Bhaskar Ganguly was around 40 years old when he first forayed into equity investing. “In a way, I had already lost out on half my earning age," said Ganguly, now 51. But that didn’t deter him from exploring more and getting into a financial plan a couple of years later in 2009. After all, he was still around 20 years away from retirement and his son Aditya was only about three years old then.

“I did start a bit late, primarily because of lack of awareness, but I believe it’s never too late," he said.

Until about 2007, Ganguly primarily invested through traditional life insurance policies and post office and bank deposits. “I grew up in a middle class set-up in a small town of Bihar. My father was a central government employee and though the family was conscious about running the ship on a tight budget, there was no concept of equity investments during the ’70s and ’80s. All the savings were either in banks or in post office small savings. And that is pretty much how I invested and saved," said Ganguly.

Ganguly’s wife Jhumu, a housewife, preferred to manage the house rather than finances. “I have left the finances on him, though I have accompanied him to the planner a couple of times," she said.

It was his own interest in reading about finances and his friends who helped Ganguly. “I subscribed to personal finance magazines and loved to read about family’s financial plans." But it was discussions with few of his close friends at work that strengthened his resolve. “All of us went for financial plans almost simultaneously," he said.

Ganguly met a couple of planners before settling with Suresh Sadagopan, a financial planner and founder, Ladder7 Financial Advisories.

Realigning goals and investments

Ganguly did have certain financial goals before getting a formal plan such as buying a flat, his son’s higher education and marriage, and his own retirement. “My planner helped in identifying certain other goals like expenses related to specialised coaching for my son and vacations," he said.

The biggest problem that the plan addressed was aligning the goals with the investments. “I had started investing in mutual fund SIPs a few years ago, but it was haphazard," said Ganguly.

The planner helped him gradually increase the equity allocation for long-term goals.

Ganguly’s Provident Fund contribution and a pension scheme from his company will form a large part of the retirement corpus, though there are other funds too.

For short-term goals like making the final payment at the time of getting the possession of his house in Navi Mumbai, in which he lives now, and for unplanned expenses, investments were made in debt funds.

Though Ganguly had accumulated 8-10 traditional policies from friends and relatives “who needed me to buy the policies more than I did", not too many changes were made there. “While some of them were about to mature, my planner told me it would be too expensive to surrender others. Besides, I already had term insurance; my company too provides life insurance," he said.

Similarly, health insurance was not recommended because being a public sector employee, Ganguly has a policy from his company that covers his dependants and will continue even after retirement. Also, there is no question of changing jobs for him, a window which leaves many others vulnerable.

Balancing lifestyle with savings

One of the aspects that touched Ganguly was that the plan was not just a cold calculation of his finances, but also took his lifestyle into account.

“There was a time when I felt the need to enhance my savings, but my planner did not recommend that. He explained to me that in order to do that, I would have to drastically cut down my current expenditure, which would affect my lifestyle," said Ganguly. His monthly investment figure did increase eventually, but it went up gradually. The family’s budget was never affected because the plan took into account the expenses.

The confidence that he would be able to meet his goals is a big reassurance and gives peace of mind, said Ganguly, who is just back from a family holiday in Mahabaleshwar.

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