Emergency Fund – Helps you stay in Action !

How many times have you ever faced an emergency situation in your financial life? I am talking about some situations when you needed cash within a few hours or days and it turned out that you had to seek monetary help from your relative for it or some friends, whom you didn’t want to ask?

Financial Planners and advisors suggest emergency funds to everyone saying that they should have it because there can be emergency situations in their life and they should always have a few month’s worths of expenses as plain cash for emergency purposes.

Emergency Fund

While it’s a good practice to maintain an emergency fund, a lot of people do not believe in it because for them emergency situation is something which will never happen to them. They always have fixed deposits which can be broken in hours/days and if its really required one can get it anytime. In the same way, mutual funds can be liquidated at a click nowadays and in the worst case, you always have relatives/parents etc who can lend you money in short term. So, in reality, a “real” emergency is really rare. This is how a lot of people think.

The real reason of having an emergency fund

But after a lot of introspection, I came to the conclusion that the real reason for having an emergency fund is something else. More than the “handling emergency situation”,  It’s about your behavior about investing regularly. It’s helpful in stopping you from disturbing the investments which are all set in your life. Let me explain to you what I want to say with some examples.

Imagine a situation where you have started a SIP of 10,000 per month. You also have invested some amount in Fixed Deposits recently and few other investments. You all know that it’s damn tough to finally take actions and really start your SIP’s and actually make investments after a lot of thinking and analysis and “will surely do one day” thinking.

Now suppose you didn’t have an emergency fund, which is “6 months of expenses” for you. Now, what will be your natural reaction if you need money urgently? It’s very natural to break your FDs, liquidate your mutual fund’s investments and then say “let’s stop the SIP for few months till I am facing this cash crunch”. Put one hand on your heart and tell me, how many of us are really so dedicated to re-start our SIPs and investments after the situation is back to normal. We all get lost in our life and jobs and “problems” and then it only starts back after months and years of finding that perfect moment or if its “high time now” situation.

So as per my understanding, the real reason for having an emergency fund is to make sure that you do not disturb your investments which are already started and automated. The real reason for having it is so that you have dedicated funds which you will break before reaching out to your other goal-oriented investments. Think of it as a layer between your real wealth which you want to grow over the long term and money which you want to use in emergency situation. Think about this for a moment, its a little hard to imagine what I am saying here, but if you get my point, you will really appreciate the concept of this.

Did you understand what exactly Emergency fund does for your financial life?

Should Income Tax limit be raised to 5 lacs ?

Do you know that 89% of tax payers in India have income of less than 5 lacs per year? Yes that’s true! Such is the case of most of the low earning people form the tax-paying population. However can you guess what is their share in total tax paid? It’s just 10%.

why doesn’t govt make income tax limit as 5 lacs ?

Yes, 10% of total income tax comes from 89% of taxpaying population. Now that brought a very interesting question in my mind, that why doesn’t govt make 5 lacs income as Tax free?  Only those who have more than 5 lacs income will be paying tax. Imagine what will be the situation!!

In one shot, 89% of the tax-payers will be free from the headache of paying tax each year and the govt will still get 90% of the taxes. What they can do is increase the taxation rate a little bit, so that they still get 100% of the taxation recovered from the rest 11% tax payers (having income of more than 5 lacs). If you look at deep down into the statistics, do you know that 1% of tax payers earn more than 20 lacs income and they account of 63% of tax payment. Imagine this – 63% tax coming from just 1% tax payers.

Tax Payer numbers in India 2012


But it will not happen

Let’s come back to reality now. It was great to imagine that govt should raise the income tax limit to 5 lacs. But do you know that collecting tax from this segment is the easiest. Because these 89% tax payers are mostly salaried employees and the overall tax collected comes in the form of TDS. Companies hiring them have the responsibility of cutting the tax each month and paying it to govt. Hence Govt has almost no work to do to collect the tax from this section of 89%.

This brings us to a very important conclusion now, How should govt restructure the taxation rates and limits such that they increase their tax collection, but it impacts a small percentage of population? What about doubling the taxation rates for those having income of more than 20 lacs? What about making a marginal increase in taxation rates for those having income of more than 10 lacs?

I know I might be overlooking some important points here, but what do you think about it ? Dont you think govt should raise the income tax limit to 5 lacs or something like that ?

IRDA Fraud Calls – Beware of fake phone calls

There have been too many fake phone calls in the name of IRDA these days to many people. It have been noticed that these IRDA fraud calls are made by anonymous people claiming that they can help you get your money back for your Insurance policies which have become a big headache those those who invested in ULIP’s traditional policies without understanding them and are stuck in those plans now. They know that IRDA is a body which handles them (do they?). At times investors are so fed up with their policies, their life situations and are so desperate to get help that they believe anyone who claims to help them.

So some very smart people starting calling up people claiming they are from IRDA and they can help them in getting back their money back or showing some kind of hope to help them. There are several instances where some people lost more money falling for these calls and believing in them. Lets see some examples of these fraud calls and how investors again believed them without doing their study.

