That Time of the Year Again…

Photo by Ylanite Koppens

My annual performance review is around the corner. And I wonder what surprise they have in store for me this time around.

If you have been following my blog, you would know that my last two performance reviews did not go well. It was a bit of a surprise to hear the managers say what they did, because at no point during the year did I receive any feedback from them. My mind automatically deduced “no feedback” as “good feedback.” But that wasn’t the case.

I am not sure what I would face this year, but I could do without the anxiety. I can only think, why can’t companies make appraisal time easier? The stress comes only when you’re given no clue about your performance.

Right now, all I can do to calm myself down is utter the golden words, “I tried my best.”

So will things be favorable this time, or am I in for a nasty surprise again?

Stay tuned.

The Unseen, The Unheard

Anthem
Photo by Jatin Baghel

An anthem that exudes unity,

Of being one,

Brothers and sisters of the same soil.

But the words are empty,

As meaningless as a liar’s embrace.

As hurtful as a kin’s animosity.

As rancid as a forgotten fruit.

The unseen, the unheard,

Took over humanity,

Over love, compassion, empathy,

Burning them to dust.

Any wonder why hope is lost each day?

Why hearts break so easily?

Why fires light up hastily?

Why words tremble feebly?

We see more harm than good,

More violence than peace,

More hatred than love,

More you than ours.

More “you” than “ours.”

Eyes burn with hope,

Waiting wistfully for the day,

Humanity wins,

Love wins,

We win.

Over the unseen, unheard.

An Ode to Surya Namaskar & How It Helped Me Manage My Heavy Periods

Photo by Elina Fairytale

Since it is International Yoga Day, I thought I should narrate my own experience with Yoga. I have an on-and-off relationship with it. The irregularity has nothing to do with the practice but my own laziness. I prefer walking. But each time I do Yoga, I am impressed by its benefits.

I started Yoga as a form of exercise to supplement my walking. At that time, I was unaware of the health benefits as the only reason I chose Yoga was to tone my body. I initially went through some basic asanas for beginners and then slowly shifted to Surya Namaskar. It involves 12 steps akin to providing sun salutations.

In one month of doing Yoga, I noticed the following:

  • It strengthened my neck muscles and helped prevent a stiff neck
  • My back pain reduced
  • And the most relieving of all – my periods became more manageable

I cannot comment on whether Yoga helped tone my body because I wasn’t committed enough to try it regularly. The stress is on the third point – how it helped ease my period flow.  

I recently shifted to menstrual cups, so half of my period-related issues got resolved with that step. Before Yoga, I used to have 3-4 days of heavy flow. During the months I diligently practiced Yoga, my heavy flow reduced to 1 day. My period cycle was shorter and more manageable. This is a big win for me. But mind you, you cannot do Yoga just once and think your periods are manageable for life. I have to do it at least twice or thrice weekly to see the positive effects. I skip Yoga during periods because I do not wish to subject my body to stress and stretches at that time.

If you are facing any of the problems I mentioned, I would highly recommend trying Yoga.

Happy International Yoga Day!

An Ode to Retiring Rich

Photo by Monica Silvestre on Pexels

I have seen senior citizens in India struggling 5-10 years post-retirement because they didn’t have enough savings. Their financial freedom is ultimately compromised as they become dependent on their children.

One example is my own father.

My dad was the only earning member of the entire family. My mother derived her happiness by not involving herself in financial matters. Numbers made her anxious, and she was fine letting dad make all the financial decisions. He enjoyed a plush job in the Middle East, and we had a wonderfully privileged life. I am eternally grateful for everything that he has provided for us. I went to the best of schools/universities and worked for a bit in the Middle East. Then we all decided to pack our bags and head back to India after dad’s retirement – a much-needed rest for him after 30+ years of service.

Everything went on fine until the 5th year of my dad’s retirement. His anxiety was apparent; he was concerned whether his corpus would last his entire lifespan. I had already started working by then, and I started pitching in. Slowly his mental health deteriorated. It may have been due to a combination of stress and disappointment in his financial matters and his physical health issues. The doctors were unable to help him. My dad, who was an active, cheeky, energetic man, turned silent, desolate, and serious. Since I stayed near my parents, I was a witness to all that they went through concerning their finance. My dad wanted to resume work in his mid-60s, despite his physical limitations, no thanks to his depleting retirement corpus.

I am unsure what went wrong because I never discussed it with my dad. He’s no more (he passed away a couple of years back). When I look at his bank balance, I have so many questions. The most glaring one was – “Where did all the money go?” Then there are others “Did he not save?” “Maybe he saved, but it was not enough for inflation?” “Did he make any bad investment choices?” “Did he not invest in the right retirement schemes?” “Would it have helped if he had invested in some equity, mutual fund, or pension scheme?” My dad had only invested in Fixed Deposits.

You learn by observing the people around you. It was only after I saw my dad’s financial condition that I became aggressive with my own savings and investments. I have no idea whether my plan will work for me in the long run, but I can try. I do not have many lifestyle demands, and I am a minimalist, so that helps.

In the quest to achieve financial independence, I have been reading a lot of personal finance books. My initial few reads were meant for the American audience and they did not help me much. I wanted to read books specific to India. That’s how I first landed upon Monika Halan’s Let’s Talk Money. This has to be my favorite Indian personal finance book so far. Everything is explained clearly and concisely. I have re-read it a couple of times in the hope that her words would sync in deep and become second nature for me. She offers instructions on how to invest for each age group.

The next book that is good for Indians looking into learning personal finance is PV Subramanyam’s Retire Rich. He is a Chartered Accountant who gives some good, solid, no-nonsense advice on how you can carry about your investments. His policy is investing in yourself first, before anything else. Keep aside some money for your retirement and invest in other people and things only after that.

A non-Indian book that greatly impacted me was “The Psychology of Money.” My favorite quotes from the book are also listed on this blog.

Retiring rich is undoubtedly a priority for me. Keep in mind that the word “rich” is subjective. I want to retire “rich” enough for my own needs, but that amount might not be “rich” enough for you. So the first step is to calculate your retirement corpus based on your annual expenses. There are enough online retirement calculators to help you out. If you are in your 20s, start saving/investing now. I am in my 30s now, and my only regret is that I did not start sooner.