Choose wisely – Annuity options for retirement

ideal retirement image

The hard-earned retirement corpus secured in accounts such as the NPS, PPF, and/or the EPF is the final nest egg for public or private sector individuals who retire after a few decades of continuous service. While certain central government retirees are eligible for pension and lumpsum fund benefits, almost all the private sector employees are not entitled to a pension from their employers and have to fall back on lumpsum (defined contribution plan) corpuses.

As a result, the post-retirement monthly expenditures of the family, most often, depends on corpus inwards from such accounts. There are two important considerations for such corpus inward for individuals – Safety and return on such corpus since this impacts the amount of derived pension on the same for the rest of the life.

Upon retirement, most individuals rely on traditional plans such as a combination of fixed deposits, Sr Citizen savings Schemes and/or plain vanilla Savings accounts to create cash flows for longer duration and this raises several risks of the safety of corpus, interest rate risk and thereby risk of variability of periodic cash flows and the possibility of hardships during retirement years.

Annuities – Should be the first choice for retirement corpus

Annuities should be the preferred choice for retired individuals; however, this product is not very popular due to lack of awareness, perceived lower rate of returns and liquidity issues. Annuities offer the best hedge against the variability of cash flows, against interest rate risks and consistent cash flows for most of the living life.

Today annuities offer a wide range of choices which were not available 5-10 years ago. Flexibility, market comparable rate of return, and wide range of options are available from over half dozen annuity service providers. Besides this, regulations and oversight of annuity providers make this product extremely safe as compared to other market-linked products.

A quick glance of the variety of options from annuity service providers is summarized as below.

Table 1: Choose the option wisely
Annuity for lifeAnnuity for life with return of purchase price on deathAnnuity payable for life with 100% annuity payable to spouse on death of annuitantAnnuity for life with a provision for 100% of the annuity payable to the spouse of the annuitant for life on death of the annuitant, with return of purchase price on the death of last survivorAnnuity payments would be made to the annuitant and his/ her spouse throughout their lifetime. Thereafter, these pay-outs would be made to the subscriber’s mother and after her, to the father. On death of the father, the purchase price would be refunded to the annuitant’s child/ nominee.
Source: NPSTRUST.org.in

 

Which option makes sense?

This depends upon a variety of factor and the retired individual’s objective, dependents, and other personal factors. For instance, for couples with no dependents the easiest choice would be to choose option 1: Annuity for life. Here, they are likely to enjoy higher cash flows or put in lower corpus to enjoy required cash flows. The standard of living could be higher for such couples since this option pays the highest pension as compared with other plans across annuity service providers. Options #2 and #3 might suit retired couple with legal heir (children / grandchildren) where they might want to gift such corpus earned.

Option #4 & #5 could severely impact the current cash flow for the retired individual since the objective is to return the corpus. Unless there is adequate liquidity and other assets these options defeat the very purpose of buying an annuity and therefore can be avoided.

Housewife’s guide to managing money

The Indian household has an unwritten rule – that the quintessential home maker is the home minister (and perhaps also the Prime minister) and the bread earner being the default finance minister – the husband or the Karta of the house. Now while this has been as normal for an Indian middle-class household; an aspect that has remained hidden through times old and new is the fact that this home maker has always been juggling amongst many roles that she does with great alacrity is also that of being a finance manager.

This aspect seldom comes out since it has never been the main job of the homemaker; her main job has always been to run the operations, human resources, food & beverages, travel & transportation, education, social & media, entertainment, design & development and many more. The one department that is run without much hullabaloo is the finance department since it is the domain of the Karta. Now we are not really stereotyping as modern women have come of age with their finances but generally, women financially aware too willingly pass this domain since there is the main rudder to take care of.

Having said this, the home maker does a silent function in the domain of finances for any household and the following roles as a finance manager ought to be taken as seriously by persons running their personal finances.

Role of the liquidity manager – in this role the home maker’s ability to manage two types of liquidity challenges, depending upon situations need highlight. The tactical one and the strategic one. In the tactical situation the ability to manage the month end low liquidity by having kept reserve cash from previous month’s surpluses, side pocketing and deep valets needs special mentioning. In the strategic situations, the ability to thus dig for hidden side pockets to tide over immediate high demand for funds by dipping to savings / local chit fund activity and access to peer network for deficit funding are extremely crucial. This role is under appreciated and such techniques though widely known are hardly used by individuals in the households who are in-charge of finances. We would go to the extent of saying many frontline money managers seldom use these basic practices and thus end up becoming sitting ducks. So, pat the home maker for this crucial but underappreciated role.

