Debt Consolidation

November 17, 2008 by  
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Debt Consolidation is a tactic through which an Individual aims to get a new single loan to clear off his multiple debts for a lower interest rate and longer repayment period. Individuals are forced to take a Debt consolidation loan when they are not in a position to clear off their debts or to reduce the interest rate they pay for their existing debts.

Most often Debt consolidation loans are provided under a collateral security (home etc.) and hence can be termed as secured loan. But remember some Debt consolidators do offer loans on unsecured basis. Lenders often charge a lower interest rate for Secured Loans while compared to Unsecured Loans. One such example is to avail Debt consolidation loan to clear off your credit card dues.

Before signing the contract with a Debt Consolidator, make sure you read the terms and conditions carefully and find out the exact charges or fees. The Interest rate for a debt consolidation loan would be invariable unlike your credit card’s Interest rate. Moreover you get a clear idea as how much to pay and how long to pay.

What leads to Debt Consolidation?

There are few people who develop the habit of acquiring loans one after other. It is too late until they realize that they are unable to pay the loan amount or the interest amount keeps mounting up. A proper financial plan would help one to avoid such unwelcome circumstances.

Credit card dues are the leading factor that drives one to a Debt consolidation program. It is a well known fact that credit card companies charge a higher rate of interest and may impose various charges if you default your payment, spend over your credit limit and late payments. If you are one among those who pay the minimum amount due on their credit card payments, you should realize the pain. It is always better to clear off your credit card dues rather than other debts. Try to make payments that are more than the Minimum Amount due.

Advantages of Debt Consolidation

As said earlier debt consolidation offers the benefit of lower interest rate while compared to interest rate charged by the Credit Card companies. You also get the advantage of repaying the loan in a longer period of time. The rate of interest is fixed and you know how much amount you are supposed to pay.

Disadvantages of Debt Consolidation

As most of the Debt Consolidators offer secured loans (your home as a security) you may end up loosing your home if you are unable to payback. If the interest rate of your debt consolidation loan is higher than the average of your other debts then it is of no use. There are few debt consolidators who may push you in availing a loan and charge more than actually you would pay to clear off you debts. If the tenure of repayment is longer chances are there that you may end up paying more than your normal debts. Instead of availing a Debt consolidation loan you could negotiate with your existing creditors who may be ready to accept the deal.

Importance of Life Insurance

November 17, 2008 by  
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Life Insurance is a type of insurance in which the policy holder receives a specified sum of amount from the Insurance Company, in the event of his death. The assured amount is payable to the insured person’s family members or whoever he nominated in the policy application. Some Insurance policies (Term Life Insurance) also offer money-back guarantee through which the policy holder is paid a certain sum of money (plus bonus), if he is surviving after the policy expiry.

The policy holder has to pay a certain amount of money as a premium to the Insurance Company. The premium amount is calculated based upon the policy period, age of the policy holder, type of policy and the sum assured. The premium amounts can be paid monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or yearly depending on the policy holder’s choice.

If you are confused in choosing a policy plan you could consult an Insurance advisor who would be in a better position to assist you. Some type of Life Insurance policies may have “Double Accident Benefit” which means the dependants of the policy holder would be paid double the amount of the assured amount in case of death by accident. Before buying any life insurance plan you must read the terms and conditions of the policy.

Advantages of Life Insurance

There are lots of advantages in buying a Life Insurance policy rather than traditional investments. In case of other investments like savings in bank account or term deposits the dependants are paid out the amount that was actually saved by the investor (incase of his death). Whereas through a life insurance policy, the policy holder’s dependant would be paid the assured amount which is more than the actual amount paid (premiums) in most of the cases. Individuals who pay premiums for life insurance plan can claim for tax-deductions. A Life Insurance policy paves way for a potential monetary support to the family members/ dependants of the bread-earner of the family. You can avail loans against your Life Insurance policy at the time of need.

