tax saving ELSS Equity linked saving scheme

Should you invest in multiple Equity Linked Saving Schemes (ELSS)?

Equity Linked Saving Schemes or ELSS Fund is a variety of Equity Mutual Fund where the majority of the corpus is invested in equities and equity-oriented instruments. It is a tax saving Mutual Fund where your investments are locked in for 3 years.

ELSS are multi-cap equity funds which invest at least 4/5th of their assets in equities. Such stocks could be small-caps, large-caps, or mid-caps. ELSS funds can invest in the companies of any sizes. Apart from investing in the stocks of private companies, these funds also invest in the Government undertakings to a significant extent.

Note: If you are new to ELSS, you can read our previously published article here.

ELSS: A tax saving instrument

Previously people used to find FD, NPS, PPF, and ULIP as effective tax saving schemes. Nowadays, the taxpayers are feeling more interested in investing their savings in ELSS funds for availing tax benefit.

ELSS is not only having the lowest lock-in period but it also yields higher returns than the other conventional tax-saving instruments. If you are going to redeem your ELSS investments after 3 years, your capital gain will be taxed @ 10% if it crosses Rs 1 lakh.

As per section 80C of the Income Tax Act, 1961, you can get the benefit of tax deduction in a financial year up to Rs 1.5 lakhs. ELSS or Equity Linked Saving Scheme is a prescribed instrument under the said section. So, you can easily save your tax liability up to Rs 46, 800 (Tax plus Cess on such Tax).

Investing in ELSS for generating long-term wealth

If you are looking to create long-term wealth but willing to accept the risk, let me tell you that equities or equity-oriented funds are the best for you. Equities can fetch you substantial returns if you are willing to stay invested for the long term.

You can choose any form of Mutual Fund i.e. a small-cap fund, large-cap fund or a mid-cap fund. But, neither of the funds can provide you with tax benefits which ELSS can give. Moreover, if the markets seem to be bearish or moving sideways in the short run, you might feel like redeeming your units immediately.

If you have invested in ELSS, you can’t withdraw your investments before the expiry of three years. In that way, investing in ELSS ensures that you stay invested for a long-term irrespective of short-term volatility. So, if you are interested in staying invested for a considerably long period of time, ELSS is definitely an ideal investment option for you.

Should you go for only one ELSS or multiple?

In an ELSS fund, the underlying portfolio consists of around 70 to 100 stocks. Around 5,000 stocks are listed in the Indian markets. Out of such stocks, the top 250 of them contributes towards 90% of the total market capitalization. So, if you are investing in 6 ELSS funds, it means you are indirectly investing in around 600 stocks. This implies that you will end up investing in the stock market as a whole. Therefore, you are virtually removing all possibilities to beat the stock market.

Investing in excessive ELSS funds means you are indirectly looking to form a market portfolio. So, if you are looking to earn what a market index earns, you can opt for such a portfolio. It is highly probable that you won’t earn more than what the market earns but you are also not going to earn less than the same.

There is another limitation of investing in too many ELSS funds. Investing in an excessive number of ELSS will lead to portfolio overlapping. It means that you will be investing in the same stocks through multiple schemes. This would unnecessarily increase your expense ratio instead of yielding the benefit of diversification.

Well, if you are simply looking to invest in the market portfolio, you should consider investing in an Index Mutual Fund or an Index ETF. Through the passive funds, you will be investing in the market indices at a lower cost.

Let us discuss how the situation might look like if your portfolio consists of a single ELSS. If you own only one ELSS fund, it indicates that you have not diversified your investments at all. It seems to be a risky portfolio as you will be exposing it to the risk of underperformance of the Fund Manager. It is of no doubt that you have a higher chance of beating the market if the underlying assets of your scheme consist of top-performing stocks. But, if the market witnesses a downfall, your portfolio will crash down at a higher rate.

An ideal number of ELSS funds for your portfolio

Now, if you ask how many ELSS funds you should have in your portfolio, the ideal number could be either two or three. An ELSS fund is a multi-cap equity fund. Therefore, if you have chosen two to three ELSS funds in your portfolio, you can certainly form a strong portfolio in all possible ways.

Through a single ELSS fund, it is not possible for you to cover a substantial number of top equities. The likeliness increases if you add one or two more ELSS funds in your armory. If your investments can be spread across a good number of profitable stocks, you are going to make significant returns in the days to come. Although your portfolio expenses in the form of equity ratio will go up, the returns are high enough to cover the same comfortably.

We have discussed earlier that too many funds would lead to portfolio overlapping. But, you would not experience the same if you create your portfolio with two to three funds. Investment in a limited number of schemes is not going to capture the major portion of market capitalization. Therefore, you are not forming a portfolio which can replicate the market. So, whatever you will be earning will supposedly beat the market.

Also read:

Closing thoughts

No assurance can be given whether a portfolio consisting of two to three ELSS funds can alone serve all your wealth generation and tax-saving requirements. Forming a portfolio for an individual is dependent on several factors. If you are an investor with a high-risk appetite you can team up a small-cap equity fund with a ULIP. On the other hand, if you are highly risk-averse, you can go for a debt fund with a PPF.

Through this article, we have tried to give you a general idea regarding the number of ELSS funds which should be there in your portfolio. If you are seeking an investment option which combines wealth creation and tax saving, ELSS is your answer. Otherwise, if you have any specific requirements with respect to profitability, liquidity, and tax benefit, you are free to create your own portfolio accordingly.

tax saving tips trade brains cover-min

15 Must Know Tax Saving Tips in India

If you are an Indian resident, you are required to pay tax on your income (if it crosses the minimum taxable limit) to the Indian Government. Do you ever feel like you are paying an excessive tax? Have you ever thought of saving some tax from your taxable income?

The Income Tax Act, 1961 is a complicated statute in itself. If you are looking to carry out your personal tax planning, you might it find it a real tough job to accomplish.

In this article, we shall talk about the various ways which you can adopt to save your taxes.

15 Must-Know Tax Saving Tips in India

Let us first talk about the tax deductions you can claim by investing in some financial instruments specified u/s 80C. The maximum tax benefit allowed under this section is Rs 1.5 lakh.

1. Public Provident Fund

Investment in PPF (Public Provident Fund) is subjected to EEE tax exemption status. It is a savings scheme established by the Government which comes with a maturity period of 15 years. You can invest in it by visiting any bank or post office in India. Currently, the rate of interest offered on PPF is 8% every year.

2. Employees’ Provident Fund

If you are a salaried individual, you can claim a tax deduction on the contributions you make in your EPF account. The maturity amount and the interest income on EPF have also been exempted from Income Tax provided you have completed 5 years of service.

3. Five-year tax-saver Fixed Deposits

You can invest in 5-year tax-saver FDs to claim a tax deduction in a Financial Year up to Rs 1.5 lakh. These instruments carry a fixed rate of interest varying from 7 to 8% p.a.

4. National Saving Certificate (NSC)

NSC is having a lock-in period of 5 years and offers interest at a fixed rate. At present, the interest rate is 8% p.a. You can get tax benefits on both investments made and interests received.

5. Equity Linked Saving Schemes (ELSS)

ELSS funds invest a minimum of 4/5th of their assets in Equities. They have a lock-in period of 3 years. If your long term capital gain exceeds Rs 1 lakh during redemption, then such gains are subjected to tax @10%.

6. Life Insurance Policies

You can claim a tax deduction for the premiums you pay for various types of life insurance policies which include endowment plan, term plan, and ULIP. But, for availing this tax benefit, the sum assured (insurance cover) must be a minimum of 10 times the amount of premium which you pay.

7. Interests on home loans

When you repay your home loan (procured for acquiring or constructing a house), the principal portion of the same is deductible under Income Tax. The interests that you pay are eligible for tax deduction u/s 24(b) of the said Act while computing income from house property.

8. Senior Citizen Saving Schemes (SCSS)

The contributions made to an SCSS are eligible for a tax deduction. SCSS is having a tenure of 5 years. It is available for investments for those who are above 60 years. The rate of return offered by an SCSS is currently 8.7% per annum which is higher than a bank FD.

(Image credits: Paisabazaar)

Apart from section 80C, there are various other sections in the Income Tax Act of India which provides you with tax benefits.

9. National Pension Scheme (NPS)

Whatever contribution you make in your NPS account, you are eligible to obtain tax benefit up to Rs 1.5 lakh under section 80C. An additional tax deduction to the maximum of Rs 50k u/s 80CCD(1B) is available on your contributions in your NPS account. Investing in NPS lets you invest in both equities and debts at the same time and build a significant retirement corpus.

Also read:

10. Medical Insurance Premiums

You can avail tax deduction up to Rs 25k on medical insurance premiums paid u/s 80D. This tax benefit is allowed to you and your family. For senior citizens, this limit changes to Rs 50k. Again, if you are paying health insurance premiums for yourself and/or your family and senior citizen parents, the maximum combined deduction available is Rs 75k in a Financial Year.

11. House Rent Allowance (HRA)

If you are a salaried employee getting House Rent Allowance (HRA), you can enjoy tax exemption on the same if you stay in a rented house. But, if you don’t get HRA from your job but staying in rented accommodation, you can still claim tax deduction u/s 80GG to the maximum of Rs 60,000 p.a.

12. Home loan for constructing a house property

If you have raised a home loan for acquiring or constructing a house property, the interest payable on the same is tax deductible u/s 24 up to a limit of Rs 2 lakh per year. But, the interesting thing is that, instead of a self-occupied property, if you have given the house on rent, there is no upper limit for it. But, the total loss that you can claim on the head of income from house property is limited to Rs 2 lakh.

13. Partial benefits on Saving Account Interests

The interests that you receive on your Savings Bank Account are tax-free to a limit of Rs 10,000 per year u/s 80TTA. But, if you are a senior citizen, the tax deduction on interests received on both FD and savings account is allowed up to Rs 50,000 u/s 80TTB.

15. Disabled Assessee Deductions

If you are an Assessee suffering from any disability, you can claim tax deduction u/s 80U for yourself. Under this section, the maximum deduction from your taxable income allowed is Rs 1, 25,000.

15. Disabled dependent deductions

You can enjoy tax benefit u/s 80DD if there is any disabled person in your family who is dependent on you for his/her living. This section allows you to claim a deduction of Rs 1.25 lakhs from your taxable income.

Bonus: Donation or relief funds

If you make a donation to any relief fund or charitable institution, the limit of the tax deduction is 50% of your donated amount. Some entities allow 100% tax benefits on the donations made, subject to a maximum of 10% of the adjusted total income. There are some organizations where 100% of your donations are allowed as tax deductions without any conditions.

Closing Thoughts

In this article, we have provided you with some tax-saving tips. If you could follow our guidance, it would help you to plan your personal taxes better. The Income Tax Law of India is itself a huge one. Further, many amendments come every year in the form of a new budget (Finance Act), circulars, notifications, and case laws.

Therefore, we would like to warn you that you should not rely only on our stated tax-saving strategies. For managing your tax compliances in the most effective manner, it is recommended that you consult any tax consultant like a Lawyer or a practicing Chartered Accountant.

We wish you all the best for your personal tax planning.

3 Uncommon Alternative Investments Option in 2019 cover

3 Uncommon Alternative Investment Options in 2019

It is no secret that diversifying is the key to success for investing and as humans we love our options! Many investors assume diversifying means investing in different types of securities like bonds, stocks, and options. However, the top investors take the term in their most exclusive form and invest in truly diversified assets. This brings us to alternative investments.

What are alternative investments?

Outside stocks and bonds, there is a world of investments that we can choose from. Alternative investments are those investments that vary from the traditional forms of investing in terms of liquidity, how they are regulated and the way they are managed. Having a mixed basket of investments is very beneficial for an investor especially during a downturn. People who have experienced a recession or inflation will tell you that investing in only one type of asset will result in great losses.

A few examples of alternative investments include venture capital, real estate investments and even gold efts. These assets are usually more illiquid than traditional investments and have little to no correlation with stocks and bonds. However, alternative investments are less regulated than traditional stocks which are under the control of organizations such as FINRA, SEC in the U.S or SEBI in India. On the flip side, although they are not controlled investments, the performance of alternative investments is difficult to measure. This is because, unlike stocks, there is limited information available on alternative investments, making them difficult to assess.

