5 reasons invest stock markets 2017

5 Reasons Why You Should Invest in Stock Markets in 2017

5 reasons invest stock markets 2017

Indian equity markets saw a lot of turbulence end of the last year owing primarily due to the demonetization drive on the home front and the unexpected Donald Trump win in the US. After being directionless for some time, the markets have now taken on positive global and domestic cues and Nifty recently hit its all-time high. I was bullish all through 2016 and feel there is still time to take the plunge, as the future looks even more promising.

Let us look at 5 factors that would drive the markets, and can take the indices to new highs:

Political stability in the US

Now that Mr Trump has been sworn-in as the President of the United States, the uproar over his candidature and then the demonstrations against his win have abated. People are now looking forward to the policies he is going to implement and the foreign relations he would build (or destroy).

If one were to look at the performance of the US Equity Markets (Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500, and the Nasdaq), the DJIA has risen over 2,000 points since the announcement of the election outcome. Recently, Nasdaq set-up new highs almost every day. In response, the markets globally have also breathed a sigh of relief and believe Trump may not be as bad as he was thought to be. In fact, the Indian Markets are looking strong on the charts that many traders and investors follow.

The Indian Markets have received a major share of the Foreign Investments for long, and that is only expected to get better, thus pushing up the stocks even further.

Demonetization Behind Us

The markets took a beating when PM Modi suddenly announced demonetization of all Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes in circulation. The result was chaos all around since India has primarily been a cash-driven economy. However, within just a couple of months, the new notes made their way to most of the people who were suffering from the cash-crunch and the whole situation seems to have been forgotten now.

Going by the results of the quarter ending December 2016 for NSE or BSE listed Companies, many still beat the consensus estimates and have given a strong outlook. This means one can safely take long positions and make a good return in the medium-to-long term, though there might be hiccups on the way since the markets have had only one way run in the recent months.

GST Roll-out

The passage of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill is expected to contribute about a percentage point to India’s GDP in the next 3-5 years. It is going to hugely benefit the economy since tax rationalizing on multiple fronts will reduce compliance costs for the firms. Specifically, the GST will lead to a common market, as against the (current) fragmented one with separate center and state levies and will give a huge boost to the Make in India campaign by addressing the cascading of taxes, inter-state tax and high logistics costs. In addition, the tax credits will encourage suppliers to pay taxes rather than avoiding them.

Touted as the biggest tax reform ever in India, the GST is supposed to be rolled out from July 1, 2017.

Supportive Budget

In the Union Budget for 2017-18, the Government took a slew of measures that would provide a thrust to many sectors of the economy. These came in the form of higher capital expenditures on the rural and agricultural sectors, which form the backbone of our country. Positive steps were also taken to ensure affordable housing, creation of infrastructure and digital economy.

Overall, the budget was market and growth-oriented. And the results are already showing up if one were to look at the returns some stocks have given since then.

Positive Investment Climate

The Finance Ministry (in the budget) gave a big push to the ease of doing business by promising to simplify labour laws, abolishing the Foreign Investment and Promotion Board (FIPB) as part of the fiscal reform, and extending the tax reduction to MSMEs (by 5 percent). The impetus would more than negate the downside of the demonetization effects that were witnessed by various sectors.

Adding further to the optimism are the GDP numbers for the Quarter ending Dec ’16, that came in much higher than expected at 7.0%, showing that the economy is surprisingly resilient. This ensures that India is still the fastest growing major economy in the world.

Moreover, there are a few other factors too that would provide impetus to the markets. These include the recent Interest rate hike in the US which passed off as a non-event on the domestic front and the thumping win of BJP in the largest state of India. In addition, RBI could bring down the rates adding fuel to the uptrend.

All in all, I view the markets to perform well in 2017 and there is money to be made in select sectors and stocks with strong fundamentals.

The views are personal, and any recommendations inferred should be followed-up with a proper research before investing.

Alok is an Engineer (Gold Medalist), MBA in Finance from IIFT, and FRM certified. He has worked with many renowned Investment Banks in the US. He also writes at alok-singhal.com


Missed Tax Proof Submission Deadline, Here’s What You Can Do!

missed tax proof submission deadline

Last month ended with one of my good friends ringing me after a long time. “Simar, just got peanuts this month. Almost my entire salary got deducted as taxes. My only mistake was that I missed the tax proof submission deadline by a couple of days.” The conversation didn’t have the usual hellos and the sadness of paying more taxes was very evident.

It’s okay, brother. You might be having a little financial hardship for a month or so, but you need not worry. Income Tax Department refunds the excess tax paid quickly these days.” I tried to console Aman.

I further continued, “Apart from what the employer considers, there some other deductions that the employer may not consider but can be claimed in Income Tax Returns. One such deduction is the amount donated to registered NGOs/specified funds.” This was another attempt to soothe Aman’s tax woes.

But how will I calculate the eligible tax deductions? How do I claim to have paid extra tax to the Income Tax Department? Do I have to submit an application to Income Tax Department intimating such extra tax paid?” Aman fired the questions one after the other.

I moved on to answer all the queries one by one.

