Monthly Financial Tracker

Published: November 2, 2012 at 10:03 am

Last Updated on

A monthly budget is more than how much is spent on groceries and petrol. Sure, you need to keep track of your total expenses. You also need to keep track of how much you save towards retirement and all your other goals. You also need to check  if your savings are on track year after year.

I have been using a financial tracker for a few years now and it work well for me. It makes me disciplined. Discipline is the key to financial control and freedom.

Don’t pay too much attention to the investment avenues and amounts. They are only representative for you to get the idea. Modify it the way it will work best for you.

The financial tracker does not have a breakup (groceries, petrol etc.) of monthly expenses. Each ones expenses are different and can be easily incorporated in a separate sheet.

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Pattabiraman editor freefincalM. Pattabiraman(PhD) is the founder, managing editor and primary author of freefincal. He is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. since Aug 2006. Connect with him via Twitter or Linkedin Pattabiraman has co-authored two print-books, You can be rich too with goal-based investing (CNBC TV18) and Gamechanger and seven other free e-books on various topics of money management. He is a patron and co-founder of “Fee-only India” an organisation to promote unbiased, commission-free investment advice.
He conducts free money management sessions for corporates and associations on the basis of money management. Previous engagements include World Bank, RBI, BHEL, Asian Paints, Cognizant, Madras Atomic Power Station, Honeywell, Tamil Nadu Investors Association. For speaking engagements write to pattu [at] freefincal [dot] com

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  1. sir, have you done any comparison of active funds vs passing funds/ etfs. if so, whats ur conclusions., pl. — sunder

  2. thanks, sir. meanwhile, i am congratulate and thank you for your excellent articles and excel worksheets, particularly the ones on how to select a mf, the retirement bucket strategy, monthly returns etc etc etc. by the way, whats your take on reliance growth? r u for continued investment in it or for junking it. personally, i think one should not junk it. .

    1. Thank you very much. Reliance growth is classified by VRonline as a multicap fund. In this category there seems to be only one consistent performer:
      Goldman Sachs Nifty Junior BeES
      This is practically an index fund. What is worrying with regard to Reliance growth, it has underperformed this index fund by some distance.
      RG has not beat its benchmark for 3 yrs or so. If I look at all these is no case for investing further in it. Perhaps you wait a little while. See how it performs in a rally (assuming one has started now) and then take a call.

  3. perhaps one should also look at morning star and moneycontrol’s page on rg. they give a totally different picture:

    1. I don’t think so. I already looked at MCs page when I replied. Morning star does not seem to plot the growth graph wrt benchmarks. I think the observations are website independent, assuming the everyone gives the right data.

  4. btw what is the cap characteristics of rg? morning star treats it as a mid cap and compares it with iisl cnx mid cap, while vrol sets it against bse 100, in mc, mf schemes are given ratings by crisis. crisil rating for rg is average — rank 3. thats where my confusion is?

    1. vrol and mc are right. The benchmark is BSE 100. vrol is right to call it a multi-cap fund. It has 35% large cap holding. We should look beyond ratings. RG has underperformed its benchmark for last 3yrs. Its 3 yr CAGR is negative compared to avg of 2. This are definitely signs to gradually shift. Like I said if it rallies well now you can probably hold on to it. Else shift gradually.

  5. tnx, sir
    will do as you suggest.
    meanwhile, i have been into markets for the past four to five years only. over the period, i have been trying to study the up and down movements of the market. from my limited study, i find that the first preference of people [market participants], particularly the biggies, generally are the pivotal stocks — those which constitute sensex/ nifty. once the pes of these reach “fair values”, they move to other large cap stocks among the top 100, then those betwen top 100 and 200 funds etc etc. in other words, much of the buiying/ selling takes place in the large cap sphere.

    i am consequently coming to a conclusion that if not for all retail investors in mf, at least for me, [55years, employed as a journalist with not much time at disposal to constantly keep track of the goings in the market/mfs etc], it would be better to go in for the following proportion for investment in the market: 30 to 40 per cent in nifty/sensex index funds/ etfs; 30 to 40 -per cent in large cap funds with low risk-high return category [selected based on your methodology], 20 to 30 per cent in large+mid category funds and 0-10 per cent in multicap funds.

    i would love your feedback please

    1. It should work, since it is based on simple commonsense and proven history. You must of course give it time to perform. Please monitor it at least once year and learn about rebalancing. I have rebalancing simulator. You could check that out.

  6. sure. tnx. i will certainly use your rebalancing simulator. but, did my finding seem ok? does it sound correct? am sure you wud have also been looking at the up and down movements of the market over time.

    1. Yes I think what you have observed make sense. I am no market expert and I always look at things from the point of view of risk. Either the conclusion match. Also it is a standard idea of investing in stock. So it should work. The only thing needed to invest in stocks or MF is discipline. Leave it be for a long enough time and it will work. At least that is what history tell us

    1. Yes. This is very to close to the one I use. Since I don’t get PF I didnt put it in. Easy enough to add whatever you want though.

