Among them is Raunaq Bali, 25, a law student. He invested his monthly internship stipend of 5,000 in stocks. He said he was able to double his portfolio and has now bought an Activa, a laptop, and a lawyer’s coat. For the two-wheeler, he paid 30,000 as a down payment (his mother promised to take care of the EMIs) and he redeemed 36,000 and 10,000 for the laptop and coat respectively.

For Bisha Halder, 41, a merchant navy officer, life mostly meant spending time at sea, away from family. But as internet connectivity improved, he started learning how to pick stocks even while sailing. In the past four years, he’s also doubled his investments. He bought a Ford Endeavor ( 35 lakhs) in 2021, pursued expensive hobbies like scuba diving, wildlife photography, and even got a club membership in Kolkata. Seeing rapid growth in his portfolio in the last four years, he is now considering reducing his time at sea. Complete retirement is also not off the table.

Kasturi Sanap, 34, a senior manager, also made a killing in the past couple of years. This allowed her to listen to her biological clock and take a career break for more than a year. “It wouldn’t have been possible if I didn’t have those stock market gains,” said Sanap. To be sure, her husband was still working but she withdrew 60,000 every month from her stock portfolio for her needs. She had her second child during the career break.

Abhishek Date, 27, did not spend any of the gains. He got his first job in 2019 and since then, his investments of 15 lakh have zoomed to 29 lakhs. “I’m just 27 and I already have a portfolio of 29 lakhs which is unbelievable.” He is more excited about compounding his money in the coming years and doesn’t have a spending plan.

How did they make it?

Raunaq Bali decided to do some research on the stock market during the lockdown. He used Zerodha’s education platform Varsity to learn the basics and quickly opened a demat account. In October 2021, during Diwali, when his mom handed him 6,000, he used that money to buy ITC and Tata Motors shares.

“I didn’t get to buy the March 2020 (covid) dip as I didn’t have money,” he said with a chuckle. Nevertheless, his cigarette and auto stock pick worked, and his portfolio climbed to 9,000. He later liquidated it and bought Adani Power shares. Bali wanted to bet on its price movement by following a swing trading strategy. That also worked, and his portfolio increased to around 13,000.

It was around April that he got an internship to write content about law. It was a paid internship and since it was remote, he reinvested the entire 5,000 per month into equities. He set aside 1,000 in SIPs and invested the rest in large-cap stocks. “I thought small companies were risky and wanted to preserve my capital,” Bali said.

In between, he also applied for three IPOs which yielded good listing gains. He tried his luck with intraday margin, leveraging 5x of his investments. “I used to wake up and watch stocks in focus for the day,” said Bali. The leverage trading worked in his favor. That’s when he bought the two-wheeler, a laptop, and a black lawyer’s coat. He’s now extended his internship for another year.

His college friends constantly seek advice from him. But he only tells them what not to buy instead of what to buy. His graduation is just a month away and he expects to be in a full-time role soon. His game plan is to invest only in mutual funds going forward as he is cognizant of the fact that he’ll not be able to put much energy behind monitoring stocks hereon.

“I would rather pay 0.7% expense ratio rather than lose everything,” said the law student. Meanwhile, his dad keeps reminding him that the stock market “is not a child’s play.”

Birsha Halder entered the sailing profession right after his 12th standard in 2002. He earned a decent salary in the first 10 years. But he wanted to become wealthy and thought buying flats on EMI like everyone else would not move the needle. That’s when he used his free time while sailing to learn about investing. When internet connectivity improved, he doubled down and learned about investing while sailing during his free time. His go-to sources for learning about the stock market were Zerodha Varsity and the Valuepickr forum. 

Halder, who sails for six months a year, follows a fundamental style of investing and hunts for companies that have substantial future earnings potential but which the Mr Market is yet to figure out. Although he wasn’t able to keep track of the exact profits he’s made since he started investing in 2011, his Zerodha console shows an extended internal rate of return or XIRR of 115%. 