Fraud Case 1 : Deepak lost Rs 25,000

I also Received a call from a number 01206470443 saying that he is from IRDA and I will get a bonus of atleast Rs. 20000- for the insurance policy that I had taken few years back from hdfcsl. However, I had to make an investment of Rs. 25000/- for birla sun life insurance company. but i have no recieved documents of birla sun life insurance company. Any one can tell what I do for my payment back. (link)


It was very obvious that their was a fraud done with him and he had either signed some cheque or given DD to someone without understanding what he was doing. He must be very excited to get back some bonus (which didnt exist). He

Fraud Case 2 : How S Dash lost 51,000

I received a call from a lady named Riya Malhotra who said she was from IRDA. She said that IRDA is helping out investors in getting back their long stuck up policy funds. I had one Bajaj Allianz policy which I wanted to close. She said she will help me do it if I take a new policy from Kotak Mahindra or Birla Sunlife

She said that this is a five year term, we pay one-time 51000 now (no more premium payment till 5 years) and we will get 50% of the 51000 in 45 days and after 5 years we will receive approx 76000. However we will get a life cover till I attain age of 100. Moreover we can also recover any insurance amount which we are unsatisfied with within 45 days also. It’s already more than 50 days since I made the payment of 51000 by cheque but I have not received any communications from her. I try calling her @ her mobile. No answer.
Please suggest what should I do? (link)


Note sure whom did she write the cheque for ? There was no rational on choosing a new policy just to get back the money from old policy, there is no relation between both policies.

Fraud Case 3 : How Vikas Lost Rs 3 lacs

Mere pass call aya ki birla sun life me policy one time karane par ek verna car gift ki ja rhi hai , lekin rupees cash dene hoge maine three lakh rupees de diye lekin aaj ek mhina ho gya na to koi bond paper aaya h na hi mere paise sir plz me kya kru (link)


I have no idea how a person can believe that if you if you buy a policy , you will be gifted a car ! . Thats too guaranteed ! , That too by giving cash ! .. While this was a fraud call , there was some common sense expected too !

Fraud Case 4 : How Sumit lost his money

In last December 2011 I got a call from IRDA (from number 0120-3050600 saying they are from IRDA) saying that your last policy premium will be recovered as we are from IRDA and we will give one regulatory to Birla Sun Life to return your money back but I’ll not get this amount directly to my account. What I need to do is to take a policy from Aegon Religare for the same amount Rs 36000. This policy will be actually for 16 years with 10 years locking period. But Due to IRDA intervention your policy will be for only 3 months locking period. Your first year premium will be paid by amount from Birla Sun Life policy and I need to pay another Rs 36000 as current year premium and I need to pay next year premium and then 4th year I can withdraw the amount which will be around 1.6L due to some calculation. Over and above that they committed that company will pay agent commission to my account which will be 25% of yearly premium. They will bypass agent from my policy.

They were continuously in contact with me till 18th Jan that I’ll get a separate statement. They know that I can cancel the policy within 15 days of receiving the documents so they were contacting me so that I’ll be convinced and cannot cancel the policy. But after 20th Jan they are neither picking my call nor calling me. So they have found a new way by picking weak vain of customer by giving promise that old lapsed policy amount will be recovered as well you will get agent commission. I had taken this policy bcaz of tenure will be 3 years as well as I’ll get agent commission with last policy lapsed amount.

The person whom I was in continuous contact was Anjali Oberai. Her mobile number is OXXXXXXXX and direct landline number is 0120-4396848. I have called many times on these two numbers to her. Before 20th Jan she entertained all my calls but now she is not picking my call. Also same policy benefits were explained to me by Neha Chaturvedi one of senior person of IRDA from Hyderabad. Anjali Oberai represented Neha Chaturvedias senior person from IRDA from Hyderabad and she came to NCR for some time. Many times I had doubt on them but due to greed of recovery of my loosed last policy amount and getting agent commission I was cheated by them. I know it’s completely my fault. But I would like to take in focus of all so that nobody can be cheated. (link)


I can see a clear gap in understanding of how life insurance industry works and too much faith in stranger who called up on the name of IRDA . If the policy was really taken from Aegon religare , it should be checked who was the agent in this whole process and nab him/her.

IRDA has clearly issued a notice saying that there is no initiative from IRDA like this 

Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) is a regulatory body established by an Act of Parliament to protect the interests of the policyholders, to regulate, promote and ensure orderly growth of the insurance industry and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

Some instances have been observed by the Authority that general public are receiving calls from individuals who claim to be representatives of IRDA and offering insurance policies of different insurance companies with various benefits (such as offering of scholarship along with policy etc.).

The general public is hereby informed that Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority is a regulatory body which does not involve directly or through any representative in sale of any kind of insurance or financial products. Any person making any kind of ‘transaction with such individuals/agents will be doing the same at their own risk. If any member of the public notices such instances he/she may lodge a police complaint in the local police station.

(Kunnel Prem)
Consultant and Special Officer (Life)

Don’t fall for IRDA Fraud Calls

IRDA is just a regulator for Insurance sector. They do not make any calls acting as mediator between you and company. All they can do is direct a company for some matter or ask them to follow a guideline. But they never work on individual cases and send people to collect money from you. Even if it did , it will never ask for Cash or any kind of cheque on personal names. These kind of calls are purely fraud done by those who know which policies you have (known somehow) and then they just try to see if you can fall for their false promises. Use common sense because making payment to anyone like this, do not pay any attention to these IRDA Fraud Calls.

Which is the best bank for Home Loan ?

Taking a Home loan is a big task in itself and one of the biggest financial decisions. A home loan is the longest debt in our life. At times 10-20 yrs, which makes demands a long term commitment. Each month you have to pay your EMI, sometimes you have to prepay some part of home loan, sometimes you need some documents and visit the bank. There are numerous things to be done during taking the home loan and after taking the home loan, hence you should be very clear that which is the best bank for Home Loan. Without much confusion, it’s very clear that everyone wants to go with the bank which makes your life easy at the time of taking a home loan and even after that. So the biggest question on everyone’s mind is “Which is the best bank for a Home loan?”

