5 Simple Steps to Create a Successful Monthly Budget – An Infographic

Every effective financial plan starts with a sound budget. If you’re trying to pay off dues or save for a dream vacation, a budget is your first step towards turning your financial goals into a reality. Follow these simple steps to put a solid budget plan and credit score into action:

 

5 steps to maintain monthly budget_Updated

5 Practical Steps to Get You Out of Debt

You are aware how debt limits your opportunities and disturbs your financial life. Also, if you are asking yourself “does debt hurt my credit score?” then yes, it brings it down too. Your debt could be a result of various actions. It could be that you had not anticipated certain medical emergencies, educational expenses or any other unavoidable expense or it could be a result of your relentless spending. Whatever the reason, you have now realized that you want to get out of the debt zone. Here are some practical tips that could get you out of debt:

Create A Plan and Stick to It

Get a piece of paper or open a Google Spreadsheet on your computer. Write down all the amount you owe and plan to clear out all the debt in the next 6 months or any other realistic duration. Chalking out a good plan and religiously following it gives you the determination to come out of your debt. A good debt payment plan involves identifying the areas where you spend your money regularly. You can start by maintaining a spending journal. Many times, we neglect the seemingly minor expenses which mount up to become a decent amount.

At the end of the month, you can manage your money by identifying and eliminating unnecessary expenses. You can try to cut off on some expenses which you can live without such as your YouTube premium or Netflix membership, eating out, clothes, etc. These expenses, although small, may accumulate to become a great saving once you start noting them.

Lower Your Debt to Income Ratio

Your debt-to-income ratio is all your monthly debt payments divided by your total monthly income. This is one of the ways how lenders measure your ability to manage the payments you make every month to repay the money you have borrowed. For example, if you pay a house loan EMI of Rs. 35,000/-; Your Car EMI of Rs. 10,000; and another Rs. 2000 for the rest of your debts with a monthly income of Rs. 90,000/-, then your debt to income ratio will be ((35000+10000+2000)/90000) *100 = 53%. This indicates an unhealthy debt to income ratio.

The ideal debt to income ratio should be 30% or less. Don’t worry if you are not there yet for it is understandable that conditions will not always be perfect. But you can always try to slowly and steadily push yourself below the 30% mark by avoiding further unnecessary debt. While you are at it, keep a track of the developments in your credit score. You can check your free credit score on CRIF High Mark.

Focus On Clearing One Debt at A Time

There are two approaches to go about clearing off your debt, one at a time. The first way, known as the debt snowball, is to make a list and pay off your debts amounting in the ascending order, i.e. from smallest to largest, regardless of the interest rate. The point is to tackle the smallest account at a time and eventually snowballing into larger ones. While this method might accelerate your debt clearance and may give you the confidence to tackle the larger debts as you go down the list, it is not a mathematically sensible method as we aren’t considering the interest rates here. This is where comes the more logical technique called the debt avalanche or laddering.

In laddering, you arrange your debts in the descending order of their interest rates. The one with the highest interest rate becomes your priority. Here you make the minimum payment for every account except the one that you are trying to get rid of first. For this debt, you try to pay the maximum possible amount to clear it off as early as possible. Once that debt is paid completely, move on to the card with the second highest rate and so on. By doing so, you clear off the debt with the highest interest rate and will save the most money. Remember to NOT close the account once the balance is paid off as that will damage your credit. Just let the account sit at zero balance.

Stop (Ab)Using Your Credit Card

One of the easiest ways you can come out of debt is by avoiding going further into debt. One of the factors which keeps you clinging to debt is the use of your credit card. Using a credit card rampantly only serves to add more debt on you. So stop using your credit card, at least for a while, until you get yourself out of debt. This would also add discipline to your life when you stop spending on everything your card can buy. Moreover, your credit score would also benefit hugely as this would bring down your credit utilization ratio.

Sell Your Unused Items

Just a look around your house and you will find that there are a lot of unused items which you are better off without. It could be the pile of newspapers and books, your old printer or DVD player, or even an extra motorcycle, depends on what you need the least right now. In this way, you can also earn some extra cash!

If you follow the above steps diligently, coming out of debt will transform from a distant dream to a cake walk!

