Sunday, June 28, 2009

Double dipping on the cost of inflation index

Our economy has the concept of cost of inflation index that allows the common man to factor in inflation on long term asset sales. The way it work is by leveraging a Cost of inflation index (CII) that is a number that is notified each year by the government starting from year 1981-1982. The way to use this number to calculate your inflated cost is as follows

  • Inflated cost of purchase = original cost of purchase *(CII for the year of purchase/CII for the year of sale)
  • Capital gains tax = 20% * (Actual sale price - Inflated cost price)

Now I did a quick math to see what is the inflated cost price for a two year window and you can see the results yourself below. The cost price varies between 22% increase to a lowest of 7%. So what is the big deal do you say? Well if you consider the fact that if you have say a debt investment for a period of > 365 days timed right say buy on March last week and then sell on April of the following year in the first week, you can double dip on the CII effectively allowing you to get this fabulous 7% to 22% inflation of your purchase cost. Given that debt funds will return about 8%-10% in that time period, we have effectively managed to avoid the tax to be paid on this return.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Last date for tax filing for AY2009-10

The last date for filing income tax this year is July 31, 2009 - I think!  I have been trying to determine this date but there is no "official" place where I can confirm this.  None of the income tax websites provide this information so easy enough for me.  I did see another blogger mention the date as 31st July but I am not sure.  Anybody who can provide me with the link on the Income tax website?  Thanks

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Planning your personal backup

Planning a backup of all important aspects of your life is an activity that we all have to perform for our lives to ensure that information pertaining to us is easily available and accessible to key family members and ourselves at the time of need.  The aspect of backup sounds daunting but it is really a one time effort that you can invest into and the incremental keeping track is very minimal in nature.  The peace of mind and returns in provides us far outweigh the time and effort we have to invest into getting ready.  Let us explore the mechanisms of backup and then understand specific aspects of our life and how you can back them up.

Scan all original documents
Always scan all original documents and keep good quality color scanned images secure and easily accessible.  Refer to my past post on truecrypt, specifically on points 3 and 4 in that post for further details on how to store this information securely.  Ensure that you have a scanned copy of the entire document and store
that away for all future use (for example, to make photostat copies, all you have to do is take a black & white print out of the scanned
image and viola you are done!)

First, when you buy the property ensure that you apply for a registered copy of the title deed.  This is typically a duplicate copy of the title deed except the document is registered by the registrar and has a unique document ID similar to your original document.  This registered copy is a useful backup for the original document.    The second step as soon as you complete the registration is to follow the scan all documents paradigm.  After completing the two, you need to store this document in a secure location like a safe deposit box in the bank.

Financial Information
A while back I had outlined a method for managing one's financial data in a secure fashion.  The process and the tools outlined there would be best served.  Secondly, in many cases you can dispense with the physical delivery of statements and opt for electronic delivery so that managing them and archiving physical statements can be completely dispensed with.  Electronic delivery also helps in easy management including creating of backup copies.

Insurance plans dont require a special backup beyond the usual scan and store paradigm.  What is key is the fact that such information storage should be documented and made available to various members of the family.

Your home
We all tend to collect expensive and not so expensive artifacts around our home.  While many of us understand the importance of taking an insurance coverage to cover this risk, we probably dont take adequate steps to catalog and manage information related to these assets.  One of the best ways to keep track is thorugh Photo+video log of your entire home. All rooms, all expensive items such as furniture, jewelery and other items that you have listed in your insurance. Catalog the pictures using a simple database and add market values to each item.   Whenever you buy something expensive, take a picture and add it to the database along with its value so that this list of items is kept up to date and managed constantly.

Your vehicles
Most of the original paperwork related to your vehicle such as the title and the RC book should be managed digitally. 

Your work
Most of our work has its own enterprise class backup systems (right?) so I am not really referring to your work here but more along the lines of your benefits at work.  For example your last PF statement or the VPF statement or the pension plan or medical benefit plan that you have whose details must be stored at home and information about where it is kept and how it should be used should be shared with your spouse in case there is a reason to use these plans and you are not around.

