Jan 08, 2018 04:27 PM IST | MoneyControl.com
The following article is an initiative of BankBazaar.com and is intended to create awareness among the readers
Applying for a loan can be nerve-racking, with a number of formalities expected to be completed. Most of us think that our job is done once the loan is sanctioned, but this is not the case. The real story, in most cases, begins once the loan is disbursed, for this is when we encounter problems with the repayment.
So if you are someone who has recently applied for a loan, (be it a home loan, a personal loan, car loan, medical loan, or any other loan), you should consider these 5 rules to ensure that you get the most out of the money.
1. Never miss your EMI – Taking a loan is a huge financial responsibility. Banks sanction loans for a specific time period (the tenure), charging interest rates on the amount loaned. The borrowed money is expected to be repaid within the given time, with the entire sum and the interest component split into EMIs. Paying the EMI on a monthly basis is not merely a requisite with regards to the legalities, it also helps in building a good credit score.
A missed payment is reflected on the credit report, which could make it difficult to get a loan sanctioned in the future. Missing successive payments could result in lenders blacklisting one, which could ultimately lead to the borrower being labelled a defaulter.
A borrower should ensure that he/she has sufficient funds to repay the loan on time. In certain cases, banks can charge a fine for late payment, which can be a considerable sum in case of high loan amounts (for example a home loan).
2. Never use your savings to repay the loan – Most of us invest in certain saving schemes like PPF, fixed deposits, mutual funds, etc. These funds are ideally designed to help us during emergencies. Utilising them to repay a loan is an absolute NO-NO. Similarly, digging into your retirement fund to meet your EMI obligations should be avoided at all costs, for this can have a huge impact on your future, where you might find it hard to have a regular source of income.
3. Take an insurance cover for the loan amount – Certain loans can be of extremely high values. This is especially true in the case of home loans, where the loan amount is typically in excess of Rs.10 lakh. This can be a significant sum for most people, with it taking years to repay it. Given the unpredictability surrounding life, one should always take an insurance policy which covers the loan liability in case of the borrower’s death. A number of life insurance policies come with this option, wherein the outstanding loan amount (in case the insured passes away) is paid by the insurer. This can limit the financial strain on the family members of the borrower. One could also consider taking an insurance policy in case of other loans, if the repayment amount is significant.
4. Avoid taking additional loans while a current loan is active – Banks and NBFCs often come up with attractive offers to promote borrowing. A number of us can often give in to the lure of extra money, applying for additional loans even when we don’t need them. This should be avoided at all costs, for any additional loan increases the financial burden when it comes to repayment. Also, applying for multiple unsecured loans like personal loan or travel loan while already paying EMIs can come across as sketchy, in addition to having an impact on the credit score. Banks would be wary of offering loans in the future in such instances. If one truly is in the need of additional financial resources, he/she should first close an existing loan before taking a new one.
5. Make prepayments when you have extra money – There are a number of times when we come across additional income. Returns from investments, a bonus from the office, an increase in your salary, etc. can be used to prepay a loan. This can help one save money on the interest payable, in addition to offering peace of mind, knowing that one’s liability is reduced.
A loan, when used effectively can help us out during financial emergencies, but being frivolous once it is sanctioned could lead us towards additional turmoil.
Everyone wants to be financially secure and well off by the age of 35-40. However, when we are in our 20’s, we tend to live life in the moment and forget saving for the future.
By: Sanjeev Sinha | Updated: November 27, 2017 2:25 PM | Financial Express
All of us have various financial goals in life. Everyone wants to be financially secure and well off by the age of 35-40. However, when we are in our 20’s, we tend to live life in the moment and forget saving for the future. This is not the right approach towards creating wealth. Therefore, to ensure that you are financially secure and on the right track with your money, here are 5 important investments that you must make before you hit your 30-year milestone:
1. Investment towards tax saving
Considering that you are working and earning, it is important for you to assess your tax liability and take advantage of tax deductions available under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act. “By proper tax planning, you can not only reduce your tax liability but also save some more to invest towards your other goals. One of the best tax-saving instruments is Equity-Linked Savings Schemes (ELSS). It is a type of open-ended equity mutual fund wherein an investor can avail a deduction u/s 80C up to Rs 1.50 lakh for a financial year,” says Amar Pandit, CFA and Founder & Chief Happiness Officer at HapynessFactory.in.
