Thursday, November 19, 2015

7 Financial Lessons to Learn in Your Twenties

How often have we heard that, ‘the sooner you start saving, the better it will be’? Early savings will only bear sweet fruits, it will never cause any harm.
People, who are unable to save early, often wish they had. They share their experiences that saving early would have helped them avoid the mounting of the credit card debt, as well as help them be wiser with their expenses.

Let us share with you, a few imperative money lessons. These would be largely helpful for the readers, currently into their 20s.

1. Keep a check and control over credit card expenses

Credit card – a magic card that lets you pay for everything you want with just a single swipe. Credit card purchases may be intriguing. However, before piling up things with this wonder card, you must actually decide whether you need what you are buying by swiping that magnetic strip.
The sooner you come out of your dream world to realize that nothing comes for free, the easier and better it will be.

2. Never make a comparison

Comparison is never the smartest thing to do. Rather than comparing, one should lay his entire focus onto setting his own goals, and live up to the same. For this, you will have to prepare your own way, and patiently follow it.

Many times, this comparison leads to peer pressure. Peer pressure leads to not so smart money decisions like costly phones, accessories, extravagant outing…

3. Best time to begin saving is now

Saving may sound a painful process, and we often tend to delay it. However, procrastinating to save can prove to be even more painful in the longer run. Therefore never wait to make a start, rather make an early start, to this fruit-bearing activity. In place of squandering up any of your extra cash at month-end, think over putting the same aside.

An SIP, can be a perfect way to start your financial journey with. You may even put aside 10-15% of your pay as emergency fund accumulation for an unexpected urgency. You may even start with your retirement fund, just to be sure of the time of skimpy salaries.

4. Invest for yourself

Twenties is the best time to enhance your knowledge levels. Rather than investing all your time in a job that does not pay as much as you deserve, you must invest the same time doing a professional course and earning a masters’ or a doctoral degree. This is something that will truly bear results down the road.

Remember that 20s is the best time to learn and upgrade your resume. Make the maximum utilization of this time.

5. Be prepared for life’s big changes

20s are undoubtedly that decade of everyone’s life, where you will be witnessing the maximum number and levels of changes. This may include getting married, owning your own home, and having children.

Therefore, it is important to think over these aspects of life while planning your finances.

6. Live Basic

There is no harm in living a basic and economical lifestyle. Being conscious of your expenditures is and will, never be a bad idea. You can cut on a few expenses such as a PG accommodation, cooking and cleaning for yourself, shopping at the local stores, etc. These little things will help you cut down on your extra costs.

7. Free yourself from all debts

It is impossible to survive for the first couple of decades, in our life, without any kind of debt, whether that may be from our parents initially. As expenses are an inevitable part of survival, the only option one can turn to is borrowing money.

Getting completely out of debts that may also include bigger debt like repaying loans or mortgages may take two or three decades. However, you must ensure not to add more debts, and do your best to free yourself from the existing ones as soon as possible.

20s are the most significant years of everyone’s life. Make the most of it, along with planning well so that you do not have to anguish later in life. For becoming a well disciplined investor and achieve your financial goals, you need to focus of creating a financial plan.

Author Bio:
The author is Ramalingam.K an MBA (Finance) and certified financial planner. He is the Director & Chief Financial Planner of holistic investment planners

( a firm that offers Financial Planning and Wealth Management. He can be reached at

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Fade into Red Book by Reshma Barshikar - Character Interview for Book Tour

Fade into Red is a book about an investment banker Ayra who goes to Tuscany, Italy to settle a wine business for her client. She is engaged to her childhood sweetheart Karthik. But she is very busy with her work. Who she meets in Italy, details of wine business, and how she struggles to maintain a work-life balance is the story. I have quizzed the author Reshma about the characters in her book and she has come out with intelligent and soul-searching answers. Here we go...

1. Were all the characters in the book gathered from your real-time experiences or were they fictional?

I think most my characters were an amalgamation of people’s characteristics. Kartik’s looks were completely inspired by Sendhil Ramamurthy (Heroes) and I always thought of Ayra as an Indian Amelie. Ishaan and Celio were built around certain character traits and a feeling I got when I thought of them. I always saw Celio standing at the top of a hill, proud with windswept hair. Narina is a product of two of my closest girl friends. Sandeep and Vikram were my favorite to create and are very much inspired by Bollywood. Their physicality was especially fun to work with.

