Are You Ready For The Long Journey Together?

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A beautiful house in a posh suburb, well-paying jobs and a handsome dog – John and Rosanna seemed to have the perfect life many aspired for but only a few achieved. But beneath the veneer of their happy marriage, something unsettling was bubbling.

The couple was certainly over the moon with the news of Rosanna’s pregnancy – however, Rosanna had something more pressing on her mind.

John had lost a lot of money pursuing his lavish interests the previous year, and Rosanna worried that he might end up losing even more of their wealth. She had often questioned him about the state of his finances as he had stopped contributing to the household expenditure since the past few months. It only led to quarrels in their otherwise peaceful married life – as John didn’t want to share any investment details with her. With her job, she was paying the EMI for their car loan and also managing the day-to-day expenditure – but after paying all the bills, she barely had anything left to save. And now they would soon have another mouth to feed!

Rosanna wanted to give her child the best – she wanted to save for the little one and ensure a comfortable life for him or her. But John’s silence and wayward habits were pushing her to the edge.

***

Does this story sound familiar to you? John and Rosanna are not the only couples who fight over finances. According to a recent survey by ET, more than 50 per cent of families have disagreements over financial matters. The reasons behind these quarrels range from overspending to frugality to the investment choices of either partner. In another survey, over one-third of the respondents pointed out that money caused the most stress on their relationship.

Fortunately, just like other things in life, financial issues between young couples can be eliminated with proper planning and even resolved with discussion and foresight. And that’s precisely what Rosanna did to bring her marriage, and finances, on track.

Let’s see how.

***

After several arguments with John, Rosanna decided to discuss the issue with her father, Antonio. Hailing from a middle-class family, Antonio had worked hard throughout his life to provide for his family. Many years back he had attended a seminar on financial wellness and was able to build a comfortable retirement nest for himself and his family with the help of a well-respected financial advisor.

After listening to Rosanna, John felt sorry for his daughter and regretted not having this discussion with her earlier. He told her that it was best for both Rosanna and John to meet a financial advisor who could help John understand the consequences of his wasteful expenditure and bad investment decisions. Also, he could guide Rosanna on how to invest her money to generate maximum wealth.

Rosanna quickly fixed an appointment with the financial advisor and convinced John to accompany her. Once they were at the advisor’s office, the couple was enamoured by his caring attitude and friendly disposition. Soon, he had them engrossed in numbers and charts, and John realised his folly. But it wasn’t too late to change, explained the financial advisor. He told them how they needed to manage their finances together and invest as a couple to meet their life goals together. He also informed them of the concept of SIPs and how investing as little as Rs 500 a month could generate substantial wealth over a period of time. With the baby on its way, the couple quickly decided to start an SIP for the future expenditure of the child. They also discussed how they could start over and build a happy future together.

***

As you can see, finances form a vital part of any couple’s married life. Therefore, before you get married, it is important to consult someone who’s experience in life, relationships, as well as, finances, to set your boat sailing in the right direction and lead a truly blissful and fulfilling married life.

Dr. Celso Fernandes is on a mission to spread the awareness about financial independence and redeem Goan families from the ill-effects of a financial crisis. An author of six widely read books, a popular speaker and a humanitarian, Dr. Celso is always ready to dispense advice to anyone who is determined to make their future financially secured. Dr. Celso can be reached at +91-9422058741.

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What Does it Take to Win Against All Odds?

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Rachel loved words. Ever since she was a little child, she read voraciously, starting from Enid Blyton to Hardy Boys to much-loved classics such as Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities that she had already read by the age of eleven. Of course, given to the habit of reading at an early age, she had some staunch favourites and was quite picky about what she read. Roald Dahl and Ruskin Bond were two of her favourite authors. And, just like her beloved authors, she wanted to write books for a living and had already started working towards it.

Yes, barely 15 years old, Rachel had several published articles and short stories to her credit. She was working on a compilation of short stories that she planned to publish, followed by a lighthearted story book sharing the adventures of her cute dog – Poco.

Rachel’s parents were proud of their daughter’s achievements – yet, they feared for her. They knew their little girl was quite resolute and often worried about her future. For, how much could a writer possibly earn?

Not everyone made it big like Jeffrey Archer. Even Ruskin Bond lived a life of scarcity – though full of recognition yet devoid of material comforts, and that was not the future they wished for their child.

“Sam, writing is a hobby and a career for those who are born with a silver spoon in their mouth,” said Neil to his wife one day as she read one of the latest stories by her daughter published in a leading daily.

“I am inclined to agree with you, Neil. But Rachel is gifted. I wish we were rich enough to support her passion. I don’t know how we would persuade her to follow a conventional career once the time comes.”

As the couple continued with their discussion, little did they know that Rachel was hearing each and every word with rapt attention from a corner in the room. She left after a few minutes, and sat down to cry. Playing with words was as important as breathing to her. Would she never be able to fulfil her dream of being an internationally recognised author? She didn’t want to be a doctor or an engineer or a lawyer or even a teacher. But did she have a choice?

Lost in her thoughts, she picked up an old newspaper to find an article by a first-time author who was only 21 years old. She continued to read the article to find that the author, Mick D’Souza, came from a humble background and pursued engineering before dropping out in the final year to publish his book and market it.

“How did he manage enough money to achieve this?” she wondered.

Rachel noticed an email id printed at the bottom of the article. She decided to voice her thoughts to Mick. She was certain he would understand her conundrum.

She wrote:

Dear Mick

I am quite young but am certain that I want to be a writer. I want to author books for a living – and not be a part of any conventional career. Unfortunately, I come from a middle-class family and my parents don’t think I would be able to manage a decent lifestyle simply by writing books. They suggest it could be a hobby – but I don’t want that.

I read that you faced the same dilemma as I do currently. Please tell me your story – I really want to know.

Rachel.

As Rachel waited breathlessly, soon enough she had a response from Mick.

Dear Rachel,

Glad to hear from you. First of all, let me congratulate you on your clarity of thought and bold choice. I don’t know how old you are – but that is immaterial. Your parents are right when they say you need a strong financial background to pursue an alternate career – especially in the early stages. However, they are not entirely correct when they say that you need a professional job to be financially sound.

I was lucky to have a wealthy uncle who stepped in to help me when I was in the same situation as yours. No, he did not give me money but he did give me some advice that changed my life forever.

