Ultimate method to present your financial thoughts to yourself

“The ancestor to every action is a thought” – Ralph Waldo Eme

Our thoughts give results to action and action determines our success. As per the experts our mind gets 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts per day. Which means around 4,500 thoughts per hour. In our daily life we might not give proper attention to these thoughts, as this is an automatic process. If we start giving attention, we will observe that most of these are useless and unimportant, which are going through our mind very fast. Sometimes due to these endless unimportant thoughts we feel tired and exhausted. Think if you could have less number of these useless thoughts, you could focus better and you could use your energy in meaningful tasks.

Imagine if we could present our financial thoughts in a meaningful way in our mind then there could be a wonder to our financial life. We would be in a better position to understand what exactly matters and then make a great plan.

In this article we will show you proven method which you can apply and work with your mind as a team to accomplish those financial goals which really matters to you. In the below given method we are going to create few Mental Index Cards. So let’s get started.

Step1: Create your first Mental Index Card which is “Introduction”. In this mental index card you are going to mention:

  • Who you are and what you are going to achieve from this method.
  • What are your most important financial goals (max 3 goals).

Step2: Create your second Mental Index Card which is “Your very first financial goal”. In this you are going to mention:

  • Quantify your goal and the time frame (when you want to achieve)
  • What all steps you have to take to achieve this goal
  • Who are the people involved in respect to this goal

Do this activity (step2) for all your financial goals which are mentioned in “Introduction” index card.

Step3: Create your next Mental Index Card which is “Conclusion”. In this you are going to mention:

  • What is your take away from this activity

Step 4: Create your last but not the least Mental Index Card which is “Review”. In this you are going to mention:

  • How frequently you are going to review all these above mental index cards – half yearly or yearly?
  • What all parameters you are going to check?

Now you have all your mental index cards ready and kept in your mind. Your job is to go through these mental index cards daily twice, when you wake-up and at the time when you go to bed. This will ensure all your points mentioned in your mental index cards are hard coded now in your mind.

With this “Mental Index Card” method the benefits you are going to get:

  • You have given your mind a clear direction on your very important financial goals.
  • Time to time your mind can refer all your mental index cards to be on the track.
  • Your mind will start producing thoughts which are relevant to your financial goals.
  • Your mind will constantly look for all information which is required to achieve your financial goals.
  • As your mind is very aware, it will be able to filter out important financial thoughts which are part of those 60,000 to 80,000 daily thoughts.

Let me elaborate this method with the below example.

Step1:

  • I am a husband and father of one child.
  • With this method I would like to achieve my very important financial goal which is my child’s higher education fund.

Step2 Goal 1: My child’s higher education fund.

  • Higher education fund is required after 12 years.
  • Total money required at today’s rate is 10,00,000
  • I have to save and invest 10,000 each month
  • I and my wife are involved in this goal
  • Have to research on best colleges, how to get scholarships, how to get education loan(in-case)
  • Have to take insurance to cover the risk

Step3 Conclusion: Take away’s are

  • I have to be disciplined with the saving and investment
  • I have to educate myself more on personal finance

Step4:

  • Will review these mental index cards every 6 months.

“Agar kisi cheez ko puri shiddat se chaho,,,toh puri kayanaat usse aapse milvane par majboor ho jaati hai” – One of ShahRukh Khan’s most popular dialogue, which is true and can be achieved with this Mental Index Card method.

Change your thoughts and you change your world. –  Norman Vincent Peale

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How to set smart goals.

Financial health check-up; Why most of the people do not want to do?

The way regular medical check-up is important for us, financial health check-up is also necessary. Major benefits of regular medical check-ups are:

Awareness:

While doing regular medical check-ups you will be able to understand your body well. Because of all the important medical test results you will be aware of what to do and what not to do. Hence you will be always in your control.

“Prevention is better than cure.” –  Desiderius Erasmus.

While doing regular medical check-ups probability of detecting any major health issue in very early stage is very high. For doctors it becomes very easy to diagnose. All these leads to save huge amount of money which might be required if those major health issues are detected in the later stages.