Most Common Tax Deductions

Exemption in respect of House Rent Allowance (HRA) – To provide relief to salaried people living on rent, Income Tax Act offers tax deductions towards the rent paid as per a prescribed formula. The amount of rent paid as reduced by 10% of the basic salary can be claimed as a deduction from salary, which is, however, subject to the amount of HRA received and further, subject to 50% of the basic salary, in case the rented property is located in Metros and 40% in other cases.

Just to illustrate, you are living in a rented apartment in New Delhi, paying a monthly rent of Rs. 10500. Further, your basic salary is Rs. 20000 and HRA received is Rs. 7,500. So, the exemption shall be the minimum of following:

  • 50% of Salary, as the house is in Delhi 10,000
  • Rent paid – 10% of Salary = 10,500 – 2,000 8,500
  • HRA Received 7,500

So, the exemption shall be Rs. 7,500 per month.

Investment/ Payment Linked Deductions – Section 80C of the Income Tax Act provides for deductions in respect of certain payments and investments. Some of the eligible investments are 5-year tax saver FD, equity MFs with 3-year lock-in, National Savings Certificates (NSCs), Public Provident Fund (PPF), Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) etc. Different investment avenues come with different lock-in period, different restrictions and different returns. Similarly, certain payments qualify for tax deductions e.g. life insurance premium, school tuition fees of children, repayment of the principal amount of housing loan etc. Even if you did not declare the same to your employer, you can always claim the same in your ITR and get your taxable income reduced to that extent. In most of the cases, the deduction is to the extent of the amount paid/ invested. However, the total amount of such deductions, including the PF deducted out of your salary is restricted to Rs. 1,50,000.

Deductions towards Donations – There is a specific section providing for deductions from taxable income towards amounts donated to registered NGOs/certain specified funds like PM National Relief Fund. For donations to NGOs, 50% of the amount so donated can be claimed as a deduction, subject to a maximum of 10% of the total income.

How to Claim these Deductions from Income?

One need not apply separately to Income Tax Department to claim such deductions from income. The details are only required to be filled in the Income Tax Return form to be filed with Income Tax Department. Even the proofs of such payments are not required to be attached with the Return form. However, the same should be kept in records for future reference.

Once you file the return with Income Tax Department, the same will be processed as per the provisions of the Income Tax Act, and refund, if any, will be made to your bank account. One might also get interest @6% per annum on such refunds, which is actually higher than what is earned by just keeping the amount in Savings Account.

So, there is at least something to cheer about even in this situation.” Aman seemed relieved now.

Besides Aman, this may be the story of thousands of employees who may have missed submitting their tax proof deadlines. However, all is not lost as one can easily claim refund for the excess tax deducted by filing all the requisite details in the Income Tax Return form.

So, worry less, have no stress, claim the tax deducted in excess at the time of filing ITR. Do comment below for any questions.

Simardeep Singh is a Chartered Accountant based in Delhi. He loves sharing his knowledge about personal finance and investment. He blogs regularly at  www.simardeep.com.


17 Easy Changes That Can Save You Thousands Every Month

Last night I was reading about calories. Empty calories to be specific. Even if one consumes a measly number, say 100 calories a day, it adds to 3000 in a month. Nearly the same we have to burn to lose a pound. That made me realize how even a small change can bring a big impact in the long run. I was reviewing our monthly budget later and I decided to bring small changes in my monthly expenditure as well. I’ve been doing a few things to cut my expenses and added few more on the list. Here are the easy changes that can help us save thousands every month.

Shop on assigned days unless it’s an emergency

The best way to stick to your monthly budget is to shop on pre-assigned days. We tend to spend money every time we go to the market. Some of the items we buy are not even necessary. We see, we buy. We think later, though. Correct this by shopping on specific days of the week.

Control impulsive spending by managing your credit cards

Most of us have multiple credit cards. Categorize the credit cards. Keep separate credit cards for grocery shopping, online shopping and for big purchases. This way we can streamline our spending. Keep high-limit credit cards at home to avoid impulsive shopping. Don’t carry all credit cards while going out.

Plan your meals twice a week

One of our major excuses to eat out is not being able to decide what to cook. After a day’s work, our brain is tired to think of a quick meal. Plan ahead to avoid that. Make meal plan on the weekend or twice a week. This would help to save a lot as eating out is really expensive these days. One less meal per week can help you save up to 1500 INR.

Unsubscribe from mailing lists of your favorite brands

Sale events, online deals, and special offers are temptation traps. When we see a good deal, we want to grab it. We fall for the offer whether we want the product or not. Avoid them completely. Unsubscribe from the emails of your favorite brands.

Download a price comparison app on your phone

Apps come handy while shopping online. It shows the website where the product is available at the most competitive price. Download an app and compare the price before placing an order.

Invite friends, instead of going out

Eating out is one of the major expenses in our budget. And it’s an easy one to control. Hang out with your friends at home, instead of a mall. Rather than ordering food, organize a potluck. It’s more intimate, fun and personal.

Clean up the closets and sell the unwanted stuff

The more stuff we have, the more time and money we spend in maintaining it. Sell all that you haven’t used in the last 6 months. Make some money and some space in your closets.