Get The New Car You Want in 7 Easy Steps – An Infographic

Buying our own car is an aspiration many of us are able to meet quite early in our professional lives, due to the availability of numerous vehicles within various price ranges, and easy loans on offer to finance them. Banks and NBFCs offer car loans with easy EMIs, which make it easier to avail a car loan without disturbing one’s finances. However, for a hassle-free loan process, abide by these simple 7 steps, which will not only reduce the processing time but also help you save money and build your credit score the right way:

CRIF Car Loan Tips

Credit Utilization Ratio: How it Works & How to Improve It?

The Credit utilization ratio is one of the key ingredients in determining your credit score, so it’s crucial to understand how it works. After all, a good credit score can qualify you for higher loan amounts and lower interest rates, while a low credit score can make it difficult to reach your financial aspirations. In this blog, we’ll try to cover everything you need to know about credit utilization, including:

• What is the credit utilization ratio?
• How is the credit utilization ratio calculated?
• What is a good credit utilization ratio?
• How to improve the credit utilization ratio

Let’s Begin With What is Credit Utilization Ratio?

Your credit utilization rate, sometimes called your credit utilization ratio, is the ratio of your credit card outstanding to your credit limit. They can impact up to 20-30% of a credit score, depending on the scoring model being used. If you never use your credit cards and there’s no balance on them, your credit utilization would be zero. If you typically carry a balance on one or more cards, you are ‘utilizing’ some of your available credit—lenders and credit bureaus will take note. While a one-off higher utilization rate for your credit cards may not really impact your credit score, your credit score will certainly be impacted adversely if the credit utilization rate continues to be higher on a regular basis.

How is the Credit Utilization Ratio Calculated?

Credit utilization ratios can be calculated for each credit card (card balance divided by card limit) and on an overall basis (total balance on all cards divided by the sum of credit limits). For instance:

 BalanceLimitCredit Utilization Ratio
Card 1₹0₹5,0000%
Card 2₹8,000₹10,00080%
Card 3₹1,000₹7,00014%

Total Credit Card Balance / Total Available Credit    =   Credit Utilization Ratio

Total credit utilization ratio in this case will be 40%.

What is a Good Credit Utilization Ratio?

The general rule of thumb with credit utilization is to stay between 30-40 percent. This applies to each individual card and your total credit utilization ratio. Anything higher than the above-mentioned percent can cause a dip in your credit score as lender relate this to a credit hungry behaviour. This doesn’t mean that one cannot ever cross 40% of the credit utilization on any card. The impact on credit score is more only if high utilization seems to be a common pattern over last 6-12 months.

Finally, improve your credit utilization rates and eventually your credit score through these smart moves:

1. Paying credit cards on a more frequent basis – While you may be using your credit cards for availing the card benefits on different transactions, try to reduce your credit card outstanding by more than minimum each month and paying more frequently. For example, even while the credit card statement is generated on a monthly basis, you may keep paying your credit card outstanding every 10 days. As such, your credit limit will keep getting replenished and thus, your credit utilization rates will be visible as low.

2. Availing a Higher Credit Limit – Just in case you believe that you can effectively toggle between credit card dues and your regular payments, you can ask for a higher credit limit from your bank. Given the current credit card usage remains to be the same, the credit utilization rate will automatically reduce as the usable limit has increased. However, in such times, you should be careful that having a higher credit limit may also tempt you to spend more.

3. Using Multiple Credit Cards for Managing the Limits effectively – In case you are holding multiple credit cards, try to use different cards for different transactions instead of using a primary credit card for all the transactions. Accordingly, you will have a lower credit utilization rate across all the credit cards, instead of having a very high utilization rate for one card and very low/ nil utilization for the other cards.

4. Leave cards open after paying them off- By paying off the card, you’re reducing your total balance. By keeping the card open, you’re maintaining your total credit limit—thereby lowering your credit utilization ratio.

You should keep monitoring your credit score on a regular basis and strive to maintain a good credit score with the help of better credit habits. To check your score from CRIF, click here

What Is a No Cost EMI and Does It Work In Your Benefit?

