Hey Woman! Take Charge Of Your Finances To Be Truly Independent

Some Facts and Stats

  • Lack of sufficient funds and home responsibilities largely come in the way of women’s aspirations to start their own business/venture as per a study conducted by Nielsen for biscuit major Britannia.
  • A whopping 4% of women do not have a medical cover as per a survey conducted by Economic Times. Many separate studies across Indian states and cities have shown that women are wary of investing in the equity market.
  • On the positive side,
    • The number of Indian women investing in mutual fund schemes and stocks is on a rising trend which is a good sign.
    • 27% of the stock market investors are women.

 

Indian women have come a long way in terms of education, independence and self-identity. But the tendency to leave financial decisions in the hands of the men in their lives – son, husband, father is still quite prevalent. Though this has been changing, it is important that more women take charge of their financial life as there are many indicators that women are good investors – Why?

  • Indian women are historically and culturally well-versed with saving. Women save more and therefore can invest more.
  • Women are more risk-averse as compared to men. Therefore they perform in-depth research before investing their money. They stay away from risky products.
  • Women have more self-control. They are less prone to impulsive trading and over trading. Overtrading usually results in reduced performance portfolio.

 

But on the other hand, there are certain weaknesses that are inherent in women investors –

  • They are very conservative investors and this can lead to reduced overall portfolio returns.
  • On an average, women earn less. They also take breaks in their career. This leads to lesser funds available for investment. Since there is a smaller kitty, they prefer to invest in debt products which are secure but give less returns
  • They are busy with too many responsibilities of family and work that they do not find time to manage their finances.
  • Women are not part of discussions related to financial matters in social realm as some feel they do not know anything. Sometimes they are not included as it is assumed they do not know much. These discussions are sometimes closed men’s clubs or informal networks; which are not easy to get into.
  • Women are hesitant to ask for raises in salaries. They underplay their skills and achievements while negotiating for a pay package.
  • Women let emotions rule and end up helping friends and family financially without considering the dent it would do to their financial portfolio. It is of course good to help others in need but not at the cost of putting yourself in financial peril.

 

Women  have to play to their strengths and overcome their weaknesses and gain financial independence. Here are some steps that you can take to get involved in matters of personal finance –

  1. Get involved in the finances of the household by managing a budget. It is the simple task of tracking income expenses and savings. You will get an idea of how much is the monthly expenditure and if you can cut back on some expenses.
  2. Read up on personal finance. There are many personal finance websites and books that can be referred to.
  3. Start investing small amounts in different financial products with the guidance of an experienced investor or financial planner to understand how investments work, the returns and tax implications and tax saving opportunities.
  4. Set up financial goals and work towards achieving them. You will be really proud of yourself when you achieve it and gain confidence in financial matters.

 

Make your financial resolutions this Women’s Day to be truly independent

Key takeaways:

  • Women need to participate actively in financial matters. 
  • Personal financial freedom should be every woman’s goal.

 

This women’s day, Right Horizons offers a FREE financial planning session for women at Dialogues cafe, JP Nagar on March 9th, 3-5pm. To register, write to us at contactus@righthorizons.in or 9845399780.

Review Your Portfolio Before Investment Decisions In A Bear Market

Vinay’s portfolio has taken quite a beating. He had purchased YES Bank at a price of around Rs. 450 per share about 8-9 months back. Today the share is hovering around Rs. 168. Sintex Plastics, which he had purchased in December 2017, has lost about 60% of its value. His portfolios largely comprised of midcap stocks, have lost 40-60% value from their peak. His stock portfolio was doing very well at one point, based on which he significantly increased his investments into stocks. Now, he is unsure as to what to do. Should he buy more of the stocks that he has so that his costs can be averaged?

The stock market has seen quite a few crashes this year. It is highly volatile these days and in a bear phase. The mid and small cap indices lost between 25-35% in a short period. In a bear market, confidence is low and stock prices are not rangebound. They can swing wildly.

In case you are in such a dilemma, here are some action points to bear in mind before making a random or emotional decision –

Review and Adjust Your Portfolio

Its ideal to book profits on your portfolio and hold some cash for deployment on market falls.  You may still want to review the stocks and equity mutual funds in your portfolio so as to remove the duds. You might want to let go of the duds in your portfolio by taking advantage of bear market rallies.

