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Posts Tagged ‘#HigherEducation’

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The Indian story is pretty simple and straight forward, as you grow you are told to study hard to find a good job. When you finally find that good job you work harder day in and day out trying to keep up with work pressure and your expenses. Then comes in Jack Ma announcing that he plans to retire early and says “I would rather die on a beach than in my office”. This one line is enough to reignite the dreams and fantasies to retire early and move to a quaint town away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. If this is your dream then read on to find out how you can retire early.

Rome was not built in a day and Jack Ma didn’t become a billionaire overnight. While you don’t have to wait to become a billionaire to retire early, you will need to save and create a substantial corpus to be able to take the plunge. This would require dedicated regular savings and beware, sacrifices will have to be made. You will have to try and save as much as possible which would mean spending less on your life style expenses, and trying to live a modest life.

  • List down all your goals-Just because you are going to retire early doesn’t mean you wouldn’t want to live a full life and realize you goals which could include travelling, sending kids overseas for higher education, buying your dream home etc. Yes you can achieve these goals and retire early too, but you will need a good plan which will take the cost of funding of these goals into account and adjust it against inflation.
  • Know your expenses-Most people especially the ones who live in a metro don’t know how much they spend on a monthly basis. Knowing your expenses is important for two reasons one it will help you know how big your retirement corpus needs to be and two you might need to cut down some unnecessary expenses to be able to save more. Take your life expectancy into consideration and your expenses till that time to calculate your corpus size.
  • Set the SIP for the 1stweek of the month- For most people the only investments that happen are either a minimum SIP started some time back or whatever is saved at the end of the month. This way you will never be able to retire, forget retiring early. Your savings and investments have to be planned and in line with the future goals that you have. So invest before you pay your bills. This is also what Robert Kiyosaki the author of “Rich Dad Poor Dad” believes is the secret to getting rich.
  • Ensure it’s not a one sided love story– Giving up a good lifestyle and a free hand on spending can take its toll. It can be very frustrating at times, that’s why its very important that your spouse supports this choice a 100% else you might find your self quite often at the receiving end which trust me is neither pleasant nor encouraging. From time to time you might need to remind yourself of your end goal and it should bring you back on track when you start to stray away. I would highly recommend not giving up on things that you love and keep aside some money for some indulgence every now and then if not regularly. Remember Jack Ma will retire at 55, so you will have to give yourself a considerable amount of time to prepare for the big shift.
  • Secure your self and you family-We can not stress enough on the importance of a sufficiently large personal life and health insurance. Its better to take one now while you are still young, this way the premiums will also be lower.

Albeit retiring early and getting away from the rat race and the pressures of the world, spending your days relaxing in a quaint house on the hills or by the side of a brook sounds so inviting, it can get boring and mundane after a while. Having spent so many years crossing one hurdle after the other throughout your life, doing nothing after a while doesn’t feel so enticing; so plan for a small business or some activity that would keep you busy in your free time or else you might find yourself missing and craving what you have left behind.

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1 (1) (1)In a world where access to internet is becoming more and more widespread, information on almost anything is subsequently becoming easier to find, simply by “Googling” it. Furthermore, free information quite often results in self proclaimed experts of the field, sometimes resulting in unfavorable outcomes for anyone who follows their views/advice without understanding how such individuals arrived at those outlooks.

As such it is important to separate a few facts from myths in terms of what data an individual should consider when faced with some common financial planning aspects rather than what is most commonly/easily available of the internet.

Sending children abroad for higher education is no more a matter of consideration for the upper class families. Nowadays, more and more middle class families aspire to send their children outside India for their education. As such, planning for such an major event requires careful attention. The common misconception is to take simple average rise of Indian education costs and apply the same data for education in a foreign country. However, two critical data points get missed out in such an exercise, (A) the rise in education costs in that particular country to which you plan to send your child. It is inappropriate to consider the inflation numbers would be identical or even similar to that of India. (B) the rise/fall in the currency exchange rate for the two countries in consideration. The following illustration should help clear this concept:

Particulars % Change
Rise in average education cost of  universities in the U.S. in last 10 years 5%
Rise in Currency Exchange rate in last 5 years 4%
Total Inflation to Consider 9%

Now In comparison the inflation rate for the Indian colleges is approximately 10%-11% p.a.

Talking about inflation, another topic of debate is if the Consumer Price Index (CPI) data is an adequate inflation benchmark, especially for higher middle class/ HNI families. To put things in perspective, following is a snapshot of items considered in the CPI basket and their respective weight-age:

Sr. No Particulars Weightage
1 Food and Beverages 45.86%
2 Pan, Tobacco and Intoxicants 2.38%
3 Clothing and Footwear 6.53%
4 Housing 10.07%
5 Fuel and Light 6.84%
6 Miscellaneous 28.32%

(Source: Ministry of Statistics Programme Implementation Circular Dated 14th March,2017)

As you can see, the weight age of expenses, while more suitable for the lower strata of income generating families, might not be appropriate for the higher end. Something like expenses on food/groceries would certainly not be half the expenses. As such, while current CPI numbers are around 3.5%, indicating that going forward inflation is to be expected around that range, it would be right to assume that a middle class family living in Mumbai would face the same inflation rates. A more appropriate method would be to calculate the individual inflation of major expense heads i.e. food, rent, education, lifestyle expenses and find the average of the same. You would more likely discover a very different inflation rate compared to the CPI.

Past returns is a favorite filter for most investors when choosing products of an asset class, especially stocks and mutual funds. However almost all online data provided by various service providers show Trailing Returns.. Trailing returns show how a fund has performed from date A to date B, by simply seeing the difference in NAV of those dates. But it does not show how consistently it performed in that period. A recent upswing in its performance can skew the average of say a 3 or 5 year performance. To adjust for this, Rolling Returns is considered. It does not take only one block of a 3year period but several blocks of such periods. Thus it allows you to see a range of performances across blocks of time. They therefore capture performance of funds over different market periods, giving a more reliable view of the fund’s performance

Similarly, another topic of debate is usage of Total Return Index v/s Simple Price Index as a benchmark when selecting a mutual fund. A Simple Price Index only captures the capital gains due to stock movements in the fund. But the Total Return Index considers the capital gains and dividend paid by the companies to the investors. Hence it shows a truer picture of the returns. Almost all mutual funds today benchmark their returns against the Simple Price Index. This can result in showing higher alpha generation by the fund which may not give the right picture to the investor. For example, Nifty 50 Price Index over past one year (as on 27th October 2017) was 18.63 percent and Nifty Total Return Index for the same period showed 19.75 percent. Hence a mutual fund will show different alpha based on the benchmark used.

Plan Ahead Wealth Advisors believes that Rolling Returns and the Total Price Index are the correct data points to consider.

Finally, the widespread use of the general rule of thumb when it comes purchasing a Term Insurance Plan i.e. the sum assured is to be 15-20 times the annual income. Procuring a term plan should be about covering financial risks that may befall on the dependants in case of an unfortunate event. Financial risk does not only include loss of income but also other factors such as pending liabilities, future financial goals, current assets that can be redeemed shortly to meet any obligations. Such factors also play a significant role in determining how much cover needs to be taken.

Using the right data is critical during the financial planning process. As you can see, wrong data can lead to significant errors/assumptions which can have detrimental impacts.

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