Money alerts: Good time for tax savings

If you've left your tax planning to the last minute, here are two options that look better than they did a few months ago. The stock market has corrected, which means that this is a good time to invest in Equity Linked Savings Schemes, tax saving schemed from mutual funds or even Unit Linked Insurance Plans with an equity tilt. By buying them at a Sensex level of 17500 instead of 21000 levels of a few months ago, you can be sure your long term returns will look even better from these instruments.

An index that tells you to buy or rent

Property Web site has launched a property index called Buy vs. Rent Index (MBRI), which is intended to be a yardstick to decide between buying or renting a property in a given city. The index has been arrived at by taking into consideration a number of factors such as capital value of property, rental yields, historical price and rental movements and so on, calculated on a quarter-on-quarter basis. The MBRI is a numerical value, starting from 1. A reading between 1 and 20 indicates that it is cheaper to buy a home in that area than to rent one. 21 to 25 is a fairly neutral zone, while an MBRI reading over 25 indicates that renting is far cheaper than buying property in a specific area. The index is currently available for seven specific cities, such as Bangalore, Pune and Chennai The index and other details are available at

Deposit rates back to double-digit

After well over two years, interest rates on bank deposits have once again double-digits. As always, it is the smaller banks which are quick to introduce special deposit rates. Lakshmi Vilas Bank offers an interest rate of 10.1 per cent for deposits with a term of one to two years. Tamil Nadu Mercantile Bank has a special term deposit scheme of 10 per cent for 555 days while City Union Bank offer 9.8 per cent for 444 days. Karur Vysya Bank too, has a special deposit scheme of 555 days that offers 10.25 per cent; senior citizens are offered 10.5 per cent under the same scheme. Karnataka Bank offers 9.75 per cent (10 per cent for senior citizens) for term deposit of 1-2 years. Other large banks such as SBI offer special deposit rates of anywhere between 9.25-9.75 per cent. Investors may note that deposits and savings bank invested in a single bank will be covered by insurance for up to Rs 1 lakh. Thus, the principal sum up to Rs 1 lakh is protected.

Gold loan interest rates may go up

Taking a loan against jewellery has been a quick cash-raising option for those of us who needed to raise money at short notice, without paying the high interest rates that credit card loans or other personal loans charge. However, interest rates on gold loans may well head up, with RBI recently telling banks that their financing of gold loan companies will not be treated as a part of agriculture sector in priority sector lending. This means that gold loan companies such as Manapuram General Finance, Muthoot Finance and so on may now have to borrow at interest rates that are 1 to 2 percentage points higher than their current costs from banks. The question is, how much of this will be passed on to you when you take a gold loan.

Rush of Infrastructure bonds

With March 31, 2011 fast approaching, there is a rush of fresh infrastructure bond Currently, India Infrastructure Finance Limited (IIFCL), L&T Infrastructure Finance Company, REC are open for retail investor subscription. These issues close by March 04 2011, March 07 2011 and March 28 2011 respectively.

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