Iron Man and Personal Finance

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[This is a guest post]

ironman
What You Can Learn About Finance from the Ironman Movies
        Created in the 1960s, Iron Man was far from being a mainstream superhero when compared to characters like Batman, Superman, Captain America, Spider-man and the X-Men. In the late 2000s, however, when Marvel Comics had decided to launch a series of full length, live action movies featuring the superheroes that comprise the Avengers with Iron Man as it’s central character, the armored Avenger, and more importantly the man underneath, easily became the favourite superhero of almost every movie fan.
            Iron Man is the story of Tony Stark, genius, billionaire, and a professional weapons designer. After an encounter that led to a piece of shrapnel being embedded in his heart and being held captive by a terrorist organization, Stark realizes the evils of his profession and decides to create a weapon, an armour, that allows him to escape and make amends while also sustaining his life.
           The world of finance is filled with Tony Stark wannabes, aiming to one day roll down their favourite restaurant, flash their credit card and winning smile and just have life smile back. But in reality, we can’t be Tony Stark. However, there are things that we can learn from the brash character about finance:

Innovation Leads to Success
          From the start of the first movie, where Stark was shown pitching the “Jericho”, a weapon of mass destruction, to potential buyers, he pointed out the need for “having the bigger stick”. In the sequels, whenever Stark was in trouble, he opted to do what, to him, made perfect sense: upgrade his armour. That is a trait that we can adapt in our money making ventures. We should always be open to innovation because in this fast paced, constantly changing world of ours, the person with the latest information and the knowledge on how to use it usually comes out on top. Be in a state of constant upgrade, and your finances would show a positive result.

Technology is Our Friend
          In this day and age, there are still some people who prefer doing business the old fashioned way; opting not to use electronic communication. There are even a number of people who choose not to use credit cards. Tony Stark, in the three Iron Man movies, was shown not just to accept technology, but he made it a true part of himself in both the literal and the figurative sense. Because of this, he rarely fails in achieving his goals.

Invest in a Support Group
           Tony Stark, despite the brash way he carries himself, is actually successful mostly due to the help of his competent support staff. Even before he was in an actual team of superheroes, Stark worked with his best friend Jim Rhodes, his driver Happy Hogan and of course, his personal assistant Pepper Potts. Each and every one of those characters have helped keep stark grounded, focused, and in certain occasions, alive. When dealing with your finances, it would not hurt to have a support group of your own. Every needs friend who can give honest and reliable advice on credit card transactions and other financial matters. A financial adviser that would help you choose which investment is wise. No matter how much you trust your instincts, a group of people that you can rely on is always good. If Iron Man needs them, so do you.
         The Iron Man movies, as fun as they are, actually do teach invaluable lessons on how we handle ourselves financially. So, the next time you are on a Tony Stark kick, walk into a shop and swipe your credit card, knowing that you’ve applied what you learned, don’t be ashamed to say it. “I am Iron Man”.

About the author:
This article is prepared by Money Hero for Simplifying Money Matters. Money Hero is Hong Kong’s upcoming financial comparison website, which lets you compare a broad arrange of financial products - from credit cards, savings plans, to mobile plans.

Book Review - “Everything you wanted to know about investing”

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You may have seen hundreds of books on personal finance, but very few can really cover the entire breadth of personal finance topics, that are useful to common investor. Here is a book by Shalini Amarnani, that attempts to do the same and which provides good coverage on all personal finance related topics. (You can buy this book at flipkart or amazon)

Everything you wanted to know about investin a new perspective

Buy at flipkart or amazon

In this book, Amarnani, starts with providing a new perspective to investing by encouraging the reader to explore their boundaries. This, I felt, is really an important but often ignored aspect of a personal finance book. The book is not going to make you rich quickly, but provides a definitive guide for financial success. Amarnani takes you through various financial instruments like equities, MFs, ULIPs, F&Os and provides a guiding line for making winning choices. 

There is an entire chapter devoted to tax planning. It definitely is a good read for young people joining their first company. It also has many nuggets for experienced folks. For example, here is a paragraph from the book

If you are planning to invest in property, it makes better sense to invest in a commercial property rather than a residential one. Not only does a commercial property earn better returns but also, you do not end up paying any wealth tax on it. Ownership of a commercial property enjoys the same eligibilities in tax deduction as that of residential properties.

Wealth tax typically targets unproductive, non-essential and idle assets, hence commercial property does not comes under its ambit. A very useful tip for the property hungry Indians.

Amarnani, has also covered the equity investment space very nicely, explaining the basic concepts involved in fundamental and technical analysis. This is a good introduction for a common investor. A small chapter on Futures & Options, in an easy to understand language, gives a quick introduction to these difficult investment instrument.

The author has also covered all the debt instruments like FD, Bonds or PF in a simplistic manner including useful tables for a comparative study. Did you knew that there are four kinds of provident funds? Amarnani provides a really nice table on the tax implications of various PF schemes.

The section “consolidating” provides a quick summary of all financial instruments related to loan and insurance, which is extremely useful for an average investor. The concluding chapter is also crisp and pragmatic, with a very interesting table called “life stage analysis”. It provides a quick investment strategy, across various life stages, that you go through.

One of the key learning come from the last page of the book,

Everyone lives his/her life differently and hence investment decisions are highly personal and unique. Four basic rules that apply to everyone

  • Keep emergency cash
  • Invest in equity
  • Schedule annual review of your investments
  • Align investments with tax structure

How true these wise words are!! 

My Personal take on the book

While I enjoyed the book and it is really an excellent read for anyone trying to de-mystify the personal finance world, but be aware that this is not a book that will give you tips on where to invest. It just shows you the various instruments available and their pros/cons, but what really will help you depends on your own personal situation. One key financial instrument, that I found missing is the NPS pension scheme. NPS is a low-cost equity based pension scheme existing today. I recommend that you keep a copy of this book as a ready-reference whenever you are scouting for a financial instruments be it equity or debt based. Overall a very good book for young folks!!

About the Author

Shalini Amarnani is contributor to various financial websites and blogs like http://investmentsbook.wordpress.com/ and a highly sought-after speaker.

Knowing how to manage money is one of the most beneficial life skills for people at every age. She is committed to simplifying money matters and increasing financial literacy both for the present and the future.  Utilizing a clear and straight-forward approach, she provides advice for integrated, holistic financial life planning and investment management.

Shalini holds a masters degree in Financial Management and has several years of experience starting from 1994. She lives in the financial heart of India, Mumbai with her husband and a son.

Shalini can be reached on shaliniamarnani @ gmail . com

You can buy the book at flipkart or amazon