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From the Rat Race to Financial Freedom... A common man's journey
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Happiness Unlimited...How to be happy..always !!
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Dream On...Every setback is a little nudge from HIM to Dream On
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The Autobiography Of A Stock
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Manoj Arora    About Me
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Friday, September 28, 2012

What is the purpose of your life?

 
Swami Vivekananda once said : "Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life - think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success."
If you think of any successful person (whosoever you consider as "successful"), you would realize that they all followed what Swami Vivekananda said, whether you talk of Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Thomas Edison, Bill Gates, Michael Phelps, Michael Jackson or any one else. They all focused on one thing and devoted their entire life towards fulfilling that idea or dream or passion. They focused so much on that single objective that they forgot any other ideas in life and this focus helped them become the best in their own areas.
Most of us may not have even identified that dream of our life right now, which is completely fine. There is no need to worry or panic. There is no need to even get surprised that how could you live so many years of life without chasing any single goal or dream. It is never too late. You will be lucky if you get this realization that you must have one mission of your life, and you would be luckier if you are able to actually identify one and pursue the same. 
Trust me, and i am telling you by my own experience, that it is not easy to find your mission of life. It takes time. It takes enormous efforts in most cases. It takes lot of internal thinking, discussion and debate with your own self. It takes going wide, and trying multiple things quickly in life (and perhaps failing in most of them) until you can narrow down on one thing that brings happiness and cheer to your inner self. 
How would you know whether you have found your mission of life? It will always strike through your inner voice immediately. You will not have to think twice. You will know it immediately. You will get the feeling of bliss and the satisfaction of having found that idea that you have been looking for so many years, through your unconscious mind.
And once you have that idea or dream finalized and crystallized in your mind and heart, then you will start seeing the magic. You can, then, safely divide your entire life span into two parts: "Life before your dream" and "Life after your dream". These two lives are going to be absolutely different. While earlier you were driven by circumstances, you would now be driving the circumstances and situations. This one dream will change everything within you and around you. Your family and friends will see the difference in how you talk, work, walk and behave. You will see yourself as a more confident person in every aspect of life. You would start enjoying discussing your dream with others, and also wanting to know what other people are dreaming about. You will attract things and situations in your life that would help you chase your dream.
I was blessed to have realized my mission of life at the age of 32. It took a few months to crystallize the same  and i have been pursuing that for the last 8 years. Financial Freedom was my means to go and freely pursue the ultimate mission of my life. Having achieved that, i am now a "free man" - free to think, free to decide, free to work, free to do what i truly want to do in life, free to pursue my passion without worrying about the money.
So, here you are at the crossroad of your life. You may read this article, may be you would like it as well, and then you might flip over to see what is next on Facebook or what is the next blog you should read. Few lucky ones would halt here, take a deep breath and take a decision to find a mission for their life before they move ahead. They will start working on it everyday till they are able to find one. As with other good things in life, the choice will always be in "your hands".
So, If you still haven't got that mission of your life, it is still not too late !! Go and find it, and then forget everything else....& then go and chase your dream...
Every moment of your life would be worth living only after that !!
Cheers
Manoj Arora

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Preserve your Property Gains

 
Real Estate, as an investment tool, normally rewards you with enough annual returns, sometimes in line with what stocks can provide you. Though Stocks / Equity still remain the best choice considering relatively smaller investment, liquidity and extremely high return potential, Real Estate (in developing countries) remains the 2nd best option.

Though the upcoming book (From the Rat Race to Financial Freedom) would guide you on how to truly invest in real estate, there are a few tips you should keep in mind when you are selling your real estate investment to book profits or to subsequently invest your profits somewhere else. Knowledge of certain rules and laws would only help you to preserve your gains that you realize through this investment tool.

Short Term Capital Gains
If you sell your property within 3 years (36 months) of the date of acquisition, your property would qualify as a Sort Term Capital Asset (STCA) and the gains that you realize out of this sale would qualify as Short Term Capital Gains (STCG)

Here are the salient taxation laws for Short Term Capital Gains
1. Any STCG is considered as your taxable income for that year and should be included as your income when you file your income tax returns.
2. Since the profits are qualified as income, they are taxed as per the income tax slab applicable for you for that financial year.
3. This is the least efficient means of getting returns from real estate as an investment. One should consider this option only in case of emergency need of funds.


Long Term Capital Gains
If the holding period for your property exceeds 36 months,such property qualifies as a Long Term Capital Asset (LTCA) and the gains realized from its sale as Long Term Capital Gains (LTCG)

Here are the salient taxation laws for Long Term Capital Gains
1. LTCG is taxed at a flat rate of 20% after indexation of cost
2. Indexation of cost is very important and has a significant positive impact on you wrt the tax liability. 
3. Indexation of Cost typically means that for calculation of your gains, the cost of the house is uplifted by the inflation index for each year till the sale is made. So, your net indexed gain is less than the actual gain, resulting in reduced tax liability.

