8

Should you spend or invest your bonus?

Hi fellow investors

The bonus season is here! 
Given that we cannot use our bonuses immediately to travel anywhere as such, it is a good time to put our thoughts to what we can do with our bonuses.

Generally, what you do with your bonus is a very personal choice on how you want to use your lump sum money and make the most of it. I have made the following suggestions to help you make an informed decision.


1. Reward yourself
Bonus is the money that you get for doing exceptional hard work in the year that has passed by and it is only fair to use a part of it to reward yourself. You can use it to buy yourself that fancy gadget that you always wanted, go on that vacation, put it aside for your dream car, etc.



2. Create your emergency fund 
Using your bonus amount to create your emergency fund of 4-6 times of your monthly expenses if you already don't have one. Given, the uncertainty of COVID 19 has not yet found a resort/calm it is best to have an emergency fund in place.



3. Pay your outstanding debt
Many people use their bonuses to prepay their loans and reduce the burden of a heavy loan. While how much loan you are comfortable with is a very personal choice, you can consider these 2 parameters to check if you should prepay or not. 

  • If your loan EMI is 50% or more of your take-home income, you should use your bonus amount to prepay and reduce the same to a comfortable 30% - 40% of your take-home income.
  • If your loan EMI is 20% - 30% of your take-home income, you can continue the same and pay it from your monthly income and enjoy tax benefits. You can avoid using your bonus to prepay your loan.

Basically, if you are having sleepless nights because of outstanding loan amounts, then use the bonus to prepay and have a good night's sleep.


4. Cover up your tax-saving investments
My first advice is always to invest regularly even for tax deductions to avoid any last-minute cash crunch in February and March. However, if you have not done the same, then use your bonus to do so and plan your investments to claim the tax deductions.



5. Keep it aside for your dream goals
Take that photography/culinary course, put it aside for your trip to Norway, buy that bike, save up for your business idea you have - keep this money aside for any goal of yours that is important to you and can be used for your own dreams. Use the bonus money for something that would add value and make you happy.

Bonus is a good lump sum payment and it is good to use it for something that will have a lasting impact on you.

Have fun splurging and investing (at least some of it).

See you next Thursday!

Disclaimer: - The articles are for information purposes only. Information presented is general information that does not take into account your individual circumstances, financial situation, or needs, nor does it present a personalized recommendation to you. You must consult a financial advisor who understands your specific circumstances and situation before taking an investment decision.



4

What To Do When You Lose a Part of Your Income

Hi there

Times are difficult, as the economy is getting back on its feet and everything is slowly opening up again. Payments have been delayed/cut and jobs have been lost amongst the various uncertainties that plague our everyday. Amidst this, it is very important to keep our heads straight and use this time and your money effectively. 

Here are a few things that you can do right now to make the most of your money in case you have had a pay cut/job loss recently:

1) Keep a track of all your spendings


It is extremely important to prioritize your expenses and use whatever money you have effectively. Make a list of all your expenses - divide them into essential and non-essential expenses (and avoid this completely for a while). This way, you can reduce expenses which are not important at the moment.

We know shopping is relaxing and helps you feel good but do not use 'delivery start ho gaya' as an excuse to go overboard with online shopping. If you don't need something in the next few months as you are still working from home,- DO NOT SHOP! SAVE that amount instead! Use this time to evaluate all your unnecessary spendings and list them down and control it. 


2) Use your Emergency Fund


This is what your Emergency Fund was built for. If you have been following us, you must be having at least  3 months' worth of your expenses on hand. DO use it to cover your essentials like groceries and rent. DO NOT use it to splurge on that big sale. Make sure you are spending your Emergency Fund sensibly. Cutting back on spending will help you stretch your savings for longer.

If you can take support from your parents/spouse/family - there is no harm in asking them for help. These are tough times and asking for help is not a bad thing. 


3) Hide your Credit Cards


Hide this card, give it to your mother if you must, to keep it away; but do not use it. Credit cards may look very lucrative right now and even make you buy some things which you 'feel' like buying. Stay away from them. It will be a financial disaster, given the uncertainty around your future income and the interest rates that get charged on deferred credit card payments. Completely avoid using them.


4) Stop/Pause your Investments


If there is a reduction in income/ or no income now - it is advisable to stop/pause your SIPs until you have a regular flow of income to match up to them. If you have a credit card payment pending, use your savings to pay that off. But remember, the idea, for now, is to free up your cash flows, instead of spending or investing it away. 

Also, evaluate your investments to check what you can do if things get worse (its good to be hopeful but better to be planned) and know all the avenues you can revert to if things go bad.