Best Home Loan Bank in India

First thing first, you have to be very very clear that their cant is a single bank or loan institution which is perfect for everything and you will never face any issue with them. Also, there is no “best bank for Home Loan” which has always worked for everyone to date. But overall we can always pick some banks which have been better than others on different parameters. You can say that on a high level “Bank A” is better than “Bank B” and this is based on many loan takers’ experience over the years. So now in this article, we will try to understand the difference between different banks and how they differ with each other. We will also see a survey result done with the vast community of this blog and which bank they choose collectively as the best bank for a home loan.

Public Companies vs Pvt Companies

While researching on this topic, the first thing which came to my mind was “all banks are the same, everyone has a bad experience will all kinds of banks, whether PSU or private”. But we have to understand that while some people can have a bad experience with some banks, there are a positive experiences too and we have to see things from a very high level and not judge a bank just based on a handful of bad experiences. The first confusion which comes to any loan taker mind is “PSU bank or private bank?” and based on the experience here is the conclusion.

PSU Banks are good post-loan but not friendly at the time of taking the loan

Private banks are very fast and friendly at the time of disbursing the home loan, they will treat you like a king up-till the loan is disbursed, but once every formality is complete and your home loan is sanctioned, you are a trash to them! As they are extremely aggressive in the marketing of home loans, a lot of people fall for it, Private companies presentation and the way they approach you is good but only till you are not a home loan customer. A lot of times private companies make things easy for you and also bend some rules for home loans. the number of documents they need also is less compared to a PSU bank.

On the other hand, PSU banks are not that great at the start of home loan , their rules are very strict and stringent and they still operate  in the “sarkari” style, however, once your loan process is complete and things start, their afterlife is much easier compared to private banks. The overall handling is much professional and as per the process. In short, they don’t suck your blood every now and then as private companies do.

Private banks are first to raise the interest rates

On the interest rates increase and reduction side, its seen that private companies are first to raise the interest rates after the rate increase from the RBI side, but private banks hide somewhere when there is a time for reducing the interest rates. However, PSU banks are more transparent on this front and much less annoying than Private banks. Also private banks arbitrarily increase the pre-payment charges (  like from 2% to 3%) the conversion fees are also charged heavily if you want to move down to lower interest rates.

Also the changes of fraud at employees level in Private bank is much higher than PSU Banks. I can’t say that PSU banks are not into the bad game, but it’s much much higher in Private banks because of sales pressure and targets. There has been cases of forced selling of home insurance and also cross selling of ULIP’s and other financial products along with the home loan

Which is the best bank for Home loan in India?

Now there are millions of people who have taken home loan and there are various parameters on which a bank can be ranked like Processing time for a home loan, Transparency in whole process, Attitude towards the customer, Interest rates and pre-payment charges, online tracking of your home loan after disbursement. But there is no ranking of banks on all these parameters. However still you can rank a bank overall as good or bad in total. I ran a survey on this blog and got around 1504 participants to vote for the best bank for home loans and based on that we can judge which banks are more preferable and more trusted. Here are the results.

Best Bank for Home Loan in India (Survey Results)

Best Bank for Home Loan in India - SBI , HDFC or LIC

A good place to look for all the home loan related data (Click here)

Top 5 banks for Home Loan at the moment

If you see the survey above, you can clearly see that the top 5 banks for a home loan are SBI, HDFC, LIC Housing, Axis Bank and ICICI Bank and these 5 banks comprise 83% votes. While a big reason for this can be that these are big banks having a wide reach and has more customers and hence the results are a little biased. But at least you can see that out of 1504 people on this blog, 83% of them have a home loan from these 5 big banks, in which SBI tops the list.

1. SBI Bank

Based on the survey and overall reading’s done over the net and comments section of this blog. SBI bank seems to be the best bank for Home Loan. While SBI Bank still carries the hangover of Sarkari culture and they are strict in the overall process, which means you will have to run all over the bank and many times to get things done, but once the whole process is complete, maybe you will have a smooth experience overall. Things will be easy post home loan process if you need anythings from bank compared to other banks. For those who want to know why SBI is preferred, follow this thread

2. HDFC Bank

Overall HDFC bank seems to be have mixed reviews. Some people had a great experience and some had a very bad experience. HDFC Bank is overall recognized as the bank for the home loan itself. But overall the experience was very very mixed.

3. LIC Housing Finance

LIC housing finance seems to be a decent option after SBI. While they are not that great as SBI, still they seem to be a good choice after HDFC and ICICI bank. LIC Housing Finance has lesser documentation requirements, but one has to run around for smaller details.  LIC seems to offer better rates and also giving the option to fix the interest rate for 5 years. One thing which many people do not know is that LIC reduces the interest rates for home loan for its customers having any insurance/investment policy with LIC by at least 0.25 %, but only if Sum assured of all policies collectively is more than 15,00,000 and all policies should be under the name of the loan applicant.

4. ICICI Bank

ICICI Bank seems to be very very fast and too friendly at the time of loan processing, but once the loan is done, life seems to be hell for most of the people. They are not very supportive most of the times and one gets too frustrated with their attitude. Overall their interest rates are also very high.