It makes lot of sense to wait for more than 3 years if you are selling your property for investment gains. Let us understand in some more detail through a simplified example.

Example:
Let us assume that you bought a house with the following details
Cost of Purchase : Rs. 20 Lacs
Expenses on improvement : Rs. 5 Lacs
Total Cost : Rs. 25 Lacs
Selling Price : Rs. 40 Lacs

Case 1 : House is sold within 3 years
Applicable Gain : STCG
STCG : Rs. 40 Lacs - Rs. 25 Lacs = Rs. 15Lacs
Taxable Income : Rs. 15 Lacs
If you are in the highest tax bracket (30%), your total tax : Rs. 5 Lacs.

Case 2 : House is old just after 3 years
Applicable Gain : LTCG
Indexation adjusted cost of purchase :  Rs. 33 Lacs (assuming approx 10% inflation every year for 3 years)
LTCG : Rs. 40 Lacs - Rs. 33 Lacs = Rs. 7 Lacs
Taxable Income : Rs. 7 Lacs
Your total tax (flat 20%) : Rs. 1.4 Lacs.

Summary : 
1) You saved Rs. 3.5 Lacs on taxes just by waiting for 3 years to pass by.
2) Education cess is applicable in both cases of LTCG and STCG, though not considered in the above example, just for the sake of simplicity.
3) Note that money spent on house improvement is also included in your cost, and helps you reduce your tax liability.
4) There are laws that help you save or re-invest the LTCG, thus avoiding any tax at all. That topic would in the scope of the next post.

Cheers

Manoj Arora

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Monday, September 24, 2012

5 reasons why everyone will never get rich

 
"Happiness is a state of mind, and my mind stays in a healthy state if there is enough money in my pocket :)"
Don't bother too much about the above saying, i just made this up. But this remains a fact with so many of us...Read on..

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Big things will happen by doing Little things right

Did you ever realize that your future results, and your destiny, could be determined by those little things that you do everyday. When i say "little" things, i have no intention to mean that they have "little" value. I only mean to say that these things seem to take relatively lesser time, and probably may not have an immediate major impact on the outwardly results that we see, or so we may feel.

These so called little things could be as simple as polishing your shoes, cutting your nails, keeping your house neat and tidy, making sure you keep the shoes and towel in its place after using them or even keeping a book back in its shelf after reading it. Well, you may wonder what impact these little things have to do with the outcome of your life. The fact is that the way you do little things says a lot about how you will handle the big things in life.

Resigning yourself to mediocrity around your minor pursuits clearly sets you up for mediocrity when it comes to the major ones. If your home and your office desk is well organized, i can almost bet that your life is also well organized. A well organized life would mean great relationships, happy family, and also sound financial planning, which ultimately leads to reduced stress levels and a happy existence, apart from the achievement of your dreams.

If you are paying attention to the birthdays and anniversaries of your friends and their families, i am sure you are paying equal attention to the larger projects and opportunities that come your way in your personal and professional life. If your office desk is tidy and spotless, i am also sure that this will reflect directly in the quality of deliveries that you make to your client.

The reason for this correlation is very logical and simple to understand. A tidy house or office directly means an organized mind. Have you ever felt that when your office is untidy, you are more ruffled in your approach to issues and situations that come your way? Did you ever notice that when things are untidy at home, you scold your child more often? 

If you have never tried this, you can try it any day. You can see the result the end of the same day. When you go to office tomorrow, just try this. Make a conscious effort to make your office desk and its surroundings more neat and tidy than what it normally is. Don't tell me that it is already neat and tidy and you cannot improve it further. When you go to office and see your desk and think about it, you would yourself realize what improvements are possible. Once you have done that, then only you start the work for the day. 

Do not let it become cluttered during the day as you proceed with your work. Keep arranging and organizing the things as and when you feel the need & recheck the status of your desk for a minute after every 1 hour. At the end of the day, you would realize that not only you could do more work that day (which means you became more efficient), but the quality of your work also goes up. You will be able to resolve issues with better solutions, be handle relationships with your peers and seniors much better than you normally do. It is because when your mind is focused only on one thing at a time, it can focus more and give you many alternative answers to the same problem than when it is focused on multiple things at the same time.

I have a peculiar habit of taking a fresh sheet of paper everyday morning as soon as i reach office. Before i open my emails,  I jot down what all i need to handle in the day, from what is there in the mind. I keep adding more things as they accumulate during the day. I also keep scratching out the action items that i complete (The very act of scratching completed items give lot of satisfaction !!). Of course, i cannot complete all tasks in the day. But, when i come back the next day, i never continue adding more action items on the same sheet of paper although that sounds a more logical approach. I take a fresh sheet of paper again and rewrite all pending items from the previous day and then add if there is anything new. What is the difference? Seems such a small thing, but a fresh and uncluttered paper keeps your thoughts aligned and uncluttered as well. I have seen the results over time. Whenever i use a fresh paper, i am much more efficient and am normally able to complete many more tasks than when i continue on an existing sheet of paper. It is such a small thing, but imagine what can be the cumulative result of making this small habit at the end of the year if my daily productivity goes up by 15-20%. Not only i can show better results at the end of the year, i have more time with me. I can use this time to spend with my family, or to pursue my other dreams and passions. 

