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“The only real battle in life is between hanging on and letting go.”

― Shannon L.

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This is exactly what you need to ask yourself while reviewing your existing set of investments.

Once you have decided your goals, you need to review your existing investments. This will give you a sense on which is the ones that are not doing well so that they can be replaced. It will also help you understand based on your asset allocation and goals that going forward where you need to invest so that your investments are in line with your goals.

You may be having some investments in stocks, Mutual funds, Real estate, fixed deposits, gold, etc. Or there are even chances that your investments may be concentrated in some of the assets.

Here’s what you can do

Stocks and Mutual Funds

If you have stocks in your portfolio and you understand bit of markets then you can decide based on what is happening in the economy, what are the sectors that are outperforming or under performing at that point in time, the demand environment, the credit environment, etc.  and accordingly decide whether you want to keep it or sell it.

A better way to do this would be by investing through Mutual Funds. There you will benefit from the expertise of the fund manager. It will also save you from micromanaging at security level. With the introduction of direct plans, you can now invest by paying a lesser expense ratio compared to a regular plan. Mutual funds can be used to take exposure in equity, both domestic and international, debt, mix of debt and equity through balanced or Monthly income plans, commodities and index.

Fixed Deposits

If you have Bank or company Fixed Deposits or Post office investments then you need to see the rate that you are getting on your FD and what is the interest rate expectation going forward. If your FD is due to mature shortly and there is expectation that interest rates are going to fall, similar to the current scenario, then either you lock in now at the existing higher rates or when your FD matures you can reinvest it in some other investment instrument depending on your goals. In FDs also there are Bank FDs and Company FDs. Company FDs offer comparatively higher returns but remember to focus on quality

Real estate

It’s not a great idea to lock in 70 to 80% of your wealth in real estate. Real estate has its own cycles of boom and depression. It’s difficult to sell these at the price of your choice. They are certainly not assets which can be sold immediately due to their illiquid nature. Doing so will need you to settle at lower prices. In real estate also there are some pieces which appreciate faster based on demand environment, location, etc. while some of them do not see much appreciation again due to unfavorable location, lack of demand, etc. Therefore, try to sell that piece of your property which is not yielding good returns and channelize your investments in some liquid and appreciating investments.

Gold

Indians have emotional value attached to gold. These days there are options like sovereign gold bonds and Gold ETFs which can fetch you returns both in the form of value appreciation and interest. Going forward you can start this paperless form of investing into gold.

Remember,

Keep the investments which are doing fine and have a good future outlook, and allocate them to your goals. Give up the ones which are loss making and you do not see a scope of recovery any time soon. It’s important to cut losses when required.

Last but not the least, remember why you are investing – don’t miss the forest for the trees.

Image credit: www.fotolia.comfinancialtribune.comwww.colourbox.compondicherryurbanbank.inwww.etastar.com

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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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Returning Indians

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