You Live Only Once, Keep it Stress free

Being thankful for what we have is one of the most beautiful feelings. But we often take this positivity too far. Very recently, I was talking to a friend about getting our residential complex insured against Fire. The friend dismissed my concerns saying that I am fretting for no reason and even her building is not insured. At the end of it, I felt like the pessimist in the argument, over-worrying as if hell is just waiting to break on us.

That evening, I read about fire in this high-profile high-rise and immediately called up my friend. It was my turn to make even. Well, not really. The friend conceded to my concern. She said that had it not been for our little chat, she would have brushed aside this news. But not now. She is going to press for fire safety & insurance to be followed to the T in her building.

Great! I thought as I hung up the phone and started reading about why we overlook Contingency Planning. I came across this interesting interview of Author Robert Meyer of the book The Ostrich Paradox – Why we underprepare for Disasters. He called optimism pretty dangerous – “excessive optimism is probably the most damaging one. The idea that triggers action is worry or fear over something bad happening to us, and if it never hits the radar screen, we’re not going to prepare for it. And so the more we ignore worst case scenarios, the more we think that bad things are things that happen to other people & not to us, the less able we are to prepare’’. (Read the full interview here: http://wwno.org/post/why-arent-humans-better-prepared-natural-disasters)

True said the author. We always assume that a calamity won’t hit us. If there’s fire, it would be in another building. If there’s theft, it would be in neighbor’s. If there’s accident, it would be another guy on the road, not us. Due to this, we never equip ourselves financially for the emergencies. However, there won’t be a sane financial plan, unless it accounts for an Emergency Fund.

What is an Emergency Fund?

A Girl Having an Accident

An Emergency Fund is the pool of money that we keep aside for unannounced large expenses so that we don’t have to compromise on living expenses. Emergency could knock in any form like loss of job, major house repair, sudden ailment in family, unexpected travel. The fund should be easily accessible almost like cash since you may not have the time to access investments.

The fund should be 3 to 6 months of your monthly running expenses. For example, if your monthly expenditure is Rs. 1 lac, then Emergency fund should be between Rs. 3 to 6 lacs. Having said this, it is not easy to set aside a large sum just like that. It requires a bit of planning.

How should you create an Emergency fund?

To create an Emergency Fund, you have to do some math. A quick step by step will help here.

  1. Chart your monthly income and expenses: This must include the essentials like rent, fees etc. plus other discretionary expenditures like shopping, movie, eating out.
  2. Set your amount for the Fund:Consider the total of all essentials in a month. That total will give you a sense of how much you need to keep afloat in case of any emergency.
  3. Work out a Saving Plan: To accumulate a large sum, you need to work out a strategy. Evaluate how much is ok to keep aside every month and how long you need to keep saving to achieve the set amount.
  4. Put Emergency Fund in accessible place: The money should be available even at mid night if required. So you can partly keep it in cash, partly in a bank and some in maybe a liquid fund (more on Liquid Fund later).
  5. Stay on Track: You may have a festive month or new (school) session month which may prevent putting money aside but ensure that you are back to saving from next month on. Discipline is key in securing yourself.

I am doing Emergency Fund building for myself and can vouch for the peace of mind I have had lately. After all, it’s one life & those gloomy skies are better off at bay.

Photo Credit: <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/a-girl-having-an-accident_2188407.htm”>Designed by Freepik</a>

​Buy & Cry, the traditional approach on purchasing Gold!

Hey Momeys, hope you had a great Diwali filled with loads of shopping, feasting, dressing up and gossiping!

As we get back to our normal routine lives, the feeling that the festival is over takes over. While I was trying to keep up with my little one this afternoon, my neighbour came in with her daughter. Kids started playing, leaving us to do what we do best – gossip! She showed me her recently bought beautiful gold earrings and then narrated the long story behind it. She told me how she and her husband went to a branded jewellery store to buy gold bangles on Dhanteras, as a tradition, but ended up buying these earrings.