You can bring this kind of efficiency in every so called "small thing" that you do in life. You would realize that your life is changing for the good in every sphere where you bring this change.

So, pay attention to the details. Focus on the small things in life. Keep yourself and your surroundings neat and tidy. These habits will bring a change in your thought process. Fresh thoughts would lead to a better action. Better action would yield great results. And consistently great results would ultimately define a powerful destiny for you.

So, the next time, when you see your cars key lying aimlessly around on the table rather than on the shelf where it is supposed to be, don't ignore it. Make a habit of correcting this untidiness there and then. Because, with every such change, you are tuning your mind to become more effecient in everything it does.

Cheers

Manoj Arora

Sunday, September 16, 2012

What are Forwards and Futures

Introduction
Fundamentally, forward and futures contracts have the same function that both these types of contracts allow people to buy or sell a specific type of asset at a specific time in future, at a previously agreed price. The contracts, however differ in specific details.

Forwards & Futures Contract Features
A forwards contract or simply a forward is a non-standardized private contract between two parties to buy or sell an asset at a specified future time at a price agreed upon today.
- As the name suggests, we look forward ahead of time to predict a price and decide the value of the Forward.
- Non standardized contract means that that the terms and conditions of the contract are not standard and would vary with each contract and the kind of asset being sold or bought.
- Future time means that the actual change of hands and payment of the asset would not happen now and would happen sometime in future.
- Price is agreed upon today between the seller and the buyer and is committed as a part of the contract

How a Forward / Futures contract works ?
Let us assume that you want to buy a house a year from now. At the same time, suppose that your friend, Ramesh currently owns a Rs. 50 Lacs house that he wishes to sell a year from now. Both parties could enter into a forward contract with each other. Suppose that they both agree on the sale price in one year's time of Rs.55 Lacs (a 10% appreciation assumed in one year). At this stage, both you and Ramesh have entered into a forward contract.

At the end of one year, suppose that the current market valuation of the house is Rs. 65 Lacs. Then, because Ramesh is obliged to sell this house to you for only Rs.55 Lacs,  you can easily make a profit of 10 Lacs. To see why this is so, one needs only to recognize that you can buy the house from Ramesh for Rs. 55 Lacs (as per the Forwards contract) and immediately sell to the market for Rs. 65 Lacs. In contrast, Ramesh has made a potential loss of Rs. 10 Lacs and an actual profit of Rs. 5 Lacs.

What is the purpose of Forwards / Futures contracts ?
Forward contracts offer users the ability to lock in a purchase or sale price without incurring any direct cost. This feature makes it attractive to many corporate treasurers, who can use forward contracts to lock in a profit margin, lock in an interest rate, assist in cash planning, or ensure supply of a scarce resources. 
Speculators also use forward contracts to make bets on price movements of the underlying asset. A very common example to hedge risks  is in cases like currency rate fluctuations. In currency forwards, one party opens a forward contract to buy or sell a currency to expire/settle at a future date, as they do not wish to be exposed to exchange rate/currency risk over a period of time. As the exchange rate fluctuates between the trade date and the earlier of the date at which the contract is closed or the expiration date, one party gains and the counter party loses as one currency strengthens against the other.

Comparison of Forwards Vs Futures
a) Futures contracts are exchange-traded and, therefore, are standardized contracts. Forward contracts, on the other hand, are private agreements between two parties and are not as rigid in their stated terms and conditions.
b) Because forward contracts are private agreements, there is always a chance that a party may default on its side of the agreement. Futures contracts have clearing houses that guarantee the transactions, which drastically lowers the probability of default to almost never.
c) For forward contracts, settlement of the contract occurs at the end of the contract. Futures contracts are marked-to-market daily, which means that daily changes are settled day by day until the end of the contract.
d) Settlement for futures contracts can occur over a range of dates. Forward contracts, on the other hand, only possess one settlement date.
e) Because futures contracts are quite frequently employed by speculators, who bet on the direction in which an asset's price will move, they are usually closed out prior to maturity and delivery usually never happens. On the other hand, forward contracts are mostly used by hedgers that want to eliminate the volatility of an asset's price, and delivery of the asset or cash settlement will usually take place. 
f) In contrast to forward contracts in which a bank or a brokerage is usually the counter party to the contract, there is a buyer and seller on each side of a futures trade.

Cheers

Manoj Arora






































Saturday, September 15, 2012

Start organising your life

It is strange but true. In pursuit of achieving things in life, we sometimes forget to enjoy the results of what has been achieved.

When it comes to one's financial life, we truly work very hard to make sure that we earn more money, or we get the next progression or get the next client deal, or impress our boss, or at least make sure that we continue to earn what we are earning today. Well, all that is fine and it is always good to strive forward in life.

