Which One Habit Can Make You Rich?

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It was a pleasant October morning complete with a fresh breeze and a clear blue sky. A perfect day for a ‘Class without the walls’ at the college.

As Professor Tracy looked at the young, chattering, squabbling college students taking the outdoor class as an opportunity to have fun, she shouted, “Who wants to listen to a masala story?” to get their attention.

Her question had the desired effect and the students settled down under the great Banyan tree. They all were keen to hear an exciting story.

“But, before I start, I want to ask you one question,” said Tracy with a hint of a smile on her lips, “What do you want to become after you pass out of college? What are your plans for the future?”

To her surprise, most students said that they are going to become rich and lead a luxurious lifestyle.

“Well, today, I am going to tell you the story of a boy, who, like you, was a student of mine a few years ago,” Professor Tracy continued, “And he, too, cherished the dream of leading a life full of luxuries.”

Professor Tracy narrated the story of Shawn; a bright, ebullient boy with a zest for life. Shawn was an above-average student with extraordinary charm. He had a confident personality and great communication skills, which won him several lead roles in various college events and activities. He compèred during the college fest and represented his college in debate and declamation events across the state.

As expected, Shawn bagged a lucrative job offer during the college placement drive and moved to a metropolitan city. During the college farewell party, Professor Tracy and a few other friends and teachers advised Shawn to gain some experience in his new job, and then take a break from work to attain higher education.

Although it was a great career advice, Shawn declared that he had no interest in going for further studies. His pay was good and he had all the intention to work harder and earn more.

True to his words, Shawn worked very hard at his new job and won a lot of appreciation from his seniors. He took up one challenging project after another, working relentlessly, collecting handsome allowances and bonuses that came with the projects. He was so obsessed with making as much money as possible that he even passed on a good opportunity to do an advanced degree program in management from a top global college, sponsored by his company.

He was clear in his mind that he wanted to become rich; to work hard and make more and more money … and live life to the fullest.

Yes, Shawn worked hard and party harder. He was delighted to be among the high-income professionals who lived in luxury. Only three years in his job, Shawn had already booked a swanky apartment in a rich suburb and drove an expensive SUV. He dined at the finest of the restaurants and wore designer clothes.

Shawn was happy to be living a rich and extravagant life.

Destiny, however, was weaving some other plans for Shawn. A sudden acquisition of the company resulted in major job cuts. Shawn, too, had to face the axe. In a flash, he was forced to deboard the fast train to fame, success and riches.

However, no one doubted that an executive of Shawn’s calibre would be on the job seekers’ list for long, but the reality was quite different. The looming recession made companies to stall their growth plans. The few companies that had vacancies matching Shawn’s skills, turned him down as they were looking for people with higher academic background. The fact that he was paying hefty mortgages and commuted in a fuel-guzzling SUV didn’t help his case either.

In less than a quarter of a year, Shawn faced terrible financial stress.

He knew that he would get a job sooner or later, but the pay would be half of what he earned earlier, and that would not be enough to support the lifestyle he was used to.

At 25, Shawn, dressed impeccably in an Armani suit and sitting in a top-line SUV, felt very poor. A rich poor.

*************************************************************

“What happened next?” one of the students excitedly asked Professor Tracy, bringing her back from the reverie.

It took her a moment to come back to the reality. She looked around and said, “Shawn learnt his lesson. It was long due.”

The mysterious smile on Professor Tracy made the students more curious and they pestered her to reveal what happened to Shawn.

*********************************************************************

Distraught and broken in spirit, Shawn visited his parents and told them his situation.

“I am sorry, Dad, you had many expectations from me. I failed you,” he said between sobs.

Shawn’s father consoled his only son and made him sit with him.

After a while, when Shawn gained his composure, his father told him that it was not his mistake that he got fired.

“But the way you lived was quite wrong,” he said in a soft, yet firm voice.

“But, Dad, I just wanted to live a rich life, and achieve all that you have achieved,” Shawn protested.

It was then that his father explained him that it was true that he owned a big house and a luxury car, however, these were just a few bi-products of the wealth that he had built.

“Son, you think that earning more and spending more is the true sign of being rich,” Shawn’s father explained, “But you are quite wrong in your thinking.”

As an incredulous Shawn looked on, his father added, “A rich person strives to earn more and save more.”

