helps both NRI and resident individuals and families plan for their financial goals, follow their passions and achieve financial independence.

To receive our articles through email, pl subscribe here.

For advice, please reach us at getfinwise@finwise.in or +91 9870702277/9820818007.

 

Image credit: Moneycontrol

Saving for kids’ goals, no child’s play!

Saving for kids’ goals, no child’s play!

For a parent, if there is one thing that is paramount in her life and gives her the utmost happiness, it is ensuring that her children are given every opportunity to blossom into well rounded human beings, confident and capable of taking on the world. Sadly, there is usually a gap between desire and action, and most parents wake up to the task of planning for their children’s basic and higher education when there is not much time left.

 

Schools don’t prepare the children to handle finances and most families do not discuss money matters with their children, even in tehir teens. As a result, in many cases, they grow up with a large sense of entitlement, never realising the effort, planning and sacrifices which went into building enough wealth to fulfil their dreams.

 

So, apart from investing mindfully for them , it is a great idea to involve your children early in the personal finance journey. When we interact with customers, we often see how one could have benefitted by avoiding a few traps or being more conscious of the decisions made and we enumerate them here.

 

Pl read more in our latest article, published on Moneycontrol.com

 

https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/business/personal-finance/saving-for-kids-goals-no-childs-play-4683281.html

 

Image credit: Moneycontrol

 

Finwise is a personal finance solutions firm that helps both NRI and resident individuals and families plan for their financial goals, follow their passions and achieve financial independence.

To receive our articles through email, pl subscribe here.

For advice, please reach us at getfinwise@finwise.in or +91 9870702277/9820818007.

 

How women should plan for their parents’ financial and other needs

How women should plan for their parents’ financial and other needs

Somehow in our society, while it is an understood thing that a man needs to take care of his parents, it is not such a given for the woman. It is strange when you think of it, since equal share in property post demise of parents is accepted by all, while equal share in responsibilities not so easily so.

 

However, a woman has the same instinct as a man’s and would like to be there for her parents, financially or otherwise. So how can you plan for such debts, which in a way, can never be fully repaid?

 

Read our latest article, published on Moneycontrol.com

https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/business/personal-finance/how-women-should-plan-for-their-parents-financial-and-medical-needs-4579881.html

 

Image credit: Benjamin Elliott, Unsplash.com

 

Women must develop the right money mindset for a fruitful post-retirement life

Women must develop the right money mindset for a fruitful post-retirement life

When we are still working, we make so many plans of things to do once we retire. And as we get onto the home stretch in the last few years, the excitement begins to build, of course, with a few butterflies in the stomach as well. So many places to see, so many people to meet, so many suppressed aspirations to fulfil, all of course, while juggling one’s hard-earned wealth and believing that there is enough, not only for ourselves but also to bequeath.

 

But retirement is not always as rosy as you imagined it to be. The transition to retired life is sudden, and there is a vacuum of time, that has to be fruitfully filled. That vacant space has to be occupied with activities that need to be created, not only to feel gainfully employed, but also to feel good about oneself. The actual retirement, therefore starts with a whole lot of unexpected dilemmas and mental adjustments.

 

What are those scenarios that one must adapt and adjust to?

 

Read our latest article, recently published on Moneycontrol.com (link given below).

 

https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/business/personal-finance/women-must-develop-the-right-money-mindset-for-a-fruitful-post-retirement-life-4479141.html

 

In retirement, the role of money is to allow one to fulfil our bucket list of desires, while ensuring that there is enough to take care of our balance life-times, including exigencies. Nothing more, nothing less. Hence, as a retiree, use money to bring you happiness and add meaning to your life, while taking care that it is safely working for you as well. 

 

Image credit: Moneycontrol.com

 

Finwise is a personal finance solutions firm that helps both NRI and resident individuals and families plan for their financial goals, follow their passions and achieve financial independence.

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For advice, please reach us at getfinwise@finwise.in or +91 9870702277/9820818007.

 

 

 

 

 

Many a times, the battle is lost for the want of a horseshoe!

Many a times, the battle is lost for the want of a horseshoe!

For the want of a nail the shoe was lost,

For the want of a shoe the horse was lost,

For the want of a horse the rider was lost,

For the want of a rider the battle was lost,

For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost,

And all for the want of a horseshoe-nail.”

 

― Benjamin Franklin

 

 

It may not sound nice to the ear, but as Indians, we are, in general, poor at DIY (Do It Yourself). As such, we are not brought up in a DIY culture and this perpetuates. Even now, we are used to having help at home for the smallest of things, and as a result, an average middle-class Indian is hugely lacking in basic life-skills as compared to his counterparts in most developed economies.

 

To make things worse, we place a premium on DIY when it comes to knowledge-skills. It could be that it gives bragging rights that you could manage something by yourself, when many others found the need to engage with a professional to get ahead.

 

For example, we resort to self-medication because the symptoms seem “similar to what she had” or worse, we googled it up. Similarly, planning and managing your personal finances often is a DIY activity. While this may work at times, what many people don’t see is the many risks that one may encounter due to this.