However, what startles me is the fact that hardly any of us have any time to manage the money that we have earned after sacrificing our health, family and peace ? Isn't that strange ? You might disagree with me and say that you manage it pretty well. You might also supplement this with the fact that you have invested in good fixed deposits, mutual funds, insurance policies, stocks etc. If you are doing it, then its fine. But i want to ask you some very fundamental and important questions and leave it to you to take a decision whether you and  your life is well organized or not.

- Do you have a documented plan for your life with clear goals / dreams with specific dates written on it ? The most common answer is that i have it in my mind. Well, yeah, that's good but that's not going to help you achieve anything as long as it stays in your mind and does not come down on paper. imagine a big 40 year project plan being executed through a plan which is just in some engineer's mind. alas, it does not work that way.
- How many of these goals ( i am assuming you know the number of goals - whether in mind or on paper) you have already achieved?  Let us assume that you have consumed 40% of your life span, so have you achieved at least 40% of your life goals ?
- Do you know exactly what are your total assets ? (Dont start calculating now. I am just poking.)
- Do you know how much is the exact total Return on investments you received last year on all your investments?, and a year before that? Please don't give me a rough figure or a figure that you "think" is the answer. Is this calculated anywhere?. I want this up to 2 decimal digits. Apologies for my swagger but thats critical to wake you up.
- Are you improving your return on investment each year (assuming you know the answer to the previous question) ? 
- Do you read enough to make sure that you learn new things and equip yourself to perform better financially every year ?
- Do you have a balanced life chart, which covers social, professional, spiritual and financial goals and targets ? Is your life truly balanced ? (or is this expecting too much from life?)
- Are you in pursuit of any one single BIG dream that is driving you crazy now a days ?
- Do you keep a track of your monthly income and expenses ? and then forecast it to plan your future income and expenses ?

Let me stop here. Don't curse me. The day you would stop ignoring these questions and start answering them, you would realise what was going wrong with your life. 
I know some of the thoughts that may already be percolating in your minds. Well, who has the time to do all this? You are right.  Who has the time to manage his or her own life when we are all so busy ? And that is exactly my point. We are so occupied earning money that we have no clue what do i do with the money that we have earned ? How can i make this money work more efficiently for me ? Forget about efficiencies, there are so many of us who do not even know how much money is locked up in which of our bank accounts, which credit card, and which mutual fund. 

I am not saying that you leave everything else and start talking about money or life, but what our life definitely deserves is to get more organised.

Ite reminds me of a short story of a small boy who goes to a garden to plant 2 trees. He has limited time, so he wants to finish this task quickly, but at the same time he also wants to make sure that he does a quality job. He decides to keep the trees aside and first dig the 2 holes needed to plant the trees. He is full of enthusiasm and energy, as each one of us are at the beginning of our money earning spree. With all the focus, excitement and energy, he digs one perfect hole in a garden. He is so happy to see the result of his hard work and immediately turns around to start and dig the next hole. As he turns around and starts digging the second hole, he does not realize that the mud coming out of the second hole is filling up the first hole itself. Well, he is short of time and can't care about every bout of mud that is getting pulled out from the second hole. There is no shortage of energy or enthusiasm as he continues to dig the second hole. The only unfortunate thing that happens is that by the time he has dug up the second hole, the first one is completely full with the mud that came out of the second hole. He turns around and realizes what mistake he has done.

We are just like that little boy, filled with energy and enthusiasm to earn money without realizing what we are doing with the money that we are digging out each month. Where is it going ? Is it efficiently returning me what it is expected to ? We don't know because we don't have time.Sad but true.

I just hope that we take out enough time in our lives to answer some of the questions above, so that we can get the reward for all the hard work that we have done till now. 
Take out time to organize your life. It will only pay you in the long run.

I want to end up with this famous quote from Tryon Edwards
Organize your life, and you will not only accomplish more, but have far more leisure than those who are always hurrying.

Happy organising

Cheers

Manoj Arora







Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What are Debentures

 
Those of my investors who are close to the market may have recently heard of lot of noise around Non Convertible Debentures (NCDs) being issued by multiple corporates and open for general public. Before you invest, it is always advisable to get wise about Debentures in general, and Non Convertible Debentures (NCDs). So, i thought of writing this post on this important investment tool in your kitty. Here we go.

What are Debentures?
A debenture is a document that either creates a debt or acknowledges it, and it is a debt without collateral. (For understanding Collateral, refer to the earlier post Understanding Mortgage).
In corporate finance, the term is used for a medium- to long-term debt instrument used by large companies to borrow money. In some countries the term is used interchangeably with bond, loan stock or note, while in some other countries, bonds and debentures are separate instruments. (Refer to the section : "What is the difference between Bonds and Debentures" in the post below)
A debenture is thus like a certificate of loan or a loan bond evidencing the fact that the company is liable to pay a specified amount with interest.