Have you heard of a term, SIP or Systematic Investment Plan? That was my ticket to financial freedom. I suggest you read more about it or urge your parents to meet a financial advisor with you so that you can grow your wealth effortlessly.

Remember – money can grow on trees only if you invest in time.

Don’t let money chart your dreams!

Mick.

Rachel ran to her father and showed him the email. Though skeptical, Neil, who had read Mick’s first book and genuinely enjoyed it, decided to heed the author’s advice.

The next morning, the family hopped into their small Nano to meet the financial advisor recommended by Neil’s close friend and affluent colleague. As they stepped into the advisor’s office – they felt confused but were pleased to be greeted by a benign and pleasant face.

Soon, the advisor had them engrossed in charts and figures that explained to them the concept of mutual funds and how they can outperform traditional modes of savings, such as FDs, over a period of 10 years or so.

Neil was surprised that by investing as low as INR 500 in a systematic investment plan, he could build a little fortune in less than a decade. By increasing the amount gradually – they could be millionaires in a few years and Rachel could well pursue any career she liked.

Was it that simple to be financially free?

***

A few years later:

“Sam, are you ready? I don’t want to be late for this exciting event. It is Rachel’s big day.”

He pulled out their new car as Sam quickly gathered her things and sat in the car. It was the inauguration of Rachel’s new book – her dream was finally true.

And guess who was there to inaugurate the book? Of course, Mick and their trusted financial advisor whose astute advice changed their lives forever.

Dr. Celso Fernandes is the flag-bearer of financial literacy in Goa. A dentist, motivational speaker, financial guru and an author, Dr. Celso Fernandes, with his team at Nave Marg Financial Consultants works with young students and helps them achieve financial independence much early in their lives. Dr. Celso can be reached at +91-9422058741.

How Can A Decade of Financial Discipline Transform Your Life?

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The summer break had just begun, and Joanna had a lot of things on her mind. After a strenuous academic year, she had passed High School with flying colours.

One evening, after a dip in the pool, Joanna found her parents poring over a bunch of papers. Their serious expressions, feverish tapping on the calculator and scribbling on various sheets suggested that something ominous was going on.

After changing, Joanna made coffee for the three of them. She settled herself on a vacant chair on the dining table – where her parents sat engrossed in a discussion.

‘Ok. Can anyone tell me what’s going on?’ Joanna couldn’t bear it any longer.

‘Umm … nothing much, we were calculating how much funds would we need to live on after retirement,’ her mother explained.

‘ … and I must say, even if we reach half of it with the current saving rate, we would be lucky,’ Joanna’s father added brightly in his trademark humorous manner.

But the matter was not to be laughed away, Joanna could tell. Her mother drew in a sharp breath, Joanna noticed – as if taking the blow silently.

It tormented Joanna that she couldn’t help. She knew how hard her parents worked to get her the best of the comforts and opportunities in life. Joanna had always admired her parents, who were frugal in their means and were very practical people. They never spent on nonsensical things, and always made it a point to save money and invest in fixed deposits.

But clearly, that was not enough. Probably they needed to earn more or save more or both!

Joanna woke up the next day with a ticklish feeling that came from knowing that while the whole world is scampering and rushing about to face Monday blues, she had absolutely nothing to do!

She woke up a bit later than usual to an empty house. The scattered evidence of a rushed exit from her working parents were all over the place; the half-empty coffee mugs, a barely-nibbled toast, and next to it, Joanna’s breakfast and lunch, packed neatly in casseroles.

Joanna was still figuring out how to deal with the hot sunny day when her friend, Rose, called up.

Rose told Joanna that her mother was insisting that she should go for a financial literacy seminar being conducted in the neighbourhood.

‘I will get so bored, please come with me, please, pretty please!’ begged Rose.

Hearing the words financial literacy, Joanna couldn’t help but think of her parents’ dilemma.

‘I will come with you,’ promised Joanna, much to Rose’s surprise, who expected Joanna to set some conditions for giving her company for such a ‘dull’ event.

At the designated hour, both the friends reached the venue and the seminar began.

And it changed Joanna’s world.

The financial expert conducting the seminar explained how traditional investments like Fixed Deposits actually decrease the capital owing to the ever-rising inflation, or in simple words, cost of living.

He explained that investing in the stock market makes inflation work in the investors’ favour. He went on to explain how small investors, even young students, could start investing regularly – committing as low as Rs 500 a month – and build a massive wealth over a decade.

Once the seminar got over, Joanna kept sitting, mesmerised at what she had just heard. If what the financial expert had said was true, her parents could build a retirement fund much larger than they planned. Moreover, if she started investing small sums of money each month, she had the opportunity to be a millionaire by the time she turned 25 years of age!

The thought made her feel happy and relieved.

That evening, she waited impatiently for her parents to arrive home from work.

As her parents entered the house, after a visibly rough day, Joanna led them by hand to the dining table, where three steaming cups of coffee were waiting besides a plate with a few slices of cake Joanna had baked – one of her recent obsessions.

‘What is it Jo?’ her father said irritably, but as soon as he spotted the cake and coffee, he became rather cheerful, ‘Oh, a treat from our beloved daughter!’ he beamed.

Joanna looked at her parents with a mysterious smile as they took mouthfuls of cake and blew at the hot coffee.

‘Ok. Your problem from yesterday is solved,’ she finally broke the silence.

Her parents looked at each other quizzically.

‘Well, I had gone for a financial literacy class with Rose, today,’ Joanna paused for a moment, before continuing, ‘And I am sorry to say, but we need to change the way you guys are investing. It won’t take you anywhere. In fact, your fixed deposits are actually eating away your capital!’

‘You don’t say that!’ her father’s attempt at dry humour didn’t discourage Joanna from going on.

‘Yes. And be ready to meet a financial expert and discuss your retirement goals with him. I have taken an early morning appointment for tomorrow. Please bear with me if you may have to report a bit late for work tomorrow, but it’s important. Make provisions,’ Joanna’s parents gaped at her as she commanded them.

Joanna filled in her parents about the things said in the seminar. She explained to her parents how one can make small, regular investments in mutual funds through monthly SIPs. And she also told about the power of compounding that helps investors accumulate significant wealth over a long period of time. Her parents were amazed to hear their teenage daughter speaking like a financial pro.