With e-commerce websites running fantastic discounts 24x7x365, shopping has ceased to remain a ‘festive activity’ and has instead been replaced by a year-long affair. Buying behavior has inclined towards becoming more impulsive than ever with the continuous bombardment of notifications tempting customers to buy at the best discounted price. Although on the surface it seems like you have saved a goodly amount with a lucrative deal, in reality, you end up buying stuff which was not even required in the first place.

One such scheme that has gained popularity in the recent past, especially in the white goods sector, is the no-cost EMI or zero cost EMI scheme. It is not uncommon to hear someone happily buying a mobile phone or a television or an electronic appliance which they initially thought impossible, using the zero cost EMI offer. But is this really a great deal or a smart trick? Let’s find out!

What is a No Cost EMI?

What is the first thing that strikes your mind when you hear the phrase, No Cost EMI? No interest payments involved. Isn’t it? You feel it’s a no interest loan. But it’s not. No Cost EMI is a loan involving interest payments. On availing No Cost EMIs, your bank enjoys a discount in the form of interest. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in its circular in 2013, has said that the concept of zero percent interest is not valid. This means the banks are clearly not entitled to provide loans at a zero percent interest. Then how are the retailers running this offer?

How Does This No Cost EMI Scheme Work?

There are two ways in which these schemes operate. One of the common ways is to forego the discount and instead pay this amount to the bank or financial institution to cover the interest cost. Another one is by adding the interest amount to the price of the product. Let’s look at these schemes in a bit detail:

a) When discounts equal interest: The most common way through which retailers offer ‘No-cost EMI’ is by offering discounts equivalent to the total amount of interest to be paid. Suppose you want to buy a phone that costs Rs 30,000/-. Under the 3-month EMI plan, at an interest rate of 15%, you would have to pay an interest amount of Rs 4,500. But in Zero Cost EMI, you are exempted of discount and you pay the original price of the Smartphone in EMIs. What does this mean? But if you make an upfront payment, the Smartphone would cost just Rs 25,500. You get it at a discounted price of Rs 25,500. If you opt for the No Cost EMI, you end up paying Rs 30,000. You don’t get the Rs 4,500 discount which goes to pay interest on the loan. The total price you pay on the Smartphone is split into money paid to a retailer and interest paid to a financier.

b) When the interest amount is added to the product price: Another way in which such schemes work is by adding the interest amount to the price of the product. Let us say the product costs Rs 15,000. The retailer lures you to buy this product under the ‘No-cost EMI’ plan for Rs 17, 250. Here the interest of Rs 2,250 is already added to the cost of your product and will be paid by you in installments. Therefore, if you have taken a three-month EMI plan, then the amount payable by you will be Rs 5,750 per month. Sometimes the Rs 2,250 may be covered as the processing fees.

Should you opt for No Cost EMI? You can opt for No Cost EMI if:

• You want to buy an expensive or popular product which now is beyond your budget.
• You don’t want to spend in one go or do not have enough cash to make an upfront payment.
• You are getting a good deal by availing an additional discount.
• You want to start building your credit history and credit score by availing a short quick consumer durable loan.

When you opt for a loan on No Cost EMI option you should also be careful about the down payment and processing fees, if any. Read the fine print and terms and conditions carefully. The retailers don’t offer this scheme on every product that they sell. Also, if you do not have a credit card of the relevant bank that offers the scheme, you can’t get the No Cost EMI deal if it is attached to the credit card. The credit limit on your card gets blocked too for the entire transaction value even though you are liable to pay just the EMIs. There are other financiers who give such offers to consumers with no credit cards or even with no credit scores. Such financiers have people in store to support you with the processing of loan within 5-10 minutes. The offer may sound lucrative but if not used carefully it can affect your financial budgets and ultimately your credit scores!

Be Wise, Be Happy!

What To Do When Interest Rate Goes Up?

As interest rates continue to rise, especially in the past few quarters, opting for a loan has become more and more difficult. According to financial services industry trends, the interest rate is only expected to rise further. In such times, the borrower needs to tighten their wallets and find out ways to reduce the impact. There are ways in which you can save a significant amount of money if only you be a little bit more vigil, well informed and proactive.

What Can You Do For Home Loans?