He asked Shawn, “How could you ever hope to become rich when you blow all your money on things that you want but not need?”

Over the couple of days that Shawn spent with his parents, his father told him stories from his younger days. How he worked hard and improved his earning over the years, while making sure that his savings increase in proportion to his earnings.

“I put my needs before wants, Son,” his dad said, “And I want you to adopt this habit at the earliest.”

Shawn could now see his mistakes. He always spent much more money than he needed to. He spent on food, travel, clothes and apparels several times over than it was necessary – just to see himself amidst the rich and wealthy. But little did he know that he was actually poorer than the poor with no savings to fall back on.

With his father’s help, Shawn met a financial mentor and showed him his assets and liabilities. The wise financial mentor helped Shawn in cutting his losses, plugging monetary leaks and set up a series of financial goals for him.

Shawn took up a job in his home state, lived in his family house, and disciplined himself on putting his needs before wants. Even though his salary was much lesser than his previous one, Shawn delightfully realized that his effective savings were quite handsome.

Under the guidance of his mentor, Shawn also started investing in mutual funds through SIPs (Systematic Investment Plans). His mentor told him that if he would have invested religiously while he was working, he would have been a millionaire by now – thanks to the power of compounding in mutual funds, the longer you stay invested, the more you earn.

Shawn is now gearing towards making a financially independent future. The way towards the real riches.

**********************************************************************

“Wow, that was a good story,” exclaimed one of the boys.

“I never thought of the consequences of choosing an extravagant life,” said another.

“We will not make the mistakes that Shawn made. We would like to save and invest and build wealth,” said a girl.

“Yes, you all can save and invest in SIPs, as low as Rs 500 per month. I will help you to start as early as possible,” Professor Tracy said with a smile before asking, “And do you know how I know Shawn’s story so well?”

As the class looked at her with anticipation, she smiled and said, “Because he is my son!”

Dr. Celso, a noted financial mentor in Goa, is on a mission to eradicate financial illiteracy among Goans, especially the youth of Goa. A respected dentist, inspiring speaker and a prolific writer (author of five much-loved books), Dr. Celso, along with his team at Nave Marg Financial Consultants work relentlessly towards making people of the sunshine state prosperous and financially independent. Dr. Celso can be reached at +91-9422058741

 

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To Be Rich Or To Feel Rich?

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“Wow! So, our extended weekend plan is all sorted,” Simmi squealed in delight, “on Friday, we would go for the movies, followed by that pool-side party at Taj; on Saturday, shopping at the Mall, followed by a quick lunch at that new restaurant; and on Sunday, we will go for the brunch ….” She went on and on.

Sitting on the canteen table in her college, and surrounded by her gang of friends, Simmi was making exhaustive plans for the weekend. It seemed as if she was in a race to live life to the fullest in the least possible time.

Hailing from an upper-middle-class family, Simmi never really faced any scarcity in life. Her father worked at a senior managerial post in a big MNC, and her mother ran a successful boutique. Naturally, Simmi’s pocket money was quite handsome, and she spent all of it well before the end of the month. Although out of funds by the last week of the month, Simmi would still go on dinners and movies and road trips, as someone or the other would lend her the money. She was clearly spending way more than her means, and gradually, the amount of money she owed to her friends was swelling up.

Addicted to a spendthrift lifestyle, Simmi never felt that she was in financial trouble. Opposed to that, she always thought of herself as a rich girl.

‘And a lavish lifestyle is the right of a rich girl, isn’t it? She would muse.

But all this was to change when she met Tanvi, who was from the same college but a different stream. One of the professors, a member of the organising committee of the college fest, paired the two girls to conceptualise and organise a quiz event.

Tanvi and Simmi, though very different, got along pretty well. Both were intelligent and creative. However, as much as Simmi wanted, Tanvi would rarely join her and her friends in their regular movie or dining or shopping outings.

One day, Simmi insisted that Tanvi must join her for dinner in an expensive restaurant.

“I can’t go out with you guys, sorry,” Tanvi declined politely.

“You always bail out, dear. Come on; it would be fun. I enjoy your company,” Simmi was persistent.

“Thank you, dear, I, too, love hanging out with you and your friends, but this dinner outing would be too expensive. I can’t afford it,” Tanvi said smilingly.

