Financial Planning

Friday, January 11 2019
Source/Contribution by : NJ Publications

All of us have big dreams like going on a annual foreign holiday, buying a large house in a posh locality, sending our child to the best school / college and retiring in comfort at the age of 50 and we work hard and save harder toachieve them. Irrespective of our financial status in life, certain basic goals like child's education and marriage, purchase of house and our own retirement are non-negotiable and unavoidable. The sooner we plan and save for these goals, the better is the utilization of the power of compounding in our favour.

For the salaried employee, the 15 years of his life starting from 35 years going up to 50 years is the best phase of his life as he is at the peak of his career and income. If we apply the 80/20 rule here, then 80% of his lifetime investments in done in this phase of his life. Therefore, he needs to be prudent while allocating his money and not go overboard on any particular investment.

Let us examine some of life's critical goals in order of importance:

PROTECTING YOUR LOVED ONES :
This is the single most important goal. As our lifestyles get more hectic and stressful, it is important for the earning member(s) of the family to be protected against any unfortunate events. Buying a term insurance plan is the best available option to protect your loved ones. Today, a Rs. 1 crore cover for a 30 year old non-smoking male for a 30 year term costs approx. Rs. 8,000 p.a. The same cover for a female will cost approx. Rs. 7,000 p.a.

PROTECTING YOUR HEALTH :
As countries get more developed and our cities more urbanized, people have developed sedentary lifestyles with greater rates of obesity and consume more processed foods, alcoholic beverages and tobacco. The result is lifestyle related diseases like Alzheimer's, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, depression etc. are on the increase and account for majority of deaths in metros and cities. While this has resulted in a range of medical institutions and professionals on call to help people with these diseases, the costs of availing these services is escalating on a daily basis and is on the verge of becoming unaffordable for an average middle class person. Therefore, buying a health insurance policy either on a individual or family basis is critical to cover the family against any future health related emergencies. Today, a Rs. 4 lacs health cover for a 30 year old married person covering spouse and child will cost approx. Rs. 7,000 – 9,000 p.a.

PROTECTING YOUR OLD AGE :
According to a recent study titled "The Future of Retirement" published by Bloomberg which covered 20 highly developed and rapidly developing nations, India has the highest percentage of men 60 years or older in the labour force at 55%. Similarly, India also has the highest percent of elderly living in households with their adult children at 82.8%. The second highest is China at 64%. India is also among the top 10 countries in terms of percentage of elderly living in poverty at 21.8%. Retirement planning is clearly the most overlooked and avoided subject in any conversation among 30 year old salaried individuals. But as responsible and mature individuals, we have to take ownership of the fact that one day our salaries will stop and we will have to depend on our investments to fund our daily expenses. The sooner we accept this fact and start planning for our retirement, the more peaceful and stress free will be our retired lives. The cost of delaying retirement planning is best explained in the following example:

Even though Rakesh and Rajesh invest more money than Rajeev, their final retirement corpus is significantly lesser compared to Rajeev. This is the benefit of starting early and allowing the power of compounding to work in your favour.

CHILD'S EDUCATION :
The greatest gift that a parent can give the child is good and quality education. It is one of the toughest goals to plan for due to the competitive environment and high costs involved. Planning for your child's education involves determining when the child will be ready for higher education which is usually at the age of 21 or 22 years, followed by estimating the cost of the higher education today and on the target date when the child is 21 years. Cost of higher education has been increasing at approx. 10% p.a. Once we know the future cost of higher education, we need to work backwards to calculate how much to save on a monthly / quarterly basis and and in what investment avenues. Equities is the preferred investment for goals where the time horizon is more than 5 years.

BUYING A HOUSE :
For the average salaried person, this is a big budget goal due to the high prices of houses pan India. Home loans help to bridge the gap between the person's current savings and the cost of the house. Ideally, a house should be bought in the early part of a person's career as it typically takes 15 – 20 years to pay off the home loan. It is important to create a corpus which is approx. 20% of the cost of the house as this is the down payment that has to be provided by the home buyer. The rest of the amount will be funded by the bank. Balanced and income funds can be good investment options for creating the corpus for the down payment.

