One year of writing the blog

It is said that one week is a long time in politics and, if Indian politics is any indication, we can probably take the saying to be fairly accurate. I do not know what is the right time frame for assessing the performance of a blog. However, I feel one year will be a good time to take stock of my experiences with the blog.

So how did it all get started? Well, when I wanted to get out of my regular corporate career and get started on my own Consultancy, getting my own financial situation organised was a top priority. This led me to think through the financial aspects a lot more than before and I started to realise that financial independence was an imperative for all people, it did not really matter whether they wanted to retire early or not. My following some Facebook groups and other blogs caused the realisation that there were hardly any good information available in the public domain that could guide investors in reaching the desired state of financial independence for themselves. The final push came through my daughter Rinki, who pointed out that if I felt there was some valuable knowledge to share then I should not shy away from the effort.

The response to the blog has really been stupendous, in fact I still find it difficult to believe that so many people read it, say that they have benefited from it, engage with me actively in terms of queries and suggestions and have changed their investing styles based on what they have learnt from the blog. More than the numbers, it is the interaction and engagement that I have had with many people I do not really know at all, which is really a rather humbling experience. It had inspired me to work hard initially to create a knowledge store which will be of use to many investors for a long time to come.

Of course, there have been some detractors too but that comes with the territory. In my investment life I have always tried to follow my gut instincts based on common sense and fundamental principles and it is that same sense that I have tried to bring to the blog. In the investment advice given in the blogs and Facebook groups, the only solution given is to invest in equity MF and only through SIP. This is completely flawed and I have tried to point it out in many of my posts, much to the consternation of the MF and SIP brigade.

What has been the greatest source of satisfaction in writing the blog. Well, there are several but the ones I can think of instantly are as follows:-

  • Several readers have understood how they could be financially independent and have started their journey towards the same goal.
  • Many investors have seen the flawed approach of investing in MF through SIP and have started looking at my suggestions of how it can be done otherwise.
  • My blog has inspired many people to get started on a direct stocks portfolio. I believe this is important for retirement which cannot be done well only through the MF route.
  • I have been able to remove the stigma from products such as PPF and SSY to a great extent. These are good products and must find place in your portfolio. The bashing that they get in social media is due to the half baked knowledge of the authors, rather than any intrinsic deficiencies with the products themselves.
  • Readers of my blogs understand the characteristics of equity and debt as asset classes and are able to see where these fit into their portfolio.

These are very interesting times and there will be a lot of changes in the investment landscape in India over the next 2-3 years. I plan to continue the blog and take up writing on such opportunities that can pave the road for financial freedom of my readers.

Finally, I would like to thank all my readers for having made the blog what it is today. Had it not been for their response this may not have lasted the time that it has. I look forward to a similar level of support over the next year and hopefully beyond it.

My experiences with the blog

One week they say is a long time in politics but, not being a politician, my knowledge of that will only be second hand in nature. As a blogger though, I do have a rich experience of 2 full months now to the day. June 17th was the day when I started the blog and today is the day the blog has completed it’s second month.

Though several people had encouraged and urged me to start a blog on personal finance aspects, I was always reluctant to do so. My main reason for the hesitation was that, I would not want to do something which would be read by very few people. Having been readers of some blogs myself, I know it is hard to get readership and the initial enthusiasm very often peters out and you are left with only a handful of loyal readers. However, the reception I had to some posts I wrote in the Facebook Groups AIFW and Market Musings ( my own group ) assured me that there would be a decent response to my blog.

The trigger point of starting the blog were mainly three. Firstly, I was finding it difficult to handle all queries from readers in the Facebook groups I was in. I thought it would be a good idea to write posts and direct readers to those, instead of explaining the same stuff multiple times. Secondly, my daughter being present at home during her summer vacation meant that she could help greatly in setting up the blog. Not that it was very complex to do, but I doubt whether I would have done it completely on my own.Thirdly, being on my own with the Consultancy practice gave me a fair amount of time to do this. If I was in a CEO role, as I was till last year, it would not have been possible.

