We belong to a conservative culture where saving habits are inbuilt into our DNA. As a country, we prefer to save than to spend, unlike the developed economies that are fueled by the spend driven demand of their domestic economies. Saving comes naturally to and all of us save for the future in our own ways. Whether it is putting our savings into a bank FD or contributing to a PPF or cutting down on expenses to manage a home loan EMI, savings is all that we do. But what about growing your money to something beyond the savings that may at best get you 8% – 9% return, half of which is any way gobbled up by inflation?
That’s when saving and investment come together to help you build wealth and have a sense of financial security. Having a job is not sufficient to feel financially secure because what is left from your salary after all monthly expenses are paid is not sufficient to pay for future lumpsum expenses that’ll come due over time. Salary and savings from salary cannot provide for big-ticket items in life like higher education of children, their weddings, health expenses in old age and expenses of the long, retired phase of your life when salary would no longer cushion you. It is imperative to put your savings into investment avenues where they can grow manifold over the long-term.
You need to understand the difference between short-term and long-term investment decisions so that you take a holistic approach towards building financial security and wealth.
- Secure Short-term Goals
- Don’t let your money sit idle in the bank
- Invest in Balanced Mutual Funds for the medium-term Goals
- Invest in Equity oriented options for the long-term
- Be flexible, monitor and rebalance your portfolio periodically
- Seek professional advise
Short-term goals are usually defined as milestones you wish to achieve in the next 1-3 years. If there are some short-term goals which you can’t afford to miss, go for savings options like bank FD or better still invest in suitable debt mutual funds if you are comfortable with mutual funds. Fixed income mutual funds or debt funds are safer than equity oriented mutual funds and have the potential to offer you a higher return than bank FDs. But you must research well or take the help of an investment adviser to choose the right funds that go well with your financial goal and risk-taking ability.
Most people just let their money sit in their savings bank account even when the amount is significantly higher than what is required for managing day-to-day expenses. Don’t let surplus cash lie in a savings deposit. Rather invest it in a liquid mutual fund that can potentially offer you a return higher than what the bank would offer you. Liquid funds are convenient to operate as they don’t have entry and exit loads and redemption money is available to you on the next business day when you want to sell your holding in the fund. Liquid funds are best suited for investing surplus cash for 1-90 days duration and are the least volatile of all mutual funds.
If there are some requirements which you expect will become due in the next 3-5 years, choosing a balanced mutual fund or a suitable hybrid mutual fund could be a good option. Balanced funds which are a kind of hybrid mutual fund invest in a mix equity and debt securities. They capture the characteristics of both equity and debt funds while offering a moderate risk-return proposition to their investors that is suitable for those who prefer to play safely while looking for some upward potential of equities.
When a financial goal is a long time away say your retirement life that will begin in 15 years or higher education of your daughter that will become due in 7 years, the best option to go for would be a well-diversified equity fund. Equity funds are best suited for long-term investments beyond 5 years since equities are prone to higher volatility in the short-term but can give good returns over the long-term. Invest wisely in a few equity funds that suit your personality I.e your willingness to take the risk. You could also consider investing directly in equities, but mutual funds are more suitable for those who don’t like to take the risk with stocks. Always try to understand all about mutual funds risk before investing in them.
Once you have invested your money in various mutual funds, FDs, stocks, ULIPs, PPFs etc. the job is half done. You need to monitor your portfolio regularly and make changes if required. Rebalancing is required to reflect any changes in your life circumstances. For instance, you change the job from an MNC to a start-up where the risks are higher. Under such a situation, your portfolio exposure to equities should be reduced since your human capital is now invested in a high-risk equity. Working for start-ups is as good as owning high-risk equity.
It’s best to seek professional advise from some investment advisor or take the help of mutual fund distributors to get through the paperwork and the requirements of the transactions. The investment advisor will do your risk profiling and carry out a suitability analysis before recommending any investment plan. It may be worthwhile to take such help when you are putting in your hard-earned money into a plan for a long haul. Take time to understand