Assign a day for repairs, maintenance, and cleaning appliances

My mother has the same mixer for the last 30 years. I have changed two blenders in the last eight. We buy small appliances more often than our parents. We can cut this expense out by repairing them and running monthly maintenance. Like - cleaning AC filter screen and steam iron. It makes the products efficient and reduces the electricity bill.

Plant a vegetable garden

Homegrown produce is fresh, tastes better and saves hundreds every month. If you have a patch of land, grow seasonal vegetables. If not, make some room on the terrace or in the kitchen. Plant vines and herbs in pots.

Read a book

I do two things when I am free. Either I eat or I surf products online. We tend to indulge in wasteful activities when we are bored. When I am not entertained, I buy movies, which I don’t enjoy much. The best activity is to read a book. Reading is a good habit and a great way of entertaining ourselves. Become a member of a local library to borrow books. Save the money we tend to spend while spending time at a cafe or mall.

Walk whenever and wherever you can

Walking is a great exercise. It refreshes the mind and saves money too. Don’t hire an auto to go to the grocery store. If weather and health permits, walk. I used to walk to the weekly farmer’s market in Noida savings INR 20 and used that money to buy fruits. Same applies to your car and two wheelers. Take them out when need be. Save on fuel and be healthy. Walk to small distances.

Think before adding an item in the shopping cart

We spot a deal in the supermarket and grab it. We don’t think twice. It’s only when we see the product unused on the kitchen shelf, it pinches us. Don’t grab a deal unless you really want it. Think before you add an item in your shopping cart, not after you’ve bought it. Use this trick - I call my friend to ask if she needs it. This way we split the cost and buy the product at a bargained price.

Don’t go out on an empty stomach

I follow this rule very strictly. My husband had the habit of wrapping tasks fast. So, he wanted to go grocery shopping at 11 am on Saturday, which was around lunch time. Not only did we buy extra products but we went to a restaurant for lunch as we could not wait longer to go home and cook. We wasted a lot of money earlier. Hence, I made this change. I don’t head out for any place without eating first. Great way to save money. If I am in a rush, I take a packet of biscuits, fruits or nuts in my purse.

Try shop-pool

Sounds funny? It’s more like a carpool. Make shopping buddies. Don’t go to all the stores. Give one store to your friend with a list of items you want. You can go to another to fetch what they need. I go to Walmart and my friend who has Costco membership buys what we need from there. We call in advance and have devised our own monthly system. We save on membership fees, fuel cost, time and money.

Learn leftover recipes

To control food wastage and save money on excess cooking, learn leftovers recipes. Leftover cooking is easy and less time-consuming. Kids love them and they make perfect tea-time snacks or breakfast items.

Check for free events in newspaper for weekend outings

Cut your entertainment budget by attending events that are free. Browse local newspaper to check for ongoing exhibitions, events, cultural festivals and music shows. Attend with your friends and family. Such events are more fun than two and half hours of movie and empty expenses on popcorn and soda. Explore more art forms.

Be positive and meditate

Last but not the least, try to bring more positivity into your life. Meditate or practice yoga. Happy people make wise decisions. This aspect is reflected in every walk of life, including the financial matters.

Make these small adjustments to save money. These changes would help you to be in better control of your finances and life.

A Company Secretary by profession, Saru found her true calling in writing. She blogs at sarusinghal.com which she religiously updates every Monday for the last five years.


7 Traditional Money Saving Tactics Used by Women that Still Work

Let’s rewind back 20 years. There was a wedding in the extended family. My family was all set to attend the 3-day long ceremony. All of us had new dresses and a fat wad of money for shagun. Looking back, I wonder how my mother managed everything. As a middle-class woman, she had all under control - school fees, tuition fees, monthly bills and even had a contingency fund. She was better prepared than most modern couples I’ve come across. Please note, if not more, salaries have tripled in the last two decades. How come my mother met all her obligations with a monthly income of 10,000 INR? Something we can’t achieve with our fat checks nowadays. After my marriage, whenever I asked how she managed her finances - her answers were simple. And there lies the wisdom - passed from generation to generation. The traditional ways to save and manage money which I’ve incorporated and streamlined my finances. We all can use these traditional methods that still work and save thousands annually.

Recurring Deposits

My mother was a fan of RDs or Recurring Deposits. At any point in time, she had at least 2. The amount was often nominal. If I look closely, it was her way of ensuring she saved before spending. The moment RDs matured, she invested them. She planned for major events using RDs as well. If there was a wedding in the next 10 months. She used this method to save money for the ceremony. Result - she was prepared for all the occasions and also for the emergencies.

Vegetable Garden/ Home Grown Produce

The major household spending is on the groceries. My mother made sure to save on this front, too. She planted seasonal produce in our vegetable garden. Herbs were always planted in the pots and moved indoors during the winter season. She stored the homegrown onions, potatoes, ginger, and garlic for the year-long consumption. Even after deducting the salary of our gardener, she saved hundreds every month on the produce. Plus we always ate fresh and healthy.

