Year End: Portfolio Makeover

Continuing with my audit, I would like to present how I have reworked on my portfolio over a period of time. To provide a better perspective, I would start from 2014 upto present. The readers may be interested to know that I had a personal goal to ensure that I was loan free by December 31, 2013, which we achieved by tightening some strings. This also meant that I removed most of my equity investments to fund this objective and hence, it would be prudent and accurate to say that I restarted / rebooted my investment journey from January 1, 2014.

Portfolio – December 31, 2014


This is more of a real-estate/immovable property centric portfolio. However, the work had begun to re-balance it over a period of time and results are apparent in the subsequent sections.

Portfolio – December 31, 2015


Equity investments improved, but still Immovable property and Debt instruments took a large portion of the same. This made my resolve much more stronger to re-balance strongly in the coming year.

Portfolio – December 25, 2016


After some strong re-balancing, I have got equities to joint no. 2 with provident fund. In the coming years, equities will surpass the debt instruments and hopefully  will become my no. 1 asset class.

Some points to note:

  • The total AUM i.e. assets kept growing every year as fresh investments continued. This meant that the amount required to change the percentage is much much higher.
  • The immovable assets category DO NOT include the house I reside in.

Comments/Thoughts/Feedback/Suggestions are most welcome.


Year End: Goals Review

Yayyy !!! X’mas is here and the new year is just around the corner. This is the time of the year when I audit and review my goals. I had described about how I go about planning for my goals in an earlier post. For the first time, I am sharing how I am faring about with my goals. First, the chart..


For all these goals, there are 2 buckets:

  1. Primary (Main): This is a combination of Mutual Funds in which we invest regularly.
  2. Secondary (Backup): This is mainly Insurance Policies (yes, I continue to hold them) & Debt instruments (also used as emergency funds).

Some points to note:

  • The retirement corpus mainly comprises of EPF and PPF. Only in the past year, we have a couple of MF running as a replacement for VPF.
  • Our stock portfolio is the secondary / backup for our Retirement Corpus only.
  • The percentage figures are w.r.t. target numbers i.e. inflation corrected numbers as per the expected target year.
  • Gold and Silver for children’s marriage are planned separately and aren’t included in these numbers.

My expectation is to become financially independent ASAP. We don’t plan to take any new loans in the foreseeable future and hope to remain in the bliss of being in loan-free state.

Comments/Feedback/Thoughts/Suggestions are most welcome.


Coming Soon… Year End Updates

As the calendar year 2016 draws to a close, I usually reflect on the changes in life, finances, CSR etc. Starting from second half of December, I plan to post separate posts on these different aspects of life that’s close to me. As a reader, what can you expect? Well…

For the first time, I will showcase the rebalancing of portfolio that I am currently in middle of. I also plan to share some progress report on how I am doing w.r.t. my financial goals as well as an overall progress report for the year.

Of course, some news on CSR front as well as some travel experiences should find their way here… So Stay Tuned..


RCB : An inspirational story….

Ages have shown that story telling is inherent to human nature and forms an integral part of the human psyche. Messages and morals are communicated effectively through stories and hence, history is a living evidence that story telling is widely employed as a medium to communicate certain life lessons.

Well, I am trying to capture the story of a team, a city and a flamboyant owner as I see it. Why am I writing this? Because, in all the hullaboo of the celebrations around, one should look at the lessons left behind in this tremendous gala called IPL.

This is the story of Royal Challengers Bangalore a.k.a. RCB as seen by an unabashed fan.

As the saying goes, “When the going gets tough, the tough gets going“. Well this couldn’t be more true as in the case of RCB. Languishing at 6th spot in the table, the team was facing potential bottom half finish and wooden spoon if not for consistent performance. Reaching the pinnacle of being 2nd in the table is the testament to the team, the leadership, the support system and overall, harnessing the potential to the maximum.

Virat Kohli’s leadership is exemplary and his consistent performance should stand as an example for the times to come. The dedication and commitment shown is inspirational, especially considering that he has 9 stitches on his left hand webbing. I am not gonna go gaga over VK as there are better pundits and experts to comment about it.

But this the RCB saga. “Major on majors, Minor on Minors” was the mantra shared by the CEO of a startup I worked in almost a decade ago. Nothing could have been a better example than RCB’s resurgence from the dead this year. Harnessing their batting to the maximum, they have risen in the table on the back of some solid performances across the spectrum from their batting arsenal.

Not that the bowling is far behind, considering that 2 of the top wicket takers are from RCB. When both batting and bowling get going, it is pure JUICE… (P.S.: Watch Million Dollar Arm to know what’s juice :))

Coming out to the field and consistently applying their skills day in and day out has taken the team to the zenith it has reached. The finals await and all RCB fans are praying that we should be third time lucky.