Role of the Risk manager – this is the supplementary role of the liquidity manager for the family. In fact, the role of being a risk manager is of greater value than being a liquidity manager, since being a risk manager averts major catastrophe that might befall a family. During such critical times, the ability to tide over the financial crises becomes foremost. In this role of the risk manager, the homemaker – by methods of side pocketing, hidden box savings and above all, diversifying the savings and investment pattern can significantly control risk. A case in point here might be the penchant of buying physical gold (ornaments and/or coins etc), silver etc. on a recurring basis (festivals / functions) which has been accumulated over a long period adding to significant reserve. This helps to tide over a financial crisis. This apart, the home maker’s ability to stick to basics on managing personal finances are fundamental part of risk management. On this count too, in general, home makers score higher marks on managing financial risk for a family.

Role of the planning and budgeting department – this role come as naturally to homemakers as fish take to water. Be it managing finances on a day to day basis, or for functions and special occasions. Planning and managing the budget however tight things might become is one aspect that seasoned finance manages need to learn. How do home makers, plan, anticipate events, the expenses and prepare for the occasions is something that needs to be inculcated by all. However, small or miniscule the cash flow or cash at hand might be, the home maker would fit the expense to suit the budget at hand. Tactics such as bargain hunting, discounting skimming, substituting and many other methods come quite naturally to them. Individual can learn a lot from them in terms of how budget and expense management should be done.

Role of the financial planner – this role therefore is a logical end to all the things that the home maker does on a routine basis. The ability to think strategic when it comes to financial planning are worthy of note. For instance, planning for retirement and keeping dry powder for a rainy day is something could come by instinct we believe. Though home makers might not be consciously planning the goal planning activity but at a sub-conscious level there is always keeping the retirement planning and kitty building or coaxing to do the same. So, don’t ignore that sane advice. Second, the shorter yet important goals like keeping aside money or accumulating the same for her children’s education even if it means doing spending cuts on other expenses are done with purpose.

So, look around you and you will find a home maker who has done all the above and more. It is time to learn the nuances of how and why things are managed and there are over a dozen things to keep in mind while you do your own financial planning and achieve your financial goals. Just remember the two rules. Do the basics just as the home maker does and concentrate on the various roles she does to find out how it is clicking.