Your education
Sit down one of these days and scan all those old marksheets and degree certificates.  Your better half will have all sorts of comments to pass about your marks and maybe even help you in the scanning process!

Your PC/Laptop

You should buy one of those massive drives that sells for peanuts these days to backup your home computer/laptop.    Just use something as simple as synctoy and the Windows scheduler to do data backups completely.  Now that is the easy part.  The harder part is that when your PC crashes and you end up re-installing the operating system, you dont have a clue where those pesky driver disks are for your favourite USB based paintball shooter device!  Now either you can save up all the driver disks carefully your look at Drivemax I have personally not used this software but I have heard people sing praises about it on how it saved their lives.   This does make OS re-installation easier.

So there it is folks.  My idea of making sure you have adequate backups for various things in life.  Do you think there should be more?  Do comment and let me know.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009 is it really worth it

Well I received an invitation from to join in as an affiliate partner. Apparently I am one of the lucky chosen ones :). I did go ahead and join them and in the process I found that they didn't care to find out anything about me except my email address and a password. They did provide me with the banner ad for showing up on my blog. Now isnt that a bit funny for an affiliate marketing tie-up site? They do not explain the basic rules of the game such as
  1. What are the click through programs and when will I get paid (Yes they do have it on their website but you have to look around to find it. Not something that is laid out when an affiliate joins them
  2. No personal details about me (where do I live? How do we send you payments ? etc., etc.)
  3. No Information on their rules for click through ad placements, competition etc.
Either they are very new to the affiliate program business ( in which case I dont want to be the first beta bakra) or else they are really not interested or planning to do a good job of tracking and paying affiliate traffic. Both of these are just worrying enough that I have not displayed their ads on my website.

So Why am I writing about them? Their cause is a good cause, they want to get into micro lending business which eventually helps the poor but given that they claim to be professionally run "for - profilt" organization, I would expect more. Hope they are reading this one.

Have you had any experience with them? Please share your thoughts and experiences as comments to the rest of the readers can benefit from it.

this article was posted on by Vivek

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tax calculation tools

I found this website Nithya's Tax Calculator that is pretty cool.  Nithyanand has taken the effort to maintain the spreadsheet for each year and it is free!  Good job nithya! keep up the momentum.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Keeping track of things - Personal financial calendar

Keeping track of one's financial events always a good thing and my challenge has always been remembering dates - as a teen I couldn't remember a single girl's birthday and now as an adult, I cannot remember the maturity dates of my FMPs and my bond expiry dates. Given this, I decided to institute an universal distributed calendar on Google where I can have all key financial events entered in there. I picked google calendar since it allows for a centralized calendar, allows addition of tasks from remote software clients and also integrates with Outlook. So here is my setup and how I use it. YMMW.

  1. Mozilla Sunbird at home with remote google calendar configured at home
  2. Outlook calendar at work synced to google calendar one way (I dont want my work events to get into this calendar) using Google calendar sync
This setup allows me to have all personal events uploaded by me or the family into google calendar and they appear in my outlook and further google calendar can also send SMS messages as alerts to events prior to the actual date based on configuration. We are further able to use Mozilla sunbird as a good solid client on our home computer to be able to add events to the google calendar. So enough about technology - how do we use this setup you may ask. Well here is what my calendar contains today

  1. Repeated Events
    1. Credit card payment reminders
    2. School fees and other such stuff
    3. Reminders of events at school (I never said you have to use it only for finance !)
    4. Insurance payments
  2. One off Events
    1. FD maturity dates
    2. Other long term investment maturity
    3. Completion of any investment plans (STP/SIP etc.,)
    4. PPF event dates (5 years, 7 years etc.,)
    5. Other key events that you want to remember
This is a big relief off our minds as a family since all important actvities are being tracked by an external system and I get a sync up of the data on my outlook and my wife gets SMS alerts of events. The idea stems from GTD to get things out of our collective minds and have a system to track it.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Getting things done - my current savior

Warning : This really isn't a personal finance blog entry but sort of related ...

