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What's the purpose of investing?

"Investment" - This word is much used and often much abused one. One keeps on hearing this almost all the time be it in office or catching up with friends or attending a family functions - almost everywhere. More so when we are fed with lot of information about how one needs to make money work to get more money.
However, for a lot of people, the clarity on one question is often lacking - What is the purpose of investing?
And even if one knows his/ her purpose of investing, it is often not implemented in real life. For instance, purpose of one's investments may be having sufficient funds in times of need. Yet they may opt for a personal loan when faced with pressing need for money.
Based upon my observations, below are some of the most common purpose of investments (in no particular order)
I invest because there is some sufficient funds lying with me and I can get great returns.I am investing for some specific goal - buying a house, education of kids, marriage of kids and so …
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Use affiliates to get cashback on eCommerce shopping

Are you someone who can't wait for the Amazon or Flipkart sale to begin & put on your shopping hat? Or you shop for (almost) all your major needs like grocery, medicines and more via eCommerce, irrespective of the offers?

Apart from the regular discounts they offer and using wallets to get cashbacks & discounts, here is another way you can get additional cashbacks --Use affiliates to to the website where you want to shop!

There are several affiliate websites which can help you get a good deal. The way they work is that they send traffic to the eCommerce website & get a commission for referring the users and enabling purchase. Many of these affiliates pass on the benefit to the end customer in form of cashbacks. 

In India, some of the affiliates you can use are Cashkaro, GoPaisa, Cash Pe Cash on JioMoney and many more.

Most of these cashbacks work on mobile websites only (and not Apps). Cashback rates usually varies according to product category and the website and are usua…

5 benefits of taking a personal loan

In my earlier posts I have often argued that personal loan is one of the worst form of loans, and I stand by it. And maybe, this subject line may seem to be a click bait!

Yet there are few benefits (relatively speaking!) of taking a persona loan vis a vis the other alternatives available at that point of time. 

Here are a few of them:
It can help you tide over unforeseen emergency. (e.g medical, or sudden unplanned expense for child's education). It may, at times be, less worse option than taking a credit card debt, or maybe even a consumer loan (depending upon the rate of interest offers)If you analyse your personal loans and realize that you have been losing lot of money, you may be tempted to take corrective actions and this can do wonders for you in long run!It may help you build a credit history. Not sure, if taking personal loan is worth it, though. And if instant gratification at the cost of potentially paying more for it (and jeopardizing financial planning a bit) is somethin…

Long term opportunity cost of impulse spending

In one of my earlier blog posts - Saving & investing money versus living life king size I have broached upon the concept of  opportunity cost of saving/ investing. Post which I had discussion with few people on this and realized that this can be a concept that can be explored further.

Whatever you choose to spend/ splurge has a associated associated opportunity cost in terms of what that money can do in terms of future value if it is invested somewhere. For instance the fifth wrist watch you added to your collection after spending Rs. 3500 could have been avoided, and you could have invested equivalent amount elsewhere. Or the 4 unnecessary weekend pub hopping which costed you Rs. 5000 could have been invested somewhere. Or spending Rs. 500 per month on your DTH subscription which you don't use because you have Netflix & YouTube! Or the Rs. 1200 worth of new gym bag when a regular bag may suffice ...

Agreed that one can't keep on doing this for each and every spending. F…

3 investment mistakes to avoid

There are several approaches to investing one can take. And there can be many of these approaches that can be right. Not necessarily the ones with maximum returns, but the ones which fit your objectives. It can be maximization of returns (but with capacity to take risk), capital protection, diversify and so on.

Yet we make mistakes. Almost everyone does at some point of time or other. And many times. However, some mistakes are more common than others. 

Based upon my observations, here are the most common mistakes that investors make:


1. Too much debt in life - These people typically correlate affordability of things to access to loans & availability of EMIs. EMIs can come in different shapes and sizes. It can be 10% car loan, 12% personal loan, 14% consumer loan or 36% credit card debt! And before you realize. you are in a debt trap. Many of these people may though, not stop SIPs in stock market, because "stock markets give 15% assured returns in long run", they have been t…

Saving & investing money versus living life king size

Should you save money or should you live life king size and enjoy your life - is one of the perennial question about people who are interested in doing a bit of financial planning. (Of course, the question doesn't arise if you don't do financial planning at all - you'll, in all probability chose the latter).