It was her mother who spoke first, ‘Well, since we are not making any headway with our current investment plans, let’s try out your way.’

‘It’s a YES from me, too,’ her father spoke like one of the judges from the talent show on TV, making Joanna giggle.

Thanks to Joanna’s willingness to carve out a better future for her parents, and for herself, her family successfully avoided a future financial disaster by taking concrete steps well ahead in time.

………………………………………….

Epilogue:

Ten years later, Joanna is escaping the belligerent Goan summer by holidaying in Switzerland with her parents.

Thanks to the single-minded approach to growing rich, Joanna not only invested in SIPs regularly, but she also kept increasing the SIP amount each year. Additionally, she made it a habit to do top-ups in her mutual funds whenever she had some extra income.

Joanna became a millionaire when she was just 23 years old. And since then, her portfolio has been growing at an even faster pace.

By attaining financial independence at a very young age, Joanna has escaped the beaten down route of pursuing medicine or engineering or management as career options. With no necessity to earn a living, Joanna does what interests her the most – public speaking. A good orator with a pleasing personality, Joanna is a successful ‘Personal Life Coach’ in India.

Her parents, too, are in good financial standing. Since the couple already knew how to differentiate between needs and wants, and had the knack for savings, it was not difficult for them to invest significant sums each month in mutual funds through SIPs.

In a decade, a lot can change for better, just like it did for Joanna and her family!

Dr. Celso Fernandes is a renowned financial expert known for driving financial literacy in his home-state, Goa. Author of six much-loved books including the famous, ‘Who Says Money doesn’t Gro on Trees?’, Dr Celso gives a lot of his time in counselling and advising the youth of Goa on the merits of financial discipline and planning. Dr Celso Fernandes can be reached at +91-9422058741.

Who Says Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees?

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Melissa was just 14 years old, yet she was acutely aware of her humble background. She lived in a quaint coastal village in an old mud house with her parents and two younger brothers. Her father worked on a fishing trawler and her mother, Evelyn, worked in a departmental store near the tourist hub. The household had a meagre income, but there were love and care in abundance. And how thankful Melissa was for being born in such a loving family!

Although she was generally happy and easy going, Melissa had secret ambitions, hidden deep inside her heart. She wanted to become a doctor – a surgeon, to be precise. From her friend, Rose, Melissa had heard several heroic stories of her aunt Leona who was a successful and renowned cardiac surgeon in London. Rose would tell Melissa how Aunt Leona saved a life when every other doctor had lost hope, or about the awards she had won, or about the lavish lifestyle she had.

Melissa would lap up every word Rose would say about her aunt, and in her mind’s eye, she pictured Aunt Leona walking out of the operation theatre with a winning smile with people cheering and thanking her. She also imagined Aunt Leona lounging by the pool of an exotic resort, luxuriously sipping on a drink.

There was no doubt in Melissa’s mind about what she wanted to become when she grew up, except for one – how would she be able to pay the super expensive medical college fee. She had previously interacted with a few of her teachers and learnt that the medical college fees would run into lakhs of rupees. There was no way she could expect such kind of money from her parents!

Melissa was upset. She saw her dream being nipped in the bud. Her inner turmoil affected her day-to-day life, and she started to slip into a shell and became sorrowful.

Things, however, were going to change for Melissa. And in a positive way.

One afternoon, there was a little event in the village, a few days before Christmas, and all the children were invited. Melissa didn’t feel like going, but her brothers insisted that she should come with them. They were worried about their lovely sister’s growing gloom.

The Christmas party, organised exclusively for children, did seem to cheer Melissa, even though just for a little while. She enjoyed the magic tricks and other games. The snacks and beverages were delicious, and the Christmas carols played on the stereo made her feel better.

After a little while, she found a seat in the far corner, away from the cluster of children who danced and made merry. She sat there, musing about her future when someone came and sat next to her.

‘Hello child, you don’t seem to enjoy the party as much as your friends.’

Melissa looked at the gentleman sitting next to her. Melissa was touched by the kind and caring tone in the man’s voice, and it did not take her long to reveal her troubles to the stranger. Even she was surprised, and a little embarrassed, too, at the ease with which she communicated her dilemma with a complete stranger. However, she felt light-headed.

After listening to Melissa with genuine concern, he finally spoke.

‘Melissa dear, I understand that your family isn’t wealthy enough to fund your expensive higher education,’ he paused for a while, ‘but you are very RICH!’

Melissa was quite puzzled, ‘What do you mean? I am just a child studying in school. I have no relatives from whom I am going to inherit lots of money, then how do I become rich?’ There was a little edginess in her voice.

The stranger smiled and said, ‘I know that, Melissa. You are just a child. And that makes you rich.’

Before Melissa could object further, the stranger continued, ‘You have the wealth of time, dear. Since you are young, you have the rare opportunity to turn the tables and build a fortune. An opportunity that your parents don’t have.’

‘I know what you are saying. I am young, and I have the time to study hard and make a successful career. But don’t you understand, my problem is that I don’t have money to fund my higher education? With no higher education, there will be no career!’ she said, frustrated.

This time, the man took a minute to respond. He wanted Melissa to calm down before he ventured ahead.

‘Melissa, of course, you need to study hard and build a stellar career. But that is not what I meant by having an opportunity to become rich.’

The stranger very patiently explained to Melissa that there is a way through which she can make a fortune in years to come and could fund her education through her own wealth.

As Melissa listened with unbounded curiosity, the man explained to her that if she starts investing very little sums of money in something called mutual funds, as low as Rs 500 each month, regularly, for a long period, say 10 years, she can easily build a significant portfolio, which will keep growing on its own, even if she stopped investing afterwards.

‘It is like planting a seed and watering it and nurturing it until the time the sapling grows into a fully-grown tree that bears fruit. Just imagine that instead of fruits, your tree will grow money, and not only during the season but all year long!’

‘I can invest Rs 500 a month,’ Melissa thought, as she started to get hopeful about quashing her future financial troubles.

The stranger also explained her the concept of mutual funds.

‘Mutual funds are basically a way to invest in the stock or share market. Small investors find it difficult to buy enough shares in good companies, as the prices are very high. A mutual fund is a pool of money from thousands of small investors. Although individual contributions are quite small, the collective money in the mutual fund is vast. A qualified Fund Manager handles this pool and invests it on behalf of the small investors. With time and with the power of compounding interest, your mutual fund portfolio would grow in leaps and bounds.’

