Investments – Part 1
With all the news about the global stock markets traversing the path of a sine wave ever so frequently, I have been reading a lot of reports about investors being worried and not knowing whether to buy or sell their shares.
The golden rule that has been around for a long time is that during a slump, one should buy. I am not sure about these rules, and like many others, view the stock market as a strange creature that I have nothing to do with and would gladly not give it any notice.
But again, the temptation to make a quick buck is always inherent. What I will detail here is a systematic way to make your investments, without requiring a knowledge of mumbo-jumbo phrases like the stock’s beta, trading, intrinsic risk factors.
Disclaimer: I carry no responsibility for your actions of course. And stuff mentioned here is for India alone.
Firstly, ensure that you have sufficient amount of funds in fixed deposits. Now, sufficient is a vague term. The amount in safe havens like fixed deposits should depend largely on your current age and your immediate demand for liquidity (read cash).
So, if you have just started off in your career, try and split your capital (read the total money you have with you) in a 70:30 ratio – 70% being in debt. For making it easy, debt refers to investments in fixed deposits and other government run investment options.
This will ensure that you are well grounded and safe to start off with. (Assumption being that you don’t have too much demand for hard cash right now)
This post will talk about investment options for the debt part.
Now, why fixed deposits? Reason: They are safe and guarantee you a decent return. Please note that fixed deposits should ideally be made with nationalized banks, so that in case of any calamity hitting the economy or the bank, the government will usually make an attempt to bail you out. With private banks, you might get some additional services, but their liability (read responsibility towards your money) is not all that great. Nationalized banks may make you do some extra paperwork, but with the peace of mind it provides, it is well worth your time.
For how long should you lock in your money with fixed deposits? This solely depends on your requirements – whether you anticipate a sudden need for cash a couple of years down the lane or not.
A part of your debt should also be invested in insurance policies (read LIC, again a government sponsored institution) to provide some sort of coverage against unforeseen events. Private life insurance policies might seem appealing, but there is an inherent risk that the company might go through turbulent times or face threatening government regulations.
Another great place to put in some money is the Indian Post Office. They offer very good savings schemes (return rates are just about okay, but they are prompt in their services and your money is definitely safe with them). If you have a couple of lakhs of rupees to invest for a very long term, you could put them in the post office under a monthly savings scheme. This scheme ensures you get a certain percentage of money every month for a fixed time period. It can definitely go towards paying off your monthly fuel and phone bills, while your money stays safe. Then there is the Public Provident Fund, which was a decent investment option some years ago and has become even better now due to their reduction in the locking-period.
A little bit of your debt should go towards government bonds (specifically, the RBI bond). The returns are again, as is the case with most debt instruments, average, but the purpose here is to safeguard your money anyway. RBI bonds usually have a 3 year or a 5 year lock-in period.
Having explored these options, the next question is how does the ratio 70:30 change and when.
70:30 is a very safe portfolio to have (I am yet to talk about the 30%, so we can hold on that part a bit).
During the initial year of your career, try and stick to the 70:30 rule. A couple of years later, you can be more adventurous and go for a 50:50 or a 40:60 ratio, depending on how life is unfolding for you. (40:60 refers to 40% in debt instruments and 60% elsewhere, the elsewhere part will be explained later). Again, these are my opinions based on my understanding of how careers unfolded back then (which is just 5 years ago).
I shall explain the non-debt part (read equity, a no-sense-making term given as a placeholder here) in the subsequent post.
In the meanwhile, its back to good old work for the day.