If you have stocks that were bought because of tips, recommendations or just to make quick profits, review them and sell off those that do not seem to have the potential for giving good returns in the long run.  Look to buy good stocks that can gain strongly on a market recovery.

Avoid Panic Selling

Some of us panic and sell off stocks the moment we see that they are losing value. That may not be the best course of action for all stocks. It is not a good idea to exit quality stocks with a good long-term record and good cash flow, , especially at points when they have fallen sharply and their valuations become attractive again.

Don’t Miss Out On Buying Low

Averaging is a smart investment strategy, especially for diversified mutual funds and exchange-traded funds. Systematic Transfer Plans are good to supplement your SIPs when markets have fallen; and you are unable to predict the bottom of markets, but you know it is somewhere around the corner.

Most investors become too fearful on large market falls and miss out the opportunity of buying stocks at their best prices.  Keep in mind that the news flow is likely to very negative at such points.  At the same time, don’t fall into the trap of getting in too early. You can add more of blue chip stocks, high quality funds and ETFs when the prices are down.

Be Practical

If you don’t have the time or find it difficult to track individual stock and the market environment, stick to mutual funds. Seek professional advice if required.  Understand your portfolio, risk tolerance and risk capacity, so that you do not make any hasty decisions that you might regret later on. Work on a disciplined investment style that suits you.

It is difficult to time the market. So investors have to be patient and keep the right investment perspective before making decisions.

In the current market scenario, the prices have fallen quite a bit. It may be time to take some positions slowly. For example, one can invest in blue chip equity funds such as Mirae India Equity and Aditya Birla Sunlife Frontline funds in a phased manner, especially on corrections. One can use a combination of lump sum investment and SIPs to average the costs. When the markets move upward, they can sell off some positions and use that money to invest in debt instruments.

Key Takeaways

    • Understand your risk tolerance; Use an investment style that suits you
    • When markets are volatile, review your portfolio and sell off the bad quality stocks
    • Don’t Panic . Take advantage of market volatility
    • Stay Invested for the long term in fundamentally good stocks, mutual funds and ETFs. Increase allocations on lareger market falls.

Tax Rebate upto Rs 5 lakh: The real story

 

 

Ever since Interim Budget 2019, there is some confusion on whether there is income tax relief given to all citizens or not. Some people are convinced there is an income tax relief for all. Others say they have read or heard news reports about tax rebate relief.

For a common man with limited financial knowledge, all this can be very confusing. So, let us clear that confusion once and for all. The Budget has allowed individuals with taxable income up to Rs 5 lakh to get full tax rebate and so they pay zero tax. Read on to know more.

Tax slabs unchanged

There is no change in the income tax slabs. You must understand what is the difference between taxable income and total/gross income. Gross income includes all of the income a person has received during a financial year. This amount is not explicitly exempt from taxation. On the other hand, taxable income is the amount of income that is actually subject to taxation, after all deductions or exemptions. So, typically taxable income will be lower than gross/total income.

For a person aged below 60 years, up to Rs 2.5 lakh of their taxable income is not taxed.

Income between Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 5 lakh is taxed at 5% of total income exceeding Rs 2.5 lakh. This tax comes to a maximum of Rs 12,500.

Income between Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh is taxed as at 20% of total income exceeding Rs 5 lakh.

Income above Rs 10 lakh is taxed at 30% of total income over Rs 10 lakh.

In the Interim Budget, these tax slabs remain the same. However, the Budget has allowed individuals with taxable income up to Rs 5 lakh to get full tax rebate under section 87A of the Income Tax Act.

Do remember for senior citizens aged 60 years and above but below 80 years, income up to Rs 3 lakh is exempt from tax. Income up to Rs 5 lakh is exempt from tax for super senior citizens (ie. aged 80 years and above).

Tax rebate is not tax cut for all

What does full tax rebate for those with taxable income of Rs 5 lakh mean? Read the example below.

Let us assume you, a person below 60 years, has a taxable income of Rs 5 lakh. As per income tax slabs, you fall in two slabs.