They went to the store in late afternoon to avoid the festive rush but could not escape the buzz. She was clear that she wanted to buy bangles for her but the store was so crowded that each sales person was handling around 6-7 families at a time.  The more she tried to inquire, the harder she got pushed back. Amid this chaos, finally she had to settle for gold earrings as she needed to buy something atleast on the ocassion of Dhanteras. Well, their hardship didn’t quite end there; they had to spend an hour and a half to pay for those earrings before they could leave the store. The worst part of her story was that even after taking all that trouble she didn’t like the earnings and was repenting her decision of not buying the bangles.

Now she wanted to know our side of story – what we bought on Dhanteras and from where. I said well my husband bought gold ETF during his tea break in office. We bought 99.5% pure gold within 5 minutes sitting miles away from the maddening rush at the Jewellery stores!! Her next obvious question was how we did pooja without the physical gold? Well we took the print of our account statement – after all we are moving towards Digital India!  She was completely stunned!!

Here’s quick maths for all of you to show the cost difference between my gold & my neighbour’s gold:

She paid Rs. 32,966 [including making charges (10%) + GST (3%)] for 9gms of 91.6% (22k) pure gold (P.S. and she didn’t like what she bought)

We paid Rs. 25,026 [including the brokerage charges (0.75%)] for 9gms of 99.5% pure gold

Apart from the costs involved, another major difference was our motives behind buying the gold – Mine was to invest in gold for my daughter’s wedding (she’s 5 right now) and hers was to buy anything made up of gold for Dhanteras. So what was your motive for buying gold Momeys? Hope your purchase did not make you cry. Just have to buy smart!

Are you max-ing out Credit Card benefits?

Increasing consumerism has led to living in a debt trap. Thanks to Credit cards, we are forever caught in a circle of debt, a viscious circle. Its hard to come out of it and just in case if you do, you are soon back into it. It’s a modern day reality and there’s just no denying it.

Well we have become such slaves to plastic money that we have stopped seeing the scenario outside it – There’s no economy other than debt economy. So much so that sometimes there’s oversight of the added benefits that come with Plastic money. Credit cards can have some real smart uses if you take note. Moms, here are our 5 most favorite ways to enjoy advantages that come with owning a credit card.

1. Credit Period

A credit card is supposed to let you spend in peace without having to pay right then. This should be best done by using the card in accordance with billing cycle. Say your bill gets generated on the 19th of every month, you should use cash or debit card till 18th and then use credit card for the remaining month. You enjoy a greater credit period because expenses from 19-30 of the month are only going to reflect in your next to next bill. Like the expenses between 19 -31 of October will come in the December bill as you get to enjoy a credit period of 40 days usually.

2. Lounge Access

It is a super handy feature we can utilize during the long haul flights. Especially when traveling with kids and older people. You can stretch your limbs, enjoy complimentary food & drinks and use the wifi. Just make sure you carry the add on access cards when you pack.

3. Memberships

A higher tier credit card brings in added memberships or experiential cards – it could be dining-out cards or membership programs of five star chains, a privileged club or pre-paid/ discounted invites for holidays. Definitely have fun using the memberships till they are complimentary.

4. Concierge

Again the higher tier cards offer you concierge services for various kinds of bookings, including movies. Did you say, “Yay”?

5. Reward Program

This may be an oft used feature since many of us love shopping with points. Credit card companies are always adding new merchants to offer a wide variety of redemption benefits. If you can make the effort of finding out which categories of card purchases attract higher points, then you can swipe your card for those purchases and max out the benefits. Also keep in mind, when taking a consumer durable or car, swipe your card to pay the down payment instead of writing a cheque for it. A fat amount will earn you more points; you should of course promptly pay your credit card bill.

Momeys! Use these hacks to become a credit card pro.

Are you over paying your home loan?