Disadvantages of Life Insurance

If you missed the opportunity to buy a Life Insurance policy at a younger age, your premium amount is too expensive as the risk of death is more as you get older. Life Insurance may not be suitable for everyone. For instance a person who lives alone or has no dependants does not require a life Insurance. Although the premium amount is lower for the age group of 25 to 30 the risk of death is lower and instead of paying the premium amount they could make investments in Term Deposits, Stocks, Mutual Funds etc. where they could earn more profit. Life Insurance is more beneficial only when the policy holder dies within the policy period in case of Term Life Insurance. If the policy holder survives after the policy expiry he would be paid a sum of amount that would be less than other Investment returns like Mutual Funds, Stocks, Property Investment etc. In case if you are in a severe financial crisis and want to discontinue from the plan the surrender value would be much lower than what you actually paid (premium).

Investment in Mutual Funds

November 17, 2008 by  
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Investment in Mutual Funds

 

Mutual Fund is an investment firm which raises money from the general public and invests in stocks, bonds, real estate or money market, and then distributes the gains to its shareholders. It employs a group of professionals (fund managers or portfolio managers) who are experts in analyzing the market trends and invest appropriately for good returns and lower the risk of losses. A mutual fund provides a Prospectus in which it states its objective as how the raised money would be utilized. The Prospectus would state the sectors where the money would be invested, past performances, fees, how to purchase and redeem the shares, fund managers’ profile etc.

 

Types of Mutual Funds

There are many types of Mutual funds which you may choose depending upon your profile and choice. Below is the list of some of the common types of Mutual Funds:

 

a)     Tax saving Funds

b)    Sector Schemes

c)     Index Funds

d)    Global Funds

e)     Income Funds

f)     Growth Funds

g)     Balanced Funds

 

Mutual Funds are often classified as Open-ended Funds or Close-ended Funds. In Open-ended Funds the shares can be bought or sold at any time whereas in the close-ended scheme there exists a lock-in period for investors and new buyers can buy only from the Secondary Market (once the offer period is closed). Close-ended Funds usually provide tax-benefits as the invested money is locked in for 3 to 5 years or even above. Open-ended Funds provide the opportunity of withdrawing your money if you feel the fund is performing poorly. A Mutual fund can be bought directly from the Mutual fund Company (issuer) or through Mutual-fund brokers.

 

Advantages of Mutual Funds

There are many advantages of investing in Mutual Funds which include Diversification of Risk, Liquidity, lower Transaction costs, Tax benefits etc.

 

Diversification of Risk

Unlike the stocks, your money is diversified across shares, bonds, money market or various sectors in a stock market. The fund managers have great experience and knowledge who are in a better position to handle financial risks. As your Investment is diversified the risk-level is lowered.  

 

 

 

 

 

Lower Transaction Cost

As the Fund management company employs a huge sum of money and invests in share market, the transaction cost gets reduced. If you as an Individual have to invest in share market your transaction cost would be higher as your investment money would be much lower compared to them.

 

Tax Benefits

Mutual Funds offer a great deal in saving money through Tax Benefits. As an Investor you could enjoy returns (dividends) from your Investment and on the same time reduce your tax liabilities.

 

Liquidity

The benefit of liquidity applies only to open-ended schemes. During the time of your financial crisis you can very well withdraw your money by selling the funds.

 

Disadvantages of Mutual Funds

The returns in Mutual Funds are not assured. Even though you buy a mutual fund based on its past performances it is not guaranteed that you would receive the same returns. There might be times when the fund managers decide to buy or sell assets that may not be favorable to you. In some funds there might be entry-fee or exit-fee which is an additional burden for you.  In case of close-ended funds although you enjoy the tax benefits you may not be able to withdraw your money at the time of crisis or when the fund is performing badly.

Share Market Trading & Investments

November 17, 2008 by  
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Investing or trading in a Stock Market may offer a great amount of return and on the same time it involves a high level of risk and can ruin your hard-earned money. You may have heard of people who have made their fortune through Stock Markets and others who have lost their properties as well as money by trading or investing in Stock Markets. Before you think of entering into the world of Stock Market you should ensure that you have sufficient money available to meet your regular expenses.

