Money is like Dettol that kills 99.99% of the problems, believes student Pratham Changoiwala

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Being financially literate is of paramount importance in today’s complex and dynamic economic landscape. Financial literacy empowers individuals to make informed and responsible decisions about their money, investments, and financial planning.

Pratham Changoiwala of Shaheed Bhagat Singh College tells MintGenie in an interview about how when it comes to spending money, one of his top priorities is investing in experiences that broaden his horizons and provide opportunities for personal development.

Actively engaged in college societies like Entrepreneurship Cell and TEDx, Pratham’s genuine enthusiasm for finance goes beyond just their field of study. Pratham has already achieved remarkable milestones, such as being the youngest speaker shareholder at HDFC Bank’s 29th AGM and being selected as a delegate for Harvard’s esteemed conference, HPAIR’23.

Edited Excerpts:

What does money mean to you? Is it the most important factor when it comes to your life decisions like what to study, career and so forth?

For me, money functions as a tool that allows me to satisfy the majority of my desires and wants. Being financially free from money at an early age is my goal when it comes to money.

Once, I heard a quote that had a significant impact on my life, which goes like, “Money is like Dettol that kills 99.99% of the problems.” I believe that it is undoubtedly one of the most important factors when it comes to life decisions like studies, career, etc. However, it is not the only one; there are other factors as well.

We don’t learn much about money and financial literacy in school or college, so I started studying personal finance and the stock market in class 11 and have been learning about them ever since. I plan to keep learning about them in the future as well.

To conclude, money is just a way to escape the matrix.

What do you spend your money on every month at the moment? Can you give a breakup in percentage terms?

As an outstation student, a significant portion (60%) of my money goes towards covering day-to-day necessities like rent, food, bills, and laundry. These expenses are essential for maintaining a comfortable and functional living situation.

About 10% of my money is allocated for unplanned outings and trying out new experiences with my friends. Exploring new things and spending quality time with friends is important to me, and I believe these experiences contribute to personal growth and happiness.

I allocate 10% of my money towards activities and purchases that bring me happiness and enhance my lifestyle. This includes buying gadgets, clothes, books, and indulging in trying new cuisines. These expenditures contribute to my overall well-being and allow me to enjoy life to the fullest.

I make it a priority to save 20% of my money, which I then use for investing. Building financial security and planning for the future is essential, and investing is a way for me to grow my savings and work towards achieving my long-term goals.

What are the things you want to spend money on?

When it comes to spending money, one of my top priorities is investing in experiences that broaden my horizons and provide opportunities for personal development. Another thing that I want to spend on is traveling to new destinations.

Exploring new destinations allows me to immerse myself in different cultures, meet diverse people, and expand my perspective. Ultimately, I want to spend my money on anything that directly contributes to my happiness and well-being. This could include things like pursuing hobbies that bring me joy, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, etc.

Do you save money? If yes, how frequently and what do you do with this money?

Yes, I definitely prioritize saving money. As mentioned before, I allocate a fixed 20% of my monthly budget to savings. This discipline helps me build a strong financial foundation and work towards my future goals.

In terms of what I do with the saved money, I have a structured approach. I’ve been investing in two SIPs (Systematic Investment Plans). One is in a small-cap fund and the other in a flexi-cap fund.

Additionally, I receive a stipend from my internship, and I make sure to put a portion of it towards investments. I invest that in Indian stocks as well as a smaller amount in US stocks.

What does having a job mean to you? What are the top two factors you will want to think about when deciding a company to work for?

For me, a job is a source of financial security, providing the means to sustain my lifestyle, invest in my future, and fulfill my various aspirations. It’s also a place for personal growth and exploration, where I can continuously learn, develop new skills, and align my work with my broader life goals.

When evaluating potential companies to work for, there are two key factors that hold utmost importance to me. The first factor I consider is whether I genuinely enjoy and find meaning in the work I’ll be doing. A job that aligns with my interests and passions not only makes the work itself more fulfilling but also contributes to my overall job satisfaction and well-being.

Another critical factor is the opportunity for ongoing learning and personal development. I believe that stagnation is counterproductive, and a job should provide the chance to expand my skill set, acquire new knowledge, and evolve as a professional.

What do you think about investing your money? If you have a certain amount of money set aside, will you want to invest it in the stock market, mutual funds, or do you just keep it in your bank savings account?

When it comes to investing money, I believe in adopting a structured and well-informed approach that aligns with both my financial goals and risk tolerance.

I follow a finance rule called the “100 minus age” rule. This rule suggests that an investor’s portfolio should comprise the percentage of their surplus funds equal to 100 minus their age in equities, and the remainder in debt. However, I use a modified version of this rule. As I am 20 years old, I invest 80% (100 – 20) of my savings in equities and keep the remaining 20% in my bank savings account for future needs.

Within the equities portion, I adhere to a structured distribution using the “50-30-20 rule.” While the traditional version of this rule allocates 50% towards needs, 30% towards wants, and 20% towards savings, I tailor it to my investment preferences. 

Specifically, I invest 50% in Indian stocks, 30% in mutual funds, and the remaining 20% in FAANG US stocks. This distribution strategy allows me to diversify my investments across different markets and asset classes, reducing overall risk while potentially maximizing returns.

Do you think you have an understanding on how to save and invest? If yes, how did you learn? If not, are you trying to learn?

Absolutely, I have developed a strong understanding of both saving and investing. From a young age, we are often encouraged to save money, but unfortunately, we don’t receive the same level of education about how to invest wisely.

Fueled by my passion for personal finance, I started learning about these concepts at an early age. Through self-guided learning, I’ve acquired knowledge about various aspects of saving and investing. I’ve taken advantage of a wide range of resources to expand my understanding. These include YouTube channels, newsletters, Instagram reels and pages, LinkedIn posts, and books related to finance.

I believe that learning is a lifelong process, especially in the realm of finance where markets and strategies can evolve rapidly. As a result, I’m committed to continuously expanding my knowledge and staying up-to-date with the latest trends and insights in the financial world.

Do you follow social media influencers and follow their investment advice?

Yes, I do follow some social media influencers who share investment advice and insights. However, I approach their advice with a balanced perspective. While influencers can provide valuable information and ideas, I don’t blindly follow their recommendations. Instead, I take a cautious approach and conduct my own due diligence and research before implementing any investment strategies they suggest.

It’s important to recognize that investment decisions should be based on a variety of factors, including personal financial goals, risk tolerance, and market conditions. What works for one person might not necessarily be the best fit for another, considering individual circumstances and aspirations.

As I mentioned earlier, I follow certain finance rules; however, I customize those rules to align with my specific goals and risk appetite. This tailored approach helps me create a well-rounded investment portfolio that reflects my unique situation.

Do you talk to your mother or your father about money and learn from them or follow their advice?

Yes, I do have conversations with my parents about money and financial matters. However, our perspectives on investing differ to some extent. My parents tend to lean towards more conventional investment options like fixed deposits (FDs) and recurring deposits (RDs), which are considered safer choices. While these options do have their merits, I’ve expanded my understanding to include a broader range of investment possibilities.

I’ve taken the initiative to introduce my parents to newer investment options and share my knowledge about different approaches to managing finances. I explain the concepts of diversification, risk management, and the potential benefits of investing in equities, mutual funds, and other alternatives.

Through open discussions and sharing of insights, I aim to bridge the gap between traditional and modern investment strategies. While I respect their viewpoints, I also want to ensure that we explore a well-rounded approach to managing our finances that considers both safety and growth potential.

These are the key lessons one can learn from the book ‘The Psychology of Money’

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