How Rohit’s early struggles defined his investment journey

Published: January 31, 2021 at 11:01 am

Last Updated on December 29, 2021 at 6:01 pm

In the seventh edition of personal finance audits by readers, we meet 30-year old Rohit whose early struggles led him, to start investing early in a goal-based manner.

As regular readers may be aware, we publish a personal financial audit each December – this is the 2020 edition: How my retirement portfolio performed in 2020. This time, we asked regular readers to share how they review their investments and track financial goals.

Over to Rohit: Excited to write my portfolio audit. Thanks to Pattu sir for the opportunity. I am a software engineer by profession, and my hobbies are programming, reading (fiction to learn life better, non-fiction to understand the business better), watching movies (and TV series, still favour movies over TV series), sports (play cricket, football and watch the two + tennis), and personal finance and investing.

I was lucky to start a little early with my investment journey. In hindsight, I feel that this was driven mostly by the following reasons:

Join over 32,000 readers and get free money management solutions delivered to your inbox! Subscribe to get posts via email!
🔥Enjoy massive discounts on our robo-advisory tool & courses! 🔥
  • Lower middle-class childhood, where we struggled a lot with cash flow and all emergencies were handled by borrowing money.

  • Learnings from repayment of education loan for my B. Tech first, followed by contributing to sisters marriage and brothers education

  • Handling a medical emergency for my father early in my career, with an expense of 1.5 lakhs

In Pattu sir’s words, my rear end has almost always been on fire. And I think the only fire extinguisher that would have worked was and is, above-average income and money management skills.

Thanks to a lot of luck, hard work, and God’s grace, I started with a decent income and almost immediately started with repayment towards my education loan. A couple of years later (January 2016), when the loan neared its close, started my investing journey.

Few things I did right since the beginning:

  • Started with direct plans of mutual funds, never had any regular plans.

  • Avoided ULIPs and LIC policies

  • Even though I started in late 2015-early 2016, mid/small caps were never a big part of the portfolio, even though they were all the rage at the time. I remember learning from office colleagues when DSP Micro Cap (now DSP Small Cap) was there favourite.

I think these little things, along with stumbling upon Freefincal and then AIFW, helped me avoid a lot of trouble as I went ahead in my journey. Looking back, it’s almost unbelievable that I did these right.


Health Insurance: I have HDFC Ergo Optima Restore (previously Apollo Munich Optima Restore) with a base cover of 10 lakhs (5 years old, thankfully no claims so far). And an HDFC Medisure Super Top policy with a cover of 25 lakhs.

I also have an employer-provided cover of 5 lakhs. Since parents are added in this policy with pre-existing diseases covered, I plan to use it for them. This came in handy a couple of months back when father caught an infection (non-covid) and 7-day treatment cost nearly 2 lakhs. Insurance paid 1.7 lakhs, and I paid 30k.

Term Insurance: I have a 1 crore Term Insurance from HDFC which was bought 5 years ago when I used to think ‘Oh, 1 crore is such a big amount’. This needs a revisit.

Emergency Fund: I have 6 months worth of emergency expenses in Savings Account + Liquid funds. Since I have decent amounts in debt funds available for access, I don’t overthink this.

My Portfolio

Equity: Equity exposure is via active mutual funds. I have recently started building a stock portfolio for myself after getting inspired by Pattu and Subra’s efforts (I find Subra’s YouTube videos on direct equity to be genuine and practical. Please take a look if you have not already. I assume that since you are reading this on Freefincal, you already watch Pattu sir’s videos 🙂 )

Debt: Debt exposure is with debt funds (liquid, money market and low duration categories as of now) and PPF. Debt funds have the largest proportion in my debt portfolio, so I have a decently sized liquid debt allocation as of now. EPF allocation is minimal as I skipped EPF contributions for the first 3 years when provided the choice, and for the past 3.5 years, have been contributing Rs 1800 per month (EPF min contribution) towards it.


  • Decided asset allocation for Long term goals – 50:50 (equity:debt)
  • Decided asset allocation for short term goals – 0:100 (equity:debt)
  • For short term goals, I follow 100% debt allocation.


Yes, I am unmarried, reaching 30 now and think it’s time to pay heed to MacKenzie MacHale’s advice to Jim Harper (“Gather ye rosebuds while ye may”, The Newsroom)

Most of the money is in place for this goal and will supplement the rest of it over the next 3 months from salary.


I don’t own a car. Will buy a car for my parents in next 1 year. Have reached 50% of the target amount. Since this is a flexible goal, I will increasingly build a corpus over the next few months. Will be able to supplement with debt fund holdings if required.