Lessons from the CoVID 19 Lockdown

The CoVID19 pandemic and the consequent lockdown has brought in a humbling experience to many of us, including individuals and/or businesses thought to be foolproof of themselves given their indispensable nature of product or services. Barring food and dailies (groceries) none of the presumed basic services needed to mankind have become affected adversely. Alas, none has been spared. The neighborhood barber/salon or the cobbler who mends shoes right up to liquor barons (barring regulatory risk) and would have thought to be proof from any eventuality have faced different levels of threat during this pandemic. India’s service economy which is almost 2/3rd of the GDP has taken a massive hit. At the business and at individual levels, the lessons the current crisis has have been of very basic nature. On the principles of “risk management” most of the lessons that this crisis offers are rudimentary. A quick look at basic lessons from this crisis.
Cash is King
We need to write this title in large and bold font in our minds and actions. Cash if the blood of any business and a key element of an individual’s personal financial wellbeing. Without enough cash businesses freeze or worse, go bankrupt. Without cash, an individual’s household can face immense hardship and probably make or break the family and household. The current crisis has brought out this basic element of money management to the fore. Many businesses (large and small) and individuals all are strapped for cash during these times, however, people who had planned for crisis level reserve for cash would emerge out of this crisis stronger and would be able to grab opportunities crisis’ bring after they pass. So, what is the lesson from this crisis to us all? Keeping reserve or emergency cash/liquidity, always, is as basic as it should be. For a business, 3-4 months of cash burn should be available to tide over during such unforeseen times, and similarly for individuals, 4-6 months cash for expenses should always be kept at call. People who followed this golden rule will find it easier to tide over the current situation without much hassle.
Health is Wealth
This again is as basic as one can understand. Health is not acquired without effort. To remain healthy – physically and mentally, individuals must put effort into eating good food, resting enough, and working out physically. Similarly, for mental health, individuals require attainment of inner peace, sound conscience, and a positive attitude. All the above is easy to attain if the practice of working towards it is regular and not when the crisis is on the horizon. The second aspect of health is a risk. The first part was risk mitigation by doing many things as explained earlier, the second and the most important part is risk transfer. Despite all the care and work on your health, it could be possible that your health is compromised due to reasons beyond your control; risk transfer helps you to cover health failure without any financial damage. The best form of risk transfer is “health insurance”. And to plan for the same when there is time is again a basic thing to do. Individuals should be prepared to pay a small cost to cover himself/herself and family from any health eventuality. The health risk is real. Recognize and prepare for the same without delay.
Multi-tasking is underrated
The CoVID19 crisis has taught this one thing – one more time. Specialists are overrated and generalists are underrated. The crisis has been easy for generalists. Everyone who depended on a specialist for everything from household chores, outsourcings kitchen (and cooking), and technical staff and many more things, have been rendered faced with a big handicap. People who could easily mold and become a self-service oriented person are having a relatively easier life during this crisis. Multi-tasking on the home front or office front should be the way forward. Cooking, housekeeping, fixing the small things, doing office duties with minimal help and above all ability to learn quickly – technical as well as basic stuff is the key to ever remain relevant. The faster one learns this the better prepared he/she is for the current and future crisis.
Upskilling has no age bar
Why is it that suddenly everyone is rushing to get enrolled for the online course? That is because nobody knows what kind of skills the world would demand, in 2021. People are rushing to upskill/upgrade their knowledge for the fear of being left out once the world re-opens. While that might sound a good thing to do, upskilling and staying relevant is a continuous process. It does not start during the crisis and ends when the world is normal. Leaning a new skill does not have an age bar. To stay productive and relevant an individual must repeatedly upskill and upgrade continuously. This way, the person would be the sought-after individual when the normalcy returns. Corporate / businesses are looking at human talent that is ready and easy to plug/play during difficult times. Upskilling/upgrading requires time and an individual should set the same aside regularly and not just when crisis hits the horizon.

NOT a Contagion – Impact of the FT Debt Debacle

Introduction
Last week, Franklin Templeton India funds, in the debt category, went into freeze with investors in 6 of the large schemes locked out of redemptions and any sort of movement till further notice. This has come at a distressing time of CoVID19 crises where incomes of individuals, businesses, and MSME’s have been severely impacted. The investors in these funds are severely impacted due to their dependence on these funds for their immediate or medium-term cash flows and now above all the safety of their monies. In some cases, it could be most of the savings/corpus that has been put to work. The investment rationale for most investors in these funds have been
1. The general safety of such category of funds
2. Getting regular incomes on their investment
3. General faith in the system and/or
4. Established product type.
While this might be the case, in good times or bad the onus of safety of investors’ fund lies with himself and the rule of “Caveat Emptor” or “Buyer Beware” always prevails. This is true for any investment or generally parting of monies from an investor to a third person.
The FT Debt Debacle
The situation with Franklin Templeton funds could have happened with any other AMC given the dislocation in the financial markets and the positioning of the funds in the current market environment.
For starters, Franklin debt funds were positioned to deliver higher returns as compared with competition and thereby were invested into marginally higher risk than the general markets. This strategy works well under most circumstances given that liquidity and funds flows keep investors and borrowers from accessing / rolling over monies quickly.
Secondly, the line between swimming in the middle of the pool to the deep end of the pool is often non-existent (not even blurred). This results in asset managers taking marginally higher risk without any commensurate return benefit. This is obvious in hindsight and might appear rationale during normal times. Both for investors and asset managers. In the case of FT funds, most investments were in risky papers without commensurate returns.
Thirdly, the diversification in asset managers strategy on funds ought to save the day. Unfortunately, the asset manager had not differentiated between its medium-term funds and ultra-short-term funds, using the same strategy across these funds. Clearly, the investor has been taken for a royal ride here, for no fault of his.
Finally, most of us are guilty of being slightly complacent when things are going to get rough. The first indication of the FT issue was evident when in a couple of these funds’ exposure to Vodafone and Yes Bank papers were side pocketed in 2019. Prudence dictates that the troubled ship be abandoned before the stampede begins.