The start of the blog was rather auspicious as I had a good deal of viewership almost immediately. I thought it was mainly because of the curiosity value of something new, but I am happy to note that the readership has sustained. The challenge is to keep writing posts that I have conviction about and making sure they are relevant to the readers at the same time. Not knowing, details of statistics on similar blogs at start-up, I am unable to comment on how successful the blog has been, but I can present some basic statistics to give an idea to the readers.

  • Number of posts published in the blog including this = 100
  • Views till today = 26,756
  • Visitors till today = 11102
  • Highest number of views in a day = 970
  • Highest number of visitors in a day = 532

But more than the numbers, I haveĀ been really glad that there has been some difference made in the following:-

  • Several people have been encouraged to take up investment in direct equity.
  • Many of my posts tackling controversial topics such as SIP effectiveness have been read widely.
  • Many readers have reached out to me for advice and through these interactions I have learnt a lot too.
  • A lot of the feedback has been quite complimentary, but more importantly, usefulness of the blog has been agreed upon by most readers.

The following posts have been the most popular in the blog in terms of viewership, so here are the links:-

  1. Why you must invest in PPF
  2. My current SIP in Mutual Funds
  3. Why you must be in direct equity
  4. Should you buy your first home now
  5. SIP – A modified version

What of the future? I do plan to continue the blog and hope that it is already in a place where many new investors can come and find useful resources to help them in their own financial planning process.

The century of posts was scored rather easily, but it is now time to take fresh guard.

Interested readers may pls follow my blog on email by clicking on the relevant button on the right hand panel. I will shortly be stopping the practice of posting the links in different Facebook groups. Following the blog will ensure you get intimated whenever there is a new post.

Rationale for this blog

To start with let me thank all the people who have already visited the blog and given me some feedback. While I do expect a lot more of it, the start has been quite gratifying. This post will talk about why I wanted to start this blog and also state what is the scope of the blog.

Personal finance is an area in which I had some interest for a very long time, practically since I started working in 1988. One thing I realized immediately was that I would have to pretty much learn things on my own, even my complex Financial courses from IIMC were of limited help. Sure, they helped me understand about the financial statements and stock markets rather well but did not give me an overall picture on how to go about managing my finances. So, for better or for worse, I am a self-made person in the world of personal finance. I have had help from several quarters but my thoughts and actions have been my own. For a long time, I was also self contained, as my own career along with family priorities pretty much kept me away from any kind of social media presence or participation. It was only in the last year, when I had decided to strike out on my own through a Consultancy practice, that I thought of sharing some of my experiences in this area.

A caveat which needs to be stated upfront is that, I am not an expert and definitely do not have a perception that I am. I am however, a serious practitioner of personal finance and have been able to use my knowledge in taking actions that has led to my financial independence today. When I look around, I do not see a blog with resources that look at the whole area of personal finance with the specific objective of helping one attain financial independence. I believe that as someone who has practiced it I have the ability to give some pointers to people on it.

That then is the theme of this blog. All the posts and other discussions here will cover several aspects of personal finance, with this overriding objective in focus. As it is my blog and based on my experiences, a lot of what I will say here has happened to me. However, I am happy to learn and know more from others too in this area. Of course, there will be many people who are not keen to attain financial independence till they retire. For such people, some of the suggestions in this blog may seem a little radical. You do not have to follow whatever is stated here, once you understand what is being said, you will need to make your own decisions.

I will also not deal with complex calculations or number crunching in my posts. Yes, there are a few concepts like inflation, future value of money, discounted cash flow etc that you need to know about, but you can easily learn about these from the internet. I am absolutely against “reinventing the wheel” of any kind whatsoever. Repetition never adds any value, no matter how good the intentions are.

Some of you may be thinking what is “financial independence” anyway? I will try to answer that in a future post. But my next post will be about a typical Indian middle-class / upper middle-class life template and how it links to financial planning and financial independence.

Keep reading – the future posts will be much more fun as we have got rid of the boring stuff here.