Buying in Bulk

Mom made the best use of the wholesale price. Desi Ghee, cooking oil, pulses, and even the toiletries were bought in bulk. It’s the same we do these days. The difference is we pay membership fees to stores which sell at the wholesale price. It’s amusing to see a traditional money-saving trick used by Indians has provided a business model to the corporate world. My mother, as everyone around us, bought in bulk. This way she saved thousands on everyday items each year. The reason she could afford to buy more things than many other families in the neighborhood.

DIY

In the last 10 years, the trend of DIY has picked up. Many use it to add a personal touch to their homes. Some have made successful businesses out of it. Little do we all realize, our mothers and grandmothers have been doing this for centuries without getting much credit. My mom knitted sweaters, used her old saree to make fancy cushions, recycled discarded plastic containers into pots for the home garden. Not only she saved money by these DIY projects but also made sure we got worth of every rupee spent.

Bargaining and Stocking Up in Advance

There are a few rules my mother and even her mother follow. They always carry a list when they go shopping. This helps them to stay in budget. They bargain hard, which makes sure they pay the right price. And they shop and stock non-perishable items for the next season in advance. Like most of the winter shopping is done in February’s end-of-year sale. Each one of these rules has made them smart shoppers who don’t leave any stone unturned to save money. We do pretty much the same these days but with apps, coupons, and online deals.

Systematic Use of Change

As a kid I always got coins, never notes. Even for a quick errand like buying a loaf of bread, I was given change. My mother was wise enough to use all the change lying around in the house. She saved the bigger bills for big purchases. This system is extended to how she manages money in her wallet. She carries change in a ziplock bag. She has devised her own system. Under 50 rupees purchase, she uses the money in the ziplock. This way she always has money in her wallet, not a bundle of tens and twenties.

Selling Unused, Old and Recyclables

We had different piles in our storeroom - newspapers, plastics, unused items and things that would go into the donation box. Every couple of months, my parents would sell used, old and recyclable products to the scrap dealer. The money raised always took care of newspaper bill for a quarter. Even I do the same. I sell old or used items before buying new. The only difference is I sell things on the internet. This has helped me to declutter as well as save.

As a middle-class family, money was always tight in our family. So managing money better was the only way to run a household efficiently. With no finance degree to her credit, my mother used these traditional money-saving tactics to manage her finances. She saved money, invested wisely and provided the best of the world to her children. And I am really proud of her.

A Company Secretary by profession, Saru found her true calling in writing. She blogs at sarusinghal.com which she religiously updates every Monday for the last five years.


Money management

How Money Management Can Make You Lead a Better Life

money management lead better life

In 2007, two Australian researchers - Megan Oaten and Ken Cheng - designed an experiment. They signed up 29 people for a 4-month money management program. They set saving goals and asked participants to refrain from luxuries like movies and restaurant meals. Participants had to keep detailed logs of everything they bought. At first, it felt intrusive and annoying. But gradually, people worked up the discipline to jot down the details. The results were unexpected.

People’s finances improved as they progressed through this 4-month program. But surprisingly, this habit filtered into other aspects of their lives too. They smoked lesser cigarettes, consumed less alcohol and caffeine. On an average, they drank two less cups of coffee, two fewer beers and smokers reduced an average of fifteen cigarettes each day. Their junk food intake decreased too and productivity in what they did increased.

Oaten’s and Cheng’s finding in this experiment reinforced a conclusion they had drawn from a previous experiment: as people’s willpower strengthens in one part of life - the gym, saving money etc. - it spills over into what they eat and how hard they work. Once willpower becomes stronger, it touches everything.

Does it sound strange or familiar? The correlation between saving money and leading a better quality of life? Not just because you can buy more things, but because you get better at how you live. If it doesn’t add up, here are four ways to explain this correlation better:

Improved Willpower

When you develop the habit of managing money, research proves that you change how you think. You get better at regulating impulses and distracting yourself from temptations. Once your willpower gets into the groove, your brain becomes better at focusing on a goal. And better focus increases your chances of achieving your goal.

Better Lifestyle

Regulating impulses and handling money well leads to reduction of unwanted luxuries from life. You eat healthier and perform constructive activities, making better use of your time. Thus, you lead a better lifestyle than most of your peers.

Emotional Balance

Improved willpower and a better lifestyle have an unexpected effect on your emotions. Eating healthy results in a healthier body and mind. Research has also proven that people who spend more time pursuing constructive activities and exercise regularly (thus improving their willpower) are able to regulate their emotions better. They are calmer, not just in appearance, but also in managing their thoughts and actions.

Better Decisions

A consequence of emotional balance is the ability to take better decisions. Emotionally intelligent people let logic and reason dominate emotion, instead of vice versa. They can think clearly when others lose their minds and panic. They can take decisions which have positive long-term results, even at the expense of short-term pains. The ability to take better decisions eventually leads to a better quality of life.

These reasons show that managing money has unexpected effects on various parts of your life. Saving money makes you emotionally resilient, develops willpower, makes you live healthier and take better decisions.

So develop the habit of saving money, starting today. You can use apps to track your spending and cut down on unnecessary luxuries for a few months. Avoid outside food, movies and impulse shopping. Track how you spend your money and what you can do to improve it. I can assure you that the results will be far better than what is written in this post. Because I have tried it, and it’s worked wonders. And if it has worked brilliantly for me, it can definitely provide astounding results in your life.

