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Be Money Wise this April

budgetWho said resolutions are only for January? April is the beginning of many things new… the start of a new year for many South and South East Asian countries and communities, the mark of summer and the start of a new financial year in India. April is the time to revisit those monetary resolutions - to vow to keep the personal financial books in order, this year.

Before you work on your money management for the year, it’s important to understand the outcomes of the Union and State budgets, as these will impact your personal financial planning. Knowing about the changes in the tax laws and about what is more expensive or cheaper this year, will enable you to make informed decisions. Here’s a quick snapshot from the Union Budget*:

  • The highlight of this year is the increase in service tax from 12.36% to 14%. It now includes amusement facilities, concerts with entry fee > INR 500, most government to business services, among others – Apart from all services becoming a little more expensive, some services that were earlier exempt now attract service tax
  • Personal savings and Investment:

    • There is an increase in sectional investment slabs in 80C and 80D - More savings and investment limits and increased health insurance cover are now available
    • Higher transport allowance
    • The tax exemption on maturity for the Sukanya Samruddhi scheme makes it a more attractive investment tool than other debt-based options such as NSC or Fixed Deposits
    • Inclusions of more areas under 80G to encourage donations
  • Price reductions in 22 categories, including LCD and LED panels and lights, computer tablets, microwave ovens, lower priced footwear amongst others

*Do refer to your respective state budgets as well for a comprehensive understanding.

With this in mind, you’d now need to know what to spend and save on. The start of the financial year is the best time to make significant and effective changes in money management. In the famous words of Aristotle, ‘Well begun is half done’! This April on, strive to give your personal finances a sense of symmetry.

  1. Use a simple expense tracking app like Money View. This will help you understand your expenses, set timely alerts and manage your income better
  2. Start your investments from week one. Set, reset and re-evaluate your financial goals. Scout for the best tax breaks and start saving for them from the beginning of the year. If you find it difficult to get going, set aside 15% of your monthly income every month and see where that leads you. Make sure you decide your investments based on your risk appetite.
  3. Check your debt situation. The start of the financial year is the time for appraisals and hikes. Use it wisely; repay some of your higher interest debts like credit cards and personal loans
  4. Plan ahead! Holidays are significantly cheaper when you plan ahead. And plan for travel in the off season. Hotel and flight deals help you reduce your travel budgets.
  5. Make monthly budgets and sub-budgets on various categories. For example Rs. 10,000 on eating out, Rs. 5,000 on fuel etc. The Money View app acts as a personal budget planner, that will help you track your spend pattern across categories. This will help you understand your spend behavior, which will allow you to make amends accordingly.
  6. Keep a watch on your credit score. A good credit history will enable you to get the best interest rates when it’s time to buy a new home or car. If your CIBIL score is over 750 it means you will be the good books of banks
  7. Unclutter your life! Clear unnecessary things around the house. Recycle / Upcycle / reuse things that are not in use. Check for barter/ pre-owned deals before deciding on new purchases.

Want to learn a few more tricks? Read our blog post The cut back month.


Credit Card 101: Tips and Tricks

Credit Card Tips and tricks

That simple rectangular piece of plastic or metal as the case may be, has let you buy tickets to that memorable event, indulge in online retail therapy, given you the power to act on and fulfill your impulsive desires.... and then again it’s also the cause of severe financial distress for some. How then, should one approach something as fluid and powerful like a credit card?

The key objective is to be in tune with your credit card buys. Discipline and the right mindset aside, a credit card user needs to know a few tips and tricks. Here are some:

  • Spend Analysis: Understand what you spend on every month. You could use a Personal Finance App lto track your category-wise expenditures. This will help you to compare and select a card that gives you maximum reward points for what you spend on regularly. For example: certain credit cards give you 1 point per INR 100 for shopping but might give 4 points per INR 100 for eating out.
  • Credit Limit: Get a credit limit that you CAN pay every month. Banks will encourage and flatter by upgrading your credit limit. If you are not sure of your spend control, give the limit enhancement a miss until you are ready to do so.
  • Payments: The golden rule of credit card management is to be diligent about payments. You miss; you pay more! Not just minimum balances but you should try to make full payments before the due date every month. The balance amount has a high interest rate (to the tune of 30% to 54% per annum).
  • EMIs – In the case that you can’t make full payments, banks give you the chance to convert it into EMIs. But EMIs are loans at the end of the day. Avoid this as much as possible.
  • Optimize on your billing cycle: If your billing cycle is say 10th to 09th of a month and you plan to buy something on the 08th or the 09th, see if you can put it off till the 10th or 11th. By doing so, the payment for this purchase will be a full credit cycle away (typically around 45 days)
  • Redemption: Most cards allow points redemption against regular purchases such as fuel, shopping, air miles or cash back offers. Check your redemption options from time to time. If your reward points are worthless or really low despite regular purchases, it is time to reconsider having the card.
  • Cash – While the option of withdrawing cash from your credit card is convenient, it is imperative to remember that this amount collects interest from day one. Stick to debit card for cash transactions
  • Multiple cards: In a multiple credit cards and behind-payments situation, it is best to first clear the card with the maximum benefits and least amount pending. Once cleared, keep that card debt-free to build a good credit history. Review your budget and earmark a portion to clear off the other debts as soon as you can.
  • Security: Report a lost or stolen card immediately. Banks will hotlist them and save you from further unwarranted usage. Always cover the keypad while entering your pin.
  • Swiping: Most merchants have multiple banks card swiping machines, ensure your card is swiped on the machine that is the same bank as your credit card. This will result in lower bank usage costs that may eventually be transferred to you in the form of some benefit or the other.
  • The start and finish: Check all the paperwork while applying for a card. Some agents may promise more than they deliver. Close your unused cards only after you redeem all the points and clear all outstanding. Be sure that you close the card towards the end of the annual cycle so you can optimize on the annual fees paid.

Opening and closing credit card accounts frequently impacts the credit score negatively.

If your CIBIL score is over 750 it means you have a good credit history. Banks look out for this score because they need that to offset their bad debts. Leverage this to get a free-for-life credit card. You could also negotiate a joining gift if you are lucky!


Manage your Spend

'Avatar' Management

Think alter egos and one immediately associates that with crusaders in capes and shields, fighting dark forces of the world...Bruce Wayne or Clark Kent and their secretive dual life of superhero and ordinary! Business owners often lead a double life too, may not be as secretive and mysterious as a superhero, but complicated nevertheless.

Entrepreneurs are constantly striving to keep their business and personal lives apart, setting priorities and eager to achieve effective time management. From conception to setting the company is motion it is turmoil at many levels. Entrepreneurs may feel confronted when they have to apportion their business and personal interests; particularly when it comes to money management.

New entrepreneurs in particular may question the necessity of managing two bank accounts for personal and business. After all, all the money there is or there will be, is theirs – what’s to separate? Isolating business from personal finances not only helps build credibility for the company but also makes tax management an easier task. It is the first step to take business to the next level.

Here are three reasons why:

personal and businees accountRecord keeping – If a business owner were to use a personal account for business transactions it will get extremely difficult to monitor the enterprises’ cash inflow and outflow. This can be crippling when it comes to taking corrective measure or charting the next course for the business. Even if the company is running on one’s own funds at the moment and in the foreseeable future, it is critical to keep separate records. Precise and up-to-date financial information is imperative for running a successful law abiding business.

The Money View app was designed to make personal and business account management an easy task. The app gives you the option to tag accounts as personal or business, enabling you to have separate views of your financial activity, in real time.

 View of business account summaryMore professional – Every working professional and entrepreneur knows the importance of personal and official email ids. You don’t use one for the other! By managing your business finance through a business account you build more confidence with clients and associates.

Taxation laws are differentEven for a one-shareholder business, there are two entities to account for – the entrepreneur and the enterprise. The tax obligation of a person is quite different from that of a business entity. Keeping separate books for personal and business will make the preparation of financial statements, audits and filing of returns that much easier. More importantly, it will help avoid paying taxes on the same money twice!