I have recently been adopting David Allen's - Getting thing done a philosophy of how to do work in a productive manner, it has been quite an interesting journey and really been helpful. It has also helped me get in control of various aspects of my life including my personal finance management. Google around, you will definitely find a lot of material about GTD as it is called.

This post was created by Vivek Venugopalan at

Monday, September 15, 2008

Public provident fund in India - the rules of the game

I have been on and off asked questions about PPF account and all the details behind it. Here are a quick summary of the rules for Public Provident fund (PPF) in India - hope this helps you folks out.

  1. Non Resident Indians are not eligible to open an account under the Public Provident Fund Scheme.
  2. If a resident who subsequently becomes Non Resident Indian during the currency of the maturity period prescribed under Public Provident fund Scheme, may continue to subscribe to the Fund till its maturity on a Non Repatriation Basis
  3. Minimum amount that should be deposited in a year is Rs 500
  4. You can’t transfer money from your EPF account to your PPF account
  1. Investment per year should range between Rs. 500 and not more than Rs. 70,000 in a year.
  2. You cannot do more than 12 transactions in a year in a PPF account.
  3. You can transfer the account from one "office" to another "office" (never tried this one. Can someone let me know their experiences here?)
  4. If you don't pay the minimum Rs. 500 in a given year, you will have to reinstate the account for a fees of Rs. 50.
  1. The account should be held for 15 years.
  2. Any time after the expiry of 15 years, you can extend the account for another 5 more years, to a total of 20 years maximum.
Opening an account

According to the RBI website, the list is given below. Obviously your luck will be in the fate of the employee who is going to deal with you when you walk in to one of these banks :).

  1. State Bank of India and its Associates
  2. Allahabad Bank
  3. Bank of
  4. Bank of India
  5. Bank of Maharashtra
  6. Canara Bank
  7. Central Bank of
  8. Corporation Bank
  9. Dena Bank
  10. Indian Bank
  11. Indian Overseas
  12. Punjab National Bank
  13. Syndicate Bank
  14. UCO Bank
  15. Union Bank of
  16. United Bank of India
  17. Vijaya Bank

  18. ICICI Bank Ltd
  1. Currently the interest is 8% tax free. This would equate to 12% roughly on the highest tax bracket.
  2. Interest is credited on the lowest balance on the account on the 5th of each month. It makes sense to deposit the whole Rs. 70,000 on or before April 5th of
    each year so that your money earns interest over the full year.
  1. You can avail a loan anytime after one year after opening the account and upto five years from the year of opening the account. The loan amount cannot be greater than twenty five percent of the balance on the account at the end of the second year immediately preceding the year in which the loan is applied
  2. After 5 years, you can withdraw upto 50% from the balance in the account at the end of the 4th year.

This post was created by Vivek on

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Funds during an emergency - how do we get it?

We all need emergency funds in our life. We never know when we need it but we all know that we need it some time or other. There was a detailed post on CNN some time back on how to get hold of emergency funds when we need them. I have adapted it to the Indian context since a lot of avenues that we have a are very specific to personal financing in India. So without much ado here is my list.
  1. Tap emergency funds : You did save for the rainy day somewhere didn't you? This would be the right time to start using it. If you have not started doing this as a habit. It might be worth doing something like this after you get out of this crisis. So what is next, let us look forward.
  2. Sell long term equity investments : Long term equity investments are investments over a year's timeframe. They have most probably given you handsome returns given that stock market has done well for quite some time now. So far the sources of emergency funds that we have looked at were
  3. Ask parents for a gift : If your parents were planning to give you a gift in cash / money, this would be a good time to do it. Gifts from parents wont be taxable and would help you tide over the current crisis.
  4. break into a FD : Fixed deposits can provide the next level of quick access to money that comes with some penal interest for early withdrawal. You probably wont lose the principal but definitely a large portion of the interest when you do this one.
  5. Take a loan on Jewels : Jewel loans are not a pawn broker domain anymore. Many banks will help you with a jewel loan. All that jewelery you have lying around in a locker can actually come in handy. Talk to your bank and close the transaction right there from your locker to the banker's locker. Gold has in recent times appreciated well so this option makes it even more worthwhile.
  6. Borrow on your PPF : Your public provident fund could be a good source of income from the third year onwards of establishing the account. The loan amount
    should not exceed 25 per cent of the balance in your PPF account at the end
    of the preceding financial year.
  7. Loan against shares : This is an option that comes with specific risks. If the stock under lien goes down in value, the institution providing the loan will automatically liquidate it and you will be responsible for tax implications on the same. This option also has a higher cost associated with it as compared to some of the previous options.
  8. Loan against property : If you hold property that is not in lien already , then you can go for a loan against property. This is low on our options list since this option is probably going to take some time to work and not exactly going to help in an emergency situation.
  9. Personal loan : The ubiquitous personal loans with their so called low rates are your next best option if you have reached down so far in selecting a source for your funds. There are quite a few options available but none of them can be qualified as cheap. The costs are just "structured" well so you can never find them :)
  10. Cash advance on your credit card : You got to be kidding right? This is really not a real option given the cost of this loan.
Hope this helped you in coming to an easy conclusion on what are your sources of money. Good luck.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Lump sum vs SIP in ELSS

