Most individuals fail to monitor the health of their personal finances
“All eyes are on the AGM of ABC Ltd.,” an anchor announces on television. Soon, scores of individuals start watching TV and end up discussing the quarterly and annual results of various corporates.
I am not sure how many among them are actual investors in a particular company, advisers to clients on investments, or mere enthusiasts. Watching or discussing the results of a corporate is one’s personal choice. For me, the question that crosses my mind as a personal financial advisor is, do all these individuals spend time to keep a watch on their own financial health?
Which is more important? The health of our personal finances or the financial state of a company?
Know thy self
While conducting workshops on personal financial planning, invariably for couples, I end up doing a small activity. I ask five questions to the spouse who is not looking after the family finances. So, if it is the husband who is looking after the finances, the wife has to answer these questions and vice-versa. The tasks are to write down the name and contact number of (i) the chartered accountant who had filed their income-tax returns in the last three years (ii) health insurance agent (iii) life insurance agent (iv) mutual fund agent, and (v) the stock broker.
“We are living in nuclear families… what do you think is happening? I always keep requesting my husband to spend time with me and keep me abreast of our financial state, but he doesn’t have time,” was the reply from the participants of a workshop.
Another participant replied, “I have asked my wife so many times to spend some time with me, get details of our investments, but she always has some excuse.”
Reasons apart, let us accept the reality. We are no longer staying in joint families. Nuclear family is now the norm. Even in some joint families, each couple would be having separate finances.
“We came to know of all the life insurance policies taken by my father only after his demise. It was so kind of his insurance agent to inform us and even help us with the claim procedure,”a friend’s neighbour told me the other day.
“I have no idea about the health insurance we have and I am not sure what kind of cover your brother’s employer give, as we have never discussed it,” my sister-in-law told me at the hospital where a cousin of mine underwent a minor procedure in the liver. At our office, we insist on clients attending quarterly review meetings with their spouses.
In fact, we have not renewed our annual contract with those who had been consistently requesting for a meeting without their spouses present.
On the other hand, in our experience, couples mention that they look forward to quarterly review meetings. Many have started calling it a ‘quarterly ritual’.
During the lockdown, when we used to conduct online review meetings, both clients as well as ourselves missed the warmth and personal touch. When the lockdown was relaxed, clients were eager to visit. We also encourage them to bring their children along.
For many, it has become a family activity… they plan a lunch or some other activity around our office.
It is extremely important that the husband and wife spend at least two hours, every quarter, going through their finances. That comes to about eight hours in a year. I call it ‘going on a Financial Date’.
During those two hours, go through all financial documents, namely bank statements, credit card statements, loan accounts, demat account statements and mutual fund account statements. Ensure your names, addresses and other contact details are up to date. Keep your KYC requirements updated.
Make a list of fixed deposits, bonds and other post-office schemes that are likely to mature. Plan for those funds. If there are any major expenses likely to come up in the near future, then find out how it would be funded. All the above activities will ensure you are working towards achieving your financial responsibilities and dreams.
By all means, spend time following the AGMs of corporates, but the most important AGM of life is your own AGM – My Annual Goal (Planning) Meeting.
(The writer is a financial planner and the author of Yogic Wealth)
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