Download Money View and bring about a sense of order in your dual life!

Click Here to Download Money View


Reduce Credit Card

The cut back month

March has always been about battles! The Romans named the month after Mars - God of War, and centuries later, here in India today, it is still the month of battles… financial battles! March has become synonymous with target completion, last minute tax saving schemes, short term loans to cover deficits…. basically everything that spells ‘monetary conflict’.

With a lot happening in March, what better way to reduce expenditure than the good ol’ cut back trick! Frugal or smart, watching and trimming your expenditures this month will take a lot of stress out.

In lean times, you’ll need to rethink some of the things you take for granted:

  • List – Don’t underestimate this seemingly geeky habit! A to-do list will help you plan and prioritize. Putting things in writing will not only give you a perspective and but also help instill the feeling of pursuit. A list also ensures you make fewer but combined trips, whether to the supermarket or to run errands or for anything else, saving you precious time and money.
  • Needs Vs Wants– Stop keeping up with the Joneses! Excessive consumption is the easiest way of falling into a trap of financial stress. If you find yourself coveting your friend’s/ neighbour’s glamorous lifestyle, it is time to re-evaluate your own spending pattern. You may be buying yourself into debt without even realizing it. This month reassess and cut back on entertainment and shopping expenses; and steer clear from those too-good-to-resist sales.
  • Do the new – It’s easy to fall into predictable patterns of everyday life, not realizing what you take for granted. If you have been driving or riding to work, your fuel expenses is a significant part of your monthly spend. This month, why not try something new – perhaps you could utilize public transportation on a few days, carpool or walk short distances for running errands. Likewise, if eating out is a regular activity, reduce the number of times you visit a restaurant. Cook more at home; make potluck plans with likeminded people to break the monotony.
  • Optimize – If time is money then optimization is wealth! Relook at every aspect of your everyday life and assess what you can do better - more productively. To save on fuel, drive at speed limits of 40 km per hour. Switch off at major signals and fuel up at night. Keeping the tyre pressure at optimum levels also helps in saving fuel expenses. Use your credit card reward points, loyalty points, cashback points as much as possible for regular expenses.
  • Be mindful – This is as applicable for an eco-warrior as to an able financial manager. Reduce, reuse and recycle what you can. You can cut back on electricity bills by putting off unnecessary appliances when not in use. Do remember that any appliance in standby mode still consumes electricity. Based on usage, you may also want to switch your mobile plans to better efficient packs to reduce your expenses. Recycle your old things – whether it’s paper and plastic or that not in use music system which is collecting dust. There are several flea and barter markets for this.
  • The little things – We’ve all learnt that little drops of water make an ocean. But it’s often not applied to financial lives. Whether it’s debt or savings, it will become a huge pile before you realize it. Pay your bills on time to avoid any penalties.

Knowing that you have fewer debts reduces your stress levels. Finding and plugging the leaks will help in building wealth.


Women don’t pass the buck

money management womenHistory tells us that women have dealt with money for a far lesser time than men and modern studies say that women live longer than men! What there is the connection you ask? The evolution dynamics of this calls for women to be adept with ‘lesser known’ skills, that have to be used for a longer period of time (than men).

Women and money management has been a controversial topic over the ages, be it for reasons of debauchery or stereotyping. There have been many women in history, rather infamous for their relationship with money. From fashion and flirting to finance, Marie Antoinette, the French Queen came to be notoriously called Madame Deficit, due to her being the alleged cause of France’s financial crisis in the 1700s. Some historians have attempted to clear her role in it, but Marie remains etched as a name associated with money.

Women across the world today are breaking new ground and competing with standards they set for themselves. How then is it that financial management is not a relevant topic for women? Sound financial advice is what is relevant and applicable. Women’s financial planning needs are unique from men’s, because they tend to approach it rather differently.