How are we impacted, and are we prepared?
The current CoVID19 pandemic has been mild so far and there are numerous reasons – including on-time assessment and steps taken, higher immunity, sunshine factor, etc. There is much literature on the topic in the public domain. The financial impact is still yet to come to full-blown proportions but can be assessed individually by each one of us. The individual and collective response to the situation is developing in nature and as weeks go by, the complete impact of the same would be evident.
There is a great economic impact on several direct sectors such as tourism and aviation, transportation and logistics, and MSME’s. Stage II of the financial contagion (Risk Aversion) is being felt across businesses and individuals alike. The central bank (RBI) and capital market regulator (The SEBI) has so far responded to the situation like other peers across the globe. Stage III of complete liquidity freeze and volume collapse is unlikely to happen soon in India given the evolving situation and talks about normalcy returning in a phased manner soon. The systemic liquidity so far has been managed; however, the deeper impact could be felt if the situation lasts longer than everyone is prepared for.
Most of the participants are barely prepared for such emergency situations which is all-pervasive and systemic. And yet some sectors/participants are better than those who are severely impacted. Staples, non-durables, and certain services have been relatively smooth, so far. The lessons from the current episode for individuals and institutions should be to be prepared for a war-like situation for 4-6 months during any market cycle. This means putting up safety nets around – Liquidity, business/income continuity, risk management, back-up plan (secondary work-related stuff), and communication. For instance, unscheduled maintenance for industries, skill upgrade for workforce or individuals, and strategic planning for normalcy. All these and more should be a part of any individual or business plan when there is still time.
Conclusion
From an individual perspective, investors who are now stuck into the current frozen FT debt funds; the following things are necessary.
1. Access your liquidity conditions and work on a plan to sort it out. There is a great likelihood that your money would be returned soon
2. Ask questions around your investment methods and know why you ended up in the current situation. If only a small portion of your overall investment is in these funds, you have already done a good job.
3. No, there is NO reason to panic and start pulling out of every conceivable investment, since that way you could be creating a chain reaction and worse you will end up jeopardizing your objective (goals) and your return profile

For those who have no exposure to FT funds frozen or have FT equity funds, it might be a good time to reassess your exposure. While that might be the case, if your liquidity profile, asset allocation and goal planning is mapped, there is little concern for you. There is no point in losing sleep over things in which everyone is in the same boat and you are well prepared than others. Chances are you will come out stronger than most.

FAQs on EMI Moratorium – Most questions answered

The EMI Holiday package announced by RBI on account of CoVID19 has raised many questions with respect to applicability, coverage, eligibility, and impact.   We answer the basic questions through the FAQs that are put together which cover most of the doubts regarding these. 

  • Is moratorium compulsory or optional; what loans are it applicable to?

The moratorium is optional both for the borrower and the financial institution(lender).  ie The lender can choose to offer this option to its clients. The borrower can also choose to avail of the option if it is offered by the lender from whom the loan is taken.  

This is applicable for all kinds of credit facilities such as retail loans, Home Loans, Business Loans, Cards and Farmer Loans, term loans, and working capital loans of any size and duration and applicable both for individuals and businesses.

  • What is meant by moratorium?

A moratorium is temporary postponement of payment of interest/ principal/installments (and is not a waiver) for the period from Mar 01, 2020, to May 31, 2020. Interest will continue to be payable on all amount(s) for which payment is being postponed pursuant to the Moratorium.

  • For what period can the moratorium be granted?

A moratorium may be granted up to a period of three months for all amounts falling due between Mar 01 and May 31, 2020.

  • Is the moratorium on principal or interest or both?

The moratorium can be offered for below payments due during the moratorium period:

  1. Principal and/or interest component
  2. Bullet repayment
  3. Equated Monthly Instalments ( EMIs)
  4. Credit Card dues
  • Will the interest accrue during the moratorium period?

Yes, lenders will charge interest during the moratorium period as per the relevant terms and conditions of the loan agreement between the lender and borrower/s.   

  • How can you opt for the moratorium?

For most PSU lenders, there is blanket access to the moratorium, and it applies to all loans irrespective of size/category/sector. For private lenders, it would be prudent to get in touch with the respective client relationship manager/branch/phone banking/mobile banking/internet banking etc. and communicate your preference since this is NOT a default option and needs to be availed categorically. Failing which, there is a chance that the deduction of EMI would go through on the scheduled date set.