Vishal is the founder of Aryatra, a venture to help individuals improve their productivity and live more fulfilled lives. He also is a digital marketing consultant helping businesses generate revenue from their online presence.


home insurance tips

Buying Home Insurance? Here’s What You Need to Know

 

home insurance what you need to know

Quick, think of a natural disaster that destroyed homes, commercial property and government infrastructure. Can’t zero in on any one of them? That’s because of late, there have been so many incidents, it is difficult to remember just one. Earthquakes damaging homes, floods ravaging even urban areas, fires spreading like, well, wild fire, means natural calamities can wreak havoc with your dream home and cause some serious damage to your pocket.

The sensible thing to do is to take remedial action in advance, and not wait for disaster to strike. Preventive care is the best care. And when it comes to safeguarding your most expensive asset, you cannot afford to be negligent. But, somehow we are not very inclined towards securing our home by shelling out some money to buy adequate cover. Most of us think it is a waste of funds. Nothing could be further from the truth. Not only is it essential to have home insurance, it’s not even expensive. Just consider it as a non-optional expense for maintaining your home.

Now that you are convinced you have to insure your home, what’s the best way of going about it? Here’s what you need to know:

What to Insure?

The first thing to do is to decide exactly what kind of coverage you need. You can opt for either basic fire insurance, or the Householder’s Package Policy (HPP). An HPP will protect you against natural calamities such as fire, lightning, storms and floods. But the best thing about an HPP is that it protects you against riots as well. Some insurance companies will charge an extra premium in order to cover earthquakes and landslides. You can also insure your structure and its contents against terrorism if you opt for an add-on cover. An HPP also offers optional cover that insures the contents of your house against burglary, damage, and mechanical or electrical breakdown.

Opt for a plan depending on whether you want to insure just the land and the structure, or also the contents of your home. However, it is always advisable to take comprehensive home insurance, as it covers most eventualities.

Underinsuring Does Not Work

Since most Indians think of home insurance as an indulgence, or an unnecessary expense, they end up undervaluing their own property to save on the premium. It is self-defeating to undervalue your precious home. Look at it this way: you are insuring your home to get adequate relief, should anything go wrong, and not to save a few bucks. If you under-insure your property, you will not get sufficient cover to restore and repair your home if and when the need arises.

Compare Policies Before Buying One

It is imperative to compare home insurance policies before choosing one. You must have seen any number of ads on TV, telling you to compare policies before zeroing in on the one you think is the best. That’s the right message to take. So, go online, check out your options, have a frank discussion with your agent, and only then finalize your policy.

Learn to Compute the Premium

The amount you shell out for your policy will be determined by several factors -- are you in a risky area/seismic zone? Do you live in a metro or a smaller city, a house or a flat, a lower floor or a higher floor (in case of a multi-storeyed building)? Depending on these factors, you can figure out the premium you should have to pay for your policy.

Insurance is a Long-term Commitment

When you think of insurance for your home, do not be short-sighted. Think long-term, as you will be living in your home for many years, not just a year or two. Infuse permanence in your policy and take a long-term cover, say 20 years or so. Besides, when you take a long-term policy, you do not have to renew the policy every now and then, and it also reduces the amount you pay as the premium.

Summary

In the end, you are securing your most important asset; cutting corners will not help, so, make a sensible decision. And while you need to have a clear idea of what all your home insurance policy includes, it is equally important to know what the exclusions are. Remember, willful destruction of property is a crime, and will not be covered by your policy.

Go ahead and insure your precious home today just like you insure your life and the health of your loved ones.

Suneeta Kaul is a journalist, a writer, and a blogger. She tracks the economy, the corporate sector and the stock markets, and is a keen follower of current events. Having started her career with The Economic Times, she has worked for publications such as The Asian Age, Business India, and Thomson-Reuters, among others.


Kohli financial tips

5 Investment Lessons You Can Learn From Virat Kohli

His name makes people sit up. His batting makes people gasp in awe. And his ability makes us believe in the term ‘God-gifted talent.’

Today, he is the captain of the Indian cricket team, and a run machine. MS Dhoni joked that a stand in a stadium in Australia would be named after him.

But do you remember Virat Kohli when he debuted for India? Do you remember how, until 2010, he struggled to find form? Kohli said that Dhoni saved him from being dropped from the squad many times. How did that player become one of the most prolific batsmen of this era?

There are many lessons to be learned from Virat Kohli. Those lessons are worth implementing in all aspects of life, including investment and making money. Five of them are:

Stick to Basics

According to Experts, the best thing about Kohli is that he does a few things, but does them really well. It’s a reminder of Bruce Lee’s quote - “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

Every successful person has stuck to the basics long enough to master in it. Imbibe this trait in yourself. Study the basics of investment and making money, and stick to them. The temptation to do more will be high, because the basics are boring. But the longer you stick to them, the more returns you will receive in the long run.

