My investment journey: mistakes, 10 years of MF investing and recovery

Published: October 24, 2023 at 6:00 am

In this edition of the reader story, Alok shares his money mistakes and recovery while completing ten years of mutual fund investing.

About this series: I am grateful to readers for sharing intimate details about their financial lives for the benefit of readers. Some of the previous editions are linked at the bottom of this article. You can also access the full reader story archive.

Opinions published in reader stories need not represent the views of freefincal or its editors. We must appreciate multiple solutions to the money management puzzle and empathise with diverse views. Articles are typically not checked for grammar unless necessary to convey the right meaning to preserve the tone and emotions of the writers.

If you would like to contribute to the DIY community in this manner, send your audits to freefincal AT Gmail dot com. They can be published anonymously if you so desire.

Please note: We welcome such articles from young earners who have just started investing. See, for example, this piece by a 29-year-old: How I track financial goals without worrying about returns. We have also started a new “mutual fund success stories” series. This is the first edition: How mutual funds helped me reach financial independence. Now, over to Alok.

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DISCLAIMER: Throughout this article, you will come across different mutual funds. Do not consider these as advertising, false advertising, or recommendations on my behalf. Also, there is no intention to commend or defame any mutual fund houses – directly or indirectly.

Year 2013: How did I get started? One person, to be specific – a mutual fund distributor – Mr Sachin, known to my mother, approached me and helped me to get started with a SIP of Rs. 5000/- per month in ABSL Frontline Equity Mutual Fund in November 2013. At this point, I had no information about the share market, equity mutual funds, blah blah blah.

The year 2015: What triggered my interest in Equity? I got married in 2014 and welcomed our first child in 2015. Again, there was a distributor pressure to get a kind of ULIP. I resisted it successfully and started a new SIP in HDFC Children’s Gift Fund. I stopped SIP in this fund in 2019 but still remain invested in it because of the lock-in period.

I also started another SIP in HDFC Tax Saver – Dividend plan at this time and continued till 2019.

Towards the end of the year 2015, in my greediness to earn quick money, I was attracted to MLM – multi-level (or network) marketing and incurred a loss to the tune of Rs. 3 lacs. The worst thing was that I had taken Rs. 2 lacs from my father for this purpose. I had sleepless nights for almost 2 to 3 months thinking about how to cope with this loss. By this time, I started learning more about the Share Market, but as a tool for making money in the short term and with a thought that it is not for a common man like many of us.

2016 to 2018: The best years in which I gained some insights into investing

Since I started my SIP in 2013, I constantly interacted with one of my senior colleagues, Mr. Ashutosh and at the start of 2016, he suggested reading the books “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” and “The Intelligent Investor”. And my journey towards understanding Equity started.

During these years, I became a voracious reader of anything related to the investment, particularly about legendary Warren Buffett. Mind you, these books helped me to evolve as a person as well. Most of the reading I did during these years was referencing the US markets. Somehow, I was not satisfied with these, as I could not correlate or comprehend those concepts from our point of view.

At this time, I came across “”, a blog by Subra Sir. He had already written a book titled “Retire Rich: Invest Rs. 40 a Day”. If I remember correctly, Pattu Sir had few calculators and then onwards, “freefincal” became my torch bearer in this journey.

Year 2018: Introduction to the concept of Financial Behaviour. This was the year I came across the “Parag Parikh Long Term Value Fund”, now known as the Parag Parikh Flexi Cap Fund. I remember I took six months to decide whether to start investing in this mutual fund. For six months, I read through them again and again their website, the article written by Pattu Sir and the book on Financial Behavior by Parag Parikh. I realised that the most important thing in investing is the “downside protection”.

Years 2019 – 2020: Re-assessing the investment journey so far and creating a road map for future journey

These are the years I experienced instability in my job, partly due to project loss and partly due to COVID-19. This also allowed me to look at my investment journey until then and realise that I had to make some decisions to progress in this journey. Based on my reading until then, I took the following decisions once the market started recovering after Covid:

  1. Most of my investments were through “Regular” plan. Decided to shift to “Direct” plan.
  2. Moved all my investment from ABSL Frontline Equity Fund Regular Growth to Parag Parikh Flexi Cap Fund Direct Growth.
  3. Moved all my investment from HDFC Tax Saver Regular Dividend to Mirae Asset Tax Saver Direct Growth. I did observe that this “Dividend” mutual fund was acting as a drag on my overall portfolio.
  4. Continued regular SIP in Parag Parikh Flexi Cap and Mirae Asset Tax Saver.