2. Investment towards emergency corpus
There are various events like accidents, illnesses and other unforeseen events that we may encounter in our lives. These events should never occur, but if they do, one needs to be adequately prepared for the same. In critical cases, such events may hamper one’s ability to work and may even lead to a loss in earnings for a few months or years. Hence, “it is advisable to build a contingency corpus, which is equivalent to at least 5-6 months of living expenses. Further, your emergency fund should be safe and easily accessible (liquid in nature) at short notice, in case of an emergency. Hence, savings bank accounts and liquid mutual funds are two options for setting aside the emergency corpus. However, considering that liquid and ultra-short term mutual funds are more tax efficient in nature, it is advisable to park a major portion of your corpus in the same,” says Pandit.
3. Investment towards long-term goals
It is very important to save and invest towards your long-term goals such as marriage, buying a house, starting your own venture, retirement, and so on. You must start with determining how much each goal will need and the savings required to achieve the goal. Once the corpus is fixed, you can invest towards the goal regularly. As an investment strategy, start fixed monthly investments – SIPs (Systematic Investment Plan) in mutual funds. Always remember, the earlier you start investing towards your goals, the longer time your investments will have to grow and the more you will benefit from the power of compounding. Equity mutual funds which are growth oriented are a preferable investment option for long-term goals.
4. Investment towards short-term goals
There are many short-term goals that are recurring in nature, such annual vacation, buying a car or any asset in the near term and so on. For such goals, you are advised to park your funds in liquid or arbitrage mutual funds rather than a savings account. “Mutual funds are more tax efficient than savings accounts and also there are different funds for different time horizons. For example, for goals to be achieved within a year, you can opt for liquid or ultra-short term funds whereas for goals to be achieved post one year, you can opt for arbitrage funds,” advises Pandit.
5. Investment towards health and life cover
Life and health insurance typically are not supposed to be considered as investments. However, both are very important and must be considered as one of the priority money move to be made before turning 30. If you are earning and have a family dependent on you, you must assess and buy the right life insurance term cover for yourself. Further, with costs of health care and medical on the rise, any untoward illness without sufficient cover will have you dip into capital which is unnecessary. Hence, there cannot be any compromise on health insurance. Thankfully, there are various health covers available in the market today. You should opt for the right cover for yourself, depending on your needs and post considering all the options.
By Sunil Dhawan | ECONOMICTIMES.COM| Updated: Jan 04, 2017, 11.23 AM IST
The start of the new year may have something to cheer for the home loan borrowers. Several banks have significantly reduced the interest rates charged on these loans.
The State Bank of India (SBI) has lowered its home loan rate from 9.10 per cent to 8.60 per cent and ICICI Bank from 9.10 percent to 8.65 percent, HDFC at 8.7 per cent, with other banks set to follow suit. Effectively, home loan rate has come down by an average of about 0.4-0.5 per cent after these announcements.
Noticeably, SBI’s one-year MCLR is at 8 per cent which makes the spread on its home loan 0.6 per cent. So, even though the MCLR of banks have fallen, the actual home loans are not at MCLR. Still, the writing on the wall is clear – there is more room to cut home loan rates by the banks.
Borrowers on base rate should switch now
If not all then at least the old borrowers who have been servicing their EMI’s based on the erstwhile base rate system of lending, stand to benefit. Even though bank’s base rate hasn’t come down as much, they now have a stronger reason to switch to the current MCLR-based lending. With the recent interest rate cuts on loans by banks the differential between base rate at which old borrowers are servicing their loan and the current MCLR is widening.
For those who had taken loans after July 1, 2010, but before April 1, 2016, the loans are linked to the bank’s base rate. And for most of these borrowers, the home loan interest rate is around 10 per cent. After the recent rate cuts announced by banks, the average MCLR has fallen to about 8.75 percent or even lower. This differential of 1-1.25 percent in base rate and MCLR will help old borrowers to switch to MCLR and save on total interest outgo.
