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Retirement is when you stop living at work and start working at living!

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Retirement is not merely a goal but it’s a journey. There is more to it beyond merely planning for a desired sum as your retirement corpus.

Now that you are retired and you have an accumulated corpus with you, you have to plan wisely in order to sustain the sum till the end.

Expense management

The starting point of your exercise will be to have an expense pattern which you broadly have to stick to. There are many changes which will occur in your expense pattern now that you are retired.

Your retirement expenses will also have phases. Initially in your60s you may see a certain type of expenses going up. For example travel expenses. Now that you have all the time for yourself and your spouse, you may wish to go for multiple vacations –  either domestic or international. Another expense that may increase could be group memberships. You may join a hobby group or a club of your choice. Also it will take some time for your lifestyle to undergo a change so your lifestyle expenses may not change much in the first few years. Later on with age your choices and preferences may change. For instance you may no longer prefer restaurants as often, as you used to prefer at one point in time.

As you move towards your 70s your medical expenses may increase. Your medical costs will go up due to need for regular checkups and dependence on medicines. Health insurance and critical insurance do not cover your costs after a certain age. Even if they do, the cost is very high as the premiums increase with age. Therefore having a health care provision for your retirement is critical.

Plan for a regular and tax efficient stream of income

Another major change is that you will no longer receive any regular salary or business income.

Now that you have an accumulated sum, you have to plan your investments in a manner so that you can have a regular and a tax efficient stream of income. Do not be overly aggressive or overly conservative. Whilst the exact investment strategy may vary from person to person, the focus should be to maintain and grow at least a part of your existing wealth.

On the asset allocation front you have to move a portion of your investments into debt/fixed income instruments, and allocate a limited portion towards equity.

In order to have a regular stream of income you can start a Systematic Withdrawal Plan (SWP) from your existing set of mutual fund investments.  Opting for a dividend payout option could attract Dividend Distribution Tax, especially for non equity oriented funds. Therefore, SWPs can work well. Also dividendscould be irregular at times depending on dividend paying history of the fund but in an SWP you can choose a fix amount that you wish to withdraw.

You can also invest in the senior citizen savings scheme as it provides a better rate of interest amount compared to other small savings scheme options.Do remember that small savings rates have gone down and will be altered on quarterly basis going forward.

You can also look at Bank FDs. These provide an additional 0.25% to 0.50% extra rate to senior citizens which varies from bank to bank. Company FDs can be a slightly riskier option as compared to bank FDs.

If you have a self occupied property which you feel is no more needed since you kids have moved out and it’s only you and your spouse who need to stay, you might consider selling it and buying two smaller properties. One you can use as self occupied and other you can use to let out to avail regular rental income. Do consider the capital gains tax angle to it.

Make a will

It is a very important step. This makes transfer of wealth to your future generation smooth and hassle free.

Also have a nominee attached to all your investments and insurance so that there is succession challenges are reduced. Also make sure that someone knows where all you wealth and investments are lying so that your family does not have to struggle to get what you have left behind for them.

Have a Happy Retirement!

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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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Want to get the most from this budget? Individuals and families can get the most benefit from the union budget only if they have made their own budget first – says Vishal Dhawan in India Today. Read on to know why it is critical to prepare a household budget.

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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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Whilst the expectations from the budget were low, many of us were hoping that the budget would try to push the envelope since it was the last real opportunity for the UPA government to push through reforms. However, it seems like the government did not try to do anything dramatic, lest Mamta insists that the Finance Minister should resign, along with the rail minister.  So we will celebrate Sachin’s 100th 100 today instead of the budget.