Taking a step back, one needs to understand what is meant by "living life king size" in the above? Rather than going into an attempt to give a standard definition, I'll try to pose scenarios -


Do you always want the latest model of iPhone? And the iPad? And you are willing to consider buying an Apple Watch also?Your car needs an upgrade every few years? From an Alto to i10 to Honda City to (hopefully!) CRV in few years.For you affordability of things means easy access to EMIs?You want to keep upgrading something or the other in your house every few months - One year it may be the cupboards, the other year it may be the sofas, and the next year it may be the…

Assumptions in planning your investment and finances

Often one is sold (or at least made an attempt to!) products/ schemes/ investments which seem great, and sometimes too good to be true. But these great things are usually built upon some assumptions, some seemingly credible, some seemingly shady. But are all these premises true or there is more to it than what meets eye?

Few instances -

- An insurance/ ULIP agent selling us policy which gives x % returns (but assures nothing, so you may be exposed to more risk than what you think)
- SIP returns calculator letting you calculate based upon "assumed" 15% rate of returns (reality can be different on either side - so, be aware of both scenarios unless you are an incorrigible optimist!)
- Bank FDs giving assured rate of returns, assume that banks will be able to return money (or the government, partly, if the bank goes bust!)
- Assumption that real estate will grow @ x% and give "assured returns"? Or your will earn rent equivalent of EMI (don't understand how!)
- Retiremen…

Minimalism - Is it worth it?

"Things you own end up owning you" - Fight Club
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Minimalism - A buzzword which one hears often, seldom understands and rarely follow. But many people (including me) have it as a part of their wishful thinking.

Different people have different interpretation of minimalism. For some it is about things, for some it is about the things they own (or not own) For some this includes non-things too (for instance, number of people one interacts with in day to day life). For others it may be about prioritizing experiences over things. For some it may be about partially automating a part of their lives.

The above interpretations may not be mutually exclusive. Nor they need be one of them or just one of them - there are many more interpretations & combinations of interpretations possible. But one underlying thing is the need to de-clutter. More so, if one tends not to be too attached to things.

How can minimalism be helpful? Here is my take in fe…

Should you invest in PPF?

PPF (Public Provident Fund) is one of the common investment options among Indians - be it salaried individuals or someone else. In addition to offering Income Tax benefits under Section 80C, it also offers assured returns (current rate of interest is 7.6%). And even the interest earned is also completely tax free.

But is it really worth investing in PPF or are your investments better off in some other avenues?

Here are some pros and cons of investing in PPF.

Pros
Tax benefit up to Rs. 150,000 under section 80C of Indian Income Tax Act. Good rate of returns - currently at 7.6%. Rate of returns is typically 50-100 bps higher than that of FD in major banks. Effective returns are more since the interest earned is also tax free. Since there is a lock in period of 7 years (after which you can start withdrawing partially), this can form a habit of forced savings, if you are someone who is prone to impulse buying. Over the years, the amount of interest you can earn on your deposits is really good…

The story behind credit card debts & personal loans

Any one with even an iota of interest in personal finance & its workings would probably know that credit card debts and personal loans are usually the worst kinds of debt traps that you can fall into. Yet many people fall into that trap again and again. Many people do come out of it eventually but some don't & this becomes a part of their "lifestyle".

That you are eventually paying much more than you need to, if you default on credit card payments intentionally or unintentionally (probably @ 36 % per annum or something similar) or take a personal loan (say, @ 12% per annum or so) is not hard to fathom.

However behind these numbers, there may be even a deeper story - that usually that of not having control over expenses or not having created a buffer amount. While there may be some pressing need like unplanned or recurring medical expenses which fuels sudden demand of money or an unexpected job loss, in many other cases this need may be fueled by lack of planing and…

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