Why to switch now
The primary reason to switch from base rate to MCLR has to be the sluggishness seen in banks’ passing on the benefits of RBI rate cuts to borrowers. RBI’s repo rate cuts were not reflecting in the bank’s base rate but are a part of the factors that goes into calculating the bank’s MCLR so, the moment repo rate changed, MCLR was impacted.
Further, the MCLR takes into account the marginal cost of funds which includes the rate at which the bank raises deposits and other cost of borrowings. With banks flush with funds post demonetisation, the bank’s CASA deposits (current account-savings account) have swelled and have given the banks the leeway to go for such major rate cuts.
The base rate, on the other hand, has seen only marginal reduction since last 24 months. Post demonetisation, banks are expected to wait and see the impact once the restrictions on cash withdrawals are removed. If the funds don’t move out from the banking system in significant amounts, further rate cut is expected.
MCLR based borrowers
For the new home loan borrowers who have taken loan after April 1, 2016, there’s not much immediate benefit from the recent rate cuts. For most MCLR-linked home loan contracts, the banks reset the interest rate after 12 months for their home loan borrowers. So, if someone has taken home loan from a bank say in May, 2016, the next re-set date will be in May, 2017. Any revisions by RBI or banks will not impact their EMIs or the loan till the reset date
What’s MCLR mode of lending
A new method of bank lending called marginal cost of funds based lending rate (MCLR) was put in place for all loans, including home loans, given after April 1, 2016. Under the MCLR mode, the banks have to review and declare overnight, one month, three months, six months, one year, two years, three years rates each month.
In a falling interest rate scenario, quarterly or half-yearly could be a better option, provided the bank agrees. But when the interest rate cycle turns, the borrower will be at a disadvantage. After moving to the MCLR system, there is always the risk of any upward movement of interest rates before you reach the reset period. If the RBI raises repo rates, MCLR too, will move up.
Options for base rate borrowers
When the interest rate on your loan goes down banks, on their own, typically reduce the tenure automatically (instead of reducing EMI amount) and thereby, transfer the benefit of lower rate to the customers.
The base rate borrowers now have two options – switch to MCLR based lending with the same bank or else transfer i.e. get the loan refinanced from another bank on MCLR mode. One may also continue the loan on base rate, especially if the loan term is nearing the end.
The RBI has made it clear that banks should allow base rate borrowers to switch to MCLR. The existing loans can run till maturity or borrowers can switch to MCLR on mutually agreed terms.
Switching from base rate to MCLR within the same bank
It makes sense to switch if the difference between what you are paying and what the bank is offering now as MCLR is significant. And also in cases where the time for the home loan to finish is not near.
Switching loan from base rate to MCLR with another bank (refinancing)
If your bank is offering a high home loan interest rate (MCLR plus spread) then look for refinancing. Get the loan refinanced from a bank offering a lower interest rate. You may have to incur processing fees. However, banks are not allowed to charge foreclosure or full repayment charges. Other charges may include lawyer’s fees, mortgage charges, etc. Remember, the bank may ask you to buy a home loan insurance cover plan, which is not mandatory. Get the loan insured through a pure term insurance instead, in addition to any insurance that you already have.
Switching to MCLR in itself should help you save a substantial amount. In addition to switching the loan from base rate-linked to MCLR and thereby saving interest, prepare a systematic partial prepayment plan to further reduce the interest burden. It’s after all better to up your home-equity rather than making it a highly leveraged buy-out.
Santosh Agarwal – PolicyBazaar | Dec 08, 2016,12.35 IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com
Did your insurance agent discourage you from buying a term life insurance plan just because you will get no benefit unless you die? If you trust him blindly, you will only help him earn a better commission, by going over budget for a plan that may not cover you sufficiently. The agent was right when he said that a term plan offers the sum assured only if the policyholder dies during the policy tenure. But, what he may not have pointed out to you is:
1. Insurance plans that offer benefits on maturity are more expensive than term plans.
2. By opting for a TROP (Term with Return Of Premium) plan, you can get back all the premiums you paid, on the maturity of the policy.