We need to classify all our goals into 3 buckets, namely short term, medium term and long term. Investments made for short term goals need to be more liquid in nature and less volatile as compared to investments made for medium and long term goals. A ready reckoner is given below to help you plan your investments in a systematic manner:

Whatever be our goals or dreams in life, it is important that we write them down, classify them as either short, medium or long term and accordingly select the appropriate investment options to help fulfill those goals.

"A goal that is not planned is a wish; a dream that is not chased is a fantasy." - Dr. Steve Maraboli

 

Friday, November 09 2018
Source/Contribution by : NJ Publications

Ever wondered how much should you invest in equities? In what time will your money double? Most of our money related questions often have complex answers which are boring and beyond comprehension for most of us. Well, now you can take a break from the calculators and take a look at a few quick thumb rules, often used by financial planners /advisors, to answer our questions. These thumb rules are interesting, easy calculation tips which we can use in our daily lives. But we also have to be careful as the results are often approximate and may not be 'exact' answers we are looking for. It will be up to you and your financial planner /advisor to help you take the right wealth management decisions.

When Will Your Money Multiply? The Compounding Rules Of 72 And 114.
The Rule of 72 tells us in how much time will our money double given a rate of return or interest. Simply divide 72 with your annualised returns to arrive at the number of years. For eg., if the interest rate is 8%, then it will take approximately (72/8 = 9) nine years to double your money. Turn the corner and it can also help you know the required rate of return to double your money in a given time. For eg., if the time available is 6 years, the returns required to double the money will be (72/6 = 12) 12% yearly. Likewise, there is also a Rule of 114 where 114 is used in place of 72 to triple (3x) the money.

How Much Will My Money Worth In Future? The Rule Of 70.
Inflation is one important thing to keep in mind when planning for future. But calculating the effect of inflation is not easy for most of us. This rule can be an useful tool for predicting your future buying power. Simply divide 70 by the current inflation rate to find the approximate time your money will take to reduce to half its' present value. For eg., inflation of 7% will reduce the 'value' of your money to 'half' in (70/7 = 10) 10 years.

How Much Should You Invest In Equities? 100 Minus Your Age Rule.
One of the basic ideas while investing in equities is to reduce the exposure as you grow older. But, apart from age, there are also many other factors affecting your asset allocation which makes risk profiling an important exercise. For the rest of us, this rule easily gives an idea on the extent of equity exposure, considering the age. For eg., if your age is 40, your equity exposure should be at (100-40 = 60) 60%. The balance would be invested in debt and other safer asset classes. Note that this old rule is contested by many experts today who argue that 100 be replaced by 110 or 120 or even higher considering the need for wealth creation, longer life expectancy and low debt returns.

Can I Afford That New Car? The 20/4/10 Rule Of Buying Vehicle.
This rule is used especially at the time of buying vehicles or similar assets. The rule says that while getting a loan for a vehicle, you should first put down at least 20% as the down-payment, the loan term should not be for more than 4 years and that your total monthly transportation costs (including EMIs) should not be over 10% of your income. This rule can thus also help you know whether you can trully afford to buy the vehicle of your choice.

How Much Should I Withdraw To Keep My Principal Intact? The Four Percent Rule.
This rule is used very often in retirement planning where the idea is to arrive at a withdrawal figure every year that will keep the retirement kitty intact while you are not generating any other income. The rule says that we can withdraw 4% annually from the outstanding balance amount to keep the absolute value of the retirement kitty (or any principal) intact. While there are many faults and misses in this assumption, like the rate of return, inflation, life expectancy, etc., the underlying idea is not entirely lost. Some experts say that the actual figure should be less than 4%, preferably 3%. The lesser the figure the better it is as it can ensure you do not run out of your retirement kitty any time soon.