 

In the hundreds of interactions with numerous customers over the past few years in my financial planning practice, I have seen many such mistakes committed. I have tried to list a few commonly encountered ones to help you avoid the DIY trap.

 

Investing too little

This is something we see often. There is a lot of media noise around mutual funds, and listening to the ‘mutual fund sahi hai’ campaign on a constant basis, people feel the need to be a part of the success story. They decide that setting aside some money is required and start with some small amount. A person whose monthly expenditure is Rs 1 lakh starts saving Rs 10000 per month in MFs and is very happy that he is putting something away for the future. For a low-income family, whose monthly expenses are Rs 25000, being able to save Rs 10000 per month consistently truly deserves a pat on the back, since the family is saving a substantial part of their income and may well on its way to financial freedom. But in the above example the Rs 10000 investment in mutual funds is not going to help you save anything substantial and is a mere tick-mark activity which lulls you into believing you are saving, thereby allowing you to indulge guilt free.

 

Not assigning any goals

In almost all cases when money is invested there is never a purpose to it. When you invest without a purpose it is mentally extremely easy to redeem. The next iPhone upgrade or the long-dreamt-of trip to New Zealand seems like an emergency, when you have sufficient money invested. Imagine if the savings were given a name, say Child Higher Education Fund. What are the chances that you would withdraw from it, to fund your trip to New Zealand?

 

Trying to time the market

When you are sitting on the fence, it never seems like the right time to start investing. One month you are worried that the markets are creating new highs every day, second month you are worried that the political situation may spell dooms day to your investments and the third month you are worried about recession. If you are investing with a horizon of 7 to 10 years what happens in this month or the next is not going to have much of an impact on the outcome. What is important is to get off the fence and get into the field of play.

 

Investing in schemes based purely on recent performance

Most investments are based on past performance, and even star ratings of Mutual Funds are largely based on past performance. One should keep in mind the recent performance has a huge bearing on the 1-year, 3-year and even 5-year returns. It is also important to understand the reasons for the outperformance or underperformance before deciding. Make sure that your investment advisor has a proper framework for selection is important.

 

Discontinuing investments during down times

Markets are by nature turbulent, and you are going to have to accept your share of this, if you are in for the long haul. It is important to have conviction in your choices and stay put. However, there is a lot of noise in the media and Whatsapp forwards from well-meaning friends proclaiming that doomsday is around the corner. The immediate instinct in such situations is to stop any further investments. However, that would be a very bad strategy since you are getting an opportunity to accumulate at lower prices. Unfortunately, this awakening will come in hindsight.

 

Not bothering to understand tax implication

Many a times we see people have invested without understanding the tax implications. Just because the dividend which is given to you is tax free does not mean there is no tax applicable on it. It is paid out after tax is paid by the AMC. There have been cases were people have invested in dividend pay-out option for years when they had no use for the dividend and had no clue what they did with dividends. They would have been better of in growth option where the capital would have appreciated substantially given the long tenure of investment. In other cases, we have seen people in 10% slab investing in dividend option of Debt fund where the tax is much higher. Investing in NPS without checking the taxability on exit. Buying ULIPs purely for the taxability. The list is very long and exhaustive but I guess the point is made.

 

Have a laundry list of investments in the name of diversification

The intention is right, one should not put all eggs in one basket. However, having 25 schemes in the name of diversification is no good. Further there is no thought given to overlap. It would be a good idea to start investing only after you clearly decide how much goes into debt, equity and other assets. Within equity you need to decide percentage allocation to MF, stock, PMS etc and have optimum stocks /schemes and not go over-board with it.

 

Taking your RM at face value

For many clients, the trust they have on the RM is a transfer of the trust they have in the Bank. They truly believe that products suggested by him/her is totally in their interest. I wish this were true, but its not! We encounter customers who have been sold the wrong products – eg. bad performers, high lock-in products with little or no exit options, complete laggards, etc. so often. Remember, there is no free lunch, if someone is giving you a “free” recommendation in your interest, it may make sense to understand how he is compensated for his time and effort.

 

Herd Mentality

Last but not the least is following the crowd. The crowd is always excited when markets are touching new highs every day. They don’t want to be left behind and hence jump in when markets have already gone up. However as soon as they see some down side they want to jump the boat. Where-as caution is in order when markets are going up and one should invest more if possible when markets are going down. However, to do this you require conviction and belief.

 

 

As the title says, it makes little sense to learn by making mistakes with your own money rather than engaging with a professional at a fraction of that sum. They could guide you to take better decisions and keep you safe from your impulses.

 

After all, Benjamin Graham did say ‘The investor’s chief problem – and even his worst enemy – is likely to be himself.” Think about it!

 

 

Finwise is a personal finance solutions firm that helps both NRI and resident individuals and families plan for their financial goals, follow their passions and achieve financial independence.

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For advice, please reach us at getfinwise@finwise.in or +91 9870702277/9820818007.

 

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

“No Pain, No Gain” is as true for your finances as it is for your fitness!

“No Pain, No Gain” is as true for your finances as it is for your fitness!

