Try retaining one-off Wealth

Easy come, easy go…

…am sure you heard that one before…!

When you come into something too easily, you sure do want to spend it, right?

Well, why not?

However, do take that one step back.

Let’s explore the possibilities here. 

You can spend it all. Have a blast. Blow it up. Yeah. We’ve touched upon that. Know many people like that. 

Or, you can save some and spend some. 

How about that?

Who’s asking you to save it all?

No one. 

You like spending?

Fine. Spend. A bit. Gratify your most burning desires without injuring anyone’s fundamental rights. 

Then, save the rest. Pickle it. Look away. Move on with your life. 

Why?

Lady Luck smiled. You got your one-off dose of wealth. Use some of it to make wealth a permanent feature in your life. 

For that to happen you’ll need to invest, be patient, compound, reinvest and what have you, till many many cash flows take care of all your needs. 

From which point did it start?

From the moment you decided to save some of your corpus and provide it with the necessary environment to grow.

It’s a basic decision…

…, yeah, a real simple one…

…that’s tough to implement. 

Try retaining wealth. 

You’ll then know exactly what I’m talking about. 

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The One Basic Difference between Wealth and Income 

What’s with this wealth vs income series? 

It goes on and on. 

So what? 

Any problems? 

Thoughts are like threads. 

They can be pulled into infinite. 

Also, they are a realm in which one has unlimited freedom. 

The speed of thought is faster than the speed of light. 

Think about it. 

From here to there – anywhere – Jupiter – Uranus – some other universe – in a flash. 

Explore your thoughts. Pull them out into infinite threads. It pays. 

We are trying to understand the meaning of wealth. 

How is it different from income?

What’s the one elephant-in-the-room factor that sums up this difference? 

Is there even such a factor? 

Yes, I feel there is. 

Maybe someone’s come up with this before. I don’t care. We all stand upon the shoulders of giants, as do I. From there, we generate our two pennies. 

So, how is wealth intrinsically and basically different from income?

Income is something you take out of your flow, to finance your everyday environment, including shucking up for nitty-gritties in day to day lives of those who depend upon you. 

Wealth can be generated from that portion of your flow that has not been taken out for mundane use. This flow, which has not been taken out, has then been simultaneously allowed to coexist by you in a different form, over a long period of time. It accrues, compounds and multiplies – over the long period of time – into wealth.

The most lucrative things in life are also the most simple ones. 

Being simple doesn’t come easy to most of us. 

That is why the majority of humans are not wealthy. 

Is it just the Japanese?

No.

It’s us too.

We’re all whacky, at some level.

Humans have quirks.

Different ones to make the world go round.

Normal for me would be idiosyncratic elsewhere.

And vice-versa.

So there we are.

The other day someone was talking about panty-automats and strawberry-excretia. Way off the bell-curve, thought I. What was it about the Japanese?

Then, how were we perceived, as people?

We do have some ugly habits, us Indians.

Ever seen a guy doing an ayurvedic nasal-cleanse on the road? Sure.

Most leave the ayurvedic out.

Occupying someone else’s seat – we’re champions at that.

I’m sure you’ve heard of Indian Standard Time.

Cleaning house and throwing the dirt on the road outside our house – yeah, we’re geniuses.

However, one of our quirks is actually positive.

We SAVE.

It’s inborn. In our genes. Adding up. Compounding. All this comes naturally to us.

Yeah, silver lining. Does redeem us a bit, since this particular quality is in short supply, the world over.

Here’s hoping that we infect other nations with the savings bug.

Also, every nation has some positive quirks. Let’s look for these, to adopt.

Cheers!

🙂

Harnessing FD-Power within your Meta-Game

Everyone’s heard of fixed deposits (FDs). 

Are they so non-lucrative?

I believe that in some countries, you need to pay the bank to hold a fixed deposit for you. 

Why does our system shun savings? 

What are savings, actually?

On-call cash. Ready for you when an opportunity arises. 

That’s exactly it. The system doesn’t want you to have ready cash when an opportunity is there. 

Why?

Because finance people have already dibsed on your cash. They want it when opportunity is there. The cash should be available to their institution, not to you.