3. By purchasing add-ons or riders, you can enhance the protection offered by your term plan.
Riders are purchased additionally with a basic life insurance plan for getting additional benefits. Term plans are the simplest and the most cost-effective life insurance plans. But a term plan alone may not be sufficient in certain cases. For instance, if you get severely injured in an accident, or get diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, a term plan will not help you bear the major expenses of your prolonged treatment. In such cases, the add-ons come in handy. When you buy a life insurance plan, the available riders may vary with the insurance provider and the policy.
Here, we will discuss the three most important add-ons that you must have with your basic term insurance plan.
1) Accidental disability rider
Accidents are unfortunate and unpredictable. An accident may leave you disabled for life. If you have dependents in your family, they will be in a crisis to manage their living and paying for your treatment simultaneously while you are not earning. Such unfortunate instances are covered by accidental disability rider. If you suffer from disability due to an accident, the rider will offer the sum assured by which your family will be able to maintain a livelihood and bear the cost of your treatments as well.
Cost estimates: If you are a 30-year-old, opting for a base cover of Rs. 1 crore over a 35-year time period, an accidental disability rider will cost you around Rs. 300 to Rs. 500 annually for a cover of Rs 10-30 lakh.
2) Critical illness rider
Today’s fast-pacing life is taking a toll on our health. Consequently, several life-threatening diseases are on the rise. The diseases like cancer, stroke, organ failure call for prolonged treatments that can be quite expensive. Critical illness riders ease off the burden of expensive medical treatments by offering a lump sum assured to the policyholder in case he is diagnosed with any of the medical conditions pre-specified under the plan. However, pre-existing medical conditions will not be covered by this rider.
Cost estimates: If you are a 30-year-old, opting for a base cover of Rs. 1 crore over a 35-year time period, a critical illness rider will cost you around Rs. 5,000 to Rs 10,000 annually for a cover of Rs 25-50 lakh.
3) Waiver of premium rider
When you buy a term plan, you get into a contract of paying on a regular basis for a certain period of time (unless it is a single pay plan). But what will happen if you are unable to work due to some unfortunate accident in your life? How are you going to pay for the rest of the policy term if you are left disabled by the accident and there is no other earning member in your family? The waiver of premium rider comes with the solution. In case you are unable to pay your premiums due to some disability or diseases leading to the loss of your job, all your future premiums will be waived off. You will no longer have to pay the premiums but your basic term plan will still continue till the date of maturity. Typically, this rider comes included as part of a term cover, however if that’s not the case, it’s recommended to opt for this must have rider.
Cost estimates: If you are a 30-year-old, opting for a base cover of Rs. 1 crore over a 35-year time period, the waiver of premium rider will cost you around Rs. 400 to Rs 600 annually.
The cost of a rider may vary from one insurance provider to another. Both expensive and low-cost riders are available and they also depend on the base sum assured. However, riders are, undoubtedly, the most important tools to strengthen your basic term insurance cover. Riders come in handy in certain eventualities in life. So, if you want comprehensive life coverage for you and your family, a term plan with the three riders mentioned above are worth considering.
By Sanjiv Singhal | Jun 20, 2016, 07.00 AM IST | Economic Times
Interact with a lot of young earners on a daily basis. These are men and women in the first 5-6 years of their working lives, with dreams and hopes that require money to achieve. Some of them are already saving, while others are not, but all are full of questions and want to know how to do it better. It doesn’t matter what job they have and how much they earn; there are mistakes that run through all their stories. Here are some of the most common ones:
“I bought a life insurance policy to save tax.”
The good thing about this confession is that the person understands he made a mistake. For most, it starts at the end of the year when they needed to submit their investment proof to the HR. They scramble around to figure out how and blindly buy an insurance policy (after all, insurance is a good thing to have, no?). Almost every other tax-saving option is better than life insurance. Tax-saving (ELSS) funds are the best option for young earners.