Work Hard

Virat Kohli trusts his instincts. But those instincts were not formed on a whim. They were formed by working hard consistently for years. Many Indian cricketers (past and present) have remarked that Kohli is always found either at the gym or the nets. The results are for us all to see.

Investment and making money are not easy. Otherwise everyone would make money. They take time, hard work and patience. Don’t shy away from effort. Work hard on understanding the basics. Read about what worked for successful people, and follow those steps. Smart work doesn’t mean not working hard. It means working hard on the right things, while people around you are busy scattering themselves thin.

Understand the Atmosphere

Virat Kohli is astounding in run chases. So much that when opponents win the toss, they mostly put India in to bat. Kohli has a sound understanding of the situation, because he breaks it down into smaller, simpler steps, regardless of how daunting the task is.

Understanding the atmosphere is crucial everywhere, including while investing. If you invest during a bubble, you risk losing your money. If you invest in a scrip with over-inflated valuations, your returns will be dismal. But if you invest and exercise patience when the market is gloomy, your chances of getting good returns increase.

Keep an eye on the atmosphere. Let this trait guide your decisions while investing, and everything other avenue in life.

Timing is Crucial

He touches the ball. It’s nothing more than a gentle push. Yet fielders don’t even try chasing it when it beats the infield. That’s the class and timing of Virat Kohli.

Timing is important in every decision. Now that Kohli is captain, his timing of changing the field and bowlers is even more crucial. It is the same for you.

How do you decide the timing while making an investment? Nobody can time the market’s highs and lows perfectly. The next best thing to do is understand the sentiment. Use analytics to make a guesstimate of which way the graph might go and make your move accordingly.

Keep timing in mind while exiting an investment too. If your investment goal has been achieved, exit. Don’t give into emotions. You might make more money twice if you stick beyond a logical goal. But the one instance when things go bad will make you lose everything you earned, and more.

Create Opportunities

Until Kohli found his form in 2010, batsmen defended balls outside the off stump. Hence, to keep the scoring down, bowlers would maintain a solid line there. Then Kohli invented the jab down to third man with the angled bat while defending. Soon, every good batsman around the world had added the shot to his arsenal. Rotating the strike became easier, and the scoreboard kept ticking. Kohli had created an opportunity where others found none.

If you follow the herd, you will get access only to opportunities which others know of. Instead, invest in self learning. You will create your own opportunities. These opportunities, underutilized by others, will bring you closer to your financial goals.

There are many more lessons to be learned from Virat Kohli, not just in investment and money management but every aspect of life. Which are your favorite lessons? Do leave a comment. I would love to hear from you.

Vishal is the founder of Aryatra, a venture to help individuals improve their productivity and live more fulfilled lives. He also is a digital marketing consultant helping businesses generate revenue from their online presence.


How to Start Earning More Than You Do, For the Rest of Your Life

start earning more

I completed my Masters in Business Administration in 2011. Of course, the next step was getting a good job. Back then, startups were not the sensation like they are now. So I chose to work as a marketing executive at a medium sized enterprise.

What followed were a few years filled with frustration. At the end of each month, I got an SMS that a decent salary had been deposited in my account. But I could distinctly feel the absence of something.

I switched jobs. This time, I moved to a conglomerate. On paper, I got a thirty percent pay hike. But in hand, it translated to less than fifteen percent. Nobody was ready to pay me any more since that was the ‘standard’ for someone with my experience.

Frustrated, I quit the corporate and started working for myself. Yes, the first year was tough - I earned less than half of what I earned in the corporate. My mother kept telling me to join a company again. But in one year, I was making double of what I earned in the corporate.

How did it happen?

Looking back, I realized that while working in the corporate, I focused on doing things that would make me earn more - appeasing the boss for a good increment, giving into office politics, doing the same mundane tasks repeatedly.

But while working for myself, I focused on developing the ability to earn more.

It’s likely that with my current skills, I will earn even more in the corporate. But it also will stifle my ability to increase my earning potential.

How does increasing your potential to earn more benefit you?

  1. People will readily pay you the amount you demand for services rendered
  2. Organizations will be keen to hire you for your skills, leaving you in a more powerful position on the negotiation table
  3. You will have more sources of income than just one
  4. Your expertise will be recognized, and appreciated, by others.

Here are some steps to increase your earning potential, and subsequently, your earning:

  1. Read good books
    Reading self improvement articles is a good habit. But good books provide far more insightful and well-researched knowledge, which proves beneficial in the long run. Read books on investment, human behavior, biographies, spiritualism, and diverse topics. Over time, you will feel your knowledge, and self-confidence, evolve. All successful people are voracious readers.
  2. Focus on depth
    In today’s world of 140-characters and Facebook updates, we consume information in breadth and not depth. But you develop expertise about a subject when you go deeper into it. So first work on developing your focus. And then, pick a subject of your choice and go in depth into it. Online courses at really low cost, and blog posts from influencers in the field are useful in helping you develop your skills and expertise.
  3. Practice
    Merely possessing knowledge about a subject is not good enough. You cannot preach something, or become good at it, unless you experience how it functions firsthand. Contextual learning is important to imbibe a concept deep inside your mind. Hence, to learn a concept, practice it. Work on an idea that you develop. After that, take up some freelance projects (it will also increase your income). The more you practice, the better you get. With this comes expertise, and the potential to earn more.