There could be tough times ahead for home buyers since that is usually the largest loan one has. Many banks today are charging from 8.5% to 10% which is a far cry from a few years back when interest rates were as low as 6%. With such rates, your monthly EMIs won’t be affected but your total payable interest will certainly go up and the tenure of your loan. Following are just some of the key ways in which you can tackle this situation and save more than a few bucks!

1. Increase your EMI instead of tenure
Most of the lenders will extend the loan tenure instead of increasing the EMI itself. A smart borrower should increase the EMI and look out for a tenure deduction to save from paying more than what they had planned for.
For instance, let us take a look at the example below to have a more clear understanding

As you can see, when there is a hike in interest rate and the tenure increases, you end up paying ₹84,978/- more than your actual payable. However, if you only increase the EMI amount by a meagre ₹120/- you must pay only ₹21,294, which is much lesser than the amount you had to pay in case your tenure was increased. This is just an example and you can save depending on your requirement.

2. Pay off a goodly chunk
If you are able to, pay off the loan as much as possible to reduce your tenure. In this way, you will be saving a lot of excess money which would’ve been spent and will also relieve the mental burden. In the above example, you can pre-pay Rs 15000 and keep the EMI and tenure same, neutralizing the impact of interest rate hike. You may know that pre-payment on home loans do not elicit any charges.

3. Review how your interest rate is pegged
Over the years, RBI has issued guidelines to banks and housing finance companies to keep changing the pegging for home loan interest rates. You would have heard terms like PLR, Bank Rate and MCLR. MCLR is the latest reference for lending rate by banks, and it allows better benefits for consumers. Do ensure your home loan interest rate is now pegged to MCLR and not to Bank rate, if you have taken loan from a bank.

4. Switch your lender
As a final option you can also consider switching your lender. While changing lender could result in saving on total payable interest, you should also take into consideration other expenses such as processing charges and documentation fees. If you are saving more in Interest after the payment of a few thousands as processing fees, then that would be a good deal. However, if you are closer to the completion of your loan, it would not make much sense to peep into other schemes. While you’re at it, make sure that your credit score is not hampered or affected due to multiple inquiries.

Planning to Buy That Fridge, TV or Mobile Phone on EMI? 3 Tips to Consider for Christmas Shopping!

We are in the midst of the festive season and discounts are flashing everywhere you turn your face. As such, you would be tempted to buy that TV or fridge or phone you were ardently longing for, but couldn’t lay your hands on them considering the enormous price. “Not anymore!” — proclaims one of the advertises on a famous online e-commerce website. These concerns no longer exist because of the advent of EMI facilities on expensive online products.

EMI or Easy Monthly Installment actually feels like it was invented keeping the Indian customers in mind. With festivals dotting the Indian calendar all around the year, and a prosperous population a.k.a. ‘Market’ to consume anything and everything the world has to offer, it just makes sense to make buying easier for buyers. This is especially true when you know they will be buying more this way. However, as a customer, you should always be cautious and clever when practicing this seemingly powerful facility to buy things beyond your capacity. Credit cards and EMIs while feasible could prove to be a big headache if dealt with clumsily. Here are a few tips you should remember whenever you plan to buy online, especially electronics on EMI:

Tip 1: Choose The Right EMI Option

When you are looking to buy a phone online on EMI with your Credit card, you have to be mindful of certain payments. While there is a good 12% to 18% interest rate on the EMI, some brands and banks even offer a 0% interest rate. Banks try to mitigate their losses by performing credit risk assessment before allocating you a loan. Most banks such as HDFC, SBI, ICICI etc. offer you with EMIs ranging from a period of 3 to 36 months.

Take the example of an iPhone X which is available at a discounted price of Rs. 79,999/- on Flipkart and which can be purchased using the EMI facility. Here, ICICI bank is offering multiple standard plans from 3 EMIs at 13% PA i.e. 27,247 p.m. to 36 EMIs at 14% PA i.e. 2,735 p.m. Also, you need to do the down payment along with a one-time processing fee (generally 0.5 to 1% of the total amount) and then pay the remaining amount in installments. Which means for an EMI of 3 Months, you will be paying a total of Rs. 81,741 i.e. Rs. 1,742/- extra while for an EMI of 36 months, you’ll end up paying Rs. 98,460/-, which is a whopping Rs. 18,461/- extra. This is an amount in which you can easily buy another decent smartphone.