What is the difference between Shares and Debentures?
Although the money raised by the debentures becomes a part of the company's capital structure, it does not become share capital. Debenture holders have no rights to vote in the company's general meetings of shareholders, but they may have separate meetings or votes e.g. on changes to the rights attached to the debentures. The interest paid to them is a charge against profit in the company's financial statements.

What are the different types of debentures?
Debentures are divided into different categories on the basis of: 
(1) Convertibility of the instrument 
(2) Security

Debentures can be classified on the basis of convertibility into:
• Non Convertible Debentures (NCD): These instruments retain the debt character and can not be converted in to equity shares
• Partly Convertible Debentures (PCD): A part of these instruments are converted into Equity shares in the future at notice of the issuer. The issuer decides the ratio for conversion. This is normally decided at the time of subscription.
• Fully convertible Debentures (FCD): These are fully convertible into Equity shares at the issuer's notice. The ratio of conversion is decided by the issuer. Upon conversion the investors enjoy the same status as ordinary shareholders of the company.
• Optionally Convertible Debentures (OCD): The investor has the option to either convert these debentures into shares at price decided by the issuer/agreed upon at the time of issue.

On the basis of Security, debentures are classified into:
• Secured Debentures: These instruments are secured by a charge on the fixed assets of the issuer company. So if the issuer fails on payment of either the principal or interest amount, his assets can be sold to repay the liability to the investors
• Unsecured Debentures: These instrument are unsecured in the sense that if the issuer defaults on payment of the interest or principal amount, the investor has to be along with other unsecured creditors of the company.

Why Convertible or Non Convertible Debentures?
"Convertibility" is a feature that corporations may add to the bonds they issue to make them more attractive to buyers. In other words, it is a special feature that a corporate bond may carry. As a result of the advantage a buyer gets from the ability to convert, convertible bonds or debentures typically have lower interest rates than non-convertible corporate bonds.
Non Convertible Debentures are debentures without the convertibility feature attached to them. As a result, they usually carry higher interest rates than their convertible counterparts.

Typical Features of Debentures
  • Debentures are listed on Stock Exchanges.
  • Issuance and Trading will be in De mat form only.
  • Interest will be paid through Direct Credit / ECS / RTGS / NEFT mode.
  • A good credit rating is required for the company to issue a Debenture.

Who Should Invest in Debentures?
  • Investors who expect a stable consistent return with least risk.
  • Investors who want to have consistent monthly returns. 
  • Fixed Deposit Investors can look at debentures to improvise their returns.
  • Investors looking at portfolio diversification with the Fixed Income security.
What is a difference between a bond and a debenture?
In many countries, Bonds and Debentures are separate instruments. Long‐term debt securities issued by the Government or any of the State Government’s or undertakings owned by them or by development financial institutions are called as Bonds
Instruments issued by other entities are called Debentures.

What is a Coupon rate?
The Coupon rate is simply the interest rate that every debenture/Bond carries on its face value and is fixed at the time of issuance.
For example, a 9% p.a coupon rate on a bond/debenture of  $ 100 implies that the investor will receive $ 9 p.a. as the interest. The coupon can be payable monthly, quarterly, half‐yearly, or annually or cumulative on redemption

What is Put and Call Options in Debentures?
Debentures can have put and / or call options.

• A “put” option means that you have an option to surrender the debenture if you want to, and get back your principal. A put option gives a lot of flexibility to you – if interest rates go up, and you can get better rates from the market, you can exercise the put option and get back your money. You can invest it elsewhere, and get better interest.

• A “call” option means that the company has an option to ask you to surrender the debenture, and pay back the principal to you. A call option gives flexibility to the company – if interest rates go down, and the company can get funds at lower rates from the market, it can exercise the call option and give your money back to you. It can then raise money from the market at lower rates.


Income Tax on Debentures / Bonds
For income tax purpose, the debentures are treated like debt instruments. Since debenture is a capital asset, no Income Tax is deductible at source.

If you sell the debenture on the stock exchange before holding it for a year, it would be a Short Term Capital Gain – it would be included in your income and would be tax as per prevailing IT slabs.
• If you sell it on an exchange after holding it for a year or more, the gain would be long term capital gain. This long term capital gain should be calculated without indexation, and would be taxed at 10% of the gain.

Benefits of investing in Debentures 
1) Better Returns: Debentures like NCD’s (Non Convertible Debentures) provide a higher rate of interest for their investors.
2) Good Liquidity: To sell NCDs, investor has two options.
    • Sell on the Stock Exchanges to anyone willing to buy
    • Exercise the Put /Call option and trade it back with the issuing corporate.

Related Links :
Understanding Mortgage

Monday, September 10, 2012

Identify your Dream Momento

 
It was exactly 1 year back on the same day when our family was visiting Disney World at Orlando, Florida, USA. That visit continues to stay as one of the most amazing, memorable and also one of the most inspiring trips i every had in my life till date (i am sure there are many more to come with we being financially free soon !!)