‘Thanks, I will like to explore this possibility,’ Melissa smiled and thanked the man she met just a while ago and yet who solved the biggest problem plaguing her mind.

‘Don’t mention it,’ he said with a smile. Then, he rummaged in his bag and produced a thin book with a yellow cover.

‘Read this book. This will answer all your questions and will also tell you the tales of others … like me … who managed to get rich by simply making regular investments and being patient with the market ups and downs.’

Melissa gratefully took the book and read the title aloud, ‘Who Says Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees?’

She smiled and thanked the man again before he was escorted to a waiting car.

‘Call me if you have any doubts. My number is in the book,’ the man smiled humbly and gave Melissa a quick thumbs-up.

As she walked back to her home, with her brothers chattering excitedly in her tow, Melissa knew that her life was about to change from this day. She had a strange reassurance that all her dreams will come true. She also knew that she would meet the stranger again to seek his guidance in creating wealth. Maybe, she would take her parents along, too.

Realizing Your Child’s Future Dreams is Easier Than You Thought

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It had been over three years now, yet Catherine couldn’t come to terms with her divorce from Peter. When they were married, both of them looked after their daughter, Rhea’s, every need. However, after their separation, it is on her to look after Rhea as a father, as well as, a mother. Thankfully, she had a secured job in a pharmaceutical company, which paid enough for the mother and daughter to live a decent life. But there was never any surplus. Catherine and Rhea followed a strict budget and tried their best to stay within their means.

Catherine knew Peter’s repeated failures in his business ventures, part of which was the cause of their divorce, and hence didn’t burden him by asking child support. They had separated cordially and Rhea met her father at least once in a month.

Life for Catherine had not been entirely hostile, even though she could not enjoy matrimony for long, her relationship with people around her were pleasant. The only thing that worried Catherine was arranging funds for Rhea’s higher education.

Rhea, who was 15 years old, was in senior school. A bright student with a dynamic personality, she had the intellectual promise to make a stellar career in any field she would choose.

‘What if she doesn’t get to fulfil her dreams and get the education she deserves only because I couldn’t afford her expensive education!’ Catherine would shudder at the thought.

But she didn’t know that her beautiful and intelligent daughter would soon redeem her of this problem.

One day after office, Catherine and Rhea sat in the balcony of their tiny apartment overlooking the coconut grove.

‘Mom, you seem to be preoccupied and constantly worried, is everything alright at work?’ Rhea asked with concern.

Touched by her daughter’s concern for her, Catherine smiled and kissed her daughter.

‘Well, there is one thing that has been troubling me,’ she began, ‘but I don’t know whether to burden you with it or not.’

After a brief pause, she added, ‘I guess I must tell you, after all, it is the only two of us; who else would I share my thoughts with?’

‘Tell me, Mom, I am big enough to understand your problems and give advice, too!’ Rhea said with innocent pride.

‘Oh, my daughter is old enough to give me advice,’ giggled Catherine.

‘Come on, Mom. Try me,’ Rhea said irritably.

Catherine now grew serious, and drawing a deep breath, she said, ‘I have got no money to fund your higher education. And though I try very hard, I don’t think I would be able to save enough in the next few years.’ As soon as the words left her lips, Catherine felt very embarrassed and sad.

‘That’s it? This little problem was troubling you so much?’ exclaimed Rhea.

Catherine was bewildered, ‘It is not a matter of joke, Rhea. You are a brilliant student, and it would be a shame if you don’t get a decent education, which will certainly help you get a high-paying job.’

Rhea cupped her mother’s agitated face in her palms and assured her that she understands how important good education is.

‘Mom, I have the same dream. I, too, wish to build a successful career and make a lot of money so that both of us could live much more comfortably,’ she said, adding, ‘but I have planned a different route to achieve my goals.’

Rhea explained to her mother that she had been keenly observing the world around her and is aware of the growing shortage of quality food produce all around the world. She wanted to be an agropreneur by launching an organic farming and hydroponics business.

‘There is a great demand for these products. And I have a rough business plan, too!’ said Rhea proudly, as Catherine looked at her in awe. ‘My little daughter has grown so smart and mature!’ she mused.

‘Also,’ Rhea continued, ‘to fund my dream project, I will start preparing from now on.’

She told her mother that a few days ago, a financial expert had come to her school to teach financial literacy and he had shown her the way to build substantial funds by investing very little sums of money on a regular basis, for a long period of time.

‘Mom, I just need a raise of Rs 500 in my pocket money to start investing in mutual funds through SIPs.’

Catherine was confused. ‘How can you invest just Rs 500 a month and expect to build a corpus of lakhs of rupees?’ she asked incredulously.

Rhea explained to her that mutual funds are a way through which investors could invest in the strong Indian stock market, only with more diversified risk. The Systematic Investment Plans (SIPs) allow mutual fund investments of as low as INR 500 per month.

‘Mom, I also plan to save from my pocket money and increase the SIP amount to Rs 1,000. In the next few years, I will have a good portfolio to borrow for my business. I will repay myself by increasing the SIP amount significantly when my business starts making profits.’

Catherine was spellbound. She couldn’t have thought of a better way to shape her daughter’s career.

‘I am so proud of you, Rhea!’ exclaimed Catherine before she hugged her daughter in a warm embrace.

‘Mom, you do so much for me, and even when Dad doesn’t live with us, you don’t make me miss anything from my life,’ Rhea said earnestly.

Catherine sat there, looking in her daughter’s eyes and feeling truly blessed.

It was Rhea who broke the silence, ‘Mom! You will be my business partner, and we will do roaring business, mark my words.’

‘Sure, we will,’ Catherine was elated. For the first time in years, she felt free from the stress of responsibilities and the fear of the future as she danced joyously with her daughter, losing herself completely to the moment.

Attaining Financial Freedom, a Child’s Play?

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Jake came home from his school one day to find his father and mother brooding over some serious matter. For an instant, he was scared. ‘I hope Grandpa is all right,’ Jake said a silent prayer before sitting down with his parents.

Elton, Jake’s father who worked in a bank, and Sharon, a social worker, looked deeply troubled.

‘Mum, Dad, what’s the matter? Is Grandpa OK?” he asked softly, fearing the worst.

