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Financial Basics

The topic covers details about various commonly used financial products.

Today’s financial world is highly complex when compared with that of a generation ago. Forty years ago, a simple understanding of how to maintain a checking and savings account at local banks and savings institutions may have been sufficient for financial transactions. Now, consumers, must be able to differentiate between a wide range of financial products and services, and providers of those products and services. Previous, the less-indebted generation may not have needed a comprehensive understanding of such aspects of credit as—the impact of compound interest, and the implications of mismanaging credit accounts, etc.

There is a need to increase consumer awareness about the necessity of financial literacy and how they can access it. Financial literacy is not just for investors. It is just as important, if not more so, for the average family trying to balance its budget and save for their children’s education and the parents’ retirement.

The need for financial literacy of consumers at various stages in their lives, and how financial literacy programmes can be designed to best address these needs have to be understood more. Financial literacy involves imparting knowledge about the risk and return of financial products to the users and providers of these products. It is this knowledge that helps in containing risks and maintaining stability in the financial system. Financial basics explains about Bank accounts, Online and Mobile Banking, Debit Cards, Credit Cards, Cheque, PAN Card, ATM Awareness, Loans, Investments and Insurance and Taxes.

No frills Account

The no-frills account has been introduced to bring a large section of under-privileged people into the banking net as well as and reduce credit rationing for this section of people.

The Reserve Bank of India has urged the banking community to introduce the no-frills account to bring a large section of under-privileged people into the banking net. The idea has been propelled by the realisation that even with 70,000 bank branches in the country, a large section of the population continues to remain credit-starved.

The no-frills bank accounts will, therefore, be an innovative instrument to introduce the concept of banking to the under-privileged and reduce credit rationing for this section of people. As the individual bank would have the privilege to design these no-frills accounts, the basic characteristic would involve zero or a very low balance with limited transaction facilities.

Despite concerns about the servicing costs, many financial economists believe that it could be an effective instrument to combat credit rationing and provide the much-needed credit to a large section of the under-privileged population in the country.

Example: SBI No-frills Account Details

This account comes with very low minimum balances as well as low/ nil charges, to cater to the needs of individuals from the vast sections of population who are, otherwise, not fulfilling certain conditions of our existing Savings Bank account requirements. Details are as under:

  • Eligibility: Individuals of 18 years and above earning a gross income of  Rs 5000/- p.m or less.
  • Mode of operation: Single/ joint
  • Initial deposit amount: Rs 50/- to open the account
  • Minimum balance: NIL
  • Maximum balance/ amount: Rs 10,000/-, being the total value of business connection of the account holder, including other deposit accounts.
  • Rate of interest: As applicable to Savings Bank account, i.e. 3.5% p.a.
  • Cheque facility: Available.
  • ATM-cum-debit card: Will be issued free of charge.
  • Internet Banking facility: Not available
  • Number of accounts: Ordinarily, a customer will not be allowed to open more than one basic banking ‘no-frills’ account.
  • Passbook: Will be issued, updation will be permitted between the 11th and 20th of each month.
  • Charges for availing services other than those covered here: The schedule of charges for availing services other than those covered in this product are being displayed in the branch premises/ notice board.
  • Nomination facility: Available
  • Product available at: All branches, except specialised branches.

Loans

When you apply for loan, the banks want to see how financially sound you are. Some of the main considerations on which loan eligibility is decided include your repayment capacity, age, income, source of income, credit score, educational qualification and the relevant documents that you submit in support of your loan application.

Many types of loans are available: They are in the form of home loan, home improvement loan, car loan, loan for two wheelers, educational loan, wedding loan, business loan, loan against security, personal loan and NRI loan. Interest can be calculated on a daily, monthly, quarterly or annual basis. The outstanding principal loan at the end of each of these terms is taken into account for calculating the interest rate.

Loans can be classified as secured or unsecured. Further, they can be based on fixed rate of interest or floating rate of interest. In case of secured loans, you are required to pledge your home or any other valuable security. In case of unsecured loans, there is no such requirement. Unsecured loans are for your short-term monetary requirements whereas secured loans can be taken for longer periods. The amount of loan that is available under unsecured category is limited, whereas, in case of secured loans, the loan amount can reach very high proportions depending upon the value of your home. You can take loans against securities or any other valuable asset that the bank is willing to accept.

Interest Rate

The interest rate depends on loan agreement. Interest rate can be Fixed or Floating/Variable depending upon which option you availed at the time of taking a loan.