Ensure you have your health insurance & life insurance in place. If a health emergency strikes now, it can really eat into your savings, so it is better to be prepared.

As a last resort - if you have been contributing to EPF (Employee provident fund), you have the option of taking money out from the same, worth 3 months of your contribution to EPF. Do remember it will take some time to get this money credited to your account and we would recommend not touching it unless it is extremely important.

5) Start preparing for what is next right away
  • Update your skill sets, read about things that can help you become better in your field, and also garner more attention.
  • Update your social media and use it as a tool to interact and network with new people.
  • Take up freelancing work, many organizations are looking to hire part-time/freelancers for case-specific work - a good time to learn about that.
  •  The idea is to reach out as much as possible, towards people and opportunities that may help you come out of this crisis sooner. 

Clear communication and a positive planned approach will help you sail through this. Look at hidden opportunities in this to develop those skill sets, writing your weekly blogs (like this one :P) or catch up on your reading. 
 
Whenever you feel like you're stuck in a difficult situation, it is advisable to seek the services of a good, honest financial advisor. You can always reach out to us for any financial problems that you may have. We are here to listen and help you out.


Until then keep reading, learning, and growing. This too shall pass.

Disclaimer: - The articles are for information purposes only. Information presented is general information that does not take into account your individual circumstances, financial situation, or needs, nor does it present a personalized recommendation to you. You must consult a financial advisor who understands your specific circumstances and situation before taking an investment decision.



3

How Many Mutual Funds Should You Have? (Part 1)

This week I am back with some discussion around Mutual Funds. In one of my workshops, during our mutual fund's discussion, I had this one trainee ask me - So what's your number?

I stared at her for a while not knowing what I am supposed to answer to that. Well, she rephrased her question, 'What is the number of mutual funds you are invested in?'  I said, '6 Mutual Funds'.She had the bewildered look on her face wondering how I had so fewer funds. I decided to show her my portfolio.


How many mutual funds schemes should you own? 

Owning around 5-7 mutual fund schemes across various categories is enough. These many mutual fund schemes will help you diversify, do your asset allocation, and also map these investments to your goals. You can invest your savings in the mutual fund schemes as per the below categories:

  1. Large Cap Mutual Fund (Equity)
  2. Large & Mid-Cap Mutual Fund (Equity) (your ELSS tax saving schemes are generally a Large & Mid Cap Mutual Fund)
  3. Mid Cap Mutual Fund (Equity)
  4. Small-Cap Mutual Fund (Equity)
  5. Thematic Mutual Fund (where you understand specific sectors and have a higher risk-taking appetite)  
  6. Short Term Debt Mutual Fund (For your short term goals)
  7. Long Term Debt Mutual Fund (For your long term goals)

In addition to the above, I have one Liquid Mutual Fund where I park my Emergency Funds. You can park your Emergency Fund in a Bank Fixed Deposit as an alternative.


Why only 5-7 Mutual Funds?

When you invest in Mutual Funds, you already diversify your risk across the stocks of the companies a particular mutual fund has invested in. Hence, with a large-cap mutual fund, your risk is diversified across more than 70 stocks that particular large-cap mutual fund has invested in. Investing in three different large-cap funds is not going to reduce your risk further, it will only make your investment portfolio messy.

'Mutual funds investing is to diversify your risk and not to di"worsify" the same'.

Further, reducing the number of schemes to a minimum of 5 also reduces the cost of managing the same and the time that goes in keeping a track of it and analyzing it regularly.


What do I do when I have more savings to Invest?

Increase your investment in the existing mutual fund's schemes you own. 
Investing in a new scheme every time you have extra savings will just lead you to own 15-20 mutual funds schemes with no plan in sight. Hence, it is important to do your due diligence and identify the mutual funds you want to invest in and stick to them. 

Yes, you must review your schemes regularly to see how are they performing in various market cycles but know that all schemes will not give you the best results always. There are some time periods where mid-cap and small-cap schemes will do better, other times when large-cap schemes will outperform and sometimes your debt investments will be the best performer for the year. Hence, it is important to be diversified across categories.