We have been taught about a textbook formula to earn more money. Study hard, work hard and become successful. Millions of people tried following it. Yet, just a handful achieved success. Were those handful more fortunate? Probably. But a key trait which differentiated them from the rest of us is their desire to keep advancing their knowledge and abilities. That, in turn, increased their ability to earn more.

Focus on money. It is important to enjoy a quality life today. But increase your earning potential so that you live a happier life. Do this not necessarily by choosing the opportunities that pay the most, but the ones that cause you to grow the most.

Vishal is the founder of Aryatra, a venture to help individuals improve their productivity and live more fulfilled lives. He also is a digital marketing consultant helping businesses generate revenue from their online presence.


5 Habits to Follow to Become An Awesome Investor

habits awesome investor

You want to make money. It is not an end, but a means to an end - a better life for you and your family. And you want to make money without stress.

It’s a justified desire, not a pipe dream, meant only for certain people. You can achieve this dream too. All you must do is imbibe the right habits.

You see, successful people don’t do extraordinary things. They do ordinary things extraordinarily well.

Here are five habits that will make you better at investment and help you achieve your dreams.

Read

The best and keenest investors are voracious readers. Warren Buffett read between 600 to 1000 pages every day when he started his investment career. You don’t need to read as much. Nonetheless, do read.

But not just anything. Buy relevant books, subscribe to high quality newsletters, and stick to them like a toddler to its mother. The results will not be visible immediately. But over time, you will discover clarity in your thoughts and action.

Stick with What You Understand

Buffett rarely goes outside his circle of understanding, if ever. He sticks to what he understands, and it has paid him handsomely. You should follow his advice.

Don’t get lured into something you don’t know because somebody gave you ‘a tip’ that a certain scrip would grow fast. And don’t try understanding too many sectors either. If you put your feet in many boats, you will drown.

Stick with what you understand, and make sure you orient it better anyone you know.

Manage Emotions

Emotion is the biggest cause of heartache for investors. Greed, anticipation, excitement, attachment and more stop us from using logic while making decisions.

Denial when an asset is not performing hurts in the long run. Instead of waiting till your decision is vindicated (which might never happen), abandon the ship while you can. Also beware of greed. Your money works better as a marathon runner than a 100-meter sprinter.

Be as disciplined in your investment as your boss demands you be at work.

Patience

Investment is a long term game. If you want instant gratification, leave this game right now. Before you get hurt.

People who make money in the long run are ones who have learned the art of patience. They stuck to investments for long because they understood them. They did not read news every day or act on impulse because of market sentiment. They understood the difference between signal and noise.

If you want your returns to pay off in the long run, be patient. If you want to make quick money, be prepared for intermittent shocks.

tax saving else

Calculated Risk

If you keep doing what you have always done, you will get what you have always got.

To get more than what you currently have, you must open yourself to calculated risks. Investopedia suggests the following steps for taking calculated risk:

  1. Pick an investment after exhaustive research: Many online portals will guide you about the option which suits you best.
  2. Set an upside and downside price: Predefine how much money you want to make, or how much of the downside you can take.
  3. Calculate the risk/reward: Measure your ability to take risk, and the associated reward. If the risk/reward becomes unfavourable, don't be afraid to exit the trade. Never find yourself in a situation where the risk/reward isn't in your favour.

Investment is not rocket science. It’s just taking a few key actions, and repeating them over and over again, till they become habits. These good habits don’t just impact your money management positively. They also subconsciously impact other aspects of your life.

Which habits do you strictly follow to invest and grow your money?

Vishal is the founder of Aryatra, a venture to help individuals improve their productivity and live more fulfilled lives. He also is a digital marketing consultant helping businesses generate revenue from their online presence.


20 Ways to Make Valentine's Day Special on a Budget

Valentine's Day idea budget

Some look forward to Valentine’s Day. There are others who feel it’s too cliched. I, on the other hand, feel if there is a day to unwind, relax and have a good time with a special someone, we should never miss it. In case it’s a tiny bit of stress to find ways to make the day special for your partner. Or money is your concern. Worry not. There are many charming ways we can light up Valentine’s Day without burning a hole in the pocket.

Post a Letter or a Greeting Card

Go back fifteen years in time. Ditch texts, Facebook status or WhatsApp forwards. Buy beautiful stationery or card, write your feelings on it and post it. Don’t give it in person. Add a bit of drama to it. Let your partner find it in the mail. It would make a perfect ‘You’ve got mail’ moment but with a personal touch.

Re-create your Special Moments

Be it your first date, college days or the first long drive. Take the same route or dine at the same place - re-create that special day and relive the romance. I find this very charming. This fills the day with love and nostalgia. Plus, it’s more endearing than an expensive gift.

Surprise your Working Partner with a Takeaway Lunch

This year Valentine’s day is in the middle of the week. But there is no need to take a day off or postpone the celebration until the weekend. Surprise your partner at work. Order their favorite food, pick-it-up, and head to their office at lunch hours. In case they are busy with work or stuck in a meeting - improvise. Spend an hour and make it special.