Control your stress level:

Once you know the present status of your health and have a good control, your stress level will be less. Hence you will be able to enjoy your life fully.

We can directly co-relate above major benefits with regular financial health check-ups as below:

Awareness:

While doing regular financial health check-ups, you will be able to understand your present financial state. You will be able to clearly plan, execute your goals. In this way your personal finance will be in your control.

“Prevention is better than cure.” –  Desiderius Erasmus.

While doing regular financial check-ups, you will be able to detect your investments issues very early. You will get time to fix your investment mistakes and bring back your investments on track. In this way you will be able to save your future loss.

Control your stress level:

As you are aware of your present financial state and your investments are on track as per your goals, you are going to be financially stress free.

Even though most of the people are aware of all the benefits of doing regular financial health check-ups, very few follow this. Why is this so? To find the appropriate answer, we can ask similar question for medical check-ups. In case of medical check-ups, people who are working in an organization where they get annual free medical check-ups, most of the people do not opt of these facilities. Also most of the health insurance companies give annual free health check-ups to the policy holders, but still people do not opt for it.

You might be thinking that the reason behind not opting for the free check-ups or paid check-ups are because of a) people are busy or b) people are lazy.

You are quite correct. The top most reason of not going for regular medical check-ups is people are afraid. They are afraid of knowing their present health status, they are afraid of knowing their current life style is not good, they are afraid of knowing they have to do regular exercise.

You see similarly the top most reason of not doing financial health check-ups is also because people are afraid. They are afraid of knowing their present financial status, they are afraid of knowing what all mistakes they have carried out in the name of investments, they are afraid of knowing that they have to cut down their current lifestyle expenses to fulfil their future important financial goals, they are afraid of knowing that their current investments are not sufficient for their retirement.

 

 

Recommendation:

  • Do not be afraid. Get a financial health check-up immediately with a professional help and maintain it annually.
  • It takes some time to understand and bring all personal finance on track. So have faith and patience, things will get sorted over a time.
  • Try to learn the basics of personal finance.

And most importantly ASK QUESTIONS.

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Cash or Cashless, which one helps us to take good financial decision?

“When I was young, people lived from paycheck to paycheck. Today, it seems like they live from credit card payment to credit card payment.” – Robert Kiyosaki

In today’s time we can get almost all the service/product online, also there is an app for every purpose. All companies are trying to understand the user behaviour and their selling approaches are unique for individuals. Interesting point is now almost everything you can buy on EMI, which makes the item affordable.

You go to super market for grocery shopping, even though you have list either written or on your mind, there is a high probability that you will buy many items which are not on your list. Their presentation, marketing skills are so excellent that you buy things which are out of your list.

You want to explore the world and you book your next vacation online. You want to try new recipe and you book a table for that restaurant through their mobile application. You went to a shopping mall just for Saturday/Sunday time pass and ended up buying few things.

There is high possibility that for all the above examples the money transaction happens here is CASHLESS and almost all the time CREDIT CARD has been used.

There are few transaction you do with CASH also, such as Paying monthly salary to your maid, paying to Rikshaw Pooler, to Autodriver, to small vegetable vendor.

One interesting things happens when we deal with CASH, let’s say for our maid we want to deduct some amount if she took many leaves. We always bargain with the Rikshaw Pooler, with Autodriver, with vegetable vendor for an amount as small as 5 Rs. But in case of CASHLESS transaction, we do not behave same as with the way we do for CASH transaction. We do not think twice while swiping our credit card. We do not bargain with the restaurant guy. Because of which we are not sure with our spending patterns and not able to reduce unnecessary expenditures.

While doing CASH transaction, we can feel and can see the actual monetary transaction. This helps our mind to take good financial decision.

Recommendation:

Make a budget for your monthly expenditure and try to pay via CASH. Make sure you take proper bill and pay TAX for your purchases.