2. You have portrayed Ayra as a girl who is always tempted to give precedence to career over family. Why have you portrayed her that way?

Investment Banking is hard on your personal life. I don’t think Ayra ever consciously chooses work over family but that’s how it ends up because you tend to take your family and friends for granted- the problems of unconditional love, as work always seems more urgent and much more conditional. I honestly don’t believe anyone ever consciously chooses work over family.

Reshma Barshikar, Author
 3. Karthik is an ideal and romantic guy. But he is not able to keep Ayra hooked. Why is it so?

Great question! I don’t think Ayra, or I for that matter, know the answer to that question. While it was clich├ęd, I wanted to address this constant friction between passion and security. They say nice guys finish last but if you wait till the last page of the story you’ll find that’s often not the case. I find it interesting that a lot of people think Karthik is ideal. He’s not perfect either; he is sometimes insecure and unhappy but something changes when he finds his way and emerges as someone everyone wants to love.

4. Which character in the book did you spend most time in developing or made an effort to evolve? Why?

Needless to say, I initially spent a lot of time on developing Ayra but she pretty much created herself as the story developed and she surprised me towards the end. Sandeep and Vikram were the most fun to write. Ishaan was hard to pin down primarily because we only see him only from Ayra’s perspective and her perspective is clouded when it comes to him. So his unpredictability and indignation might seem extreme to her while being quite normal to others.  And I wanted that irritation to come through which I think it did because a lot of readers identified with her and really didn’t understand him despite finding him terribly attractive.

5. Have you met wine experts like Celio? Were they any different from people in other professions?

I read a lot of books and met a few vintners. I think they are no different to anyone else who loves their work with a passion and intensity, almost to a fault; it begins to define them. The vintners I met are proud of their heritage and derive great pleasure in making good wine; many of them think it’s almost magical. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Re-Create Yourself

The Greek Sea-God Proteus. His power came from his ability to change shape at will, to be whatever the moment required. When Menelaus, brother of Agamemnon, tried to sieze him, Proteus transformed himself into a lion, then a serpent, a panther, a boar, running water and finally a leafy tree.

Know how to be all things to all men. Learn to play many roles, to be whatever the moment requires.  A discreet Proteus- a scholar among scholars, a saint among saints. That is the art of winning over everyone, for like attracts like.

Bismark played this game to perfection: To a liberal he was a liberal, to a hawk he was a hawk. He could not be grasped, and what cannot be grasped cannot be consumed.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Destination Work - Book Review

'Destination: Work' is the mantra at ValuFirst, an international airline that makes huge profits. The employees wear 'Thank God It's Monday' (TGIM) badges. And are very happy and finish their jobs quickly.

Biz Trenz is another company in direct customer service, but is running on loss. Nancy is a common friend of both companies. She is curious to know why ValuFirst was experiencing seamless excellence and why Biz Trenz was going down the dumps.

She goes on a field trip to ValuFirst and finds out that managers work along with and help subordinates on the floor, they celebrate small successes to energize them for the next goal. The managers are genuinely interested in their staff, and the senior management speaks with all employees whenever they get a chance.

Compared to this fun style of management at ValuFirst, Biz Trenz is run by fear and follows 'Management by Numbers' program. Profit and bottomline are the sole focus of managers and people are just pawns in achieving targets. How Nancy transforms Biz Trenz using the 'Destination: Work' program of ValuFirst is the story of the book.

Very well written, the book has lot of examples. There is the story of three cats that need to be led to a kitchen. Initially, the focus is on 'your needs' and so you shoo, shoo the cats with a stick. Two cats run in  two different directions and one cat stays put on the cushion. Instead if you focus on 'their needs' and attract them with their favorite food bar, all three come running to the kitchen. But make sure you don't cheat them and give them their due. Else, they wont 'come' the next time ;)

A nice read, the book has 117 pages and costs Rs. 150. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

MMA Women Managers' Convention 2012 on 10th March

Dear Sir/Madam,
Greetings from MMA! 

