Most often, securing a future, especially in our country, means attaining higher education and landing a plush job. Wish that alone was true.
A TimesJobs survey published recently revealed a scary picture where as high as 50% of Indian employees are in severe financial distress. This comes as a surprise as the Indian economy is faring much better than most advanced nations, and also, the employees’ take-home packages are much higher than what they used to be a decade-and-half ago!
The reasons for the rising financial stress among the Indian working class are aplenty; from the ever-rising inflation to compulsive online buying to increasing cost of maintaining a good lifestyle. However, the major problem behind the mounting financial stress among Indians is owing to lack of financial literacy and financial discipline.
Financial stress leads to depression, unhappiness and pain.
Yes, while we like to believe that we are financially disciplined and know how to put money to its best use, the truth is that a majority of us never feature ‘financial planning’ in our list of priorities. While we pass out the college with flying colours and a soaring spirit, take up important, well-paying jobs; still, most of us struggle to create sufficient funds for emergencies, major life events such as the wedding or retirement.
“So, what can we do to avoid a future filled with financial distress?” you’d ask.
The good news is that if you are in school or college, there is still hope for you to ensure a future that is financially secure. You have the gift of time.
Here are five simple things that you can do while you are still in college to ensure that you take the right path towards a future of financial abundance.
Assess Your ‘Money Emotion’: Even before you plan to work towards attaining financial independence, find out your perception of money. Do you find it evil or overly tempting? Do you feel it is the cause of all evils or you find it important to alleviate social pains and meet emergencies? Whatever may your ‘money emotion’ be, evaluate it in a real-world scenario and map it with your dreams and ambitions.
Make Financial Goals: It is much easier to chalk out your long and short-term financial goals once you understand your psychological relationship with money vis-à-vis your life goals. Of course, your life is going to take many twists and turns, and it is difficult to predict the lifestyle you would eventually have, but, in any case, you need to be prepared for some life-events that cost a lot of money (wedding, your first car, buying a house, starting a family, striking off items on your bucket list, etc.).
Differentiate Between Needs & Wants: Needs are the things that you require to survive. Wants are desires you have. So, water is your need; a Smartphone isn’t. Often, in order to satiate our cravings, we make utterly senseless shopping decisions and end up spending more than what we can afford. Credit cards, if not managed astutely, can fuel chronic debt cycles, and as a result, mounting financial stress. There is no other way of conjuring money out of thin air than letting it stay unspent in your pocket. So, choose wisely between what you want and what you need when you go out shopping the next time.
Invest Before Spending: If you’d believe one of the world’s wealthiest men, investing before spending is the mantra to grow rich. Warren Buffet famously said that before paying anyone else, we must pay ourselves. This means that we must make some investments (ideally 25% of the income) before we splurge our money on wants and necessities. You would wonder where to invest the meager amount that is just a fraction of your pocket money? Well, we will come to it in the next point.
Commit to Long-Term Regular Investments
Your precious savings – earned by sacrificing your wants – must not rot in piggy banks and fixed deposits and savings accounts. You would want to earn the best return on your investment, isn’t it? This is why you must choose a good mutual fund and invest regularly through SIPs (Systematic Investment Plans). You can start with as low as INR 500/- per month and earn a handsome return on your investments. However, it is important to be disciplined in paying SIPs regularly (increasing them as you start earning), month after month, at least for ten years to ensure a huge portfolio that can take care of expenses related to any life event.
Did you know that if invested smartly, your money starts working for you, earning more and more money without you having to sweat for it?
Start now. Invest regularly. Let the effect of compounding increase your pool of money.
Dr. Celso Fernandes, Goa’s Financial Doctor, is on a mission to create awareness about financial literacy and financial independence, especially amongst the youngsters. He is the author of three much-loved books and actively participate in various social causes.