Why Does the Slow and Steady Win the Race?

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The buzzer rang loudly, announcing the end of the classes for the day. The students stormed out of the classroom with high-pitched chatter and squeals, in a fashion that resembled the freeing of a thousand birds at the same time.

But Allisha kept sitting, staring hard at nothing, her mind in a turmoil. She darted a glance at Muriel, her friend and partner in crime, who was preparing to leave the classroom. Allisha, felt a pang of jealousy as she saw the happy smile on Muriel’s face. It fuelled her anguish.

The reason for Allisha’s sullen mood was her inability to register for an exchange program to a top university in France. It was an expensive program, but she was sure that her father would fund it, just the way he paid for all her expensive indulgences. However, he expressed his inability to pay for the costly program as he was experiencing some financial trouble in his business.

Allisha hated the idea of missing out on all the fun she had planned for her French trip. However, what added to her irritation was the fact that Muriel, who hails from a family with limited financial means, signed up for the program.

Allisha came from a well-off family. Her father was a successful businessman, and their family led a plush lifestyle. Muriel, on the other hand, had a modest lifestyle. Her father owned a little grocery store, behind which stood her old mud house. It was nobody’s guess that Muriel’s family managed just a little better than merely surviving.

Yet, Muriel never felt at unease owing to her financial background. She was confident, intelligent and full of life. A calm certainty of wellbeing sparkled in her eyes.

“Muriel, I need to talk to you,” said Allisha as her friend reached the classroom door.

Allisha tried to circumnavigate the topic, but couldn’t restrain herself from blurting out the thoughts that were troubling her.

“How can you … I mean … this expensive program?” asked Allisha hesitantly.

“You mean how can I, a poor girl, could afford such an expensive exchange program?” Muriel teased her friend good-naturedly. She could imagine how Allisha felt; in spite of being from a wealthy family, she was unable to pay the hefty program fee, while a girl from a family with a meagre income could.

“Hmm, it’s a long story,” said Muriel, “that starts precisely ten years ago …”

Both the girls sauntered towards the cafeteria, and over a hot cup of tea, Muriel shared her story with Allisha.

“The 2008 market meltdown is a very significant turning point in my family’s life,” began Muriel.

“Oh, the infamous financial crisis in the US that affected all economies around the world? A lot of people lost money,” interjected Allisha.

Muriel nodded to confirm the story but added, “Only those who panicked and sold their investments lost their money. The markets have boomed since then; especially the Indian stock market, that has achieved much higher levels since 2008.”

Muriel recounted how her father met a financial expert at a wedding. A group of people discussed the market meltdown and cursed the stock market. However, one person, who talked facts and figures, reasoned that market volatility is normal and a major market crash is a time to rejoice for serious investors as they can buy good stocks at a low cost.

Muriel’s father was quite impressed by the financial expert’s reasoning and knowledge. He met him after a few days to discuss the possibility of investing in a few shares.

“I remember accompanying my father to the financial expert’s office,” beamed Muriel.

The financial expert asked Muriel’s father about his financial goals and aspirations and chalked out an investment plan.

“He suggested that since my father wanted to invest in my higher education, he must make small, yet regular investments in mutual funds through SIPs (Systematic Investment Plan),” said Muriel to a slightly confused Allisha. She was having a tough time comprehending the story narrated by her friend.

Muriel explained to Allisha that mutual funds are a collection of money belonging to a large number of investors. A qualified financial expert, called Fund Manager, invests this pool of money in various stocks and bonds and other instruments.

“A fund manager is a smart person who keeps a tab on the market and makes educated decisions in response to the fluctuations in the market,” explained Muriel.

She concluded the story by revealing that her father had been investing in mutual funds on her behalf from the past ten years. The initial investments were as low as Rs 500, but he increased the amount gradually with time.

“The expert handling of the Fund Manager and the power of compounding in mutual funds has grown my portfolio significantly,” revealed Muriel.

As both the friends parted to go to their respective homes, Allisha couldn’t help but marvel at the ingenious plan of investing regularly to grow a large corpus. She realized that though her father earned a lot of money, their lifestyle was equally expensive to maintain. The idea of small, consistent savings escaped him entirely. Looking things into a new perspective, it dawned on Allisha that her extravagant lifestyle was a mere imitation of her family’s spendthrift ways. Muriel, on the other hand, spent only on things that she needed and avoided expenses that were borne out of an impulsive desire.

By the time Allisha reached her plush house, she had resolved to change the way she had been living her life. She was now determined to make regular investments out of her generous pocket money, and later, from her salary as she starts working.

A thin smile played on Allisha’s lips as she recalled being jealous of Muriel; her dear friend who taught her the important lesson of being financially independent.

Dr. Celso Fernandes, with his team at Nave Marg Financial Consultants, is working religiously to spread financial awareness towards the youth of the country. Author of five much-loved books, the financial Doctor of Goa, as he is fondly referred to, Dr. Celso believes that financial literacy is the only recourse through which we can build a happier, healthier and prosperous India. Join the Super Young Achievers Club, mentored by Dr. Celso Fernandes, that grooms youngsters to be millionaires before they turn 30 years of age.