Well, it is so easy to get lost in the adventure, excitement, fun and frolic that these Disney parks have to offer you, that you could hardly think anything else happening in the outside world . We used to start right in the morning and go past mid night, and there was never a single moment where one can feel bored or short of adrenalin rush. The whole environment that gets created in the park with dance, music, fun and adventure all around, is overwhelming for anyone. This was our first trip to a Disney park and the excitement was overflowing.

Among all this fun and frolic that the park has to offer you, there is a subtle message that is delivered in the Magic Kingdom park of Disney World. This message is about the story of Mickey Mouse and how this entire kingdom of entertainment was created because of a dream of a single man, by the name of Walt Disney. While on the Magic Kingdom park, we saw a few movies that depicted the history of the origin of mickey mouse and realization of a dream. 

To me, these entire set of parks are the result of a dream of this one man, whose dream started with a mouse. He used his hand made drawings to sketch various moods of Mickey Mouse. While the world laughed at him for imagining a park just for entertainment at that time when making two ends met was the daily struggle of everyone's life. Over and above this, consider the fact that the foundation of this dream was a character none other than a mouse. Who would have imagined that dream would get converted into such sprawling park complexes across so many countries across the globe. There are so many such parks today around the world. The man, Walt Disney, was very sure of his dream and he had a particularly strong belief in the fact that "Dreams Do Come True".

While in the park, we also saw an amazing show in the evening lawns of the Cinderella Castle which reiterated this message that "Dreams Do Come True" if we follow them, chase them and go after it in spite of all obstacles.

I was overwhelmed and inspired, and kept thinking about the whole experience we had with our dreams. I did not ever wanted to forget this experience. While we were leaving the last park on the 3rd day after seeing Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, we were shopping for our own gifts and i wanted to buy a memento that can keep this overwhelming experience alive in my heart for ever. I got a hand sized Mickey Mouse memento which has his hands up in the air. I always keep this memento on my table at home. It gives me the required push whenever i am down and out. It reminds me of my dreams that i want to achieve once i am financially free. It tells me that nothing is impossible. I look at me the first thing in the morning to solidify my dream, and to keep moving ahead.

Here is a snap of the momento that serves as my "Dream Momento".


This memento always refreshes the memories of  Disney World and also reminds me that "Dreams Do Come True". I would urge you all to define a momento for your dreams, something which can remind you of your dreams every day. Seeing such a momento every morning will not only make you feel excited about your goals and dreams but also push you forward in the right direction

Happy Dreaming !!

Cheers


Saturday, September 08, 2012

Understanding Mortgage

 
Understanding mortgage and few other key terms and concepts around it will help us understand more on this critical aspect of money management in our lives. So, lets go..

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Push through your Self Doubt

 
For time immemorial, whenever i start working on anything new, the first thought that comes to my mind is that whether i can do it or not. Even if i know that i will be able to do it, i am not sure if i can do justice to the task at hand by giving it the best possible result in the end. am i the best available person to perform the job?

I am sure many of you, for innumerable times, must have got involved in a debate with our inner voice which makes you believe that you may not be the most capable person around to handle the goal at hand. So many times, you would have done a mental scan of a list of people who are more qualified, better skilled and appropriately positioned to handle the goal in your hand that it creates self doubt within you whether you can achieve a target successfully or not.

Welcome to the club of self doubters. First thing i must tell you is that "Don't worry !! You are not alone, and this is perfectly normal". There is a battery of success stories which have originated from a self doubting mind. Goldie Hawn pushed through his doubts to become an academy award winner. He says "I always had self doubt. I wasn't good enough. I wasn't smart enough"

One of the strategies to overcome self doubt is called as the "Done It Before Strategy". Imagine the accomplishment or a series of accomplishments that you have achieved in the past. Remember your state of mind when you started those tasks. Did you have self doubt? May be yes. But you got involved in the task, learned new things, did whatever was needed to come out triumphant in the end.

Tiger Woods uses this strategy and has to say this to himself when he goes for a high pressure putt - "I have done this a thousand times earlier. Relax, i can do it one more time"

Self Doubt, to an extent, is a very positive sign. It can also be termed as "healthy insecurity" Frank Gehry, a famous architect says "I approach each project with a new insecurity, as if i am doing this for the first time".

This healthy insecurity causes us to focus on ourselves and our work and pushes us to perform the best every moment and every day of our life. Many successful people have used this self doubt as a tool to learn and perform every time without letting the past laurels to make them complacent about the project in hand. 

One of the leaders whom i personally appreciate in my last organization, used to say "You may have excelled over last 10 projects, but you are as good as the performance in your last project." To continue to perform, you need to get past your previous accomplishments and start afresh. I remember switching different roles in my organization every 1-2 years. Each time, i take up a new role, i start with a self doubt. My train of thoughts typically start with a self doubt, but then turns into a thinking process and then documenting process. I start writing on a blank sheet of paper, whatever i need to do to be successful in this new task. Every day morning starts afresh, with a defined set of tasks and a renewed enthusiasm to become successful in the latest challenge that has been thrown at me. The day goes with its own ups and downs and the next day morning is a fresh start with a fresh set of ideas that keep me going.