Jake’s question pulled out his parents from their reverie.

‘Oh, yes. Your grandpa is recovering well,’ said Elton with a relieved look on his face, ‘and thank god for that. The doctors did a great job reviving him from that massive heart attack,’ he added.

‘He will be relieved today evening,’ said Sharon, ‘we had just come home from the hospital to manage funds to pay the hospital bill.’

Jake was confused. If Grandpa is alright and recovering well, why his parents appeared to be so worried?

‘If Grandpa’s condition is improving then why aren’t you guys happy?’ Jake voiced out his confusion.

Sharon smiled, with a hint of sadness and tiredness on her face, ‘We are very happy about your grandfather’s recovery, Jake. It is just that the hospital has billed us a huge amount of money.’

His father added, ‘Paying the hospital bill will make a significant dent in our savings meant to fund your higher education and our post-retirement period.’

Jake took a moment to grasp the significance of the problem faced by his parents. At 15 years, Jake was not just a good student and a skilled football player, he also had a cool head on his shoulders. Jake was mature and sensible and someone who didn’t act on an impulse. Jake liked to think about the pros and cons of any action before acting on it. It is unsurprising, therefore, that he discussed serious issues with his parents, they often appreciated his thoughts and advises.

‘Dad, don’t you have health insurance? A mediclaim policy?’ Jake finally asked his father, who seemed to be distant.

‘Well … no,’ he confessed, ‘I always thought that health insurance isn’t necessary, and a waste of money,’ Elton couldn’t meet eyes with his son’s gaze.

‘Whatever is done, is done,’ announced Sharon, trying to comfort Elton, ‘I will take up a regular job to contribute more money to our savings.’

Elton let out a sad sigh, feeling guilty for not taking health insurance cover when he had time. Now, because of his lack of vision, his wife would have to hunt for jobs, leaving the nest for underprivileged children that she so lovingly built.

‘No one has to do anything,’ Jake suddenly sprang up from the sofa.

As his parents looked at him with alarm, he continued, ‘Don’t worry, everything is sorted out. Dad, you will buy a health insurance policy covering every member of this house. And don’t you shy away from buying a higher cover at a little extra premium,’ he ordered Elton, who simply gaped.

‘Mum, you keep doing the awesome work you are doing. The children in your NGO need you badly, we all know that,’ concluded Jake.

But he was not finished.

‘As for the savings to fund my education and your old-age, I have that sorted out.’

Elton and Sharon exchanged puzzled glances as Jake went on, ‘Recently, our school had invited a renowned financial advisor who told us about the five golden rules to grow rich and introduced us to the power of compounding.’

Jake was clearly not helping his parents as they looked on bewildered.

‘Mum, Dad,’ Jake looked at his parents with a serious expression, ‘We all know that our monetary situation is not as bad as we think. I have researched our household spending patterns and found out that we can easily get rid of 20% of unwanted expenditures on things we don’t really need.’

Sharon was incredulous. When did her little son get so wise? And more importantly, how could he find avenues to save when she couldn’t in so many years.

When confronted, Jake told his mother about their lavish weekend outings and impulsive online shopping, of which Elton and Sharon were equally guilty.

‘You give me pocket money of Rs 3,000 a month. I am planning to invest Rs 1,000 out of my pocket money in mutual funds through Systematic Investment Plans,’ Jake announced his plans.

Jake explained to his parents that after listening to the speech from the financial mentor, he started to distinguish between things that he needed and things that he wanted. With this exercise of distinguishing needs from wants, it was easier for him to spend judiciously.

‘As per the calculations shown by the financial advisor, in the next ten years, my personal portfolio would be over a million rupees. So, you don’t have to worry about my higher education. I would like to finish college and gather some experience in the fields that I would like to explore. Maybe, travel to a few countries, and then enrol in a higher education program of my choice, possibly from a leading foreign university. While all this while, my little investments grow big and bigger to fund all my dreams,’ he said excitedly.

Elton and Sharon hugged their son and marvelled at his wisdom and foresightedness.

‘Jake, while most parents think that their teenage children don’t listen to them, I think it is the parents who should listen to the smart and informed youth of today,’ Elton said with a lot of pride and joy.

‘Thanks Dad,’ said an elated Jake, ‘but let’s go fast now. I am itching to meet my darling Grandpa.’

‘Of course, dear. But you also promise us that you will take us to the financial advisor who could put our rough plans into action,’ said Elton, ‘I think it is time for us parents to learn a lesson in financial literacy,’ he added with a wink and smile.

Dr. Celso Fernandes is a known figure in the financial advisory sphere in Goa. A dentist by profession, Dr. Celso diagnosed that financial troubles were the major cause of unhappiness among the people around him. Vowing to save people from courting financial troubles, Dr. Celso Fernandes, and his initiative, Nave Marg Financial Consultants, have been spreading awareness about financial literacy and helping people attain wealth creation goals since the past decade. Dr. Celso is also an enigmatic speaker and a skilled writer with several much-loved books to his credit. He can be reached at +91 – 9422058741.

Are You Helping Your Children Harness Their Talent?

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There was a lot of unrest and anxiousness in the gang of friends living in a residential complex in the suburbs. There were a lot of dreams, and a lot of talent, too. However, there were not enough resources or support from their homes.

Kyra and Piyush were brilliant Hip-hop dancers, who wanted to hone their skills and perform in Europe and North America before returning to India to launch a dance academy.

Nathan was a gifted caricature and cartoon artist. A big fan of Mario Miranda, Nathan had his own unique style of cartooning and a witty perspective about the world around him. He had a lot in mind to say through comics and graphic storytelling.

Amy and Shelly were cooking enthusiasts. If not browsing the internet for new recipes around the world, the duo would be experimenting with a new dish in any of the friends’ kitchen, while the others eagerly await to taste and comment.

Aaryan was a bit different from the group as he was more interested in science and space more than any art form.

Yet, they were all great buddies, almost of similar age group, who hung out together after college. Their parents were little cogs in the giant machinery of the city’s economy. They worked 9 – 5 and travelled for four hours each day in crammed-up trains and buses. Week after week and year after year, their parents struggled relentlessly to keep their heads above the surface, while their children grew up in creches with caregivers, and learned to look after themselves very early in life.

While there was a lot of uncertainty about the future among the gang of friends, they all were clear on one thing – not ending up like their parents who were enslaved by money.