Every fund house has been touting the benefit of SIPs for quite some time now and how it is relevant for long term asset building. I firmly believe that is the right direction in terms of building an asset. One thing that does stand out is the fact that we have a concept called as ELSS in India. ie. Equity linked savings scheme. Essentially this is a equity based mutual fund that allows for tax saving.

So what is the implications of doing a SIP on an ELSS. Well here are the gotchas

  1. ELSS has a 3 year lock-in. So that if you do a SIP on this, each installment will have a lock in for 3 years. So your SIP will become your SWP :)
  2. If you pick a dividend reinvestment option, each time a dividend is issued by the fund house, that would get invested on that day back into the ELSS which will result in a 3 year lock-in of that dividend.
  3. All your gains will be taxfree (considering today's tax rules) since this will qualify for long term capital gains tax on equity which is currently 0%
Hope this information helps you make the right decision on SIP with ELSS.

This post was written by Vivek Venugopalan on the blog Personal Finance in India - The not so obvious stuff

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

The new Rage in safe investing : FMP vs Bank deposits

Its the talk of the town folks - to FMP or to FD is the question. The stock market showing signs of behaving what it always does in the long run, i.e. being rational and correcting the exuberance of the past 5 years of heady growth, Every retail investor is looking to run and hide with safer avenues and that has traditionally been bank fixed deposits.

I have always had my reservations on bank fixed deposits and this has been from years ago even when fixed maturity plans (FMP expanded just so you know ) were an unknown entity, Finally mutual fund institutions have found a new way to lay their hands on your money and provide "safe and secure" returns to you. Welcome to the world of Fixed maturity plans or FMPs. Think of this as a mutual fund equivalent of an FD (is it really an equivalent? we will talk about that soon) where the returns nowadays match a fixed deposit.

What are they

These instruments are essentially debt mutual funds which are typically close-ended with a maturity period ranging from one month to five years. FMPs are typically setup by the fund manager by purchasing debt instruments that align with the fund's maturity period so that they can protect the returns and meet market expectations

Why are they touted to be better

The key to FMP's fame is the tax treatment viz a fixed deposit. Since these are debt mutual funds, they enjoy all the benefits that a debt fund gets, ie.

Short-term capital gains

Short-term capital gains on debt-oriented funds are added to income and taxed as income tax.

Long-term capital gains

Long-term capital gains on debt-oriented funds are taxed at higher of the two i.e.10% without indexation and 20 per cent with indexation. To help understand the benefits, the following table below illustrates the comparison between Bank deposits, FMPs both dividend plan and growth plan.

The last row shows the returns for various options

The detailed spreadsheet that shows the calculations is found here on google docs

Essentially three things stand out here
  1. FMPs are far superior to bank deposits in terms of net returns
  2. When buying FMPs less than one year always prefer the dividend option
  3. When buying FMPs greater than one year, always pick the growth option
  4. If possible try to get double indexation benefit by buying FMPs at the very end of a financial year that redeems at the very beginning of a future financial year

Given that FMPs are superior and everybody is rooting for it (if you looked at the recent spam that you have received from your favorite financial institutions, its FMP galore. So what are the key problems?

