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Five most important personal finance ratios you must know

Last updated on: December 7, 2011 17:31 IST

Five most important personal finance ratios you must know

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Pankaj Priyadarshi

Fundamental ratios are important for investors to judge the health of companies. They underline the importance of one figure in relation to other. For individuals too, there are financial ratios that help maintain individuals' financial health as well as provide guidelines for financial prudence in dealing with credit, expenses, risk, and liquidity.

Just like fundamental ratios indicate the financial health of companies at a point in time, personal finance ratios do the same for individuals. Let's look at some of the ratios that individuals should track to ensure they do not end up in financial distress. We discuss five most important personal finance ratios.

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The author is a financial consultant and can be reached at pankaj@verticalgrass.com. He is B.Tech from IIT, Kharagpur and MBA from ISB, Hyderabad.


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Five most important personal finance ratios you must know

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1. Liquidity ratio

Just like current and quick ratio in case of companies, liquidity ratio is of two types for individuals:

Basic liquidity ratio

Basic liquidity ratio measures the cash and cash equivalents (such as current account, savings account, and gold, and flexible deposits account) with respect to your monthly expenses. The idea is to find out how many months you can survive without earning. Gold, even though very liquid, may not be counted under cash and cash equivalents.

Hence if you have Rs 10 lakh in bank deposits and your monthly expense is 50,000, your basic liquidity ratio is 20. Typically, this ratio should be at least 6.
 
Expanded liquidity ratio

This includes other investments which can be liquidated but there could be chance of losses. Suppose an individual has Rs 10 lakh in bank deposits and rS 10 lakh in stocks, his expanded liquidity ratio will be 40.

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Five most important personal finance ratios you must know

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2. Debt to income ratio

In today's world, where buying on credit is rampant, it is important to limit your debt. Debt ratio measures the debt obligation to your monthly income. In other words, what is the size of your EMI with respect to your monthly income?
 
Individuals should not let their total debt obligation exceed 40 per cent of their income. Today, the situation is different though. The debt income ratio for many individuals has gone up to a dangerous level. Increasing interest rates have only added to the deterioration of this ratio.

Increasing debt obligation exerts a price on individuals' lifestyle.

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Five most important personal finance ratios you must know

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3. Risk exposure ratio

Risk exposure ratio tells you the number of years your family can survive in case of any eventuality. This is calculated by dividing your asset base and insurance cover with the yearly expenses of your family.

Suppose a person has an insurance cover of Rs 40 lakh and has an asset base of Rs 60 lakh. His family expense per year is Rs 10,00,000 per annum. This means his family can survive 10 years without getting any extra money.

We are assuming here that inflation can be easily compensated by the returns this asset base will generate. Moreover, the actual expenses may even be less. Risk exposure ratio can be used for individuals to decide the right insurance for his or her family.

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Five most important personal finance ratios you must know

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4. Savings to income ratio

This is one of the most important ratios. This ratio shows the soundness of your finances. A high savings rate enables you to face any unanticipated need. Fortunately, this ratio is good for most of the Indians but recent trend shows increasing trend of living on credit.

To calculate saving to income ratio, divide your average monthly savings with monthly income. The ideal ratio depends on age of the individual. A newly employed person should be able to save 30 per cent to 50 per cent of his or her income. Similarly, senior professionals should have high percentage of savings to income ratio.

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5. Personal net worth

Personal net worth is nothing but your assets minus the liabilities. Net worth shows the financial status of individuals. While net worth is important, growth of it is as important.

For example, if an individual has Rs 20 lakh invested in gold, Rs 50 lakh in property, and Rs 30 lakh in stocks, his asset is Rs 100 lakh. If he has outstanding loan of Rs 40 lakh, his net worth will be Rs 100 lakh – Rs 40 lakh = Rs 60 lakh.

Whether this number is adequate depends on the age of the individual, size of the family, and rate of growth of net worth. The rate should be more than inflation; higher the better. If your net worth is growing at a lower rate than the inflation, you are actually losing value of your net worth.
 
Finally

Financial ratios are important for individuals too. It gives you tools to assess, analyse, and take remedial measures to improve your financial status. Individuals and families should use these ratios and define a benchmark to be followed religiously.


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