India celebrates its 71st Republic Day today. I would like to congratulate each of my readers on this day of enforcement of the one of the world’s most elaborate constitution. Just like every other nation, there are a lot of hits and some misses of our beloved country. Not going into detail, this post is dedicated to one such miss that till date happens in our education system. You are not made aware of the concept of financial freedom unless it’s too late. So today, I will try to set up 5 thumb rules which can equip you with financial literacy and set you on the road to your financial independence.
I have made these guidelines on the basis on my experience with finance. Not long ago I was a total financial mess. If my story teaches you nothing, it will, for sure, give you some motivation. You may think that if this guy can make it, any damn noob can. So, without further ado, let’s explore (1) What is this financial freedom after all? (2) some tips, tricks and habits that will draw you closer to the must achieve goal of financial freedom.
What is Financial Freedom?
Just to set the expectations straight, financial freedom is NOT having limitless money and property at your disposal. If you think that being financially free, would make you the next Elon or Jeff of the world, that may probably take a little longer (a couple of lifetimes may be?).
With that being said, financial freedom is simply having enough residual income to cover all your living expenses. Think of it this way: If you are not working and instead your savings pay you a monthly “salary” to bear your expenditure. This “salary” should be able to cover the exact lifestyle (almost) that you would live while earning.
Hard to imagine? Don’t worry. Most of us are on the same page. Let’s move on to the the fintips that will make this dream a little more realistic.
Everyone around you would ask you to save and invest. Your parents, friends, financial advisor and even government policies would be aligned to it. But what for? Many people invest money thinking they may need it some day. While SIP and forget is a good habit, one must plan for the goals.
Know what you are saving for. Unless you define the exact purpose of that investment, you may never know how much you’d need at all. And if you don’t know the final amount required, you may very well be satisfied with any return because you didn’t have any expectations since beginning any way.
To set up the context, I would give one example of investment I am looking forward to do. I am planning to go on an international trip in December 2022. Shortlisting on destinations, we decided that we’ll go to Europe. And further drilling down on different package costs, we realized that we may need 3L (including everything) for this trip.
Now 3L would be somewhere around 3.3L in two years after adjusting for inflation (assumed at 5%).
Using any SIP calculator available online, I found out that a SIP of Rs. 12,000 a month would yield Rs. 3.24L at maturity. I have assumed the interest to be at 12% which is doable in India basis the past performance.
This may give you an idea on how to go about an investment. So while investing “just for the sake of it” grows your money, you never know if it’ll actually be enough in the need of the hour.
PDCA or plan-do-check-act is a management concept that can very well be applied to your portfolio as well. There are people like me who keep on browsing their portfolio every single day. And then there are calmer ones who invest and forget. I’d say neither of these strategies are efficient. You should strike a balance, review your goals and tweak your portfolio accordingly.
Priorities change, we encounter emergencies, market scenarios change. All that has to be factored in while reviewing your portfolio. As an example, if you have some SIPs that are maturing in next 6-8 months, would you still stick to them? With market all time high, I think it is fair to recommend withdrawing it now. It is highly unlikely that 6 months returns from now are going to be positive.
If you think that you are not from a finance background and personal finance is not needed for you, welcome to the club. You will find all sorts of people cribbing about taxes, jobs, not having enough money to save in this club. Only passport to fly out of this mess is financial literacy. No matter what you do for a living, personal finance is NOT optional.
Try to read as much as possible on this topic. It can be overwhelming initially. But, once you start relating to it, it is totally addictive. I have never been an avid reader in my life. So, my journey started with a 1 free credit of Audible. Amazon gifted it to me as a trial. I downloaded a book called “Rich Dad Poor Dad” and listened to it everyday on my way to and from the office. The more I listened to it, more I realized that I have all the traits of a poor dad. And that was an eye opener.
Other sources of financial literacy can be YouTube if you don’t like to read. There are tons of channels trying to spread the word. If that is too much, least you can do is follow some finance related pages on social media. You anyway spend time on browsing Instagram and Facebook.
And trust me, even if you learn nothing (unlikely) from all this, at least you won’t be a mute spectator in money conversations with your friends. Idea is to begin somewhere. Don’t think too much about the destiny.
4. Choose Your Company
It is said that you become the average of top 5 people you spend most time with. So it is very important to choose wisely. If you stay with the crib gang, you will eventually end up whining about money.
Discussion of money matters is considered as a taboo in our society. Therefore, when someone talks money, we tend to portray a very snooty image of him/her in our minds. However, they talk money because they understand its importance and aim to grow it further. Look for set of such people and you will realize the difference.
5. Look Out
The best way to save more? Earn more. Looks absurd at first but this is the best piece of advice someone would give you. Stay on a constant hunt for opportunities to make more money. Diversify and look for alternate revenue streams.
Upskill, reskill and put all your skills on a sale. Poke your nose wherever you sense money. And how do you evaluate if you are spending time on a good paying opportunity?
Here’s how I do it. Calculate your per hour rate (shouldn’t be difficult if you are a salaried employee). Check if the opportunity is offering at par or greater than that and jump in right away. Imagine you earn Rs. 1,00,000 a month. Simply divide 1,00,000 by 30 (days in the month) and 9 (hours a day) of work. That means you are earning @ Rs. 370 per hour. Any opportunity paying more than that is definitely worth a shot.
I believe that financial freedom is not just a mountain peak that you can conquer any time. Rather, it is a beautiful trek with its own share of ups and downs. Never will it happen that you wake up one day and become financially independent. It is a series of baby steps that you should take in order to achieve the ultimate.
Are you on the path of financial freedom? Do you plan to start your journey?
Until Next Time. . .