What are the pitfalls

There are a few underlying assumptions in the spreadsheet above that I want to call out so that you can understand the key issues with FMP.

  1. Returns: The above sheet assumed that banks and FMPs return the same returns. While that is helpful to compare apples to apples, the real truth is that returns in an FMP is neither guaranteed nor secure. The Hindu carried a dated but detailed article on how FMPs fare with respect to bank deposits and they concluded that short term FMPs really do fare badly. I had personally tried out one FMP for 4 months and received a fabulous 7.7% returns in 4 months which is > 20% annualized.
  2. Risk : FMPs typically invest in commercial paper of many businesses. Commercial papers have various CRISIL/ICRA ratings and FMPs announce their intent on investment spread across various ratings in their prospectus. An aggressive FMP can put your capital at risk in a bad economic situation where the business can default on payments thereby putting principal at risk.
In conclusion, not to sound as an alarmist, FMPs obviously if chosen well, can be a superior tool as compared to a debt fund. As in all investments, caveat emptor or "Let the buyer beware". Ensure that you read the FMP offer document to understand their investment strategy.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Back after a long Haitus

Well folks, I thought I will resume my posting after a long haitus. Thanks for being patient with me and also sending me feedback, comments and encouragement during these days of absense. will keep you posted :)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Using my blog to launch your Blog!

This is an offtopic rant - you have been warned. For the past few weeks I have been trying to delete comments posted by a lot of bloggers who have been simply trying to get a link spam going from my blog to theirs. Looks like they are hoping that Google will improve their page ranks. Honestly, I would not have minded doing something like that if they have been polite enough to ask me in the first place. Instead they pose as commenters and just say things like "nice blog" and post a big URL of their blog along with it.

Well my dear fellow blogger, I am glad you have learnt your google 101 lesson but you are stupid enough to not read between the lines. In any case, I am not in the mood to entertain you using my blog as your beta test area for Google lessons. I am going to delete your comments and treat you the way I treat spam.

Friday, April 06, 2007

The elegant investment advice

Some of the great advices on personal finance is as simple as it can be. Take the case of Dilbert on personal finance This is a very concise 120 odd words of advice on how to manage your personal finance and to be perfectly honest with you, I think it is really great advice! It lets you not worry about the little things like market fluctuations and general policy decisions that happen from time to time. Maybe we also need to start looking at simple (and not simplistic) ways of managing our own money.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Oops! I have a long term capital loss

I just figured out that one of the scrips I hold is in the red and I have crossed one year period of holding it. The scrip over the year had only reached a modest 10% gain which was quickly wiped out by the recent market downturn and add to that we just celebrated one year of ownership! So I was contemplating selling it off and to my dismay I found that I cannot write the loss off against any other gain.

The way I see it, short term losses can be written off against short term gains but long term losses cannot be set off against long term gains since they are not taxable anyway! So it seems I need to just sell it and swallow my loss (and pride :-) )

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Advance tax date is approaching

Well folks the individual advance tax due date is approaching soon. March 15th 2007 is the big day before you pay the last installment of advance tax. Please do so to avoid additional penalty later.

Update : You can pay advance tax online at NSDL website

Monday, February 26, 2007

Tracking NSE IPOs

The stock market in India is booming like nobody's business and so many companies are looking at going public by offering an initial public offering (IPO). The whole IPO scene has become an easy way to make money. Just subscribe to an IPO offerng during the offer period and then once the stock lists, dump the sucker in the market and make an easy 10-25% returns. The key to success is obviously picking the right IPO. So how do you do that? I use the classic herd behaviour approach to do it since I dont have the time to sit and analyze each company and its fundamental merits. Let me explain in detail...