Here are seven tips for every woman to keep money management in her hands:

  1. Don’t part with the controls – Single or married, a lot of women tend to pass on the financial reins to men in their lives. Fathers, brothers, partners or husbands are made custodians of the finances. A large part of financial wellness depends on control. Take control of your money, start today.
  2. Have a financial goal – Whether it is to buy a car before you get married, taking a backpacking trip across Europe for your 28th birthday, or saving for that nest egg, have a goal to keep you financially motivated. If you start early, you will allow compounding interest to work in your favour.
  3. Make use of special schemes – Banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions have women-centric products with special advantages. From sops for women entrepreneurs setting up new businesses to special rebates on several schemes, there are a host of opportunities to save and benefit from.
  4. Invest in yourself – Between multitasking and caring for the family, women often tend to overlook their own requirements. Whether it is getting an education or saving up for retirement, women need to start investing in themselves soon.
  5. Build an emergency fund – You know you need one! Before unprecedented events catch you unguarded, set up that emergency fund. Most financial advisors say that an emergency fund should cover over 6 months worth of expenses.
  6. Budget for various categories – Whether you are in your first job or paying off debts, it is imperative to budget your every expense. With a framework in place, you will be in better control of your finances.
  7. Get organized – Finally, nothing ever got done well if it wasn’t in order. Get your financial house in order today. Take a few minutes every day to track, monitor and plan your finances better.

A big step to empowerment of women is by financial independence. Remember to effectively handle money management and stay in control of your finances.


Budge for the budget!

Union BudgetThe Union Budget is on everyone’s mind! What’s in it for you? What can you buy, what can you save on, how will it impact you in the new fiscal year? Questions abound, the Union budget is all about assessing the financial health of the country and its government.

In India, it has been a deficit budget since the 90s. Expenditure has been more than the revenue, resulting in a need to borrow. The present deficit is around 4.5% of the GDP (2014). With the Union Budget, the Indian government sets the tone of the year’s plans and policies, incomes and expenditures. When the government of a country does that, shouldn’t you be doing this at an individual level?

Did you know that an ‘annual budget’ is a relatively new concept? Years and centuries of mismanaging the revenues of the country/ kingdom led to the idea of establishing a financial directive in the 1700s in Britain. Reformed and evolved over the years, today the annual budget is come to be known as a nation’s statement of financial control and accountability.

Why make an annual personal budget?

A necessary evil or grief-giver, a personal budget is the base of all financial health. Creating a personal annual budget can be an overwhelming task, but when done you will know it was well worth the effort. You know how much you make in a year, but do you know how much you spent and what you spent on, this financial year? By making an annual budget you will be able to assess your income and expenditures better – a definitive way of building wealth. With an annual perspective in place, you tend to make best estimates of your cash outflow.

Still need convincing, here’s why you should make an annual budget:

  1. A standard monthly budget can become predictable, until that unforeseen expenditure on healthcare or that forgotten insurance premium and annual vehicle servicing. In an annual budget you get the bigger picture – by accounting that major expense in February, you can plan ahead to cut back on expenses in January.
  2. An annual budget calls for categorizing your expenses under various heads. This will enable you to set limits, giving you the locus of control – you will know which categories to spend less or more on. Perhaps, this will even make you aware of your own priorities in life!
  3. A sound budget is one that accounts for expenditures and investments. With an annual spending plan, you are already in control of your expenditures, which means you are better equipped to set out money for investments.
  4. An annual budget is the best way to evaluate your overall financial situation, subsequently leading you to make informed decisions about the near and distant future – be it utilizing that surplus for a home renovation, or investing to cover your child’s education or your own retirement.

Yearly budgets do what monthly budgets cannot – expand your insight. While it is prudent to spend lesser than earn, the reverse is more likely to happen to most people.

There is an easier way to manage your money - use a tool like Money View which will help in tracking (income), categorizing (spends), alerting (bill payments) and identifying (spend patterns), which will enable you to plan budgets of the future.

Click Here to Download Money View


Pay bills on time

Show me the money!

