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We all like to make certain resolutions for the New Year and promise ourselves to follow them. It is time to take stock of your savings, investments and taxes for this year and see how you have fared. Keep the following Investment Planning tips handy for 2010.
1. Get yourself a Financial Plan: As an individual it is very important to have a financial plan which will guide you with investments as per your goals and needs. It serves a very important purpose of bringing discipline to your investing habits.
An ideal plan gives you a complete picture of your current investments and liabilities, your net worth, cash flow, goals and a specific plan to achieve those goals. The goal can be buying a car, house, going for a vacation, children’s education or building a retirement corpus. When you are young you tend to live for the moment and do things as they come, but it’s very important to secure your financial future. It does not have to be at the cost of a good lifestyle.
2. Start SIP (Systematic Investment Plan): SIP is a proven instrument for long term investments for steady returns. Timing the market is rarely possible for anybody and you can end up spending a lot of your productive time and energy trying to do that. Even after doing that the chances of getting it right remains very low. A better alternative is to do SIP in some equity funds with a good track record of performance.
3. Make your PPF and other fixed income investments at the beginning of the financial year: If you invest in the latter half of the year, you miss out on a good amount of interest income. Investing early in the year will tie-up your money which will also help you control certain discretionary expenses.
4. Create a budget and track your expenses: A budget helps you break down your spending and compare on a month to month basis. Thus it helps you identify areas where expenditures can be cut and money diverted to meet your goals like buying a car or house. When you look at your budget and see anomalies, it becomes possible to take remedial action. Do not procrastinate on this important part of financial planning.
5. Invest in insurance policies: You can get life cover, child education cover, health cover and save for retirement when you invest in the right insurance policies. Besides this, you get tax exemptions to reduce your current tax payout. This exercise should be done in the beginning of the financial year so that your tax planning can be taken care of. Remember that choosing the right insurance policy can be a tricky exercise and you might need to take assistance from a qualified financial planner.
6. Buy a house: A house is one of the best investments you can make and it offers many advantages:
i. You save on the rent
ii. Your interest payments are tax deductible
iii. It usually appreciates in value
iv. In times of need it serves as great collateral
v. Peace of mind and many other intangible benefits
7. Determine your asset allocation and diversify: This involves matching your investment vehicles with your investment goals. Your investment choices should always be based on your age, portfolio, personal situation and level for risk tolerance. Diversification is the key to minimizing risk. You should not put all your eggs in one basket. Real diversification means spreading your money across multiple asset categories including stocks, bonds, real estate and commodities etc.
8. Rupee cost averaging: If you invest directly in stocks then rupee cost averaging is one technique you should look at adopting. It is similar to SIP for Mutual Funds. You fix a certain amount of money for a stock and buy at regular intervals regardless of the price. In this way, when the prices are low you get more units and vice versa. The key here is to select quality stock for the rupee cost averaging.
9. Don’t be obsessed with tracking your portfolio: Stay invested for the long term and don't allow every downward market move to rattle you. It's far too easy to panic when you're watching daily, weekly or monthly results. Too many trading tips, recommendations etc. only confuse you. Investment is like a test match and not a T20 match.
10. Don’t wait. Start Now! One of the mistakes we do is waiting for the right time as well as a lump sum amount to start investing. Being slow and steady wins in this case. Start small but start now. All you need is self discipline to stay on course!
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