Often, the group gathered in the small society park in the afternoon and discussed plans of a bright future, until their parents came late in the evening. If you could see this group of dreaming, planning and yearning young people, you would feel the taut, palpable mixture of anxiety, emotion and energy strung around them.

Each one of the friends experienced a mixed ball of fear and hope about the future rolling in the stomach, a feeling that only the youth can understand.

The story would have ended differently; the talent and yearning would have perished in the grind of life, had they not spoken to the wise old man that day.

Like the group of youngsters, the 75 years old Mr Bond (he once called himself that, no one knew if that was true) would also visit the park with his bundle of newspapers and a writing pad, and stayed till it got dark.

The youngsters discounted Mr Bond’s presence as he would sit quietly and never utter a word. The group had started to treat Mr Bond’s presence like the hedge marking the perimeter of the tiny park.

One afternoon, Amy and Shelly had cooked a Japanese gourmet dish, which they carried to the park for everyone to taste. Out of courtesy, they also offered it to Mr Bond, who, to their surprise, accepted the dish with a smile. After a mouthful, he exclaimed, “Ummm … delicious Tempura. Very well cooked.”

Amy and Shelly were surprised, “Mr Bond, you knew about this Japanese dish.”

“Hmm … I have had it in Japan, as well as Portugal where it is really from. But tell you the truth, I found the Japanese version much better,” he winked and laughed.

The whole group of friends was quite curious to know more about Mr Bond, and if he was rich enough to afford travels around the world.

Mr Bond was quite amused to see the group surrounding him like a bunch of reporters, excitedly shooting questions towards him.

As the youngsters looked expectantly at Mr Bond, he began telling them his story.

“I was born in a little town in a household way poorer than yours,” he began, smiling.

“And I didn’t like to live with limited resources, just like you guys. I wanted to be free of financial obligation and never wanted to slave hard to earn a little money as my parents did. I wanted to roam around the world, learn new cultures and eat exotic food from far off lands.

“My parents would often tell me that there is no point having dreams that couldn’t come true, and that I must accept my reality. But that was a bit too much for me,” he laughed heartily.

“As I grew up, I started learning skills, randomly. By the time I was about the age to join college, I could fix a transistor, weave baskets and make puppets,” Mr Bond said with a twinkle in his eyes.

“But do you know, which was the most important skill that I learnt while growing up?” the group shook their heads in a no, transfixed in the wonderful story narrated by Mr Bond.

“It was the skill of learning to manage money. I once taught Math – yes, I was really good in the subject – to the children of a rich gentleman who took a liking to me, and taught me some valuable lessons,” Mr Bond said with a faraway look in his eyes.

“What were the lessons,” a curious Nathan asked impatiently.

Mr Bond smiled and bent a little to look closely at the faces around him, “He taught me that money saved is money earned. He taught me to distinguish between needs and wants. And most importantly, he taught me to work hard initially in my life, make regular investments and to make money work for me instead of me working for money.”

There was pin-drop silence in the park. The group had never heard about money working for people. It was always the other way around!

On their persistence to elaborate, Mr Bond told them that when you start investing the money instead of spending it, you earn more money as a return on the money you have invested. Over a period of time, your money starts to grow, in turn, attracting more returns as it grows. See, that’s your money working for you,” explained Mr Bond.

As the group of friends tossed and turned the idea in their heads, Aaryan whispered one thought that loomed in everyone’s mind, “But we have no money of our own to invest.”

“Well, you are lucky, you have mutual funds, where you can invest as low as Rs 500 per month. There was nothing like this when I was growing up,” Mr Bond imitated a sulking child.

The group didn’t know anything about mutual funds, so, Mr Bond explained to them that in a mutual fund, several investors contribute to creating a big pool of money, which is invested in the stock market by a qualified and experienced Fund Manager. Investors have the option to pay small sums of money in a mutual fund through SIPs (Systematic Investment Plan) each month.

“Drop by drop, you add money to your portfolio, which grows at a compounded rate, building huge wealth over a long period of time, say over ten years,” explained Mr Bond.

“I can manage to save Rs 500 per month from my allowances,” said Piyush.

“Me, too!” exclaimed Kyra.

“So can I,” chimed in Aaryan and Shelly.

Soon, all the children agreed to cut down their expenses to make room for investment. Mr Bond also introduced the children to researching various mutual funds and the stock market investments through blogs and articles.

With their parents’ permission and blessings, the children started investing in mutual funds through SIPs. They knew it well that this is going to be a long journey and they have to disciplined all through it. But that didn’t deter the talented, resolute youngsters as they were ready to take concrete steps towards improving their situation and break the shackles of livelihood. They knew the process of their transformation has begun, and that knowledge channelized their energy and talents into a more productive and rewarding way.

Nave Marg and Dr Celso Fernandes, author of five much-loved books and a leading crusader for financial literacy in Goan youth, help students secure a brighter future by spreading financial awareness. Dr Celso believes that if all the students become financially free and not depend on their jobs to survive, they can pursue careers of their choice, create and innovate lovely things and be happy and caring citizens of India.

 

How Can Parents Bridge the Gap Between Expectations & Aspirations?

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Nash was a rising soccer star at his school. A gifted athlete, Nash’s opponents found it hard to tackle the ball from him once he had it in his control. Still in senior school, Nash had already been instrumental in winning several local football championships for his school team.

Nash was very popular at his school and among the football enthusiasts in his district. However, at home, his footballing genius was uncelebrated. His father, Edwin, was worried that Nash was spending way too much time on the soccer field than studying. As a result, there was always a tensed environment in the house, much to Cheryl’s, Nash’s mother, disappointment. She could see the widening rift between the father and the son, and she was desperate to find the solution to this problem.

So, Cheryl took it upon herself to talk to her husband and learn the root cause of the conflict. One Sunday, while Nash had gone out for a birthday party in the neighbourhood, Cheryl planned a surprise coffee outing for the two. After observing how rarely they got to sit and talk leisurely over a steaming cup of coffee, Cheryl deftly drove the conversation to Edwin’s rising apprehension towards Nash’s budding career as a soccer player.

‘Cheryl dear, you know how I love him and am so proud to hear all the praise for his football skills that he gets from everyone around us,’ Edwin spoke up after a long moment of silence.