Try to avoid CREDIT CARD uses, if there is no other way then make sure to pay the complete credit card bill on time, do not pay the minimum due. Remember interest on credit card is extremely high (25% to 45%). Never ever withdraw cash using CREDIT CARD, this is because the interest starts from the day one for the cash you have withdrawn.

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Why there are too many options in the market?

“Many options are not transparent. They need to be explored and evaluated with care. What you see is not always what you get.” – J. Grant Howard.

Festival is round the corner and you make a plan to paint your house. You go to a shop to choose the colour. Back in your mind you think that you will go for Blue colour for your bed room. Now the sales person shows you the catalogue and you turn the page where you can see the blue colour. Oh … BLUE… various shades in BLUE… which one???? The sales person then asked you to take a trail container of your choice and then give a try. Based on that trial you can decide which blue you want. Since the trial pack contains very less amount of colour, again you are confused. Now you go to the shop again and you tell that you want to see more options and this time the sales person will try to help you to choose a colour or he/she shows you companies software where based on the room type and your taste the software will choose you the colour.

In case of financial market, you can see many options for the similar products. For example of insurance products, each company tries to make their product unique than their competitors and while doing so they make their product too complex for the common people to understand.  And the broker takes the benefit of selling those products which gives more commissions than the products which are suitable for their customer.

While buying some product we take extended insurance on different parts of the product to keep future options open and most of the time these insurance are not being used at all.

We buy expensive electronic items such as Mobile phone, 3D Smart TV, even though most of the features/functions we hardly use.

In case of Camera accessories, people who are not regularly using their camera buy too many accessories to keep their options open.

Recommendation:

We have to be aware as by trying too many options we might give away what is really important to us. While making a decision where too many options are available, we have to spend some time with ourselves to figure out what we really want. In this way we will be able to ask correct questions while dealing with the other person who is giving us all those options.

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Psychological effect behind High Pricing Strategy

HighPriceWhat is High Pricing Strategy?

  • This is a strategy where the price of the product is higher than the similar products. This strategy is applied in the area where customers are happy to pay more. This strategy also being used to improve brand identity in a particular market. Psychologically the high price also implies high quality and high status. That’s why Apple has 91% market share in the premium computer segment.

As per Wikipedia “Premium/High pricing is the practice of keeping the price of a product or service artificially high in order to encourage favorable perceptions among buyers, based solely on the price. The practice is intended to exploit the (not necessarily justifiable) tendency for buyers to assume that expensive items enjoy an exceptional reputation, are more reliable or desirable, or represent exceptional quality and distinction. Moreover, a premium price may portray the meaning of better quality in the eyes of the consumer.

Consumers are willing to pay more for trends, which is a key motive for premium pricing, and are not afraid on how much a product or service costs. The novelty of consumers wanting to have the latest trends is a challenge for marketers as they have to entertain their consumers.

The aspiration of consumers and the feeling of treating themselves is the key factor of purchasing a good or service. Consumers are looking for constant change as they are constantly evolving and moving.”

Same case with GENERIC MEDICINE, even if generic medicine will cost less than the brand medicine, we prefer to go with brand medicine. A generic drug is a pharmaceutical drug that is equivalent to a brand-name product in dosage, strength, route of administration, quality, performance, and intended use.

Another example we can think about is a BOOK, even though the content is same, different publishing houses sell the book with different price.

Recommendation:

We should not judge a product/service based only on Price. If we can spend little bit of our time we might get the similar or better quality of the same product/service with very less price. We can take expert’s help if we do not have idea about that product/service.

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Why we overvalue what we own?

OwnershipI would like to share a short story with you, the story goes like this.