Halder said that his profits from the market fuelled his other hobbies and interests. This includes wildlife photography, scuba diving, and photography of large underwater species like sharks. After the market recovered from the Covid lows, he also booked some profits and bought a Ford Endeavor for 35 lakhs.

“If markets were not kind to me, I would probably not be able to pursue these interests and buy expensive gears,” said the merchant navy captain, who is now planning to leave sailing if the markets remain kind to him for little longer. He did not disclose his exact portfolio amount but it is now multiple crores.

In 2013, Kasturi Sanap decided to pivot from her three-year-old engineering career to pursue an MBA in finance. She landed a placement right after in 2016 but couldn’t save much money for the first year as she needed to fulfil regular EMIs. She started investing small amounts in January 2018. On the side, she was also preparing for the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exams which helped her understand companies better.

Then, the Covid crash happened in March 2020, and she saw her portfolio going down from 50 lakh to around 20 lakh. Sanap had invested mostly in mid and small-caps which took a beating. But instead of selling her stocks, she withdrew her Rs.10 lakh fixed deposit and invested that money in stocks. “I thought the valuation was attractive,” said Sanap, who has now cleared all levels of the CFA examination. She said her portfolio quickly recovered and doubled in the next 6-7 months.

Around the same time, she realised her biological clock was ticking as she was nearing her 30s and the chances of having a healthy baby could become slim. Given that she had enough savings through her equity portfolio, she decided to take a career break from June 2021 to January 2023. She had her second baby in April 2022.

“This would not have happened if there were no stock market gains to look after my daily expenses,” said Sanap who withdrew 60,000 every month from her stock portfolio during her 18-month career break. To be sure, her husband is an IPS officer and was there to support her.

But she said that without her own savings, her lifestyle ‘would have suffered.’

Abhishek Date bought his first stock when he was in 12th standard. He bought shares of Navneet Education, the company which brings out CBSE textbooks and makes stationery items. But the real investment journey started when he completed his master’s in economics. He got a job as a research analyst at a magazine. His job was to research companies and write about them. It paid him 45,000 per month. After all his daily expenses, he managed to save and invest 25,000. 

He first bet on chemical and fertilizers stocks in 2019. It helped that he was doing his research for the magazine and he rode the chemical stocks rally of 2019. After that, he invested a huge chunk in small and mid-caps. He thought that the demonetization had battered the valuation of some high-quality small and midcaps to unjustified levels. That also turned out well. 

“I think I got lucky,” said the 29-year-old Date. His portfolio is now worth 29 lakh with an investment of Rs.15 lakh. He is no longer researching stocks full-time as he changed his job in 2022. Date is now investing only in MFs  – Canara Robeco Large cap, Mirae Asset Midcap, and Nippon Small-Cap fund. He is currently working as assistant manager at The Clearing Corp. of India Ltd.

A reality check

Bull markets do not sustain indefinitely, and investors who haven’t seen a full cycle can suffer during an abrupt halt. In every bull run, there is a new crop of such investors.

“Everyone is a genius in a bull market. Jab bull market ata hai woh sab ko deta hai (everyone earns in a bull market), but until you complete a full cycle, you don’t know if you made money due to your wisdom or was it just because the market was having a good season. Every flower blooms in spring,” said ace investor Vijay Kedia of Kedia Securities. 

Also Read: Chain smokers may survive for 30 years, F&O traders die sooner: Vijay Kedia

Investors should deploy their outsized gains sensibly, diversifying them in multiple assets like debt and gold, apart from equity. If you’re unsure how to do this, approach a Sebi-registered investment adviser. 

If the gains are frittered away or worse still, leverage is taken to amplify them, you may see your dreams turning into a nightmare. 

Our story featured four people who’ve made profits. However, many people also make losses, and those stories are generally untold. Always be mindful of the risks involved in stock trading.