‘Then why don’t you appreciate him a bit. You know how much he looks up to you and how much your appreciation means to him,’ pleaded Cheryl.

With tears swarming in his eyes, Edwin said, ‘I am afraid what will happen if his career as a sportsman doesn’t take off. You remember cousin Maynard, don’t you? Even after shooting winning goals in crucial matches at the district level, he was never picked up by any of the big clubs. Without education to fall back upon, he was left with no career and no money.’

Cheryl knew about Maynard’s failed football career, but she wasn’t ready to stomp at her darling son’s aspirations just because his uncle couldn’t fulfil his dreams.

After thinking for a few moments, Cheryl proposed, ‘Why don’t we arrange professional football coaching for Nash. It will certainly improve his game and also his chances of making a brighter future as a sportsman.’

Drawing a long sigh, Edwin said, ‘I have thought about it dear, but I have been setting aside some money for Nash’s higher education, which leaves me with nothing else. I can’t afford to pay for his football coaching, as well as, save for his higher education.’

Edwin thought that Cheryl would be dejected after hearing this, but quite opposed to it, she began grinning in a knowing, mischievous way.

‘I think I have a solution to this problem,’ she exulted happily.

A perplexed Edwin looked on as Cheryl dug into the chocolate cake, which lay untouched on her plate thus far. She seemed very calm, yet her eyes danced with excitement. It appeared to Edwin that she was calculating something between mouthfuls of cake.

‘Okay, what is it, please tell me,’ Edwin blurted out his confusion, unable to bear the suspense.

‘Starting from tomorrow, we will start investing to fund Nash’s football coaching, as well as, his higher studies,’ Cheryl declared.

‘Were you not listening to me? I don’t have enough money to fund both,’ Edwin did nothing to hide his exasperation.

‘Well, but Nash has time,’ she said calmly.

Cheryl reminded Edwin that she had been to a seminar on financial literacy by a leading financial expert in the state, where she had learnt about long-term investments in mutual funds through SIPs (Systematic Investment Plans).

She told Edwin that mutual funds are essentially a large pool of money from small investors that are invested into the stock market by a qualified Fund Manager. Over time, mutual funds earn returns at a compounding rate, helping the small investors create significant wealth.

‘But stock markets are risky,’ Edwin voiced his doubts.

‘Of course, the stock market is volatile – it has its ebbs and flows. However, this fluctuation in the market is the sole reason why the stock markets grow. Also, if one stays invested for a very long time, say over ten years, in spite of the market dips, the returns are astoundingly big. I have done my research and found this trend to be true. Most people make the mistake of exiting the market when it is on a downward trend, thus booking losses,’ Cheryl explained to her husband like a top financial expert on CNN, which surprised and bemused Edwin at the same time.

‘We can split the money you are saving for Nash’s education into two, investing in mutual funds through monthly SIPs, and let the money grow,’ suggested Cheryl.

‘Go on,’ said Edwin, warming up to the idea of investing.

‘We will gradually increase the SIP sum, and will also encourage Nash to save from his allowances and add to his funds through top-ups – yes they are possible – which will also help him to differentiate between needs and wants and manage his funds better,’ she added excitedly.

‘Brilliant!’ exclaimed Edwin, catching up on his wife’s excitement.

Cheryl added, ‘And by the time, let’s encourage Nash to play his best game, practice as much as he can, and spend time with him, helping him cope up with his studies.’

‘That’s a good idea. You think that if I praise Nash’s game, he will listen to me and pay more attention to his studies?’ asked Edwin hopefully.

Cheryl looked lovingly at her husband and nodded.

‘He is a good boy, Edwin. He is much more concerned about his career than us when we were of his age,’ she added.

The air was brimming with anticipation and happy promises as Cheryl walked back to her home, holding Edwin’s hand, who had a determined look on his face. Cheryl silently thanked the financial expert who showed her the way to use financial planning to fulfil her son’s aspirations while still meeting her husband’s expectations from their son.

 

Dr Celso Fernandes is an author, speaker and a leading financial advisor in Goa. He, along with his team at Nave Marg Financial Consultants, is on a continual drive to spread financial awareness among the Goan families. Fondly known as the Financial Doctor of Goa, Dr Celso Fernandes can be reached at +91-9422058741 for a free consultation on attaining financial independence.

 

 

Family That Invests Together, Grows Rich Together

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Vandita was a regular fifteen-year-old girl with a positive outlook and an intellectual promise. She was good in studies and sports and was an eloquent orator, too. Hailing from a middle-class family that shifted to Goa from a neighbouring state a couple of years ago, Vandita was smart, intelligent and vivacious. She had no doubt in her mind that she would grow up to claim a future full of possibilities and material comfort. Life for her was certainly not a bed of roses, however, there was nothing she could complain about. Her parents worked hard and provided her with a good education and a loving atmosphere at home.

Yet, there was something that kept playing on Vandita’s mind.  Being a practical girl, she knew that her household income was limited, and there was no sign of it improving drastically in the years to come, which, she knew, would jeopardise her myriad dreams coming true. She was well aware of the fact that it would be another five odd years before she could secure a job and start earning, and by then, it would be too late to start saving to fund her dream of studying in a foreign university.

While she was still trying to find a solution to this quandary, Vandita happened to attend a seminar on Financial Independence in her school. Initially, she was reluctant to attend the seminar as she thought that the person conducting it would talk in jargons she wouldn’t understand. However, once she attended the seminar, it changed her life.

The financial expert spoke to the students in a very simple language and frequently shared anecdotes and stories to explain how and why youngsters like her can adopt financial literacy to become financially independent in less than a decade’s time.

Vandita was pleasantly surprised to know that earning a substantial amount of money was not rocket science, and anyone, with determination and a clear financial goal, can become rich.

The financial expert spoke about investing small sums of money, as low as Rs 500 a month, in mutual funds through Systematic Investment Plans or SIPs. A mutual fund, he explained to the students, was a way of investing in the strong stock market of India where small investors can earn compounded returns and build large portfolios over a period of time.

Vandita felt as if her prayers were answered, and she decided to explore SIP investments in the mutual fund a bit more. In the computer lab, Vandita dug out a lot of information on mutual funds and was quite impressed to see the results. Mutual funds, she realized, gave far better returns on investments over a long period of time, when compared to fixed deposits and other traditional saving schemes. In fact, some of the funds had given higher returns than the real estate sector!

