Women have demonstrated their acumen in every prominent meadow, whether be it science, space, art, entertainment, finance, etc. Now more and more women have started taking active part in financial decisions in their families. In order to uphold this paradigm shift, it is imperative that women enhance their cognizance about basics of financial investments, available financial instruments, how to select one, and how to manage them.
In that course, this article sheds light on high-level details of the financial vehicles available in the marketplace. These instruments are categorized here based on the financial goals.
For short-term goals
The goals which are supposed to be due in 3 years or so can be categorized into short-term goals. Some examples for such goals could be education loans, travelling, marriage, short-duration educational courses etc. The word “short-term” also implies that you do not have much time to cultivate your investment.
To fulfill your short-term goals, the most appropriate investment vehicles could be: Traditional instruments such as , liquid mutual fund and FMPs, , etc.
Characteristics of these instruments are:
- These incur low-risk where the possibility of capital loss is null.
- Withdrawal can be made at any point of time, although early withdrawal penalty might be imposed.
- They facilitate low to moderate rate of return. Hybrid bank accounts offer higher returns than the regular saving accounts.
- Suitable for all ages of women and men
Plan for retirement or old-age
The agenda, “retirement planning”, should be kept on a pedestal in one’s financial goals, in my view. No matter what demographics you fall into – young, aged, single, divorced, married, housewives, working, staying-at-home, or anyone – you must prepare for your old age. Earlier you start saving for it, more you secure your advancing years.
The most reliable investment options for retirement are:
PPF (Public Provident Fund)
- A low-risk financial instrument which provides saving as well as tax-saving features
- Offers an interest rate of 8.7% per annum
- Has a lock-in period for 15 years, however, further extensions in block of 5-years are allowed
- Allows a minimum of Rs. 500 to open and maintain the account, and a maximum of Rs. 1,50,000
- Provides tax-exemption on contribution, interest, and withdrawal
- Provides the facilities of lump-sum deposit or monthly deposit with a maximum of 12 deposits
- Allows its account holder to withdraw prematurely provided specific conditions are met
- Allows to define nominees and their shares for one or more persons
- Transferrable to any other bank, branch or post office
NPS (National Pension Scheme)
- A low-risk, voluntary, defined contribution, Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) regulated financial instrument for all citizens in the age group 18 to 60
- Dedicated to secure every citizen’s retirement income and avail reasonable returns
- Provides two types of accounts, tier 1 and tier 2, to all its subscribers (having Permanent Retirement Account Number, PRAN)
Tier -1 accounts
- The minimum contribution and amount per contribution is set to Rs. 5oo
- This account gets locked till retirement and the subscriber needs to plan for the withdrawal when one reaches 60
Tier – 2 accounts
- Tier-1 subscribers can opt for Tier-2 accounts wherein one can avail the facility of investing and withdrawing at any point of time
- Minimum contribution for opening the account is Rs. 1000 and for the entire year is Rs. 2000
PF / EPF (Provident Fund / Employee Provident Fund)
- A retirement savings scheme available only for the salaried class where the employee and employer both contributes 12% of the basics + DA
- Generates interest of 8% per annum till the age of retirement
VPF (Voluntary Provident Fund)
- Another retirement savings scheme available for the salaried class where the employee can contribute more than 12%, even 100% of his basics + DA (Employer, however, is not obliged to contribute in this scheme)
- Investment can be made from pre-tax income
- Contribution, a maximum of Rs. 1,00,000, is eligible for tax-deduction under 80C of ITA
- Provides tax-free redemption unless withdrawn before the 5-year period
- Interest is tax free unless the interest rate exceeds the statutory rate of 9.5%. Current interest rate for a VPF account is 8.5% per annum.
For long-term goals
Goals which would take 5 years or more to accomplish, such as buying car, house, child’s education, child’s marriage, retirement planning, etc., belong to long-term goals.
- Provides higher rate of returns.
- Most of these vehicles which incur higher risks. Hence it is advisable to consult your financial advisors before committing to such investments.
- For tax-savings: Each person from the working class aims to save taxes to maximum limit.
Most tax-efficient or tax-saving instruments:
ELSS (Equity Linked Saving Schemes)
- A high-risk, open-ended, diversified equity mutual fund, having a 3 years lock-in period, is tax benefited under the section 80C of Income Tax Act.
- Provides tax-free dividends and returns. You can accumulate higher returns if you stay invested for long.
- Provides dividends as well as growth options.
- Provides two investment options – lump sum investment and monthly investment through SIP (Systematic Investment Plan) wherein one needs to invest monthly with as little as Rs. 500.
- Offers reinvestment plan, according to which any new reinvestment is considered a new purchase and thus undergoes a new 3-years lock period.
The category for housewives is listed here exclusively because the statistics divulge the fact that housewives or stay-at-home women are bit averse to financial decisions and investments. But now housewives have got many options available at their disposal which allow them to invest with little amount.
Investment in these instruments should be made because of the following characteristics:
- Low-risk investments where the possibility of capital loss is null
- Withdrawal can be made at any point of time, although early withdrawal penalty might be imposed
- Low to moderate rate of return
- Requires least time and effort in management
Life-insurance and/or term-insurance
All women, whether working or staying-at-home, should have life or term insurance for themselves. You should not rely only on your husband’s insurance. This is one investment option which would facilitate your family in your absence.
(My personal advice would be to be extremely careful for investing in Life-insurance because of its unattractive returns, useless benefit structures, and plethora of deceitful service providers. Term plans, however, are a better choice to cover for your dependents- your spouse, children or your parents.)
We all know that life is exceptionally indeterminate. It never tells you what it has planned for you for the very next moment. Other than the emotional support, you would also need some emergency funds which would allow you to pay your bills for few months without letting you liquidate or withdraw your locked invested money. The best way to build such emergency funds is to invest in liquid fund or hybrid saving account.
Last but not the least, monitoring your portfolio should be one of the most important tasks in your to-do list. You must set some time aside for reviewing your accounts and portfolio in order to get rid of any undesired security, rearranging your asset mix, understand if there is any new terms and risks enforced.
Be prudent and up to date with your investment and strategies. Take care of yourself and your finance!!
Disclaimer: All the details are generic. Before making any decision about an investment instrument, consult your financial advisors. All mutual funds are subject to market risk. Before investing, analyze fund manager’s investment approach, fund’s portfolio, performance of the funds, etc.
Shweta Kumari Sharma
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