“I wasn’t sure where to invest, so I didn’t.”
When you don’t set aside money regularly, it sits in your bank account and often gets spent. This hurts in two ways. One, it doesn’t create wealth for you, which investing early does. Second, it forms unsustainable spending habits. Start by setting aside 5-10% of your salary every month in a debt fund or in a recurring deposit if you don’t know enough about mutual funds.
“I bought stocks to double my money because my friend did.”
This is a mistake often made due to lack of understanding about how stock investment works and a false sense of knowledge. Greed and stories of exceptional returns also spur one on. The best way to resist this is to check with friends and colleagues about how many actually earned such fantastic returns and how many lost money. Stock investing requires deep knowledge and time. As a young professional, you are better off committing this time to your job.
“I change jobs every year to increase my salary.”
This is not an investing mistake, but one of not investing in yourself. Sticking with a job gives you the opportunity to develop your skills in a specific area. It also gives you the time to learn softer skills – of working with people and managing them. This leads to better career prospects and more wealth.
“I forgot about my education loan.”
A lot of young earners are starting their financial lives with an education loan taken for an MBA or MTech. As they mostly work away from home, they may not get the communication from the bank, or choose to ignore it. The interest mounts up and they are left with a bigger repayment amount. Focus on education loan repayment in a disciplined manner. When you are done with the with the repayment, direct this amount to long-term investments. Avoiding these common mistakes is easy once you know about them. Spending time learning about the principles of money and investing is a good investment to begin with.
(The author is Founder & Head, Product Strategy at Scripbox)
BALAJI RAO | The Hindu
A term assurance provides financial stability in case of unforeseen events and ensures that EMIs are paid.
Rangan is 35 years old, married, has twins aged three years. His wife, Ragini, is a home-maker. She teaches music to a few young aspirants and earns a small amount of money every month that takes care of her personal expenses. But Rangan is the main earning member of the family. He works for an IT company, earns well, has a home loan which still has another 17 years of repayment (Rs.50 lakh more to be paid including principal and interest), has a car loan to be paid for another three years, and has to take care of his children’s education over the next 20 years.
Rangan is bit worried about unforeseen events such as accidents, illness, loss of job and premature death. He has a beautiful house on which he had spent quite a bit of his savings and also taken a hefty loan. He also wants to secure his family financially.
What could Rangan do that ensures his family is not into any financial mess if some unforeseen event occurs? The one solution for all these is insuring the risks adequately. There is a general confusion due to lack of financial education and awareness that insurance plans are purchased to meet life’s events, whereas the purpose of insurance is to protect against unforeseen events leading to financial risk. Financial goals and risks should not be mixed; it would be a bad marriage.
Segregate goals, risks
Rangan should segregate his financial goals and financial risks. His goals are to meet his children’s education expenses, their marriage, expenses upon retirement some 25 years from today, vacations, upgrading of house, upgrading of car, pre-closing his home loan, etc. His financial risks are losing his job, health scare leading to hospitalisation, and premature death that could risk his house (not being able to pay the EMIs).
While Rangan is investing in financial instruments such as debt and equity to meet his financial goals he has inadequate cover to meet his financial risks. He should split his risks in such a way that he manages them diligently with low investments. Let’s see how Rangan can do it.
He should buy three separate pure risk covers by way of term assurances. For the home loan outstanding, he should buy a term assurance which could cost him Rs.5,000 per annum (approx.) for a period of 17 years. In case of premature death the insurance company would pay his legal successor the sum assured which could be utilised to repay the home loan and retain the house.
For the children’s education he should buy another term assurance plan for Rs.1 crore for a period of 20 years which could cost him Rs.6,500 per annum (approx.). In case of his untimely death, the sum assured would be paid by the insurance company to cover the children’s education-related expenses.
For his life risk until retirement, he can choose another Rs.50 lakh to Rs.1 crore as sum assured under term assurance for 25 years which could cost him Rs.5,500 to Rs.6,500 per annum (approx.) that would take care of all other financial risks.
