Financial independence lessons in a “Xerox shop”!

Published: January 30, 2021 at 10:42 am

Last Updated on February 12, 2022

In this article, Venkat describes how an incident in a “Xerox shop” changed his outlook on financial independence and financial literacy.  Venkat, 32, changed his perspective towards personal finance when he came across the idea of FIRE – financial independence and early retirement.

He then invested more than ten hours as a hobby and went on to clear the Level one NISM exam for investment advisors. After achieving financial independence in the next 7-8 years he wants to educate young and old about the importance of money management. Over to Venkat.

I understood how important financial literacy is, in a Xerox Shop! A few months back I went to a xerox shop and gave my Aadhar card for photocopying to an Old gentleman. Since he was around 70+ he was struggling to adjust the brightness.

Suddenly a person in mid-’40s came running into the shop and started thrashing the old man & abusing him and went all of a sudden. I was shocked and asked the old gentleman about that person and how can he behave like this.


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This response from the Old Gentleman shook me – He said with tears rolling down his shiny cheeks, “ He is my son and I am a retired accountant from a private company and gave all my final settlement & savings to my only son. Now post getting my money, he made me a labourer in his Xerox shop and always abuses me physically & mentally”.

This made me think about how Personal Finance Illiteracy is creating such havoc in this society. More than 75% of divorce in India is in some way or other due to personal finance mismanagement. The root cause for this misery was financial dependence.

Financial Independence: Planning is Paramount

Even though I did my MBA & working with an organization as a director planning for the growth of the organization, I have seldom thought about my own personal finance growth. That’s when I was fortunate enough to get guidance from vlogs of Pattu Sir, Subra Sir and many more personal finance experts and created my own balance sheet, cash flow, expense tracker & created a goal-based portfolio with a clear investment philosophy for each goal. 

I have created a customized strategy by separating my two critical long-term goals – financial independence & Retirement. I am very clear that the reason I wanted Financial Independence is to ensure I do something I love without worrying about the income while at the same time my family is not compromised on the quality of life.

I arrived at a target corpus for Financial Independence that can provide me 25 Times my current annual expense & this will be from the age of 40 to 60 where I will be earning at least 50% of my annual expense (anything more is a bonus which will be redirected to my Retirement kitty). My retirement goal is after 60 where I have planned for a target corpus of 40 times my current annual expense and at this time my only source of income will be passive through my investment corpus.

I also have other long-term goals like my daughter’s higher education & marriage along with short term goals like doing a part-time PhD, home loan repayment before my financial independence & international vacation every three years.

I have an asset allocation strategy for each of my goals listed above spanning across all the 4 major asset types like equity, debt, gold & real estate. I have ensured the allocation of Real Estate & Gold does not exceed 20% for any of the goals.

I am confident that I will be financially independent by 2028 when I turn 40. I got myself certified as an investment advisor by NISM to ensure that I have the necessary skills to be a financial planner. I also have a career plan after FIRE where I would want to be an evangelist of personal finance going to schools & colleges to educate youth on personal finance & financial independence. I firmly believe that the world around us will be a better place if every youth is trained in personal finance & the importance of financial independence !!!!

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Pattabiraman editor freefincalDr M. Pattabiraman(PhD) is the founder, managing editor and primary author of freefincal. He is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. He has over nine years of experience publishing news analysis, research and financial product development. Connect with him via Twitter or Linkedin or YouTube. Pattabiraman has co-authored three print books: (1) You can be rich too with goal-based investing (CNBC TV18) for DIY investors. (2) Gamechanger for young earners. (3) Chinchu Gets a Superpower! for kids. He has also written seven other free e-books on various money management topics. He is a patron and co-founder of “Fee-only India,” an organisation for promoting unbiased, commission-free investment advice.
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Most investor problems can be traced to a lack of informed decision-making. We have all made bad decisions and money mistakes when we started earning and spent years undoing these mistakes. Why should our children go through the same pain? What is this book about? As parents, what would it be if we had to groom one ability in our children that is key not only to money management and investing but to any aspect of life? My answer: Sound Decision Making. So in this book, we meet Chinchu, who is about to turn 10. What he wants for his birthday and how his parents plan for it and teach him several key ideas of decision making and money management is the narrative. What readers say!
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