  • Simple interest is calculated only on the principal amount, or on that portion of the principal amount which remains unpaid.
  • Compound interest is very similar to simple interest; however, with time, the difference becomes considerably larger. This difference is because unpaid interest is added to the balance due. In other words, the borrower is charged interest on previous interest. Assuming that no part of the principal or subsequent interest has been paid, the debt is calculated by the following formulas:
    • Loans with Fixed Rate of Interest - Once agreed upon, the interest rate remains same throughout the period of the loan.
    • Loans with Floating/Variable rate of interest - Some loans are based on floating interest rates. In such cases, the interest rate payable is linked to the market rate of interest like the bank’s prime lending rate. Any change in the official interest rate by the RBI may affect the rate applicable on your loan.

Some banks have provision for internally rating the borrower on different parameters. A rating or score is assigned to each borrower, and accordingly, the terms and conditions are decided by the bank. Higher credit score means higher loan prospects.

Collateral Security

In lending agreements, collateral is a borrower's pledge of specific property to a lender, to secure repayment of a loan. The collateral serves as protection for a lender against a borrower's default - that is, any borrower failing to pay the principal and interest under the terms of a loan obligation. If a borrower does default on a loan (due to insolvency or other event), that borrower forfeits (gives up) the property pledged as collateral - and the lender then becomes the owner of the collateral. In a typical mortgage loan transaction, for instance, the real estate being acquired with the help of the loan serves as collateral. Should the buyer fail to pay the loan under the mortgage loan agreement, the ownership of the real estate is transferred to the bank. The bank uses a legal process called foreclosure to obtain real estate from a borrower who defaults on a mortgage loan obligation.

Equated Monthly Instalments (EMI)

EMI stands for “Equated Monthly Instalments”. When you take a loan, the amount to be repaid every month is calculated in such a way that all your outstanding dues are cleared at the end of the loan period. This monthly payment that includes interest as well as the principal amount is called an EMI. Loan repayment is generally made with the help of Post Dated Cheques or through Electronic Clearance System (ECS) that is directly linked to your bank account. In case of Electronic Clearance System, repayment is deducted automatically from your bank account on an agreed date. Loans are available in the Indian market for a period starting from 6 months to 25 years. The exact duration depends upon which loan plan you have chosen, and it generally varies from bank to bank.

Investments

In addition to a savings account, investing in stocks and mutual funds can help you save for the future. While stocks and mutual funds can potentially earn higher rates of return than regular savings accounts, they can also decrease in value depending on the prevalent market conditions. It is always wise to do your homework and make sure you understand the risks before investing.

Types of Investments

Stocks

A stock represents partial ownership of a corporation. Stockholders own a share of the company expressed as a percentage of the company and are entitled to a share of the profits. Stockholders even get to vote on company decisions. The company profits may be divided among shareholders and are called dividends. Dividends are usually paid to stockholders quarterly. Stocks are traded on the open market, which means they can earn money when the value of the stock, the market value, increases. They also can lose money when the value decreases. This can be an advantage when the market value is up, but it can be a disadvantage when the market value goes down. You can see why “playing the stock market” can be tricky, so it’s a good idea to get help from a brokerage firm or an advisor with experience.

Mutual Funds

A mutual fund is a portfolio of investments that is managed by a professional investment advisor. It is made up of stocks, bonds and other investments, and is owned “mutually” by many investors. When you buy shares, the fund uses the money to purchase stocks, bonds and other investments. The profits are returned to the shareholders monthly, quarterly or semi-annually in the form of dividends. The advantage of mutual funds over individual stocks is that small investors can benefit from the advice of a professional account manager who distributes the investments among different companies or securities in an effort to limit losses should a certain market or industry not do as well as expected. But keep in mind that this has some of the same risks as buying stocks. Even though your investment is now “diversified” and someone is watching it for you, it still can decrease in value. Investing in stocks and mutual funds is a great way to help you save for the future, but it can be risky. Be sure that you understand how stocks and mutual funds work before you invest.

Source : Financial literacy e-learning course

Related Resources

  1. Financial education Initiative of RBI
3.00884955752
Viji Oct 17, 2014 09:35 AM

National Centre for Financial Education (NCFE) invites all school students from Class VIII to X to participate in the NCFE- National Financial Literacy Assessment Test (NCFE-NFLAT 2014-15) being conducted on 6th and 7th December 2014.

Vishal Feb 19, 2014 10:24 PM

RBI has changed the guidelines on 'No Frills Accounts". It has also renamed them as 'Basic Savings Bank Deposit Account". RBI has also specified few mandatory features of such accounts and has advised all banks to convert existing no frills account to BSDBA.

Solomon Sunder Feb 19, 2014 12:11 AM

Please use the ₹ symbol instead of Rs. at least on government/official websites.

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