As a fan, I am very proud of my team, with their application, their dedication and their progress in the latter half of the tournament. Obituaries and Memes were floating around when the team was down 6th. However, excellent performances have converted the most hardest of critics into fans of this great team.

As a city which loves cricket and supports all teams equally, I guess RCB has given us a lot to be proud about. I am sure in the days to come, the reason called RCB will leave a warm glow in our hearts.

RCB was the brain child of one of the most famous and flamboyant businessmen from Bangalore. He has been in the news for the wrong reasons and I am not saying that this should be reason to empathize with him. As a shareholder, I can feel the pain of losses and as an investor, I have my own perspectives of what is unravelling.

However, what is commendable is that the team is able to shut out the noise around them from this business angle and focus on their core strength i.e. Cricket. Human nature is to be a victim and RCB could have gone completely into this vicious negative cycle. However, Kudos to the team management to isolate the team from this noise and deliver to their potential and come out winners in life..

The finals beckon.. Prayers are reaching a crescendo.. Prayers galore for one night without rain…

Let the games begin.. let the best team win…

Let’s celebrate the reason called RCB as they are the true champions !!!

New Year.. New Beginnings..

Human mind requires some kind of incentive to start anything afresh. Somethings which are not mandatory or made compulsory are never handled well. Self-discipline is one of the key challenges in voluntary activities. This is all the more accentuated in cases of finance and investments.

April 1st is a new financial year beginning. The Lunar & Solar calendar new years are just around the corner in the first fortnight of April. What better way to usher in new year than to make some serious commitments for the well-being of the two most important people in life.. YOU & YOUR FAMILY…

Let me jot down some common gaps which I found in various discussions in different forums. These are not necessarily an exhaustive list, but is definitely a starting point in case the reader identifies themselves with any of them.

  1. Cash Flow: The first and the most fundamental part of any financial journey is to capture the cash flow. With the advent of cards especially credit cards, the flow can be uninterrupted and pretty regular. What starts off as a trickle soon snowballs into a waterfall. The investor who is embarking on the journey of financial well-being should first take into account the cash flow i.e. What are incoming (Salary, Rent Income, Interest Income etc) versus what are outgoing (Rent/EMI, lifestyle, school education etc..). This step is to just collect the data
  2. Budget: Once the raw data is available, analyze them and understand your cash flow. It’s very easy to focus on the majors and identify potential money-suckers. But the main culprit would be the credit cards. Analyze your spending pattern and identify which are mandatory and which are discretionary. Consider to reduce the discretionary expenditure over a period of time. (One piece of realistic advice: Friends/Relatives who stick like ants to Jaggery wouldn’t be around when the money dries up). Once the analysis is complete, draw up a budget for 3 months and track how well you are performing as compared to projected expenditure. Refine your process every 3 months till you become comfortable with the same and you should be able to project upto an year’s expenditure
  3. Loans: There are good loans, there are bad loans and then there are EGO loans.. Good loans include those spent on purchasing or refurbishing a home, buying a car, educational loan. Bad loans include personal loans taken to clear credit card debt, Credit card outstanding converted to EMIs, anything that is converted into EMI, Loan to finance the latest swanky phone,  Gold Loans (Ask any 60+ year old person, you will get your answer as to why this is bad). Now that we have set the ground rules clear, what is this EGO loan? Well, I define this to be any loan which is servicing an asset which was bought as part of EGO trip as compared to financial prudence. For ex: Stretching beyond one’s means to take a high-end apartment, Buying the latest iPhone when other loans are outstanding, Buying a high end car when the real requirement could be a hatchback etc.. Again, these are personal decisions. However, when an individual is planning to buy them, a careful analysis of the need v/s reality needs to be performed. To sum it up, in my view, the total outgo for all loans combined shouldn’t exceed more than 35% of income. A parting shot: No company or no one in this world guarantees a salary till EMI tenure is completed. Ask those who have lost job what it means to have an outstanding EMI.
  4. Emergency Fund: Everyone requires an emergency fund in case of unforeseen circumstances like job discontinuity, job loss or other personal issues. How much is enough? Well, I feel that a bare minimum of 6 months of expenditure should be saved. This includes all household expenditure (lifestyle), EMIs/Rents, School Fees, Insurance payment for cars/bikes/health insurance etc.
  5. Health Insurance: Everyone would have a company provided health insurance. However, it is important to have a personal health insurance plan. Why? Suppose, you join a startup where there is no health insurance cover? Or, suppose you want to retire at 45 where company provided health insurance ceases? It’s best to have one’s own health insurance plan for safeguarding against future medical costs.
  6. Goal Planning: Identify and note down your goals. Get realistic about the numbers and do factor in Inflation. Draw up an investment plan for meeting your goals and be diligent about your investments. As a bare minimum, one should target to save 30% of income for their financial goals. Increase this number as your disposable income grows.
  7. Have Fun: Beyond all this financial prudence mumbo-jumbo, it’s very important to have fun and live life to the fullest. Catch the latest movie. Go out with family to that resort or take vacation. Develop a hobby. Whatever you want to do, take a judicious financial call and enjoy. After all, one earns for enjoying with family and treasuring those lovely moments.

