When Bangalore-based couple Pragati and Sharad Madiman got married about a year back, they made a lot of plans. “We had just got married. We wanted to travel, buy a house, buy a car…," said Sharad. At the same time, they wanted to bring discipline into their financial lives.

“We wanted to save smarter, instead of just saving in fixed deposits," said Pragati. Their savings and investments at that point were general in nature, and not following any pattern. It was mostly in recurring deposits and fixed deposits. They wanted better. “All the interest was getting taxed," he said. 

While looking for more information, Sharad read about fee-only financial planners on Facebook. “I wanted more control over investments," he said. Pragati, however, was not gung ho about taking external advice, mostly due to her past experience. “My reluctance was mostly due to the earlier experience with banks, which had left me confused. I didn’t want to invest in something that had a lock-in and I didn’t want to get swindled out of my money," she said.

But when they started speaking with Piyush Khatri, who is their financial planner now, a lot of her concerns were removed since the initial conversations were about what they wanted not just now, but also much in the future. “He was looking very far—what will happen when we have a child, when we retire…. It was an eye-opener," she said. 

Many things were discussed that Sharad and Pragati had not thought about earlier. For instance, they have a joint bank account now, apart from their individual ones. This helps them keep track of investments.

According to Sharad: “Every month, when I invest, she will also do it. So, if one misses, the other person can remind." Pragati adds to this: “It (a joint account) helps us keep a track of investments, and also our resources." 

The initial conversations also held some shocks for the couple. “He (Khatri) told us some of our expectations were unrealistic. We wanted to retire (early), but he explained that if we were to live, till, say, 90 years, and retire at 50 or 55, what the required corpus would be. It was a shock; we woke up," said Sharad. 

Pragati said they “got a fair account" of their situation. “Piyush told us we could not continue the same way (as before)." The Madimans followed this up by filling some gaps, one of which was insurance—health and life. “We had not considered this. We are in our 30s; we had not thought about what will happen 15-20 years later," said Pragati. 

To be able to save and invest more, they are trying to cut down on travel and expenses. “I use only a card to spend; I don’t use cash. I use an app to track expenses," said Sharad. Pragati added that they have reduced ordering in or going out to eat. 

For long-term goals, investments have been routed to equity mutual funds, along with a mix of debt and liquid funds. Moreover, they have been pushed to invest in funds on their own. “He (Khatri) wants us to do this on our own. I now understand that even 0.5% over the years becomes a lot of money," said Sharad. Going through the process also means learning about the investments. 

Some goals have been postponed. For example, the couple wanted to buy a car, but have deferred this purchase. “It would be more of a liability. This is a better time to invest," said Sharad. 

With a plan in place, the Madimans now have a path to follow. While their goals now are very different from what they had even a year back, their plans to travel and buy a house or a car have merely been postponed, not cancelled. “We should cover the basics first," said Sharad. 

The couple is also more in control of their money. “I have a clear picture. A year back, I had never thought about these things," said Sharad. For Pragati, one of the biggest advantages of consulting a financial planner is that they get reliable advice. She said: “Earlier, I used to get worked up about getting the wrong advice. Now, I am relaxed."

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MY PLAN

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Name: Sharad Madiman

Age: 32

Profession: Consultant and distributor of cheeses

Name: Pragati Madiman

Age: 36

Profession: Language expert technical writer with an MNC 

Financial planner: Piyush Khatri, founder, Sahastha Financial Consultants 

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