There was a man who worked hard throughout his life and with his saving he built a house. He did whatever is possible for him to make his dream house look beautiful, having all required amenities and secured. One day he made a long vacation plan and he handed over his house to his elder son to take care and he went for vacation. The day he came back from his vacation, he saw there was a huge crowd in front of his house. When he went near, he saw that his house was ON FIRE. He started crying, asking for help and shouted “This is my house; with my life time saving I built it, SAVE IT SAVE IT, PLEASE HELP”. At that moment his elder son came and asked his father why are you crying? That man replied, what the hell are you saying, this is my house, it is on FIRE and you are asking why am I crying? I told you to take care of the house and why are you standing here, go and call Fire brigade and ask for help. Then his elder son told, father do not worry I sold this house last week as I got a very good deal. Immediately after hearing this thing from his son, he stopped crying and was relaxed.

You see what has happened in this story? The house is the same but since the ownership was gone, emotion and feelings also changed. This illustrates why we always overvalue what we own. This is a good behavior as this helps us to achieve or do the tasks which are important to us. That’s why people say “if you want to give 100% on something then you have to own it”.

But the same behavior can cause problem for our personal finance. For example, without understanding or by influence of known person we purchase ULIP or Endowment policies and later we understand that these policies are not going to help us to achieve our goals. But still we find it very difficult to surrender these policies and bear a small loss now to avoid huge loss in future, because we own these policies.

The similar thing happens when we invest in stocks which are making loss for long time but still we hold those thinking one day it will come back and gives us a profit. This is also because of the ownership.

Let’s say we are going to sell our car or the house/land which we bought as investment purpose, it seems that the buyer is always quoting very less and we believe that the buyer does not understand its value. This difference is also because of the ownership, we believe that the other person also will give the same value as we do.

We have unnecessary items in our home which are either old or not going to be used, still we keep those. We could have given it to those people who are in need or could have sold those. This is also because of ownership.

There is one more thing, called “virtual ownership”. For example when we see advertisement in TV showing happy family driving a new car, we imagine ourselves there and this gives us a “virtual ownership”. In this way there is a chance that we will buy that car. Another example is “free trial”, Amazon 30 days free trail for its “Prime membership”. This is also a “virtual ownership” for these 30 days and most probably after 30 days you will pay the fee and become Amazon’s Prime Member. Same with “30 days Money back guarantee” schemes.

Recommendation:

  • Keep your feeling aside and verify carefully that the financial item which you are holding justifies your goals or not.
  • Focus on what you gain rather than what you may lose.

View all transactions as you are a non owner, this will give us a clear idea on the transaction.

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Why do you find excuses and postpone the most important financial decisions?

UrgentImportantWe all agree that we know, we have to start investing for our retirement, for our children’s higher study etc etc. We even know how to calculate how much money will be required for these financial goals, also we are able to make a proper plan, where to invest and how much. Still after every month end we have lots of reason for ourselves to justify why we could not execute the plan and why we have to postpone for tomorrow. And we all know tomorrow never comes. So why does it always happen to us? Why do we postpone? Why do we find excuses? Why do we try to find evidence to justify our decision?

In “The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People” by Mr. Stephen R. Covey, has the answer for our above behavior. In this book, Mr. Stephen has discussed the two factors which defined an activity as – urgent and important. Urgent means it requires immediate action. Important on the other hand is something which contributes to your mission, your values, your higher priority goals. We react to urgent matter, important matters that are not urgent require more initiative, more proactively. As per Mr. Stephen we spend our time based on below four quadrants:

Quadrant 1

 

Important & Urgent

Quadrant 2

 

Important but Not Urgent

Quadrant 3

 

Urgent but Not Important

Quadrant 4

 

Not Urgent & Not Important

 

Quadrant 4: Not urgent and not important tasks are:

  • Making calls for time pass
  • Attending office gossip
  • Spending time on whatsapp or facebook
  • Going through unnecessary emails
  • Shopping online for items which are not really required
  • Watching IPL

Quadrant 3: Urgent but not important tasks are:

  • Planning for a last minute meeting which does not matter
  • Attending a phone call when you are in important meeting
  • Buying a new phone even if existing phone is working perfectly fine

Quadrant 1: Both important and urgent

  • Last minute buying ULIPs, insurance plan for tax saving.
  • Last minute planning for an important meeting
  • Last minute making payments of electricity bill, credit card bill etc.