I have stuck to this process until now and plan to continue so.

The year 2023: After assessing my portfolio through “Value Research”, I observed that of the total portfolio, 43% is in Parag Parikh Flexi Cap Fund. Just to avoid concentration in one fund, I started SIP in the Whiteoak Flexi Cap Direct-Growth fund without discontinuing the existing one in the Parag Parikh Flexi Cap Fund.

In October of 2023, I completed ten years of investment journey in equity mutual funds. This is how this journey looks in graphical form. The numbers are intentionally removed from the graph. As an investor, we are more attracted to the numbers rather than setting and following certain process which suits us the best.

10 Years of Equity Mutual Fund Investing
10 Years of Equity Mutual Fund Investing
Absolute Returns for Each Month
Absolute Returns for Each Month

Things to note:

  1. I am not an IT guy. So, no extravagant salary and salary hikes. But I respect the talent and opportunities IT guys have and also, whatever I have got! What I am trying to emphasize is that start with whatever you can.
  2. After the arrival of our child, purchased Family Health Insurance and a Term Insurance. On prima facie, the amounts need to increase to certain extent.
  3. Created emergency fund in the form of Bank FD and Liquid Mutual Fund.
  4. Without understanding the product completely, started investing in HDFC Children’s Gift Regular Growth Fund. Did not consider the lock-in period till child attains age of 15/18 years. Once realised this, stopped SIP in this fund.

NOTE: Now I think they have reduced the lock-in period to 5 years or child attains age 15/18, whichever is earlier.

  1. In between, twice I got into small cap funds (HDFC Small Cap and Canara Robeco Small Cap), but got out of them within a year of starting. I don’t think small cap is my cup of tea!
  2. I started my professional journey in 2008, but it remained “Start-Stop-Start” kind of till 2011.
  3. Though I started my professional journey in 2008, but could purchase a four-wheeler in 2022. I could have delayed it for few more, but succumbed to family pressure; but no complaints.
  4. To be honest, proved lucky enough in case of my investment in Parag Parikh Flexi Cap Fund.


  • Before embarking on an investment journey, have sufficient health and term insurance.
  • Do not ignore the importance of “emergency fund”. How much should be this “emergency fund”? This is a bit difficult to answer; you will hear different amounts from person to person. But remember – If you consider your equity investment as a “fort”, then this emergency fund should act as a “fortification” of this fort, the stronger the better. For exactly this reason, investment in debt mutual funds is equally important.
  • For equity, “time” is your best friend.
  • Before starting an investment, understand yourself, your needs (or goals), and the product you want to invest in.
  • Your financial behaviour plays a pivotal role in deciding your success in investing.
  • To win the game, you have to be in the game. So don’t avoid investing in equity market just because it is risky.

Every one of us, were and still are, in awe of MS Dhoni – the finisher. Dhoni made (and makes) sure that the team remained (remains) in the game till the end and then finished in his impeccable style.

  • While reading articles, I came across some of the best statements (unfortunately, I do not remember the source; my apologies!), which every one of us should remember and plan accordingly.
  • Do not treat parents as your emergency fund and children as your retirement fund.

Please note that I still consider my parents as my emergency fund. I am working hard on this, but way to go!

  • We usually underestimate our requirements and overestimate returns from our investment.

This particular thing I experienced first-hand while purchasing my four-wheeler. Started with a budget of 6 lacs, which got doubled considering the interest on car loan.

  • Principle of KISS – Keep It Simple, Stupid!

This, again, is a work in progress and the reason for having fewer mutual funds in the portfolio.

I am immensely grateful to Subra Sir and Pattu Sir. Whenever I got into doubt, their articles helped me stay the course. No words to describe my gratitude towards them!

How can I forget the continuous support of my family through this journey?! Even after that loss, they allowed me and encouraged me to explore the unknown waters of equity.

I will end this article with a supposed conversation between Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett.

Jeff Bezos: Your style of investment is so simple. Why doesn’t everyone copy you?

Warren Buffett: Because nobody wants to get rich slowly.

Reader stories published earlier:

As regular readers may know, we publish a personal financial audit each December – this is the 2022 edition: Portfolio Audit 2022: The Annual Review of my goal-based investments. We asked regular readers to share how they review their investments and track financial goals.

These published audits have had a compounding effect on readers. If you would like to contribute to the DIY community in this manner, send your audits to freefincal AT Gmail. They could be published anonymously if you so desire.

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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 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.
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