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4 personalities share their journey on the path to financial freedom

Parvatha Vardhini C BL Research Bureau | Updated on August 14, 2021


“Right balance of liquidity, savings” — Shinjini Kumar, Co-founder, SALT

Shinjini Kumar had seen the best of both the government and corporate worlds, having worked in the RBI for 17 years and then with Bank of America Merrill Lynch, PwC, Paytm Payments Bank and Citi, until December 2020. Having been in the top echelons, she was financially well-placed to find true freedom as an entrepreneur, following her heart. Shinjini is now co-founder, SALT, an online financial services platform for women.

Shinjini Kumar Co-founder, SALT

While she was comfortable, the transition made her look at her finances differently. “One thing that changes dramatically when you don’t get that pay cheque is that you need to provide for your own liquidity”, says Shinjini. “The first thing I did was buy health insurance for everyone in the family as I no longer had the employer’s cover. I had a few payment commitments for the next 2-3 years such as a home EMI. I set aside a corpus to meet this. Then, I created a buffer of 12 months’ expenses for the household”, she adds, explaining how she planned her transition.

Should things not work out, Shinjini is prepared to go frugal or rent out her Mumbai apartment. Medical emergencies are her biggest financial worry, though she has provided for them.

Read also: Freedom to retire early a top priority, shows a BL Portfolio Survey

“Being prepared for eventualities” — Alexander Babu, Stand-up comedian

Making a living out of comedy is no joke and Alexander Babu (Alex) knew it when he quit his job in end-2014. An ex(hausted) software engineer, Alex gave himself a two-year runway to try his hand at being a full time stand-up comedy artiste. During this time, he did two things — set aside money for emergencies, scale down expenses.

He was also ready to teach yoga for supplementary income.

Alexander Babu Stand-up comedian

His efforts bore fruit and, voilà, his first show ‘Alex in Wonderland’ was born. Fame and money followed but Alex was never very frivolous. He took advice from his qualified friend as well as his CA, earmarked corpuses for emergencies and for children’s education.

Then came the pandemic, when live shows dried up. “We need to gladly, gracefully, be ready (for change) and not complain”, is his credo. While he has used the pandemic to get his next show ready, he has also found new ways to earn. “As an artiste, I know I have to keep making YouTube videos. It not only keeps us creatively engaged but also keeps us in touch with the audience. Now that I have more than a million subscribers, that is also a fairly decent income”, he says. Being well-planned and not leaving loved ones in a mess when we go is true financial freedom, according to him.

“Accountability for own finances” — Indu Divya, Founder, The Narrative

Not having much to fall back on and knowing little about money management did no good for Indu Divya, when she suffered a personal crisis. To top it, she found routine jobs stifling and was yearning to do something on her own. From there, Indu has come a long way, making her mark as a Story coach. She’s found her niche in corporate training, where storytelling can be a tool for effective and engaging communication with all stakeholders.

Indu Divya Founder, The Narrative

“Earlier, I had no clue that saving was different from investing or insuring. I didn’t take accountability for my own finances. Now, I am better at it and have set aside different buckets for different needs”, says Indu.

With the joy of following one’s heart comes the responsibility of managing one’s finances through good times and bad. “Today, those in offbeat professions have two worries — one, we may not get paid that much; two, the risk that we would reach a certain level and then plateau. To make the best of your earnings, being well-informed about financial instruments helps. Financial awareness should be inculcated from childhood, by parents, if not at school”, she adds.

“Contentment at the end of the day” — D Muthukrishnan, Investor and mutual fund distributor

Knowledge is power, realised D Muthukrishnan when the mutual fund industry was still nascent in India. Saving hugely and investing wisely from very early in his career, he gave up a well-paying job at a BPO in 2006 to cash in on the knowledge of MF investing and personal finance he had painstakingly built. With a home loan provided for and 10 years’ corpus to run the family set aside, he launched his own venture on financial advisory, with a CFP certification. He also took up MF distribution.

D Muthukrishnan Investor and mutual fund distributor

“My advice to be cautious during the 2007 bull market earned me goodwill when the 2008 crisis unfolded. Also, I would never change funds in any of my client portfolios unnecessarily or recommend a fund because it paid me higher commission. I would not sell NFOs. I would tell my clients that my value addition is that I will not do anything, nor will I allow them to do anything”. This paid off and there has been no looking back for Muthukrishnan.

After regulatory separation of advisory and distribution business, Muthukrishnan is not into advisory now.

But he is a contented man today, having found financial freedom through his own investing prowess.

He doesn’t have to work to earn money. He just has to make his money work for him.

Published on August 14, 2021

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