Quadrant 2: Important but not urgent

  • Making a detail plan for your retirement and executing the same
  • Making a detail plan for your child’s education, marriage and executing the same
  • Skill development related to your work which will help you to grow
  • Learning the new skill which have been thinking from long time
  • Learning how to write, speak better
  • Taking care of your health

The activities in Quadrant 1 & 3 are “Crises” or “Problems” and we all have these activities in our lives. But it consumes most of the time for many people. These people spend too much time on these activities and it keeps bigger and bigger until it dominates. There are people who spend good amount of time in Quadrant 3 (urgent but not important) thinking that they are in Quadrant 1 (both urgent and important). But the reality is that the urgency of these matters is often based on the priorities and expectations of others. You know why people spend time on Quadrant 3 & 4; it is because these activities are easy to do and enjoyable in meaningless way.

You see just because we are making decision and acting on those activities which are Not Important on daily basis, we are ignoring or postponing all our Important Activities. That’s why we always find excuses why we have still too much time to plan for retirement, why we think from tomorrow we will start investing for our child’s education.

So what is the solution?

  • We have to break our tasks into above mentioned Quadrants.
  • This will clearly help us not to give priority to those tasks which are “not urgent and not important”.
  • We have to deal with those tasks which are “urgent and important” long before they reach this crisis stage.
  • We have to learn to say NO for those tasks which are “urgent and not important”. Because these tasks are important for others (like your boss).

We have to make sure we spend at least 2 hours daily on “Important and not urgent” tasks initially and slowly increase the time. Initially you will find it difficult to these tasks as these are not so easy and needs concentration. Slowly you will notice the change and the benefits, you will start getting the extra energy and confidence which will help you to achieve all your important goals.

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FREE!! FREE!! FREE!! The Trick

DSC_0094100You might have got a call saying, in a lucky draw your phone number has been randomly selected and you are eligible for a FREE gift. You are asked to collect the gift from a particular location on a specific day & time. As it is FREE, most probably you will end up going to that place. Once you reach there you can see few people already there who also came because of the FREE gift and they are on a discussion with a person & you are waiting for your turn to understand what is going to happen. Once your turn came, you understood that they are talking about holiday packages & club membership. In between discussion you will hear claps from the other table which announces Mr. X just joined the club. You do not know what to do, either you take the FREE gift and walk away or you also join the club. Now you get to know the reason behind the FREE gift.

When you shop from Amazon, you can see if the total cart value is less than 499 there is a delivery charge & it shows if you can shop for X amount to make the cart value equal to or greater than 499, the delivery will be FREE. There is a chance that you will end up buying things which are not planned to get that FREE delivery.

In Big Bazaar you see offers such as if you shop for 2000 rupees you will get 1 KG of sugar FREE. You can see that to get 1 KG FREE sugar most of the people make their bill above 2000.  So folks tell me……….Whose sales have increased?

You go to a jewellery shop, once you are done with your shopping and your bill is getting generated one sales person comes to you with a great scheme. This scheme says you pay monthly X amount for 11 months and on 12th month you do not have to pay the X amount as it will be FREE. Hence you can buy anything with X*12 amount from the jeweller. It is possible that because of the FREE offer you will commit on that scheme. And the jeweller got what he wanted ……a confirmed customer.

We shop more when we see BUY one get one FREE, BUY three get four FREE. Interesting advertise: Book your flat and get a car FREE. Buy a car and get a gold coin FREE. Book now 3 days & 2 nights Singapore holiday to get 1 extra day FREE.

So why do we jump for FREE item/service even if we do not want that item/service? This is because in our brain we calculate and find that there is no visible possibility of loss.

Recommendation:

Always remember “There is No such thing as a FREE lunch”. Ask yourself why are you opting for that FREE item/service? Also check how much time you are spending to get the FREE item/service, is it really worth spending that much time (for example standing in a long queue only to have an ice cream which is given FREE).

