Money matters with millennials
Megha Chawla and Harshu Robin have never met and both belong to very different work worlds. One is a journalist and the other is a trainer. Yet, there is a thread that binds them. Both are young millennials, working jobs they enjoy, in the first decade of their marriages and committed to creating their own financial success stories.
Contrary to common perceptions about feckless youth living it up with nary a care about the silver future, both our model millennials have definite money plans and this is what they have shared with us. Both like investing in gold, both have travel goals and both are working towards a day when they can be their own boss. Here is their story.
Megha Chawla – Working it out
Megha began working right out of college when she was about 22 years old. “In all the years I have worked, the only long break I have taken is three months of maternity leave,” says the mother of a 7-year-old daughter. Right from the beginning, she followed in her mother’s financial footsteps. “I had seen my mother save her money and buy gold and this is what I did. Every year, I bought a substantial amount of gold. I still do. I have joined a scheme with a well-known jewellery brand. I put in a certain amount every month for 11 months. The jewellery brand puts in the 12th instalment.”
Playing safe with gold
“Then I don’t withdraw for three more months and in the 16th month I get a good sum with which I buy either gold coins or biscuits,” she says. Megha has traded in all her old gold for hallmarked coins or biscuits. “I intend to use this gold to fund my daughter’s higher education,” she reveals.
She agrees that this is an extremely conservative way of investing but acknowledges that this is because she does not have much knowledge about other ways of investing. “Everyone, my husband included, keeps telling me about investing in mutual funds but I feel secure with physical gold as it is not virtual money.”
Building for her travel tale
While her habit of investing in gold may be extremely conservative, her travel fund is anything but that. “For us, travel is extremely important. My husband is in real estate and his earnings come in phases. Two years we did not travel and that made us so unhappy. So we decided that we will travel once if not twice every year – in keeping with my daughter’s school breaks. We decide on our destination in January and then start the financial planning for it. We both fix the amount we will need and start putting it in a specific travel account. This is a recurring deposit. So irrespective of other expenses, we can definitely travel every year,” she says.
Megha and her husband have just bought a house. “We used our savings – liquidated out bonds, PPF – and even took a loan to buy our own house. The logic being we save on the rent my husband was paying for both his office and our home. Plus we are looking towards rental income from one floor. We do not have any ancestral property to fall back on. So real estate was a decision we consciously made,” she says.
Home sweet home
Another plus of owning their home is that Megha is able to run her two start-up businesses from her basement – in addition to her job as content head for a media company. “I am looking towards a day when eventually I can quit working and run my business from home as I want to spend as much time as I can with my daughter. I started a kids footwear and accessories business which I sell online and am already on five marketplaces in addition to pop-ups. My second business is a mom and baby boutique which is running in my basement,” she says.
In all this work and personal ventures, Megha also has some cool tips for chilling wisely. “We go out a lot but I am a real bargain hunter. I study all the deals and go out with a plan. So many places offer a 1+1 on food or 2+2 on drinks. Easy Diner and Zomato Gold cards add to the deals. Hotel cards from 5 stars give 30% off on all their restaurants and even free hotel nights. Plus, we often drink at home and go out just for food – that really cuts down on the expense as alcohol is really marked up,” she reveals.
Harshu Robin – Checkered work life
Harshu is married to an army officer and so her income depends on whether she is working at that point in time or not. She is a certified trainer and finds work based on where she is at a given point in time. With this erratic income pattern, it is difficult for her to create a fixed investment plan. “For me, a work-life balance is very important. I was 21 when I started working and worked regularly without a break until my marriage. I continued after marriage also but often take breaks to join my husband at his place of posting. Right now, I am working with an airline and am looking towards building a decent corpus to fuel my long-term dreams,” she says.
But first, a look at Harshu’s investments so far. “My initial savings were all in gold. I bought a lot of gold jewellery. I looked at it as a wearable investment which you can resell any time. However, that is really not the case. When it comes to selling jewellery, you cannot really make much of a profit as they will deduct making charges etc. So I invested in gold coins and biscuits,” she says.
Exploring mutual funds
On her husband’s advice, she wet her feet in the world of mutual funds and happily reports returns of 13%. “My husband is invested in mutual funds, but I find it difficult to keep investing regularly. For me, a recurring deposit is handy. Gold coins can also be sold in an emergency. I also put in extra money in my PF account over what my minimum contribution is. Plus I put my money in an FD every time my account shows more than one lakh,” she says.
Her long-term financial goal is a house. “I am looking at a house not just as an investment for my old age, but as a source of income for me. I am looking at Tier 2 cities which are a good weekend getaway destination from Delhi and setting it up as a homestay. I am looking to get a home loan for this,” she says.
While at present Harshu is in a full-time job, she has a company – RHAVS International – for training and development. With her expertise in soft skills and English teaching as well as behavioural training, she is the only resource her company needs to run successful workshops. Before she picked up her current job, she did a training module in Austria for doctors, hospital staff and school children.
Never say retire
Though she started working at 21, Harshu does not see retirement as a goal. “I do not want to retire. I want to work as long as I can but I want to maintain a good work-life balance. So having my own company and working to my schedule and targets is what I am aiming for,” she says.
Her short-term goal is to travel. “We want to travel and have been doing a lot of it within the country. We have a joint account for our travel fund. We don’t really need much to travel but we both contribute to this joint account for all our travel expenses,” she says.
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