'Every time I check for the best mutual fund scheme and invest in the ones that are on the top' 

Studies have proven that selecting mutual funds based on high-performance track records is naive. The Star rating of various mutual fund keeps changing, a fund that is top rated in this one year, is hardly the top-rated fund in the subsequent years. Tim Courtney, a chief Investment advisor of US-based Burns Advisory did backtesting of past performance of the funds most highly rated, he found that they usually performed poorly after they have gotten 5 ratings. Hulbert financial digest, an investment newsletter found that if investors continually adjusted their mutual funds' holdings to hold only the highest-rated funds, a total stock market index would have beaten them by 45.8 % in the past decade (he studied funds from 1994 to 2004 in the USA). In fact over the years, it has gotten even more difficult to beat the markets and get alpha on your investments.  - extracts from Millionaire extracts - How to build wealth living overseas by Andrew Hallam

Hence, just investing in top-rated schemes is not going to give you the desired returns but only make your portfolio messy and not even get you the best returns.

Wealth cafe Takeaway - While you are investing in 5-7 different schemes across the options stated above, ensure that you invest across various AMCs as well. This will ensure that you are diversifying your risk and your entire money is not with only one AMC.

We shall follow up this article with a part 2 on how to downsize your portfolio.

Until then, keep reading, if you find this helpful, do share it with your friends.

Disclaimer: - The articles are for information purposes only. Information presented is general information that does not take into account your individual circumstances, financial situation, or needs, nor does it present a personalized recommendation to you. You must consult a financial advisor who understands your specific circumstances and situation before taking an investment decision.



1

Why do people ‘NOT’ consider financial education ‘ Important’?

Hi fellow investors!

A very dear friend visited me for lunch recently, and we had a nice afternoon chat. It was such a relief to see a new face to talk to and eat with. He also happens to be the Marketing Executive for another education company and we got talking about Wealth Cafe and why we conduct money workshops and teach financial education.

The most important discussion we had was around 'WHY' so many people don't consider financial education or money as a priority, and my usual long phone conversations with Harsh Vardhan Dawar (Founder & Director of Wealth Cafe) also majorly revolve around the 'WHY' and 'HOW' of Financial education, I thought it would be interesting to share the same with you this week.

Why it is important yet difficult to study about managing your OWN Money & Investments?

 


1. Money takes time to grow!


It does and we have always said it. When you buy chocolate, you get to enjoy it within 10 seconds of you purchasing it, whereas when you invest, you may finally enjoy its fruits only after years. Your Fixed Deposit of 10,000 becomes 10,600 after 1 year. 365 days. 8,760 hours. It takes time and it requires the investor to wait for it to grow. 

Remember - Don't wait to Invest, Invest, and Wait.


2. Not a part of our dinner table discussions or school gang chats


Do you talk to your family about where you should invest your money or have your parents discussed it with you over dinner? If you have, then it's amazing, but most families don't have this discussion. Also, when we're hanging out with our friends we almost never talk about investments, savings, or goals (we may have mentioned the economy and stock market but not concrete discussions on how you can plan your finance). 

#letschangethedialogue. 


3.  Money matters 


For most of us, money is important until we have enough to buy and do what we want to do at the moment or maybe in the near future. Many of us are at a phase where we want to earn more and work (job/freelance) for it is the only option. Money matters a lot but only to the extent where it adds comfort to our present life. 

We generally don't tend to ponder over questions like 'Will I have enough when I retire?' or 'Can I quit my job to start something of my own?'


4. Money is boring


Well, I have to face this, I love reading and talking about money and investments, but for a person without a financial background, it may not be as exciting. Not many people are pumped about getting up from their beds and reading about the nuances of Mutual funds or FDs. It is akin to researching the bacteria that caused you the toothache.

But if you love yourself, you go to be on top of your health and wealth. Either learn about it or have an expert take care of it for you.


5. Not a priority


While my friend and I were having this long discussion, I asked him if he had ever taken the effort to educate himself about money matters, and surprisingly, his answer was no!  He said that there was never enough time for him to sort his finances or read up about it. Work always kept him busy and Alas! this is the most important reason.

If any of these reasons are blocking you or holding you back, let's work on it together. 

When you work hard your entire life to make money, you can work a little to make your money work hard for you. It's all about prioritizing.

 

The important subject of Money Management is not taught at any level of school or college in India which is why the financial literacy of India is at a meager 2%. Without proper knowledge about financial products, one cannot make the right decision with respect to investments. At Wealth Café, we are working on doing that, our everyday effort is to make finance simple for you :).

Here's wishing that you also start taking that small effort to make your own money a priority for you.

Where you think any of your friend or family could benefit from this, please do share via email or Facebook :)

Disclaimer -  The articles are for information purposes only. Information presented is general information that does not take into account your individual circumstances, financial situation, or needs, nor does it present a personalized recommendation to you. You must consult a financial advisor who understands your specific circumstances and situation before taking an investment decision.  



