The beginning of a new financial year is a good time to take stock of your money. With the passing of another year, your income would have increased a bit more, and your financial priorities may have also evolved. You need to take a fresh look at your financial plans to tweak and tune them to your current requirements.
Here are some things to consider, that will make your financial planning easy and effective.
1: Embrace cashless and paperless finance
The world is heading towards paperless, instant, and cashless financial products. The Indian government, too, is making a push for cashless transactions. However, there is reluctance among many Indians to move towards digital finance. The reasons could be many. However, such people can be assured that digital transactions are safe, instant and convenient. So, go forth boldly and set up your Unified Payment Interface (UPI) account and e-wallet accounts. Set up your net-banking or card accounts to pay your bills and earn reward points. Automate your rent and EMI payments using Electronic Clearing Service (ECS). Buy investment and insurance products online. Embrace digital finance in the new financial year and encourage others to do so as well.
2: Start your tax planning right away
Tax planning is a key component of your financial planning agenda. This can help you find areas to increase tax savings, thus also increasing avenues for wealth creation. However, tax planning is a much-neglected activity. People often leave it for the final days of the year, by when they do not have time to think through their investment decisions. This leads to bad investment choices as well as poor tax planning. By initiating your tax planning at the start of the year, you will able to avoid these last-minute hassles and learn to get smarter with your money.
3: Review Health Insurance and Life Insurance
A new financial year is the right time to review your Health and Life insurance policies. For example, if you have been relying just on your employer’s group health insurance, it is time to opt for an independent health insurance plan starting this financial year. If your financial goals or liabilities have changed, the new financial year is an apt time to opt for a higher insurance cover. You may have got married or started a family, and this would need you to maintain a larger life cover. Check for any useful add-ons that might be missing in your insurance plans – like accidental insurance or critical health insurance, which will increase your overall protective cover significantly.
4: Check your investment portfolio
Take stock of your investments now. Periodic evaluations of the portfolio will help you earn better returns. You can also consider optimising tax incidence and try to lower your risks. For example, in 2016-17, gold saw a mediocre performance, but the equity and debt market offered great returns. You must evaluate the best investment opportunities for 2017-18, and go with ones that best fit your investment goals.
5: Check Form 26AS
Failing to file your income tax returns on time can lead to financial losses in the form of fines. The beginning of the financial year is therefore an apt time to check Form 26AS which gives you access to your tax-related information including Tax Deducted at Source (TDS) and advance tax. If there is any mismatch between your actual TDS records and those listed in Form 26 AS, check with the one who deducted the TDS and seek a re-filling of ITR to remove errors.
6: Review discretionary expenses
Unless your household budget and expenses are well planned, there is a probability of you spending more than you need to. Discretionary spending can drain your finances without you even knowing it. This financial year, you should review miscellaneous expenses like travel plans, holiday expenses and ensure that you have your financial savings plan in place to cover the desired expenses this year.
7: Update yourself about new money rules
It’s been a crazy few months as far as money management in India is concerned. From demonetisation to the Union Budget, there’s been an enormous number of changes made to how you invest, withdraw or spend your money. Take some time to update yourself about all the rule changes concerning any financial instrument you use. This would help you avoid rude surprises, such as being penalized for withdrawing too much cash from your home branch. Also read up on the new Income Tax and capital gains provisions and how they impact your life.
The beginning of a new financial year is the best time for you to take control of money matters. You can take your time to plan your investments and save more taxes, so that you are not forced into bad choices at the end of the year.