You would think you’ve missed the bus if your financial life is disorganised even at 60 years of age. But that wasn’t the case with Dr Sunil Ganesh Karandikar, who is 65 years old. Sunil, a doctor by profession, decided to sort out his financial life about 2 years back when he accidentally came across Deepali Sen, certified financial planner and founder, Srujan Financial Advisers Llp. “Deepali was invited to give a talk on financial planning in a programme organised by the Indian Medical Association. I decided to consult her because for a very long time, I had wanted professional advice on handling and investing money," said Sunil. It’s not as if he never got financial advice in the past. He did, but it was from financial distributors. “I got financial advice from insurance and mutual fund agents. I bought endowment and money-back insurance policies on the advice of my insurance agent and realised that he benefited more from it than I. Even my mutual fund agent kept insisting I invest only in one fund house," he said.

While he systematically invested money, he put his money in all the wrong instruments. “All my investments were in insurance policies like money-back, endowment and unit-linked insurance plans, fixed deposits, real estate, Public Provident Fund and gold," he said. And he realised the gravity of his mistake when his financial planner explained the difference between savings and investments. “Savings don’t beat inflation and are not tax-friendly. Whereas, when you invest you are essentially investing in products that will beat inflation and these products being long term in nature are also tax friendly," added Sunil. For the Karandikars, the financial planning journey started with chalking out his goals, and much to his surprise, he hadn’t done too badly. “My kids are grown up and settled, so I don’t have any liabilities. I have been saving enough and I had two real estate properties that I sold off. So it was only a question of moving my money from wrong products to all the right products," he added.

Karandikars have two children. The son, 35, is in an administrative position in a media company. The daughter is 32 years old and a homemaker. Sunil’s wife, Rajani Karandikar, is a counsellor at the Institute for Psychological Health. In fact, there were many things he did right. The family has sufficient health insurance cover and his wife made sure there was always emergency money kept aside for a rainy day. “My husband takes care of financial matters and I have trusted him. But the one thing I always insisted was on having a contingency fund for a rainy day," she added.

For the Karandikars, the current asset allocation is about 65% in equity mutual funds, about 30% in debt products and 5% in gold. “I plan to retire in a couple of years. So I am going to cap my equity investments and increase my debt investments because I need a certain amount of retirement income every month. Other than this, we are avid travellers and love birdwatching; and our financial planning has factored in our love for travelling," he added. But it’s not just that their financial plan is on track. Their outlook has changed as well. “Being a middle-class household, we were focused on capital protection. We wanted to save our hard-earned money. So, equity was never a choice for us. But Deepali explained to us that till now if we have worked hard to earn money, it’s time for the money to work hard for us," said Rashmi.

“My husband did a lot of research and we finally became comfortable with equity as a long-term vehicle of investment. Other than this, we have also become very conscious about our spends. Initially, when you get married, you plan out your financial lives. But when the kids come, priorities change and we have not been very disciplined. Having a financial plan has instilled that discipline again in us," she added.

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