Spotlight – Let’s talk money by Monika Halan #HotNewRelease #Personalfinance #Amreading

Delighted to share about this wonderful book of personal finance by none other than Monika Halan, the consultant editor at Mint with tons of experience in the area and a great heart that wanted to share her precious insights.

I am halfway through Let’s talk money and felt it would be criminal not to spread the word about such an empowering book. Shall review the book in detail a bit later. Check out the blurb below :

We work hard to earn our money. But regardless of how much we earn, the money worry never goes away. Bills, rent, EMIs, medical costs, vacations, kids’ education and, somewhere at the back of the head, the niggling thought about being under-prepared for our own retirement. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our money worked for us just as we work hard for it? What if we had a proven system to identify dud investment schemes? What if could just plug seamlessly into a simple, jargon-free plan to get more value out of our money, and have a super good life today? India’s most trusted name in personal finance, Monika Halan offers you a feet-on-the-ground system to build financial security. Not a get-rich-quick guide, this book helps you build a smart system to live your dream life, rather than stay worried about the ‘right’ investment or ‘perfect’ insurance. Unlike many personal finance books, Let’s Talk Money is written specifically for you, keeping the Indian context in mind.

Let's Talk Money_Front

I even have an exclusive excerpt for you, with the kind permission from the author and the publishing team of Harper Collins.

Kanchan Chander is a famous Delhi-based artist; you can spot her on page 3 of the daily tabloids grinning at the camera. I happened to meet her at the home of a common friend. And as it played out, the conversation soon shifted to her money. (There was not much I knew about art anyway.) She was in the middle of a story that I had now heard hundreds of times. A pushy bank relationship manager promises a wonder insurance-cum-investment product; you trust your bank; you grew up in a time when insurance meant safety and good return, along with tax breaks. This relationship manager is very persuasive, calls many times, is very charming, looks sincerely into your eyes and gives his personal promise about the product; I’m there, he says. Kanchan’s story was no different. She wanted to put away a lump sum for two years so that she could fund her son’s art-school education in the UK. However, she was sold a fifteen-year regular-premium unit-linked insurance plan some years ago by her bank. She thought she was buying a two-year fixed deposit, but the bank had put her in a regular-premium long-term investment. She got a shock when a year later she got a message from the insurance company saying that the second premium is due. But, she had made a one-time investment, she thought. So she called her bank relationship manager. He had gone. Another smart slick-suit was there who told her that if she did not make the payment she’d lose the entire investment to costs (which she was not told at the time of investment). She protested. You signed the policy, so you should have known this, was the push back. Kanchan was devastated. Artists’ incomes are erratic and she had been banking on this money to fund her son’s education, and now it was gone. As a single parent, the blow was even harder. There was nobody to fall back upon. Chances are that you’ve already had at least one bad insurance experience by now. Either you would have got back a pittance after faithfully servicing your policy for twenty years, or you would have got trapped in a product you did not want. Or been brazenly lied to and left holding a dud product. Why do they cheat and what can you do to stay safe? Do you really need an insurance cover? What about the tax break – how will you get that if you don’t buy another policy? I’m going to take each question and then leave you with some very simple dos and don’ts. You need to treat the insurance industry and those who sell the same like walking through reptile-infested waters; you need to stay on the path that is safe. They’re out to get you. You need to look after your money. I’m not joking.

Hope you are compelled enough to check out the book on Amazon!

About the Author

Monika Halan is consulting editor and part of the leadership team at Mint. A certified financial planner, she has served as editor of Outlook Money and worked in some of India’s top media organizations, including the Indian Express, the Economic Times and Business Today. She has run four successful TV series around personal finance advice, on NDTV, Zee and Bloomberg India, and is a regular speaker on financial literacy, regulation and consumer issues in retail finance. As part of her public policy service, she is a member of SEBI’s Mutual Fund Advisory Committee. She lives in New Delhi and tweets at @monikahalan.


Tech-at-heart, take a dip into the confluence of ancient Indian arts and science

This was written for Yourstory. is  India’s no.1 media platform for entrepreneurs, dedicated to passionately championing and promoting the entrepreneurial ecosystem in India. The article was published in March 2015

What connects the Amish Tripathi, Pranav Mistry and Manjul Bhargava? I bet the answer is something that connects the crores of Indians across the globe. The Indian scriptural knowledge, be it the ‘as it was’ epics, myriad of Puranas or the contemplative Upanishads, has captured our fascination. It always had and will continue to do so. The versatility of Indian scriptures in terms of rich interpretations has penetrated to grassroots since millennia, which has resulted in what we pride as our civilization. My interactions with people across multiple spheres of life brought me interesting anecdotes.