First, your income up to Rs 2.5 lakh is not taxed.

Second, the excess amount above Rs 2.5 lakh is taxed at 5% of the exceeding amount. Since your taxable income is Rs 5 lakh, this means you have Rs 2.5 lakh extra over the zero tax-slab.

At 5% income tax rate, the tax liability comes to Rs 12,500. However, the full tax rebate of up to Rs 12,500 given in the latest budget means you will also pay no tax!

But what if your taxable income is Rs 5.5 lakh or Rs 6 lakh or more? The moment your taxable income crosses Rs 5 lakh, then the rebate is not applicable for you.

If your taxable income is Rs 5.5 lakh, for example, your gross tax liability shoots up to Rs 23,400. For somebody with taxable income of Rs 6 lakh, the tax rises further to Rs 33,800.

In essence, all this means your tax liability rises sharply once you cross Rs 5 lakh taxable income zone. For earning just Rs 50,000 more than Rs 5 lakh (taxable income of Rs 5.5 lakh), your tax liability is nearly 47% on the extra Rs 50,000 income.

Importance of tax-planning

Under the new income tax rules, it becomes highly important to plan taxes properly and carefully. A small mistake can cost a lot as you can understand.

Not just the pay structure, full focus and attention needs to be given to tax planning.

Those in the marginal area (just above Rs 5 lakh taxable income) should use all the tax deductions available. This is so that such individuals are not taxed more just because they forgot to claim exemptions, or were not aware of how to lower tax dues.

So, try to consult a good financial planner and prepare your tax blue-print for this year and beyond.

Reach us at 9845399780 or contactus@righthorizons.in

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How to be tax-free with Income up to Rs 10 lakh

 

The Interim Budget 2019 may not have directly touched the income tax slab rates, but a small tweak in income tax rebate is virtually doing the job for many. Salaried employees earning up to Rs 10 lakh in a year can escape paying tax if they use some of the investment and expense related deductions available. In the same breath, non-salaried individuals earning Rs 9.5 lakh do not have to pay a single paisa in income tax. All this is possible because full tax rebate has been given for taxpayers having taxable income of Rs 5 lakh. This means if your total income is more than Rs 5 lakh, all you have to do is to claim deductions so as to bring the taxable income to Rs 5 lakh or below. Read on to know more.

No more taxes

Apart from hiking standard deduction to Rs 50,000 a year, The government has not made any extra income tax deduction related announcements in Interim Budget 2019. By smartly using the norms, all of your income can be made tax-free. Of course, some might argue that claiming Rs 5 lakh as deductions out of Rs 10 lakh income is difficult. Dear friends, life is an art of possibilities. If you know there is a way, you can always succeed.

Before the Budget, taxable income up to Rs 2.5 lakh attracted no tax while taxable income falling between RS 2.5 lakh to Rs 5 lakh attracted 5% tax. In simple terms this means that if your taxable income was Rs 5 lakh, you paid tax on the Rs 2.5 lakh beyond the zero-tax income.

This 5% of Rs 2.5 lakh translated into Rs 12500 and was your income tax liability. The Interim Budget 2019 has given 100% rebate on up to Rs 12500 amount. So, there will be no tax liability for you.

How do individuals earning more than Rs 5 lakh take advantage of the situation? It is easy. If you have a salary income of Rs 10 lakh, you need to claim deductions worth Rs 5 lakh and bring your taxable income part to Rs 5 lakh.

Deduction game

Assume your salary income is Rs 10 lakh. You can make a deduction of up to Rs 2 lakh for interest paid on housing loan for self-occupied property under Section 24. This will reduce your taxable income from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 8 lakh.

Then, there is maximum Rs 1.5 lakh deduction for investments made under Section 80C (like principal paid on housing loan, insurance premium, ELSS, PPF etc.). This brings your taxable income from Rs 8 lakh to Rs 6.5 lakh.

The Interim Budget 2019 has increased the standard deduction for salaried persons to Rs 50,000 (increased from Rs 40,000 earlier). Using this standard deduction, your taxable income falls from Rs 6.5 lakh to Rs 6 lakh.