“What!” Tanvi almost screamed in surprise, “Come on Tanvi, we all know that you come from a rich family. Although you never say this, we all know that you hail from one of the richest families of this city. You live in a palatial house in the most expensive locality, and you are dropped off to the college in a Merc!”

“That is all true, Simmi, but all this wealth is not mine, it is my parents’,” Tanvi replied humbly.

Simmi was still confused. She even thought that either Tanvi is a miser or she didn’t like her or her friends and is lying to avoid going out with them.

Suddenly, she was angry and blurted out what was going in her mind.

Tanvi patiently listened to her friend’s accusations and calmly responded, “I don’t blame you for thinking like this, Simmi. But none of it is true.”

Tanvi sat down with Simmi and explained to her that though her family is wealthy and there is a lot of money at her disposal to spend the way she wants, the financial discipline deeply ingrained in her since her childhood prevents her from spending on unnecessary things.

“My father comes from a long line of wealthy businessmen. How do you think they managed to safeguard their wealth and passed it on from generation to generation?” she asked a confused Simmi.

Tanvi further revealed that all the children in their family are taught the lesson of financial literacy from a young age. They are trained to differentiate between needs and wants and expenditures vs investments.

“We are taught how our money can earn more money for us at a faster rate,” she added.

“So, you mean that being rich doesn’t mean spending a lot of money?” a baffled Tanvi asked. The very foundation of her financial orientation was shaken.

“Of course not! How can you still be rich if you have squandered all your money on things you want, but don’t need,” exclaimed Tanvi.

“My friend, rich people don’t spend. They invest,” she summarised.

Simmi was now in a great turmoil. No one ever explained this secret to her. The revelation by Tanvi also made her think if she really was as rich as she thought? Probably not. Her parents earned a decent amount of money, but their living expenses were very high, too.

It didn’t take Tanvi long to admit that chronic illness or loss of business or job can put her family in great financial stress. They do not have any investments to fall back upon.

Tanvi sat quietly next to her friend, giving her the time to think and reach her own conclusions.

After a long while, Simmi spoke, “Tanvi, you opened my eyes. I spend like there’s no tomorrow; and to be honest, all these outings and shopping doesn’t really make me happy. I keep falling in recurring debts to support my lifestyle.”

“I know, friend, I have seen you happy ideating, forming plans and creating something,” Tanvi encouraged her friend.

Tanvi also shared that instead of spending money on more clothes and shoes and movies, she invested her money and time in more fruitful pursuits such as participating in the college events, signing up for exciting workshops and adding personal skills.

“You know what, I am sure my pocket money would be lower than yours, but still, I save a portion of it and invest in mutual funds through SIPs,” added Tanvi with a proud smile.

Simmi was impressed with Tanvi’s money management. However, she had no clue what mutual funds or SIPs were.

“Investing money in traditional instruments such as FDs and PF give far lesser returns than mutual funds,” explained Tanvi, “a mutual fund is a collection of small investments made by thousands of investors. This pool of money is further invested in the stock market by a qualified financial expert. Over time, riding on the ups and downs of the stock market, your investments grow significantly higher over a long period.

“You may make a lumpsum investment in mutual funds or invest through SIPs or Systematic Investment Plans, which are monthly instalments – starting from as low as Rs 500.”

Tanvi told her friend that she has been investing in mutual funds for a long time, and thanks to the power of compounding in mutual funds, before she turns 25, she would already be a millionaire – without her father’s assistance.

Hearing this, Simmi, too, was inspired to cut down her expenses, invest regularly and build a large corpus in coming years to taste financial independence.

The very next day, Tanvi introduced Simmi to her financial mentor, who helped Simmi figure out her life goals and set her on a path of regular investing …. and financial independence.

Dr Celso Fernandes and his team at Nave Marg Financial Consultants, are on a mission to spread financial literacy among the people of Goa. A popular speaker, financial mentor and author of four much-loved books, Dr Celso, is creating a positive impact on hundreds of lives by helping them attain financial independence.

How Important is Financial Literacy to Win All Life Battles?

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It was a pleasant morning. The sound of the light drizzle added to the beauty of the vast green expanse that greeted Sannah every morning as she sipped her first cup of tea, followed by another, albeit a hurried one on most days.

But, today was different…

Today, she was retiring from the institution she had built over the years with much love, dedication and discipline.

