Book Recommendation – Let’s Talk Money – Monika Halan

I was 23 when I started my career with an insurance firm. My job bought me to a bigger city, fed me a handsome salary at the end of every month and gave me friends for life. The independence was a dream come true, and for almost a year I had nil savings, where I splurged all my (hard earned) money shopping clothes I hardly wore, buying gadgets I hardly used and partying with people I hardly knew. Since I was with an insurance firm, my only so called investment was a health insurance policy, which came in handy when I was admitted to the ICU. With close to zero balance in my salary account, the cashless facility offered by the policy was a saving grace. One of the vows I had made at my death bed was that if I came back alive, I will be a bit more responsible with the money I earned.

Well I attract a lot of drama in life to learn subtle lessons, not something that is advisable for the junta at large. But this experience made me an advocate of having a right and adequate health insurance policy in my financial kitty. There was a lot of buzz in office about SIPs and mutual funds, and with the renewed vigour of lessons learnt, I adhered to the advise of a few seniors at the workplace and secured myself a fund manager and religiously invested a part of my monthly income into the suggested SIPs.

But there was a lot that was to be understood. I knew that. There were life insurances, the Tanishq people wanted me to join a Gold plan (given the marriageable age conundrum), and I still did not understand if the mutual fund was a better investment than the conventional FDs that my mum swore by. There was a lot of online gyaan on the subject, but as with all the other online gyaans, there is way too much content on this as well, which often leaves you bewildered, on where to start from.

And that is when this book by Monika Halan caught my attention while thrifting through an airport book shop. Not because it was an SHB on personal finance but because she was the chief editor at Mint, and being from an insurance PR background, I knew her name ranked among the top rung of financial journalists. To add to this, the book had a foreword by Nandan Nilekhani, whose “Imagining India” is a book that I had loved reading as a college student. The book was billed hence, its credibility ascertained to my naïve mind.

But as I settled down the window seat, and opened the book, I was surprised to find that it was a signed copy by the author herself. I wondered if I had picked someone else’s copy by mistake! Nevertheless as I started to read, I found that the author had in the most lucid format busted all my doubts – point by point. From having the right health insurance, to busting myths around the zillions of life insurances available, to demystifying equities, and shredding the illusions around Real Estate and Gold being the most stable forms of investments, the author covers it all. She explains how to induce a savings mindset, how to segregate savings from investments and expenditures and also explains how starting early is more beneficial but not more than starting now. There is no right time to start investing she says, and all the “I don’t understand numbers” or “I don’t earn enough” are just impediments towards securing yourself with right investments.

Such impactful was the book, that I gifted it to another friend who was planning to start his investment journey and am rotating my own copy within my office study circle. As millennials, we do earn a lot, but our expenditures are equally unaccounted for. We do not understand the magic compound interest holds in the long run, and with a lot of agents with vested interests around, often make the wrong investments. This book is for all such people, who know that they will lead a different life as against their pensioner parents, who know that they are high on life but low on savings, but do know where to start from! For this #mykinda junta, Let’s Talk Money is the reference book, the one which teaches the ABC’s to the middle class investor!

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