In case no untoward incident (such as his untimely death) happens, at the end of 17 years during the repayment of his home loan the premium payment will stop. Similarly, 20 years from today the premium payment for education too stops; only the overall risk-related premium payment would continue till he is 60 years old.
This is by far the best method of addressing financial risks. People make the mistake of buying traditional plans such as endowment, money back and whole-life policies which are highly expensive and impractical to cover the entire financial risks across different stages and requirements of life.
Rangan should also buy health insurance. Though he argues that his company has medically covered him and he will not need another insurance cover, this has no rationale because if he quits his job, his company-covered insurance would become invalid. Even if he works till his retirement, post-retirement his insurance cover would cease to exist. Hence, he should buy a health cover worth at least Rs.15 lakh which could cost him approx. Rs.15,000 per annum.
Source : http://goo.gl/xXVEqh
Don’t tinker with your long-term investment plan. But it is always better to make some critical changes, based on new tax laws and instruments
Sanjay Kumar Singh | April 3, 2016 Last Updated at 22:10 IST | Business Standard
The start of a new financial year is a good time to review your financial plan and take stock of where you stand in relation to your goals. If new goals have emerged, this is the time to make fresh investments for these. While having a steady approach is a virtue here, make some adjustments in the light of developments that have occurred over the past year.
Large-cap funds have fared worse than mid-cap and small-cap ones over the past one year (see table). Over this period at least, the conventional wisdom that large-cap funds tend to be more resilient than mid-cap and small-cap ones in a declining market was overturned. Nilesh Shah, managing director, Kotak Mahindra AMC, offers three reasons. “For the bulk of the previous year, FIIs were sellers of large-cap stocks, whereas domestic institutional investors (DIIs) were buyers of mid- and small-caps. Large-cap stocks are also more linked to global sectors like metal and oil, whereas mid- and small-caps are linked to domestic sectors. The latter has done better than the former, leading to stronger performance by mid- and small-cap stocks. Large-cap stocks’ earning growth decelerated or remained subdued throughout last year while mid- and small-caps delivered better growth,” he says.
Despite last year’s anomalous performance, investors should continue to have the bulk of their core portfolio, 70-75 per cent, in large-cap funds for stability, and only 20-25 per cent in mid-cap and small-cap funds. Large-caps could also fare better in the near future. Says Ashish Shankar, head of investment advisory, Motilal Oswal Private Wealth Management: “IT, pharma and private banks, whose earnings have been growing, will continue to do so. Public sector banks and commodity companies, whose earnings have been bleeding, will not bleed as much. Many might even turn profitable. FII flows turned positive this month and FIIs prefer large-caps. With the US Fed saying it won’t hike interest rates aggressively, global liquidity should improve. If FII flows continue to be stable, large-caps should do better.” Valuations of large-caps are also more attractive.
Among debt funds, the category average return of income funds and dynamic bond funds was lower than that of short-term, ultra short-term and liquid funds (see table). Explains Shah: “Last year, while Reserve Bank of India (RBI) cut policy rates, market yields didn’t soften as much. The yield curve became steeper. The short end of the curve came down more than the long end, which is why shorter-term bonds did better than longer-term gilts.”
Stick to funds that invest in high-quality debt paper, in view of the worsening credit environment. Shankar suggests investing in triple ‘A’ corporate bond funds. “Today, you can build a triple ‘A’ corporate bond portfolio with an expected return of 8.5 per cent. Many of these have expense ratios of 40-50 basis points, so you can expect annual return of around eight per cent. If bond yields come down, you could end up with returns of 8.5-9 per cent. If you redeem in April 2019, you will get three indexation benefits, lowering the tax incidence considerably.” Investors who have invested in dynamic bond funds should hold on to these. “A rate cut is expected in April. Yields will drop and there may be a rally in the bond market,” says Arvind Rao, Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Arvind Rao Associates.