Types of alternative investments

Alternative investments is a mindset approach to investing rather than a specific investment. There are various alternative investments out there and investors can choose the ones that best suit their management style. A few investments include:

1. Private equity

Investing in the stock market is great but not all companies are listed on the exchange. There are more private companies than public companies and the companies often take on an investor to help fund their growth. Private equity is the broad term to describe the spectrum of investors in the private market. The funds raised by the private equity firms will be invested in private companies, many of which include promising startups. The capital raised is used for organic and inorganic growth of the company. The amount invested is then returned back to the investors during an exit event such as the private firm issuing an IPO to go public or an acquisition or merger.

To assess the performance of this alternative investment, many investors use the internal rate of return (IRR) however this does not take into consideration the interim or negative cash flows. In recent years, this formula evolved to the Modified IRR which is a more holistic approach to analyze the performance of a private equity investment.

2. Collectibles

paintings

Collectibles is the broad term used to describe items such as cars, antiques, paintings and various vintage items. In other words, they are items that have a low intrinsic value. Many people place a high value on these items, but unlike stock and bonds that can generate profits and income, the value of the collectibles is based on the speculations of buyers and sellers. An investment into collectibles can help diversify your portfolio but you need to have a good understanding of the items you are collecting to reduce risks.

One of the best ways to invest in collectibles is to have a personal interest in what you are collecting. This will help you develop an interest in the market and gain expertise on the items you are investing in. Items collected this way will give the collector personal satisfaction of the items they own whether or not they receive the expected return.

It is important for investors to remember that collectible items have a long holding period. While stocks and shares can be sold at a whim, depending on market conditions, collectibles, on the other hand, need to be ‘held’ by the owner for an extended period of time. This is because collectibles tend to gain value over time and selling them too quickly can only result in high transaction costs.

While collectibles can help diversify your portfolio, an investor requires extensive knowledge in the market to make the right decisions. But collectible investing is great because not only is it an alternative investment but it is also a hobby for many!

3. Hedge funds

A hedge fund isn’t a single investment but rather a pooled investment that is managed by an investment advisor. A hedge fund raises money from investors and uses the money to buy up entire businesses, either through a takeover or by investing in the business to improve operations. There are also hedge funds that specialize in real estate or other assets such as patents and trademarks.

Investing in hedge funds can help an investor diversify their portfolios because hedge fund managers used a variety of strategies when investing. This includes arbitrage, distressed assets, and macro-trends. They also take a Leveraged approach to investment which is using borrowed money for investment.

Hedge Funds vary from private equity investments because they invest in public companies, thereby providing more liquidity and making it easier for investors to take out their money if required. A report by the World Economic Forum states that in the U.S investments in hedge funds represent 40% of total alternative investments.

Also read: What is a Hedge Fund? And How do they operate?

Closing Thoughts

Diversification is the mantra when it comes to earning high returns on your investments. While the stock market allows investors to assess the performance of their stocks and provides liquidity, it is not always the safest investment as the markets are constantly volatile. This has led to an increase in the popularity of alternative investments in the last couple of years.

Historically, however, alternative investments are more popular among high net-worth individuals as they require a large initial investment and cannot be converted to cash quickly. Nevertheless, alternative investments have numerous advantages such as portfolio diversity and active management of funds.

Alternative investments are now an option for all classes of investors and not just the wealthy ones. But these investments requires a lot of research and study and investing in them without a thorough assessment can be incredibly risky.

What is National Pension Scheme (NPS)? Advantages, Tax Benefits & More cover

What is National Pension Scheme (NPS)? Advantages, Tax Benefits & More

NPS or National Pension Scheme is a pension plan which was initiated by the Indian Government in January 2004. It was primarily introduced for those Government employees those who joined employments in 2004 and onwards.

Subsequently, the Government of India wanted to develop the habit of savings among the salaried Indians, specifically for retirement. Therefore, from the month of May in 2009, NPS was made available for all employed Indians. PFRDA (Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority) is the regulator of NPS in India.

How can you start NPS?

If you are a salaried Indian resident, aged between 18 to 60 years, you are eligible to invest in NPS. You can open your NPS account with any entity called the Point of Presence (POP). POPs mostly include banks and other financial institutions. The authorized branches of a POP are called Point of Presence Service Providers (POP-SPs). POP-SP acts as the collector of its POP.

In order to enroll in an NPS account, at first you have to make an application in a prescribed form. Next, you have to furnish the documents required for complying KYC norms. Once your application is processed, the Central Record-keeping Agency (CRA) will send you your PRAN. After that, you have to pay the minimum account opening fee along with the management fee to activate your NPS account.

Various types of Accounts in NPS

There are two types of accounts in NPS, which are Tier I account and Tier II account.

Tier I account is mandatory for all subscribers of NPS. If you are a Government employee, you are required to contribute 10% of your Basic Salary plus D.A. in NPS. The Government of India also contributes an equal amount in the same account. A minimum of Rs 500 per month is required to be contributed in your NPS account, i.e. Rs 6000 in a year.

In case you are a private employee, you get the option of choosing between NPS and EPF. If you choose NPS, you have to contribute an amount equal to 10% of the sum of your Basic Salary and DA. Your employer will also contribute an equal amount in your account. You can find your employer’s contributions towards your NPS account in Form 16.

Tier II account of NPS is a savings account and you can withdraw money from it anytime. Neither your employer contributes any amount in this account nor do you get any tax exemption on such contribution made. You have to pay Rs 1,000 to open this account. In your subsequent contributions, you have to pay a minimum of Rs 250 on each occasion. Further, every year end, your balance in this account should be at least Rs 2,000 to keep your account operation.

How does NPS work?

An NPS invests in Equities, Corporate Debts, and Government Securities. You can choose any from the Active, Auto or Default plan. In Active plan, maximum 50% of your investments can be allocated to Equities.

In the Auto plan, until you reach 35 years of age, maximum investments that can be made in Equities and Corporate Debts would be 50 and 30%, respectively. After that, in the next 20 years, the investments in Equities and Corporate Debts go down every year by 2 and 1%, respectively.

In the Default plan, maximum 55% in Government Securities, 40% in Corporate Debts, 15% in Equities, and 5% in Money markets can be invested out of the contributions made. If you are a Government employee, please note that you can only opt for the Default option.

The financial assets of your NPS account are managed by an established Fund Management Company. You can choose your fund manager from any of the following:

  1. ICICI Prudential Pension Fund.
  2. LIC Pension Fund.
  3. Kotak Mahindra Pension Fund.
  4. Reliance Capital Pension Fund.
  5. SBI Pension Fund.
  6. UTI Retirement Solutions Pension Fund.
  7. HDFC Pension Management Company.
  8. DSP BlackRock Pension Fund.

How your NPS account provides you with pensions?

When you subscribe to an NPS scheme, you are provided with a Permanent Retirement Account Number (PRAN). While you work, NPS accumulates your savings in your Permanent Retirement Account (PRA).

When you retire, your savings in the PRA will be used for providing you with pensions throughout your retired life. When you retire from your job after reaching a certain age, NPS allows you in withdrawing up to 40% of the corpus in your PRA. The balance corpus continues generating pension amounts for you annually.

You should also keep this in mind that you can only withdraw from your NPS account after three years from your subscription date have been completed. You can withdraw funds only to the maximum of 25% of the amount contributed by you. Furthermore, you are allowed to withdraw to the maximum of three times during your subscription tenure.

Also read:

Benefits of investing in NPS

When it comes to investment management, NPS provides you with a certain amount of flexibility. Your savings in NPS is operated and managed by a private investment entity. If you are dissatisfied with your chosen fund manager, you can shift to another Fund Management Company.

Apart from that, NPS is a safe investment as it is regulated by PFRDA, a statutory body of the Indian Government. NPS has been in India for around 15 years and it has consistently yielded between 8 to 10% returns every year.

One of the greatest perks of investing in NPS is that it provides huge tax benefits to its subscribers. Whatever you contribute to your NPS account is eligible for tax benefit up to Rs 1.5 lakh u/s 80C of Income Tax Act, 1961 for every Financial Year.

Further, a tax benefit of extra Rs 50k out of your employer’s contributions is allowed u/s 80CCD1B for every Financial Year. NPS has an EET status like PPF. This means the investments, returns, and redemptions are all eligible for tax benefits. You can read more on taxation of NPS in this blog.

Closing Thoughts

You must have heard that one should not put all the eggs in a single basket. Diversification is the key to success in the financial market. Diversifying your corpus is difficult if you directly invest in the market. This is because you would require a huge amount of money to create a well-diversified portfolio.

Investing in Mutual Funds can sort this problem to a huge extent. But, it is not going to be of much help to you if you lack the knowledge of picking the right Mutual Fund scheme for your financial needs.

NPS overcomes this shortcoming of Mutual Fund. Here, you don’t need to analyze a plethora of schemes by yourself. You just require picking your desired fund manager who would handle all your investments as per your chosen NPS plan. The beauty of investing in NPS is that you don’t need to possess any practical knowledge of the stock market.

Renting vs buying a home- Which one is better 3

Renting vs buying a home- Which one is better?

Renting vs buying a home has always been a big topic of discussion. Whenever we look for any long-term accommodation, we analyze deeply whether to buy a house property or take it on rent.

Some people say that staying in a rented home is better as we don’t have to spend a huge amount of money upfront. Moreover, when we opt for buying a residence, we mostly prefer raising a home loan which can again be a big commitment. On the other hand, those who advocate acquiring a residential property, state that it feels completely different to live in one’s own house and the house is their biggest asset.

We shall take an example to analyze the question of renting vs buying a home.

Renting vs buying a home

Let us consider two guys, Rohit and Sumit, who have got jobs as freshers in the IT sector in Kolkata. The former has decided to stay in rented accommodation while the latter has chosen to buy a flat on loan.

Let us see how the financial picture of Rohit looks like.

Renting a home

Renting vs buying a home- Which one is better 2

Rohit has decided to stay in a 3-BHK apartment on rent. Let us assume Rohit’s rent to be Rs 20k per month with an average annual appreciation of 5% per annum. This is to be noted that if you take accommodation on rent, your landlord may increase your rent with time so as to adjust inflation.

Coming back to our example, the expected rent of the apartment after 20 years can be assumed to be Rs 40k per month. The monthly rent after 20 further years (a total of 40 years from now) is expected to become Rs 80k per month. If we calculate, we will find that after 40 years, Rohit would have paid Rs 2.9 crores towards the rental of his home.

Pros and cons of staying in rented accommodation:

As Rohit has opted to stay in a rented apartment, he needs to consider a few key things. First, he can’t treat his house as his own home as the legal owner is his landlord. Next, Rohit is always exposed to the risk of losing his shelter as his landlord may ask him to leave anytime (by giving a notice period as per the rent agreement).

Generally, the landlords in the majority of the states in India impose restrictions on the number of years a tenant can stay in his house. This happens as the landlords are not adequately protected by the applicable Indian laws. There are certain restrictions that Rohit will have to face with regard to the renovation of his apartment and keeping pets. Moreover, he has no scope of enjoying complete privacy in rented accommodation.

There are a few advantages too that Rohit can enjoy while staying in his rented residence. He is not required to pay any house taxes. Next, Salaried individuals, who live in rented houses, can claim the House Rent Allowance (HRA) to lower their taxes – partially or wholly. Apart from paying a refundable security deposit and sometimes the maintenance charge, he is not required to pay any further lumpsum amount upfront.

If Rohit changes his job to another location or he is transferred to another location in his existing job, it won’t bother him financially. His contract with the existing landlord will be canceled and he will enter into a fresh contract with a new landlord.

Also read: HRA – House Rent Allowance – Exemption Rules & Tax Deductions

So, far we have discussed only regarding Rohit. Let us now analyze the situation of Sumit.

Buying a home

Renting vs buying a home- Which one is better 1

It was stated earlier that Sumit has decided to buy a similar accommodation like Rohit by borrowing from a Bank. Let us assume the amount of his home loan is Rs 40 lakhs which he has to repay in 2 decades time. The applicable interest rate is 8.3% p.a and Sumit requires paying EMIs of Rs 34,200 for 20 years loan duration. So, if we calculate, the total amount that Sumit has to pay after 20 years, it will amount to Rs 82 lakhs.