The NSE website lists all the currently running IPOs and when you click on any one of them it actually gives you near realtime data on how much of subscription that the particular IPO has undergone during the offer period. If I see a large (1000 - 4000%) oversubscription especially in the institutional buyer's market, I figure that the big guys with their advanced research teams have figured out something interesting in this stock so I might as well buy it.

Mind you this works most of the time especially if you are planning to sell short term. There have been spectacular failures in this approach for me in the past but hey - this isnt exactly research you know! I am OK with the results that I have seen so far.

As far as getting an allocation goes, let us not even go there....!!!

I decided to start tracking the current NSE IPOs so I can plan this game better (of course it is a game - a gambling game - don't be dumb and think we have anything that is scientific here!). To make the IPO dates public, I initially added it to Google calendar. I am adding a link to the same on the right. If you use google calendars to track any of your dates, just clicking on the button will add my calendar to your list of available calendars.

Monday, February 19, 2007

What is your asset allocation

I am sure all of you have heard about asset allocation in standard textbooks and other investment books/periodicals but I am curious as to what your real asset allocation is ? i.e. how far is reality away from textbooks. So my loyal readers, if you can leave a comment to this post, indicating your percentage of investment in each of the following asset classes and whether you are happy with the returns. I will consolidate the results and publish what is reality based on what I see from you folks.

F&O Market investments
Stocks (Shares/IPO)
Bonds (RBI, ICICI, REC etc.,)
Fixed deposits (Banks , third parties)
Equity Mutual funds
Debt mutual funds
Post office (POMIS)
Real estate (Apartments, vacant land)

Please dont post the actual amounts just the % distribution.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Must read for global Indians

RBI has a fascinating FAQ on foreign currency rules for resident indians. Do take a look at

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Mutual funds - Growth vs Dividend - What should we choose?

Some time back I had posted an entry where I had recommended that in mutual fund world, choosing the 'Growth' option is the way to go and the 'dividend' option whether you take the cash out or you reinvest it, is really a pain from a management perspective. I have been thinking about this choice further and I want to refine my recommendation a little bit more considering the current tax laws prevalent in India.

Indian tax laws for equity mutual funds (funds that invest > 65% of their corpus on common stock) specify that

  1. Short term ( less than one year) capital gains tax is 10%
  2. Long term capital gains is 0%
  3. Dividends paid are non-taxable
  4. Security transaction tax (STT) of 0.1% has to be paid on all SELL transactions

Indian tax laws for debt mutual funds specify

  1. Short term capital gains is treated as income (basically added to salary and taxed at the tax bracket you belong to)
  2. Long term capital gains is 10%
  3. Dividends paid are non-taxable in the hands of the investor but they undergo a tax called dividend distribution tax (DDT) (12.5% + surcharge + education cess) that the fund has to pay before declaring dividend. This effectively reduces the quantum of the dividend in your hands
  4. There is no STT.

So if you are in the highest tax bracket, it might make sense to opt for the dividend option when you are buying debt mutual funds since effectively you pay onl 13.xx% as tax on the dividend as DDT as compared to growth option.

For equity mutual funds, the verdict is very clear folks - growth is the direction in which you should be going.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Gold Funds - an update

Deciding to dig deeper into Gold funds, I read the offer document for the benchmark AMC offering called the Gold BeES (pdf file) and here are some of the key points that understood by reading this document. Again, I am exploring here and not speaking from experience or expertise

