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Posts Tagged ‘#ContingencyFund’

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Listen up professionals and start-up owners!

Every individual has a passion and a dream. Many wish to break free from their mundane work life to pursue their passions. However, it can be difficult to break the shackles of comfort and security that a well paying job offers and venture into unchartered territory that your dream might lead you to. For those who manage to do so, we tip our hats to you and offer these words of advice.

 

Being a business ourselves, we understand the trials and tribulations that a professional or a start-up founder goes through. The fact is that it can take a while before you break even and start drawing an income. Even the revenues generated can be irregular so how do you manage your personal finances and ensure neither your nor your family’s dreams are compromised.

 

  1. Know your expenses– With a job that gives you a fat paycheck your lifestyle expenses are bound to be high. Now with an irregular salary keeping up with the same expenses will get challenging. You and your family should be prepared to adapt to your new financial situation and trim down your expenses wherever possible. It might make sense to set up a SWP (Systematic Withdrawal Plan) that provides the necessary income and help you stick to a budget without going bust.
  2. Keep those SIPS going through the good and the bad days-As the case is with most businesses, the revenues are not steady. There will be times when the business would have done well and the receivables have also come in and then there would be not such great times. With such irregular and unsteady income how do you manage to keep your family’s dreams alive. The Key is to invest the surplus in a liquid fund which will then systematically transfer the money on a regular basis in an equity fund. This will ensure that you keep saving and investing towards your future goals unhindered by the ups and downs of your business.
  3. Insurance, your protection shield– The job of a life insurance policy is to not only provide for your family in case of an unforeseen event, it is supposed to also cover your outstanding loans and the financial goals such as kid’s higher education, comfortable life for your dependents etc. So ensure you have taken a cover large enough to meet your family’s needs. A simple term plan will do the needful.
  4. Health is wealth– With the medical inflation rising at 10-15% annually, the importance of a medical insurance can not be stressed enough. Health is indeed wealth but you don’t want to lose your wealth due to any illness or accidents. You might also want to consider taking an accidental and critical illness policy as a safe guard measure along with a regular medical cover.
  5. Contingency fund- This fund should be large enough to cover your 6-8 months expenses. Since you do not have a regular income, it is optimum to consider expenses over a longer period. You could even consider including your SIPs amounts for those many months, this will ensure your goals are right on track and are not hampered by the volatility in your income.
  6. Keep personal and business expenses separate– This is the most important advice as it is very easy for the business expenses to spill over and be paid for from your family kitty. This is especially possible if you use the same credit card for both personal and business use. This can further stress your family budget over time.

With an irregular income it becomes essential to plan and channelize your money to ensure your family is well secured financially and their goals and dreams have wings. You might want to consult a financial planner to see how to fund your family goals if you choose to launch your start-up.

 

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retirement

India is a saver’s economy. During the working years sacrifices are made for the benefit of the  family and retirement is keenly looked forward to. Advertisements of retirement products paint a picture of a comfortable retirement by the sea and that your life could be one happy vacation. However, in our experience as and when individuals start approaching their retirement they start to dread it. Questions such as are they well prepared for retirement, have they saved enough, and biggest dilemma faced is  where to invest this large sum of money in order to get a regular cash flow to become financially independent. What do you do to actually turn your retirement into one big happy vacation?

Effective cash flow management is the key to a successful retirement. The magic lies in creating a strategy that generates a regular inflation adjusted income for you and your surviving spouse, lasts you a life time and offers liquidity.

Strategy 1: Create a regular income stream

Every individual wants to be financially self sufficient. In the absence of a joint family, being financially independent is not a desire but a must have in your golden years. If you need money for your day to day expenses, then getting a payout once in 3 or 6 months doesn’t help. A lot of retirees rely on dividend income either from stocks or their mutual funds. This is a huge mistake which becomes evident with time when the steady income from salary has stopped completely. Receiving a dividend from your investments when you have a  salary feels great because it provides an additional income. What most people don’t realize is that the dividend is actually paid out at irregular intervals and the amount is also inconsistent. Similarly, the interest payout from your corporate FD might be on a quarterly basis or twice a year and now locked in until maturity.

How to execute this strategy?

To be financially independent at all times you have to ensure you have created multiple income streams and timed the out flow to suit your requirement. If you need to pay salaries and bills towards the start of the month, then set the payout around that time. Opt for monthly interest payout from FDs and set up a Systematic Withdrawal Plan (SWP) from your Mutual Fund investments on a monthly or bimonthly basis. This way you will know exactly when your next payout will happen and manage your expenses and bill settlements better. You will also be more in control of your finances rather than being helpless because of a bad strategy which can now not be easily changed.

Strategy 2: Generate an inflation adjusted income

Thanks to the increase in programs aimed towards investor education, many individuals understand and are aware of the impact of inflation on their income and wealth. The income that you receive should be able to beat inflation and help you live your life comfortably and on your terms. The current consumer inflation rate is at 4.17% however, it is essential to consider your lifestyle inflation which rises faster than food inflation. It would be wise to adjust your income against an inflation of 7-8%. The income that would have sufficed today will not manage to cover the same expenses next year due to inflation. On a yearly basis, you will notice that your bills are rising, so will the salary of your staff.

How to execute this strategy?

The interest income coming from your Fixed Deposits will not be able to implement this strategy since the returns are fixed and the amount is locked until maturity. You would not have the option to choose a higher payout even at the cost of wealth depletion.

This strategy can only to executed through a Systematic withdrawal Plan (SWP). With an SWP you have the option to increase or decrease the amount that is withdrawn from the investment. For eg. If your cash flow requirement is Rs 25000/month for the 1st year, then with a Systematic withdrawal Plan you have the flexibility to adjust the payout by increasing it to Rs 27000/month which would be inflation adjusted. This way you can increase the payout from your debt funds using SWP strategy.