My mother Usha Krishnaswamy is a soft skills coach by profession and a language teacher at heart. I grew up watching her teach vocabulary to students using anecdotes from the ‘Ramayana’ and ‘Mahabharata’ and the benefits were multifold. She prizes the holistic nature of education that school students would benefit through those stories instead of monotonous rote learning.

My father Krishnaswamy Kumar, a senior advocate at Anantapur, AP, mentions how the immortal stories help putting things in perspective. He says that the villagers who form a large portion of his clientele vouch by them and the anecdotes are endless. One such intriguing tale was about a faction leader reforming himself and his feudal group influenced by ‘Ramayana’. He also admitted to my father about his routine, including reciting some Telugu poems about the epic every night.

A rural entrepreneur, Haritha, says that an anecdote from the ‘Mahabharata’ about Krishna cleaning up the empty leaves and leftovers by the guests at Rajasuya changed the attitude of men in her family. She is happy that from that day, the men started to help women in all domestic chores in her family.

My father added in the end that rural population is more connected to roots than their urban counterparts. But my interactions with the urban peers left me pleasantly surprised. I have been a great admirer of Adi Sankaracharya for his ever inspiring ‘Atma Shatkam’ that emphasizes the limitless nature of the self. My initial years as a startup consultant revealed to me that many entrepreneurs and corporate professionals treat this as a life mantra for inspiration. Geeta Vaidyanathan, a Bangalore-based marketing professional says the ‘Bhagawat Gita’ helps her keep her faith. Remembering the stanzas from there are helpful, she claims, to stay balanced through challenging presentations and negotiations.

A Hyderabad-based founder of a startup applauds the experimental nature of ancient scientists. The mathematical works of Bhaskara II, especially the discovery of ‘infinity’ influences him the most. He also highlights the work done in the field of differential mathematics and series expansion by a 14thcentury mathematician Madhava which evolved later into a comprehensive mathematical branch called Calculus. A coder and algorithm lover at heart, he cites with a lot of zeal, the unique experimental aspects in which classical music, mathematics and literature intertwine. The tech-at-hearts sure have a lot to explore there!

Srishti Rai, an aspiring animation artist from Pune, dreams of building what she calls India’s Pixar Studios one day.  The form of Durga as the epitome of ‘shakti’ or spirit is her favourite. The thought of Durga mounted on a lion she says helped her combat a physical condition during childhood and pursue her passion of drawing. A trained Hindustani singer herself, Srishti likes it that music and dance are accepted as a worshipful offering to the divine.

Mahesh, a Physics Researcher based in Australia, a history enthusiast and a dear friend (with whom I have never ending debates), bemoans how the once excellent ecosystem for philosophical debates has just become a largely ritualistic belief system. Citing the rituals followed around eclipses, he asks why people still follow it when it is proven that it is just a periodic celestial conjunction and not some snake devouring the Sun. He blames the fearful theistic attitudes for the loss of the basic ecosystem for debate.

Pavan Kumar Kunchapu, a solution architect at Purnatva Solutions, a Bangalore-based startup, however is more optimistic about the takeaways in Indian ancient literature. He quotes a story of Vikramaditya by Kalidasa which was a part of high school curriculum as his source of strength during tough times. For someone with a humble rural background, Pavan says Bhartrihari’s anthology, also taught in school made him see the positives of life and use every barrier as a stepping stone.  Sheelena Shobhate Vidya (character is what glorifies education) remains his favourite quote while facing corporate intrigues.

The round of interaction with everyone left me enlightened about the innocent and intellectual ways people connect to their roots and find solace, inspiration and even ethical caution. My pondering always brought me new questions. As a civilization with multi-millennial history, haven’t we seen shameful and horrendous incidents? We have. Is everything of past as glorious as some of us boast with no dark spots? No it isn’t. Then what keeps it going?

I think it is the ability to question the past without delinking from it. It is the legacy which once believed in conducting ritual yajna to please Indra for rains. It is the same legacy which let Krishna oppose the same ritual and replace it with nature worship of Govardhana. It is the legacy that once advocated division of labour through Varna(caste) classification. But the very same legacy included the Bhakti movement, which challenged such stratifications citing the omnipresent spirit.

Owning the past but adapting to the present, nurturing dissent but coexisting with diversity is what that makes the ancient, ageless. Just the same way the field of science has a place for all the theories from old and disproved to new and empirical. Can science ever age? Generations of thinkers, implementers and reformers contribute to the dynamic culture of the land lying to the east of River Sindhu. The continuous evolution defines its eternal nature –Sanatana – built to last?