The early assessment of the budget and what’s in it for you:

Your Income

  • Gender equality is one step closer in India, at least as far as tax laws are concerned. The minimum  tax exempt income slab is now Rs. 2 lakhs for both men and women.
  • The Direct Tax Code (DTC) has been deferred. There has been a marginal tinkering with the tax slabs, with income upto Rs. 2 lakhs  being exempt. For the Rs. 2 – 5 lakhs slab, tax rate is 10%, and 20% for the next slab of Rs. 5 – 10 lakhs. The highest tax slab now starting at an income above Rs. 10 lakhs is to be taxed at 30%. Whilst this is clearly not a significant rationalization in the taxation rates on personal taxes,  it aligns it with the proposed DTC so we are hopefully a step closer to the DTC.
  • For anyone in the highest tax bracket (earning above Rs 10 lakhs), expect a saving of Rs. 22600.  It is important to ensure that you put this saving to good use i.e. to your highest priority financial goal.
  • Exemption of an amount of Rs. 10000 for interest earned on savings accounts. In addition to some marginal savings, the biggest advantage is probably the administrative ease that comes with knowing that if you manage your savings account without excessive balances, you are saved from running around to collect your interest certificates for savings accounts at the end of the year from multiple banks.

Your Expenses

  • If you have a marriage coming up soon, be ready to pay more for gold and silver. Customs duties on gold and silver have both been hiked.
  • Cars will become more expensive with an excise duty hike, and yes, it does not matter whether the car runs on diesel or petrol, for now.
  •  Expect prices of consumer durables to go up – TV, Acs, refrigerators, washing machines and microwave ovens could be 2-4% more expensive.
  • Expect to pay more for most services for e.g. telephones, as service tax has been raised from 10% to 12% and most services except 17 are now covered under the ambit of service tax.
  • You  can expect a deduction of Rs. 5000 for a preventive health checkup
  • Expect inflation to creep up once again as the government continues its borrowing program unabated – plans to raise a gross borrowing of Rs 5.7 lakh crores this year. Interest rates may therefore not come down as quickly as a lot of people expected.

Your Assets and Liabilities

Equity Assets

  •  Another new program named after Rajiv Gandhi ( no one wonders why?) allows retail investors with income upto Rs. 10 lakhs to get a 50% tax deduction on investments in equities upto Rs. 50000, with a 3 year lock in. This should help in increasing retail participation in equity markets to a certain extent.
  •  While equity markets may be driven in the short term by reactions to the budget , we believe that the markets  will ultimately be driven by global oil prices and liquidity flows from overseas. The markets are already pricing in a large portion of concerns like input cost inflation and higher interest rates. Since valuations are currently still attractive, look at enhancing equity exposures on declines vis a vis your overall asset allocation strategy. Expect returns to be in line with long term corporate earnings growth of 15-20% per annum over the next 3 years.  A key factor to watch out for will be tensions in the Middle East, which can take oil prices higher.
  •  The Securities Transaction Tax (STT) has got lowered by 20% which may be marginally beneficial for investors.

Fixed Income Assets

  •  The expected government borrowing numbers and slippages on the fiscal deficit front are negative for long term yields and bonds. We therefore believe it is prudent to remain at the shorter end of the yield curve i.e. in the 1-3 year product , with a 6 to 9 month view.  The use of short term bonds funds and Fixed Maturity Plans ( FMPs) is recommended.
  •  Enhancements in tax free bond limits like NHAI, HUDCO, IRFC will probably result in more issuances in this space, which should be good for investors in the highest tax bracket.
  •  With Qualified FIIs allowed to access corporate bond markets, that should result in increased liquidity in corporate bond markets over a period of time.
  •  You could expect to pay more for insurance policies as well due to service tax increases.

Real Estate Assets

  •  Tax deduction at source has been introduced on sale of real estate ( except agricultural land) at the rate of 1% with effect from Oct 1, 2012. This applies to all transactions above Rs. 50 lakhs in specified urban areas and Rs. 20 lakhs in other areas. Since property registration will not be permitted without proof of deduction and payment of this TDS, it could increase paperwork.

Loans and Liabilities

  •  With interest rates likely to come down slowly due to inflationary concerns and high government borrowing, prepaying your loans may continue to be an important component of managing your finances. Of course, if you have a cheap fixed rate loan, you can let it be as is.

Author – Vishal Dhawan, CFP CM

Disclaimer : This document and the information contained therein is strictly confidential and meant strictly for the selected recipient and may not be copied or modified or transmitted without the consent of Plan Ahead Wealth Advisors Pvt. Ltd. This report is only for information purposes only and nothing should be construed to be of any investment advice.

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