To encourage National Pension System (NPS), the income tax norms allow us to claim a maximum and separate deduction under Section 80CCD(1B) for additional investment in NPS of Rs 50,000. This when claimed will bring your taxable income from Rs 6 lakh to Rs 5.5 lakh.

Each and every nook

Lastly, you can claim Rs 25,000 medical insurance premium for self & spouse and Rs 25,000 mediclaim premium for your dependent parents. The combined Rs 50,000 premium (under Section 80D)when deduced from your taxable income of Rs 5.5 lakh brings it to the magic figure of Rs 5 lakh.

The process will be similar for non-salaried persons but they will not able to claim the Rs 50,000 standard deduction (available for salaried only). Thus, non-salaried with Rs 9.5 lakh in the above example will pay zero tax.

Below is a a table that shows your example of a salaried person (below 60 years of age).

A) Gross Income – Rs 10,00,000

B) Deductions

i) Deduction for Interest on Housing loan for self-occupied property – sec 24        – Rs 200,000

ii) Deduction – Section 80C (Insurance premium /Principal on housing loan / ELSS / NPS /) – Rs 150,000

iii) Standard Deduction for salaried – Rs 50,000

iv) Deduction under Section 80CCD(1B) – Additional investment in NPS – Rs 50,000

v) Deduction under Section 80D – Mediclaim – Rs 25,000

vi) Deduction for parents (senior citizens Mediclaim) – Rs 25,000

C) Taxable income (A minus B) – Rs 500,000

D) Income tax payable (5% of amount between Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 5 lakh) – Rs 12500

E) Rebate under section 87A – Rs 12500

F) Net tax payable- Rs 0 (zero)

Do remember that many salaried and non salaried persons can also other deductions available under the Income Tax Act. For instance, interest paid during a financial year on an education loan is allowed as deduction for individuals from the total income under Section 80E. The deduction is provided only for the interest part of the EMI. There is no limit on the maximum amount that is allowed as deduction. If you are paying education loan interest, you can claim the maximum amount per financial year. If the amount is Rs 5 lakh per year, you will not have to do any other investments to come to zero-tax club.

Likewise, taxpayers can use the Section 80G of the Indian Income Tax Act that allows you tax deduction on donations made to any charitable organization. The various donations specified in section 80G are eligible for a deduction of up to either 100% or 50% with or without restriction, as provided in Section 80G.

Reach us at 9845399780 or contactus@righthorizons.com

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Market: 2k18 “The year gone by”..

2018 was one of the most difficult year for investors as benchmark Nifty gave only 3.2% whereas broader markets like Mid cap and Small caps where down by 15.3% and 23.6% each  respectively. Only Bankex, FMCG and IT are closed on a positive note, while rest all indices closed lower. The markets also witnessed major events like NPA clean-up, NBFC re-financing issues, RBI Governor exit, that could fundamentally change the structure of the economy. It is however important to highlight that the government proactively acted on the above issues.

Where do we stand today:

Data throws up a mixed bag when we look at valuations and compare it with December 2007, closer to the previous market peak.  On Price/Earnings for Nifty 50, we are valued similar to the last peak at 26.6 in Dec 07 Vs 26.4 in Dec 18, but when we look at other valuation parameters like Market Cap/GDP, we are much lower.

As pointed by Warren Buffett, the percentage of total market cap (TMC) relative to the US GNP is “probably the best single measure of where valuations stand at any given moment.”

//(GDP & GNP Definition and the difference

GDP is the total market value of goods and services produced within the borders of a country.

GNP is the total market value of goods and services produced by the residents of a country, even if they’re living abroad. So, if a U.S. resident earns money from an investment overseas, that value would be included in GNP (but not GDP).

Further, markets have steep falls when they run up significantly and the economy is overheated.  Despite the fact that markets have moved up over the last couple of years, this is much muted compared to what you normally see in a bull market.  Economic parameters are also muted.

Various Indicators- Current Vs Dec 07

US Markets take a tumble

US markets have seen a large correction since October 2018 with the DowJones was down by 18.8% before recovering some of the losses. Though the US markets have been one of the best performers, we are relatively bearish on US stocks vis-à-vis Indian stocks. In the case of the US, both market and economic performances have been strong over the past few years and we believe US stocks/ESOPs could be impacted over the next year.