After the loan is repaid, Sumit is not required to pay anything at all to the Banker. So, for staying in rented accommodation for 4 decades, Rohit has to pay Rs 2.08 crores more than Sumit. Although Sumit is required to pay Municipal Tax every year, it is a nominal amount and can be ignored in our analysis.

Sumit would get dual income tax benefits every year as long as he is repaying the loan on house property. On one side, his gross total income will get reduced by the Interest on Loans paid by him u/s 24(b) of the Income Tax Act, 1961. On the other side, he would get deduction u/s 80C of the said for the principal amount of loan paid by him. The maximum deduction allowed u/s 24(b) and 80C are Rs 2 lakhs and Rs 1.5 lakhs, respectively.

So, from the above discussion, Sumit’s decision of purchasing a house property seems to be financially more viable than that of Rohit’s choice of rental accommodation.

Pros and cons of staying in buying a home:

Let us discuss some major benefits that Sumit can enjoy by opting for buying an apartment.

It is needless to say that having one’s own house is a sign of pride, sense of achievement and source of privacy. If Sumit is transferred to a new location or takes up a job in another location, he can sublet his property to someone. Even if he doesn’t stay in his house, it doesn’t mean that he has to incur a loss if he has bought the apartment on loan.

Many people say that rentals are always cheaper than EMIs. But, the fact is that, as time passes, the rentals tend to get higher and higher while the amount of existing EMIs doesn’t.

As an owner of the house property, Sumit can obtain any personal loan keeping his apartment on collateral. Today, real estate is a growing industry where the price of properties is going up every single day. Therefore, as Sumit has chosen to buy a house property, he will be investing in a physical asset having huge potential to generate large returns in the days to come.

There are a few shortcomings of buying a house too. Although Sumit will get the house in his own name, he can only enjoy the ownership in a true sense after he has repaid the loan in full. Generally, a Bank charges a down payment while granting the home loan. This upfront payment could be as high as one-fifth of the price of the apartment bought. So, in the short term, Sumit has to incur a heavy payout to buy a house property on loan.

Also read: Are REITS in India a worthy investment option?

Closing Thoughts

The decision of buying vs renting a home is not going to be the same for every individual. Whether you want to buy a house property or take it on rental, it totally depends on your financial situation. If buying accommodation suits my financial situation, it may not suit yours.

Moreover, both the options are having their own perks and shortcomings. In this article, we have evaluated both the options where buying accommodation sounds financially fitter than staying in a rented home.

Minimalist lifestyle Is it worth being a minimalist cover

Minimalist lifestyle: Is it worth being a minimalist?

Being a minimalist is all about living with less and in recent years it’s become somewhat of a trend with shows such as Tidying up with Marie Condo and the Minimalism documentary (both on Netflix) taking the internet by storm. They say that minimalist lifestyle can change your life for the better and living with less equals more time to focus on the important things in life such as growing your personal relationships. But who is a minimalist and is it really worth being one?

Minimalist lifestyle: Is this for you?

While the word minimalism, these days, is synonymous with the clutter-free way people live their lives, it was traditionally a word used to describe art and design (such as the decorating your home with a minimalist concept). However, this word has become so much more today as we use it to define a certain lifestyle- less is more.

The idea behind this concept is that in today’s digital age we are often overwhelmed with materialistic things such as our iPhones and laptops. We forget to spend time with our loved ones and enjoy the simple things in life like cooking or creating art. Minimalism serves as an answer to these problems.

Minimalism is intentional living and involves getting rid of anything that takes up unnecessary space in your life like unwanted clothing, household items, bills, and fees. While living a clutter-free life sounds like a good idea, it may not be for everyone. Here are a few pros and cons to help you decide if the minimalist life is for you.

The PROS

Minimalism lets you focus on what matters the most and take out what you don’t need. Here are a few reasons why you should consider this lifestyle.

It helps you find the things you really need

Let’s be honest, you could honestly survive without a lot of things currently sitting in your house. The first step to being a minimalist is picking an area or room in your house and clean it out. You will find a bunch of things you no longer use or didn’t even know you owned.

Take this opportunity to either donate or sell these things. Not only does this leave you with the things that are important to you but you can also make a quick buck on the side. The rule of thumb is to take an item and see if you’ve used it in the last 90 days if the answer is no, will you use it in the next the 90 days? If the answer is still no, you no longer need it.

Having fewer things makes it easier to budget

When you know exactly what you have, it is easier to budget and make decisions. One of the main reasons many people find it hard to forecast expenses and prepare financially for the future is because they have too many unnecessary expenses to think about. This includes bills to apps like Hulu or Netflix or unwanted subscriptions. While these may not seem like too much money at first they can add up over time.

A few ways to overcome these unnecessary minor expenses is by having just one card to pay all your bills. You can even get a card with a good rewards program to rack up those points. This way you have all your major expenses on one statement which makes it easier to budget for the upcoming year.

Another option is to have a single checking account and a single emergency fund. This way you can maintain the minimal balance for the account and have a better idea of your daily expenses. An emergency fund is particularly useful during a period of a cash crunch. Getting your finances in order is a crucial element in living a stress-free and clutter-free life.

Also read: How Much Should You Save  - 50/20/30 Rule!

You create room for the important things in life

Having too many things can create a sense of claustrophobia which often leads down a road of anxiety and unhappiness. So when we clear out unwanted items, it leaves more room for what truly brings happiness to our lives. Physical things tend to tie us down like an anchor and living a minimalist life can take that weight off your shoulders- freedom from greed and debt.

Happiness is subjective and can mean different things to each one of us. For some, it could mean spending time with your family, your puppy or even doing something you are passionate about. Many people find that living a minimalist life will get them closer to this goal.

The CONS

While living a minimalist life looks interesting, it is often easier said than done. Minimalism isn’t a personal project and tends to affect those around you as well. Here are a few cons of living a minimalist life.

The minimalist lifestyle is difficult to adopt

Living clutter-free sounds like paradise but many people find it incredibly challenging to trade in their material possessions for a more minimalist life. In today’s digital age, with new trends popping up on the internet every day, there is a lot of peer pressure to keep up with the latest styles. Living without material possessions (shoes, clothes and electronics) can seem unthinkable for many.

The process of de-cluttering your life is stressful and overwhelming and going through all your things can bring up a lot of memories (some good, some not so good). Moreover, minimalism has a different meaning for everyone so it can be hard to decide how much minimalism is right for you.

(Video Credits: Matt D’Avella)

Minimalism is not a one-stop solution to all your problems

Greed and debt are two evils that people want liberation from and many people see leading a minimalist lifestyle as the answer to all their problems. But this is not the case because if you wake up one day and decide to go cold-turkey and lead a completely minimalist life, you are more than likely to relapse and go right back to your old habits.

It is important to see minimalism as a gradual process rather than a quick fix to all your problems.

Also read: 7 Fun And Easy Tips to Save More Money

So, should you become a minimalist?

Well, that’s a question only you can answer. Leading a clutter-free life is a great feeling but it is not for everybody. Some people often find happiness amongst their chaos.

Choosing to live a minimal life depends on your mindset and what you hope to get out of it. If you do decide to become a minimalist, remember to take it one day at a time.

7 Incredible Side Hustle Ideas to Make an Extra Income

7 Incredible Side Hustle Ideas to Make an Extra Income

Thanks to the world wide web, earning a few extra bucks with a side-hustle is now easier than ever. But although there many different ways one can make money, you need to pick the side hustle ideas that matches your skills and needs.

Fortunately, there are many unique ways you can earn an income without an investment or a highly-specialized skill-set. While not all side-hustles may be the best fit for you, you need to pick the one that derives the most value- because at the end of the day, your job satisfaction is what mattes the most.

What are side hustles important?

Side hustles provide an outlet for you to pursue your passions outside your 9-5 job while giving you the opportunity to make an extra income. It is all about personal growth, discipline and can help you develop an entrepreneurial streak.

When choosing your side hustle, you may want to consider what you would want to supplement your current job with. This could be anything from blogging to selling your artwork online. Whatever your side hustle may be, it’s all about following your passions and seeing them through. Additionally, you can make some extra bucks and treat yourself.

Side hustle ideas

The idea of a side hustle can seem alluring but you are not sure what kind of job you want to do. Thanks to the developments in technology we have the world at our fingertips and a myriad of side hustles to choose from. A few of them include:

1. Sell your crafts online

If you have an artistic streak, you can use your talent to start a side hustle and earn some extra cash. They are many websites out there such as Etsy where you can list your crafts and other home-made items for others to buy.

Apps such as Instagram and Facebook are also great places to showcase your work. Many artists post pictures of their work on their Instagram or Facebook pages along with a link to their websites where customers can purchase the products. The rise in businesses born this way has led to a decrease in the number of brick and mortar stores worldwide.

2. Sell your stuff on e-bay or Amazon

A sure-fire way to make money online and have a lucrative side-business is to sell your items on websites such as e-bay, Amazon, or Olx. These items could include anything from household goods to furniture, books and even stamps. This is a great way to make use of things that you don’t really use or need. If you find that you have a knack for selling stuff online, you can do this professionally and earn a commission on every sale.

3. Drive for Uber or Ola

One of the best and most versatile ways to make money is to drive for Uber or Ola. Companies such as these have transformed the way we view transport in today’s sharing economy.

What makes these ride-share companies so great is that you get to decide when you want to work with just the click of a button. In metropolis cities such as Bangalore or Chennai, this is an easy and convenient way to make a side-income.

4. Start a blog

Starting a blog is not a quick money maker but it is a great way to create a platform for something you are passionate about while developing your skills.

What’s more? you can do it anywhere and from any part of the world. A blog is something you can create in your spare time and consistently working on it and posting great content can result in a high income eventually. You can even monetize your platform through sponsored posts, affiliate links or a shopping link to buy your products. Many people have created very lucrative businesses through their blogs.

5. Get a part-time job

If you want to trade in your time for money, you can get a part-time job. They are many options you can choose from to match your interests and skill-sets. A few ideas include babysitting, an administrative assistant or a barista.

If you are big on Instagram or Facebook, you can even take on a social media gig. The only downside to part-time jobs is that they often don’t pay as well as online businesses but they are still a great way to earn money while doing something you love.

6. Teaching

If you have the ability to teach other people skills, this opens up numerous side hustle possibilities. For example, if you are skilled in a particular academic field such as math or science, you could tutor students or even teach an online class. If your interests lie in other areas such as fitness or calligraphy, you can use your skills to teach a class in your free time. The great thing about teaching as a side hustle is that you get to do what you love while sharing your passion with others.

7. Freelance writing and editing

For those who possess the skill of putting words on paper, they are many side hustles that allow you to share your stories with others. Freelance writing and editing allows for flexibility and is quite enjoyable. You could write articles for magazines or journals on various genres (travel, fashion) and even edit student essays or websites online. You can develop your skills while expressing your creativity.

Also read: 11 Best Passive Ways to Make Money While You Sleep

Closing Thoughts

Tony Robbins famously said that’ if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten’ and this holds true for a lot of things in life.

Even if you love what you do for a full-time job, it is important to have an outlet where you can develop your passions and express free -thinking- this is where side-hustles play an important role in our lives.

While side-hustles can help you earn a supplemental income, they are important for many other reasons as it taches you to step out of your comfort zone and develop life-skills. While getting another job may be hard there are many ways you can earn an additional income as listed above.

So get a side-hustle and develop those skills!

How to eat an elephant? One bite at a time cover

How to eat an elephant? One bite at a time!

Desmond Tutu once wisely said, “there is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.”

In other words, what he meant to say was that even an enormous goal can be achieved if you take a little step at a time. Bit by bit, bite by bite, you’ll make possible what at first seemed impossible. Most people fail to achieve a massive goal because they try to eat the whole elephant at once.

Your financial goals are similar to eating an elephant. And in order to reach those goals, you need to take one step at a time!

Goal Setting:

The biggest factor for turning your dreams into reality is goal setting. No matter how big the goal, if you can set it, put a timer and start working on it, you can achieve the goal eventually.