If you are genuinely looking to buy something without the hassle of interest filled payments , then the best option is to look out for a‘0% interest EMI’ or ‘No cost EMI’. There are only a few banks which provide you with this option compared to the standard EMIs. Hence, you need to ensure your bank provides you with this facility so that you can avail its benefits. There is a certain one-time charge that they accrue though. But it is still a feasible option than standard EMI.

Let not the lure of paying less amount each month fool you into paying much more than the actual price. It is advisable to choose a moderate tenure of EMI where you can pay the monthly dues without much sweat while keeping the interest rates under control.

Tip 2: Buy Only The Essentials

Most e-commerce websites entice you with the option to buy expensive products online using Easy EMI options. The algorithm of the online websites is such that you will be searching for a TV, and a suggestion for a home theater will be displayed on the page end. You would be looking for a mobile phone, and a suggestion for covers and screen guard will pop up. All these fascinating offers are only good to bewitch you and make you spend more than you had initially planned. Whenever spending, you need to analyze and decide whether the amount you are willing to pay is congruent with your current financial situation and needs. Always remember that whether it be a TV or a fridge or a phone, it is just a product and not an asset. Hence, the value will only keep depreciating over its limited lifetime.

Tip 3: Pay Your Dues On Time

An EMI paid from a credit card is deducted wholly at one go. That means If you want to buy a TV worth 50,000, your credit limit should be at least 50,000 or more to deem you eligible. When you purchase anything on EMI, the whole amount is deducted from your credit amount and you are required to repay this amount in EMIs to your credit provider. Pay your dues on time and avoid defaulting. In this way, your credit score will also be maintained.

Hence, if you are planning to buy a TV, fridge or mobile phone this Christmas, always go for an EMI option which does not stretch your finances beyond limits. Keep your heads on your shoulders and do not get carried away in the festive fervor. We at CRIF hope you enjoy Christmas and keep your spirits & credit score high!

Went Overboard On Your Finances This Festive Season? 3 Ways to Come Out Of It

Diwali, Christmas and then New Year brought along with it a lot of celebration, jollification and merry making. The long holiday week saw a surge of people flooding the roads and skies, cross travelling between cities and countries. Gauging the streets filled with frantic shoppers, shopping it seems, has reached an all-time high. People are desperately trying to keep up with the lofty lifestyle of this generation. With all the glitter around you, you are compelled to believe that If you are not spending, you are not doing it right. Certainly then, all this subsistence comes with a price tag. Considering you too went a bit overboard on your spending this festive season, here are some tips to get you back from your financial guilt-trip.

1. Get rid of your credit card, well just temporarily
Do this right now. Hide your credit card and forget about its whereabouts for a month! Seriously, that’s the only immediate way to escape further debt. While we know this is not practically doable, but having a credit card handy post is like lingering around the forbidden fruit, one bite, and get ready to be kicked out of the garden. Resist the temptation if you don’t want to bleed your credit score further. You can use a debit card instead to avoid the risk of debt. Better still, is to use a digital wallet or withdraw the old fashioned cash from the ATM and spend the same. In this way, you have a limited resource to spend from which keeps you aware each time the amount is deducted. The point is to pause your credit card usage for a while until things settle down!

2. Instead of buying new stuff, sell or exchange old one
Instead of indulging in buying something new, learn the art of selling, recycling and reusing. There are quite a few unused things in every house which can be either reprocessed or sold off. With various online portals at your disposal, selling has become as easy as buying. Those items which lay unused occupying your space could be sold off for a goodly return and for good. If you are not among the ones to engage in the hassle of selling, then you may look out for exchange offers. There are offers on electronics and clothes where you can exchange old ones in return of a new one minus the value of the old.

3. Prioritize on clearing your debt
Stress on clearing your debt first. Maintain due diligence wherever possible. Even the seemingly trivial expenses such as having outside food and drinks, turning off your AC/lights, cutting down your car drives, avoiding using debit/credit card in place of cash, avoiding unnecessary purchase of things could collectively have a significant effect on your savings. In this way, you will be able to repay the monthly EMIs on time and pay at least the minimum due credit card amount. You will also learn some discipline and could even inculcate this as a habit thus helping you in the long run to improve your credit report.