Today, she could steal a few extra moments from life and reminiscence about the things gone by…

***

It was years ago, when the grass was greener, the water was pure, and lifestyle diseases were unheard of. Yes, it was long ago, when Sannah was 21 and she had run home excitedly to inform her parents that she was going to teach English at the Arya Niketan School from the coming Monday.

At a time when parents waited for their daughters to touch 16 and bundle them off into marriage, Sannah’s father, Rakesh, a Chartered Accountant, had planned for a good education for his daughter – not only literally but also financially.

When Sannah had turned 10, he had already started teaching her small financial concepts at home. For helping her mom lay down the table, Rakesh would give her a small amount of money. Sannah could earn her pocket money and spend it as she liked after discussing her plan with Rakesh.

For the first few months, all she bought were chocolates and sweets, but then, one day, she needed a new pair of shoes. That day, her father taught her an important lesson – of distinguishing between needs and wants. If Sannah had not spent her money on the sweets she wanted she could have bought the shoes she needed!

Once she turned 16, Rakesh asked her to accompany him to a seminar at his office by a renowned financial expert who introduced Sannah to the magic of compounding and the world of SIPs. That evening, her father explained things to her in simple terms:

“Sannah, how do you like the money plant in our garden?”

“I love it, Dad. The best part is that Mom keeps plucking leaves from it to decorate the house but the green cover reappears all too soon, as if by magic.”

“Yes, Sannah, that’s wonderful, isn’t it? But would you believe me if I tell you about a real ‘money’ plant that I was able to grow with the help of the financial mentor we met today morning?”

“You mean money growing on trees, Dad?”

“Yes, Sannah. Money does grow on trees. All you need to do is water your sapling regularly with financial discipline to see it blooming over a period of time.”

“Tell me more, Dad.”

“Today morning, you learnt about the magic of compounding and SIPs or systematic investments into mutual funds. That is exactly how you grow your plant. By putting a small amount of money, say 500 rupees, each month into a well performing plan, you can build a huge corpus of money that will self-replenish even if you take out some funds periodically to meet your financial requirements.”

“Dad, can I invest a part of my pocket money into SIPs?”

“Yes, sure….”

By the time Sannah was in college, she was already investing a part of her pocket money to build a money pool that would fund her dreams in the future. And now that she had a job, she would increase her investments to make her money work even harder!

Life couldn’t get any better for Sannah. She had a job she loved, she had great savings, and now she was married to a great guy, too.

Unfortunately, things took a downturn when she lost her parents in an accident. In a series of mishaps over the next couple of years, her husband lost his textile factory to fire and the insurance claims were rejected, because the fire had been caused due to a natural calamity. Dejected, he turned to alcohol and started taking out his anger on Sannah who accepted all his insults in the hope of a better tomorrow that never came.

It was only a few years later that she gathered the courage to fight back and filed for divorce. Fortunately, she had her job as well as her investments to get her through the course of legal proceedings.

At 30, everything Sannah held dear in life had been destroyed. However, she still had the money plant she had planted with her father. One that she had watered regularly throughout those years. Yes, she still had her self-replenishing pool of money she had amassed by investing money regularly since she was 16 years old. And now, she was ready to use it to start a new life…

Sannah quit the school she was teaching at and joined an NGO. She began teaching illiterate women, many of whom had been abused by their husbands and families. Soon, she opened her own NGO where she not only provided a safe haven for these ladies but gave them basic education as well.

As she aimed to make every woman in India financially independent and self-reliant, she regularly held financial seminars through her NGO that were often graced by the financial mentor her father had introduced her to when she was 16.

With her consistent efforts towards the upliftment of women in the society, over a period of time, Sannah received a lot of recognition and her NGO flourished. A lot of women benefitted from her guidance and joined hands with her to create a pan-India counselling and rehabilitation network for helpless women.

Sannah never married again but she adopted a little girl who had grown up into a well-educated, responsible, kind-hearted yet determined lady, ready to take on the baton from her.

***

Sannah smiled and placed the empty cup of tea on the window sill. She could see a small money plant growing in a basket on a ledge. Her smile broadened as she was instantly transported to her childhood…those happy days with her parents when her mother planted several of those creepers throughout the house to usher good luck and prosperity.

 

 

IS FINANCIAL FREEDOM THE KEY TO HAPPINESS?