Strategy 3: Avoid excess liquidity as a part of contingency planning

Most senior citizens seek comfort in keeping large amounts of cash lying in their bank accounts. This they say is for emergencies and contingencies in case they need a lot of cash all of a sudden. Assume you have Rs 50 lakhs for your retirement corpus out of which if  5-10 lakhs are kept in your bank account for comfort then this is a very expensive way to deal with emergencies. With high inflation and increasing life expectancy, one can not afford to keep 10-20% of their wealth idle. At your age you will need every cent and penny to work as hard as it can.

How to manage liquidity?

If you have parked a large sum in your bank account, the reason has  less to do with emergencies and more to do with liquidity. With most of your money parked in illiquid assets like bonds, fixed deposits or real estate how do you get your money if a need arises. Liquid debt mutual funds are a perfect option since they provide both higher returns and offer liquidity. Liquid funds can generate a return of up to 6.5% and are highly liquid as the name suggests. You can redeem your units from a liquid any time and encash your money. You will receive your money in your bank account the next day.

Strategy 4: Plan your cash flow to avoid wealth depletion during your lifetime

With the advancement in medical sciences the average life expectancy in India has risen to be around 85 years. There is also a risk that both you and your spouse might outlive your life expectancy and live longer than what you had accounted for. This poses a threat to your financial independence as there is a possibility of your wealth getting depleted while you both are still alive. It therefore becomes important to invest your money in such a way that your portfolio can provide a steady cash flow not just for you but for your surviving spouse too and a little over your assumed life expectancy.

How to make this strategy work without compromising on your dreams?

As a retired person wealth preservation is of utmost importance however, if inflation and longevity poses a threat to your wealth and goals then you have to go beyond your comfort zone and add more growth assets in your portfolio. However, if there is a gap between the income that your portfolio can generate and your needs, then instead of taking excess equity exposure it is advisable to taper your expenses instead.

An expert financial planner will be able to execute and implement this strategy for you by creating a realistic portfolio which meets your income expectation and risk profile. A combination of debt and equity mutual funds should do the magic.

The secret to a successful retirement is a little bit of planning which can go a long way to turn your retirement into a happy vacation.

 

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uncertain inflowsI have uncertain inflows – how should I invest?

Money may not be the end in itself, but for most, it is a means to achieve many necessities as well as aspirations. Therefore it becomes important how an individual plans to use his/her hard earned money. More so when the inflows are not necessarily streamlined and consistent like that of an employee. When your personal income is linked to the performance of your firm, a well thought out plan could be all the difference between financial stability or having to make huge compromises.

Being a HR firm owner can have its ups and downs. By following certain simple financial planning steps, you can have some peace of mind with regards to your personal financial situation even though you may not have a steady income:

  1. Contingency Fund: This is a basic yet most critical part of any financial planning for a self employed individual. You never know when your next pay check may come. So it pays to prepare for the worst. Thumb rule has always been 3-6 months worth of household expenses to be kept aside in highly liquid assets as an Emergency Fund. Yet we feel that when it comes to a owner/manager, it should be at least 6-9 months worth of basic expenses!  A handy tip, do not forget to count any committed payments such as EMIs and any insurance premiums when calculating the corpus. 
  1. Risk Planning: or in lay man terms, Insurance Planning. This could be a considered an extension of contingency planning, but for very specific events. Following are the types of insurance policies one must always have at all times: 
  • Term Life Insurance Plan: The plain vanilla term plan is exactly the only kind of life insurance anyone should purchase. Handy tip, to know the amount of cover you might need, start with at least 15 times your annual revenue/income. Don’t forget, insurance should never be mistaken for an investment!
  • Individual Health Insurance: If nothing else, an individual health cover to at least cover your own standard hospitalization expenses is a must. Financial independence means you should be able to fend for yourself at the very least, even if it paying for your own recovery. 
  • Critical Illness Policy: Contracting a serious illness or undergoing a major surgery would mean a drag on your finances as well as a dent on income. Such financial risks can be mitigated by procuring a critical illness policy. Such policies usually provide for a lump sum payment to tide over the finances needed, in case of being diagnosed with a critical illness.
  • Personal Accident Policy: Another source of financial risk associated with most professionals is loss of income/job due to an accident. Similar to a Critical Illness Policy, this policy provides a supplement alternative income for certain weeks of disability depending on the terms of the policy. This can be used to either pay off medical expenses or help in taking care of household expenses during the recovery period.

While more types of insurances are available, it is essential that this set is acquired first. Having your Contingency funds and Risk Planning in place makes a strong base for you to venture into the world of investments.

  1. Planning for Retirement: Retirement, or as financial advisors put it, Financial Freedom, is something we all aspire for. The dream of not working for the sake of survival is a goal we all work towards. Yet having an uncertain income can make such a dream feel a little distant more often than not. And while retirement always seem likes a far off goal in comparison to what seem like more pressing concerns, it should ALWAYS be top priority! Underestimating your retirement financial needs can be the one of the biggest mistakes you could make and more often than not, people realize it far too late to make any significant course corrections. Even if you have to start with small amounts, it is the consistency and discipline that will ultimately help you reach your goal.
  1. Financial Goal Planning: Only after the first three steps are in place, is when you should really consider planning for the rest of the commitments/aspirations that you might have. As with any goal planning, the two critical aspects to consider are time horizon and future value of the goal, not current value. If you get these two right, the rest becomes clear.

For any individual with uncertain income flows, planning can become easier if you can channelize your savings, prioritizing in the above order! It is essentially in this area where the difference between financial planning for an owner of a firm/business versus that for an employed individual lies.

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