This is just the tip of ice-berg and each one of the above can be elaborated into much detailed points. However, the idea is to plant a seed so that the reader can consider if something applies to them and if so, some affirmative action is taken in that direction.

One last point: Invest on studying about the financial products you plan to invest in. This knowledge investment will stand you in good stead over time.

Happy New Year in advance… Happy Investing.. Have Fun !!

Do drop in your views/thoughts/suggestions/feedback about the same..

Technology – Boon or Bane???

Very cold and misty monday morning..Having put my pot of tea to boil, I settle down with a laptop to check my emails and inadvertently I land up on one of the more famous social networking sites.. Presto!! I have some b’day alerts, some people have shared some very beautiful pictures and someone’s had a kid recently.. I too adhere to the ritual, click on a few likes and few leave a few wishes and congratulatory messages…

The pot is yet to boil, but my mind seems to have gone into an overtime boil.. After exiting that place, I feel a void, an incomplete, incomprehensible, personal empty feeling. Is this the way the world is shaping up? Is Technology meant to connect people or alienate people? What is the real purpose of the connected world technology?

A few generations back (read a few years ago .. not more than 5 years), we used “call” friends on a wonderful invention called the mobile phone.. Chat for a few mins… If someone had a baby, call up, land up in the hospital, cuddle the little angel from god, load up the room with flowers and presents… Catch up with someone from an earlier life.. This was fun… Now… sit in one remote corner of your home (maybe sitting on the toilet for all I care) and send some customary robotic messages… Yuck… this sucks…

Where did the personal touch go??? Loading up videos, photos on these sites helps to show that something is happening… but if there is no human touch.. it doesn’t matter if my friend is next door or on the moon..The distance between us is constant.. One Click!!!

The only feeling left out is aroma which I guess is not too far away from being digitized. I have a vague remembrance that the same was achieved and I guess it’s waiting for an explosive launch and subsequent adoption.. Guess one can smell the aroma of a pickle from Gandhi Bazaar in Bangalore sitting in Alaska, US. Wow Mom… you sure have made some wonderful pickle.. Smells great… Click.. done…

Honestly, I may be from a very ancient old school or maybe I am growing old…But I still prefer the human connection.. if we can’t take 5 mins of our life to wish our friends on their joyous occasions or be with them physically in their moments of despair.. I guess we have failed as human beings.. God created man to spread his message of love and compassion… I sincerely hope it’s not to click..

Technology is meant to aid  a human being and not drive them apart. It should enable a blind person to experience a world that he/she may not have the chance to do so. It should enable a kid sitting in a remote village to know what is happening half way across the globe in Michigan, US. It should give an opportunity for a lot of not-so-privileged people to aim and lead a more comfortable life. The biggest example that one can see is in India. The socio-demographic change imparted by the technological revolution has made a lot of lives much better than one could have imagined, say a couple of decades ago.

The choice is ours… wonder which one we will Click…

Influence of human speech

its only words
and words are all I have …
to take your heart away”

So goes the lyrics from the very famous Bee Gees or Boyzone song (as you may choose). These lyrics are known to convey the feelings of a lover to his beloved. This is so true, so pristine, so pure and wonderful. However, this also applies to a lot of other things in life. Human speech is one of the boons of Homo Sapiens as compared to other billions of species on this planet earth. We are expected to speak after deliberations and thought (power of humans) and are expected to convey much more than simple sounds like other animals, for example: the grunting of monkeys (our closest cousin).

In life, we encounter many people in life and have a very complex and twisted relationships with a lot of other fellow human beings. Each one of us has a myriad of complexes, presumptions, models about everyone else that is so complex that it can give a HMM or NN or even the movie matrix run for the money. We build these complexes due to circumstances or situations and we never tend to think beyond them. Call it human shortcoming or limitation, but this is one of the few areas where we don’t focus as much as we would like to.

Words have a huge impact in every step of our life. We make casual remarks that can leave an ever-lasting impression in our lives. We need to be sensitive about what we speak as the words can be used out of context and can create a lot of mayhem as compared to what one expects. It’s a pity that we don’t realize this until we are the receiving end of it. Words have a lot of power and we should be *aware* of the same.

Words.. Words are all I have.. to take your spirit away……