5. Axis Bank

Axis Bank is another good option as a big bank. One good thing about Axis bank is that they have NIL charges for any pre-payment. It’s a big surprise that Axis bank was more preferred than ICICI bank overall in the survey. While Axis Bank has few good options, there was one recent case from axis bank which I had highlighted on this blog on how they forced sell a life insurance policy along with home loan, While this was a negative thing from Axis Bank,  we have to understand that good and bad experience are part of all the banks.

So what is the final answer ?

While there are positive and negative experiences from different banks, the clear answer coming out of different comments from readers and survey is that if one has to choose just one name, SBI bank is the best bank for home loans. We have seen most of the votes going to SBI Bank and all the pointers are suggesting that its the right choice.

Which bank do you have home loan with and what was your experience overall from start till the end. Can you share it in for others benefit?

Bangalore Workshop Testimonials and Pictures

With 45 people in a room at Shilton Royale hotel in Bangalore, the session started. Nandish started the conversation and then it just took off like it was a day made for a great interaction and huge learning for everyone. The session was highly useful for most of the participants and the biggest thing which they could see is “Offline” interactions are so different and some real sharings happen offline when we meet and sit together. The best thing which everyone liked was that there was no regular talk on products because we all know those things already. However it was more of a session where one learns the tricks of a successful financial life and what mistakes most of the people are doing in their financial life.

We shared with the group what we have learned by working with hundred of people and what our experiences are. Overall it was a great day. Here are few pictures from the session at Bangalore.

Jagoinvestor Workshop in Bangalore

Participants Comments about the workshop learning

  • “It is a pleasure to listen to both manish and nandish. The simplicity of which the comcepts are explained is very appealing.The biggest take-away would be – keep it simple silly” – Priya Srinivasan 
  • “Workshop was simple and transforming. I learnt to unlearn some old thinking. Looking forward to mroe sessions and workshop in advanced planning/actions” – Jnanesh Padiyar
  • “I twas a good learning. Passive income, shock therapy are key learnings . Appreciate that you did not try to sell any financial product not even your own book” – Jayaprakash Rao
  • “Your team has given me a new vision, to see what I really want in life, have the knowledge to get it in place and to take the actions required to achieve it. Thank You!” – Deepak Singhal
  • “It was a very good workshop. Really helped me understand my financial life much better.It has taken my financial life to the next level. I also feel there can be more case studies and may be more plays…Thank You !! “ – Pavani
  • “Its a really good workshop. I came here to just hear about financial life but it was not just finance but it is whole life” each and every aspect”. I am going back with some commitment for not just manage the money of what I earn but I need to develop myself, health and improve my intellectual property” – Shyammani Prasad

Video Testimonials

Register for Mumbai and Hydrabad

We are going to conduct 2 more workshops in July in Mumbai (Early July) and one in Hydrabad (Mostly end of July). If you are interested in attending those workshops. Please put your names for the workshop.

Those who were present in workshop and are reading this article, please let others know how it was overall and your comments .

10 hidden EPF Rules which will blow your mind

We will discuss few EPF rules today. A small part of your salary (12% of your basic salary) is invested in something called EPF or Employee Provident Fund and an equal amount is matched by your employer each month.

This is what 95% of people know, but there are many things which a lot of people don’t know and this article is going to open some not known secrets about EPF rules. So let’s take them one by one in point’s format.

10 hidden EPF Rules

1: You can also nominate someone for your EPF

Do you know that there is also a “nomination” facility in EPF? The nominee will be contacted at the time of death of the person and handed over the money from the provided fund. However, if the nomination is not present (which you should check), it can rise to all sorts of issues while claiming the money.

There is a form called Form 2 which has to be filled to change or update the nomination. Please contact your company finance department or directly send the form to the EPFO department.

2: One can get pension under EPF

Do you know that there is something called EPS (Employee Pension Scheme) in the provident fund? The EPF part is actually for your provided fund and EPS is for your pension.

The 12% contribution made by you from your salary goes into your EPF fully, but the 12% contribution which your employer makes, out of that 8.33% actually goes in EPS (subject to a maximum of Rs 1250) and the rest goes into EPF. To understand it this way, a part of your employer contribution actually makes up your pension corpus.

But there are some caveats to this.

  • One is liable for pension only if one has completed the age of 58.
  • One is liable for pension only if he has completed 10 yrs of service (in case of more than one companies, the EPF should have been transferred, not withdrawn)
  • The minimum Pension per month is Rs 1,000
  • The maximum Pension per month is subject to a maximum of Rs 3,250 per month.
  • Lifelong pension is available to the member and upon his death members of the family are entitled to the pension.

EPF & EPS components

3: No interest is given on EPS (pension part)

You must be thinking that you regularly get compound interest each year on your contribution + employer contribution. But it does not work like that. The compound interest is provided only on the EPF part.

The EPS part (8.33% out of 12% contribution from your employer or Rs 1250 whatever is minimum) does not get any interest. At the time of PF withdrawal, you get both EPF and EPS.

4: You might not get 100% of your Provident Fund money

Imagine your contribution + employer contribution has been a total Rs 3,50,000 to date. Out of this 3,50,000 , suppose 2,50,000 has gone in EPF , and rest 1,00,000 has gone in EPS (for pension) . Now if you quit your job in the 6th year of employment and opt for withdrawal of your Provided Fund money (EPF + EPS actually), then do you think you will get a total of 3,50,000. NO!

That’s because you always get 100% of your EPF part, but for EPS there is a separate rule.

