by Rajiv Renganathan | Download PDF | Short Link: http://bit.ly/5moneychoices | Last updated: 6-Aug-2022
<aside> 📨 I was unable to attend a cousin's wedding during Covid times. The missed opportunity was the catalyst for this letter. It has been edited for public reading without diluting the essence. I review & update it annually since then.
<aside> ⚠️ This is for informational purposes only. Responsibility for all decisions lies solely with the reader. I am not a registered investment advisor
Wish you a happy married life. It is unfortunate that I am unable to make it to your wedding. As a suboptimal alternative, I take the liberty to share some financial advice as you start your life journey together.
"Money is not important in life but make sure you have enough of it before you say that"
Bill Gates is attributed to saying something to this effect. I do not know if he really said it but there is truth in what it means. Money can't buy happiness, but it surely can avoid a lot of misery.
You have 5 choices with Money: Earn, Spend, Borrow, Safeguard yourself, Save/Invest
"A man's wealth is not in the purse he carries. A fat purse quickly empties if there is no golden stream to refill it"
Quote from The Richest Man in Babylon, a 1926 book by George Samuel Clason
Your existing career is the golden stream. Thank your parents for investing in your education. Pat your back for making the most of the opportunities - as a salaried couple, you are in the top 8% of India's population in terms of the financial position. 92% of Indians have wealth less than 7.5 lakhs INR.
After you have settled in your new together-life, take a few minutes to watch the video I created a few months back - https://youtu.be/vz_o7xmnzj0
Bottomline: Do everything possible to enhance your career prospects. Create multiple sources of income i.e golden streams over time.
Your first expense is income tax to the government. This will be spent even before you see it, thanks to TDS*. Explore ways to minimize taxes as a couple. Reducing tax liability increases your income without the need for additional incremental effort. Tax evasion is a crime, tax avoidance is legal.
Next, the recurring expenses such as utility bills (electricity, water, gas), subscriptions (Mobile, Netflix, Spotify, Amazon Prime), house rent, groceries, fuel, basic necessities, pet supplies. Switch from individual Netflix subscription to a family/shared subscription. Share the Prime subscription and save on the other. Find such overlapping spending patterns. Use these savings for the next category of discretionary spend. To automate the payment of bills is the best way to avoid missing payments & late fees. A quarterly review of recurring expenses will help avoid leakage - services that you pay but do not use.
The third & most interesting expense is discretionary spend. This is the instant gratification category of expense such as shopping, vacations, Starbucks coffee, cocktails, fine dining. The trick here is to get the most dopamine for the buck - find deals, loyalty points, use cashback or miles credit cards & leverage services such as Zomato Pro, Cred. Look for double or triple dip opportunities (a 20% discount deal that earns loyalty points paid with a cash back credit card is a triple dip).
There will be a strong urge to improve your standard of living regardless of the income gains. Be prepared for this challenge.
Donating money for a cause is also a type of spend. On philanthropy, Charlie Munger says "absolute minimal duty for someone who's reasonably successful to be reasonably generous".
To live a good life you do not have to be a miser. Just avoid the excesses.