 

The General Elections in India to pave the way forward

Every general elections year is always a volatile year as you get huge moves in Index on both the sides and 2019 is not going to be different, as we step into general elections. The election result may impact the economy’s road map ahead. In Jan 2018, many experts were cautious because of high valuations in mid and small caps without having earning growth. The whole matrix has changed in 2019 as stocks have given significant corrections and earnings growth also picked up in 2018. We expect 2019 to be a year of net positive investment for both FII’s and DII’s, unlike 2018 where only DII’s were supporting Indian markets.

This is not the year for light-hearted investors who get worried when they see 10%- 15% down move in the Index. Past data shows that those who stayed invested in these volatile period were the biggest beneficiaries including in years of coalition governments.

If we analyze last 5 general election data, Nifty has never given negative return in an election year. In 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014 Nifty has given 51%, 18%, 80% and 39% each respectively. Equity markets always ride on fear and hope and this year would be no different. Everywhere we are hearing that central elections are there and markets will be volatile, but holding on to your investments at these times might reward you significantly. The recently concluded State elections resulted in BJP losing in all 3 major states. Now markets have given big thumbs up to the result and up by more than 5%. This signifies value buying is emerging and we should be invested at these time irrespective of any party takes control of government with majority mandate.

Historical Calendar Year returns in an election Year

Past data shows that we may have a pre-election rally.

Keeping in mind the above data points, we believe that while markets are likely to be volatile, it would end the year on a positive note.  Subsequently, I expect both economic parameters and markets to gather momentum.

ELSS vs Equity Diversified Mutual Funds

Life is all about competition.  Who is the best? Are you good or is your friend better? There is competition even among personal finance products. While most personal finance products are good, which one would help meet financial goals. This is the call you have to make.

This is a story of a fight between two friends, Satish and Suman. Not a physical fight, but an intense competition. Both of them were in their early thirties and worked in reputed IT Firms. They liked to compete with each other and today the fight was which financial product was better. Was it ELSS or equity diversified mutual funds? Satish says ELSS and Suman says equity diversified funds. Who is right?

For those who don’t know, an equity diversified mutual fund invests in stocks across sectors. If you are an aggressive investor, try equity diversified mutual funds. Money is in stocks and there’s a measure of protection as the investment is spread across sectors like pharma, IT, Oil and Gas, Automobiles and so on, called diversification.

Lets take a look at the opponent, Equity Linked Saving Schemes or ELSS. ELSS is a type of equity diversified mutual fund where most of the investment is in stocks. It has a compulsory 3 year lock-in which means you cannot touch this investment for 3 years. What’s special about ELSS is it’s the only tax saving mutual fund. ELSS enjoys a tax deduction under Section 80C of the income tax act, up to Rs 1.5 Lakhs a year. Does this make ELSS better than equity diversified mutual funds? Let’s find out.

ELSS vs Equity Diversified Mutual Funds

ELSS is a long term investment

ELSS has a 3 year lock-in and forces you to stay invested for this time period. Equity is an excellent investment only if you stay invested for the long term. A bare minimum of 3 years is a must. This is where ELSS scores over equity diversified mutual funds.

Equity diversified mutual funds have no lock-in and allows an exit, whenever you wish. This is bad for you as most investors exit when stock markets crash. The key to make money in stocks is to stay invested in the market for the long term. Invest in ELSS with a time horizon of 7 years.

ELSS Saves Tax

Lets say you invest the same amount in an equity diversified scheme and an ELSS. Both of them give the same returns, but ELSS wins over the diversified fund as it enjoys the Section 80C benefit. ELSS is an excellent investment if you fall in the higher tax brackets.

If you fall in the 30% tax bracket, invest up to Rs 1.5 Lakhs a year in ELSS and save Rs 46,800 a year. ELSS enjoys Section 80C tax deduction and beats equity diversified mutual funds.

ELSS is like killing two birds with one stone. You get good returns and you save tax. Top ELSS schemes have given an average of 16-20% over 5 years. This is higher than equity diversified schemes. Then there’s the tax benefit.

