Archive for the ‘spending’ Category

India on the move

This article was written by me for Sify.com on the event of the 60th birth anniversary of our nation. 6 years later we seem to be worse off than ever. Some part of the blame lies on the world financial crisis, but a large portion lies within lack of political will and business apathy.

Here is hoping that the next 6 years will see a robust change

 

2007 has been a momentous year for India. We have seen the stock markets rising and the dollar falling. Consumer spending and salary levels are never before heights. Today’s young Indian is earning a start salary that his father barely managed to before retiring.

India achieved 8.5% GDP growth in 2006, significantly expanding manufacturing. India is capitalizing on its large numbers of well-educated people skilled in the English language to become a major exporter of software services and software workers. Economic expansion has helped New Delhi continue to make progress in reducing its federal fiscal deficit. However, strong growth – more than 8 percent growth in each of the last three years (and over 9% in parts of the last year) – combined with easy consumer credit and a real estate boom is fuelling inflation concerns. The huge and growing population is the fundamental social, economic, and environmental problem. Here is a comparative picture of the growth of India’s GDP.

india graph

The 11th Plan

Sector              Growth rate                 Share of GDP
                          2002-07   1997-02     2002-07  1997-02

   Communications   15.0     17.14             2.3        1.7
   Manufacturing       9.82      3.68            16.7      15.3
   Agriculture            3.97     2.06             20.5      24.7

India is moving from an agricultural economy to a service economy surely but steadily. In relative terms, the decline of agriculture in the share of GDP from 24.7 to 20.5. That decline implies that services and manufacturing are gaining share and that implies that we are moving away from a subsistence economy to one in which we may have some hope of improving our lot.
Of course, as a developing economy, agriculture is the core of the economy.  If India is to ever develop. It is only very severely underdeveloped economies have high agricultural sector share of GDP. For instance Albania, Ethiopia, Mali, Nepal, Ghana — economies with agriculture accounting for a large share of the GDP. Australia, France, Germany, US — agriculture accounts for low single-digit shares of the GDP.

The Indian economy on the eve of the 11th Plan is in a much stronger position than it was a few years ago. After slowing down to an average growth rate of about 5.5% in the Ninth Plan period (1997-98 to 2001-02), it has accelerated in recent years and the average growth rate in the Tenth Plan period (2002-03 to 2006-07) is likely to be about 7%. This is below the Tenth Plan target of 8%, but it is the highest growth rate achieved in any plan period. While this performance reflects the strength of the economy in many areas, it is also true that large parts of our population are still living below the poverty line. The percentage of the population below the poverty line is declining, but only at a modest pace.  These problems are more severe in some states than in others, and in general they are especially severe in rural areas.

 

Oil- The master of the future

Petrol has dominated world economics for long and will continue to do so for the years to come. Oil has formed a large part of India forex outflow. It is however earning refining business which has been offsetting its import bills. In fact, during 2006-07, refined petroleum products formed the largest chunk of total exports overtaking the Gems and Jewellery sector.

The cost effectiveness of refining in India is drawing many global players here. This is because India is logistically well placed for refineries. Besides being a major market for crude oil and petroleum products, it adjoins major demand centres such as China. Also, crude oil from West Asia can easily be brought to refineries in India.

Of late, a number of players have evinced a keen interest in laying pipelines in the domestic market to supply gas to the consumers. For example, Gujarat State Petronet Ltd, a group company of the Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation, plans to connect all 25 districts of the state with 2,200-kilometre high pressure gas pipeline laid down across the state. Reliance will invest US$4 billion to lay a 1,386-kilometer pipeline from Andhra Pradesh to Gujarat. India is also one among the four countries which have the world’s richest gas hydrate reserves.

India ranks sixth in the world in terms of petroleum demand and by 2010, India is projected to replace South Korea and emerge as the fourth-largest consumer of energy, after the United States, China and Japan. The rising price of crude is of great concern to the growth of the Indian economy. India needs to step up its domestic exploration to produce substance instead of wisps of promise that it has been done till now.

The Forex concerns

In recent days the rupee-dollar exchange rate has been, on average, Rs 39.3 per dollar. A year ago it was 44.7. This means that the rupee has appreciated against the dollar by 13.7% in the last year. Put differently, for an Indian the average price of all American goods has fallen by 13.7% and, for Americans, goods from India have become more expensive.

Over the last year virtually all major currencies have been appreciating vis-à-vis the US dollar. The euro rose by 14.7%, the pound by 10.4%; the Canadian dollar by 23%, Sweden’s kroner by 13.7% – the same as the Indian rupee. Vis-a-vis all major currencies, outside of the US dollar, the rupee has changed very little. It is due to our high dollar exposure of our exports (especially software exports which has been driving the economy to a high) that the fall of the dollar has become a cause of concern.

The 3-D Advanage

As Mr Anand G Mahindra, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director, Mahindra and Mahindra, India said in a seminar, he reposed faith in the 3D advantages of India, Democracy, Demography and Durability. Democracy is a prerequisite to a healthy society, polity and economy. India’s demographic advantage is that it has the highest number of people in the working age group and this is going to continue for some time. Durability stems from the fact that India is a peaceful and stable nation despite many internal disturbances. He said that India has the second largest Muslim population in the world peacefully coexisting with the Hindu majority.

