The rise and fall of my retirement corpus

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Each December, I conduct a personal finance audit. As part of this years audit, I thought of updating my mutual fund investment journey, in particular, the rise and fall of my retirement corpus.

The idea behind this post is not to boast or claim how intelligent my investing strategy is. It is only to study volatility and perhaps point out that simple solutions are enough to achieve early financial freedom.

About 60% of my retirement corpus is in equity mutual funds and rest in NPS. Although in principle I can retire (don’t want to), in practice I cannot. A good chunk of my corpus is locked in NPS and I cannot get it out unless I buy an annuity for 80% of it! What a bum deal! Which is why I earlier wrote: Stay away from Corporate NPS, if You Wish to Retire ASAP!

Early retirement in India is difficult but not impossible. All one needs to do is to systematically invest as much as possible for at least 10-15Y (10 in my case).  For those who understand the basics of portfolio management, any old “2/3-star” mutual fund will do. Those interested in financial freedom can check out this free e-book: E-book: How to retire early in India. Oher e-books are here.

My first ever equity investment was on 19th June 2008. I had no idea about the 2008 crash because I was not looking.

This is the normalised growth of my equity retirement corpus along with total investment amount.


The dips or discontinuities in the investment curve represent rebalancing events. I have deducted the entire redemption from the investment amount. This is not correct, but deducting capital gains associated with a redemption is messy and I am not interested in that for now.

The key personal insight from my insignificant investment journey is:

embrace a sideways market and put in as much as possible without worrying about “dips”.

This graph conveys this lesson effectively.


Notice for about the first five years, my equity portfolio was red, and then when the market moved up, notice the steep increase in gains. Each day (when the market moved up, of course!), my portfolio gained by an amount equal to a month investment. That was just amazing to watch.

Of course,  such parties do not last long. Notice the steep fall and recovery earlier this year. The best way to handle these gains and losses is to not look! Get rid of that money control app, get out of Asan Ideas for Wealth if we get confused by people who describe a 1% fall as a carnage.

My normal retirement is still years away, so I am not too worried about these ups and downs for now. Of course, a person who wants to retire early must (a) manage risk (much) better and (b) must change asset allocation.


This is a log-log plot. That is, both the Y-axis and X-axis are plotted on an equal interval scale. Each rectangle in the grid has the same width (x-axis – time) and height (change in corpus and investment). Notice that gradual slow-down in the growth of both curves. This is because, I rapidly changed my asset allocation from 100% fixed income to 40% fixed income in the space of about 2-3 years. Naturally, I will have to slow down after that!

If you wish to learn more about the benefits of log plots, see: Are you ready to climb the Sensex Staircase?!

Returns do not matter!

The net XIRR of the equity portfolio is 13.88%. Does not matter whether this is big or small. All I need to worry about is,

What is my corpus worth today?

Readmore: Review Your Financial Freedom Portfolio in Seven Easy Steps

As long as I am comfortable with the answer to the above question, I don’t care about star ratings, peer comparison etc. One can actively manage an investment portfolio along with systematic investing.

I have compiled My lessons from mutual fund investing.

Would you like to analyse your portfolio this way?

I started this exercise with an aim to make a tool that will generate the above plots automatically. This is possible if a user can generate a list of all transactions with the following columns

Date; instrument name*; transaction type**; amount; NAV or market price.

* Fund name or stock name

** Purchase, redemption or dividend.

Can you generate such a table from any of the online portfolio trackers? Please let me know. If yes, I can easily make this an automated tool.

utual Fund Review: PPFAS Long Term Value Fund

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About the Author M Pattabiraman author of freefincal.comM. Pattabiraman(PhD) is the author and owner of  He is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras since Aug 2006. Pattu” as he is popularly known, 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. Pattu publishes unbiased, promotion-free research, analysis and holistic money management advice. Freefincal serves more than one million readers a year (2.5 million page views) with numbers based analysis on topical issues and has more than a 100 free calculators on different aspects of insurance and investment analysis. He conducts free money management sessions for corporates  and associations(see details below). Previous engagements include World Bank, RBI, BHEL, Asian Paints, TamilNadu Investors Association etc. Contact information: freefincal {at} Gmail {dot} com (sponsored posts or paid collaborations will not be entertained)
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  1. Pattu Sir, i think the bit on “returns do not matter” is the most important. Its really important advice. People lose money by switching out of funds due to a fall in star rating. I myself switched out of QLTE and am regretting.

  2. Dear Mr Pattu, Great article as always. Thank you for sharing your experience in such a lucid way – have to admit that you are a master in simplifying things.
    Your phrases “returns do not matter” any “old 2/3-star mutual fund will do” kept me thinking because this is against popular advice of evaluation the portfolio (each year) and dump non performing funds. Are you recommending to stick to old funds irrespective of bad phases and just continue the SIP? For ex I have invested in UTI Equity fund which is an old fund but not performing continuously for last 2 years. What should I do in such cases? Kindly clarify.

    1. Thank you 🙂 A 2-3 star is only a non-performer wrt peer comparison. I am only interested in comparison with a appropriate benchmark. If that is good enough over a 2-3Y period, I will not hesitate to switch.

  3. Long time reader of your blog and I am always recommending your blog to people :-). I also started my SIP journey in 2008. Since then I have increased the monthly amount, redeemed and switched funds. Now I have no clue what my returns are :-). I use both Value Research’s tool and Perfios but I get different answers from them. Do you have any suggestion on how I can calculate the correct XIRR?

  4. I am a US reader and want to know if it is feasible to convert your thinking, recommendations and excel spreadsheets into mutual funds and dollars in the USA. In other words is there a conversion factor from country to country?

    1. Yes, simple financial planning tools, you can use as-is. Mutual fund tools, you can simply paste the index and fund NAV time series in the appropriate place.

  5. “Can you generate such a table from any of the online portfolio trackers? Please let me know. If yes, I can easily make this an automated tool.”
    Answer to your above question is yes. I have 1000+ transactions and getting different results from different website/tools.
    So requesting you to develops automated tool for which I shall be ever grateful.
    Thank you Pattu Sir.

  6. In below statement : Could you please tell me how the return will be impacted if the regular mutual fund investments are switched over to Direct scheme? As such this is one type of redemption.

    “Would you like to analyse your portfolio this way?

    I started this exercise with an aim to make a tool that will generate the above plots automatically. This is possible if a user can generate a list of all transactions with the following columns

    Date; instrument name*; transaction type**; amount; NAV or market price.

    * Fund name or stock name

    ** Purchase, redemption or dividend.

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