Personally, I’ve two goals for the next five years. First, to turn my venture ‘Trade Brains’ into a massive online education platform which can provide financial literacy to thousands of investing population. And my second goal is to write a book. My long-term financial goal is to achieve FIRE- Financial freedom and retire early as soon as possible.

For those who know me, you might have watched me working on this blog ‘Trade Brains’ for over two and a half years now. I always knew that the path is not easy. But bit by bit, I’ve been adding investing lessons which can be useful for the beginners as well as matured investors. Similarly, for my long term goal of financial independence and early retirement, I have been working hard and investing consistently.

My investment strategy is simple. I do not try to get huge returns for a year or two by investing aggressively. I prefer consistent decent returns because I know that the power of compounding is in my favor. Time is the biggest friend for those who start investing early.

Now, why I’m telling you all this?

Similar to my goals, you might also have a gigantic dream of eating an elephant. Maybe you aim to build a huge retirement corpus or to buy your dream house on a beach across western ghats in India or to become a successful investor. And if you want to achieve these goals, you also need to take one step at a time.

If you want to learn how to invest intelligently and become victorious in investing, take your first step. Buy your first investing book and read it. Then read the second book and continue the process. You certainly won’t become an expert investor in a year or two. But with time, practice, and efforts, you will get better than 99% of the investing population.

In a similar way, if you want to build a huge corpus, let’s say for your retirement, you definitely cannot build this huge corpus by a few profitable investments. You need to be consistent in your investment strategy.

I receive a lot of emails from people asking for recommendations of hot stocks that can give them huge returns in the next six months or a year. But setting small goals and investing for six months won’t help in achieving a massive goal. Maybe you’ll win and get good returns on that stock. But this one-time return won’t make you any richer. You’ll probably remain at a similar financial situation compared to where you were last year. For achieving your financial goals, you need a reliable strategy that can give you consistent returns year after year, not just one-time big return by fluke.

It doesn’t matter how big your first few bites are, you cannot eat an elephant with a few big bites. Similarly, no matter how big the returns are, you cannot build your dream corpus in a year or two. Consistent returns are the steps to achieve your goals.

A few other tips to help you eat that elephant

Now that you have understood how to eat an elephant, here are a few other tips that can help you further:

— Set SMART Goals: Setting a smart goal is the first step towards achieving your massive goal. Often, SMART goal is described as (S)pecific, (M)easurable, (A)uthentic, (R)elevant and (T)ime bound

— Start breaking into small pieces: Even the biggest of the objects can be broken down into small atoms. Once you have set your goal, start breaking it down into small pieces. For example, if you are building a retirement corpus, find out how much you’ll need to invest yearly, monthly or even weekly to reach your goal in the desired time frame.

— Stick to the plan: “A goal properly set is halfway reached.” However, the next half is to stick with the goal– which is the toughest. If you are planning to build a corpus of Rs 10 crores in the next 30 years by investing in mutual funds, stick to your investment strategy. Do not stop your SIPs in between because of small-term market corrections.

— Celebrate small wins: Periodically measure how close you are to your goal and each time you reach a milestone, celebrate it. Achieving a massive goal will take time, and enjoying the small wins will keep you motivated to take your next bite.

— Mastermind: Probably the most important but often ignored tip. Keep close to people who encourage you and from whom you can learn. Surround yourself with people having similar goals as that of yours.

Closing Thoughts

The biggest mistake that people commit while chasing a massive goal is taking huge bites initially and try to eat the whole elephant at once. This eventually leads them to burn out too soon. Nonetheless, any big, enormous goal can be achieved by breaking it into small pieces and taking small steps.

Before we end this post, here is the final tip. Enjoy the journey. It’s gonna take time to achieve a huge goal. And enjoying is really crucial if you want to keep going.

That’s all. Take care and talk soon!

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7 Fun And Easy Tips to Save More Money

We all want to save money and build a comfortable financial cushion to plan for our future.  Many of us have milestones we want to reach like buying a house, a car, paying off debt or going on vacation. But although we may have good intentions, many of us don’t save money until much later in our lives because our current wants and needs seem much more important.

The trick to having enough money for a comfortable financial future is to start saving money as soon as you enter the workforce. Saving is not as overwhelming as it sounds and with a little prioritization and self-discipline, you can make it a life habit. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

7 fun and easy tips to save more money

1. Tackle your bigger debts

The first step to start saving money is to tackle your bigger debts, specifically the high-interest ones from any loans or credit cards you have taken out. This is because the fees on the loans add up quickly and can take up a significant portion of your income. Also once your debts are paid off, saving money in other areas of your life becomes much easier.

However, tackling the bigger debts can be intimidating so another effective way is to use the snowball method. This is when you start by paying off the small debts before you pay the larger ones. This method does not focus on the numbers in debt repayment but on behavior modification. When you pay the larger debts first, you will not see the numbers go down significantly and this can demotivate you. But paying off smaller debts is easier and you see the progress quickly which encourages you to stick it out until you’re debt free!

2. Cut down any unnecessary bills

When people budget out their expenses, they find many unnecessary leaks in their income. A major expense bracket is your grocery and entertainment bills.

For groceries, a great way to save money is by planning out your meals each week and taking account of what you have and what you need to buy. This will stop you from overspending on food and reducing any wastage. Managing your grocery expenses also reduces the money spent on restaurant meals as you can eat more home-cooked meals.

Brewing your own coffee at home is also very beneficial. Studies show that the average American spends $2,600 on Starbucks coffee every year which is a considerable amount of money to spend on coffee!

starbucks

3. Reduce household expenses

In addition to food and entertainment, there are many ways you can reduce your household expenses as well. A quick way is to have an eye on the thermostat in your home, lowering the temperature by 10 degrees Fahrenheit can reduce energy costs by 3-5%. Other ways to reduce energy costs includes taking shorter showers, washing your clothes in cold water or switching to LED bulbs that have a lower energy consumption.

With OTT platforms such as Amazon Prime and Netflix, many people no longer find the need for cable television. Although your cable bill may not seem like much, it adds up over the course of the year. Cutting ties with cable and switching to streaming services can help you reduce your expenses in the long run.

Another expense you can reduce is your phone bill. You can either opt for a family plan to lower your overall costs or minimize your data plan by using apps such as WhatsApp, Skype or Facetime to make phone calls.

4. Use a zero-sum budget

Saving enough money always comes down to a well-structured budget. If your goal is to save money aggressively, a good method to utilize is the zero-sum budget.

The goal of this budget is to make your income minus the cash outflow equals zero. This is done by allocating every single dollar you make to a certain category. So for instance, you could allocate money to food, entertainment, bills, savings and paying off debt. A survey conducted showed that people were able to save 19% more of their income with this method.

Also read:

5. Automate your savings

A fool-proof way to save money is to automate your savings. When you ensure that a portion of your income goes into a savings account, you will be living on less money without even realizing it.

Creating a budget is easy but sticking to it is the challenging part. By automating your savings, you no longer have to worry about not meeting your budget goals. It is a good idea to have a separate checking and savings account or an emergency fund where the money from your income can be transferred every month.

automating expenses

(Image credits: Forbes)

6. Get a side hustle

In addition to cutting your costs, another great way to save more money is to diversify your income. You can do this by getting a side-hustle.

A side hustle is a part-time job or a passion project which provides an extra source of income. Many people do side-hustles as a hobby and use it as an outlet to express their creativity while earning an extra income. Very often, bloggers and Instagrammers turn their side-hustle into their full-time jobs if they find it to be a lucrative career. A few great side-hustle ideas include writing, coding or teaching a class.

Also read: 11 Best Passive Ways to Make Money While You Sleep.

7. Take a ‘staycation’

A staycation is an inexpensive alternative to an actual vacation and can be just as fun! While it is a trendy term used in social media, the reasoning behind it is pretty rational. If you are looking to have fun while saving some money, you can find some fun activities to do in the area you live in instead of dropping money on expensive airline tickets.

A staycation includes everything you would do on an actual vacation like taking time off work to relax and unwind and spending time with family and friends.

Closing Thoughts

Saving money can be intimidating at first but with a little perseverance and discipline, it can become a life habit. Each person has different goals when it comes to saving and it is up to you to decide where you can cut costs to make the most of your income.

While saving is important don’t forget to indulge in experiences once in a while because at the end of the day it is the experiences that you will remember not the materialistic comforts.

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Are REITS in India a worthy investment option?

In developed Asian countries like Singapore and Hong-Kong, REITs or Real Estate Investment Trust is a popular investment option. However, the concept of REITs in India is yet to gain popularity among the Indians.

In simple words, a REIT is a collective investment scheme just like a Mutual Fund. It is an investment vehicle which pools your savings and invests in the portfolio of income generating properties. REITs are licensed to operate in India by the SEBI.

Structure of REITs

Although REITs are similar to Mutual Funds, they have a three-tier structure. A REIT consists of a Sponsor, a Fund Management Company, and a Trustee.

The sponsor is responsible to set up the REIT while the Fund Management Company selects and operates the real estate portfolio of the same. The Trustee ensures that the investors’ money is managed in the interest of the latter. Trustees have defined responsibilities which involve complying with all applicable rules and regulations that protect the investors’ rights.

How does REITs work?

A REIT pools money from investors and spends that sum in diverse real estates. It creates a portfolio of real estate assets including Offices, Residential Properties, Hospitals, Restaurants, Hotels, Warehouses, Corporate Buildings, etc.

A REIT is a trust which requires to be registered with a stock exchange. It issues its units via an IPO or Initial Public Offering. These units are consequently traded as securities in the stock exchange.

You can invest in the units of the REIT scheme in a similar way that you invest in shares, either in the primary market or the secondary market. The minimum ticket size of investing in a REIT fixed by the SEBI is Rs 2 lakh.

Now, the next big question is how to make money by REITs?

You can get returns from REITs in the form of dividends. Besides, you can also earn income in the form of capital gains if the REIT makes any profit by selling any of its property.

Quick Note: The minimum assets that a REIT is required to own are fixed at Rs 500 crore by the SEBI. Further, SEBI has made a rule that the minimum issue size has to be less than Rs 250 crore.

Perks of investing in REITs in India

As per SEBI guidelines, REITs are required to pay you at least 90% of their rental incomes every 6 months. Moreover, when REITs dispose of any of their properties, they have to distribute a minimum of 90% of such capital gains to their investors.

The activities of REITs have been also made transparent by the SEBI. A REIT has to compulsorily disclose the full valuation of their investments every year. Further, they are also required to update the same on a half-yearly basis.

Further, REITs are required to invest their money in a minimum of two projects as per SEBI. If a REIT chooses to invest only in 2 projects, it has to mandatorily invest 60% of its assets in a single project.

Besides, REITs have to allocate 80% of their assets in finished and revenue generating projects. They can invest the rest 20% of their money in under construction projects, mortgage-based securities, Government securities, cash & cash equivalents, and many others. 

Should you invest in REITs in India or actual properties?

house

Living in own house is in the bucket list of the majority of the income earning Indians. Moreover, unlike stocks or equity market, the valuations of properties don’t fluctuate drastically. Ideally, the intrinsic value of properties keeps moving upwards and hence, investing in the real estate sector seems an appropriate idea for a majority of Indians.

Furthermore, one can also earn a significant income in the form of rentals by investing in a property. And that’s why, even after owning a house property, many people prefer buying their second or third home for earning income in the form of rental (and of course, capital appreciation over time).

Nonetheless, the ticket size of investing in real estate varies from a few lakhs to over crores which might not be affordable for the major earning population of India. Here, in order to earn a regular income, investing in REITs seems more bearable because of the lower ticket size and diversification benefits.

Overall, if you are looking to invest in the Real Estate sector of India but do not have a huge corpus, REIT seems to be a more appropriate investment option for you.

Also read:

Closing Thoughts

REITs in India provide diversified and secured investment opportunities in the real estate sector. They are managed by professionals having years of experience and expertise who ensure to provide maximum returns to the investors at reduced risks.

By now, although investing in real estate seems profitable, but it is not free from limitations.