Like every year, the Oscars this year draws attention to money-making.... movies that made it big at the box office of course! Entertainment and pure diversion aside, some movies have had a lasting impact. Whether it’s the unwittingly profound ‘Just keep swimming’ from Finding Nemo or the endearingly reflective, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get’ from Forrest Gump, there have been movies that taught some significant life lessons.

And there are those unforgettable characters that linger on, make you think and inspire even! Remember the ruthless investor Gordon Gekko from the movie ‘The Wall Street’? Despite the grey traits, his powerful persona made people take up investment banking as a career. Jerry Maguire, the eponymous movie character took up the case of integrity over money. Every once in a while there are anti-heroes or heroes that champion the cause of good financial sense. Here are four movies that have imparted important money management lessons:

Pay bills on time1) Confessions of a shopaholic – What happens when one loses control of the credit card? This book-turned-movie delves into that very question - Rebecca Blooomwood, the protagonist, a compulsive shopper has piled on a mountain of credit debt. The irony kicks in when she takes on the job of a financial journalist who has to write about the rules of monetary wellness which she doesn’t adhere to herself. With banks and credit card companies chasing her, Rebecca gets a face time with the evils of financial imprudence. This movie was a cautionary tale of a credit card excess.

Vacation Fund2) Up – An endearing story of ‘adventure’, this Oscar winning animated movie was everything about taking that vacation of a life time. Carl Fredricksen, a widower sets out to fulfil his wife’s dream of moving their house to a cliff overlooking Paradise falls, in South America. With thousands of helium balloons tied, the house is airlifted and he sets off on his journey, encountering many challenges and adventures along the way. Up is a movie to illustrate that one needs to save early on to avoid regrets in life.

Financial Goals and Budgets3) The Aviator - Reaping 5 Oscars, this 2004 movie was a biopic on the legendary Howard Hughes, who was known for his extravagant lifestyle. The American powerhouse, Hughes was many things – an entrepreneur, investor, aviator and film maker. The film is a fable on Wants Vs Needs. The Aviator explores the vulnerable side of the billionaire. Howard Hughes’s capricious indulgences will prod one to embrace the idea of making and sticking to a spending plan.

Save for Retirement

 

4) The Bucket List - A film about making and checking off a list of things to do before one dies; The Bucket List revolves around two terminally ill patients – billionaire Edward and working class man Carter. With nothing in common, except their illness Edward and Carter become unlikely friends and embark on a journey around the world doing things they always wanted to do. From skydiving and flying over the North Pole to visiting beautiful monuments, the two ultimately find joy in their final years. The plot draws attention to the fact that one must be financially stable in retirement to be able to fulfil life’s desires.

In this age of the spend-more-than-earn generation, lavish lifestyles and easy access to credit, it’s easy to lose focus of one’s financial wellbeing. Use a personal finance manager like Money View to help track incomes and expenditures, availability of surplus and monitor your spend categories, every day.

Click Here to Download Money View


Valentine Day

Love thy money

ValentineSo February is the official month of love. It’s the month where the card companies get to work (pun intended)! It’s that time of the year when we buy shiny sparkly heart-shaped jewellery or chocolates because an ad tells us to! Maybe not, you say?! Even the wiser and not-giving-in-to-this-hype tribe of people have at some point splurged or have been tempted to, for this day.

Blame it on the works of festival commerce!

And somehow, we tend to overlook the fact that money behaves as much the same way as a love interest – if you don’t give it attention, care or time,  it’s not likely to stick around for the long haul!

With the financial year-ending in the offing, there is a lot at stake. So this Valentine’s day, pay attention to your money as well. How? Here you go.