  • What is the interest charging mechanism for retail term loans such as Home Loans, Personal Loans, Consumer Durable Loans, Two-Wheeler Loans, Auto Loans?

The accrued interest would be added to the principal amount which will increase the residual tenure of the loan except in cases where extension of tenure is not possible in which case the EMI amount will increase. Please refer to the terms and conditions in the loan agreement for further details.

Illustration: Mr Ravi availed of a home mortgage on Mar 01, 2020 amounting to Rs one crore with a loan tenure of 240 months at an interest rate of 7.5%. If Mr. Ravi wants to avail of a moratorium of installment of Rs 89,972 which is due on Apr 01, 2020, then the interest for the month of March amounting to Rs 75,000 will be added to the principal amount and the outstanding principal amount on Apr 01, 2020, will become Rs 10,075,000. The interest will be computed on an outstanding principal. Similarly, the interest for the month of April which is payable on May 01, 2020, of Rs 75,562 will be added to the opening principal on May 01, 2020, which will be Rs 10,150,562. The interest will again be computed on the outstanding principal. In this case Mr Ravi’s tenure will increase from 240 months to 250 months considering the unchanged rate of interest and installment amount during this period.  To reduce this, Mr Ravi can choose to prepay part of the loan when normalcy returns to his cash flows, based on the prepayment clauses in his agreement.

  • How will interest be charged and recovered for SME / MSME / Businesses which use cash credit/ overdraft facilities? 

The accrued interest will be due and payable immediately after the end of the moratorium, and interest keeps accruing for this moratorium period.

  • Will there be late payment charges/ default interest/ additional interest for the deferred installments during the moratorium period?

No late payment charges/ default interest/ additional interest shall be levied during the moratorium period has to be charged during this period as specified by RBI.

  • Can the borrower make payments in between the Moratorium period?

This option to defer payments on loans is a relief granted to borrowers due to disruption caused due to the unprecedented outbreak of COVID-19. However, the borrower has the option to continue scheduled payments during this moratorium; or avail of the benefit of the Moratorium.

  • Will the seeking of Moratorium by the borrower have an impact on their credit/bureau score?

The moratorium on payments will not qualify as a default for the purposes of supervisory reporting and reporting to Credit Information Companies (CICs)/credit bureau by the Bank. Hence, there will be no adverse impact on the credit history of the borrowers. This is specifically for this moratorium period only.

  • If the borrowers have enough balance in the accounts and installment is due, will the lender debit the EMI during this period?

Yes, if you have NOT opted in for the moratorium, then the normal EMI dates would apply and the deduction would occur as per the loan schedule.  It may be noted that some banks are offering moratorium as a default, hence, it is advisable to check with the communication from the bank. However, if one has opted for the moratorium, then the EMI would not be deducted even if there is sufficient balance for the EMI. 

  • Does the borrower need to submit any documents for availing this Moratorium? 

For PSU lenders the default option is the borrowers would get this moratorium irrespective of which category he belongs to. For borrowers of private lenders, the borrowers would get instructions from his/her respective lender on what needs to be done. Currently, the paperwork is limited to communicating the choice of option to the lender via – email /phone banking/internet banking or branch banking.

  • Does it make sense to continue to pay the EMIs rather than availing of the moratorium? 

Yes, if there is NO pressing need or shortage of cash flow then it makes sense to continue to pay as per schedule. This way you save on the additional interest that would be charged on the amount outstanding.

  • What happens to payments due and made or defaulted in March 2020 

If the payment has been made during the 1st March 2020 – 31st March 2020 period, then the borrower will effectively get two months of the moratorium period. If there has been a default due to cash flow issues or any other reason, then you would now get protection against any penalty/charges that might be due or have been deducted. And effectively such borrower would get the 3-month moratorium period. 

  • What happens to loans/credit facility started in March or April 2020?

The borrowers of all classes, old and new are eligible to avail of this moratorium; however, different lenders might have different rules, so it might be good to check with your lender on their policy with respect to the same.

  • If the borrower has multiple borrowing facilities within the same lender of different lenders, can he/she get a blanket moratorium? 

The borrower needs to specifically select and mention every facility that he/she has availed from the lender or in case of multiple lenders, then the borrower will need to communicate/opt with all such lenders.

EMI Loan Calculator and Impact Assessment

STOP – Should you use the EMI Holiday?

RBI Announcement for CoVID19; Impact for borrowers 

A 3-month moratorium for borrowers of all kinds.