There is something called Table ‘D’, under which its mentioned how much you get at the time of exit from your job, there is a slab for each completed year and you get n times of your last drawn salary (depending on the completed year of service) subject to maximum to Rs 15,000 per month.

So if your salary, in this case, was Rs 30,000 per month, still you will be given only 15,000 * 6.40 = Rs 96,000.

Table D under EPS

Note that the table D is up to 9 yrs only, because if 10 yrs are crossed, then you are liable for a pension.

5: You can invest more in Provident Fund, its called VPF

You can always invest more than 12% of your basic salary in Employee Provident Fund which is called VPF (Voluntary Provident Fund). In this case, the excess amount will be invested in PF and you will keep on getting the interest, but the employer is not supposed to match your contribution. He will just invest up to a maximum of 12% of your basic, not more than that.

6: Withdrawing of EPF amount at job change is illegal

Almost everyone thinks that withdrawing of your Employee Provident Fund amount after a job switch is totally fine and allowed, however as per the EPF Rules, it’s illegal.

You can only withdraw your Employee provident fund money, only if you have no job at the time of withdrawing your money and if 2 months have passed. The only transfer is allowed in case you get a new job and you switch to it.

While there are no cases where EPF office tracks these things and takes up this matter, still just for your information you should know that if you got a new job and took it and then you are applying for withdrawal, it’s illegal as per law.

What in the case of EPS?

In the case of EPS, if the service period is less than 10 years, you have the option to either withdraw your corpus or get it transferred by obtaining a ‘Scheme Certificate’. Once, the service period crosses 10 years, the withdrawal option ceases.

Just for your information, you can withdraw your EPF money without the help of past employer signature by attesting your withdrawal form by a bank manager or some gazetted officer. I hope you are clear about EPF withdrawal rules.

7: One can opt-out of EPF if he wants

Yes!. I know this might be a surprising fact for many, but if one’s basic salary per month is more than Rs 15,000, he has an option to opt-out of PF and not be part of it. In which case he will get all his salary in hand (without anything deducted every month).

But the sad part is that one has to opt-out of Provident Fund at the start of his job. If a person has been part of EPF even once in his life, then he can’t opt-out of it. So if you have already had EPF in your life.

This option is not for you, but if you are new to the job and your PF account number still does not exist, you can tell your employer that you don’t want to be part of Employee provident fund. You will have to fill up form 11 for this.

8: Your EPF gives you some life insurance too

A lot of people might not know that in case a company is not providing group life insurance cover to its employees, in that case, the employee is given a small life cover through EPF. This is because there is something called Employees’ Deposit Linked Insurance (EDLI) scheme and your organization has to contribute 0.5% of your monthly basic pay, capped at Rs 15,000, as premium for your life cover.

However, companies that already have life insurance benefits to employees as part of the company, are exempted from this EDLI scheme. The bad part of this EDLI scheme is that the life cover under this option is very low and that’s the maximum amount of Rs. 60,000. While this is peanuts for most of the people in big cities.

For employees in small scale industries and small cities, this amount of Rs 60,000 will still count something.

9: You can use EPF money can be withdrawn at special occasions

So now you know that EPF withdrawal is not permitted if you are still working. But there are occasions when Employee provident fund withdrawal is allowed.

While you cannot withdraw it fully, you can withdraw a partial amount. Following is a list of events when you can withdraw the Provident Fund amount and the conditions you need to fulfill

1. Marriage or education of self, children or siblings

– You should have completed a minimum of seven years of service.
– The maximum amount you can draw is 50% of your contribution
– You can avail of it three times in your working life.
– You will have to submit the wedding invite or a certified copy of the fee payable.

2. Medical treatment for Self or family (spouse, children, dependent parents)

– For major surgical operations or for TB, leprosy, paralysis, cancer, mental or heart ailments
– The maximum amount you can draw is 6 times your salary
– You must show proof of hospitalization for one month or more with leave certificate for that period from your employer.

3. Repay a housing loan for a house in the name of self, spouse or owned jointly

– You should have completed at least 10 years of service.
– You are eligible to withdraw an amount that is up to 36 times your wages.

4. Alterations/repairs to an existing home for a house in the name of self, spouse or jointly

– You need a minimum service of five years (10 years for repairs) after the house was built/bought.
– You can draw up to 12 times the wages, only once.

5. Construction or purchase of a house or flat/site or plot for self or spouse or joint ownership

– You should have completed at least five years of service.
– The maximum amount you can avail of is 36 times your wages. To buy a site or plot, the amount is 24 times your salary.
– It can be avail of it just once during the entire service.

10: You can file an RTI application for EPF issues

Did you know that you can file an RTI applicable to get any kind of information regarding your EPF? You can file it if you are facing issues like no clarity about EPF balance, no action taken for your EPF withdrawal or transfer. To find out information about other issues on the Provident Fund. I have done a detailed post on how to file an RTI for your EPF issue.

Watch this video to know how to file RTI for EPF withdrawal or transfer issues:


  • In the recent budget 2015, the govt has made it clear that now an employee can choose between EPF and NPS. The employer will have to give this option.
  • Now the new system of UAN is in place for EPF, which has made a lot of things more simpler

Conclusion on EPF rules

The overall Employee provident fund rules are too complicated and very old. A common man does not know all these EPF rules, but knowing these minimum 10 EPF rules will help him in his financial life.

Is looking for perfection killing your financial life ?

Do you know that looking for perfection for everything in your financial life can be one big reason why your financial life is a mess! . If you dont think so, read the story below.