Firstly, no doubt, it is a profitable investment alternative for creating huge wealth but, it is only affordable for the upper-middle-class families and the affluent people. Second, both capital appreciation and rental income from properties depend on a lot of factors like infrastructure, location, industrial development, which may not always be in favor of investors.

Third, the Real estate in India has been affected by liquidity crunch in the past owing to low demand and unsold inventory. And lastly, although the Indian real estate sector is functioning under the regulations of SEBI, becoming an organized industry is still a distant future.

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5 Incredibly Inspiring Tips From The Top Women in Finance

It is no secret that the finance sector is a fast-paced, competitive environment where it’s survival of the fittest. When you factor in gender dominance into the equation, there are often more hurdles that women need to overcome to find long-term success in the industry.

According to the World Economic Forum Gender Gap report in 2017, ‘female talent remains one of the most underutilized business resources’ and this is especially true in the finance sector where although 46 percent of the industry are women, they only represent 15 percent of executive level positions.

While this statistic is shocking, it’s true. There are many women in Finance who believe that the right personality traits, qualities and skills, regardless of gender, can get you to the top of your career. Here are a few career tips from the top successful women in Finance:

Network, Network, Network

As they say, ‘it’s about who you know, not what you know.’ Getting to the top of your game in the financial industry involves having a broad network of connections. According to Sally Krawcheck, CEO and Co-Founder of Ellevest, it is the number one rule for success in business- for both men and women.

Building a strong network requires time and patience and a lot of hard work on your part. Your professional network can include people from all walks of life, who share the same passions as you and can help you achieve all your career goals. But networking is a two-way street so while you reach out to others for help, you should develop a mutually beneficial relationship and aim to be their ‘go-to’ person at a time of need. You’ll find that your kindness will be repaid in multifold.

Find your passion and work towards it

Do what you love and you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life. Before you take up a job, be it in finance or any other industry, you need to make sure you are passionate about what you are doing. This is exactly what Edie Hunt, the Chief Diversity Officer at Goldman Sachs, did. She always looked for opportunities that highlighted her passions and aligned with her personal and professional goals. Hunt believes that if you are passionate about your job, there’s a high chance that you will be good at it.

However, Wei Sun Christianson of Morgan Stanley says you should not fill your goals with only passions as you may hit a rough patch during your career and can get disheartened. When chasing your dreams it is important to be driven and develop a versatile skill set to get that job!

Never stop learning

The opportunity to learn new things every day is a driving factor for many in their career. Elle Kaplan, the CEO of LexION capital says that her ‘deep-seated intellectual curiosity’ is a motivating factor to learn new things every day. For her, the financial markets are always changing and they are constantly impacted by a variety of elements from politics, to current events and even climate change. Keeping up with the constant changes in the markets gives her the opportunity to soak up a wealth of knowledge every day.

The gender gap presents an opportunity

It comes as no surprise that the finance sector is a ‘boys club’ and women often find it a challenge break into the industry. Francesca Frederico of Twelve Point Wealth Management says that with the right outlook on life, you can turn a challenge into an opportunity. Instead of trying to fit into a male dominated environment, use your expertise and skills to do things your way. Women need to think outside the box, be more willing to take risks and follow their dreams. Not only is it an enlightening feeling to be yourself, but you will see that not doing things a certain way is not always the right way.

Take the risk

The greater the risk, the greater the reward. In order to find success in the finance world, women need to trust their gut and take the risks to get the most out of their career. Although you may face many trials and tribulations to the top, you need to follow your instincts and take the leap of faith to reap big rewards. At the end of the day, your journey of risk-taking should lead you to a job that you are passionate about.

Also read: 5 Psychology Traps that Investors Need to Avoid

Bonus: It’s not always about the money, focus on making a change

This does not just apply to jobs in the financial industry but to any job you have in your life. While paying your bills is important, you need to use your knowledge to make a difference in the lives of the people around you. Many financial leaders use their skills to educate people on wealth management and investing. This is a system that is a necessity for many people in world as nearly a majority of the population has a hard time saving money.

Although there is a gender gap, there are still many women blazing a trail in the finance industry, they took the risks and fought for what they believed in, ultimately making their mark. The future is bright for women in finance and it is up to us to find our passions and work diligently towards them. So this Women’s Day encourage the women around you and climb higher mountains and celebrate each other’s successes.

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” —Harriet Tubman

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Is Investing in Gold a good idea in India?

A large proportion of the Indian population considers Gold as one of the best options to invest in India. Here, gold is not only treated as a satisfactory long term wealth creator but also auspicious and a symbol of social status. As per the World Gold Council, India ranks second in the globe in Gold consumption, after China. Up to 20-25% of the world’s Gold is consumed in India in the form of jewellery, bars, coins etc.

Ironically, a few years back, the fixed deposit was considered more promising investment options for the middle-class Indians. However, nowadays, the interest earned on FDs has gone substantially down, because of which FDs don’t seem to be as genuine potential wealth generating option like earlier. These days, people are again revealing a lot more inclination towards Gold investment.

Anyways, Gold is a long term investment option and not suitable for earning short term gains. Moreover, the prices of Gold fluctuate in a cyclical manner. Therefore, one cannot expect Gold to perform well all the time.

Why should you invest in Gold?

Indians have been investing in gold for thousands of years and it has so far proved to be a solid investment option. Here are a few best reasons why you should invest in gold:

— Gold acts as a hedge against inflation: History states that Gold has performed relatively better compared to equities or other investment options in the scenarios of high inflation. Stock prices do not have any functional relationship with inflation. However, as Gold belongs to the commodity market when the economy witnesses rising inflation, the Gold price goes up.

bloomberg report gold inflation

(Image credits: Goldsilver.com)

— Investing in gold won’t cost you a fortune: Unlike investing in real estate (which requires a bigger investment amount) or equities (which require paperwork to open your trading account), investing in gold is easier for most of the average Indians and does not require a big amount to get started.

— Investment in gold offers high liquidity: If you own a Gold coin or jewellery, you can easily liquidate it as you can sell your physical gold at a local jewellery shop anytime. Although stocks and mutual funds can also be converted into cash fast. However, such instruments do take a few days time to process the redemption and the selling amount to get credited in your bank. As compared to these securities, Gold offer higher liquidity.

— Gold investment can help you to balance the risk in your portfolio: In order to reduce the portfolio risk, it is important to diversify your investments. Gold, having a negative correlation with Equities, can help you in diversifying your portfolio in a convenient way. Whenever your equity portfolio is going through a bear phase, a notional loss on the same can be absorbed by your gold investments.

Also read: How Does The Stock Market Affect The Economy?

How to invest in gold?

First of all, Gold investments do not only mean investing in physical Gold like gold coin or jewellery. There are various other ways available for investing in Gold in India.

Although investing in Gold via jewellery is decent in terms of generating long term wealth. However, keep in mind that when you purchase Gold jewellery, you have to pay the making charges too. Despite, when you sell that jewellery, you will only get the price for the Gold (and not the making charges that you paid earlier). Instead of investing in Gold jewellery, opting for Gold coins or bars seems a better choice. The latter is more profitable because here you do not need to pay the making charges.

Anyways, you can also invest in gold via Gold Mutual Funds. These funds invest in those companies which carry out extraction and mining of Gold or marketing of the same. The Gold Fund schemes are managed by skilled and experienced Fund Managers and are highly liquid. Therefore, investing in these Funds is a convenient option if you are looking to invest in gold. Nonetheless, the cons associated with the gold fund is that you might have to pay an exit load on your investments. Apart from that, you also have to pay an expense ratio which is deducted from your NAV every year for management and operational expenses.

Further, Gold ETF is another option while investing in gold. It works in a similar manner like Gold Mutual Funds but the same is traded on a stock exchange. However, you need to have your own Trading and Demat Account with a broker to invest in a Gold ETF. In addition, Gold ETF does not allow you to invest via SIP mode, unlike Gold Mutual Funds.

Lastly, if you want to invest in gold via the direct stock market, you can opt for investing in Gold mining companies. Investing in Gold mining stocks means investing in companies engaged in the mining and marketing of Gold. The performance of these stocks is not only related to the fundamental factors of the companies but is also dependent on the Gold rates.

Cons of investing in Gold

No investment option is perfect and gold investing also have some limitations. Here are a few key pointers which you should keep in mind while you invest in Gold:

— Gold does not generate sufficient returns like stocks or bonds: Gold is not a passive investment option. Investing in gold does not offer dividends or interests. Therefore, the only way to make a profit from Gold investment is by selling off.

–  Your Gold investment may demand safety against theft or robbery: Gold is a valuable asset. If you are planning to keep physical Gold, storing the same might be a matter of concern. Alternatively, you may store your physical gold in a bank ‘locker’ but this may cost you periodical maintenance charges.

gold safety thief

— Investing in Gold is not tax-free: When you purchase physical Gold, you will be charged GST on the same. Moreover, Gold is treated as a capital asset. Therefore, whenever you sell Gold for profit, a tax on short term capital gain or long term capital gain is applicable. You can read this blog to know more about taxation of Gold in India.

— Gold investing is cyclical: As we discussed earlier, the prices of Equities and Gold usually move in the opposite direction. When the stock market witnesses a bearish (downward) trend, the Gold price goes up and investors find Gold an attractive investment option during these times. However, when the cycle changes and the stock market goes in a bull run, the gold price starts going downwards and gold investing may be ignored by the investors.

Conclusion

In this post, we covered the basics of investing in Gold. If you are seeking a regular source of income through your investments, Gold may never serve this purpose. However, if you want to hedge your existing investments in Equities and Bonds, you should consider investing in Gold. Further, if you are planning to invest in Gold for the very first time, it is recommended to start investing via Gold Mutual Funds or Gold ETF.

Apart from acting as a hedge against inflation, Gold comes in handy during the situation of financial crisis. Nevertheless, you should not treat Gold as your only choice, but consider it as one of the investment options in your portfolio. Ideally, you should allocate up to a maximum of 10% of your portfolio in Gold.

Whether you invest in Gold or not is solely your choice. However, what matters more is the clarity in your mind regarding why you are investing in the same.

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Emergency fund: Why and How to build one?

Growing up, we’re often told to save for a rainy day. As kids, many of us didn’t heed this advice, choosing instead, to spend our money on the next best toy or video game. However, it is only when we grow older that we realize the importance of the values our parents instilled in us.

Learning how to save money from a young age is known to have numerous benefits. For one, it teaches you the value of money and motivates you to work towards your goal of buying a new book or a video game you really want. While kids put their money into a piggy bank for a rainy day, adults use the same principle to save their money in a bank account known as an Emergency Fund.

What is an Emergency Fund?

As the name suggests, an emergency fund is money that you put aside for emergencies. It is the money that you can reach out to during your hour of need and pay for those unforeseen and unexpected expenses such loss of a primary job (the main source of income), medical emergency, personal emergencies or even a car breakdown. You need to have a solid financial plan for the future and an emergency fund is an essential tool in helping you do just that.

Many people often find it hard to grasp the concept of saving for an unexpected circumstance as it is much easier to live in the movement and spend money on the things you love- money buys happiness, right? But an emergency fund can help you in darkest hour and statistics provide the proof. According to a report by the Federal Reserve on Economic Wellbeing in the U.S. Households in 2015 showed that when faced with an emergency of $400, 47% of Americans had a hard time coming up with the money without using their credit card or borrowing from family and friends. This shocking statistic is reason enough to start working on that emergency fund immediately.

The financial experts recommend that before you start making investments for your long-term goals, first you should build an emergency fund which should be greater than at least three times your monthly expenses. In other words, even if you lose your primary source of income, you should be able to survive at least three months through your emergency fund. For example, if your monthly expense is equal to $2,500, then you should have at least $7,500 in your emergency fund. It would be even better if you can build an emergency fund to cover six months of your expenses as it will reduce the need to draw from high-interest debt options, such as credit cards.

Moreover, this fund should be highly liquid i.e. readily accessible in case of emergency situation. A few good options to build your emergency fund is via savings account or money market funds. Additionally, avoid investing your emergency fund in instruments with lock-in periods or those which are subjected to penalties in case of early withdrawal.

How to build an emergency fund?

By now you understand why an emergency fund is so important and want to create one for yourself. Building an emergency fund is incredibly easy and only requires some discipline and resilience on your part.

