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Posts Tagged ‘emergency fund’

Remember your college days when you had to manage your pocket money between stationery expenses, conveyance expenses and lifestyle expenses. The amounts may not have been large and budgeting was critical. So what’s changed in your life today – most definitely the amounts involved, but then so have your needs and wants.  So its budget time again. Budgeting could be at an individual level, at a family level, at an organization level or even at a company level. From a Financial Planning perspective, budgeting at an individual and family level is critical. Budgeting is all about managing your incomes, expenses and cash flows effectively.

Incomes can be of different types. You can basically distinguish between regular income and irregular flow of income. Regular incomes can be your net salary income, government pension, income from business. All the other incomes like professional income in the case of free lancers for example could be irregular, interest income will last till maturity of investment, rental income will last for the tenure that you have let out your property and variable pays/bonuses if any will fall under irregular income.

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If you have a regular flow of income then you should manage your expenses and develop a regular savings habit so that you can invest to achieve your financial goals.  If you have an irregular cash flow, then you need to plan your cash flows wisely because your income may not be regular but your fixed/non-discretionary expenses certainly are.

If you have an irregular cash flow, then you need to plan your cash flows wisely because your income may not be regular but your fixed/non-discretionary expenses certainly are.

There are two things you can do to address this. Depending upon the age you are in, you should invest in skill development which can earn you a regular income. If you are a freelancer for example or in a business which is seasonal in nature and it does not occupy your time all 365 days, then maybe you can master some professional skills which will enhance your already existing skill set or maybe enhance your career in one way or the other. Sports professionals and actors, for example, may have shorter earning life spans and thus may need to build their skills accordingly.

The other thing you can do is that you can plan a portfolio in such a way that your investments will provide you regular flow of income. It can be done in the following manner:

Emergency-funds

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  • Since your primary goal is always  to meet your regular expenses, start of by creating a contingency fund which accounts for at least 6 months of your non-discretionary expenses like your children’s school fees, your EMI if you have any, your basic monthly household expenditure, amongst other things. If both you are your spouse are working, you could plan for 3 months.
  • Do not block all your money into investments that are illiquid ,even though the returns they may be offering you could be tempting. Ensure you have enough liquidity at all points in time to meet your regular expenses. Locking in your money into illiquid instruments might not only make it difficult for you to exit but if you wish to exit in case of an emergency you may have to settle for a lower value. Investing in real estate is a classic example. People invest in it in anticipation of high returns growth but have to hold on to it for long periods till the time it gets an appropriate value, due to its cyclical nature. Emergency exits may require you to settle at lower valuations.
  • Invest in simple products which provide safety, liquidity and returns.
  • Investments should be made in line with your goals and not in isolation.
  • Have adequate life insurance cover so that in case something happens to you, it will help your family members to continue with same standard of living.
  • Health insurance and critical Insurance is a must. You certainly do not want to spend your hard earned money on high medical expenses.

Once you have your income and expenses in place, it is critical to begin the job of tracking them. Whether you use technology or an old fashioned diary for this, doing it is crtical. After all, a budget is not relevant if it is not tracked.

Whilst you may not be able to go to college again, you certainly can go back to budgeting for yourself and your family. It may be boring at first, but I promise you that you will enjoy the benefits of it some day.

 

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A very good graph showing 10 steps to start investing  by UTI Mutual Fund house.

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The cost of education is increasing at a rate faster than normal inflation. Do you have enough for your child’s education? Are you aware of the best options for doing so? Do you have to sacrifice your other goals for achieving your child’s education? Read the article by Vishal and do comment how you are planning your child’s education.image-0001

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“Jadoo ki Jhappi” gained popularity after its clever use and depiction in the blockbuster Munnabhai MBBS. Medically the benefits of a hug have been well known for a long time with a simple hug helping to lower blood pressure, reduce heart rates and improve blood circulation, amongst other benefits. Just like a hug, some of the simplest things are likely to be the most beneficial for your health-eating well balanced meals in moderation, eating on time, getting adequate sleep, daily exercise and a daily dose of meditation. In much the same way, your financial health can also be well taken care of through the use of some simple steps. These include:

  • Having a contingency/emergency fund of at least three months of expenses to take care of unforeseen job losses/medical emergencies
  • A well controlled expense to income ratio ( ideally less than 65%) and loan to income ratio ( ideally less than 40%).
  • Adequate life insurance to protect your family’s lifestyle in case something was to happen to the primary bread earner
  • Health coverage for yourself and your dependents so that a medical emergency does not derail both physical health and financial health.
  • Insurance for your home that is likely to be your most valuable asset
  • A well diversified portfolio that consists of a combination of investments that have traditionally beaten inflation like real estate and equities, and assets that have fairly predictable rates of return like deposits and bonds.
  • A small portion of your portfolio in gold to act as a protection for the rest of your portfolio.
  • Clearly defined goals for what you want your money to do for you – education for your children, an independent retirement for yourself and your spouse, a larger home,etc
  • A well thought out tax saving strategy that is aligned to your financial goals
  • Undertaking an annual financial health checkup. If you believe you need professional help for this, do not hesitate to seek it.
  • Avoid using products that are too complex and you do not understand
  • Avoid putting all your money into a single investment type or asset class just because it has given the best rate of return in the recent past.

 

To conclude, the simple things in life are often the most effective and make the most difference, so keep your finances simple and your hug handy. Simplicity should keep you in great physical and financial health.

This article was written by Vishal Dhawan, CFPCM 

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