The Perfect Woman

Once upon a time, an intelligent, attractive, self-sufficient woman in her late twenties decided that she wanted to settle down and find a husband.  So she journeyed out into the world to search for the perfect man.

She met him in New York City at a bar in fancy hotel lobby.  He was handsome and well spoken.  In fact, she had a hard time keeping her eyes off of him.  He intrigued her.  It was the curves of his cheek bones, the confidence in his voice, and the comfort of his warm, steady hands.  But after only a short time, she broke things off.  “We just didn’t share the same religious views,” she said.  So she continued on her journey.

She met him again in Austin a few months later.  This time, he was an entrepreneur who owned a small, successful record label that assisted local musicians with booking gigs and promoting their music.  And she learned, during an unforgettable night, that not only did they share the same religious views, he could also make her laugh for hours on end.  “But I just wasn’t emotionally attracted to him,” she said.  So she continued on her journey.

She met him again in Miami at a beachside café.  He was a sports medicine doctor for the Miami Dolphins, but he easily could have been an underwear model for Calvin Klein.  For a little while, she was certain that he was the one.  And all of her friends loved him.  “He’s the perfect catch,” they told her.  “But we didn’t hang in the same social circle, and his high profile job consumed too much of his time,” she said.  So she cut things off and continued on her journey.

Finally, at a corporate business conference in San Diego, she met the perfect man.  He possessed every quality she had been searching for.  Intelligent, handsome, spiritual, similar social circles, and a strong emotional connection – perfect.  She was ready to spend the rest of her life with him.  “But unfortunately, he was looking for the perfect woman,” she said.

Just like the story above, we all are looking for the “best” and the “perfect” financial products, services and financial life, which does not exist in reality. As we don’t get perfection in most of the things we are looking for till the extent we want, we don’t take any action. We keep on searching that perfect financial product which has no defect and which is better than it’s competitors and gives us the maximum benefit.

Perfect Financial Life

Let me share with you couple of instances which happen in real life

Imagine a guy who wants to buy a term plan. He wants a term plan which is cheapest in the premium, he wants a term plan with best customer support, he finds few options. He was going to buy it but then suddenly he read that there is something called “claim settlement ratio” and the best of premium and customer support is of no use if this “claim settlement ratio” is not high. 3 months are gone.

He again gets on net and then concludes that the company with best settlement ratio’s have high premiums and only 2 companies are with good settlement ratio and low premiums, but he has seen 2 people complaining on jagoinvestor.com about the bad customer service. He decides to wait for some other company which fits in his criteria. 2 yrs passed by .. he never took any term plan.

Now imagine a guy who wants to go for a fixed deposit for 3 yrs. He is so excited with high interest rates that he decided to put some extra money then he planned for. But then came the issue, there are smaller banks which are offering 0.25% higher interest rate than his bank and he does not want to “loose” the free interest money. After all, all the banks are same. Then some one advises him that never go for pvt banks because they are all “chor”, but PSU banks especially the big one’s which his father approves are not giving that high interest rates. While all this as going on suddenly banks have now dropped the rates back and all his plans are dropped. His money kept lying in saving banks only.

Now again imagine this guy wanting to hire a financial planner, The planner he wants to hire comes on TV , writes few articles on few websites and also educates everyone. The financial planner charges Rs 20,000, but this guy “feels” that the fees is too high for him and that planner is not giving him sample plan also and the planner is not ready to give a free consultation too! . So there are few things which didnt match his expectation and he decided to give himself some more time. And this guy had 20 lacs in saving bank account which remained there for next 3 yrs because he didnt know where to invest it for best returns.

Is looking for perfection stopping your financial life to grow?

Now coming to the real point, what I want to say is that we all are looking for perfection in our financial lives, mutual funds, term plans, financial planners, bank deposits, relationships, education, marriage etc etc. This looking for perfection is somewhere not helping us grow. Its stopping us from taking decisions which can be much much better than not taking any decision because we didnt find that perfect thing.

90% Perfection Rule

I will say that the only solution to this problem is to look for only 90% perfection in whatever you do and let 10% go. Focus on the next step, that’s taking action because 10% of it will be things you will neither be able to find out, nor it will be totally constant. So as soon as you start getting a feel that you have understood 90% of something and 10% of things are remaining, focus your mindset on taking action, choose things based on that 90% knowledge itself. While this 90% is subjective, you can choose 95% of 85% , but make sure its not 100%, because then it does not serve you.

What do you think about this?

Minimum Balance in Credit Card – How does it work ?

A lot of people have no idea on how their credit card works and what is the exact interest applications. Credit cards are in the market mainly to make money from customers by charging them huge interest because they overuse their credit limit or just fall for the minimum balance option and get into a debt trap. Let’s first understand a few concepts like billing cycle and grace period to start with

How Billing Cycle in Credit Card works?

The billing cycle is the duration for which you are liable to pay the due amount. e.g. from the period 6th Mar- 5th Apr. It means that your bill gets generated on the 5th of every month. This bill includes all the transactions done in the last 30 days. If you buy something on 7th Mar, that transaction will appear on the bill generated on 5th Apr and if you buy something on 4th Apr, still it appears on the bill generated on 5th Apr.

What is the meaning of the Grace period?

A grace period is a number of days up to when you have the liberty to pay off your last bill. For example, if the grace period is of 25 days, in that case, you will enjoy no interest for the next 25 days from the recent billing date. In our example, as the billing happens on the 5th of every month. You can pay off the bill till the 30th of that month, but after that you start paying the interest if you don’t pay the bill in full.