  • Lending institutions are “permitted” to grant a moratorium on installments between March 1, 2020, and May 31, 2020.
  • All banks/lending institutions are covered in this scheme and all types are payments are covered – unsecured / Agri loans/retail/ working capital loans includes credit cards.
  • This is ONLY a postponement of EMIs/Interest and NOT waiving of EMIs/interest. 
  • Interest would get accumulated for the period and added to the principal outstanding.  This means you need to pay additional interest during the course of the loan. There is no penal interest or adverse impact on credit rating/score.
  • You can check applicability and procedures with your financial institution.

While the above decision from the RBI has been a welcome relief to people with temporary cash flow issues faced by many borrowers, this article helps you evaluate whether to avail of the moratorium. 

Who is it meant for?

This is meant primarily for individuals and businesses impacted by the economic fallouts from COVID-19.  The lending institution may need to be satisfied that the deferral is necessitated on account of the fallout from COVID-19.  This would be useful for affected businesses and salaried employees working in Aviation, Retail, F&B, Contracting, Travel/Leisure and other high adverse impact sectors. However, it is not restricted to any sectors.  One can opt for this measure if one would like to create a small buffer to tide over what might be slightly long draw battle for these sectors to get back to normalcy. Those unaffected need not avail of this option since interest continues to be charged during the moratorium period. This will only extend the tenure of your loan.

Use early repayment if possible

A practical approach for you-

  1. Must Avoid: If your interest rate is very high (eg. Credit Card outstanding), one should avoid availing of the deferral of payment.
  2. Those whose salaries/business cash flows are impacted and are extremely stressed on their finances should avail of this benefit in toto. Take this break to put things in order, rack up some liquidity to tide over the current situation; and work out a plan on how you will service these loans from June 2020. The opportunity is God sent for this category and should be availed.
  3. Those who are tight on their finances and uncertain about their business recovery/ salary impact can also avail of this moratorium period. However, they can do two things
    • First, create a buffer of 2-3 months basis this savings in EMI paid out to help tide over the immediate liquidity situation. 
    • Payback part of the whole of deferred installments post the moratorium period, once favorable clarity emerges on the potential impact on one’s finances. 

Impact assessment for borrowers taking this moratorium over the medium term

If you have a current outstanding of Rs 50 lakh, with 10 years remaining on a home loan with an interest rate of 8.75% and you defer the full 3 months of your EMI, the following is the higher payment you would make on the full tenure of the loan based on when you pay back the deferred EMIs to the lending institution:

When repayment of deferred EMI is madeAdditional payment on loan(Rs)Closure of loan (months)
At end of loan                                 263,456                                    123 
Repaid in full in 12 months (with interest)14,169                                    120 
EMI repaid after 3 months6,398                                    120 

 

In summary

  1. There would be additional interest on interest (since the amount of interest would be effectively added to your principal outstanding on the date of deferment). If you don’t make any prepayment during the tenure of the loan, the impact is significant.
  2. This would, therefore, mean that you should NOT utilize the total EMI holiday unless your cash flow position during the 3 months is stopped or disrupted.
  3. Do try and repay these installments at the earliest possible date to reduce the interest burden on your loan.
  4. Avoid deferring the payment of your credit card outstanding as the interest rates are high.

Further, Read FAQs on EMI Moratorium – Most questions answered

This 20th Century formula still works, try it…

This is the digital age. The transaction on money – savings, investment, shopping, payments, loans and salaries are all now happening via electronic medium. This has also led to consolidation of information, which was once dis-aggregated and difficult to track. Now we would be able to track ALL of our transactions that we have made during the past several years via a click of the button. The transaction trail can give insights into what we earned, spent, shopped for how much or invested how much and when. Better still, we have live information via apps about how much is the bank balance, investment account balance, spending limits, credit limits and due dates of all payments via smart apps that enable us to track the universe of our financial footprint via single or multiple digital interfaces.

As a result, most of the analytics and information dashboards; if used to the full potential may become a boon to get personal finances in shape and help become financially secure. Alas, this information overload has also worked against the individual since dealing with so much information on a day to day basis and working to keep it consolidated and makes sense of it most of the times takes a toll on the individual mentally. Above, all it requires a lot of discipline on the part of the individual to stick to the plan that was formulated despite making or knowing it through smart apps.