Satisfied with her result, Vandita planned to break this news to her parents and arrange a meeting with the financial expert to chalk out her financial goals and seek his inputs on choosing good funds.

However, she faced an unexpected resistance from her parents.

‘Who tried to lure into stock market gambling?’ Vandita’s father retorted irritably to her investing plan. ‘Don’t you know, we have already lost lakhs of rupees trading in shares?’

Vandita was quite baffled by this unexpected resistance from her parents. She tried to reason with them with facts and figures, but they were quite adamant in their stand.

Saddened by the turn of events, Vandita carried on with her studies. But she never forgot the financial expert’s teachings about needs and wants, and inculcated a habit of saving from her meagre allowance.

After passing out from school, Vandita joined a good college, which was luckily not far from her home. The proximity of her college afforded her some free time in which she took up a part-time job. After working hard and saving for two years, Vandita accumulated a tidy sum. She wondered if she could now start investing in mutual funds, and mustered the courage to have the forbidden discussion once again at her home.

This time, she pointed out that since it is her hard-earned money, she must get to choose how she spends or invests it. Vandita’s parents were quite impressed by their daughter’s single-minded approach and relented.

‘But I want you two to join me for the meeting with the financial expert,’ she announced with an air of finality.

Reluctantly, her parents accompanied her to the financial expert’s office at the appointed hour. As the discussion begun, Vandita revealed to the expert her parent’s aversion to the stock market and narrated him the full debacle that cost the family a large chunk of their savings.

The financial expert, after patiently listening to their story, startled them with a revelation.

He told Vandita and her parents that had they not withdrawn their money from the market in panic, and stayed invested till date, their portfolio would have grown multiple times over.

‘People tend to forget that the stock market gives the best returns over a long period. Often, scared by falling share prices, inexperienced investors hastily sell their stocks and bear losses,’ he explained.

The financial expert also told the trio that there is no point crying over the spilled milk, and they must start afresh; but this time, they must promise to themselves that no matter what the market conditions are, they would stay committed to regular investments.

‘After all, the ups and downs of the stock market is the primary force that generates wealth for the investors,’ he concluded.

Vandita was happy to see her parents’ mindset being changed as all three of them signed up for investment in mutual funds through SIPs.

Vandita’s determination and focus on creating a financially independent future for herself paid results. As she finished her graduation and started a full-time job, she accelerated her SIP investments. Her parents also invested in SIPs at an increased pace and the family was able to accumulate a significant portfolio in much lesser time than they had expected. Vandita is now financially free, and is presently writing applications to universities in the US and Europe for a postgraduate course in the field of her choice.

 

Dr. Celso Fernandes champions the cause of spreading financial literacy among the youth of Goa. A well-regarded financial expert, author and speaker, Dr. Celso Fernandes, together with his team at Nave Marg Financial Consultants, is mentoring several youngsters in becoming millionaires before they turn 30. Dr. Celso can be reached at +91-9422058741.

Invest Wisely to Make Your Dreams Real

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Neal had magic in his fingers. At the young age of 15, he was a rock star in his own right. Every weekend, he performed at several shacks on the pristine beaches of Goa, the crowd swooning to each and every riff he belted out.

But Neal had bigger plans. He loved playing music in his beloved state but dreamed of something bigger – he wanted international acclaim. He wanted to be one of those stars who had put Goa on the global music map.

Of course, he had talent; he knew that. But talent was not enough to break into the international music scene. He aspired to join the coveted Berklee College of Music, and planned his journey to fame, day and night. However, there was only one thing that stood between him and his cherished dream.

“Ma, I want to study in Boston. I want to join the Berklee College of Music. Trust me – once am there, even sky is not the limit for me!”

“Son, why do you want to go so far? You are so popular here. Study in Goa and continue with your music. You will be happy.”

“But I won’t be satisfied, Ma. I have bigger dreams.”

“Neal, big dreams are for rich people. You know how hard we work to give you a decent education and run this household. It is your weekend gigs that are sponsoring your lavish lifestyle, but son, you know we can’t afford to send you abroad.”

“That’s unfair, Ma…life is unfair…”

Sad and forlorn, Neal left the room. How many times had he heard people tell him about the power of manifesting your dreams…but could he manifest money? Eventually, wasn’t it money that made everything possible?

Angry and frustrated, Neal could not sleep that night. He wondered how people became millionaires overnight. Was it a crime to be born in a middle-class family? Why did his mother say that big dreams were reserved for rich people!

Suddenly, he stood up from his bed and switched on his laptop.

“Young millionaires in Goa” – he quickly typed in Google.

After a little research, he stumbled upon the Young Achievers Club of Goa, a group of youngsters who aspired to be millionaires guided by a renowned financial advisor.

Neal started reading through the site and was astounded to learn about mutual fund investments and how investing as low as INR 500 per month could lead to a significant amount over a period of five years or more.

***

It was early morning, and the first rays of the sun streamed through the window, hitting Neal gently. Neal blinked his eyes, and a broad smile erupted on his face. It was a new day – one filled with hope for his future. Today, he knew the secret to manifest money. In fact, he had read that he could even grow his self-replenishing money tree!

He dashed to his mother and told her that they were meeting a financial advisor in the afternoon. She was shocked.

“Neal, we don’t have any surplus. We will only waste money by meeting a financial advisor.”

“Mom, consulting with a financial advisor is free of cost. Besides, you must trust me. We are going to grow our money tree, soon!”

Reluctantly, Neal’s mom accompanied him for the meeting.

Once there, the financial expert asked them about their financial goals and aspirations and chalked out an investment plan for them. He suggested that they make small yet regular investments in mutual funds through SIPs (Systematic Investment Plan) to grow a large corpus that could be used to fund Neal’s education.

He also explained to them that money invested in mutual funds earns a compounded rate of return. So, if invested regularly for an extended 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.

 Just like a money tree that keeps growing new leaves each time you pluck some – clapped Neal happily!

Both the mother and son left the financial advisor’s office with big smiles on their faces. The future of their dreams was here!

Dr. Celso Fernandes, fondly referred to as the Financial Doctor of Goa, is on a mission to empower the youth of Goa with financial literacy. A renowned speaker and author of five much-loved books, he mentors young students in financial discipline with a goal to make them financially independent much early in life. He can be contacted at +91-9422058741.