Rush Your Nomination! 
MMA Women Managers’ Convention 2012
 Saturday, 10 March 2012 – Hotel Taj Coromandel, Chennai

MMA’s theme-based Annual Women Managers Convention is a sought after event for all women executives & entrepreneurs and is the only one of its kind being organised in the country. The Women Managers’ Convention of MMA has gained a reputation for high quality and excellence over the years and attracts over 700 women delegates from all over India. We have had the benefit of eminent speakers from leading industrial houses and outstanding personalities from within and outside the country to inaugurate and participate in the Annual Women Managers Conventions.

I am pleased to inform you on the occasion of International Women’s Day 2012, MMA is organising this year’s Women Managers’ Convention on the theme "Perspectives" on Saturday, 10 March 2012from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm at Hotel Taj Coromandel, Chennai-34

Soft copy of the Convention brochure and Brief Profile of the Speakers are attached as well as appended below for your perusal and information.  
(Click here to view) 

The convention will be addressed by women leaders, who have proven track record of leadership, and out of their collective vision, will emerge, a blue print for the future. A galaxy of distinguished speakers from the corporate and professionals will be addressing the delegates during the Convention. A brief profile of the speakers who will be speaking during the Convention is attached for your perusal and information. I am writing to request you to please block the date – Saturday, 10 March 2012 in your diary and make it convenient to attend the Women Managers Convention as a delegate. 

I am writing to request you to please block the date – Saturday, 10 March 2012 in your diary and make it convenient to attend the Women Managers Convention as a delegate.

The structure of the Convention would have an inaugural, a valedictory, a Theatrical Presentation and Business Sessions on the following sub themes:

1.  Women on a Mission
2.  Thriving, Not Just Surviving
3.  Fears & Failures - A Theatrical Presentation
4.  Panel Discussion - The New Age Women

The convention will be addressed by women leaders, who have proven track record of leadership, and out of their collective vision, will emerge, a blue print for the future.

Special Discounted Delegate Fee for Members of MMA:       Rs.1,000/- (net)
Non-Members   Rs.1,600/- + Service Tax @ 10.3%
The Delegate Fee includes, Convention Delegate Kit, Lunch, Tea\Coffee and Gift Hamper sponsored by CavinKare.

In view of the limited seating capacity at the venue, please rush your nomination to avoid disappointment.
Look forward to the pleasure of receiving your nomination at the earliest,

Thanks & Regards 
Vakeeswari M
Madras Management Association 
Ph: 044 - 2496 2766 
Mob : 98413 74518  

Monday, January 2, 2012

Investment Advisor Vs Financial Planner

A few decades ago, there was confusion with what sales and marketing are. People thought they are one and the same. But it is to be understood that sales is just an important ingredient of the functions of marketing. Sales lies in persuading and convincing a person to buy a product that is suitable. Marketing involves all the activities right from the conception of the product, to branding, advertising and retailing. It is an all pervasive function from the product being ready to reach the market and ultimately to being sold to the customer. 

Today here prevails a similar confusion with who is an investment advisor and who is the financial planner.  It is quite common to find these terms used interchangeably, but it is necessary to understand that an investment advisor and a financial planner have the similar and vast differences as between sales and marketing. 

Why is this confusion?

There is a real confusion among the investors regarding who a financial planner is and who is an investment advisor. These terms are used very loosely, so it is necessary that one understands the function of each of these professionals and approach the right people.

The main confusion in these terminologies arises out of a person’s own perception. This arises due to most professionals offering financial services like insurance advisors, mutual fund distributors and stock brokers calling themselves financial planners. This term has been used very loosely by many to suit their own convenience and image.  This is more like a compounder professing to be a doctor, when he/she knows purely only about the medicine that one has to dispense. A compounder will not have the expertise to diagnose the disease that needs to be treated.
Who is the Financial Planner?

Financial planner is involved in planning all the finances of a person. His job includes drawing up an appropriate plan that covers all financial needs and goals in the short, medium and long run. Such a planner is like an architect of a building and helps to analyze and draw a complete map of how his or her client’s finances need to be planned. It includes considering the need for liquidity, cash management for various needs, goals planning and feasibility, long term cash flow, estate planning and risk management.

Who is an Investment Advisor?

In contrast an investment advisory/advisor is a person or group that helps his client to decide on the financial products that he or she should invest in. Such an advisor understands what his or her client actually wants after communicating with him or her and understanding the need. An investment advisor makes a thorough analysis of the various securities before doing so.

Hence investment advisory is just one of the ingredients of financial planning.

