‘Financial planning has helped me get rid of my insecurities’

For Mili Srivastava, a Bengaluru-based startup professional, financial planning is her lifeline. At one point, Srivastava (42), who currently works for a crowdfunding platform as a director for business development, was caught up in investment products that she didn’t need. However, today she is confident about her personal finance and has a clear plan in place.

A single mother (she has two children—a 13-year-old daughter and a 10-year-old son), earlier Srivastava had locked most of her money in real estate and gold. “My parents had pressurized me to invest in physical assets—gold and FDs. Women don’t realize while buying jewellery that when you sell it, you lose money because the jewellers eliminate the cost of stones and making charges. Somewhere it didn’t make any sense in my head even though I am not a finance person,” she says.

Making the shift

After her divorce, Srivastava started taking charge of her money and had an intuition that all was not well with her personal finances since a large part of her investments was in illiquid assets. Meanwhile, she also realized that her bank had mis-sold her very expensive life insurance products. “Every time I got some money, my banker used to advice me to invest in insurance products. Somehow they had built so much confidence that I signed the papers blindly. However, they were pushing their sales up and were not concerned about my portfolio.”

That is when she met Mumbai-based Deepali Sen, a certified financial planner and founder of Srujan Financial Advisers LLP. “I got to know her (Sen) through my sister. I told her that I want to free myself from illiquid assets.”

Srivastava believes that in this age you don’t need to own and maintain things to enjoy it. “If you need a car, go to ZoomCar, Ola or Uber. Why do you have to own and maintain a farm house which you use only once a month when you can go to Airbnb?” 

She gained more confidence about getting rid of her house and gold jewellery when Sen helped her with information and analysis. Sen also helped her get rid of all the wrong insurance products that Srivastava had bought over the years. Sen chalked out a plan for her and Srivastava started goal-based investments and has now put in place a financial plan with a mix of debt and equity for her children’s education, emergencies and other goals.

Willingness to understand finance

It was not very difficult for Sen to explain things to Srivastava. “She was open to learn about investments. For instance, when I told her real estate was not a sensible investment, she was not rigid. I cancelled all the wrong insurance plans and got her a term plan. Since she was not fixated with a certain set of ideas, the turnaround time was simpler,” says Sen.

Srivastava has moved cities—earlier she lived in Hyderabad and now lives in Bengaluru—and she is not sure whether she would continue to live in Bengaluru. Hence, she has decided to consider buying a property only when she is closer to her retirement age. “I see a lot of my friends blocking at least 30-40% salary in EMIs without realizing that it completely kills their access to liquidity. If you see, infrastructure in different cities is shifting drastically. Every 10 years you have a new area coming up. The concept of housing itself is changing. In fact, now I advice my friends that instead of taking a loan and paying EMIs, why don’t you use the same EMI money and start SIPs.”

She has also eliminated her children’s marriage and professional education from her financial plan. “If they are doing a professional course of 2 years, they are assured of a job. Hence, they will be capable of taking a loan. That way you can make children more responsible.” Meanwhile, she is able to financially support her son’s passion of playing golf, an expensive sport to pursue, and her daughter’s interest in multimedia. 

Srivastava has set aside funds for emergencies as well as her travel plans. “I want to travel. Every year when we plan our finances, we pick an amount and put in a liquid fund, from where I can get the money in 24 hours even in case of emergencies. For instance, my mom had a heart attack 2 months ago. I called Deepali and I said I need money to pay. Since she had planned between liquid and fixed products, I could withdraw from these and pay the hospital bills without my expenses being affected.”

Srivastava says that thanks to the financial plan, she has a strong foundation and doesn’t have to battle unnecessary insecurities.




Name: Mili Srivastava

Age: 42

Profession: business development head at a startup

Financial planner: Deepali Sen, a certified financial planner and founder of Srujan Financial Advisers LLP

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