A couple of days ago, I came across a quote :

“Being broke is hard.

Being rich is hard.

Choose your hard.”

I instantly resonated with it. Life is somewhat hard no matter what. So, why not focus and direct the struggles of life to create something positive- positive net worth, early retirement portfolio etc…:-)

Today one of the readers of savinghabit.com is sharing his life journey of getting debt free, creating a passive stream of incomes and becoming financially independent. It was not an easy ride for him, but it was worth all the struggle he went through.

Not only he turned his life around but wrote a book about it too: Zero Debt-Break the Debt Cycle and reclaim your Life. Neeraj was generous enough to offer a free e-book for all our readers. You can download the book in pdf. format at the end of the interview.

Thank you Neeraj for taking out time to do this Q&A, we appreciate the time you invested in sharing your story with us on savinghabit.com


SH- Tell us a little about yourself?

Neeraj: Hi, I am Neeraj Deginal, Author, Trader, Minimalist and an IT Consultant. I have multiple sources of income now – through investments, trading (stock market) and consulting.

However, it wasn’t an easy ride. I had my share of ups-downs, struggle, stress and suffering. It was all fine until I was under the protective environment of my parents. But, the hell broke loose when I became independent and started working.

I was financially illiterate till age 32. Because of which I got myself into huge and unmanageable debt. This financial burden and stress killed me (well almost!).

SH- At what age did you start taking debt, for what purpose?

Neeraj:With no knowledge or skill in finance, I was, of course, unable to manage my finances and got into deep debt within 8 years of work life.

Just to get the perspective right, I started working when I was 23 and by the time I turned 32, I had-

  • 3 credit card EMIs (all fully utilized)
  • 3 housing loan EMIs
  • 1 personal loan EMI
  • 1 car loan EMI

all-in-all 8 EMIs. This financial burden resulted in a lot of stress and eventually, my health gave up on me. I was hospitalized and it took me almost 2 months to recover. I was 33 when this happened.

SH-Where did you start? From where/whom did you learn about personal finance?

Neeraj- My first goal was to become debt-free. I planned and took systematic steps to clear my loans one by one. It took me 03 years to finally become debt-free. My brother Dr. Deepak was my guide and inspiration to become debt-free.

Q- Can you share with us in brief – how you were able to clear the massive loans? did you have extra income, or you sold some assets, or you got some inheritance?

Neeraj: No, I did not have any extra income. The only source of income was mine from my job. The only way to do this was to cut down on my expenses, save more and eliminate liabilities. The strategy was to remove the high-interest loans first – so first credit cards, then personal loan, car loan and finally housing loans. Eventually, I sold off all my real estate properties.

SH- What Age did you become Debt Free?

Neeraj:By 36, I was completely debt-free.

By 38 I was well invested – like life & medical insurance, passive income, minimalist lifestyle and much more.

I am now 44 and have been leading a debt-free life since eight (08) years, with multiple sources of income and enough time in hand.

SH- Are you financially Independent Now? Tell us more about your passive income stream and what portion of your annual expenses are covered by them?

Neeraj: Technically yes. I can survive without consulting work. My sources of income would be from investments (Fixed Deposits and Mutual Funds) and Trading, good enough to take care of my expenses and save as well.

SH- How long It took you to build these streams?

Neeraj: It took me almost 5-6 years to build these streams. There were few mistakes and learnings on the way. Thanks to family and friends who were part of this journey.

SH- Share with our readers your key takeaways from the roller-coaster of life you went through in your 20’d & 30’s?

Neeraj: My 4 Key takeaways are:

  1. Financial literacy should start early in life.
  2. Stop mindless spending. Minimalist approach will help. Buy assets (income generating) and not liabilities.
  3. Start investing as early as possible and enjoy power of compounding.
  4. Simplify life (possibly more in my next book).

SH- Can you share the role of your family in this journey

Neeraj: Thanks to my wife, without her support we wouldn’t have been able to achieve this. She was part of every effort and steps we took. It wasn’t easy for her either. As mentioned, we had cut down on expenses and sold all our real estate properties which were emotional decisions.

My parents were rock solid support and my brother who guided and helped us wherever required.

Neeraj & his family

SH-What do you do now?

Neeraj: 3 days a week I spend on my consulting work.

I am also a full-time trader and spend only 1-2 hours daily on it.

The remaining time I spend with family and friends, spend time on me – solitude, meditate, reading and of course do nothing (simply).

Well, this is my story in condensed form. To experience my entire journey and for a detailed description of the steps I took, please read my book – Zero Debt: Breaking the Debt Cycle and Reclaim Your Life. To inspire people to lead a prudent financial life and for readers of this blog, I have now made the PDF version of my book, available for FREE.


Neeraj’s has made his e-book available to the readers of savinghabit.com for FREE also. To get your free copy click here.

If you have any questions for Neeraj- you can ask them in comments.

We love sharing real-life stories of people who turned their life around.

We get inspiration from other people’s success and we hope you too felt inspired or got some useful insight from this interview.

If you want to share your life story with our readres in savinghabit.com. you cam contact us here



  1. Nice post. Inspiring story.

    I have a question here, may be you or Neeraj can answer.

    When some one says, The investments can take care of current financial needs, how is that done.

    Suppose, some one has x lakhs invested in mutual funds, y lakhs in Stocks, z lakhs in fd/ppf.

    How does this portfolio fetch a monthly income to support the monthly expenses?

    No one has clearly explained this till now. As Neeraj, pointed this in his story, so thought of asking here, may be will get an answer this time which is clear. If possible please use some real numbers to explain.

    Thank you!!

    • Thank you Saurabh.

      It is actually quite simple and this is how it works for me:

      1. Mutual funds: An investment of INR 1Cr and running a “Systematic Withdrawal Plan” of 0.8% of the investment will get INR 80,000 per month. The capital keeps growing. This investment is currently managed by my Wealth Manager friend who has the experience and skills to do this.

      2. Trading (Stock Market – Futures and Options): With an investment of INR 10L, one can make at least INR 50,000 a month (it can go much beyond that too). This result is after 3-4 years of training and learning.

      3. FD: with 7% interest, one can get INR 10,000 per month (of course I get this after one year of waiting).

      This not only takes care of the monthly expenses, but also gives opportunity to save and invest further.

      PPF doesn’t get monthly income, but will get us lumpsum amount after 15yrs.

      Hope this helps. Happy to answer any further questions.


      • Sir,

        Your story is indeed inspiring for people trying to cut and avoid debt in their life.
        0.8% p.m. translates to withdrawal of 9.6% p.a.. My question is this-
        Is this your total portfolio or your portfolio consists of other assets which are not touched for next 10 years?


        • Hi Suraj,

          Thanks for your feedback.

          Other than what I have already mentioned – I have PPF and an Insurance Policy in my daughter’s name which will be available only after 10+ years.

          Just for everyone’s benefit, my sources of income are:

          1. SWP from mutual funds
          2. Stock trading
          3. Part time IT consulting

          Hope this helps.


          • Thank You for the clarification.
            Even I hope to create a portfolio and reach FI within next 12-13 years.
            As I said each one you who have reached this stage and living the dream is an inspiration Sir

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