5 Healthy financial practices post-COVID

New rules for the new world order
What’s the easiest, most certain way to achieve your financial goals even in uncertain times?
Healthy financial habits.

Any goal you want to achieve is reachable through a few key habits with a little bit of time. It’s really that simple. Here are a few of these practices that you can include in your financial habits.

1. Leverage the gig economy.
On-demand contract work and the gig economy was possible even before the pandemic. But the paradigm shift in corporate culture has caused several companies to transform almost overnight. Gig economy workers have the benefits of earning money on their terms. The flight to digital and remote models of working have opened up opportunities to

2. Review expenses and savings
Even if salary budgets have been slashed, the virus outbreak has influenced consumer expenses in every industry (think cuts in expenses like fuel, travel, entertainment, shopping, dining outdoors, etc). Spending behaviors are settling into a new normal with a shift to value and essentials. You may also try to further optimize your cash flows and treat the margins as impact savings.

3. Reprice or refinance your home loans
Interest rates have also taken a plunge over the last few months. If one has home loans, check your rates of interest, and approach your bank for lowered rates. It is an opportune time for homeowners to review monthly cash outlays and ease up financial strains. You may either refinance (i.e., take a loan with another bank with lower rates of interest) or reprice (switch to a more competitive loan plan with the same bank), depending on which works for you best.

4. Review your financial plan
You may use the time to also re-visit your financial plan. Take an inventory of all your assets and liabilities and check for optimal diversification. Re-evaluate your choices. See if you have financial plans that can balance out your risks and guarantee safer and more secure returns. Re-shuffle your investments. Consult a professional if it helps.

5. Review your insurance covers
COVID-19 is a wake-up call. Very low medical covers in the past have fallen woefully short considering the number of days one is likely to be hospitalized if tested positive and serious. Check for the family floater plan of Rs 10L/25L/50L. The good news is that incremental premium is much lower for these. Protection instruments like health and life insurances can leave your savings scot-free while retaining your family’s lifestyle and long-term financial goals without disruption.

As local and global communities re-orient themselves to the new norm at a time such as this, you can re-organize your finances. The proverbial rainy day is here, and if you’ve made it this far, you can secure the future for you and your family. Even amid a pandemic, you can identify the new rules of financial planning and optimize.

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 include 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 the 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 sector.  One can opt for this measure if one would like to create a small buffer to tide over what might be a 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 made Additional payment on loan(Rs) Closure of loan (months)
At end of the loan                                  263,456                                    123 
Repaid in full in 12 months (with interest) 14,169                                    120 
EMI repaid after 3 months 6,398                                    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

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 .

What should I bear in mind on the financial front while advancing from employment to startup mode?

Startup planning

What should I bear in mind on the financial front while advancing from employment to startup mode?

– Congratulations and best wishes to being an entrepreneur.
– Please make a financial plan and protect your family.
– Back up capital, especially if spouse isn’t working.
– Diversify any concentrated investment, eg. 3cr to 1 cr.
– I also started early, and this helped a lot
– Separate your business from your family.

Whatsapp : +919845399780

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

Take charge of your finances

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.

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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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.