  • Plan – Every relationship revolves around looking into the future. Nothing ever got done unless one accounts for the days to come. Money, no different! Setting financial goals will help take charge of your financial future. Short term or long term, make plans to achieve your goals.
  • Get the house in order – Putting things in order is not just pure aesthetics, it helps in proper utilization. Getting financially organized is like getting your house in order. From car keys to financial documents, if it’s in order it saves you a lot of time and effort and makes decision making an easier task. Make sure you’ve set up SMS/ email alerts, online banking accounts and passwords – these will help keep you in the know, on the go. If you are not using it, get rid of it – close inactive cards and accounts.
  • Everybody has secrets – Some secrets can be shared and some cannot. Your PINs and passwords are for you and you only. Memorize them well as even writing them down anywhere may be a cause of worry.
  • Holiday – The larger scheme in life is to make memories. And holidays are perfect for making those memories. Whether it’s a holiday that you always wanted to take or an on-the-fly plan, it all becomes easier if you have saved up for it. Set up a holiday fund, save every month.
  • Watch out for the signs – Financial crises don’t happen overnight. Be watchful; look out for the trouble areas. The best way is to build a budget. Monitor where you spend. Stay on top of your card payments. Using a credit card is like taking out a loan. If you don’t pay your card balance in full each month, you’ll start paying interest on that loan. Also, get your CIBIL rating score. Going below 750 is a warning sign.
  • Grow old together – Every young commitment entails envisioning growing old together. Growing old together with that someone can be truly special without the worries of money. An oft-ignored advice, retirement planning essentially sets the foundation for sound economic decision-making through one’s life. Every financial advisor will tell you that it’s never too early to start saving for your retirement. Start today, if you haven’t already.

In this age of the spend-more-than-earn generation, lavish lifestyles and easy access to credit, it’s easy to lose focus of your financial well being. Go on, show your money some love this month. Use a personal finance manager like Money View to help track incomes and expenditures, availability of surplus and monitor your category-wise expenditures.

Click Here to Download Money View


How to Save Tax

How to save taxIt’s that time of the year again, the New Year parties are but a memory, the festive season is on a hiatus for the next few months! The financial year is drawing to a close, which means it’s time to press the button – only, this time it’s not marked ‘panic’ but SAVE.

Aligning your tax saving instruments with long-term investments will help you realize your financial goals. Then again, for those of us who make last minute decisions, for every tax saving investment that we miss, there is that dreaded salary cut in Feb and March. So how does one avoid that? Where do we invest?

Firstly, a round-up of regulations that have changed from last year:

  • The limit under Section 80C went up from INR 1,00,000 to INR 1,50,000, So that’s 50,000 more to save and reduce tax on
  • The limit on investment under PPF has also been similarly increased.
  • Income tax exemption limit is now at INR 2,50,000, up by INR 50,000
  • Deduction limit on interest on loan for self-occupied homes raised to INR 2 lakh from INR 1.5 lakh

Depending on your tax slab, you could reduce your tax by 10,000 to 25,000 rupees this year based on the above developments.

Here are some tips to make the most of investments, to save tax this year.

  • Medical insurance – A personal medical insurance family floater policy helps in the long run. Apart from providing a cushion to safeguard against unplanned medical emergencies, separate policies for self/ spouse/ children and parents above the age of 60 helps in saving tax under 80D to the tune of INR 35,000.
  • Preventive health checks – Upto INR 5,000 can be claimed as tax exemption for spends on preventive health checks for self and dependants.
  • NPS – While the New Pension Scheme is not as popular it is touted to be the next big thing. NPS provides another investment option with a pure focus on retirement planning. The catch - you can open an NPS account only through your organization, before the age of 60.
  • Short-term – If you want a shorter lock-in period compared to PF, you could go for a tax saving fixed deposit with a bank or a National Savings Certificate (5 years).
  • Education loans – Interest on education loans are also exempted under section 80E. These could be for self or dependants and can be claimed for up to 5 years of repayment
  • Life insurance – Unit linked policies or term covers are both popular in this 80C category instrument. Take a policy with an organization that ensures good repayment track records and is in line with your existing and short-term future liabilities (For example: Take a 50 lakh rupee life cover policy if you have an outstanding housing loan of 30 lakhs, a car loan of 5 lakhs and a personal loan of 15 lakhs). You may also add an optional accident cover clause in the policy.
  • Equity schemes – Although this tax saving instrument has not done very well in the past, it has become a raging favourite of the year since stock markets climbed to record highs. Equity linked savings schemes have a 3 year lock-in period but are subject to market risks. So choose your fund wisely and with a proven track record of over 3 years. If you are testing the equity markets for the first time, there is the RGESS where you can invest INR 50,000 for a INR 25,000 reduction in taxable income
  • The little things – Your medical bills will help you reduce taxable income by up to INR 15000 p.a.  Rent receipts and rental agreements (don’t forget to renew them on time) help as well. Your holiday bills help you save tax as well - twice every 4 calendar years you can claim your holiday travel expenditure up to pre-determined limits. You can also avail a small deduction on the tuition fees of your children.

