“There is no perfect moment to start investing. Just start,” says personal finance expert Monika Halan in this episode of Money With Monika. “It takes very little to start investing as much as just ₹500/month in a mutual fund SIP,” adds Monika. She explains to viewers why investing early will allow them to reap the benefits of compounding over the long term. Monika Halan is consulting editor with Mint and author of ‘Let’s Talk Money’. Money With Monika is a weekly personal finance show published on livemint.com
We just don’t get the big picture. The more I talk to people about money, the clearer it is that we compartmentalize our money lives so tightly that we totally fail to see the big picture. Every conversation with whoever I meet now swings around to money. People share their stories, their worries and their fears. They share the power equation within home that money causes. While housewives have always shared stories of the skewed power money equation, working women have equally scary stories. That’s because those who earn more than men have a triple burden—to manage work, home and the male ego. But most often the usual story is the fuzziness about how we think about money and how we simply are not able to see the whole money story.
n this episode of Money With Monika, personal finance expert Monika Halan talks about the benefits of choosing a mutual fund over direct stock investments. Investing in mutual funds is far safer than putting all your money in one stock, she says, as the chances of failure of an entire basket of stocks are next to none. In short, hedge your bets for maximum returns at minimal risk. Monika Halan is consulting editor of Mint and author of ‘Let’s Talk Money’.
Why mutual funds? That’s the question personal finance expert Monika Halan, consulting editor of Mint and author of ‘Let’s Talk Money’, answers in this episode of ‘Money with Monika’.Mutual fund investments do come with risks, she says, but it’s a gamble worth making for a diverse, and more lucrative, investment portfolio—be it for a seasoned investor or a beginner taking her first steps in financial planning. See mutual funds as a buffet, Monika Halan says, and invest as per your taste.For more videos from Money With Monika series, click here >>
Notice that when there is an external date marker, we end up doing things to service that date. Take birthdays, anniversaries, exams and deadlines around work. Exam and work related deadlines specially see us working at all hours with a single focus—of cracking that exam or shipping that order. We do the same when there is a deadline around filing taxes or making tax-saving investments. But most other items on our must-do list, like a health check-up, regular work out and money management, keep getting bumped to the next week, month or year. I’ll do it when I have, fill in the words ‘time’, ‘mindspace’, ‘money’ in the space, and we have our reasons in place for postponing one more time things we know we need to do but don’t since there is no hard deadline.
I have a friend who lives well when she earns more and gets into a frugal mode when business is bad. An artist, her income fluctuates, so does her lifestyle. Up when there is more and down when there is less. Her mood, though, is quite delinked from her financial status—always up. Last year, she said she wanted to start systematic investment plans (SIPs). Why? Because everybody around her was starting SIPs, and it seemed a cool thing to do—getting financial security is good, no? Yes, sure, but it has taken her the first 40 something years to get to even talk about financial security. Better late and all that. The first thing I asked her to do was to put down a number that she needed each month to live. It’s very difficult to pin down an average monthly expense for a person who matches expenses to earnings every few months. But the budgeting exercise, which is the building block for most plans, takes on much bigger importance for people with fluctuating incomes. Without knowing what you spend each month, there is no financial plan.
Imagine this. Your kid in class eight comes to you in the month of January and says that he’s unprepared for the final exams that are now just three months away. He’s sorry he faffed around all year, but well, it’s too late now, isn’t it? What’s your second reaction? The first is mostly to tell him how irresponsible he is and how, at his age, you were such a paragon of virtue and were studying by night and working by day (all lies, of course, but we adults do pretend to be perfect). Next lungful of breath is expelled in telling him to use the next three months to study night and day and do the best he can. Cut out the movies, the parties, the games, the online chatting and games, and get to it. You don’t find yourself telling him to drop a year and take no action since it is already too late.
We don’t do tips. We don’t do ‘best bets’. We don’t tell you ‘winning’ stocks or how to multiply your money overnight. In short, we don’t do bulls and bears or what comes out of them. We don’t insult your intellect by giving you the winning tip this year. Look at the data in the chart below (Each year has a new winner); there is no consistent winner in different asset classes year on year. If gold outperformed equity, debt and cash in 2011, it was the turn of equity to be the winner in 2014. Chasing last year’s winner is a strategy that we don’t follow. Predicting next year’s ‘winner’ is a job we leave to the speculators and traders in the market to worry about.
Last week, Mint completed a full year of the weekly personal finance show Smart Money on Bloomberg TV India, which I co-anchor with Vivek Law. Viewers of the show and readers of this column will be familiar by now with the concept of a money box—or the box that contains your financial life and tells the story of your financial health. We’ve worked to establish that each product in the box has a role and must justify its place in the money box. We’ve tried to create boxes that reduce risks and increase long-term wealth creation. It is time now to take a step back and look at the money box in the context of the life cycle of a person’s money life. Veteran readers of this column may remember me writing about the Dhan Chakra concept five years ago, but I think it’s worth revisiting it now and linking the circle of wealth to the life cycle of a money box.
Talk about money management to most women and you get the eye roll, the head shake and the disparaging half laugh that says—what, me, manage money? I get a variety of responses when I’m introduced as a personal finance writer. I get the self-deprecating confession: Oh, I know nothing about it—I simply don’t have a head for numbers. Or the smart answer: I leave it to the husband—let him make himself useful, na? Anyway I just spend it. Or the I’m-too-cool-to-bother-about-such-things answer: I don’t have the money, my dear, what to talk of its management! It is almost as if women pride themselves with not being able to deal with all things money and play the helpless feminine stereotype of being too brainless to deal with complicated things like money.