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Delay tax planning and pay the price
April, 27th 2010

April is the cruelest month in some poor soul's life who bungle on their tax planning every year. Mostly, they get a pay cheque which is a fraction of its usual size in April as they always submit a list of their tax-saving measures to the office, but never manages to submit the relevant papers on time.

No wonder, they make a resolution every March at the end of the financial year to set their finances in order and avoid a similar fiasco in the next financial New Year. Sadly, according to financial experts, the long list of noble resolutions such as buying a health and life cover to start a systematic investment plan (SIP) in a tax-planning mutual fund scheme normally don't translate into action. They just remain in the long list of things they always wanted to do in life.

I would list procrastination as the number one culprit,'' says Kartik Jhaveri, director, Transcend Consulting, a wealth management firm. People are always planning or taking advice about planning their finances, but they rarely implement it.

Gaurav Mashruwala, a certified financial planner, also says a lot many precious months or years are lost because of people's habit of postponing things till the next day. Even after paying a fee to draw up their financial plan, people don't implement it immediately . At times, it takes a few years before they actually start the process. Even after that, they fail to turn up for the review meeting,'' he says.

If you are ready to change the habit, here is a list of things you can do to put your finances in order and also get your full salary every month. Firstly, one should always file details of bank statement, tax returns, mutual fund statements, etc. I can go on and on about instances of people who don't have details about their insurance papers, investments, tax returns.. the list is endless,'' says Mashruwala.

Discipline is another ingredient Jhaveri wants people to add to their finances. Don't wait for the market to turn around. Don't listen to predictions . You have to start the process immediately and stick to your plan irrespective of the market conditions,'' he says. This, of course, doesn't mean that you don't review your plan. Periodic review of one's investment plan and corrective steps are important aspects of successful financial planning.

The rest, the experts say, is easy. First, get a life insurance cover (i.e. a term cover) if you have a family to look after. Two, get a health cover for yourself and family. Three, try to save as much tax as possible. Pick safer avenues like fixed deposit and public provident fund if you want assured returns and safety of capital. If you can afford the risk, start SIP in tax- planning MF schemes as it has the potential to give superior returns.

Lastly, as for your other investment needs, stick to this common rule: go for equity (regular investment options like SIP is the preferred mode) if your investment horizon is more than five years. Stick to safer avenues like FD, debt MF scheme and others if you need the money immediately.

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