How Much Should I Earn After Retirement? The 80% Replacement Income Rule:
Many experts believe that we should aim for replacement of 80% of our income after retirement to live comfortably. This presumably takes care of the reduced expenses on one hand while maintaining the living standards on the other hand. This income would be generated from retirement kitty investments and/or through income earning activities. Some experts believe that this figure can be bit lower, say at 75%. Note that having a big retirement kitty would increasingly help in reducing the need for non-investment income after retirement.

Pay Yourself First Rule:
This is a simple yet very important rule used in financial planning, especially retirement planning. The rule requires us to save for our own future (read retirement) first before anything else. The idea is to make an automatic arrangement from your bank account every month so that, the money is auto-deducted first every month after your receive your cash inflow, like salary. The process of automatic routing is said to be like 'paying yourself first' since money is deducted before other expenses are incurred.

Other Common Rules:

  • The 10% Savings Rule: Most experts believe that the savings rate should be a minimum of 10% of your gross household income. A better goal is to aim higher. Another popular rule is to start saving 10% for meeting basic needs, 15% for comfort and 20% for freedom when you are young.
  • The 3 Month Emergency Fund Rule: The idea is to have at least 3 months and going up to 6 months, of living expenses as emergency fund in addition to your savings for other goals. This of course depends on the nature of our work, risks and possibilities of finding new source of income soon.
  • The 6 Times Life Cover Rule: This rule simply says that your life insurance policy should be at least 6 times of your total household income. If the 6 times would seems inadequate, note that we are well advised to have a higher cover.
  • The 20% Down-payment, Two Times Home Loan Rule: This rule says that while buying a home, we should put down 20% as down-payment and avoid taking a loan over 2 times of our total household income. If we cannot afford the 20% down-payment rule, it probably means that we cannot afford that home itself.
  • 20 times Income Rule For Retirement Kitty: How much retirement kitty you will need is a big question. There are many calculations available but this simple rule says that it is 20x of your gross total income at the time of retirement.
  • Pay Highest Interest Rate Debt first: This rule points out which loan has to be repaid on priority first – it is the one that carries the highest rate of interest. Usually, the order would be credit card first, then bank overdraft, personal loan, vehicle loan and lastly home loans.
  • Don't Take An Education Loan More Than The Expected First Year Salary: With rising education costs, this one rule can help decide whether to pursue an education course on loan or not. Following this rule will help avoid the struggle to repay loan after the education is completed. Ever wondered how a wealthy person.

 

Friday, August 24 2018
Source/Contribution by : NJ Publications

It may be expected from the blogs at this place, regardless of the topic, that it’ll revolve around the financial aspect of life. But when it comes to the growth of kids, and their financial security, with sufficient experience and observation, you will figure that no matter how strongly you secure your kids’ future financial position, stability and growth only happens by developing requisite skills and understanding of the world around.

Therefore, I’ll start with essential financial measures you must take as a parent to ensure a safe financial journey for your kids, but will extend the text to include ways to ensure that your kid’s future is secure even without your money. First we start with the steps to provide for the minimum required financial security to your kids and any other dependents:

1. Life Insurance
Life insurance is the most basic of the tools, to start with once you have any dependent. Since for first 20 – 25 years of life your kids are going to be financially dependent on you, it is important that this dependency is safeguarded and provided for even if you are not there to provide for it. Your next question may be about how much is needed, so there is a detailed analysis of future requirements that can be done by your wealth manager/ financial planner.

In case you are yet to consult an advisor, and want some cover immediately, you may go for a term cover of 10 times of your annual income; i.e. if your income is Rs. 10,00,000 p.a. your life cover will be of Rs. 1 cr. for which annual premium can range from Rs. 9,600 to Rs. 15,000 depending on the insurer services.

2. Health/ Disability/ Critical Illness (C.I.) Insurance
Health insurance or disability insurance is more important than life insurance for you, as one must have a health insurance even if he/she does not have any dependents. Main reason being, disability or bad health may curtail your earning capacity and badly damage your long term financial scopes by digging into your existing savings.