Goal Achievability:
A financial planner will be able to tell you, is it possible to achieve all your financial dreams with your current and projected earning capacity. If it is not possible, then the financial planner will be able to tell you what could be achieved with your earning capacity and to achieve all your dreams what kind of earning capacity you should have.

Risk Management Plan:
A financial Plan also covers creating a risk management plan. A risk management plan includes creating an emergency reserve, assessing the human life value and suggesting a term insurance; identifying medical insurance cover required and suggesting a health insurance plan; and also suggesting a general insurance policy to cover the natural perils like fire, flood, earthquake … against your properties.

Investment Plan:
A financial plan that suggests investments comes only after all the aspects have been analyzed fully. The best investment advice can only flow out after a deep analysis of a client’s need and after the preparation of a financial plan. Financial Planning should precede the investment planning.

Existing Portfolio Revamp:
It is also necessary to understand that a financial planner also looks at past investments. He then makes necessary changes to make them amicable to achieve a client’s financial goals over a period of time. Also he will assist you in restructuring your existing outstanding loans. If necessary he will create a debt pay-off plan also.

Tax Planning:
A financial planner should assist you in creating a tax plan also. This tax plan will be in sync with your overall financial plan.

A financial planner will do a periodic review on your financial plan and investment plan. If you are preponing or postponing one of your goal or if you have got a job promotion, then you may need a financial plan review. If direct tax code has got implemented or one of your investment schemes underperforming, then you may need an investment review.

In a nutshell a financial planner will not only give you an investment advice he assists you in managing your personal finance in a complete, comprehensive and a holistic way.

The author is Ramalingam K, an MBA (Finance) and Certified Financial Planner. He is the  Director and Chief Financial planner of Holistic Investment Planners ( a firm that offers Financial Planning and Wealth Management. He can be reached at

Friday, December 30, 2011

Principles and Decision-Making for Wealth Creation

Whenever people have surplus money, they want to invest. When they invest, they just want to act or execute. They don’t want to spend time on understanding the product and various investment strategies. They would like to take investment decisions without doing any homework. There is no plan of action. Their attitude is “I have surplus money; just tell me where to invest”.

These kinds of investment decision making will make you fall prey for misselling. As you are not interested in doing the homework and if someone comes with a long chart and calculations for 20 years, then you may find it interesting and end up buying products like ULIPs.  When you realize that you have invested in a mediocre product, you will blame the agent or broker and not yourself and your wrong decision making approach.

Market Moods:
When you just want to act, your investment decisions will swing based on the market moods. If the stock markets are highly volatile and it is comes down day by day then you may think that instead of investing in stock market investing in debt funds are fixed deposits are safe and wise. If the stock market goes up and everyone is investing in the market including your driver, then you may think it is opt to invest in shares or equity funds. So in this case you will never buy low and sell high. In fact you end up buying at peak and avoiding the market when the share prices are low.

Aggressive Trading:
Blindly, some investors believe that by doing aggressive trades in shares and derivatives are the quick way to make money in the stock market. They enjoy their higher degree of involvement with the stock market. They feel very happy about the few successes in the stock market which give them comfort in accepting many losses. They don’t go back and calculate how much they have made or lost in a trade; what is the total profit or loss they have made in a particular year. These investors will learn very old lessons of investment after losing a huge amount of their hard earned money.

Wealth Creation Secret:
The mistake investors do is they don’t understand the basic investment principles. They simply try to make some investment decisions. How can these investment decisions be right? Very difficult. As an investor, you need to understand the investment principles. Then based on the investment principles, you need to take the investment decisions. These investment decisions will be right for sure. Without right investment principles, right investment decisions become impossible. Without right investment decisions, long term wealth creation is just a day dream.

Sound Investment Principles:

Asset Allocation:
Depending upon your financial goals, you need to arrive at the required rate of return from your investments. You need to decide what kind of allocation needs to be given to different kind of investment avenues (like Fd, Debt funds, Equity Funds, Gold ETF..) in order to achieve the required rate of return. Once decided, don’t change this asset allocation ratio depending upon the market movement.

Risk Vs Safety:
Whatever the long term savings you have got you can invest in risky assets like equity funds. You will be adequately rewarded for taking risk in the long run. Whatever the short term savings you have got you can park it in FDs or debt funds.
Investing your long term money in safe avenues will be a destruction to create long term wealth. You will not be able to beat inflation. Similarly investing your short term money in risky investments is also dangerous.