Financial Freedom is no different or difficult a challenge. It is definitely achievable but at the same time, the fact remains that only 1% population of the people who make an attempt towards it, ultimately succeed. If you are having self doubt, welecome to the club. But now, you got to think that you have achieved many great things in life and this is also achievable. Rather than relying on your past accomplishments, you have to take this as a fresh challenge and make it happen. This strategy will enable you to learn new things, overcome mistakes, come up with new ideas and strive you towards your goal of financial freedom. 

You can definitely push yourself out of self doubt and achieve the greatest things in life.

Cheers

Manoj Arora






Sunday, September 02, 2012

Know more about Company Fixed Deposits

What are company fixed deposits?
Fixed Deposits in companies that earn a fixed rate of return over a period of time are called Company Fixed Deposits. Financial institutions and Non-Banking Finance Companies (NBFCs) also accept such deposits. Deposits thus mobilized are governed by the Companies Act under Section 58A.

How are they different from Company Equity?
when you purchase a Company Equity (shares), you become a part of the company and share the profit and loss of a company depending on the company performance. Unlike being a shareholder of a company, here you are loaning a fixed amount to a company for a fixed tenure so that they can go ahead with their business . investments. You expect a fixed return irrespective of the company performance.

How are they different from Bank Fixed Deposits?
Company Fixed Deposits are done directly with companies and not with intermediate banking institutions. Since you are directly depositing your money with the company, you have more risk and also you get more returns.

Why to invest in Company Fixed Deposits?
a) Company fixed deposits will give you a higher return than comparative bank fixed deposits. This is because of the additional risk. e.g. Shriram Transport Finance FD was offering 12% CAGR during August 2012 when the maximum FD return available from a Bank FD was 9.5%.
b) You can invest for a shorter lock in period like 6 months.
c) Company Fixed Deposits are non transferable that means there is no fear of FD receipt being stolen. In case it falls into wrong hands ,it cannot be misused. The FD holder in such a case should write to the company which shall issue duplicate deposit receipt upon execution of an indemnity and cancel the previous one. 
d) No Income Tax is deducted at source if the interest income is up to Rs 5,000 in one financial year. Investment can be spread in more than one company, so that interest from one company does not exceed Rs. 5,000
 

What are the risks associated with Company Fixed Deposits?
a) These deposits are unsecured, i.e., if the company defaults, the investor cannot sell the documents to recover his capital, thus making them a risky investment option.
b) It is difficult to choose the right Fixed Deposit in the absence of a 'rating'. This is because apart from NBFCs and housing finance companies, other companies need not go for a rating for their fixed deposits.
c) Company fixed deposits have higher risk than bank fixed deposits because these type of deposits are unsecured, if the company goes bust you will lose your money, and unlike banks, they don’t have any backing of the RBI. RBI does not rate company fixed deposits, and in case of default by the company – RBI is not going to back them in any way.
d) Company fixed deposits may be unsecured debt, which means there is no underlying collateral, and in case of default, you won’t get the funds back by selling off your documents.

How to chose a Company for a Fixed Deposit?
a) Do look at the financials of the companies. The company must be making profits and paying dividends year after year.
b) If the company is posting sustained fall in revenues and profits, it is a cause for concern. Simply avoid companies that are making losses
c) You will be better off looking at taxes and dividends paid by the company. Since these two are cash expenditures, paid to outsiders such as government and non-promoter shareholders, there is little accounting jugglery possible here. A sustained increase in taxes paid and dividends indicates that company's business is doing well. If you can do some number crunching, do look at the interest coverage ratio - just divide 'earnings before interest and tax' by the interest paid by the company. Higher the number, the better it is. You can also look at the debt-equity ratio - total debt divided by shareholder funds. Lower the number, the better it is.
d) Look for a good rating on the deposit scheme wherever available.

Other important notes on Company Fixed Deposits
a) Company fixed deposits are rated by Rating Agencies. The rating agencies hand out ratings to the particular offering, and that can help you make a decision. For example, The Shriram Transport Finance FD scheme was rated tAA (investment grade) by Fitch. These ratings can help raise flags if any offering is rated low, and you can possibly avoid such fixed deposits.
b) Today, investors have many such options like Ansal Housing, Apollo Hospitals, Unitech, Bilcare, Godrej Properties and Unitech. Typically, one can earn around 9-12% from these company fixed deposits.
c) In case of companies listed on stock exchanges, you can get yearly and quarterly numbers of these companies on websites of the exchanges.You can get most of the information about a company when you go to your securities account or visit other common websites like http://www.nseindia.com/ or http://www.moneycontrol.com
d) Company fixed deposits are not always unsecured debt. In some cases, they issue secure debt as well.

