Five steps to a goal-based investment plan

By Deepak Yohannan
August 10, 2011

(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

Life is filled with desires and ambitions. A holiday abroad, a swanky new car or a plush home, whatever it may be, we earn money to fulfil such goals. However, very often, when it comes to saving for our goals, most of us randomly make investments without a proper plan. We buy financial products, without giving much thought if it is actually going to help us at the time when goals are to be met.

This is where a goal-based investment plan comes into play.

The concept of goal-based investment stresses on having a planned and disciplined approach to saving money for the important goals of life. By having an investment plan defined around your goals, you could allocate your finances to the right asset class, so that they are readily available to meet the big expenses of life. Sounds complicated? Not in reality though.

From identifying your needs to choosing the right asset class, here are 5 simple steps to help you.

Step 1: Defining your goals

Before you embark on your journey of investing, define the goals that are specific to you and set a timeline as to when you want them fulfilled.

While some needs require immediate attention, others are for later years. Sort them out into immediate goals, short to medium term and long term goals

Step 2: Ascertain the current cost of your goals

Ascertain what you would have to shell out today if you want to fulfil your goal.

For example, what would it cost to get your daughter married today, or send her abroad for higher education?

Step 3: Determine the future cost of your goals

The cost of your goal today may not be the same tomorrow. Soaring inflation rates and the rising cost of living make things more expensive year by year. So how do you calculate the future cost of your goals? We could do this with a bit of mathematics.

Mr Sharma wants to save for a lavish wedding for his daughter 15 years down the line. At current costs, it would cost him 20 lakh rupees. Using a simple equation, we compound his current value of goal, at current inflationary rate to arrive at the future value of his goal. Let us assume an inflationary rate of 9 pct.

Thus, it would cost Mr Sharma more than 72 lakh rupees for the wedding 15 years hence. Using this compounding function, you can calculate the cost of achieving your other goals at their respective target dates.

Step 4: Determine how much to invest

The next step involves determining how much money you would need to invest today, at a particular rate of interest to achieve the future value of your goals.

Mr Sharma decides to invest in equities and hopes it will fetch him minimum 15 pct p.a. returns. To calculate the amount he would be required to invest currently to reach his target value:

At 15 pct rate of interest annually, Mr Sharma should invest 8,95,282 rupees to be able to meet his goal. What one must remember here is that the rate of interest is largely dependent on where the investment is made.

Step 5: Choosing the right asset class

Primarily, the asset class you choose depends on the years required to meet your goal. Apart from saving, investing and fulfilling dreams, you should ensure you have adequate cover for your life and health, and also plan accordingly for your taxes. A sound financial plan is one that covers all these aspects.

(Write to the author at deepak@myinsuranceclub.com)

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