Satish earns Rs 11 Lakhs a year and falls in the 30% tax bracket. He invests Rs 1.5 Lakhs a year in ELSS via SIPs. This helps him save 30% on Rs 1,50,000 which is Rs 45,000 + a cess of 4% which is Rs 1,800. Satish saves Rs 46,800 a year by investing in ELSS.

ELSS is a stepping stone to equity diversified mutual funds

In recent times many first-timers are investing in equity. Novice investors are rushing to equity diversified mutual funds without understanding them, in the hope of quick profits.

Why not first invest in ELSS and then try equity diversified mutual funds? ELSS with a compulsory lock-in, forces you to stay invested for the long term. ELSS handholds you and helps get familiar with equity. You can now invest in equity diversified funds with confidence and make a profit.

Today, stock markets are falling and many first-time investors are heading for the exit in panic. Many of these investors have bought high and sold low, taking home immense losses. If these panic-stricken investors had invested in ELSS, they would not have been able to exit the stock market and in a few years, they would have seen profits.

What do you take home from this article?

  • ELSS sticks to the top 500 Companies and an ELSS comparison must be made with large-cap funds.
  • ELSS generally beats large-cap funds as it enjoys a tax advantage.
  • ELSS enjoys true competition from multi-cap funds, which invest in large-cap, mid-cap and small-cap Companies.
  • ELSS funds have locking, but face lesser redemption pressure on market falls and hence could deliver superior returns in the long term.

Loan Against Mutual Funds

There are times in life when you just have to take loans- for a medical emergency, a marriage or a much-needed holiday. You would most likely avail a personal loan which charges high interest and struggle with EMI repayments. This is exactly what happened to Shankar, a 28 year old man, who took a personal loan to go on a holiday.

Shankar a young man had dreams. He lived in the southern part of India, in a town in Kerala. He was a teacher at a nearby school with a take home salary of Rs 20,000 a month and he wanted more from life. He badly wanted to holiday in the North East. So he availed a personal loan of Rs 2 Lakhs from his bank with a tenure of 3 years at an interest rate of 16% a year.

For those who don’t know, a personal loan is a No Reason Loan. Banks don’t ask reasons for availing the loan.  There’s no collateral. The problem is banks charge interest of 14-21% a year on a personal loan. You might not be able to afford the EMIs and fall in a loan trap.

This is exactly what happened to Shankar. After an enjoyable holiday, it was time to think of the personal loan EMIs. He had to pay nearly Rs 7,100 a month for the next 3 years. This didn’t seem a problem till a medical emergency ate up his savings. Shankar struggled with personal loan EMIs and today is in deep debt.

Ideally, one should not take a loan for your wants.  You could take it for your needs.  We suggest you invest towards your vacation and then take your vacation.  However, if you cannot avoid taking a loan, taking a loan using your mutual funds as security, is one option. Use an overdraft facility in your bank account. This will help if you need is only temporary.  There’s no need to redeem mutual fund units and you can continue with SIPs. During a financial emergency, don’t liquidate mutual funds. Just avail a loan against mutual funds.

You can avail a loan against equity mutual funds, debt funds or hybrid mutual funds by approaching a bank or an NBFC and pledging mutual fund units as collateral. The loan is sanctioned based on the Net Asset Value, NAV of the mutual fund units in the folio and the loan tenure. You get loan against mutual funds at an interest rate of just 10-11% a year and as its secured, interest rates are much lower than the commonly availed personal loan. If you have a good credit score and have been a customer at the bank for a really long time, negotiate for a lower interest rate.

If the mutual fund units are in demat form, several online portals are willing to sanction loans within minutes. If the units are in physical form, you might need a loan agreement with the bank. You have to understand lien on mutual funds before we go further. It’s a document that gives the bank the right to sell the mutual fund units. This comes in handy for the bank if you’re not able to repay the loan. The lien grants the bank ownership of the mutual fund units you own. Approach your mutual fund house and request for a lien on mutual fund units in the name of the bank for a lien transfer to the bank.