CHANGES YOU NEED TO MAKE
- Fixed deposit rates from banks will be better than returns from the post office deposits in the new financial year
- Choose your tenure first and then, do a comparison of bank fixed deposit rates before making the final choice
- Invest in the yellow metal via gold bonds
- If your liabilities have increased, revise term cover upward
- Revise health cover every three-five years to deal with medical and lifestyle inflation
- Revise sum assured on home insurance if you have added to household assets
- Conservative investors should invest in PPF at the earliest
- Those who can take some risk should bet on ELSS funds via SIP
- Invest Rs 50,000 in NPS
Traditional fixed income
The recent cut in small savings has jolted conservative investors. The rates on these have been linked to the average 10-year bond yield for the past three months. These will be revised every quarter now, make them more volatile. “People who want to invest in debt and want sovereign security should continue to invest in Public Provident Fund (PPF). No other instrument gives a tax-free return of 8.1 per cent with government security,” says Rao.
As for time deposits, financial planner Arnav Pandya suggests, “From April, fixed deposits of banks will give better returns than those of the post office. Decide on your investment tenure, see which bank is offering the best rate for that tenure, and invest in its deposit.” Lock into current rates fast, as even banks are expected to cut their deposit rates.
Tax-free bonds are another good option. Nabard’s recent issue carried a coupon of 7.29 per cent for 10 years and 7.64 per cent for 15 years. Beside getting tax-free income, investors stand to get the benefit of capital appreciation if interest rates are cut.
“People who have some risk appetite may also look at debt mutual funds and fixed deposits of stable companies,” adds Rao.
The sharp run-up in gold prices over three months, owing to the rise in risk aversion globally, took most people by surprise. The sudden spurt emphasises the need to stay diversified and have a 10 per cent allocation to the yellow metal in your portfolio. However, instead of using gold Exchange-traded funds (ETFs), which carry an expense ratio of 0.75-1 per cent, invest via gold bonds, which offer an annual interest rate of 2.75 per cent. The Budget made gold bonds more attractive by exempting these from capital gains tax at redemption.
Start investing in tax-saving instruments from the beginning of the year. “Don’t leave tax planning for the end of the year, otherwise you may have to scramble for funds,” says financial planner Ankur Kapur of ankurkapur.in. For those with the money, Pandya suggests: “Invest the entire amount you need to in PPF before the April 5. That will take care of tax planning for the year and you will also earn interest on your investment.”
Investors with a higher risk appetite could start a Systematic Investment Plan (SIP) in an Equity Linked Savings Schemes (ELSS) fund, which can give higher returns. “If you invest early in the year via an SIP, you will reap the benefit of rupee cost averaging,” says Dinesh Rohira, founder and Chief Executive Officer, 5nance.com. Pankaj Mathpal, MD, Optima Money Managers suggests linking all tax-related investments to financial goals.
If you live in your parents’ house and pay rent to them to claim House Rent Allowance benefits, which is perfectly legal, get a rent agreement prepared.
With 40 per cent of the National Pension System (NPS) corpus having been made tax-free at withdrawal in this Budget (the entire corpus was taxed earlier), this has become more attractive. “Open an NPS account if you have not done so already and enjoy the additional tax deduction of Rs 50,000,” says Anil Rego, CEO & founder, Right Horizons. In view of the low returns from annuities, into which 60 per cent of the final corpus must be compulsorily invested, don’t invest more than Rs 50,000.
Tax deduction under Section 24 is available on the interest repaid on a home loan. “Buying a property to avail of the benefit is not advisable if the family has a primary residence,” says Rego.
While reviewing your financial plan, check if the term cover is adequate. A family’s insurance cover should be able to replace the breadwinner’s income stream. Financial planners take into account household expenses, goals like children’s education and marriage, and liabilities like home loans when deciding on a person’s insurance requirement. “If goals have changed or liabilities have increased, raise the amount of cover,” suggests Mathpal. Kapur says the premium rate is likely to be lower if you buy the term plan before your birthday.
Your health insurance cover might also need to be raised to take care of medical inflation. The same holds true for household insurance if you have reconstructed your house and the structure has become more expensive, or if you have added expensive assets. Rohira suggests buying add-on covers like accidental insurance and critical health insurance for comprehensive protection.