Contact: +91-9422058741.

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Is the Future of Your Dreams, Here?

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“Just wait for a few years, your bro would zip past by you in a red Ferrari,” Nash excitedly shared his future dream with his friend, Avinash.

“And you would drive down to my sea-facing grand mansion, and you will park your red Ferrari next to my blue Jaguar,” replied Avinash with the same zest.

“Avi, once each of us gets a job, we will go for a Europe trip. I so want to see the Manchester United home ground,” said Nash in a dreamy voice.

“Yes Nash, and we will go to Spain and play Tomatina.”

In their second year of college, the two friends sat in the college canteen and dreamt about a fabulous future. Though uncertain, they were quite sure that their future would be full of riches – after all, they would start earning in a few years.

“O.M.G! You guys are dreaming again, wasting time,” exclaimed Eldrina, as she marched towards her two friends.

“What Eldi, you ruined our daydreaming,” said Nash irritably.

“Yes Eldi, you ARE a buzz kill,” complained Avinash.

“And what are you two lazy bums? Do you really think that you will achieve all your dreams by sitting here, dreaming?” chided Eldrina.

The three of them were close friends since the first year. Avinash and Nash were famous in the college for roaming about aimlessly and making bizarre plans for the future. Eldrina, however, was totally different from her friends. She was a disciplined, focused and pragmatic girl. She believed in working hard and enjoying the rewards of hard work.

“Oh, we will pass the exams, and get a great job, don’t you worry about it,” said Nash nonchalantly.

“Oh yes, we know our future riches depend upon the job. We are not going to screw that up!” Avinash chimed in.

With a long, resigned sigh, Eldrina asked, “Do you guys seriously think that you will get rich once you get a job?”

“Of course!” chorused Avinash and Nash.

“Then, my friends,” said Eldrina with a dramatic pause, “You guys would remain poor all your life.”

Infuriated by the bitter words, both the friends fumed.

“So, you are an astrologer, too,” mocked Avinash.

“Ha! Pauper, my foot,” Nash joined in the rebuke.

“Not an astrologer. A financial literate,” said Eldrina with pride.

The confused look on Nash and Avinash’s faces made Eldrina laugh uncontrollably.

When she recovered, she asked rhetorically, “Do you think that when you start earning, you wouldn’t have any expenses?”

Avinash and Nash didn’t like to be rudely jolted from their pleasing dreams of the future, but they were curious. They had not thought of the expenses.

“Also, do you think that your starting salary would be so high to afford you expensive cars or houses or foreign trips?” Eldrina continued puncturing their dreams with her pragmatic speech.When she had their complete attention, Eldrina told her friends that to realize their future dreams, they must get their acts together now.

“Now? But we are still in college and have no earning,” said Nash incredulously.

“You have the greatest wealth in the world,” Eldrina said teasingly.

“Where?”

“What?”

The two boys exclaimed in surprise.

“Time,” said Eldrina with a serious face.

She knew she was going to be late for her next class, yet Eldrina stayed on to help her befuddled friends. “Okay, I will explain to you from the beginning.”

Eldrina explained to her two friends that to lead a grand lifestyle, they first need to accumulate wealth. And they can’t expect to attain wealth by spending on things they don’t need.

“The rich are financially disciplined. They don’t spend money, they invest it,” she said with passion.

She told the boys that they can start following a financially disciplined life by cutting down all unnecessary expenses on eating junk and buying expensive clothes and save a little from their pocket money each month.

“Come on, even if we save a little every month, we can’t possibly accumulate a lot of money in a few years,” said Avinash dejectedly.

“This is because you don’t know about the power of compounding in mutual funds,” said Eldrina smilingly.

“Dear friends, the famous proverb, ‘Time is money,’ is true after all,” she chuckled.

Eldrina explained to her friends that a mutual fund is a pool of money collected from thousands of investors. A qualified financial expert, or the Fund Manager, invests this pool into various shares, bonds, and other instruments.

“The good part is,” she said, “you can invest in mutual funds through SIPs or Systematic Investment Plans each month; as low as Rs 500!”

Eldrina told them that money invested in mutual funds earns a compounded rate of return. So, if invested regularly for a long period, say over ten years, the money invested in mutual funds can grow significantly and even if you stop investing then, the portfolio would still keep growing.

As the sun slipped down the horizon, Avinash and Nash basked in a revelation that would change their lives forever.

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

The story doesn’t end here. Eldrina introduced her friends to her father, who was a famous financial consultant. He spoke to Avinash and Nash and penned down their financial goals, after which, he guided them to start SIPs in good plans.

Financial discipline, as Avinash and Nash realized, might not fulfill their bizarre dreams of buying Ferraris and grand mansions in the near future, but it will certainly help them attain financial freedom. The freedom to choose a profession they like, without worrying about pay cheques.