Bake a Cake Together

No celebration is complete without a cake. So go ahead and bake yours. But do it together. One person measures and the other mixes. Women use their skills to make it perfect. And men use their muscle to make the icing from scratch. Do one activity and make it memorable. There are tons of cake ideas on the internet. Search and add sweetness to this day.

Spend the Day Tech-Free

Turn off your cell phone, don’t check your laptop and spend the day with your partner.  Mobile has reduced the intimacy. Even if watch a movie, we check our phones multiple times. We talk and fiddle with our phones. Don’t do that. Spend the time with your partner - talk, listen and give them your undivided attention. There is no better gift than the gift of time.

Take Part in Each Other’s Favorite Activity

I like listening to music on a long drive. My husband loves the sunset. To make it special for the both of us, we combine these two. We go for a long drive while my favorite songs play in the car. We can plan the day to make it entertaining for two people. If he loves cricket and you love movies - watch both. If she likes to shop and you want to go bowling - indulge in these activities one after another.

Send Quirky Gifts

Make your partner laugh with some quirky gifts. A t-shirt or mug with a funny quote. A bobblehead with a whacky poem. Maybe, something they dislike to stir up things a bit. You know them better than anyone else, so go ahead and make them laugh. Remember, there is more fun in nonsense.

A Valentine Scavenger Hunt

Valentine's Day ideas budget 1

Create your own scavenger hunt. If not outside, build it inside the home. Leave a trail of clues that end with a gift. Use clues that are related to your relationship - birthdays, anniversaries, dinner dates or based on your travel journal. Make it adventurous, amusing and fairly competitive.

Play Board Games

Board games are another engaging way to spend Valentine's Day. But instead of usual board games, find something exciting. There are printable love puzzles and games available online. Try Valentine’s Day Bingo, Spinner Games or Battle of Sexes - some all time favorites. If you want to notch up the intimacy level, order some saucy board games online.

Work on a Project Together

DIY is more fun than you can imagine. Create a tangible thing to celebrate this special day. Find one thing you would love to build together - make a collage, redecorate your terrace or make a photo book and get it in print. Challenge your creative side and make something memorable.

Valentine's Day ideas budget

Go Groovy with Close Friends

Organize a party with close friends. Sip, eat, talk and listen. Share beautiful anecdotes from your romantic days. When it comes to fun - the more, the merrier. Have a fun evening with other couples.

Spend the Day in the Lap of Nature

Leave the rush of the city and the hype of restaurants, and spend quality time in the lap of nature. Pack a picnic, hike or trek. Watch the gorgeous sunset. Take a stroll. There are endless options. Enjoy the solitude and company.

Gift a Customized Basket

I love personalized gifts. They show care and effort. Go easy on money and high on personalization. Add little trinkets, things your partner uses often or something he/she is planning to buy for a long time. Make it extra special with a heartfelt message. Surprise them with this basket early morning to kickstart the day on a beautiful note.

Single - Organise a Date with Other Single Friends

Who says Valentine’s Day is for couples? Don’t let your relationship status make you feel left out. Plan and spend your day with your friends. Go out, hit the club and eat out. Watch a movie and enjoy the day. Valentine’s Day is a day of love, spend it with those who matter.

Paint the Town Red with Family

I love spending time with my family. The joy simply doubles. Book a table at a restaurant, watch a movie or gift little tokens of appreciation to your family. Color coordinate your outfits and paint the town red. From granny to grandchildren - make everyone a part of the celebration. This would make the day the best Valentine’s memory ever.

Spend the Evening with Music and Wine

Get a glass of wine, relax and make the evening romantic with the right music. For those who love to sing, add karaoke. If you play an instrument, perform for your partner. Those like me and my partner, open Youtube and listen to your favorite songs. I recommend playing songs that were in your Wedding or Engagement video, or your favorites from courtship period. It makes the evening extra special.

Plan a Romantic Getaway

Classics never go out of style. A romantic getaway is a safe and charming way to celebrate the day. Plan a day filled with activity and laidback evening with food and music. Book a fancy room and spend the night together. Spend the day in style.

Attend Local Valentine’s Day Events

Take the newspaper and find the events happening in your city. Circle the ones you like. Consult your partner and attend those events. Attend a live concert, comedy show or food festival. This is a no-stress way to enjoy Valentine’s day. Dress up and enjoy with other couples.

Book a Spa Date

Pamper yourself and your better half. Book a spa date and indulge in the luxury. There are special offers around the Valentine’s Day. Make use of those to spend a relaxed day. Come back rejuvenated and end the day with a fancy meal.

Enjoy Meal at Home and Favorite Movies

For a totally relaxed celebration, spend the evening at home. Don’t cook, order food. No fancy clothes. Sit back and enjoy the evening with food, movie and your special someone. In this fast paced life, this is a celebration of sorts. It’s highly recommended for working couples.

Use these ideas, mix-and-match or improvise. In case you’ve planned something extraordinary, please share with us in the comments below.

A Company Secretary by profession, Saru found her true calling in writing. She blogs at sarusinghal.com which she religiously updates every Monday for the last four years.