A maximum number of days without interest?

So now based on this info, what is the maximum number of days for which you can enjoy interest-free credit?? The answer is the maximum 55 days! It’s because your billing cycle length is 30 days and grace period is 25 days, so if you purchase anything on the first day of your billing cycle, in this example say 6th Mar, then it will actually appear on your bill of 5th Apr (30 days are gone) and you still get 25 days to pay off this loan, so total 30+25 days = 55 days of interest free credit. However, if you buy anything near the end of your billing cycle, like 4th Apr, then that will appear on the 5th Apr and you can pay off that in the next 25 days, so in this case total 26 days of interest-free credit.

How Credit card billing cycle works

Now this means that if you have any large purchase or any big-ticket size purchase to be made, it’s always better to make sure you do it exactly at the start of the billing cycle to get maximum out of your credit card.

The myth of Minimum Balance

Do you know that you start paying interest on your balance outstanding even if you have Rs 1 in outstanding? Yes, if you don’t pay off your full balance by the end of the grace period, you will be charged with the interest from that point of time. Even if you pay off the minimum balance, still you pay the interest on the rest of the outstanding balance. A lot of people live in this myth that just because they have paid the minimum balance, they will not pay the interest and can pay off the rest of the balance next time without any interest. This is totally wrong!

Paying the minimum balance is just going to make sure that you are not charged any penalty for late fees. That’s the reason “minimum balance” is there. The worst part of this whole minimum balance thing is that once you have any outstanding balance in your credit card, the concept of the grace period is lost. You keep on paying the interest on your outstanding balance at the end of your billing cycle. The grace period concept will only return once the 100% dues are cleared.

Impact of Minimum balance in credit card

This is one big reason why the credit card outstanding balance ballons to such a big amount once a person starts paying the only minimum balance. Let’s understand this with a picture.

Minimum balance is to make sure you don’t pay full?

Minimum balance is a trick, pure trick to make sure you pay less and get into a debt trap. Credit card companies know very well, that if they do not give any option to pay the minimum balance, people will have no other option than to think “let’s pay off my bill in full”. But they know that if they put an option saying “minimum balance”, most of the people will then think – “Ok! this month let me pay this small amount and next month I will settle the full amount.” Sadly this is the first step for most people to get into the debt trap, and this cycle never ends. As this strategy is a lifeline of credit card companies, they make sure they take full advantage of this.

How Psychology Affects Your Payment Behavior

A recent research study concluded that when a person looks at the amount of “minimum payment”, it can influence how much of his balance he decides to pay off each month. The study looked at how people’s behavior changed when they saw a specific number as “minimum balance” and when they did not see anything as “minimum balance”.

A random sample of 481 Americans was taken and divided into 2 groups . One group saw a mock credit-card statement showing a balance of $1,937, and an annual interest rate of 14%, but they didn’t saw any “minimum payment” option. However one the other hand, the other group also saw that the minimum payment of 2% of the balance was mandatory.

What they found is that people who did not see any minimum payment number desired to pay a higher amount of their balance — significantly more than 2% . Whereas people who were shown the minimum payment number were inclined to pay closer to 2% (meaning they’d be in debt longer)

Example of Ajay paying Minimum Balance

Let us see an example to understand all the concepts and working of credit cards. Let’s take an example of Ajay
credit card payment example

Suppose Ajay pays a minimum balance of Rs 300 and carries forward the outstanding balance for next month and also spends Rs 5,000 more in the next billing cycle.

In this case, as Ajay makes the minimum balance of Rs 300, then his outstanding balance would be Rs 9,700 as on due date (30th Apr). Now his total interest will be charged on this Rs 9,700 and that would be 3% of Rs 9,700 = Rs 291, which will be added to his outstanding amount and his final outstanding amount would be Rs 9,991 (just Rs 9 less than his original outstanding amount). Now as he carried forward an outstanding amount on his credit card, there is no concept of grace period. Now in this billing cycle as he has spent another Rs 5,000. That will be added to his old outstanding and the total would now be Rs 9,991 + 5,000 = Rs 14,991

Now this time, suppose his minimum balance is Rs 400 (just for example), and he pays it, then his outstanding balance will come down by Rs 400 and his final outstanding balance would be Rs 14,991 – 400 = 14,591. Now as there will be no grace period, he will be charged the interest of 3% on his outstanding balance of Rs 14,591, that’s 3% of 14,591 = 437.73 and will be added back to his outstanding, 14571 + 437.73 = 15,008 (approx)

Example of how Credit cards works

You can see that even after making the minimum balance he is actually having more than his previous outstanding amount because of interest paid. In case he does not pay the minimum balance also, in that case, he will also be charged a heavy penalty for late payment and that will be added back to his credit card debt. You can see how the minimum balance gets one into a debt trap.

Making Minimum payment affects your Credit Score

Do I need to give any other reason why one should stay away from minimum balance whenever possible? Making a minimum payment means not making full payment on time and the more number of times you do it, the worse your credit score gets each time. Read more on Improving your credit score here


Now you know all the terminologies in credit cards and how it works exactly. You also came to know about how minimum payments work and how it gets you into a debt trap. Try to make sure you become more responsible for your credit card payments. What do you think about it ? Give your views about this

Mutual Funds Performance vs Benchmark Performance

How would you judge whether you have scored good marks in an exam? How do you define “good”? If you had a very very easy test and most of the questions were easy, would you call 80/100 a great score? NO. In the same way, if the exam was very very tough and made everyone cry, but you scored 75/100. Would you call it a great score then? Yes! So the point I want to make is there’s always a benchmark in any area to decide if the performance was good or bad. If you have done better than the benchmark, you did well, else you did bad.  This is exactly how mutual funds are to be judged. You can’t just say a mutual fund has performed bad or good based on the returns it has given in a time frame.