That’s why, your bankers generally try and get you to commit whatever spare cash floats in your account. They try for commitment towards non-access for a specific period of time.

I don’t know how things are in other parts of the world, but in India, a fixed deposit is still considered ready cash, because one can nullify one’s FD online, in a few seconds. Some banks charge a penalty for such nullification, but this penalty is charged on the interest generated, not on the principal. Therefore, in India, you have access to at least your FD principal (plus a part of the interest generated) when you really need it, all within a few seconds. 

What’s the meta-game here?

You “lock” your money in an FD for one year, for example. Let’s suppose that within that one year, no opportunity arises for you. You cash out with full interest. In India, as of now, if you’re in the top taxation bracket, and are a senior citizen, you’re still left with a return of between 6.6%-6.8% after tax, whereby we are not looking at the effects of inflation here, to keep the example simple, though I know, that we must look at inflation too. We’ll go into inflation some other day. 

Meanwhile, your FD has been on call, for you. Let’s assume that a lucrative investment opportunity does arise within the year, and your break your FD after 6 months, reducing earned interest to 4% annualised from 9.5-9.75% p.a. However, your investment yields you 20% after tax, because it was made at the most opportune moment.

You do the math.

Do you see the inherent power of ready money?

Your FD has thus worked for you in multiple ways. 

It has worked as an interest-generator, yielding a small return. Simultaneously, it has worked as ready cash, on-call in case of opportunity. Should the opportunity arise, and if the investment that follows works out well, a handsome return could be made. It’s all should/could/would in a meta-game. 

There is yet another way FDs are used. I use them this way. 

FDs are a safety-net. They allow you to take high risks elsewhere. You lose the fear of high risk once you know that your family is secured through your safety-net. In a safety-net, sums are large enough and deposits are regular enough to discount (actually effectively / realistically nullify) the power of inflation. With the haven of a safety-net going for your family, you can enter high-risk arenas fearlessly. Fearlessness is a perquisite to do well in high-risk arenas. If you’re afraid of loss, don’t enter such areas. Safety-nets make you lose your fear of loss elsewhere. 

People – SAVE! 

Create FDs. Don’t listen to your bankers. Commit your money to an uncompromisable lock-in only if you’re convinced that the investment is safe and really worth the lock-in for you. Harness the power of the FD for yourself. A safety-net of FDs is the first step towards the formulation of a profitable meta-game.

Did you also know that when you create an FD, the money used to create the FD doesn’t show up as ready cash in your account. Bank accounts with large amounts of ready cash over long periods of time are like red flags which online fraudsters look for. Creation of FDs gives extra online safety to your money. 

ONLY you are responsible for your money.

Start looking after it. 

Start making it grow.

Start saving. 

NOW.

Power of Compounding II – The Curious Case of Switzerland

What comes to mind when one thinks of Switzerland?

– Blood Money – world’s haven for,

– “Neutralness” – has never fought a war in modern times,

– Beauty – it is God’s own country, with its mountains, meadows, valleys, lakes, trails…,

– Discipline – blessed with the works, punctuality, law and order, you name it,

– Technological supremacy – for example their watch-technology, or their advances in heavy mechanical engineering,

– Culinary supremacy – as in their chocolates, or for that matter their herbal know-how, superior quality of their milk, and of course, their cheese,

– Love for their country – the Swiss really look after their country, are loyal to it, and would probably die for it willingly.

Only the first factor has a negative sound.

Well, they do provide a safe-haven. I mean, look at all the other factors. People feel that their money’s safe in a swiss bank. You can’t blame a country for being a safe country.

Most of the world is not safe today. So, most of the world’s money flows to locations that are considered safe. A good percentage of the world’s money is blood money, but that’s how it is. When foreign funds flow into a country, a country doesn’t ask questions. Do we in India ask questions? No. For all we know, it is Mafia money flowing into our country, inflating our markets. Nobody cares as long as it is coming in.