How to get loan against mutual funds? Simply log on to your internet banking account and select the equity or debt funds you want to hypothecate. Your application is redirected by banks to CAMS or Karvy which verify the mutual fund holdings. The registrar marks a lien against mutual fund units being pledged with a letter send to the bank and a copy marked to you to confirm the lien. The lien is marked against the mutual fund units, so this means you cannot redeem units, until the loan is repaid. You continue to enjoy dividends and other ownership benefits, but you can’t redeem the pledged units. Equity based funds can fetch a loan as high as 50% of the NAV, while for debt funds its 60-70%. Banks allow you to avail a maximum of Rs 20 Lakhs against equity mutual funds.

Don’t make the mistake of not repaying; or the bank will ask the mutual fund to redeem units and take the money. Banks have a list of mutual fund units against which they lend.

Shankar availed a personal loan at an interest of 16%; while you get a loan for just 11% against mutual funds. This is a sizeable savings in interest. Shankar should have invested in mutual funds via SIPs and then gone on holiday. Loan against mutual funds are great when stock markets fall. If you need money in a hurry, just pledge mutual fund units, instead of redeeming them at a loss.

Mutual Funds Better Than FD?

Mahesh is 31 years and works as a lecturer in a top private college. He is well paid and earns Rs 13 Lakhs a year. Mahesh has always invested in FDs and the reason is simple. FDs are safe and offer decent interest. Mahesh stays far away from mutual funds as he believes they invest in stocks making them extremely risky. Is Mahesh Right? Do mutual funds only invest in stocks?

When you say mutual fund, the first thing that come to mind is the equity mutual fund. Mutual funds are not all about stocks. They do invest in fixed income instruments. Let’s take a close look at fixed maturity plans also called FMPs, a type of mutual fund and how they are better than fixed deposits.

FMPs are closed-ended debt funds with a fixed maturity period normally just over 3 years to take advantage of the long term taxation. You can invest in FMPs through a New Fund Offer or NFO. Closed-ended means the FMP has an opening date and a closing date and you must invest within this time. FMPs invest your money in money market instruments like certificates of deposits, commercial paper, corporate bonds, treasury bills among others. They invest in debt instruments and you can check the credit rating before investing.

Mahesh doesn’t like risk in investment. Mahesh asks only this question? Are FMPs safe like FDs? In FDs you already know the maturity value of the invested amount at the time of investment itself, as interest rate is fixed. FMPs offer only indicative yields, but the Yield to Maturity of the portfolio is disclosed regularly. FMPs also invest in safe debt products.  Infact, some of them invest into PSU and Bank deposits/bonds only. You can also choose an FMP with a high credit rating.  Though the NAV is reported daily and may vary in line with movements in interest rates, if you hold to maturity, the returns are largely fixed.

If you want higher returns than FDs and are willing to bear a slightly higher risk, then invest in FMPs. FMPs are low risk investments compared to equity mutual funds. FMPs are listed on the stock exchange, but liquidity may not be available at all times on the exchange and hence are less liquid than FDs.

Mutual Funds vs FDs

When it comes to taxes, FMPs score over FDs, especially if you fall in the highest tax slab. The interest earned in FDs is added to taxable salary and you are taxed as per your tax bracket. Mahesh falls in the 30% tax bracket and FD interest income is taxed at the highest rate or marginal rate of tax.

In FMPs, taxation depends on the type of fund. Choosing the dividend option means you bear the dividend distribution tax, DDT of 28.84%, which is slightly lesser than the marginal rate of tax on FDs. It’s in the growth option of FMPs where tax is saved.

If you quit the FMP before 36 months, gains called short term capital gains are added to taxable income and taxed asper tax bracket. If you stay invested for 3 years or more, gains are called long term capital gains which attract 20% tax with the indexation benefit. Indexation inflates the purchase price of the FMP, saving tax.

If Mahesh invests Rs 10 Lakhs in FDs of 3 year tenure, the interest earned is taxed at the highest tax rate of 30%. If the FD offers 7% interest, this translates to a post-tax yield of 5%, which isn’t much. Lets say Mahesh invests Rs 10 Lakhs in an FMP of same tenure. FMPs can give returns of around 7.25-7.5% a year, though returns aren’t guaranteed. With the indexation benefit, post tax returns are nearly 1.25-1.75% higher than FDs. This makes FMPs a better investment than FDs on a post tax return basis.