Fundamental Factors:
The returns an investment generates will be based on its fundamental factors. Analysing fundamental factors only will lead to a long term success. There is a lot of difference between taking one right investment decision by fluke and taking right investment decisions regularly by analyzing the fundamental factors.

These investment principles are very simple and straight forward. At the same time these principles are very authentic and profound. The magic formula for creating long term wealth is “Sound Investment Principles + Right Investment Decisions = Long Term Wealth”.

The author is Ramalingam K, an MBA (Finance) and Certified Financial Planner. He is the Director and Chief Financial Planner of Holistic Investment Planners ( a firm that offers Financial Planning and Wealth Management. He can be reached at  

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Financial Lessons to Keep in 2012

As we are coming to an end of 2011, this is the time to reflect on the year gone by and the time to look forward for the New Year. You may use this chance to review your financial scorecard for the last year and need to make necessary changes and create an action plan to improvise the score for 2012.
Here’s the list of financial resolution for 2012. You may pick and choose a few among these and implement to improvise your personal finance management system.

1)      1) Would you like to prepare a workable budget for the year 2012?
You may choose to create a workable budget for 2012 by projecting your income and expenses. Also consider investments committed earlier like insurance premiums, SIPs and other commitments like EMIs. Is there any other financial goal you are going to meet this year like buying a car or buying a property? Have you made the provision for down payments?

2)      2) Would you like to do a portfolio rebalance?
2010 ended with a sensex of 20509. This year it is trading around 16000 levels. So definitely there will be a requirement to balance your portfolio to restore your predetermined debt equity ratio. Probably you may need to increase your equity exposure. You can make this market fall as an opportunity.

3)      3) Would you like to resist the temptation to make quick profits?
Temptation to make quick profits is the biggest enemy of wealth creation. This temptation leads to speculation and gambling which in turn will lead to a huge loss. If you could take a resolution to resist this temptation you will not fall prey for bogus schemes that seem to offer huge returns.

4)   4) Would you like to repay your high cost loans?
Do you have credit card debt, personal loan, or car loan? These are all definitely high cost loans. Why don’t you chalk out a plan to repay these debts well in advance? This will reduce your debt burden. You can become debt free earlier. You will have more investible surplus if you are debt free.
5)Would you like to review your insurance?
You may decide to check the life insurance and health insurance already taken is sufficient or any additional coverage is required. If you have taken a term insurance policy through an agent, now compare the premium with an online term insurance plan. By changing to an online term insurance plan you will definitely save up to 60% of your offline premium.
      6) Would you like to do an early tax plan?
If you have not done your tax saving investments for the current financial year, you may decide to do it now without any further delay. As soon as the budget session is over create a tax plan for the next financial year. Doing tax saving investments in the last minute may force you to think only on saving tax and not on your financial goals and choosing a best scheme in sync with your goals.

7)     7) Would you like to prepare a retirement plan?
Don’t put off today what you can’t afford to do tomorrow. In spite of the world wide pension crisis and a growing acceptance that we must plan and save for our retirement, the harsh reality is we are actually not saving enough. Research reports reveal that only 15% of the individuals are saving sufficiently for their retired life.
Have you started planning for your retirement? You may be saying ‘who me? I am too young to be thinking about retirement”. It is not so! Rethink. You should have started thinking about it yesterday. Because time flies quickly. If you were smart, and planned for retirement when you are young, your retirement years will be really those “Golden years”. If not you need to compromise and you need to work longer and retire later than others.

8)     8)Would you like to avoid resolution pollution?
You need to be very cautious about setting too many financial resolutions and also need to avoid setting unrealistic financial goals. You need to set resolution which is workable. You need to keep realistic expectation on the outcome of the resolution. Over expectation may demotivate you. New Year resolution is not a magic. You will be able to progress it only over a period of time with constant practice.

Now you have all the information needed to create the New Year financial resolution. So go ahead and create one for you and your family.

The author is Ramalingam K, an MBA (Finance) and Certified Financial Planner. He is the Director and Chief Financial Planner of Holistic Investment Planners ( a firm that offers Financial Planning and Wealth Management. He can be reached at