From your grandparents’ times to the current times, the average annual salary has grown from three digits to seven. Don’t be blinded by the positive image this presents. The expenses and inflation rate also grow along with the salaries.
This change is evidence to show that our financial plan should also evolve with our finances.
Before we get to how to tailor our finances with age and advancing careers, let’s see the factors that drive these changes:
Risk profile: Notice how one’s average driving speed decreases over the years? It’s the same with risk, too. As one ages, it is suggested to limit the risk exposure, and shift from high-risk instruments with high yields, to safe avenues with nominal returns.
Career changes: A change in career equals a change in income. If it includes a change of track, say a salaried person wants to take up entrepreneurship, the mode of investment, goals, and commitment also vary accordingly.
Commitments and additional goals: When one starts investing, one might have two goals and zero commitments. But it may not stay the same 20 years down the lane.
Market progression: 20 years ago, one had to get hold of a broker to buy stocks, and mutual funds was a new term that sounded risky. 30 years before that, very few were aware of the concept of stocks. Now, one can invest in stocks, mutual funds, and other instruments directly, within minutes. New products could widen the scope for minimal and easier investment structures.
How to approach these changes?
Re-evaluate periodically: If I ask what an Emergency Fund is, I’d get several answers. But if I ask when they last upgraded it, I don’t think I’d get many answers. If I did, I’d be ecstatic.
When your lifestyle changes, it is prudent to upgrade your investment accordingly. Monthly expenditure of Rs 10,000 may have been good enough for a 23-year-old you, but what about the 43-year-old you?
Be an expert or get one: To be a successful investor, you have to be an expert or get an expert. Trial-and-error or making decisions based on hearsay cannot be your investment style if you expect it to be your future’s backbone.
Count the ‘What ifs’: You must have heard people say, “as your career moves forward, your investment should also increase”. But here’s a situation you won’t hear often – what if there’s a dent in your career? Your plan should factor in both sides of the coin flip.
The action to be followed after a forward move is pretty obvious. Increase your investment as your income increases. We leave the how and the choice of avenue to your consultant.
Now comes the less-spoken side. What if the change is not positive? Don’t press the ‘Panic’ button as soon as you feel an unfavorable situation. If you find it difficult to finance your periodic investments, you can opt to pause. Most asset management companies (AMC) offer a pause option of up to three months.
If you still feel that you’re up for a dry season that may exceed three months, stop the SIP, but keep the existing investment in the fund, without redeeming it, or resort to a partial withdrawal. Why so? The graphic representation above will show you the reason.
Hope you got some clarity on this much-needed topic.
Lastly, I’d like to remind you that it is natural to be overwhelmed by changes. But approach the solution without haste and factor in the best interest of your long-term goals before making a decision.
(The author is the chief executive officer of FundsIndia.)