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Should I pause/stop my SIP?

The tides may appear to have calmed down for now but we never know what is in store for us next. Some relaxations have definitely come out and some more are expected. However, this does not cure COVID 19, it just prepares us for the new normal of living with Covid as we begin to resume our old routines.

While there are many uncertainties looming over us, including pay cuts and job loss, some of you guys asked us if they should discontinue/pause their SIPs under these circumstances?

Like always my answer to this will depend upon how much extra cash you have left each month and if there is an Emergency Fund (equal to 4/6 months of your monthly expenses) in place to take care of these uncertain times.

  • If you have not been affected by pay cuts, you must continue your SIPs as before. Additionally, since you are spending less than before, the savings again must get channeled into your investment portfolio.
  • If your pay has been reduced, counter that with the reduced spends, and if your total savings are still the same, continue with your SIPs. If the savings are lower, then you can dip into your Emergency Fund to ensure your SIPs don’t stop. If you have not set up an EMergency fund, then you will have to reduce your monthly SIP to match the amount you are able to save each month.
  • If you have lost your job, or your salary has been paused, then you can fall back on your emergency fund to take care of your monthly expenses. SIPs will have to be stopped and will suffer.

What is the point of SIPs right now?

SIPs (known as systematic investment plans) are where you invest a fixed amount of money into a choice of your mutual fund at regular intervals (generally monthly). It is an automated process and the amount is debited from your bank and mutual fund units credited to you.

Buying in a falling market reduces your cost giving you higher benefits when the market goes up. To understand this better, let us run you through this example.

You get more units when the fund’s NAV (market price) is lower
You get less units when the fund’s NAV (market price) is higher.

As of 10 May, the NAV is priced at 85, hence the value of your investments will be 54,880 @5% loss.

Instead of doing SIP, had you invested a lump sum of INR 60,000 on 15 November, you would have got only 600 units (as opposed to 669 here) and the value of your investments would be INR 51,000 on 10 May 2020 (at a 15% loss). 

No one knew that the market would fall so drastically and be so volatile in 2020, but your SIPs definitely help you to invest in a staggered and make most of the down market.

Everyone wants to know when we will reach the bottom to buy the maximum number of units. But it is anyone’s guess when the markets will reach the bottom or what the bottom price is.  Hence, SIP is your friend in such markets. When you continue your SIPS, your amount keeps buying a varied number of units (more in a down market) and thus, helping you to average your cost of buying.

Do not stop your SIPs now just because the markets are down, for all you know this time may turn out to be a bargain and help you get better returns in the future.

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How to manage my irregular/business income?

This lockdown seems to be going on forever with no respite in sight and we just have to find a way around it. We are all trying our best to make the most of this time, use this time to read more, catch up on movies, and learn a new skill. Some of us have started new side ventures and blogs.

As a part of this process, many of you have asked us how you should manage your irregular income as a freelancer/entrepreneur. Many business owners feel they do not have good control over their cash flow and it is difficult to plan for their own finances. This email is to help you understand how to manage your cash flows as a business owner.


1) CREATE AN EMERGENCY FUND

This will always be important and becomes critical as a business owner. You must project your expenses and cash requirements for 6 months and have that much funds kept aside in liquid investments like Fixed Deposits or Liquid Mutual Funds.

As your income is erratic but your expenses are regular, the Emergency Fund comes as a great support and you can dig into it to pay your bills in those months where the income has been a bit slow. Always, ensure to refill your Emergency Fund to back to its original value during time or surplus cash.

2) YOU SHOULD HAVE 3 BANK ACCOUNTS

Having separate accounts for your various needs will ensure a smooth flow of cash and you will know where exactly your money is going.

Bank account 1 – Business Account
Bank account 2 – Personal Account
Bank Account 3 – Investments Account

Bank Account 1 – All your business income and expenses must be taken care of from this bank account. This will also help you to file your financial statements and know the exact numbers for your business.

Bank Account 2 You must transfer an amount for your personal basic living expenses to your bank account 2. This is the account from where you will spend on your food, home rent, everyday conveyance, etc.

There are months when you do not have enough from your business to take care of your personal expenses and in such times your rainy-day friend – emergency fund comes to your rescue. Please note that the emergency fund is to be used for basic spends not for parties and shopping!!

Bank Account 3
 – This is the bank account from where you will INVEST. The months in which you make great revenues, you must transfer an amount from your Business Account to Personal Account to Investment Account and Invest that money for your future goals. These goals can be either personal or business.