If you are a person who can take high risk you can trade in Stock Market. Trading in a Stock market means buying shares and selling them within a short period of time or even the same day. If you sell the shares within few days or weeks it is typically known as “Short Term Trading” and on the other hand if you sell the shares on the same day when it was bought it is called as “Day Trading”.

Share Trading

Before you start trading in a Stock Market you should have a hands-on experience on how the stock market works, stock movements, risk involved etc. There are lots of books available on Stock market trading or some Stock Brokers also conduct classes on how to trade in Stock Markets. Apart from the general knowledge it is the Timing and Patience that would make you the real winner in Stock market trading.

There are many factors that influence the stock movement. It may be due to the overall market sentiments, specific sector news, specific company news etc. It is really difficult to predict the future stock movement. Stock movements are often predicted through Fundamental analysis or Technical analysis. Fundamental Analysis involves the process of evaluating a share based on its intrinsic value like liabilities, cash in hand etc. Technical Analysis is the process of evaluating a share based on its past performances through the usage of charts or graphs.

You can also buy a share based on both the analysis – Technical and Fundamental. But in reality it is hard to predict a stock movement with precision. A stock may have a good fundamental value but may be beaten down due to investors’ negative sentiments. History may not repeat itself. A stock could have made a particular pattern few months back but you can’t say for sure it would make the same pattern (technical analysis) in future.

Investment in Shares

Investing in Stocks may yield high returns while compared to other fixed investment plans. In contrary to the Stock Market trading, the stock investment means investing on a stock for a longer period of time (1 year and above). Your risk of loss is mitigated as you may be prepared to hold the stock for a longer time which may be a good period for that particular stock. Tax authorities in some countries offer tax exempt for Long term stock investments which means you need not pay taxes for the profit earned through your Investment. Long term investment in Stocks also has a drawback as you could have made the same profit within few weeks or months instead of waiting for years.

Savings for Bright Future

November 17, 2008 by  
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Saving a considerable amount of your money on a regular basis would definitely help to meet your future expenses or at the time of emergency. There are lots of ways to save or invest your money depending on your personal profile, dependants and risk appetite. Unless you prepare a savings plan it would be difficult to meet your financial goals.

 

Don’t put all your eggs in a single basket. Try to diversify your investment across Stocks, Mutual Funds, Government Bonds, Term Deposits and Savings Account. Diversification helps to reduce the risk and loss associated with each of the financial products. Cultivate the habit of savings right from the time you start earning. If you start saving your money in a younger age you might not struggle in future.

 

The age around 25 years is an optimal time to start saving your hard-earned money. Our life is filled with major events like marriage, birth of child, death, purchase of new homes etc. A well-planned savings activity would help to meet the expenses associated with these major events. Act wisely so that you don’t regret in future. Make sure you work on allotting some funds for your after-retirement life.

 

Savings Account in a Bank

Opening a Savings account in a Bank should be the first step to start saving your money. Savings account offers the benefit of depositing the money when you have and withdrawing the money when you need it. Apart from the deposited money you may also receive extra money by way of Interest.

 

Term Deposits

Term Deposits or CD (Certificate of Deposit) are a great way to save money for your future expenses. You also get a better rate of Interest while compared to a conventional Savings Account. Always make sure you have some cash in hand to meet your unexpected expenses else you may have to pay a fine for pre-mature withdrawal of Term Deposit.

 

Mutual Funds or Stocks

Investing on Mutual funds will offer great return while compared to Savings account or Term Deposits. At the same time the returns are not guaranteed and you may loose your money. Nowadays many Mutual Funds offer SIP (Systematic Investment Plan) where you save a fixed some of money on a periodical basis. This helps to mitigate the risk of losses.