What is a Benchmark?

Each and every mutual fund has a mandate and rule defined on where will it invest and in what proportion. Like if a mutual fund says that it will invest in all the large-cap companies in India, then its benchmark would be mostly NIFTY because NIFTY is the indicator of the large-cap companies. And the whole point of investing in a large-cap mutual fund is that it should give you better returns then NIFTY because you can always invest in NIFTY and get the returns without any fees or risk. So only if a large-cap equity mutual fund beats NIFTY, you can say that it performed Good. Because if it does not then it has performed badly even after you paid him the fees, what’s the point of paying the fees and getting returns lesser than the Index which gives you some returns anyways.

In the same way a Small Cap Mutual Fund would have CNX MID CAP. One can just buy that Index and get returns from it based on the movement of the stocks in that benchmark. A mutual funds tries to take a call on what stocks to select and when to get rid of them to generate superior results and only if it can beat its benchmark, we can say that the mutual fund performed better than it’s benchmark.

Bad Market Performance in the last few years

So in any mutual fund, there is a benchmark and you can say that the mutual fund performed good or bad in a time frame only if the returns from a mutual fund are better than its benchmark for that particular period. Now based on this very simple rule, let’s see some cases. In the last few years, stock markets have performed badly. This bad performance from markets will obviously affect mutual funds performance too. So if a mutual fund has not given double-digit returns, can we conclude that mutual funds are bad investments? No.

Sandeep asked a question related to this 

I was told that HDFC Top 200 is an excellent fund . But I invested around 50,000 in that fund last year and now my fund value is near 46,000 . Is this fund really good ?

This kind of questions come to all the investor’s mind, this happens when you dont know how exactly you should judge a mutual fund’s performance. The only way here to say is HDFC Top 200 did good or bad in the last 1 yrs is to see if its return is more than its benchmark or less than its benchmark and to what extent?

HDFC Top 200 example 

If you look at HDFC Top 200 returns in the last 1 yrs from today (27th Apr 2012), its return has been -9.8 %. Now anyone hearing that kind of return will scream – “Oh .. that’s really bad”. But when you look at its benchmark (which is BSE 200), you can see that its benchmark has given around -12.06% So you can clearly see that HDFC Top 200 has outperformed its benchmark by 2.26% which means that it has done a better job.

Note that mutual funds have stocks as the underlying assets in which they invest, so mutual funds performance will depend totally on stock markets performance and in last 5 yrs, its not mutual funds which have performed badly, its actually stock markets, Mutual funds just mimick the portfolio’s in some manner and the real parameter of how good or bad they have done is to see how they have performed compared to the risk-free benchmark they are following.

Now coming back to the same example of HDFC Top 200 , it has given around 22.6% returns CAGR in last 3 yrs , but its benchmark (BSE 200) return was just 16.2% , hence you can say that HDFC Top 200 has done a good job and outperformed its benchmark by 6.2% on yearly basis, that’s really a good number.

Escorts Tax Plan Example 

Now lets look at 5 yrs performance of a tax-saving fund called Escorts Tax Plan, The fund has to give -15% return on absolute level in last 5 yrs (1 lac became 85,000) and an agent can say – “Sir – markets were doing badly in the same time, that’s the reason the fund has given bad return’s, in future it would do great” . In this case, all you need to ask is – “Fine, I can understand that market performance affects fund performance but has it performed better than the risk-free benchmark it was following? “

If you look at its benchmark “Nifty”, it has given a 24% positive return in the same period. This means that the fund has performed worse than the index which is totally free, while the fund has not performed even after bring run by professional fund managers. Then what’s the use of that fund.

So now you have a simple rule to judge a mutual fund performance

  • If Fund Performance > Benchmark  – The fund performance was good
  • If Fund Performance < Benchmark  – The fund performance was bad

Note that the duration should be good enough like more than 1 yr at least to say anything and the gap between the fund performance and benchmark performance should also be considered. You can say that a fund was bad just because its returns were 8% and the benchmark was 7.8%. that is very much close and does not conclude much.

Now a fairly good way of choosing a mutual fund is just based on how it has performed in the last many years compared to its benchmark. So I am putting up some top funds which have done very good compared to its benchmark

Some Top Mutual Funds vs Benchmark Returns

The following are some of the very good potential mutual funds for 2012 and they are really doing good overall. Let’s see their returns overall for 5 yr and 3 yr timeframe along with their benchmark returns. You can see some funds outperformed their benchmarks with huge margins. For example, Quantum Long term equity fund has return 28.38% in 3 yrs compared to just 14.78% from its benchmark which is Sensex. Thats 100% more, really brilliant.

Mutual Funds performance vs Benchmark performance

So overall the learning is that if you want to find out some good performing mutual funds, you should be looking if a mutual fund has outperformed its benchmark over several years with a good enough margin or not. If it has consistently done that, you can be clear that fund management is going well.

How often do you look into the benchmark? What else do you think should be looked at while judging mutual funds?