Having a separate account from where you invest helps you to keep your money in an organized manner (all the extra funds will always be invested) and at the time of redemption, all the redeemed money will flow back to your Investment account. This will help you have control over your investments as well.Today when you have just started to invest, this all may seem like a lot of work, but you must understand that after a few years when you have made investments and business has grown, it will be very difficult to backtrack and put things in place and hence, the same should be done today!!

Use this time to understand how your money is flowing and put a process in place for it. We shall see you soon with more articles on the same.

gold

SIP top-up (Increase your SIP amount)

What is the SIP top-up (step-up) facility?

A systematic investment plan (SIP) allows you to put a fixed sum of money every month in a mutual fund. But most of us get a raise in our salaries every year. This means we can afford to increase our investments. But how do you do that in a SIP that is already going on? Enter top-up or step-up facility. It is important that as your income grows, the quantum of investment should grow too.

How wealth is created under SIP top-up plan?

SIPSIP top-up
Investment Amount500010% increase per annum
Investment ProductEquityEquity
ROR12%12%
Period years2020
The amount at the end49.46 lakhs98.45 lakhs

Hence, you can see that by increasing your SIP by 10% each month, you will create wealth which is twice as much as your investment amount. This is how SIP top-up helps you generate wealth faster.

Decide on the amount you want to increase your SIP by, or by the percentage of increase. You can also cap your amount in case you think you won’t be able to afford a monthly investment beyond a point. For instance, in our example above, a 5% annual increase would mean you would need to invest Rs11,790 every month in the 10th year and Rs30,580 in the 20th (final) year. Once your monthly installment hits the ceiling, your top-up facility stops and then you keep investing that same amount for the rest of your SIP tenure.

Wealth Cafe Actionable – Where you are a salaried individual, ensure that you do a SIP  top-up based on your regular increment in your salary amount.

 

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Timing the market for your SIP investments?

Many of us keep waiting for that right time to invest.

A popular stock-market adage is Time in the market is more important than timing the market’. It may be a popular principle but unfortunately not many observe it in practice. Many people based on the basic discussions, newspaper articles or just their basic reading believe that they understand the trends of the market and start timing the market to make investments.

The curious thing about market timing is that the market almost unfailingly moves in the opposite direction to what you would expect. If you buy shares in a company thinking that ‘this’ is the right time, you are appalled by the fact that the stock starts to fall just after you buy it. Similarly, if you sell out your shares in a company because you have a strong gut feeling that it’s going to collapse, you find it racing ahead of just about everything. It must have happened to the smartest of us.

Timing the investment in Mutual Funds

If you think you are immune to this behavior just because you invest in mutual funds rather than directly in stocks, you are mistaken. Mutual funds investors frequently try to time their systematic investments in response to the market’s ups and downs. When the market is falling, they stop their SIPs. When it is rising, they increase their SIP amounts. This invariably backfires.

SIPs work best when the markets are volatile. When the markets are high, you buy fewer units of your mutual funds through SIPs. When the markets are down, you buy more units for the same amount. This enables you to average your investment cost over time. But if you stop SIPs when the markets are down, you miss out on lowering your total investment cost. And if you increase your SIP amounts when the markets are on the rise, you keep averaging your overall cost upwards.

Now you may say that the solution to this problem is to do just the opposite: stop with SIPs when the markets are rising and increase the SIP amounts when they are falling. Unfortunately, timing the market in this manner is just as unfruitful. First, it is counter-intuitive. Many investors will have difficulty in carrying through their decision to invest when the markets are down and sell when they are up. And second, you can never really know how long the market may keep going up or falling. All in all, it’s quite unproductive to time the market.

How SIP Works to make the most of the market trend

When the market goes down – you get more Mutual Fund units
When the market goes up- you get lesser Mutual Fund units
Hence, the SIP helps to average the cost over a period of time and makes the most of our money. We may not always know that the market is down now, we should buy more or otherwise, SIP is automatically taking care of that for us.

The beauty of SIPs is that by definition they prevent you from timing the market. SIPs are about discipline. You decide an amount and a frequency, which in most cases is monthly. Then you keep investing in the mutual fund of your choice, irrespective of where the market is. Of course, you can increase your SIP amount yearly as your pay increases but then invest it evenly till the next revision. Since the markets are volatile, you will naturally benefit from the power of rupee cost averaging, which will increase your returns.

Wealth Cafe Actionable – As we have said, SIPs is an easy way to invest your money and it on its own makes the most of the market trend. Once you have started SIP, just keep reviewing your asset allocation occasionally and let them be.



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