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Lakshmi loved her home. A simple two-bedroom house where she led a modest but comfortable life with her family. Her husband was a retired government official with a decent pension. Their daughter, Nina, had recently joined college and her parents hoped she would soon find a good job, marry a winsome groom, and live happily after.

 

But Nina had different plans. Tall, fair, and blessed with a perfect figure and the most charming face, Nina had big dreams for her future. Having spent her life in a middle class family, where she was taught to prioritise needs over wants, that often amounted to a book needed in class over a gorgeous dress on her birthday, Nina was all set to break the shackles of money in her life. She was stunning and she knew it. And, with her confidence and looks, modelling offers were easy to come by.

 

So, while her parents urged Nina to complete her graduation and take up a job, Nina decided to drop out of college even before completing the first year to foray into the glitzy world of Mumbai. Despite her parents’ protests, she left the nest they had so lovingly created, and reached Mumbai to try her luck, like hundreds of others who regularly come to the city for a shot at fame.

 

The initial days were a struggle. But soon Nina was able to charm people with her looks and landed some modelling assignments. Slowly but surely, her dream started to get real. She began getting invited to swanky parties in Mumbai, rubbing shoulders with popular models and actors. She also started earning a good sum of money that she splurged on designer clothes, shoes and jewellery.

 

Nina had built the life of her dreams and there was so no space for middle class ideals taught to her by her family – needs before wants, save for a rainy day…. It was all malarkey.

 

Three year later, she got an offer to anchor a popular TV show. Soon, Nina was a superstar in her own right. People loved her on the tele but she wasn’t satisfied. She wanted to be a movie star ruling the hearts of every Indian. A couple of years later, she managed to get a lead role in a film but it didn’t go too well with the audience. Resolute, she bade farewell to her life on the small screen and devoted herself to Bollywood. Sadly, luck did not smile on her this time. At the young age of 25, Nina had failed. Her beauty was fading as was her fame. Her fortunes had dwindled a long time back. Broke and broken, she did not know whom to turn to when her mother requested her to return home.

 

Reluctantly, Nina returned to her hometown, Bareilly. People recognised her, and often asked for autographs that pained Nina even further. She had let everyone, including herself, down. At 25, she felt she was a burden on her parents. But that was not true…

 

Ever since Nina had started working, she regularly transferred some money to her mother each month on one or the other pretext. It was Nina’s way of ridding herself of the guilt of leaving her parents all alone. However, Lakshmi never spent this money.

 

Years ago, Lakshmi had met a wise financial advisor who had opened her eyes to the world of smart investments. Lakshmi did not work but she had learned how to make her money work for herself. She had learned that by investing small amounts of money, as low as Rs. 500, regularly into mutual funds through a systematic investment plan (SIP), it was possible to build a self-replenishing pool of money over time, thanks to the power of compounding and the cyclic nature of the market.

 

For the past seven years, Lakshmi had been investing every single penny sent by Nina into mutual funds through various SIPs recommended by her financial advisor. Today, she had built a large portfolio of money that Nina could use to start a new life.

 

As she shared this truth with Nina, her eyes welled with tears. Nina hugged her mom and placed her head in her lap. Lovingly, Lakshmi stroked her daughter’s head and told her:

 

“Sweetheart, do you know that the richest people in the world rose from abject poverty by being financially disciplined and making smart investments?”

 

“I am sorry, Mom.”

 

“Don’t be sorry, Nina, but learn from your mistakes. It is good to enjoy your wealth but it is equally important to save for the future!”

 

“I understand, Mom.”

 

“Now  get up and smile. It is time for a new start. Do you remember how much you loved cooking? Why don’t you start a cookery program on the small screen? I am sure you have enough contacts to kickstart the project and we have ample money to fund it. What do you think?”

 

“I would love that, Mom. But I need a promise.”

 

“What?”

 

“That you would co-host the show with me.”

 

***

 

At 8 pm, Sheena ran to switch on the tele. The family, like several other families across India, quickly gathered to watch their favourite show – Nina Cooks!

 

In two years, Nina and Lakshmi had become the much-loved co-hosts of the very popular cookery show that most Indians adored.

 

Meanwhile, Lakshmi arranged a meeting between her financial advisor and Nina. Impressed by the magic of compounding that makes small amounts swell into large sums of money over time, Nina started saving regularly.

 

She aims to be a crorepati before she turns 40 and is well on her way of achieving that dream.