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/

Millennial Mom

Have you often caught yourself saying, “Life’s one heck of a bitch right now”. Finding your plates too full or sometimes too much to juggle between – you must be a Millennial Mom.

Millennial Moms have unconventional jobs, role demands, work schedules, and therefore a much higher need to be financially savvy. We are doing a series on how Millennial Moms with varying roles should be dealing with money. Here’s the piece for our first role.

Role 1: Moms who run the Media

Graphic Designers, TV anchors, Executive Producer, Creative Directors, Director of Photography… These mom’s have challenging careers and work differently from regular employed workforce. The work comes in erratic shifts, for days at a stretch sometimes and sporadically.

Most times work comes on assignment basis in the creative field. While the pays are handsome, the receiving g date is not fixed like the salary. How can one then make the best calls in managing money. Here’s a practical guide.

Pay yourself first

Freelancers are very much like the entrepreneurs. It is important to reward yourself to keep going. Take aside your salary to last you your next expected payment before you use it up in clearing the dues.

Use apps to track your payment or follow ups

A hard part of freelancing is deferred payments which you have to diligently follow up. The right apps can keep reminding you for follow ups and keep a note of your money reserves vis a vis expenses.

Emergency fund

We can’t stress more about the need of emergency fund for everyone and its even dire if your pay-checks are irregular. Emergency funds can be limited for salaried individuals who have medi-claims and other cover. But it’s critical if you are independent.

Using the upfront payment mode

When making large purchases like car, camera and heavy equipments, prefer to use the upfront payment option. Since you can time the purchase after a big payment credit, paying lumpsum will earn you rewards like bigger discounts and cash backs. You also avoid the EMI headache and heavy interest rates charged on taking loan.

Don’t compromise on Investment

Not having regularity in payments should not become an excuse to not invest. Make lumpsum investments if recurring is not possible.

Financial Advisor

The financial terms may scare you or you may be very busy to figure the investment tools. Also in freelancing, there are no employee benefits like PF, Gratuity etc. you must engage an advisor to plan your insurance, retirement and other investments.

Get a life cover

A lot of people misunderstand Insurance as an investment tool only. While it can give returns but primary use of Insurance should be of covering your life. Absence of life cover and medi claim can land you in quite a spot in case of any uncertainties.

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.

Successful habits of a Money Managing Mom

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Money knows no short cuts. It takes an effort if not an army 😊 to accumulate the riches we so desire. Momey-hood is a tough role but no one can do better justice than us at being good money-managers. Here are our absolute best habits for Moms to excel with money.

  1. Ledger of expenses: An account of household expenses keeps the overheads under check. It also motivates to save more by keeping an eye on outflows.
  2. Due-dates: A calendar for all payment due-dates keeps you prepared for any big expenses that can knock down liquidity such as: School fee, Insurance premium, SIPs, Loan EMI, House help salaries, Credit card payment and the like
  3. Saving first rule: A good part of (minimum 30%) monthly income should be first and foremost kept for savings / investments as a rule. The balance should be used up for family’s expenses.
  4. Create separate funds: To fund your wish lists, create small pools such as travel fund, festive shopping fund. This will ensure you plan your recreational expenses and not do them on impulse. You can exhaust these funds and start all over again for your next goal.

​Tax saving options for Women

Taxes are inevitable whether you are employed, partner in family business or an entrepreneur. Tax planning is important to ensure your earnings don’t suffer from heavy tax outgo-s, last minute rush or late filing penalties.
Moms, today we are sharing options for availing tax deductions so you make use of right options well in time and save up on taxes.
Tax Deduction
Section 80C of Income Tax Act allows for a deduction of up to Rs. 1,50,000 for investing in tax saving options. Two most known ones are Public Provident Fund and Employee Provident Fund. Let’s look at some other options.

5 year deposits: If you don’t want to take too much risk, invest in 5 year deposits with any bank or post office. You can’t get deductions upto Rs. 1.5 lacs under Section 80C. 
Sukanya Samridhi Yojana: For girl child below 10 years, SSY can be taken where you can deposit upto Rs. 1.5 lacs each year for a fixed return of 9.2%. The best part is both interest and maturity amounts come tax free. The lock in period is 11 years for this scheme till your daughter reaches 21 years of age.
ELSS: Equity Linked Savings Scheme give you tax exemption while giving you attractive returns. The fund is managed by professional managers so you don’t have to worry about market movements, ELSS have a lock in of 3 years.
Life Insurance: If you are a primary or an equal earner in the family, then you must consider getting a life cover through life insurance. The government allows for a max amount of Rs. 1.5 lakhs to be deducted annually for tax benefits.
National Pension Scheme: Working women who would like to save for retirement should consider NPS. There are 3 distinct profiles for you to map your risk profile: Equity, Corporate bonds, Government securities. The exemption you get for NPS cannot exceed Rs. 1.5 lacs annually.
Home Loan: Home loan repayments can get you tax deductions and in 2 ways. There is deduction allowed upto Rs. 1.5 lakhs in principle amount and upto Rs. 2 lakhs in interest repayment. You must make use of this even if you are a co-worker along with your husband.
Also find from local registrar office, if there is a stamp duty concession for women buyers, which is usually around 1-2%.

There could be a marginal rebate of .05% on home loans for women which should be checked with the lending bank.

Be a smart mom in saving your tax because Money Saved is Money Earned.