  1. Their offering is an ETF meaning - it will be traded on the stock exchange (NSE) after the new fund offer (NFO) period (between February 15 and 23rd, 2007) like any other stock.
  2. The "face value" is Rs. 100/- for 1 gram of gold and today's market price (say Rs 860/gm) would mean that the units are sold at a "premium" over the FV of Rs 760/-
  3. You can buy and sell the units of the MF on the exchange and you can also choose to get physical delivery of the gold or decide to deposit gold to obtain units (no details on how the logistics will work here)
  4. Fees:Investment management fees is 1.25% p.a. of the weekly average net assets outstanding for amounts up to Rs.100 Crores and 1.00% p.a. of the weekly average net assets outstanding for amounts above Rs. 100 Crores. There is no entry/exit load post listing for the fund but you will end up paying brokerage since these transactions are treated as stock. During NFO, the entry load is 1.5% upto 50L of investment
  5. The custodian (person responsible for managing the physical gold) is The Bank of Nova Scotia
  6. The scheme will have 90%-100% of their portfolio in physical gold and 0%-10% in Money Market instruments, Securitised Debts, Bonds and cash
  7. NAV : NAV will be calculated like any other mutual fund and will include all the expenses of the AMC. But they have the concept of a "creation unit" which represents 1000 units plus some cash component which is equivalent to apparently 1KG of gold. This creation unit applies only when you exchange physical gold for the Bees units. This is a facility available only to authorized participants (how are they determined? I dont have a clue!). So when an authorized participant reedems one creation unit he receives 1 KG of gold. I did'nt quite understand their example of buying creation units by depositing gold on Pg 26 (why did the assumption of price of gold drop to 850 from 860?). If someone can figure it out, let me know.
  8. You can pledge these units similar to the loan against shares schemes.
  9. Tax : This fund will be treated as a mutual fund other than equity which means that it will not get the benefit of short term (10%) and long term (0%) tax rates.

Well thats all for now folks. Please add your comments if you found more information.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Gold funds in India - Unanswered questions

With the Indian government appoving gold based mutual fund schemes, there is obviously a rush by various mutual fund companies to start Gold funds and Gold ETFs in India. Knowing Indian and their love for gold, this could be a huge success story for the fund houses. There are still a few questions that I don't have an answer for today but it would be good to know.
  1. What is the tax implication for buying gold? Do we get tax rebates for buying a gold MF?
  2. Would a gold MF be treated as an equity MF or a debt MF with associated tax implications?
  3. When I sell my holding in the fund, do I have any extra exit loads because of liquidity risks?
  4. Will the price of the fund ever differ from the gold price? Considering this is more liquid than physical gold and traded mostly electronically, I would imagine that such advantages should allow the price of the fund to be at a premium to actual gold. Would this be the case?
So many unaswered questions in my mind. Any prudent reader would point out that we never asked such questions when we bought and sold gold so why now? The answer is that by bringing a structured investment tool, I would like to peg my risk level to that of buying and holding gold while leveraging the capabilities that a financial instrument can give me. Hence the questions.

You can always buy gold in T.Nagar... that institution would exist as long as Indians abound!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

A new year resolution - Write more blog

Having gone silent from September of 2006, I thought atleast this year I would try to write more. Its not the writer's block but sheer laziness that has kept me away. So let me try to get back to more serious blogging on an ongoing basis

Thursday, September 07, 2006

How to get financially organised - A practical way for today's lifestyle

I saw this article on Rediff about getting your records in shape and how you can manage your life better --- [Via rediff: Getahead Money]

Honestly, this article is a bit of a disappointment. The ideas present here is obviously important ie. the very act of keeping records and managing them better but hey cant we actually think a little better and manage our information clutter better if we apply technology to it better (don't tell me you hate technology - what are you doing reading blogs on the internet anyway :-) ?)

So what is really a more improved way of managing better - well let us start with some of the key needs and find a solution that fits the model.

I am a guy who is on the road all the time - I travel both nationally and internationally all the time and just like the average Joe (or Rama/krishna - take your pick), I get my regular set of bank statements, taxes and all the wonderful things that this article talks about.

So how do you figure out what is your advance tax payment on the Sept 15th (you knew that was the due date right?) if you are sitting in a hotel room in wisconsin? All those statements are safely filed away in your home in India while you are on a critical 2 week business trip that falls on the advance tax date!

Also we do keep getting wonderful notices about providing PAN details since we spent over 1 lakh in a year on credit card statements from the tax departments. If you have to pay for hotel rooms in Bangalore with your credit card as frequently as I do, guess what - 1 lakh per annum is not a big number that you think it is. The only good part is that my employer picks up the bill eventually but the credit card is in my name! So we are off scrambling to track down all those old credit card statements by asking our spouses on the phone to dig up from all those files around the house! Where did we file them anyway - or did we?