When you have kids to look after as well, their health also becomes an important factor. Starting FY 2014-15 you can also get a deduction of Rs. 5000 on preventive health care expenses, but given the rising cost of medical expenses that may not be enough. The way out is to look for a health insurance policy that gives you both hospitalization cover and reimbursement for health checkup expenses.

A reasonable amount for individual health policy given the future level of costs is Rs. 500,000, but again if you can afford you may go for higher Sum Assured (S.A.). For Critical Illness, expenses may be even higher and thus usually at least 4 times of S.A. is recommended for C.I. policies of that of health cover. E.g. if you have a health cover of Rs. 5 Lakh you can go for a Rs. 20 Lakh C.I. cover.

3. Emergency Fund
Emergency Fund is that money, which fills the gap between insured costs and regular expenses, for example job loss, or any other financial emergency, not covered by any insurance policy. Also sometimes you may have to bear some amount of expenses out of your pocket before you can get the insurer to cover the costs. Emergency fund comes in handy in such situations.

Most of the money for emergency fund is kept in fairly liquid investments like, Super Saver accounts, easily accessible fixed deposits or Money Market Funds. The amount of emergency fund depends on your monthly expenses. Though, it’s better to let a qualified financial advisor give you this estimate after a thorough study, in general you may follow the rule of 4 – 6 months of expenses as emergency fund.

Another major benefit of emergency fund is that even when your financial situation becomes tight, your long term financial goals will not be harmed by sudden and temporary setback.

4. Regular Goal Based Saving
After you have completed the contingency planning, time is to pack your bags and start moving towards the long term goals with peace of mind. Again it’s recommended that you take assistance of an advisor to plan your goals thoroughly, but just in case you are not, this is how you go about them:

Step 1: Write all your goals.
Step 2: Put them in a priority order
Step 3: Estimate current cost of these goals
Step 4: Multiply this cost by the multiplier given in the table below, depending on the number of years to the goal:

Year Multiplier
5 1.5
10 2
15 2.5
20 3.5
25 5
30 7.5

So, for example, current total cost of your kid’s marriage can be Rs. 10,00,000, but his/her marriage is due in about 20 years from now, therefore approximate cost of it will be around Rs. 35 Lakh (10,00,000 x 3.5). Though, remember that this table only provides an approximation actual expenses may vary widely if there is high inflation.

Step 5: Determine the monthly saving required for the goal by dividing the future cost calculated above with the number of months available to that goal.

E.g. in the above example: Marriage expense comes out to be Rs. 35 Lakh, but it is 20 years or 240 (20 x 12) months away. Thus, if you save Rs. 35,00,000 ÷ 240 = Rs. 14,583 per month, you can achieve this goal.

Again, however, this kind of calculation does not provide for interest earned on saving so you may simply reduce the monthly investment amount to some extent.

Step 6: Start investing in the following manner:

Time Investment
Less than 5 Years RD / FD / Guilt Funds / FMPs
5 to 10 years Balanced Funds / Diversified Debt Funds
More than 10 years Equity Shares / Equity Funds / Gold / Real Estate

Important Things to do Other Than Investment and Insurance
Now that, you have financially prepared yourself to tackle almost every need of your kid, you need to think ahead and prepare your child for the challenges of the future. Following steps can be taken to allow kids to develop their skills and understanding:

1. Confidence Building in Kids
You may have seen that, confidence in people define their financial success. Confidence itself on the other hand comes from certain external and internal factors, such as beliefs, values and small successes. The internal level of confidence may exist in kids but it also requires nurturing and external support to grow and become strong. This can be done by two very small acts:

  1. Freedom to experiment: Teach kids how to handle failures, and learn from their mistakes, rectify them and try again.
  2. Measure success: Success if measured simply in mind can be overrated or underrated, generating unreasonable emotional exhilaration or anxiety. Both are dangerous for long term success and confidence. Thus, teaching kids about measuring their successes on practical parameters is a good way to build their internal confidence and self-belief.

