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Do You Want To Improve You Financal Future?

May 20, 2008
One of the most important steps to secure, maintain and improve financial independence is to enlarge/expand wealth, reduce/eliminate debt and live a life free of worries, mostly that of finance. Wealth encompasses many aspects such as immovable properties, bank balances, luxury gadgets, modern cars, holiday resorts and so on.

All that comes under the umbrella of Wealth can be acquired/arranged by the easy route called Debt a sure road to financial doom in many cases. Loan companies and credit card agencies present a glorious picture offering many types of loans and credit but all have the same goal: to extract the maximum from the debtor and that is You and Me.

Financial advisors, gurus and consultants thrive in plenty to tell us to do so many things such as save regularly, live frugally, use less credit, economize on food, cut down on entertainment and so on. At the end, one is so confused and frustrated that he/she just throws away all advice and continues to drown in seemingly eternal financial crunches- more debt, less to spend and eventually wrinkled foreheads, downcast faces and a life not worth living.

The Success Formula: If one wants to transit from the world of financial worries (debts, loans, forced frugality) to the Eldorado of Wealth and happiness, the practical way is total wealth management or TWM. Just as in other disciplines, industry, and business, the shift has been to TQM and TPM, and so on, - here the focus is on total cost and not on segmental cost which could vary from very low to very high. What is required is a balance between earning, spending and saving, all at optimum cost. This delicate art of balancing could be termed as total wealth management or TWM. One learns to manage his/her wealth in the same way Quality and Maintenance is being addressed in other walks of life. The whole picture of personal finance is attended to in the most effective way, by using the same time-tested methods that were/are successful in TQM and TPM.

The Practical Way to TWM: Every aspect of our personal finances and related subjects is studied and each is made to function with the total end result in mind. Now let us see what items fall within this scrutiny. Regular household purchases, investment in long-term and short-term funds, loans, repayments, credit facilities, strategic buys, banking accounts, holiday expenses, insurance, work, and retirement are some of the aspects and could include many more.

Every time there is a need to decide on any item, one has to ask two questions.
Q1. Is this decision going to result in increase to my net wealth?
If the answer is a simple Yes, go ahead, if not
Q2. Is there any way to achieve a net increase, even if there is a temporary decline/decrease?

Instead of an elaborate explanation on the how of TWM and the when, we will see an example of a case study.
The How: Take the example of Max a sales engineer by profession, and what he does. He has an 8-year-old Pontiac, which he drives to work, as his job requires extensive traveling.
Max has completed his monthly purchases and payments towards rent, utility bills, insurance, and has $1200 left over from his paycheck amount. Now he has to decide from the following
i. Pay $600 towards his credit card dues
ii. Pay $400 for a holiday plan for his wife and himself on the next week-end
iii. Buy his long cherished dream car with another car loan of $24000, repayable in 60 months with an EMI of $560, and an initial payment of $500.
Apply TWM:
1. Skip the credit card payment, and incur a penalty of $49.00
2. Postpone the holiday plan
3. Go ahead with the new car buy with a swap arrangement.

This may appear unsound by most finance advisors but read below how and where TWM operates.
a. Each month Max spends approx $900 on gas for his gas guzzling 8 year old Buick. With his new hybrid he estimated that his next monthly gas bill will drop to $450, and that makes his decision he actually saves $20400 in 60 months, which if invested properly in a SIP would fetch him more than $40 K in just about the same time.
b. The state where he lives also entitles him to a tax rebate on his hybrid car, which would fetch him another $2000 in about five years.
c. The credit card penalty would be there just for a month, plus the same holiday could be enjoyed the following month.

The KEY: Each and every decision on buying, spending, investing and so on has to be cleared by these two questions, as stated above. Temporarily Max did not pay up his credit card dues, and incurred a penalty (working out to 98% interest p.a.) a hefty rate by any standard, but by applying TWM he was able to expand his wealth to nearly $40K in just this one aspect.

He (Max) has already a running debt of about $16000, which he was paying up each month. It would therefore appear improper for him to avail a car loan of about, $24000, but yet he did and his decision is sound, only he could see the totality aided by the TWM concepts.

Looking ahead: Whether it is a decision on purchases, loans, credit facilities, insurance or anything to do with money/finance, TWM if applied can result in increased wealth, less debts, and overall satisfaction and happiness in life, surely leading to Financial independence a desirable and welcome situation for all.
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