Long Term Goals


For this long term goal, I have decided to use 50:50 (equity: debt) asset allocation.

This was 36:64 till Feb 2020, but 55:45 in Dec 2020, thanks to diverting money from debt funds and cash to equity over the months of Feb-September.

I have decided not to rebalance it, as I will likely be supplementing my short term goals over the next few months.

Will this allocation I am at ~10X (X being annual expenses for me + my parents). Target is 35X as early as possible. In this runup in equity markets, I have started to feel that the accumulated equity portfolio has become a contributor to corpus creation.

The equity portion of long term goal is almost equally invested in PPFAS, Axis, Mirae and Invesco AMC’s funds. I am happy with portfolio performance so far and don’t plan to move to index funds. But next time I would consider shuffling funds due to underperformance, I will likely move to index funds.

I have also started building a direct stock portfolio 4 months back, which is 1.5% of today’s total equity portfolio. Have decided a fixed amount for the direct portfolio and will continue to buy stocks in the portfolio, which can be accommodated in that amount, keeping the position sizing as close to decided as possible.

The annual (FY) investment made into mutual funds is schematically shown below, along with the direct equity portfolio.

Amount invested by Rohit in mutual funds each year
Amount invested by Rohit in mutual funds each year
Rohit's direct equity portfolio
Rohit’s direct equity portfolio

The long-term debt portion is invested in Debt funds (money market and low duration) + PPF + Small amount in EPF.

Since debt funds form a big chunk of the portfolio, I follow a simple evaluation system (familiarity, brand, allocation % etc.) and regular monthly monitoring to take actions as and when needed. For example, I held Axis Treasury Advantage when the DHFL saga began.

The fund had ~7% exposure to Zero-Coupon Bonds of DHFL bonds. I laughed at myself and moved money from the fund (Nothing happened though, Axis Treasury sold the bond (or transferred within AMC), but some Axis funds took a hit in the NAV. I didn’t know about inter-scheme transfer at the time; otherwise, I would have researched a little bit). Same with Franklin Ultra Short Term – I only remained invested in the fund for 3 months, as I could not come up with a system to review it. In hindsight, this was a good decision.


I have no active loans. I use credit cards wherever possible, I have 3, and pay bills on time. With no EPF, NPS and home loan, taxes are my biggest liabilities 🙂

That said, I am aware that I am at a stage where a lot will likely change in very less time. As Morgan Housel would say, ‘ Reasonable optimist’ is how I would like to approach the changes to come.

Plans for 2021

  1. Revisit Super Top Up policy: I am actually not comfortable with low cover (25 lakhs) of HDFC Super Top Up, but this is the max cover they provide. Since this is only 1 year old, I may move to a different insurer this year for Super Top Up.

  2. Build up medical corpus: For parents (and myself), and do it fast. I have exhausted 1.7 lakhs out of 5 lakhs for parents, 3.3 lakhs is grossly insufficient. On the same line, I will try to complete buying health insurance for my parents. I have done my research, but will likely take professional help for this.

  3. Reach target corpus: For short term goals.

  4. For long term goal, continue to invest in equity and debt as per desired asset location. I will gradually build my stock portfolio, which I have found to be a great learning experience.

  5. Revisit debt allocation: So far, I have taken a conservative approach to build my debt fund portfolio. I feel that for long term goals, and with growing debt fund corpus, Banking and PSU, Short Duration and Gilt debt funds can find a place in the portfolio. May also consider increased EPF contribution. Not convinced of the role of NPS yet, so will likely avoid it.

  6. Be grateful

  7. Keep re-reading ‘The Financial Arrow of Time’ on freefincal: “Every moment wasted, not being in control of your cash flow, not investing enough, not taking action, is lost forever. The magic of compounding diminishes slowly and relentlessly. The past is prologue!” This is my all-time favourite post on freefincal. I have read this post countless times, and it inspires me and springs me into action every time I read it.

Do share this article with your friends using the buttons below.