5. Help them identify issues and overcome obstacles in life In today’s world no one can claim to know everything or have seen everything, but we can always try to know what went wrong or what is being a roadblock in our success. With your experience of handling some of the issues you faced in your life you can help your kid to develop that intelligence and wisdom to look ahead and tackle small and big obstacles in their lives. Important thing is to develop that methodical thinking which divulges and explores the details rather than simply skimming the surface and getting emotionally bogged down by the issues.

The richest people in the world look for and build networks; everyone else looks for work. - Robert Kiyosaki

6. Making them financially literate
Financial awareness is another important aspect of life, you can look at it in the way that when you had been a kid only formula for money was to keep your expenses as low as possible and save money. But with time saving alone is not enough, knowing true nature of money and how it can be multiplied is also required. Moreover, this step sets up the right expectation in your kids’ mind about money.

7. Giving them exposure to face the world
Since, world is made up of lots and lots of people, it is important to know as many people as possible and know how to deal with them, in short ‘how the world works?’ Motivating your kids to participate in community projects, speak up their minds on issues even if they are among quite senior and serious people, will give them confidence and courage to hold their point and participate on the stage, rather than just sit among the audience and clap.

8. Helping Kids to work on their dreams
Finally, with all the internal qualities and confidence, the last straw that makes any one successful is his/her vision for life. Kids, you will find are good at developing and harboring their own very unique vision of their world, need is to help them shape it so that they can go out and live those dreams and be successful in the way they want to be successful. After all, each individual has a different definition of success, but the result for each is almost the same level of gratification and prosperity.

Friday, April 27 2018
Source/Contribution by : NJ Publications

1. An Emotional Guide: In investing, emotions play the devil's role. If left unchecked, they can easily ruin one's entire financial life. Hence, there is so much talk of taking emotions out of financial decision making. A financial advisor does just that by playing the role of an emotional anchor in your financial journey. He will help you stick to your goals and financial plans, irrespective of whether markets are riding waves or are in dire straits. He/she will help in managing your emotions of greed, hope and fear in different market times. These are aspects most important when we consider a life-time of investments.

2. Helps you in Understanding Self: You often don't know what you don't know. A true financial advisor attempts to draw a full picture of you in financial terms. He aspires to see not only the present but also the future. Perhaps, he knows more about you than you know about yourself, if you have been honest with him. It is with the help of a financial advisor that you can dissect your financial life to minute details and plan for every small and big financial goal. He will be able to help you find and fill your weaknesses and build on your strengths as you progress in your life. He will even warn you of dangers and risks which you do not see. While undergoing a proper financial planning, the advisor will also help you spell out your financial goals and priorities them as per your needs and risk profile. The entire process and experience can unravel new things for you.

3. Ensures Continuity in your Plans: It is one thing to make a plan and another to stick to it. Paul Samuelson once said, “Investing should be more like watching paint dry or watching grass grow. If you want excitement, take $800 and go to Las Vegas.” However, it is not easy as short term, immediate concerns often overshadow our long term commitments. A financial adviser is one who can help you maintain continuity in investing. More than anything else, it is the time in market rather than superior products or market timing that dictates returns in the long run. The financial advisor helps you to be patient and reap the full benefits of time and continuity in investments.

4. Source of Experience & Knowledge: A financial advisor often carries with him knowledge and wisdom that he has gained from being in the industry full time, for many years and his constant learning in the business. Financial services is an industry that requires regular studies and being updated of all new developments, be it regulations, market situations or product features. As individual investors, this may be too much & may come at the cost of your time, energy and money. Knowledge and wisdom is difficult to gather and should not be mistaken for information, which is readily available. Whenever you are lost or are facing any doubts or need any help in a financial decision, your financial advisor will be there for you.