The right planning comes from staying in tune with your finances. Use a personal finance manager like Money View to help understand incomes and expenditures, availability of surplus, for better prediction of category wise expenditures.

Click Here to Download Money View


How to Save Money

Money saved is money earned. Yet most of us fail miserably when it comes to actually saving despite the intent to do so. You may have a lucrative career with a high paying salary, but it will not be helpful in the long run if you don’t save. We often find ourselves struggling to pay monthly phone and credit card bills, rent, school fees, household expenditure while sales, discounts, easy credit and debts dominate our spending. Saving is more of a mindset that you must develop for accomplishment of various life goals knowing that it is never too late to begin. If you feel you are not doing enough to save, start with a few easy steps to lay the foundation for a better tomorrow.

Create a Budget


This really sounds boring, but perhaps is the most important step that you can take towards saving. Make a list of all your monthly expenses and expenses. You need not be a professional for that, just use Money View for help. This exercise helps you assess the inflow and outflow of funds and create a budget accordingly and also keep track of it every month.

Save Before You Spend

‘Pay yourself first’ is a popular mantra that has helped millions realize their financial goals. Implementing this technique simply requires deciding an amount that you wish to save and considering this as another bill that needs to be paid at the beginning of each month. You can set up automated deductions with ECS mandates so that you don’t miss out any month. Instead of Income – Expenses = Savings try making it Income – Savings = Expenses. You can start by segregating your fixed, variable expenses and savings. Right from bill payments, savings, rent, debt repayment (EMIs), SIPs, recurring deposits, etc. that can all be taken care of by setting up ECS mandates. This lets you automate important expenses and ensure that they are paid out no matter what. This allows you to manage your expenses more efficiently as you know how much you are left with.

Plan Your Shopping Sprees


Shopping is an irresistible urge that we often give in to. But if you plan your shopping, you can actually save. Shopping on specific days, looking for mid-week deals on groceries, not falling into the ‘Buy 2 Get 1 FREE’ trap and other offer deals, making a list of all that you really need and not mindlessly adding an item to your shopping cart and curbing shopping impulses by putting off the purchase by a few days are a few practices that help you shop wisely. If you shop online look for free shipping, payment through e-wallets, special offers, etc. you spend less and get more.

Manage Credit Card Usage


Paying credit card bills
are a huge drain on our resources. It is virtually impossible not to use credit cards, but you can get money-wise by managing them. Look for cashbacks on your credit cards, categorize them by assigning each for different heads like groceries, food and entertainment, online shopping and repay on time. Ditch your cards for cash for some expenses, if necessary, because parting with real time money creates more awareness about spending.

No Amount is Too Small to Save

You can start saving with something as low as Rs. 500 a week or even lesser! We often end up justifying ourselves with the thought, “What difference does spending an extra Rs. 50 or 100 make?” But here is where we go wrong. So next time you are tempted to buy an extra pair of shoes or that dress, think again.

Cooking at home on weekends, comparing prices before buying, opting for pre-paid mobile plans and going for movie offers especially on weekdays are a few more ways you can control expenses. Making these small yet significant lifestyle changes will help you gain control over your finances and reward you with a higher balance in your account.

Gautami Sen is an MBA having majored in finance. However, she now fuels the creativity in her through various passionate pursuits like writing, painting and honing her culinary skills.