Now that the festive season is over and the damage has been done, it is time for you to scrutinize your financial health. In India, you are entitled for free credit score from any of the four bureaus authorized by RBI. Credit scores can vary across the bureaus and an overall score of 700 and above is considered healthy for all.

Seth Godin, an American author says, “People do not buy goods & services. They buy relations, stories, and magic.” This quote indicates that our buying decisions are not completely based on rationality but are driven by some emotional impetus such as Love, Pride, Ego etc. We don’t just want to buy a utility, we want to buy a memory. Hence, while buying, we tend to prefer something expensive over useful in order to maintain our status.

The company you have while shopping also matters a lot as they influence your buying decisions more than you think. You only realize what you have purchased once you are in the ecosystem of your own house. Spare yourself this emotional atyachaar by keeping your head on your shoulders while shopping. If you comply with the above laws, you will soon find yourself out of this financial mess!

Learn To Be A Smart Borrower This Festive Season

This New Year, learn to be a smart borrower in the Super-hero way!

The susceptibility to become a spendthrift becomes more during the Christmas and New Year season. As the festivities are about to start, we are sure to buy gifts for loved ones, appliances for home and jewelry in abundance because of the irresistible offers that dominate the market. At this time of the season there are loans that people avail to buy expensive things. Often they throw caution to the wind to take advantage of a festive deal.

But does waiting for the festive offers to kick in so that you can save money make you smart? Are you really saving money? Is it a smart decision to splurge during the festive season? Let us break down the steps you should keep in your mind in the Superhero way while you decide your expenses this festive season.

With great festivals comes big expenditures!
It is essential to plan your shopping spree beforehand. As Batman said “with great power comes great responsibilities” so in a country where every festival is celebrated magnanimously it may get difficult to curb your expenditure. Don’t let the festive mood get the better of your financial judgment. It’s important to differentiate between what you need and what you want to avoid (impulsive shopping!).

Make a list of the things you are planning to buy based on affordability and try to stick to it. You should do a meticulous comparison of the available products and look for the best deals before you zero in on an item. Rein in your horses and take objective decisions.

This is my gift, my curse. Who am I? I’m Credit Score.
As Spider-Man accepted his powers as a gift, you should enhance your credit score and use it as gift too. Maintaining credit score is important and it is not unknown to anybody who handles finances on their own. If your credit score is 700 or above, then you are eligible to get a loan to fulfill your wishes. In case it is lower than 700 then you should mend it before it becomes a curse.

Your overall financial health is reflected in credit score and to make it better one must do payments and repayments on time, do a yearly check on the score and use credit in a wiser way. If you are looking for ways to ensure you keep your credit score, well above average, then don’t forget to read our blog,“7 Surefire Ways to Improve Your Credit Score”

Life doesn’t give us money, loans give us.
Getting a loan is easier now-a-days if you meet the eligibility and parameters like good credit score and report. Consumer durable loans are an amount of money lent to an individual for personal, family, or household purposes. Consumer loans are monitored by government regulatory agencies for their compliance with consumer protection regulations such as the Truth in Lending Act.

It is important to know whether you can pay of the loan that you take for buying or the amount that you are paying back does not have a vast difference with the principal amount of the loan. The super hero Flash says “Life doesn’t give us purpose. We give life purpose.” just the way loans work for consumers. Remember to take up a loan that has a considerably lower tenure but higher EMI, this eventually saves you money and gives better interest rates.

In a world of ordinary mortals, Discounts are a wonder woman.
As wonder woman says, “In a world of ordinary mortals, you are a wonder woman”, here the regular prices are ordinary mortals and the heavy discounts and offers are the wonder women while you buy your dreams. The festive season brings in best of offers and discounts, slashing out the price as low as possible. It is your duty to do your research thoroughly before you cash in on any offer.

As Superman say “I hear everything. You wrote that the world doesn’t need a savior, but every day I hear people crying for one”, CRIF is the super hero that helps you measure your credit score in the most accurate way so that you are financially aware and plan your expenses in such a way that you save more and spend less.