5. Motivation to Excel: No one dives into a swimming pool eagerly for the first time, often it is either an instructor or a friend or a parent behind you who pushes you. Like any parent or teacher, a financial advisor has one hidden desire from each of his clients. He wants them to outgrow themselves and become bigger and better investors, in all aspects. Driven by this desire, a financial advisor would push you to do things you may not be fully prepared with. Whether it is controlling spending, forcing you to avoid unverified investments out of greed, making you save for your goals or forcing you to invest more, behind every decision is the desire for your long term well-being. Perhaps, most of the investors would not be even half of their portfolio worth today, had it not been for their financial advisors. He sets newer, higher goals and aspirations for you which you never thought were possible. The constant nagging, motivation, control and aspirational attitude bridges the gap between what you already are and what you can possibly be.

6. Life long Partner: A financial advisor sees you not just a single transaction driven customer, but as a potential, life long partner in your financial journey. The long term relationship is something that he values and expects from every good investor. For him you are never an individual, but a family that can extend into different generations. Hence, it is important for you to have a trust worthy financial advisor. This is a journey where he will be there in all ups and downs in your personal life (and markets) and will help you avoid and face various challenges in life. As the ultimate aim is financial well-being, a financial advisor will seek not only grow but also protect your wealth, always keeping the bigger picture in mind. As a mutually beneficial relationship, the financial advisor sees his well-being only conditional upon your well-being, to its fullest extent.

7. The obvious reasons: Well, the obvious reasons for which you think a financial advisor is required, actually comes last in our list. Reasons like operational support, saving time, consolidation of entire investment portfolio, keeping regular track of investments, regular portfolio review, timely communication of portfolio and transaction information, resolving any queries or issues in investments, keeping abreast with regulatory requirements, etc., are the many additional reasons why a financial advisor is needed. He helps you do all this which in turn helps you save a lot of time, hassles, efforts and worries. With the advent of technology and digital processes, a financial advisor uses them as his tools as a master, keeping control and managing them smartly to bring greater convenience for clients.

Conclusion
A financial advisor is more than the sum of all investment decisions that he can help you make in your life-time. How about starting with a simple question – Can you add the value of all decisions that you have 'not' taken because of your advisor? Can you value the portfolio he suggested against a portfolio you would have created in his absence? How about valuing the time you have remained invested or the additional investments you made, courtesy your advisor? The fact is, it is easier to think about making isolated investment decisions but difficult to imagine and create the bigger picture and keeping it relevant for years and years. A financial advisor not only helps you in deciding, but also helps you in deciding what to decide. Simply being with you, assuring you and helping you as you may 'need' and a promise for a life-time of same, goes a very long way in you being confident in your investment journey today. This new year, it is time to put a word of heartfelt thanks out to your financial advisor too in response to his new year wishes for your well-being.

 

Friday, March 09 2018
Source/Contribution by : NJ Publications

Mr. Jaitley had remarked in his budget speech that we are a tax non-compliant country and that not paying taxes and filing returns has become a culture. The government has been working overtime to ensure that there is greater tax compliance by widening the tax net in order to change this culture. Adopting the carrot & stick approach, the government has gone ahead with this agenda in full earnest. One thing is clear, doing business in cash, hiding income and spending that black money is going to be increasingly difficult going ahead. For the tax payers, the government has doled out many good incentives and relaxations in procedures in this budget to motivate them to disclose their income and pay taxes. At the starting line for those intending to file returns, there is incentive for the person filing returns for the first time as there will be no scrutiny of same. Tax returns form is also being simplified for the person filing in the first tax slab of income upto R5 lakhs. Thus, if there is anything one must do - it is to file tax returns with full honesty, in the service of this nation. For those worrying about tax outgo, it can always be reduced legally and with full legitimacy by making proper use of the tax saving provisions already provided. This exercise of reducing your tax liability legally is called tax planning. If you are new to filing returns or one who has done it earlier, only few weeks remain till 31st March, which is the deadline for making any tax planning related investments or spendings. In this hurry, this article presents a brief introduction to the process of tax planning and also puts forth a few tips on things to avoid in the exercise.

HOW TO DO TAX PLANNING?

For proper tax planning exercise, it is always recommended that you approach your tax or financial advisor asap and sit with him for the same. Experienced persons who have done this many times would find tax planning easier. Even then, there is no harm in consulting your advisor for the same. For those intending to brush up their knowledge, you can always look out for tax planning related articles and list of avenues to save taxes. The following three step process is generally understood to be a universal tax planning process. Please note that this is a simplistic approach for individual clients which essentially covers the important aspects of tax planning.

