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Achieving Financial Goals Is Not Always About Well-Made Plans But Consistent Investments

Sometimes small, regular investments can help achieve big financial goals in the long term. This is the third article of our series on profiles of seniors living.

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Sanjeeb Baruah
August 30, 2023
Ratna Prabha

Ratna Prabha

After spending her whole working life teaching girl students in Rajasthan and for a short time in Darjeeling, 76-year-old Ratna Prabha has gracefully settled into her retired life, managing her everyday affairs with the same ease and cheerful energy she exudes when she speaks about them.

“I am happy for where I am today,” she says, without a flicker of self-doubt. Prabha’s unshakable confidence flows from what she has accomplished as a single woman and her determination to take command of her destiny.

Her journey is dotted with many milestones she reached singlehandedly, from buying a house to building a retirement corpus from her income as a school teacher.

Prabha’s achievements are not an outcome of a brilliantly crafted financial plan by a high-priced professional but small, regular investments she made for long-term financial security.

Her handling of finances brings attention to the old saying that “slow and steady wins the race” and that regular savings and a frugal lifestyle can help reach any major financial goals.

Career And Income

Prabha, who has a Master of Arts (MA) degree, began her career in 1980 as a school teacher at the prestigious Loreto Convent School in West Bengal’s picturesque Darjeeling town. The Prabhas originally hailed from Aligarh City in Uttar Pradesh. After her father’s retirement, Prabha decided to take up a teaching career.

“After finishing my MA, I was not doing anything; I had to start my life, so I worked at the Loreto Convent School for three months,” says Prabha. She then moved to MGD School in Jaipur, where she worked for six months. Her longest stint was at Banasthali Vidyapith, a private residential school and university for girls, from where she retired after nearly 27 years.

“I moved there because of the job. My parents were living in Aligarh, and my father was retired. I lived there independently. It was a safe place, a residential school for girls,” she says.

Ratna Prabha

Savings For Retirement

Says Prabha, “I saved money for retirement; I had a public provident fund (PPF) account that matured in 1996 or 1997. I paid around Rs 7.5 lakh from that money to buy a house in Greater Noida. I got around Rs 12 lakh from the PPF account.” She received around Rs 15 lakh in retirement benefits.

“Of course, I had other savings. I never spent too much on myself. I don’t spend without any reason. So I kept saving, and now I live quite comfortably,” she adds.

Prabha also gets a monthly government pension of Rs 2,300 and a similar monthly amount from her LIC Jeevan Suraksha policy, which she had purchased 11 years before retirement.

“At the beginning, it (LIC) was good, but now the interest rates have gone down,” she says. She also deposited Rs 15 lakh in Prime Minister Vaya Vandana Yojana (PMVVY), from where she earns interest. “I have deposited Rs 15 lakh in PMVVY, so I am getting interest from there; I also have FDs where I get interest. That way, I have the cash flow to run my life. Still, I think if any emergency comes, I can spend Rs 10-15 lakh. I have managed myself well.

Retirement

It’s been 16-and-a-half years since Prabha retired and moved to a senior living complex in Greater Noida. Prabha lives in one of the 850 flats in the complex. Prabha moved here after her retirement in February 2007. “I was thinking about having a separate house before retirement. It’s now been 16-and-a-half years here. I live alone. I prefer this place because all my sisters and brothers’ families live in Noida. But many junior people also live here on rent,” she says.

“After my father expired in 1994, we sold that house (ancestral house) as my mother was not keeping well. So she shifted to my brother’s house in Noida. After that, I was thinking about someplace to live. I was looking for a house there as my two sisters and my brother also had houses there, so I was looking in Noida, but there was nothing available then,” she says.

The septuagenarian adds her financial needs are taken care of by the pension plans (LIC and government pension) and the interest she earns from fixed deposits (FDs) and PMVVY.

“Of course, they (the builders) planned very well. But a proposed hospital hasn’t been built yet. There is one medical shop and two general stores. They also promised a bank branch and a post office, but they are yet to come. But there is a Satsang Bhavan (a prayer hall) and a canteen, which sells only Chinese food; all that is not suitable for us,” she explains.

Fortunately, Prabha has no health issues and is managing herself well.

Earlier, she and her sisters used to travel to Aligarh for a change, but after their deaths, such trips have stopped. But she has a younger sister with a son and lives in Noida and visits her from time-to-time.

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