Moms you might just say, “Now that’s a rhetorical question. Of course we are over paying”. The pinch of Home Loans is so hard that it does appear as an over-paid debt. Especially because home loans are so long in duration compared to other loans like Car, Education or Personal loan. By simple estimates also, you pay double the loan amount back to your lender. This blog however is not the usual expensive home loan rant.

We recently visited the bank, for our KYC updation for a 2 year old home loan. It actually was a 2 minute process which required our signatures as per some newly introduced e-KYC rules. The loan account being least of our favourites, was hardly ever looked into, which led us to enquire about the on going rates. To our happy surprise, we WERE OVERPAYING INDEED. The rate of interest had reduced by a whole 1%. We found that bank does not automatically apply the reduced rate (which we were told at the time of availing the loan) and it required our instructions to do so.

Another learning that came out was that the rate reduction is not without a charge. We had to give a SWITCH OVER fee. To clarify the point, the current 9.55% rate was brought down to a new rate of 8.65% for a year. Post a year, if the rate of interest continued on a downward spiral then we could ask the bank to bring it down again.

The switch over fee was not transparent though, and we couldn’t ascertain the basis of calculation. But we could definitely see benefits of paying it one time and bringing down EMI for our balance 198 EMIs, saving a couple of lacs in the long term.

So as we sat back in the evening thinking through the day and reading some advice about managing a home loan, here came our take-outs:

1. Keep an eye on news about RBI’s Monetary Policy review meetings and even other news about interest rate changes.

2. Check the rate of interest with your lender periodically (atleast once a year)

3. If you are being charged for switching to lower rates, negotiate with the lender to pay as less as possible.

4. Use your bonuses, windfalls, big payments to pay the loan back. The earlier you are debt-free the better.

5. If you are foreclosing a part of your loan, ask the bank to reduce the tenure instead of the EMI.

6.  Two way tax benefits should be used – First, the interest component of the loan is eligible for deduction upto Rs. 2 lacs under section 24. Second, the principal repayment allows you deduction of upto Rs. 1.5 lacs under section 80C. To know more about tax benefits on home loans, you can see: https://cleartax.in/s/home-loan-tax-benefit

Knowing Millennials better

We wrote about Millennial Moms yesterday, and we know the millennials are all about experiences than acquisitions. We came across a great piece on Millennial women setting out their #lifegoals and living them up.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/life/flight-attendants-sneakers-road-trips-instagram-game-brave/

Girls just wanna have fun

Hay Moms! We have been writing a lil’ too serious all this time. So we thought of breaking away from that and sharing some ideas to have fun. We all enjoy a good laugh, good food and good company. Here’s to some new and old party plans to get your thoughts going:

1. Bring in the Karwa chauth

There’s perfect setting on Karwa chauth day – you are dressed up, in company of friends and family and food is on your mind.. but you can’t drink or eat that day. You can 2 days before though. Organize a mehendi get together with your friends and make it into a party. Chatter, dancing and drinks can help you prepare for one day of absolute abstinence.

2. Let the games begin

Diwali is here and its game on for a round of cards. If you are worries that your young one is too impressionable and may not take the cards well, switch to board games. Its double the fun plus you can have folder kids join in too. Go on and make some money.

3. BYOB

Sometimes you can party up for no reason making a sudden plan and for such parties the good old pot lunch or dinner and Bring Your Own Booze works fantastic. Its not a strain on the host and everyone gets to enjoy their fave drinks. If you are a new mommy, please excuse yourself from the contribution and just join the fun, you deserve it.

4. The spa kitty

Well for those active in kitty groups and tired of eating similar food at similar places, look out for group deals for spa or pampering sessions. The spa-lons are more than happy to work out group deals in non peak hours.

5. Shop out loud

There ain’t no therapy like retail therapy. Period.

6. Networking Clubs for women

Mom’s who have entrepreneurship on mind or plans to get independent but looking for direction can sign up for women’s networking club. Its not only helpful but recreational as well. The networking jam ups, lunches, complimentary workshops are loads of fun things that come along.