So how do we do this? Like with all other things in life we need to start small. Here are a few ways to help you get started:

1. Big things have small beginnings

Saving is key to having a financially secure future and have an emergency fund is an important part of this. Saving a large amount of money for an expense that may or may not happen in the future is a hard thing to do. So take baby steps with your fund and start with saving small amounts of money. This could even be as low as $30-$50 dollars a month as long as you are actively putting away money for the future. Although you start out small, you need to have a goal as to how much money you would ultimately want to have in your emergency fund. Setting a fixed goal makes it easier to work towards it.

2. You don’t need all that coffee

Many people live paycheck to paycheck and often find it hard to put away money for the future. If you find yourself in such a situation, you need to look at your existing expenses and try to cut back on what is unnecessary. You can start by accounting for your expenses every day and putting them into different buckets. This can help you identify areas that you spend too much money on like all that expensive coffee or those frequent restaurant meals. If you are really trying to build that rainy day fun, try cooking all your meals at home for at least 5 days a week.

3. Automate it!

To successfully build an emergency fund you need to control your expenses and put away a certain amount of your paycheck every month. While this is easier said than done, one way to make the process simpler is by having an automatic transfer of a fixed amount from your bank account every month. This serves two purposes, one, the amount in your bank account will be lower meaning that your expenses will be in control and two, you won’t even have to think twice about putting away money since the process is now automated!

4. Get creative with saving

As you begin to get more serious about building your emergency fund, you can find new and creative ways to save money. When you begin to assess your income and spending, you may find some unnecessary leaks in your income. This could be canceling subscriptions that you no longer use for magazines or apps. These payments are automatically charged to your debit or credit card and can add up quickly. Additionally, with over the top (OTT) platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime, the trend has shifted to online entertainment, making cable TV obsolete. So take a good look at your cable channel list and try to cut channels that you no longer watch or need. While these costs may not seem as much, they can amount to a lot of savings over time.

Alternatively, look for ways to increase your income stream. You can get a freelance job or have a side hustle like babysitting or dog-walking.

Also read:

5. Celebrate your accomplishments

While the goal of an emergency fund is to save money for a rainy day, it is also important to reward yourself once in a while. This doesn’t have to be a big splurge, it could even be a meal at your favorite restaurant or a new book. Rewarding yourself will motivate you to keep going and achieve all your saving goals!

An emergency fund can help you when you have a financial setback and is an essential tool for financial success. In addition to saving money, you will have the added advantage of earning a high-interest rate on the money. Once you’ve built up a system of saving money every month, you are well on your way to building that emergency fund but most importantly make sure to use your money wisely!

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How Much Should You Save  - 50/20/30 Rule!

How much should you save — This is one of the biggest questions that comes to everyone’s mind when we talk about budgeting. The importance of smart budgeting cannot be overstated as excessive spending and irregular saving habits can lead to disasters in the future.

If you want to enjoy a healthy financial life, it’s really important to have a balance between your savings and your expenses. And budgeting for individuals helps to align the spendings with savings and figuring out how much to spend on what.

If you are also struggling with personal finance, then this post may be a holy grail for you. In this post, we are going to discuss one of the easiest budgeting strategies to figure out how much should you save. And it is called the 50/20/30 Strategy.

50/20/30 Strategy

This strategy can be extremely helpful for youngsters who are just entering the world of personal finance and don’t know how to manage their spendings. Originally developed by Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi, this strategy is beautifully described in their book — All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan.

50/20/30 is a really simple and straightforward budgeting strategy that can help you to define how much should you spend on your essential spendings (needs), savings and finally on your preferences (wants and choices). According to 50/20/30 strategy, you should allocate:

  • 50% of your monthly income on ‘Needs’ (like rent, food etc)
  • 20% of your monthly income on ‘Savings’ (like your retirement fund, investments etc)
  • And the remaining 30% of your monthly income on your ‘Wants’ (like traveling, dining out etc)

how much should you save 50/20/30 budgeting

(Image Credits: Business Today)

Now, let us understand all these three spending allocations in details.

50% of your income on Needs

As soon as you get your in-hand salary (i.e. your monthly income after deducting taxes), set aside around 50% of this income to pay for the things that are essential in your day-to-day life. The expenses in this category can be spendings on rent, food, transportation, utilities, health care, basic groceries, insurances etc.

Although allocating half of your monthly income in ‘needs’ may seem massive. However, when you look at the items in this list, it makes sense to allocate around 50% of your income on your needs.

Anyways, in case you are not able to manage your needs within 50% of your monthly income, you may have to optimize your lifestyle. For example, instead of living in a fancy house in a fancy locality which is too far from your workspace and adds transportation costs, you may wanna move in an affordable house with walkable distance to your office.

20% of your income on Savings

Once all your essentials are paid, next you need to allocate the 20% of your monthly income on savings. This category includes repayment of debt like a student loan, credit card debt etc along with investing the remaining for your future goals and retirement.

It’s really important that you allocate 20% of your income in this category before moving on to the next one i.e. spending on your ‘Wants’.

30% of your income on Wants/Personal choices

This is the last category in your personal budgeting. Once you are done with your essentials and savings, the final spendings should be on the things that you want. The expenses in this category include spendings on shopping, traveling, entertainment, dining out etc.

This list may also cover a few vague expenses like Netflix subscription, membership to clubs, weekend trips etc depending on your lifestyle. However, make sure that your spendings do not cross the allocated budget of 30% of your monthly income.

Example:

Let’s say that you make Rs 1.5 lakhs per month (in-hand income after paying taxes). As soon as you get your salary, you need to allocate

  • Rs 75k in meeting your day-to-day essentials like rent, food etc.
  • Rs 30k in paying your debts and savings.
  • And the remaining Rs 45k on your personal choice like dining out, traveling, memberships etc.

Using this simple budgeting strategy, you won’t run out of money to meet your daily needs, continuously contribute towards your future and retirement savings, and can also spend guilt-freely on your personal choices.

Also read: 3 Amazing Books to Read for a Successful Investing Mindset.

A few other popular saving strategies:

Apart from the 50/20/30 strategy, here are two other popular strategies that can also help you to figure out how much should you save.

  • 10% rule: This rule says that you should save at least 10% of your monthly earnings, no matter what the circumstances. This strategy is brilliantly explained in the book — The Richest Man in Babylon and works well for the people who are struggling to save money. The basic ideology behind this strategy is to ‘Pay yourself first’ and keep 10% of your savings only to yourself.
  • 100 minus your age rule: This rule tells that you should save at least the percentage of your earnings which is equal to 100 minus your age. For example, if you are 28 years old right now, then you should save (and invest) at least 100–28 = 72% of your monthly income. This rule is based on the principle that the expenses increase as you grow older (like kids, dependents etc) and hence you should save and invest more when you are young.

Also read:

Closing Thoughts:

Although 50/20/30 budgeting strategy may seem a little difficult in the beginning, however, with discipline and persistence — it is followable. Moreover, this budgeting strategy doesn’t depend on how much you earn. Even people with moderate to low salary range can follow this strategy if they are ready to optimize their lifestyle a little.

Anyways, the last thing that I would like to add is that do not take the rule too-damn seriously. I mean, do not freak out if your essential spending crosses over 50% in a month. Sometimes, you may need to review your income and expenses and make adjustments in the budgeting strategy.

For example, if you believe that your needs are less — let’s say you already own a house and hence you don’t need to pay any rent, but your personal desires are more, then you can follow the 40/20/40 strategy {40% spending on needs, 20% spending on savings and 40% spending on wants/personal choices}.

On the other hand, if your essential expenditures are high — let’s say you pay a heavy monthly rent, but your personal wants are low, then you may prefer 60/20/20 strategy {60% spending on needs, 20% spending on savings and 20% spending on wants/personal choices}. Nonetheless, whatever strategy you prefer, try to allocate at least 20% of your monthly income in savings. Remember- ‘A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned’.

Why buying a house can be good investment cover

Why buying a house can be good investment?

As millennials we are often given a lot of investment advice- save early, take advantage of mutual funds and employer savings accounts and get rid of high-interest credit cards. But research has shown that one of the best ways to build up that retirement nest-egg is by investing in a house. According to leading financial advisors, purchasing a home is a great investment because the property is ideally protected from inflation and it is a physical asset that theoretically does not crash or disappear as stocks do.

 Why should you invest in a home?

“Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.” – Mark Twain

Any investment you make comes with its own set of risks so it is important to do thorough research into the advantages and drawbacks before you dive into a single investment. In many countries, especially India, buying your dream home is seen as an important investment as it is the place you create your happiest memories with family and friends.

In other countries such as the US, there has been a dip in home purchasing in recent years due to the volatility of markets and an increase in the cost of living but it is worth noting that the millennial generation represents the largest percentage of first-time homebuyers.

Purchasing a home is a life goal for many and the number of people investing in real estate is slowly picking up as more people recognize its many benefits. Here a few reasons why buying a home is a great investment:

Buying a home is a safer investment

When compared to all other forms of investments such as stock and gold, buying a home is a safe and stable investment. Unlike the stock market, the housing market does not face high volatility. But although it is a safe investment, you still need to be diligent and weigh the pros and cons before you invest in a home.

You can become smarter about your expenses

When you decide to rent a home, all your rent payments go straight into the landlord’s pocket while eating into a large proportion of your income. But mortgage payments or loan payments towards your home are an investment for the future. The monthly payments you make will reduce the amount you owe on the house while your home equity increases. It is a much better solution to make payments towards a home in place of short-term rent expenses that will not provide any value in the future.

It is a great way to save your money

Buying a home these days has become an accessible goal for many young people as salaries have increased and the ability to procure a loan is much simpler. In order to ensure that you are not spending your hard-earned money on unnecessary things, a great option is to invest in a home. Not only does investing in a home lock up all your savings in one asset but it also generates a lot of revenue if you have invested in property in the right location. In India, the Central Government has a PMAY scheme which provides first-time homebuyers with a subsidy of 2.67 lakhs.

The emotional aspect of homebuying

Homeowners are more motivated to form relationships with the people in their community than those who rent. The people in the area you live in can create a dependable support system. Although this may not be a tangible benefit, buying a home brings a sense of pride and accomplishment for homebuyers. Many people view homebuying as accomplishing a milestone in their lives. Moreover, this home can be passed on from generation to generation as a family inheritance.

Buying a home can help augment your retirement income

Due to the high costs of healthcare, funding your retirement is not as simple as it once was. If you choose to buy a home earlier in your life, there is a good chance that your home will be paid off by retirement age. The equity of your home can help supplement your retirement income. It provides a safety net against the rising costs and will give you the added benefit of not having to pay rent every month.

While many people think that investing in stocks is a better way to save for retirement, it is important to remember that any return on stock comes with an added risk. There is a further risk that your stock may lose its value when you reach the retirement age, or worse, it could be wiped out completely. Investing in a home is a safer alternative for funding your retirement as the value of the investment is more stable.

It provides a safety-net

There can be many unexpected twists and turns in your life both professionally and personally. An investment in a home provides a safety net in those instances as you have something to fall back on. In a situation where you lose a source on income or there has been a surge in rent prices or an emergency that requires a lot of money, your property, which is essentially your savings locked up in a single place, can serve as a source of income.

The stability of home-ownership

Owning a home provides a sense of belonging and kinship. Moving houses frequently is often tedious and emotionally taxing, especially for children. As you become older, moving houses becomes more difficult as you begin to form a close relationship with the people in the area you live in. Owning a home is therefore important as it provides a sense of community and helps avoid the emotional discomfort of moving.

Also read: Planning to Invest in Commercial Real Estate? Read This First!

Conclusion

There a many benefits to owning a home and it is one of the best investments millennials can make. However, it is important to study the housing market in the area you decide to invest in and weigh the pros and cons before you make a decision. It is recommended to talk to real estate brokers who can give you more details on the real-estate marker along with a loan officer who can provide information from a financial perspective. Do your homework and play it safe before buying a home.

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Planning to Invest in Commercial Real Estate? Read This First!

It goes without saying that investing in commercial real estate is a huge decision. Therefore, it is important that you are well informed before you make any money moves.