  7. dear pattu, i basically wanted to show with some random facts and figures that even so called best of active mutual funds may not beat the index every time. i am sure we all already knew that. it is just that i think one should keep reminding oneself about this aspect.

  8. pl just look at the sip returns for the period from jan 1, 2003 to jan 1, 2013 and april 1 to april 1, 2013 alone, it is true that both cases, hdfc has scored an alpha over gs nifty but then there is a huge difference in alpha. so basically, the return actually depends upon when one enters and when one exits/ cashes out/redeems, by the way what is the upfront commission that mfs collects?. is it collected for every instalment of sip? is it collected for direct investments/ schemes also?

    1. Dear Sunder,
      This is a very interesting issue and there are several aspects to this.

      1. By a huge difference in alpha, you are referring to the variation bet. 3.17-4.23% in sheet2, I would say this is near constant!
      2. When you enter and when you exit always matter. This is no surprise. This is you in the growth phase of the portfolio one should rebalance at least annually. I will be doing a post on this to make this aspect clear.
      3. Comparing HDFC Top 200 and NIfty index fund is like comparing ripe mangoes with raw one (ie. not correct but not as bad as comparing apples and oranges).
      An actively managed fund should always be compare with its index. You cannot comment on fund performance by comparing with others. Doesn’t make sense.
      4. Index investing has this big advantage. You don’t to worry about under-performance wrt benchmark. You never have to change funds! Of course alpha is zero. A truly long term investor will have no problem with that.
      5. Upfront commission is part of the expense ratio. If you buy through a broker the AMC will pay out of the expense ratio. if you buy direcly AMC will pocket the money!

  9. friend, thanks for the detailed response.

    regarding point no 1: i am talking about the figures in sheet 1, which i have marked in deep red. — return from jan 1 ,2003 to jan 1, 2013 [6.18 per cent] and april 1, 2003 to april 1, 2013 [3.82 %]

    2. will look forward to your posting on rebalancing etc etc

    3. i know i should not be comparing hdfc top 200 [ripe mango] with gs nifty etf [raw mango]. i did it only because there is no etf that covers the top 200 stocks. cud be that if there was one, there would have not been any gap at all between the etf and active fundl? i dont know.

    4. in fact, i did this exercise just because i was not sure whether i was doing the right thing by investing in active funds. i somehow feel that it should be enough to just keep investing in index funds/ etfs. but, i am not able to take the courage to shun active funds. people whom i have spoken to are all for chasing alpha.

    5. this is what i had suspected. btw is upfront fee charged from the investor for every instalment of sip or just at the beginning of the sip

    tnx again

    1. Yes i see the spread in alpha now. It is to be expected. The fund manager is human after all. Btw one of my (physics) students is working for a firm which is developing a software which will emulate fund managers!

      + or – difference will always be there bet. index and active funds. The long term investor should not lose sleep over this.
      Only trouble with index investing is a prolonged sideways market (1991-2001 and 2009-present). Of course in such a situation alpha also will be small.
      The fundamental point is ‘long term’ is at least 15 years!

      Each transaction with AMC is distinct and subject to expense ratio and therefore upfront fee. A SIP is actually a monthly ‘lump sum’ transaction.

  10. thanks dear. i have been breaking my head over the issue of active vs passive. my gut feeling was that we [me and wife] would be ok if we go in for passive investing. but then whom ever we speak to, including my guruji, ashal jauhauri, and my wife’s uncle, a retired senior govt officer, have been against it, except for my younger brother [who is 12 years younger to me and is working in singapore].. i had also made a posting in ashalji’s fb group, but not a single person would speak for passive investing. considering that my experience in the market is pretty short [about to five years only] i was wondering whether i was indeed making a mistake. your response makes me feel better that i have at least one person is agreeing with me and that person is not an ordinary person: he is a IIT professor. tnx again

    1. I believe contentment is very important to all investing, short or long term. Equity investing is to be done only with one goal: fight inflation and not get returns. If inflation was 6% and bank fd gave post tax 7% I will never touch a MF. Problem is many cannot see past returns. Nothing wrong with index investing provided one stays invested for long term and periodically rebalances. Personal finance or physics I am always a student. What I do for a living does not define who I am. Thanks.

  11. thanks dear. the only thing i did not understand in your response is with regard to rebalancing. i would appreciate it if you can expand on it

  12. Excellent blog and very useful information. Some of the funds have changed name and they need to be corrected such as Birla Sun life is not Aditya Birla Sun Life. For some funds of Birla and Axis the sheet gives error and does not compute and says not a valid working day and if manually entered the NAV, the CAGR is missing. Just a thought.

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