Though these smart apps allow for functions such as budgeting and planning via different tools, in practice it never materializes due to lack of discipline and inability to stick to the same due to impulses / over information on account balances or simply easy credit facilities availed.

Spending curbs and budgeting

The need for today, whether for individuals or families is to keep spending under check and not to shoot the budget that was planned (if at all) for the year. Getting a budget at the beginning of the year for spending on essentials and discretionary items is doing the basics right. Now while all the smart apps might make it easy to roll out a yearly budget, sticking to it while juggling between apps, account, keeping a track and above all having the discipline to not use / ignore the alarms might make the most efficient budget planning exercise seem useless.

Doing it the 20th Century style

20 or 30 years ago, family budgets were done yearly with monthly spending planned during the month, usually at the beginning of the month. This was done by allocating the planned expenditure for the month and all expenses anticipated (essential and / or discretionary) and allocation done before. There used to be a small buffer for unforeseen over budget items during that month, but this could be by a small percent of that period budget. If the spending for that month exhausted the limit, then there was no further spending on that line item or that spending could be rolled over to the following month.

So visualize a typical household budget on a monthly basis with – Food/groceries, staff payments, medical, school payments, travel & transport, communication and many such as being essentials and followed by a list of discretionary spending such as dining & entertainment, short vacations, weddings/parties, shopping nick-knacks etc.

Now imagine there are monthly / annual spending limits on each of these items. The essentials would normally take a uniform run-rate for the entire period however, the discretionary items are the ones that need the regulation / budget on a monthly / annual period.

The traditional way to do this would be to allocate an envelope to each of the expenditure at the start of the month and spend only that which is allocated to that expenditure item. If the envelop goes dry before the end of the month then no further spending occurs and if the there is balance in that then it goes into the emergency envelope that is not to be touched come what may except for emergency.

This method was practiced widely and still is done by many families but due to rapid digitization and quick payment systems, this method is less prevalent. This method might be useful for individuals / families that are struggling with issues of discipline or ones that need to get habituated to such form of spending. It is very rewarding method that helps keeps budgets in control and provide for the ability to get all your spending needs address, however big or small.

If you have not tried this yet or have heard of this right now, it might be time to start on with this without further delay at least for 1 yearly budgeting cycle.

Come April 1, keep these in mind NRIs

Budget 2020 and action items for nrisfirst came the shock and that followed by some clarifications. Nris, it appeared would be taxed on the global incomes here in india. While that seemed onerous and unfair, it was later clarified that it applies to only those who tax residency is ambiguous. Also, the tax net now falls on nri who have incomes generated here in india but still did not end up paying taxes. A few of the important changes and clarifications provided by the government that impact the nri community from april are –1. Nri are liable to pay taxes on the global income in an event their residency status is ambiguous or cannot be established2.

Nri’s located in tax-free jurisdictions (like the middle east and having residency there) are not impacted. 3. Nri will continue as before to pay taxes on their incomes earned in india#1 is the most important change or rather a loophole that has been plugged during the current budget that is applicable from april 1, 2020. There are number of nris who are wealthy and do not have any single permanent residency status and often end up dodging many tax jurisdictions. These individuals would now be liable to pay taxes on their global income here in india. This loophole has therefore been plugged, however, there can still be many tax-free jurisdictions that might offer an escape route for the nris like in the middle east or other tax havens with liberal residency laws. #2 has been more of a clarification in the post budget interaction sessions and this therefore is a status quo from the earlier period where tax-free domiciled residents will not be taxed on the income from those jurisdictions as has been the case till now. #3 as a result applies to nri to pay taxes on all indian origin incomes as before.

There has been a clarification that this will not change. Residency provisions tweakedanother anti-abuse provision that was used by some nri was the rule of no. Of days stay. Now the rule of minimum 183 day stay out of india for being nri has been raised to 240 days and this makes frequent travellers claiming nri status a little more difficult. Another loophole being plugged, albeit partially.

Your Checklist On Taxes For The Financial Year End!

We are just a few days to go before this financial year (2019-20) comes to a close. Though you have time till July 31st, 2020 to file your income tax returns, there are a number of activities that you need to do by March 31st, 2020 to claim the benefits in this assessment year (AY 2020 – 21). The finance minister came out with a series of extensions in dates till June 30th, 2020; but this is restricted mainly to tax saving investments.   Thus, you may have a bit of a breather on your tax saving investments.  Here is a checklist of items that you should go through to make sure that you have availed all the tax benefits available under different provisions of the Income Tax Act.