🔥Enjoy massive discounts on our courses, robo-advisory tool and exclusive investor circle! 🔥& join our community of 5000+ users!
Use our Robo-advisory Tool for a start-to-finish financial plan! More than 1,000 investors and advisors use this!
New Tool! => Track your mutual funds and stock investments with this Google Sheet!
We also publish monthly equity mutual funds, debt and hybrid mutual funds, index funds and ETF screeners and momentum, low-volatility stock screeners.
Follow Freefincal on Google News
Follow Freefincal on Google News
Subscribe to the freefincal Youtube Channel. Subscribe button courtesy: Vecteezy.
Subscribe to the freefincal Youtube Channel.
Follow freefincal on WhatsApp Channel
Follow freefincal on WhatsApp
Podcast: Let's Get RICH With PATTU! Every single Indian CAN grow their wealth! 
Listen to the Lets Get Rich with Pattu Podcast
Listen to the Let's Get Rich with Pattu Podcast
You can watch podcast episodes on the OfSpin Media Friends YouTube Channel.
Lets Get RICH With PATTU podcast on YouTube
Let's Get RICH With PATTU podcast on YouTube.
🔥Now Watch Let's Get Rich With Pattu தமிழில் (in Tamil)! 🔥
  • Do you have a comment about the above article? Reach out to us on Twitter: @freefincal or @pattufreefincal
  • Have a question? Subscribe to our newsletter using the form below.
  • Hit 'reply' to any email from us! We do not offer personalized investment advice. We can write a detailed article without mentioning your name if you have a generic question.

Join over 32,000 readers and get free money management solutions delivered to your inbox! Subscribe to get posts via email!

About The Author

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 ten years of experience publishing news analysis, research and financial product development. Connect with him via Twitter(X), 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 promoting unbiased, commission-free investment advice.
Our flagship course! Learn to manage your portfolio like a pro to achieve your goals regardless of market conditions! More than 3,000 investors and advisors are part of our exclusive community! Get clarity on how to plan for your goals and achieve the necessary corpus no matter the market condition is!! Watch the first lecture for free!  One-time payment! No recurring fees! Life-long access to videos! Reduce fear, uncertainty and doubt while investing! Learn how to plan for your goals before and after retirement with confidence.
Our new course!  Increase your income by getting people to pay for your skills! More than 700 salaried employees, entrepreneurs and financial advisors are part of our exclusive community! Learn how to get people to pay for your skills! Whether you are a professional or small business owner who wants more clients via online visibility or a salaried person wanting a side income or passive income, we will show you how to achieve this by showcasing your skills and building a community that trusts and pays you! (watch 1st lecture for free). One-time payment! No recurring fees! Life-long access to videos!   
Our new book for kids: “Chinchu Gets a Superpower!” is now available!
Both boy and girl version covers of Chinchu gets a superpower
Both the boy and girl-version covers of "Chinchu Gets a superpower".
Most investor problems can be traced to a lack of informed decision-making. We 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, as well as teaching him several key ideas of decision-making and money management, is the narrative. What readers say!
Feedback from a young reader after reading Chinchu gets a Superpower (small version)
Feedback from a young reader after reading Chinchu gets a Superpower!
Must-read book even for adults! This is something that every parent should teach their kids right from their young age. The importance of money management and decision making based on their wants and needs. Very nicely written in simple terms. - Arun.
Buy the book: Chinchu gets a superpower for your child!
How to profit from content writing: Our new ebook is for those interested in getting side income via content writing. It is available at a 50% discount for Rs. 500 only!
Do you want to check if the market is overvalued or undervalued? Use our market valuation tool (it will work with any index!), or get the Tactical Buy/Sell timing tool!
We publish monthly mutual fund screeners and momentum, low-volatility stock screeners.
About freefincal & its content policy. Freefincal is a News Media Organization dedicated to providing original analysis, reports, reviews and insights on mutual funds, stocks, investing, retirement and personal finance developments. We do so without conflict of interest and bias. Follow us on Google News. Freefincal serves more than three million readers a year (5 million page views) with articles based only on factual information and detailed analysis by its authors. All statements made will be verified with credible and knowledgeable sources before publication. Freefincal does not publish paid articles, promotions, PR, satire or opinions without data. All opinions will be inferences backed by verifiable, reproducible evidence/data. Contact information: letters {at} freefincal {dot} com (sponsored posts or paid collaborations will not be entertained)
Connect with us on social media
Our publications

You Can Be Rich Too with Goal-Based Investing

You can be rich too with goal based investingPublished by CNBC TV18, this book is meant to help you ask the right questions and seek the correct answers, and since it comes with nine online calculators, you can also create custom solutions for your lifestyle! Get it now.
Gamechanger: Forget Startups, Join Corporate & Still Live the Rich Life You Want Gamechanger: Forget Start-ups, Join Corporate and Still Live the Rich Life you wantThis book is meant for young earners to get their basics right from day one! It will also help you travel to exotic places at a low cost! Get it or gift it to a young earner.

Your Ultimate Guide to Travel

Travel-Training-Kit-Cover-new This is an in-depth dive into vacation planning, finding cheap flights, budget accommodation, what to do when travelling, and how travelling slowly is better financially and psychologically, with links to the web pages and hand-holding at every step. Get the pdf for Rs 300 (instant download)