So here is the bunch of tricks that I have adopted that serves me well.

Step 1 : Get a tax accountant who can actually communicate via email : Yes this is important folks - they know their Form 2Ds but when it comes to email, there is a real challenge for you. Talk to them, test them out with a few emails and make sure they do check on a regular basis and respond back to you. If you cross that first hurdle, you have got a great start.

Step 2 : Get a good image scanner or a digital camera : When I am vaulting around the world, nothing beats the advantage of my wife sending me an e-mail with a couple of JPEG attachments saying - "hey I got these in the mail today from the dept. of tax - they look important - what do you want me to do ?" instead of "I received some letter from the tax department about your credit card. I just put it in your file! You can look at it when you get back". If you combine the Step 1 with this, I just forward the scanned attachment to my tax consultant with a note asking him deal with it while I am stuck wherever I am!

Step 3 : Tell all the banks to send you monthly electronic statements. Download them into a directory and let the Google desktop loose on them. When the tax department asks you about that Rs. 113485.33 transaction that you did, Google desktop will find it for you in milliseconds!

Step 4 : Get truecrypt Its a wonderful piece of encryption software that I have trusted my financial life to! No.. I am not associated with it in any way (I am just jealous that I didn't invent it ..) its open source, very stable , haven't lost data on me so far. Read the documentation carefully, set it up and keep all your statements inside it. You would be dumb to keep it on your harddisk without protection. So you have been warned

Step 5 : Digitize all your key documents - PAN cards, tax filing from last year etc.. etc., - You know what is important to you and even if you don't think it is not so important, go ahead and do it anyway, harddisk is cheap and Google desktop can do magic on large data sets! Also now if you ever need that "Xerox copy" the nearest printer is your best friend!

Step 6 : Prepare a good spreadsheet on key large transactions (when did you do it, which account, which cheque number, why did you do it etc.,) and keep it in the truecrypt volume. Or better yet, download your electornic bank statement and load it into an Excel spreadsheet. write a detailed comment against some of the large transactions (> 50K is a good metric) and save it away. Next index by Google will catch it.

step 7 : Keep another spreadsheet on the stock transactions that you did - helps to deal with those pesky tax returns quickly! Send it to your accountant by email and tell him to figure out the taxes!

step 8 : Backup the truecrypt volume REGULARLY in multiple locations - Home PC, your pen drive, your spouse's pen drive and a monthly backup CD burned and placed in a safety locker - trust me hard disks crash ALL THE TIME.

Thats all folks - you are ready and better organized than most financial institutions!

If you really look what I have preached here, the trick of the trade is to go electronic and combine it with a good search and you can get answers faster than tax man comes asking you questions! Not that you should not keep the hard copies but just don't depend on being able to quickly find out the details!

Good luck and get organized!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Welcome Indian banking customer and BTW scr...w you

I want to let off some steam here on the current SBI strike. I have my home loan through SBI while I do all my regular banking through ICICI. For all their wrinkles, there is one thing about ICICI that I like the most - the ability to transfer money to any bank account in India electronically for free. Most other banks hit you with charges in one form or another but ICICI is a true blue customer friendly service for free. So anyway, coming back to my rant, I have scheduled my home loan payment from my ICICI to my SBI loan account to automatically happen on the first of the month. This month, the scheduled transfer was rejected by SBI. This is an EFT (electronic fund transfer) that is routed via RBI to a computer system within SBI. I would imagine that there is really no manual operation involved here since a bank that is as large as SBI cannot possibly be doing this manually.

So who decided to shut down the automated computer systems that process these transactions? What if this was not a home loan but a financial payment to pay a college tution or a payment for a hospitalization service ie. a critical need for the customer? Why did they decide to play Gods? I suppose such things are not a big deal for them anyway. They are after all a publicly traded company and they have shareholders who can be taken for a ride while they are busy messing with their customer's money.

Morale of the story - Private banks will potentially run away with your money while the nationalized ones will simply sit on it and torment you. So dont keep all your eggs in one basket.