 

  • Set off your capital gains for the year with the losses:  If you do have capital gains for the year upto January 2020 when markets were relatively buoyant, you would have a number of stocks or even mutual funds that would be showing losses.  You can book some losses and set off the capital gains. You would want to optimise your capital gains in a difficult year. Do check if you have exit loads on your mutual funds before booking the losses.  This needs to be executed by March 31 for one to avail of the benefit.
  • Section 80C: You can claim deduction of up to Rs 1.5 lakhs from your gross taxable income by investing in schemes eligible u/s 80C. These schemes are EPF, VPF, PPF, NSC, tax saver bank FDs, life insurance premiums, mutual fund ELSS etc. Tax payers who are not getting a salaried income and not having PF and other tax saving investments must make sure that they avail maximum benefits. Senior citizens and parents of girl children can claim deductions by investing in Senior Citizens Savings Scheme and Sukanya Samruddhi Yojana subject to the overall Rs 1.5 lakhs 80C limit. Investors paying home loan EMIs can claim deduction for principal payments made during the financial year. Benefit extended till June 30th.
  • Section 80D (Medical insurance): You can claim Rs 25,000 of additional deduction for medical insurance premiums for yourself and your family (seni or citizens can claim up to Rs 50,000). You can claim a further deduction of Rs 25,000 for medical insurance premiums of dependent parents (Rs 30,000 if your parents are senior citizens).  Benefit extended till June 30th.
  • Section 80CCD (NPS): You claim additional Rs 50,000 deduction, over and above Section 80C limit of Rs 1.5 lakhs, by investing in National Pension Scheme. You can claim total deduction of Rs 2 lakhs by investing Rs 1.5 lakhs u/s 80C and Rs 50,000 in NPS. Benefit extended till June 30th.
  • Section 24 (Interest payment on home loan): You can claim up to Rs 2 lakhs deduction for interest payments in your home loan EMI for self-occupied house. If you are paying home loan EMIs for a let out house, the loss is restricted to Rs 2 lakhs in a financial year.
  • Section 80E (Interest payment on higher education loan): If you have taken loan for your, spouse or children’s higher education, then the entire interest payment can be claimed as deduction from your gross taxable income.
  • Section 80G (donations to charities): Donation made to tax exempt charities is allowed to be claimed as deduction at the rate of 50% or 100% (of the contributed amount) depending on the charity and as per approval granted by prescribed income tax authorities.

 

  • Check your surcharge bracket:  You maybe able to claim exemptions/deductions and set off your losses to reduce your net income to below the surcharge brackets (Rs 50 lakh / 1 Cr / 2 Cr / 5 Cr) if your income is on the border.  Plan before March 31st, because only tax saving investments are extended till June 30th.

 

  • Pay Advance Tax by March 31st: Tax payers who have income from other sources (e.g. rent, FD interest, capital gains etc) should make sure that they pay advance tax by March 31st, 2020. If you have worked in two different companies, you are likely to have to pay additional taxes for the year when you consolidate the two form 16s. If do not pay Advance Tax on time, you will have to pay interest @ of 0.75% per month of delayed tax payment (reduced from 1% per month for the period upto June 30th), even if you file your IT returns on time. For example, if your tax obligation over and above tax deducted at source (TDS) on March 31st is Rs 5 lakhs, you will have to pay Rs 16,250 as interest if you are filing your ITR and paying tax on July 31st

Summary

You can save a lot of money in taxes by availing the benefits available under different provisions of Income Tax Act. In this article, we have shared with you a checklist of items that you should review and make sure that you get maximum benefits. In addition to the tax savings avenues shared in this article, there may be other depending on your specific situations. If you need help with your tax planning feel free to email us at contactus@righthorizons.com .

How to spend your month-end happily?

Have you ever reached the end of the month with almost nothing in your pocket and bank account? If so, you’re not alone. In fact, many Indians, often with large families, are living pay cheque-to-pay cheque. It can be one of the hardest cycles to break. Below are some tips on how to spend your month end happily and without worries.

Know Your Exact Budget

The biggest trick to help you spend less than you earn is to know exactly what you are earning and exactly where are you spending. It sounds simple, but