1. Calculate Your Taxable Income: The tax is levied on your taxable income, so the first step is to ascertain how much your taxable income will be for the year. There are different heads of income and income in each of it is calculated and treated differently, so it is not going to be very simple. As the first step, you need to sit down and calculate your income from all these heads to arrive at your taxable income. There is no need to arrive at a perfect figure at this moment as this exercise is only to approximately arrive at the taxable income to know the extent of the tax savings you need to do.

2. Calculate spendings & savings eligible for tax breaks: During the year you may have, knowingly or unknowingly, done some expenses and investments which qualify for tax breaks. The most common sections to look for are 80C/80CCC/80CCD (for eligible investments), 80D (medical insurance premium), Section 24 (home loan interest) and 80G (donations). These are just examples and there could be many other sections applicable to you. An important thing to remember is that your spending /savings must have been done by you and the necessary supporting documents or proofs for the same is available with you. The idea here is to calculate the limits provided by IT rules which you have already exhausted under different sections and the balance still available for you to make use of.

3. Planning For Tax Savings: After knowing your taxable income, how much you will need to save and the avenues still available for you to exploit, the final step is to decide what further needs to be done to

save taxes. Frankly, it is your decision and many, at the lower end of tax liabilities, may choose to pay nominal taxes. But if you intend to save as much as you can in taxes, then you will need to plan making further investments. Explore all available avenues and plan your investments as per your preferences.

WHAT NOT TO DO?

In tax planning it is also important to not do few things which will defeat or dilute the whole exercise of tax planning. Any financial decision we make may have huge financial repercussions. Your decisions should be well-thought of, well researched and should be done carefully with patience. Here are few things which you should not be doing...

1. Postpone tax planning decisions further: We have been saving it for long. Tax planning is not a year-end exercise but a year beginning exercise. But if you are late or if you feel there is more scope to save taxes, your available time window is still open, but only for a few weeks. Remember, that tax planning, consultations have to be done now so that you have time to execute your decisions well in advance before 31st March.

2. Focus only on Tax Savings: In India, tax planning in itself is considered as a stand alone financial objective and activity by many. Frankly, nothing can be farther from truth. No investment or expenses should be done purely for the purpose of tax savings. Tax saving can be an additional incentive and objective for another primary objective or need which you should look to fulfill. Think about it, it can be better health protection, social service and so on or simply wealth creation.

3. Buy insurance for tax saving purposes: The idea here is already covered in point above but frankly it needs special mention as most insurance products are sold in these last couple of months purely in the name of tax savings. Please note that insurance is a good avenue and everyone should buy proper insurance policies but they should be driven by your insurance need. If the insurance policy fits the bill for proper insurance coverage which you 'actually need', then only think of buying that policy as you never know when you may need that coverage. Buying insurance, which is like long-term contract with low returns, for tax savings is not a good idea and there are better products for that purpose.

4. Investing more than needed: You can always go overboard after exhausting your limits available for tax planning and there is no downside in doing it. The idea behind this point is that do not make the mistake of a forced financial decision just to save taxes when you don't actually need it. Since the tax saving avenues come with certain restrictions and/or limitations, it is better that we do not go overboard with them. Exceeding your tax saving limits is welcome when those financial decisions are driven by your financial objectives and other needs and not by tax savings.

Take Away:

A nation becomes great when its people fulfill their duties and responsibilities with honesty. Taxes is not something which we give as charity or is stolen from us. It is the fair and deserving price for the opportunities, liberties and well-being we enjoy as citizens of this nation. If all of us share the burden of empowering our nation, together we and our future generations will enjoy its fruits for times to come. Tax planning is not just about saving taxes alone, but also about showing,declaring and paying your taxes. Let us do what is not only in our best interests, but also what is expected from us in the best interests of our nation.

 

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