 

Save Money from your Tax Liabilities

 

You can also save your money by reducing your tax burden. This can be done through eligible investments or contributions. Some of the financial products that may help you to save taxes are as follows:

a)     Long Term Deposits

b)    Close-ended Mutual Funds

c)     Life Insurance Policy

d)    Home Loan repayments

e)     Pension Savings

f)     Retirement Plans (IRA, 401K Plan)

 

If you are not aware of the tax saving investments in your area you may seek the service of a tax consultant or financial planner. These type of investments offer double benefits as they help to increase the money you have and at the same time helps to save your tax amount.

Retirement Planning

November 17, 2008 by  
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From the Investment perspective a Retirement Planning refers to the process of saving money (while working) to meet your future expenses after your retirement from job. You should start saving money for your after-retirement life right from the time when you start earning money (age of 25 to 30). If you lack a proper savings plan you may have to lead a worst life after retirement due to non-availability of funds to meet your expenses.

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There are a variety of investment options available for Retirement Planning. If you are uncertain in which one to choose you may consult a Financial Consultant who would provide an ideal plan based on your age, pay scale, dependants and future plans. Some of the well known investments for Retirement planning are as follows:

 

IRA (Individual Retirement Account)

An Individual Retirement Account is a personal savings plan through which one could save money for his retirement life. IRA funds can be placed in Bank, Stocks, Mutual funds etc. Contributions to IRA are tax-deductible. There are different types of IRA like the traditional IRA, Roth IRA, SARSEP and Simple IRA etc.

 

Life Insurance policies

There are certain life insurance policies which offer money-back guarantee to the insured. This type of plan offers dual benefits as it offers the assured sum to the insured’s family members or nominee upon his death or if the insured person survives after the policy term he is paid the maturity amount along with bonus. These types of policies are usually for longer periods like 15, 20 or 25 years.

 

401K Plan

401K is a familiar retirement plan where a specified sum of money is deducted by an employer from the employee’s salary and contributed towards the 401K Plan. Contributions are tax-deductible.

 

Pension Scheme

Pension is a sum of money paid regularly to an Individual either by Government or super-annuation funds after his retirement or disability. The pension amount is based on an Individual’s pay scale, contributions and tenure of employment.

 

An Individual needs to be proactive in planning for his future especially for the life after retirement. One should consider the following to prepare a proper retirement savings plan.

 

a)     Current Age

b)    Retirement Age

c)     Inflation Rate

d)    Current Savings

e)     Liabilities

f)     Desired annual income during retired life

 

There are many free tools available over the Internet that can help you to calculate your retirement planning.

 

During your old age it is difficult to avail loans and you can’t always depend on your friends or family members for borrowing money. Hence it is advisable to save money on a regular basis which you could use at a later point of your life without any dependency on others.

Money Management for Individuals

November 17, 2008 by  
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Money Management is a broader term which includes analyzing your income, expenses, making use of your current resources (cash or asset) and how to achieve your financial goals. Managing money in a right way might be a difficult task for youths. You would not understand the real value of money unless you are engulfed with financial crisis. Always maintain the habit of writing down your income and expenses, liabilities, bill payments etc. Doing so would help you to pay your bills before the deadline and avoid unnecessary late fees.

 

It is always better to set a proper financial plan to meet your future expenses. You can set a short term or long term goal. Planning alone does not mean that you could achieve your goals you need to adhere to the plan and execute it. You could also consult a financial planner who could help you to achieve your financial goals.

 

Always document your bills and receipts. Check your Bank statement and credit card statement, and inform your Banker immediately in case of any discrepancy. As the technology develops there seems to be lot of fraudulent activities, we might not know unless we check our accounts with care.

 

Budgeting

Itemize your monthly expenses in a paper and then check if you have sufficient income to meet those expenses. If you find out that your income exceeds your expenses then you are doing better. On the other hand if your expenses exceed your income then you really need to work out. Either you need to increase your income or cut down some of your avoidable expenses.

 

Savings & Investments for future

 

Always develop the habit of saving a portion of your income. You can probably save your money in a Bank as a Savings Account. Savings Account has the benefit of depositing or withdrawing money at any point of time.

 

If you think you have enough money in hand and have set aside some money for emergency expenses, you could invest the money in Term Deposits, Mutual Funds or Stocks. Investing helps to increase the money you possess.