The year seems to have flown by quickly, with less than 4 months left for it to end. As I look back at the things I planned to achieve, one stands out – getting fit! This has been on the list for nearly a decade and this year, I finally managed to get somewhere close. This journey of mine towards fitness, has many parallels with people trying to get financially independent and this has helped me understand and empathize with customers better, by looking at the need for financial planning, being in their shoes.

 

Phase 1 – It’s a breeze, I can do it myself. I don’t need a trainer

When I decided I wanted to get fit, I thought it would be a breeze, and now that I had decided, all I had to do was do a bit of exercise and eat smart. I could not understand why people engaged with a nutritionist and trainer. What a waste of money and time, to do something as basic as getting in shape, I thought.

 

Armed with the newfound motivation to get fit, I did a bit of walking, changed my eating habits very slightly and looked at the weighing machine with hope every few days. It just refused to move. This whole phase lasted a few years. There was no consistency in my effort, and though the intent to do it right was very much present, it always kept getting pushed to “tomorrow”, which obviously never came.

 

I see many parallels to this in the journey of people trying to achieve financial independence. Many of them start out saying this is common sense, just save every month and very soon you will have a good corpus. The amount they save has no correlation to the goal they are trying to achieve. The investments are dipped into at the slightest of provocations. The newly launched phone, a lavish birthday planned, are all legitimate reasons to put the savings on hold.

 

I often tell people – don’t kid yourself by starting an SIP for a miniscule amount, its only a tick mark activity, and unlikely to ever take you anywhere on your path to financial freedom.

 

Phase 2 – I need a bit of motivation and help, nothing personalised, let me join a group

It took me a few years to wake up to the fact that my walking and working out on an irregular basis was not going to deliver at all and I did need some help. I decided to be smart and achieve the target by joining a running group. It was of course better than phase 1, and since I had paid up, I did manage to train 3 times a week and made some fabulous friends. It was also a good point of discussion in many social gatherings on how I trained for marathons. Yes, I did manage to do a few marathons. Neither did my timing improve nor did I lose any weight or inches. I can now honestly say that I was nowhere near my definition of fitness.

 

Again, in their financial independence journey, I see that most DIY people at some stage, sufficiently alarmed by the years passing by and the savings pot not growing in tandem, move to seeking advice from some form of website or robo-advisor or even “tips from knowledgeable friends” where they get advice instantly on where to invest and how much. There is a sense of achievement on being more systematic with investments. There again, they may end up saving more than they did previously but are they really taking their entire unique situation into consideration and moving comfortably towards their financial independence, is something they need to ponder on.

              

Phase 3 – I need proper personalised guidance to help me get on track and stay there, let me engage with a professional

 

I finally realised that if I seriously wanted to get fit, I would need to engage with a professional who knew his job and so, I enrolled with a personal trainer. I now realised the difference between what I was doing in the name of exercise and what it really meant to exercise. I was consistent and trained 3 days a week without fail. I started to lose inches and feel more energetic. The weight wouldn’t budge. I realised that I would not only need to exercise but also ensure that my nutrition was right if I were to get anywhere close to being future-fit from a health point of view. I then visited a naturopath to get rid of some of my niggling health issues. My stated objective was to get rid of allergies, my secret hope was to lose weight. Major lifestyle changes were suggested by her, give up on sugar, no processed food and a lot of other changes. I followed advice strictly. The initial few weeks were very difficult. Despite giving up my favourite food, there was no improvement. It took few months for the changes to be seen. And a few more for people to comment on it.

 

A journey towards financial security and independence is similar, your situation, goals and aspirations are unique and hence advice that is personalized keeping those in mind will hold you in good stead. Similar to the above story, just concentrating on one thing, investments, is not going to be sufficient to get you to your destination. Apart from investments, you would also need to look at your spending and income. Like with my weight, you may secretly aspire for a certain return. You may peg it to the best return you have got over a life-time and evaluate your investments against your benchmark. Your planner will not even be aware of what you are anchoring your expectation to.

 

Financial planning requires you to see much beyond returns and wait patiently without losing faith during turbulent times. At least in the above case of my health, results started showing in a few months post engaging the right professionals. In case of your finances, it may take a few years for you to see meaningful results. In the interim there is only pain, since you will need to cut down on unnecessary expenses, ensure you invest smartly and stick to it even when you see you are getting unsatisfactory, maybe even negative returns.

 

Again, unlike the fitness story, there is no before- and after- picture to flaunt, all you will have is peace of mind that you are well prepared for your future. No one is going to compliment you on your financial health, unlike your weight. What you will see though, is that you are inching closer to your life’s goals, sometimes because of your returns and sometimes despite your returns. Either ways, having someone who has your back through the journey and motivates you to stay the course and steer you clear of some impulsive emotional actions can be invaluable!

 

Finwise is a personal finance solutions firm that helps both NRI and resident individuals and families plan for their financial goals, follow their passions and achieve financial independence.

To receive our articles through email, pl subscribe here.

For advice, please reach us at getfinwise@finwise.in or +91 9870702277/9820818007.

 

Image by 5132824 from Pixabay