When foreign funds flow into a country excessively, as is the case with Switzerland, such a country can dictate the interest-rate it pays out for such funds. For many, many decades, Swiss banks have been in demand because of the safe-haven quality of their country, and the interest-rate doled out is a pittance, something like 0.5 % or perhaps 1% per annum, something in that range. I could be making a mistake of an odd 1 % here or there, but, you see, people don’t store their money in Switzerland so that it accumulates to an even bigger amount. They store it there so that the principal stays safe. Switzerland doesn’t participate in wars. Thus, wealth is not destroyed. In fact, during wars elsewhere, fund-flow towards safe-havens heightens.

And that’s the game. Almost unlimited inflow, pittance of a payout, loan the money further on 6%, 7%, 8%, huge differential, year upon year, decade upon decade, humungous compounding, enough to spark-off, inculcate and fully support massive all-round development – couple this with all the other factors given above about Switzerland, and you have a hugely positive n-th loop. A hugely positive n-th loop is the exact opposite of a hugely negative vicious cycle. Switzerland sets the framework for the all-round blossoming of life, and the inflow provides lubrication and fuels development. After a while, they don’t depend upon the inflow anymore. In fact, the Swiss were probably self-sufficent even before the inflow began. That’s how they were able to provide a stable system. The inflow is just a bonus. Due to the power of its compounding, all the other diamond qualities of CH sparkle even more brightly.

Living in India, with its legacy of corrupt leaders who have siphoned off most of our wealth towards safe-havens, how should one react?

It is not the fault of the safe-haven. We need to evolve and make our own citizens feel comfortable with keeping their funds here. Our system needs to provide that safety.

Only then will the funds stay here. If our funds are not staying in our own country, it is our own fault.

The Ugly Side of Leverage

Not too long a time ago, in an existence nearby, people saved.

Credit was a four letter word, or a six letter word, or whatever you want to all it, as long as you get my point.

People worked hard, and enjoyed the sweet taste of their labour.

They knew their networth on their fingertips, and there was no question of extending oneself beyond.

People were happy. They had time for their families. Words like sophistication, complicated and what have you had simpler meanings.

At the end of the month, as large a chunk as possible was pickled away.

For what?

Safety. Steady growth. For building a lifetime’s corpus. For the future generation.

Life was straight-forward.

Then came leverage.

At first, leverage was an idea that was looked down upon. People were slow to leave their safety zones.

Then they saw what leverage could do.

It could make possible a lifetime of fun. One could do things which were well out of one’s financial reach currently. Leverage could even buy out billion dollar companies.

All one had to do was to pledge one’s incoming for many, many years. If that didn’t suffice to fulfill one’s fun-desires, one could even pledge the house. The money borrowed would eventually be paid up, along with the compound interest, right? After all, one had a steady job that promised regular income.

What use was a lifetime of sweat if one didn’t get to enjoy oneself? One couldn’t really live it up after retirement, could one? That’s when one would eventually possess enough free funds to do what one was doing now, with the advent of leverage.

The do-now-pay-later philosophy soon took over the world.

Without being able to afford even a meaningful fraction of their expenditure, people began to go beserk.

What people didn’t know, and what they are now finding out the hard way, is that leverage is a double-edged sword. Since people didn’t know this, and since they didn’t bother to read the fine-print of the documents they were signing while leveraging their monthly salary or their home, well, financiers didn’t bother to educate them any further. No hard feelings, it was just business strategy, nothing personal.

Today, we know more. Much much more. Hopefully we have learnt. We are not going to make the same mistakes again.

So, when you buy into a company, look at the leverage on the balance-sheet. A debt : equity ratio of 1 : 1 is healthy. It promises balanced growth. If the ratio is lower, even better. We’ll talk about debt : equity ratios that are below 0.5 some other day.

Most companies do not have a healthy debt : equity ratio. Promoters like to borrow, and borrow big. You as an investor then need to judge. What exactly is the promotor using these funds for? Is he or she using these funds to finance a hi-fi lifestyle, with flashy cars, villas and company jets? Or is the promoter using these funds for the growth of the company, i.e. for the benefit of the shareholders? Use your common-sense. Look into a company’s management before buying into any company.