Maintaining Reserve for Emergency Expenses

Always make sure you have enough money set aside to meet your emergency expenses. You wouldn’t know when you might urgently need money.

 

 

Make more out of your Money

Always try to make more profit out of your money at a lower risk. If you have a fair knowledge in Stock markets you could invest in Stocks instead of the Term Deposits which offer comparatively low returns. But you need to remember that anything that fetches more profit comes at the cost of higher risk.

 

Loans & Credit Cards

 

Apply for a loan only if you really need it not just because you are eligible to receive it. Always try to clear off your debts as soon as possible or else you may need to pay more money by way of late fee or interest. Credit Card bills are a major headache if you don’t pay the full amount that is due. Interest rate for credit card is very higher than personal loans. Make sure you pay your credit card bills way before the deadline.

 

Avoid Lavish Expenses

If you don’t have enough income to meet your regular expenses avoid spending on unnecessary stuffs. Say for instance Tours, Movies, expensive Mobiles, expensive novelties etc.

Life Insurance

Life Insurance is a great way to financially secure one’s family members or dependants in case of his death. Apart from this Term Life Insurance offers the benefit of money-back guarantee which means if the policy holder survives after the policy gets expired he would be paid the maturity amount along with some bonus amount.

Investment in Term Deposits

November 17, 2008 by  
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Term Deposit means investing your money in a Bank or any financial Institution for a specified period of time to receive a fixed rate of interest on maturity of the deposit period. Term Deposit is also known as Time Deposit, Fixed Deposit or CD (Certificate of Deposit). A term deposit usually offers a higher rate of interest than a Savings Account. Term Deposits are suitable for Individuals with low-risk profile as the return is guaranteed and also due to the fact that it can be insured. The Investor can be confident that his money is safe and secured in the Bank.

 

When you invest in Term Deposits you do receive a “Certificate of Deposit” as a proof for the Investment. The investment period in Term deposit is usually 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, 3 years, 5 years etc. The amount of interest is payable monthly, bi-annually or annually based on the Term deposit conditions. Some Banks may offer cumulative plan for long-term investments where your accrued interest is re-invested along with the principal amount for subsequent years. It is also possible to pledge the Certificate of Deposit for money in times of financial crisis.

 

The interest rates offered by Bank may be variable depending on the economic conditions. For instance when the liquidity is low the Banks may attract investors by offering High Interest rates for deposits. The Banks lend the money received from Term depositors to borrowers in the form of Personal Loan, Educational Loan, Auto Loan or Home Loan etc. The Bank makes it profit by charging a higher interest rate for borrowers than the one promised to the Term depositors. However the Bank cannot offer 100% of the money to lenders. It has to follow certain policies laid out by the Central Bank from time to time.

 

Advantages of Term Deposits

Investing your money as Term Deposit in Bank is safe and secured. It offers a guaranteed rate of interest upon maturity of your Deposit. It helps to meet your future expenses or fulfill your wish lists (home, car etc.). Unlike the close-ended mutual funds where you cannot withdraw your money for a specified time, it is possible to withdraw the deposited money by paying a penalty fee (premature withdrawal). Some Term Deposits usually the long term plans offer Tax benefits to the investors. You can save your hard earned money and at the same time reduce your tax burden.

 

Disadvantages of Term Deposits

The returns in Term deposits are lower while compared to other types of investment plans like mutual funds or stocks. Based on your local laws you may have to pay tax for interest earned through Term Deposits. There is a fine for pre-mature withdrawal of Term Deposits. Some Banks offer “auto-renewal” facility on Term Deposits and reserve the right to renew the deposits for further time without informing you (at the time of maturity) as you may have authorized to do so while depositing the money. As your funds are locked in for a specified period of time you may not be able to utilize your money at the time of need.

Financial Planning

November 17, 2008 by  
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Financial Planning refers to the process of assessing your current financial conditions and plan to efficiently save money to meet your future expenses or your financial goals. A proper financial planning is very essential for any Individual or Business to reach his/its personal/ business (financial) goals. It would help you to properly manage your money and save wisely for future.