Some facts to chew on

  • India is the world’s fourth-largest economy.
  • By 2034, India will be the most populous country on Earth, with 1.6 billion people.
  • India’s middle class is already larger than the entire population of the United States.
  • One out of three of the world’s malnourished children live in India.
  • India is home to the biggest youth population on earth: 600 million people are under the age of 25.
  • India just edged past the United States to become the second-most-preferred destination for foreign direct investment after China.
  • In 1991, Indians purchased 150,000 automobiles; in 2007, they are estimated to purchase 10 million.
  • By 2008, India’s total pool of qualified graduates will be more than twice as large as China’s.
  • By 2015, an estimated 3.5 million white-collar U.S. jobs will be offshored.
  • India is the largest arms importer in the developing world.
  • American corporations expect to earn $20 to $40 billion from the civilian nuclear agreement with India.
  • In 2007, there are 2.2 million Indian Americans, a number expected to double every decade.
  • Twenty-nine percent of India’s population speaks English – that’s 350 million people.

Reduce your credit card debt

Credit cards are very convenient and have become a everyday part of our lives. Often we lose control of our spending as it is too easy to make a minimum payment and roll over the payment to next month and then the next and then the next. Before you know the debt becomes unmanageable.

Pankaj Jain.29. sales executive, is a happy go lucky chap. He works hard and loves to have fun too. By the middle of the month he starts running low on cash. Cash withdrawal from the credit card and payments on the credit card seem like the best option to him. Of late, he noted that he has been barely able to pay off the minimum balance due and the total amount due has been rising dangerously. Though he has reduced his spending now, each month the interest has been mounting and it was swelling the total amount due. Pankaj need some serious debt management

Steps to manage debt

  1. 1.    Change the lifestyle causing debt

In most cases debt mounts up due to excessive spending and lack of checks and balances. Very often these are not even big or asset building expenses. Most often the credit card is whipped out on impulse buys for clothes, accessories or to pay restaurant bills.

  1. 2.    Stop using the credit card

Don’t reduce it – just stop. Put the cards in a sealed envelope in the darkest corner of your cupboard. If you have to pay Rs 5000 for a pair of shoes in cash, it will pinch much more than paying by card. It will also help you curb impulse purchase after all you cannot buy more than the cash you are currently carrying.

  1. 3.    Take a loan

The overdue interest you pay on credit card debt is between 36% – 40% p.a. 10-15% more than what you would pay on an unsecured personal loan and 20-25% more than a secured loan such as a home top up loan or loan against an LIC policy. Look at all your option and make some calculation. Lastly, do not let your ego come in between taking a temporary loan from close family if offered.  Avoid settling with the bank or defaults since will reflect poorly in your credit report and you may be rejected for a loan when you need one.

  1. 4.    Understand where you are overspending

To make change permanent it is essential to understand the problem areas. Take your credit card bills of the last 1 year and try to figure out which are the high spending items there. Is that Rs1800 shirt you purchased a year ago still in use? Would it not be of much better value if you had brought one for Rs500?

  1. 5.    Set up a budget

Budgeting does sound boring but wallowing in debt is far worse. So you need to allocate your spending prudently. Till your debt is fully repaid ALL unnecessary expenses have to curbed include the evening coffee at Starbuck.

  1. 6.    Be prepared

When the debt is repaid one breathes a sigh of relief and then goes back to the same destructive behaviour. It much like going on a strict diet and then binging. Be prepared for the urge for financial binging. Living within your means is not difficult as long as you have made up your mind to do it.

 Article first appeared in Credividya.com

Holidays for a lifetime – or not?

 

A timeshare is a jointly owned property, usually an apartment in a resort   that is jointly owned by people who use it at different times. In other words, timeshare is the right to spend a specified period of time (say, a week or more) in a vacation/holiday property. For instance, if a person purchases a timeshare for one week at a resort in Goa, he will have the right to spend one week there each year. In such a case, there may be up to 52 timeshare owners in the same resort each year.

The memberships are long-term — usually for 15 or 25 years — and members pay annual fees towards maintenance charges like upkeep of property, utilities or staff salaries

Apartments are fully furnished with well-equipped kitchens. The time share period can be used as currency that gives an option to the timeshare owners of holidaying at different places each year through the exchange facility extended by most of the timeshare companies.

The amount you pay depends on the location, the time you choose and the size of the accommodation.  You can also choose your vacation time of the year – peak, off peak and off seasons and the payment you make will vary accordingly.

Most timeshare companies are affiliated with RCI which offers national and international locations for exchange by pooling in many other companies.

Are they right choice for you?

Timeshare resorts offer sounds fantastic. But there are a few grey areas that you should be careful about.

Choose timeshare holidays if:

–          You can plan your holiday well in advance – The most popular destinations are booked months in advance, so if you are a last minute guy, time share is not the answer for you.

–          Holiday regularly – Timeshare vacations usually offer a week of holiday each year, so you will make a good deal if you take a vacation regularly with your family.

–          Understand the extra costs – Timeshare vacations are not a package tour. Besides stay, everything else is charged to you which includes travel, food, sightseeing etc.

–          Are prepared for rise in cost – Inspite of the sales agents claims to the contrary, time share vacations are not inflation proof. The annual charges are increased from time to time.

 

Precautions to take before choosing a timeshare

Scam artist are a dime a dozen, however there are many genuine timeshare companies offering great vacation plans. Here is what you can do ensure you get a good deal.

 

  • Verify the reputation of the company and experiences of existing customers.
  • Invest in an established company, a high-demand location, peak season and a large unit for maximum trading power.
  • Check the rate at which the charges increased and on what basis.
  • Companies should give you benefits such as a 10-day cooling-off period to reconsider your decision.
  • Do not be pushed into hasty payments with hard selling talks and upfront gifts – investigate before you invest.
  • Do consult your family; it is their vacation too.