As regards your own self, reason it out, people. Save. As long as you can avoid taking that loan, do so. Loaned money comes with lots of hidden fees. If I’m not mistaken, now you’ll even need to pay service tax and education cess on a loan, but please correct me if I’m wrong. There’s definitely a loan-activation fee. Then there’s the huge interest, that compounds very fast. Ask someone who has borrowed on his or her credit card. There’s the collateral you’re promising against the loan. That’s your life you’re putting on the line. All for a bit of leveraged fun? How will your children remember you?

Also, when you invest with no leverage on your own balance-sheet, your mind is relaxed. There is no tension, and your investment decisions are solid. Furthermore, if you’re invested without having borrowed, there’s no question of having an investment terminated prematurely because of a loan-repayment date maturing coupled with one’s inability to pay.

How does the following sentence sound?

” Then came leverage, and common-sense disappeared.”

Not good, right?

Recognizing and Reacting to A-Grade Tomfoolery

Air India and Kingfisher Airlines (KFA) … can you name two things these two have in common?

They’re both loss-making airlines.

Furthermore, there’s lack of will-power to make them profit-making, from the very top.

The problem with a government job is that you can’t kick the government servant out. The government servant thus enjoys complete job-safety and total lack of accountability. That’s been India’s recipe for ineffectivity and loss-making government institutions for decades. In Air India’s case, add to this massive subsidization by the government. Whenever the Maharaja can’t pay his bills, which is like every month, the government of India chips in with tax-payer money. There’s no real policy being pushed through to effectively earn something. Government servants travel free, big-time. If there’s a shortage of seats, honest, real-money paying citizens are off-loaded and left stranded to accommodate the highly evolved souls that rule our country.

Seriously, why do you still travel Air India? Because it’s cheap? Don’t you see through the tomfoolery? Are you blind? They might wake up upon sensing a complete lack of interest amongst travellers. Until that happens, and until they start performing with no ad-hoc cancellations and off-loading, travellers need to give them that wake-up call by using other airlines and by not subscribing to any money-raising gimmicks or IPOs that the company might come out with.

Cut to KFA. What’s wrong with Mr. Mallya? Unpaid pilots, unpaid fuel bills, unpaid taxes, seriously!?!

Vijay Mallya’s story is not about lack of efficiency. It’s about flamboyance. At the cost of his shareholders? Perhaps.

His liquor business is performing well. A little hand-holding through initial turbulence would have seen KFA through. One pays one’s pilots. Period. You don’t just hire scores of great pilots and buy a huge fleet of aircraft, and then stop paying your pilots. Such flamboyance is going to result in a loss-making enterprise for a few years, isn’t that common-sense? In that period, the hand-holding comes into play from the promoter’s other profit-making enterprises, right? Does that seem to have happened here? Unlikely, looking at the current status of KFA’s balance-sheet. Quarterly losses of 100 million USD and growing coupled with a burgeoning debt, Jesus Christ…

The airline industry involves a very precarious vicious-cycle. If you can avoid falling into it from the start, you are through. Prime example is Indigo Airlines.

The first signs of letting up tighten the noose one more notch. Unpaid pilots result in strikes leading to delays and cancellations. A traveller who has been bitten once decides to travel with the competition. Numbers fall. Now, fuel bills can’t be met. More problems, more delays and cancellations. Finally, you can’t pay your taxes. That’s when the tax department steps in. Headlines go ballistic. Huge bad publicity. Twitter battles. What was that? You want the same mollycoddling as Air India? You want government subsidization? Which world do you live in? Not happening!

Money needs to flow into KFA, not loaned money, but clean money, out of the parent-group’s own coffers. Any usage of KFA revenues to fund the parent-group’s activities is a strict no-no. For example, if the Kingfisher Formula 1 team or the group’s IPL Cricket team were even partly funded by KFA revenues, that would be a huge, huge red flag, given the financial condition of KFA. As of now, shareholders need to see some will-power emanating from the top to control the bleeding. The Street can even short the KFA stock down to zero if the promoter’s attitude does not change. Perhaps such an image-beating would be a wake-up call for the promoter.