 

Financial Planning for Individuals

A proper financial planning helps an Individual to learn about his future expenses and save money to meet those financial obligations. The planning may differ from one person to another based on his financial goals and risk level. For instance a person who falls under the low-risk level can invest in fixed rate deposits in Bank/ Post Office etc. On the other hand a person with high risk capacity can resort to mutual funds/ equity funds where the return is not fixed.

 

Financial Planning for Businesses

Financial Planning plays a vital role in running a successful Business. It helps a business to identify its assets/ cash in hand, liabilities, future expenses etc. and how to properly allocate funds to meet those expenses. Without a proper financial plan a Businessman will find it difficult to meet the expenditures and may end up in losses.

 

Seeking the service of a Financial Planner

 

A Financial Planner is a qualified person who identifies individuals’ future expenses and advises a strategy that would help them to meet their financial goals. Some of the common financial goals may be as follows:

 

a) Saving for your marriage expenses

b) Retirement Planning

c) Buying your Dream Home

d) Investing for your Child’s Education

e) Reducing your Tax Burden thru appropriate Investments

f) Insurance Planning

 

A Financial Planner may charge a fixed fee (consultation fee) or provide free consultation and receive commissions based on your Investments. Before consulting any financial planner find out about their experience level (years of service) or credentials (happy clients). The best option would be to approach a well known financial planning agency in your locality or also the one recommended by your friends. A new consultant may not be able to match the services of a veteran. Disclose your financial obligations clearly which would help the financial planner to offer a proper advice. Ask questions whenever required to clear off your doubts.

 

A Financial Planner who charges a fixed fee will be in a better position to suggest various Investment Ideas while compared to the one who receives commission based on your Investments as he might try to convince you in selling their financial products.

Property Investment and Management

November 17, 2008 by  
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Investing smartly on a property is a great way to make money or enhance your asset class. Finding a right property for investment would be a critical task for a newbie. If you have sufficient money with no immediate expenses you could deploy your money by investing on a Property. This would help you to increase your net worth as the purchased property’s price would increase significantly as the years pass on.

 

When you own a property it not only eliminates the rental expense but also helps you to get a loan at the time of financial crisis by pledging your property as a collateral security. There are many Banks that offer Home Loan which means you could afford for a property without having the entire purchase amount with you. Home Loans are very useful as you can repay the loan amount through fixed installments in few years (5, 10, 20 or 25 years). You need not wait until you entirely save the money for purchasing the property because the property value would possibly increase as years pass on. You could also avail the tax benefits available for Home Loan payers.

 

Before purchasing any property you should find the potential growth in that area, demand for rental homes and property sales. If you do not have enough knowledge you could very well consult a Real Estate Agent who would be in a better position to assist you. You can buy properties when it is available for cheap price. But you should find out whether this is because of the market sentiments or some other factors. Some seller might be in urgent need of money and would accept a fair price. A smart buyer should not miss an opportunity like this.

 

Buying a property in developing areas would fetch good returns. As the area’s infrastructure improves the land value would also go up. An area well connected to railroads, buses, hospital, shopping complexes and offices would be an ideal place to buy Property.

You can buy property through the following sources:

a)     References from Friends or family members

b)    Real Estate Broker

c)     Classified Ads in Newspaper, Internet or TV

d)    Auction of Home or Land

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e)     Buy directly from the seller

 

Once you have bought a property you could either rent it or develop it. It all depends on your choice. If the prices move rapidly in the next few years you could think about selling it and then buying another property in some other area.

 

Property management involves the process of general maintenance of a home, land or estate, receiving rents in behalf of the owner, letting the property to a tenant. There are lots of Real Estate firms that offer property management services. If you own numerous properties and you are busy with your own schedule you could seek the services of a property manager who would charge a fixed rate or variable rate based on the rent collected. Property management includes not only Residential Properties but also Office space, Commercial complexes etc.