Investing in commercial real estate gives you the chance to dip into a new customer base and develop your business interests. It is quite different from investing in traditional real estate and requires some additional considerations. Patience is a virtue when it comes to commercial real estate as the cycle is longer and the investor needs to be well aware of trends in the market and economy.

Here are some key points to keep in mind when investing in commercial real estate:

Location Location Location

It’s all about the location when it comes to investing in commercial real estate. In every city, there are those areas that are in high demand (macro markets) and other micro-markets that are not so favorable.

When it comes to buying commercial property, there are many factors that come into play such as accessibility to roads and public transport, distance to neighboring cities and infrastructure projects currently in development in the area.

But as an investor, you need to be vigilant about emerging markets that are created as a result of the infrastructure developments. These are great areas to invest in because not only will they be in high demand but it also guarantees capital appreciation in the long term.

The property’s marketability

In addition to a great location, it is important for the property to create a steady cash-flow for the investor. The property needs to remain marketable and be able to withstand a large number of tenants and future growth. This means that you need to invest in property that is modern with trendy architecture.

Properties that encourage ‘green living’ and are eco-friendly will add to the attractiveness of the property. Other factors to consider are environment-friendly utilities, maintenance of the common spaces and good building management.

The amenities

The amenities available can add value to the property and these benefits tend to override the cost. Amenities can include many different things that can increase efficiency for the tenants on the property such as extra parking spaces or a food court if the commercial property is used for a campus or office space. These amenities can enhance the space while increasing the marketability of the property.

real estate amenties

While assessing the property, it is important for the investor to ask about who usually does the interior fit outs for the property. Traditionally, the tenant receives a bare space and installs the fit outs such as air-conditioning, lighting and sensors but some tenants may ask the building developers to install such fittings and pay an additional fit out rent.

Tenants who install their own equipment are likely to rent out the space for a longer period of time to cover their expenses.

The property’s risk

The assessment of risk bears a different meaning when it comes to commercial real estate as each property is different. While residential properties that are right next to each other face more or less the same risks, commercial property risks can fluctuate independently. Hence, it is important for investors to understand the potential risks of their investment.

These risks can include a variety of things such as zoning changes that can cause a commercial property to become residential as new suburbs develop in the area. Additionally, having similar commercial properties can create an oversupply in the market, that could drastically reduce demand. Infrastructure projects in other commercial areas can drive potential tenants away from your property.

The market dynamics

Investing is always a numbers game so it only makes sense that you keep up with them before investing in commercial property. It would be helpful to understand trends in the market along with customer’s changing wants and demands. You also need to study the historical market performance over the last three to five years to identify any anomalies or potential for reduced demand in the future.

Along with this, you should plan for the future and map out details about the tenant profile, the rent roll out, the lease contract (expiry date) along with any other information that will provide more clarity on the financials of the property. It would also help to talk to a real estate agent to discuss the details before making any big decisions.

The lease structure

Commercial leases are structured very differently from residential leases. They are either a 3+3+3 or a 5+5+5. This means they could either be a 9 year or a 15 year lease with increments in the rent every 3 or 5 years respectively.

The tenant has the freedom to vacate the property without notice, while the owner of the property cannot ask them to leave until the lease period is complete. They can, however, have a lock-in period in the contract of 3 years, during which the tenant cannot vacate the property. It is important for the investor to understand the lease structure of the property as they are often inherent risks involved. A lease with a long lock-in period is great for the investor.

Documentation

As an investor, it is important to perform due diligence and carefully analyse all title documents, permits and taxes associated with the commercial estate along with the presence of any mortgages. It is recommended to have all documents examined by a legal authority.

If you plant to rent out the space, it is important that the lessee understands their duties and obligations as per the contract. This will reduce the chance for any future errors. In addition to the legal documents of the property, the local area may have local laws that property owners need to abide by. You should have a thorough understanding of all the rules and regulations related to the property and the area it is located in.

Also read:

Closing Thoughts

Investing in commercial real estate can certainly add immense value to your portfolio but it is a decision that needs to be taken after a lot of thought and consideration. You need to conduct a thorough market analysis of the property while taking into consideration the factors listed above.

While the process of investing in commercial real estate is very time-consuming, it is unquestionably beneficial to an investor in the long-run.

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An Essential Guide to Financial Planning for Non-Salaried

If you are a non-salaried person, you may understand the phenomenon of uncertain earnings. Unlike ‘salaried’ people who earn a regular income from their jobs, ‘non-salaried’ people are those whose expected annual earning is a little difficult to guess.

In general, the non-salaried people are those who earn their living by doing some business, engaging in a part-time profession or carrying out freelancing. They do not receive a monthly paycheck from their company or bosses. Moreover, this irregularity in the income of the non-salaried people is dependent on several factors like demand, workflow, competition, technical innovation, regulations, and technical know-how.

Anyways, when we talk about financial planning, for most salaried people, the health insurances and retirement funds are somewhat taken care of by their employers. However, for the non-salaried people, they need to plan all these by themselves. And that’s why financial planning for the non-salaried person is a must.

In this post, we are going to discuss how non-salaried people can plan their personal finance effectively. Let’s get started.

Financial Planning For Non-Salaried People

Last Sunday, I met my friend Aditi for a coffee. We met after a long gap of three years. She told me that she has been working on a food blog for the last two years and making decent money from it.

After talking on a few causal stuff for some time, we started discussing her finances. She told me that although she was making good money as a freelancer, however, she is struggling a little as her income as they are very irregular in nature.

If we look into her finances, in general, whatever she saves, she deposits the same in her Savings Bank Account. She has also bought a Life Insurance policy and pays her premiums quarterly. Nonetheless, she was feeling a little clueless regarding how to come up with effective financial planning that can help her meet her future financial aspirations.

As a personal finance enthusiast, I tried to help her in my own way. So, we discussed in details regarding the four pillars of the financial Planning- Emergency Fund, Insurance, Retirement Fund, and Passive Income.

Emergency Fund

Firstly, I advised Aditi to build an adequate Emergency Fund. This fund should be big enough to protect her for at least six months in case her income declines or comes to a halt in the nearer term. By Emergency Fund, what I actually meant to say was that Aditi should have sufficient money in her Bank Savings account to run her expenses for a minimum of half a year.

Therefore, Emergency Fund = 6 times Aditi’s expected monthly expenses.

Anyways, these days Bank Savings Accounts do not offer a high interest on the deposits. In fact, the saving interests are not even good enough to beat the current consumer inflation rate in our nation. Therefore, I suggested Aditi to park her savings in a liquid Mutual Fund, which will not only help her in forming a good Emergency Fund but also boost her savings appreciate at around 7 to 8 % per annum.

Insurance

Next, we discussed Insurances. Aditi already mentioned earlier that she has a life insurance policy. However, when we started discussing it in detail, I came to know that her insurance was in the nature of “Term Plan”.

According to me, although Aditi does not have an extremely high standard of living, still her Life Insurance plan should cover a minimum of 15 months’ expected annual income. So, I told her to review her policy once and in case she feels she is under-covered, she should give a thought to take another Life plan.

Another important point that I came to know was that Aditi didn’t have any Medical Insurance coverage at all. For a self-employed person, Mediclaim is an essence. I told her that it should cover a minimum of  5 months’ expected monthly income. Here, please note that many people prefer to go with Life Insurance policies in the nature of the endowment plan. For the risk-averse investors, as endowment plans provide decent insurance plus investment option.

Also read: 6 Reasons Why You Should Get Health Insurance

Retirement Fund

After discussing insurances, I asked Aditi how long she is willing to work as a freelancer. In other words, when does she plan to retire? To this question, Aditi answered that she would like to work at least 25 to 30 more years from now.

When talking about the retirement savings,  I must tell you that it does take an immeasurable amount of time to build an adequate fund. By the immeasurable amount of time, what I mean to say is that you might need to wait for around two to three decades to build a substantial Retirement Fund which could help you maintain a similar (or even better) standard of living after you finally stop earning from an active source.

If you ask me what should be the desired retirement corpus, my answer would be that you need to build a corpus which should be at least twenty-five times the expected annual expenses. Nonetheless, the big question here is how can you build such a huge corpus from around 25-30 years from now.

Don’t worry, the answer is not very complicated. Here, I will suggest you to consider investing in Equities or Equity Mutual Funds. Yes, of course, Equity investing is a little risky in the short term. However, if you opt for value investing, it can aid you in creating a huge corpus in the long run.

retirement fund-min

Passive income

As a non-salaried person, Passive Income can help you to support your basics expenses as your earnings may be filled with ups and downs.

In meaning, passive Income is that income which does not require your active time. Once your passive income mechanism is set up, you don’t need to do anything to earn that income. Moreover, Passive Income can be stable and act as your secondary source of income. A few examples of Passive Income can be your rental income, dividends, and Interests from Equities and Bonds etc.

Apart from your emergency and retirement fund, you need to build a few consistent passive income sources and to add them as other income in your financial planning.

Also read: 11 Best Passive Ways to Make Money While You Sleep.

Closing Thoughts

There is no doubt in highlighting the fact that non-salaried people are subjected to more financial risks compared to the salaried people. For all the self-employed people out there, like Aditi, effective financial planning can help you manage and mitigate the financial risk of your irregular income.

And therefore, as a non-salaried person, you should take your financial planning seriously and start working on your Emergency Fund, Passive Income, Insurance, and Retirement Fund.

That’s all for this post. Today, we tried to cover how a freelancer, business owner or an independent professional, can manage their personal finance effectively. We wish you all the best for your financial investment journey ahead. And Happy Investing!

Petrol, Diesel price history in India

A brief study of Petrol & Diesel price history in India

Crude Oil. You definitely have heard of this word, right? Crude oil is a naturally occurring unrefined petroleum product. It consists of organic materials and hydrocarbons. When the crude oil is refined, first it is heated until it starts boiling. Then, the boiling liquid is separated into various liquids and gases. These liquids are further utilized in making petrol, diesel, paraffin, and other petroleum products.

The products and by-products of crude oil are used in direct or indirect consumption by the end users. They are also used in manufacturing several commodities by a wide range of industries. Crude oil is also traded in the commodity market like gold, silver, etc. This results in the global price of crude oil to fluctuate. In India, only one-fifth of the crude oil requirements are met from domestic production. Therefore, we are heavily dependent on the US, African, and Middle East countries to support our nation’s demand for petrol and diesel.

How the prices of diesel and petrol are determined?

The Oil Marketing Companies or OMCs take crude oil to the refinery houses to generate petrol, diesel, kerosene and other products. After that, they dispose those products to the dealers of the same. In India, 90% of the share of oil marketing is owned by Indian oil corporation Ltd (IOCL), Bharat petroleum corporation ltd (BPCL) and Hindustan petroleum corporation ltd (HPCL).

Here is the exact process of how the price determination of diesel and petrol takes place in India.

First, an OMC imports crude oil from an oil producing nation like UAE. The cost and freight are the initial costs incurred on the same. Import charges (plus insurance charges, losses due to transportation and port fees) are further added to the same. Next, the Government of India adds Customs Duty on such crude oil, after which they are carried to the refinery houses.

The refineries charge Refinery Transfer Charge for their work. After that, such refined oil is sold to the dealers by the OMC at Depot Price after incurring inland freight on the same. So the total desired price is the result of all the Cost & Freight charges, Import charges, Refinery Transfer Price, Inland Freight, OMC’s Marketing costs, and Profit margin.

In addition, the Central Government of India adds Excise Duty on the Depot Price and the State Governments add State VAT on the same. Further, the dealers also add their commission which is calculated on the basis of per liter. So, after adding all the costs and taxes, we get the Retail Price that a consumer pays for buying a liter of petrol or diesel.

If you compare the prices of diesel and petrol in the South Asian nations, you would find that the prices in India are always the highest. This is because our Government regulates the prices by imposing taxes. Ironically, when you would see the prices of the crude oil dropping, Indian government increases the Excise Duty and State VAT to not let the retail prices of diesel and petrol fall. On the other hand, when the prices of crude oil rises, here the Government doesn’t reduce the said taxes so that the prices of the fuels in the nation don’t undergo fluctuations.