    Like most investing decisions, whether you invest in these things or not, and how much money you do will depend on your particular circumstances. If you prefer safety over everything else, then it is best to leave these things alone. If you have a moderate risk appetite then you might as well try investing money with some of the better known companies.
    A beginner in this field may be lost in the numbers game. Hence it is better to stick with companies that are accepting fixed deposits for a long period of time. A long track record surely offers some comfort.

    An extra 1 to 2 % of interest earned through thoughtful investment in a consistent manner in company fixed deposits can go a long way in fast pacing your financial freedom. The reason for that is simple. There is an amazing power in compounding.

    Cheers
    Manoj Arora

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    Saturday, September 01, 2012

    Going to the Next Level

     
    Over the weekend, lying aimlessly over a couch, I was watching my younger 9 year old daughter playing a strange sort of game with a glass of water and a small plastic toy.

    She placed the small plastic toy (actually a very small car) inside a transparent empty glass of water and then she started pouring water into the glass slowly. As the water level was slowly rising in the glass, the small plastic car started floating in the glass. Since it was a transparent glass, she was having fun seeing the car go up in the glass. She stopped sometime while the water level had reached the middle of the glass. I asked her why did she stop? As with kids, they are always so honest and pure in their responses. She told me that she is tired of holding the jug from which she is slowly pouring water in the glass. I heard it and kept silent waiting for her to take the next step, if at all. I kept lying in the couch and tried to keep an eye on her next action. There she was, after 2-3 minutes, with the jug back in her hand. She had gathered enough courage once again to take her experiment forward. She picked up the jug and started pouring more water. I was also observing her face reaction as the water level and the car kept rising in the glass. As the car was moving up, her face was lighting up with excitement. And then, there came a point when the car reached the top and the glass was full with water. Any more water would just spill it. I thought that she would stop now. How wrong was I. My thinking was more based on what is the right thing to do as per me. But we all know kids. She did not stop. She kept pouring water and the water started to spill over. The car came out of the glass. Not bothering about who would clean the water spill, she took the car in her hand and went and gave it to her elder sister in the other room. Though i was a little upset with the water spill, i just controlled my anger and asked her why did she gave the car to her sister? She responded very politely that she had enough of playing  with the car and she would rather let someone else play with it. As she uttered these words, my anger started to calm down and i realised what a powerful lesson this experiment had with our lives.

    We all come in this world full of excitement, courage and motivation. We all start filling the glass of our lives with the things that we feel would bring us happiness. We all feel that we need money to do that, and there is nothing wrong in that thinking. But somewhere in the middle of our lives, we get tired, demotivated and somehow unable to take our lives to the next level. Most of us are at this stage now. The glass of our lives is half full, the car is at the middle of the glass and we are tired, demotivated or have lost direction. We have worked so hard to reach at this level. What is going to take us to the next level ? Where are we headed ? We gathered enough money but now, somehow, i cant grow it further. Either i have got contended or i have just given up. Most of us will stop here and will never have enough courage to pick up the jug once again and start pouring the water in the glass. The jug of water still exists. There are ample opportunities outside to earn money and to strive for the next level. But, instead of trying harder, we would prefer to take the easy path and give all kind of excuses. I have personally heard excuses like - it is too late for me, i am trying my best, this is what God has in store for me, and some even go to the extent of saying that money does not buy you happiness, so why to chase it at all. Whatever be our excuse, you will find a selected few always picking up the jug once again and carrying on from here to become millionaires and billionaires. Were they born rich? No. Were they lucky? No. They just had enough courage every time they felt tired and directionless.

    And what happened to these millionaires when they became billionaires? Were they more happy? I do not know. But one thing is sure that as the glass became full and as they had more money, they had the potential to change things around their society, country, world and humanity. They had a tool in their hands which has the potential to change the world, for better. Some of them, like Bill Gates and Azim Premji, actually took their spilled over pastic cars and handed over to others. These people are working with the sole purpose of improving the world around them, for the better. Do you have to be a CEO to do that? No. Are they the only ones? No, there are many more whom you may not have heard of. But you definitely can do much more for the society once your own glass is full. You will definitely have a better chance to start helping others if your glass is overflowing. The glass, once full, will automatically spill over and the water will be available for others to enjoy.

    These are the same facts that you can apply in your life if you have to reach to the next level
    1. Make sure you have enough courage during the middle of the journey to carry on to the next level. You may have to try new things, you may have to come out of your comfort zone, you may even have to go back and look at the bigger picture. But if you really want your life to make a difference to this world, you better get ready.
    2. You will have to get your glass full. There are ample opportunities available. You must get financially free to make sure that your own glass gets full, before you start helping the society and the humanity around you. Once you are financially free and your glass gets full, the water will automatically start spilling over and will touch so many in need.

    Nothing will happen of its own. Life will continue to carry on. You will have to get up and change the direction. I can assure you that you have the capability to do it. The only thing pending is a "Decision".

    Cheers

    Manoj Arora