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Anchoring

DSC_0950100Anchoring influences all kind of our purchases.

As per Wikipedia “Anchoring is a cognitive bias that describes the common human tendency to rely too heavily on the first piece of information offered (the “anchor”) when making decisions. During decision making, anchoring occurs when individuals use an initial piece of information to make subsequent judgments. Once an anchor is set, other judgments are made by adjusting away from that anchor, and there is a bias towards interpreting other information around the anchor.”

Let’s say you want to buy a house and you go to a real estate agent. Most of the time the house which is shown first by the agent holds the anchor (price or overall amenities) and buying/rejecting decision will be based on this anchor. The agent also knows this anchoring effect and hence he/she chooses the first house accordingly.

Let’s say you go to buy your wedding dress to a reputed garment shop. Once you describe your requirements to the salesperson, most of the time the salesperson will show you a wedding dress which is similar to your description but will be very expensive with great quality. Even though the salesperson knows that you will not buy this dress. But this expensive dress will now become an anchor for you and you will not think twice to swipe your card for the one which the sales person wants to sell you, as it will appear as a good deal (not expensive but good style & quality).

Let’s say you are passing by a restaurant and you see people are in queue to get into that restaurant. Now you think “This must be a good restaurant” and you also stand behind those people. This is also an anchoring effect when we assume something is good (or bad).

Recommendation:

It is very natural that we heavily depend on the first piece of information (the “anchor”). The first decision on which we buy/choose something, that becomes our anchor. And this will remain with us for all our future decisions on that similar item. Hence it is very important for us to pay particular attention to the first decision we make in what is going to be a long stream of decisions.

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Everything is RELATIVE

Relativity100Most of the people do not know what they want unless they see it that context. We do not know which bike we want to buy, until we see our favorite actor or sports person in the advertisement with the latest model. We don’t want a new refrigerator until we see a better one in our friend’s house. We even do not know what we are going to study until we see a relative or friend doing which we think we should be doing.

Below is Hyundai Elite i20 variants and price list:

Hyundai Elite i20 price list (Variants)
Variant Ex-Showroom Price
Era 1.2 1197 cc, Manual, Petrol, 18.6 kmpl Rs 5.6 Lakh*
Magna 1.2 1197 cc, Manual, Petrol, 18.6 kmpl Rs 6.19 Lakh*
Sportz 1.2 1197 cc, Manual, Petrol, 18.6 kmpl Rs 6.72 Lakh*
Magna AT 1.4 1368 cc, Automatic, Petrol, 18.6 kmpl Rs 9.02 Lakh*

 

What do you think which one will you buy from the above list?

All automobile companies know that customers find it difficult to compute the value of different options. But they also know that if they present the option in the above fashion, most people will choose the middle ones (Magna or Sportz). This is because they want to sell these middle models. If you check with the showroom, you will see both Magna & Sportz are easily available but if you want Era or Magna they will ask you to wait for some time .

Interesting thing is that the salesperson is easily able to sell car accessories, because just at that moment you have spent >6L and relative to this, the car accessories seems very less price. Sometimes they are able to sell us extended warranty for those parts which hardly needs any warranty. Similar things happen with suit accessories when we buy an expensive suit such as Tie,Cuff Links,Tie- Clip.

In case of Restaurant, they display the dish which they want to sell after the most expensive dish on their menu.

As you can see everything is relative, there is a secret, pick a friend who looks less attractive than you and then go to a party. The folks you want to attract will now have another person to compare you with.

The drawback of “relativity” is; we tend to compare almost everything. When we try to buy a car/house we compare with our relatives/friends. We compare our salary, vacations, clothes etc etc. Because of this sometimes we go beyond our means and get involved in debt trap.

Recommendation:

We can control ourselves when we use relativity. If we are going to buy a car, then we should focus on those models which are affordable for us. If we are thinking for a house, we can skip those which are above our means. Basically if we can focus on our circle and think broadly, we can take better decisions. I know it is not that easy, as making relative judgments is the natural way we think.

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