Besides, there is no doubt in stating that the prices of diesel and petrol would vary from one state to another in India due to differences in commission pattern of OMCs and transportation charges.

Petrol & Diesel price history in India

Now, let us have a look at the price history of diesel and petrol in India over the last few years. Given below is a table which shows the petrol prices per liter in the four metropolitan cities in India. 

Petrol Price history in India:

Date Chennai Mumbai Kolkata Delhi
05-11-2018 81.61 84.06 80.47 78.56
29-10-2018 82.86 85.24 81.63 79.75
29-09-2018 86.7 90.75 85.21 83.4
29-08-2018 81.22 85.6 81.11 78.18
29-07-2018 79.11 83.61 79.05 76.16
29-06-2018 78.4 83.06 78.23 75.55

As you can see from the above table, generally the petrol prices have been on the higher side in Mumbai. However, Delhi witnessed the most reasonable petrol prices in the last few months of 2018. 

Further, here is the historical petrol price movement in the big four metropolitan cities in India.

Date Chennai Mumbai Kolkata Delhi
29-05-2018 81.43 86.24 81.06 78.43
16-05-2017 68.26 76.55 68.21 65.32
17-05-2016 62.47 66.12 66.44 63.02
16-05-2015 69.45 74.12 73.76 66.29
07-06-2014 74.71 80.11 79.36 71.51
23-05-2013 65.9 71.13 70.35 63.09
24-05-2012 77.53 78.57 77.88 73.18
15-05-2011 67.22 68.33 67.71 63.37
01-04-2010 52.13 52.2 51.67 47.93
27-02-2010 51.59 51.68 51.15 47.43
02-07-2009 48.58 48.76 48.25 44.72
29-01-2009 44.24 44.55 44.05 40.62
24-05-2008 49.64 50.54 48.98 45.56
16-05-2007 47.44 48.38 46.86 42.85
10-06-2006 51.83 53.5 51.07 47.51
05-06-2006 51.83 53.5 51.07 47.51
20-06-2005 44.26 45.93 43.79 40.49
16-04-2003 35.48 37.25 34 32.49

When you look at the longer time period shown by the above table, the picture looks similar as well. Anyways, one comparable takeaway is that, in every metropolitan city, the petrol price has consistently gone up at the same rate in the last one and half decades. (Note: You can find the latest prices of petrol in India here).

crude oil price

Diesel Price history in India:

Now, let us talk about the historical prices of diesel per liter in India. Here is a short-term view of diesel prices in the four Indian metropolitan cities:

Date Chennai Mumbai Kolkata Delhi
05-11-2018 77.34 76.67 75.02 73.16
29-10-2018 78.08 77.4 75.7 73.85
29-09-2018 78.91 79.23 76.48 74.63
29-08-2018 73.69 74.05 72.6 69.75
29-07-2018 71.41 71.79 70.37 67.62
29-06-2018 71.12 71.49 69.93 67.38

The table given above shows that in the last few months of 2018, the diesel prices first have gone up and then they showed consolidation at the beginning of November.

Next, here is the long-term diesel price history in India. If you look at the table shared below, it is easily understood that the diesel prices in the said four Indian cities have actually witnessed consistently rising prices in the last fifteen years.

Date Chennai Mumbai Kolkata Delhi
29-05-2018 73.18 73.79 71.86 69.31
16-05-2017 58.07 60.47 57.23 54.9
17-05-2016 53.09 56.81 54.1 51.67
16-05-2015 55.74 59.86 56.85 52.28
07-06-2014 61.12 65.84 61.97 57.28
23-05-2013 52.92 57.17 53.97 49.69
24-05-2012 43.95 45.28 43.74 40.91
15-05-2011 43.8 45.84 43.57 41.12
01-04-2010 38.05 39.88 37.99 38.1
27-02-2010 37.78 39.6 37.73 35.47
02-07-2009 34.98 36.7 35.03 32.87
29-01-2009 32.82 34.45 33.21 30.86
24-05-2008 34.44 36.12 33.96 31.8
16-05-2007 33.3 34.94 32.87 30.25
10-06-2006 35.51 39.96 34.96 32.47
05-06-2006 35.95 39.96 34.96 32.47
20-06-2005 31.51 35.2 30.8 28.45
16-04-2003 23.55 26.7 23.51 21.12

Quick Note: You can find the latest price of diesel in India here.

diesel price

Difference between prices of Petrol & Diesel in India:

Below is a table shared for your reference which shows the price gap in diesel and petrol in the Indian metro cities during the mid of the year 2016.

City Diesel Price /Liter Petrol Price /Liter Price Gap
Chennai Rs 55.82 Rs 62 Rs 6.18 / Litre
Mumbai Rs 59.6 Rs 67.11 Rs 7.51 / Litre
Kolkata Rs 56.48 Rs 66.03 Rs 9.55 / Litre
New Delhi Rs 54.28 Rs 62.51 Rs 8.23 / Litre

Further, here is another table that would give you an idea of the price gap with regard to diesel and petrol during as of November 2018.

Date Diesel Price /Liter Petrol Price /Liter Price Gap
Chennai Rs 74.99 Rs 78.88 Rs 3.89 / Litre
Mumbai Rs 74.34 Rs 81.50 Rs 7.16 / Litre
Kolkata Rs 72.83 Rs 77.93 Rs 5.1 / Litre
New Delhi Rs 70.97 Rs 75.97 Rs 5 / Litre

From the above tables, it can be clearly noticed how substantially the price gap has been narrowed down within the period of around two years.

Consequences of petrol and diesel price hike

As you might have observed from the above tables, the fuel price in India has undergone a significant hike over the last multiple years. So, what does it imply? Does it mean that the overall cost of living in India has gone up too? If you look back in 2018, the rate of consumer inflation in India was around 4.75%

When the price of fuel increases, in general, it narrows down the gap between disposable income and expenditure of the consumers. It means that the consumers will try to reduce the consumption of luxury commodities like automobiles and electronic equipment in order to manage their necessities comfortably.

Hike in fuel price also has a direct adverse effect on the revenues of a few industries like tyres and fertilizers as the retail prices of their outputs shoot upwards. However, if you look at the financials of oil producing companies in India, there is no doubt in saying that they do enjoy a gala time during such period.

Further, you might think that only those companies which produce crude oil based products suffer during the fuel price bull run. But, the fact is that most of the companies in our nation (belonging to diverse industries) suffer as a result of the price hike. Even if you consider the FMCG industry, the cost of its products goes up considerably as a result of the upward movement in the prices of diesel and petrol. This happens because transportation costs go up significantly.

Now, what kind of impact can you expect to see in financial markets during fuel price hike? Well, when the price of diesel and petrol goes high, not only people will try to cut down their unnecessary expenses but they may even reduce financial investing. In order to finance their necessities, people would refrain from putting their money in the financial markets.

Therefore, will the banks have adequate funds to advance the businesses? Not really! Can the corporate organizations listed in NSE and BSE comfortably raise capital through IPO and FPO? Certainly not! Will the Asset Management Companies of Mutual Funds have an adequate corpus to pour into the market? No, my friend, they won’t have!

Also read: Rupee Depreciation: Is it a cause of concern?

Final thoughts

The hike in the global price of crude oil depends primarily on the demand-supply theory that we study in Economics. However, it also depends on other factors like the trade war, geopolitical tensions, and willingness of oil-producing countries to charge a higher price. As we had already seen earlier that hike in crude oil price results in inflation. So, to fight against the same, the Central Government charges more taxes and duties on diverse stuff. For a similar reason, the RBI also instructs the commercial banks to increase their interest rates on loans so as to squeeze money supply in the Indian economy.

Further, the price of petrol and diesel can be controlled if we lay emphasis on a few points. Firstly, price controlling mechanism has to be adopted either partially or fully. The half of Retail Prices of fuels in India consists of taxes and duties. The government (both central and state) does need to look into the matter. It would also be great if the OMCs can try to witness some of the price burdens that the ultimate consumers have to bear in our nation.

Finally, the consumption of petrol and diesel in India in terms of US Dollar is even higher than the GDPs of many small nations across the globe. And that’s why the government and the people need to consider petrol and diesel price hike in India seriously.

75x Returns by Sensex in last 30 Years of Performance.

The 3 Words that may be holding you back from investing in stocks.

Fear of Losing!!

Since childhood, we are taught to save money. “A penny saved is a penny earned.” And the idea of losing money is something which we are not psychologically programmed to opt for.

When you invest in stocks, there is a probability that its value may decrease if you have made the wrong investment choice. Unlike most other investment options like Fixed deposits, Gold, Real estate, bonds etc, the stock market is a place where your invested amount can fluctuate a lot within hours. And these daily fluctuation of prices ignite the fear of losing. And trust me, no one likes losing, especially their hard-earned money.

Moreover, when you invest in stocks, there is no guarantee that it will give you good returns. Even the safest stocks may decline in value because of unforeseen reasons. And that’s why, a majority of the population tries to keep a safe distance from the stock market.

But, there’s one thing that most of these people forget.

You are already losing money!!!

When you are not investing, you are losing the value of your money. How?

The old common answer- “Inflation”

Inflation can be described as a continuous increase in the general level of prices. And when the price increases, obviously the purchasing power of your money will decrease. The money in hand that you have ‘today’ is not of the same worth in ‘future’. Therefore, no matter how much safer you are keeping it in a vault or bank account, you are losing your money.

Currently, the predicted inflation rate in India is +4.89%. Therefore, if you are not making interest on over 4.89% on savings, this means that you are not beating the inflation and in other words, losing money. Frankly speaking, most of the savings account in India do not offer such high-interest rate. And in the worst case, if you are keeping cash, you won’t getting any interest at all.

inflation in india

(Source: Statista)

Historically, stocks have out-performed all other investment options.

Traditionally, people in India used to invest in gold and property. The came savings, fixed deposits, bonds etc. And finally, since the stock exchanges became more active in India, the next investment options were stocks and mutual funds. Anyways, history says that the returns from the stock market has out-performed all the other investment options.

sensex last 30 years

Also read: 75x Returns by Sensex in last 30 Years of Performance.

You can reduce the risk while investing in stocks.

Although you cannot completely get rid of the risk, nonetheless, you can definitely reduce it by following a few simple rules. And when the risk reduces, it will also decrease your fear of losing money. Here are a few methods which can help you reduce the risks while investing in stocks:

Diversify your investment:

It’s true that no one cannot correctly and precisely predict the future returns from any stock. However, you can increase the chances of being correct by making multiple good bets in different companies.

Even if two out of ten doesn’t perform well or fails miserably due to whatever reason, if the other eight stocks are performing decently, you can get decent returns and minimize the harm done on your overall portfolio. Portfolio diversification is the easiest approach that investors can follow to reduce the risks while investing in stocks.

Also read: How to create your Stock Portfolio?

Invest in blue chips

Blue chip companies are large and well-established companies with a history of consistent performance. These companies are financially strong (usually debt-free or very low debts) and are capable to survive in the tough market situations.

Most of the blue-chip companies are the market leaders in their industry. A few common examples of blue chip companies in India are HDFC Bank, ITC, Asian Paints, Maruti Suzuki etc. These companies are comparatively safer to invest vs mid or small cap companies who are associated with high risks.

Also read: 10 Best Blue Chip Companies in India that You Should Know.

Get an investment advisor.

This is the easiest approach that people anyone can follow to minimize the risk without limiting the investment options. If you do not have time to study or research stocks or your own — hire a financial planner for making your investment decisions instead of you.

Now I understand that most people are reluctant to hire investment advisors or financial planners. But think of it in this way — If you can hire a doctor for taking care of your physical health, why cann’t you get the help of an investment advisor to take care of your financial health?

Ovearll, if you find investing by your own boring or do not give sufficient time to research in order to make the right investment decisions, then hire a professional.

Apart, a few other ways to reduce risk in your stock investments are rupee cost averaging, investing in index funds and having a big margin of safety.

Closing Thoughts

It’s a fact that the fear of losing cannot be completely detached when you are investing in stocks. However, the ability to overcome this fear to make wise decisions is necessary skill to learn for the individuals if they want to build good wealth. Therefore, mind these three words and make sure that ‘fear of losing’ is not the actual reason why you are losing money.