Will Mahesh invest in FMPs over FDs for higher returns?  Investing in FDs largely erode your wealth if you consider impact of taxes and inflation. (ie. if you are in the higher tax brackets.)  FMPs are quite safe, especially if you chose a fund that invests in quality debt. FMPs are a smarter option, and may just help you beat inflation on a post tax basis.  That’s a call that Mahesh can take if liquidity is not a requirement for him.

ELSS Saves Tax And Makes You Rich

Heard this great saying by former US President Richard Nixon? “Make sure you pay your taxes; otherwise you can get in a lot of trouble.” Sampath a young 28 year old man, works in an IT firm in Bengaluru. He had never heard of Richard Nixon, but he knew he had to pay taxes.

Sampath earned Rs 12 Lakhs a year. This salary meant he paid a lot in taxes, as he never bothered to do tax planning. He grumbled, he cursed, but he paid his taxes.  All this changed the day a friend introduced him to mutual funds, or more specifically a type of mutual fund called Equity Linked Mutual Funds or ELSS. His friend also told him something he would remember all his life, “A rupee saved is a rupee earned.”

ELSS is an equity diversified mutual fund which invests most of your money in stocks across sectors. An investment in stocks is risky, but investing across sectors called diversification, offers a measure of protection. ELSS has a compulsory lock-in period of 3 years. This means you can’t touch the investment for this time.

Sampath had another problem. Where to invest? He had some money in fixed deposits. Fixed deposits offered decent interest, but you can never get rich, just by investing in FDs.

You must be having a lot of questions, the first one being, how does ELSS save tax? You enjoy the Section 80C deduction up to Rs 1.5 Lakhs a year. ELSS is the only mutual fund which enjoys this benefit. There’s a 10% long term capital gains tax (LTCG) on capital gains exceeding Rs 1 Lakh a year.

ELSS is an excellent investment if you fall in the higher tax brackets. Sampath earned Rs 12 Lakhs a year which put him in the 30% tax bracket.  ELSS saved Sampath Rs 46,800 a year.

Sampath invested Rs 1.5 Lakhs a year in ELSS. Now 30% of Rs 1,50,000 is Rs 45,000. Add a cess of 4% on income tax of Rs 45,000 which translates to Rs 1,800. Sampath saves Rs 46,800 a year by investing in ELSS.

He enjoys the highest returns among Section 80C options with the lowest lock-in. Sampath chooses the best way of investing in ELSS which is through SIPs.

ELSS invests most of the money in stocks. Doesn’t this make it a risky investment? Any investment involves risk. Even FDs are risky as a part of the interest you earn is swallowed by inflation. Equity investments offer high returns at high risk. The key is to stay invested for the long term and cut risk in investment.

ELSS is an excellent investment for a young man like Sampath. He doesn’t have many responsibilities and can stay invested for the long term. This makes ELSS an excellent investment for many youth in India.

Now to the second question. How does investing in ELSS make you rich? Ever heard of compounding returns? Compounding returns are return on return. The returns you get are reinvested to give more returns. Find this difficult to understand?

Let’s see how much Sampath has if he retires at 60, having invested just Rs 8,000 a month in ELSS via SIPs. Sampath has 32 years left till retirement. Let’s assume a conservative return of just 9%. Sampath would have built around Rs 1.77 Crores at retirement from this SIP. Looks a massive amount. Sadly, Sampath will have much less at retirement. Inflation eats up a lot of his returns and if you assume an average inflation of 5% over the period, Sampath will have only Rs 60 Lakhs at retirement.

Here’s the good news. ELSS can give average returns of 12-14% over 3 years and 15-17% over 5 years, depending on the type of ELSS. This is nearly double the returns most conservative investments offer. The longer you stay invested, greater are the returns. The power of compounding ensures you are a Crorepathi at retirement.

ELSS saves tax and makes you rich. You can save Rs 46,800 a year on being in the highest tax bracket. This amount when invested in the ELSS gives returns much above inflation. ELSS combines the double benefits of tax saving and compounding returns to make you rich at retirement.