Monday, November 24, 2008

My Desktop

This is my desktop on my Laptop . If you are interested to know how its done, let me know :)

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sridhar's Book Wishlist


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Tips on Visiting India at Squidoo

I have just created my first Squidoo Lens to help people visiting India. Inspite of the increased focus on tourism and millions of tourists, India still remains both forbidding and overwhelming - forbidding to those who hear about the pollution, the crowds and health fears; overwhelming because of the sheer diversity in culture, climate, languages and religions.
In fact, visiting India can be the most unforgettable experience in your life, if you plan it. In this Squidoo page, I would like to offer them assistance through answers to specific queries, links and even reliable contacts. all this for free, just because I am interested to see more people discover India.

If any of you have any information or links, please write to me or leave a message on my Squidoo page.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Vizag and Araku Trip Report - 1

I have finally managed to shake off the procrastination demon perched on my and write this travelogue. Whew!
Months have elapsed since the vacation, so please don't bicker if I miss important details like the coach number of the train we took to Vizag :)

With a few days of holidays+leave under our belt, we embarked on a much-needed, much-planned trip to the cool hills of Araku. The Visakha express steamed on time into the Visakhapatnam Rly station on a nice January morning. An auto then whisked us to the APTDC Rushikonda beach resort (approx. 10 km from the Rly station), where we had booked an A/C room (you can get more information here.)

We were shown to rooms in the first floor of a cottage overlooking the sea. The rooms are clean, but expensive considering the rate per night [of course, this was classified as a "resort"]. It was a cool morning and we soon settled down to a hot cup of coffee, while getting our first view of the sea. Shruti was pretty excited when we told her we would go and play in the "lake" later in the day.

Having completed the morning rituals, we stepped out to have breakfast in the restaurant attached to the hotel. Idlis followed by tea - decent but nothing to talk about.

By this time, Shruti was impatient to go and play in the water, so we walked down to the beach.

Rushikonda has a nice, clean beach, where the waters are not very forceful. There are breakers (sand or rock formations) which reduce the "pull" of the water. The beach in the heart of the city (Ramakrishna beach) is more crowded and more dangerous to play.

We had a great time playing the water and an hour later, we returned to our room, tired but happy.

After a insipid lunch, we booked a cab through the reception to visit the city. A memorable trip through the submarine museum, and then some tea and pakoda at a roadside cafe.

We then planned an impromptu trip to Kailasagiri hill, where there is a open temple of Lord Siva. It was quite dark by the time we reached there, so we had to quickly return and missed the great views of the city and the sea.

Our next stage was Araku by train, which I will cover in the next post.

Note: More photos on Flickr - Badge on the left sidebar tagged 'Vizag'


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Life Insurance

In the previous post, I discussed the importance of financial planning and the factors to consider for financial security.

An important component of securing yourself financially is insurance. In this post, I will look at the two major types of life insurance - what they are and what is the difference. I will also discuss how much insurance you need and what other types of insurance are available.

I have a Unit-Linked Insurance policy (ULIP) for life insurance. This means that the premium I pay is invested in stocks, mutual funds, bonds etc.

If something untoward happens to me, the sum assured + the market value of the units is paid to my family. Sounds good? Yes, but it is not good. At least not good for everyone.

Experts say that unless you have a family, especially kids, there is no need for Life insurance. After all, insurance is to provide for dependants when there is no bread earner.

So, all those fresh graduates joining organizations don't need to invest in life insurance. Yes, the earlier you take insurance, the lower the premium, which is the argument agents use.

However, from a pure financial perspective it doesn't make sense to invest in a life insurance plan when you don't need it. ULIPs also tend to have a lower sum assured and higher premiums.

Term insurance, or pure risk cover is what you should be looking at if you need Life Insurance. In term insurance, there are no returns (not even sum assured) if the claim is not made before the policy end date. Hence premiums are very low, while the cover amount can be quite huge. This is what you get when companies provide insurance or you get free insurance with credit cards/auto loans etc.

Then why do agents and insurance companies harp on ULIPs? Commissions, fund charges and other fees. Agents get higher commissions once a ULIP is sold (regardless of the the type of insurance, an agent gets some money for every policy he has sold throughout his career!), compared to term insurance policy sales.

Now that we have a basic understanding about ULIPs and term insurance, we have to answer the question of how much insurance we require. Again, experts agree that it should be around 70 times your salary!!! This takes into account sustenance of your family, education of children and associated expenses and also considers inflation.

For more detailed information, you could use one of the many free calculators available on the Internet, as in here, here and here.

Note: The above links are for information and not a recommendation of any sort.

Remember, you will also need other types of insurance - cars, home, home loans and health. We will look at them in the next post.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Organizing my personal finances Tags: , ,

In my blog reading journey, I came across a few sites that made me think hard on organizing and improving your personal financial situation.

If you are like me, one of the millions who are not 'rich', then you need to think of managing your financial situation.

[By rich, I mean those who don't need to worry what happens if they stop working or doing business or whatever for the next 3 months.]

We have to put food on the table, mortgage payments, credit card payments and other bills every month. While it is not a hand-to-mouth existence exactly, we are also not very well off in a job loss situation.

What about death of the wage earner? Funds for retirement? Emergencies? Let me describe what I do and am sure most of you will relate to it.

I coast from month-to-month, making impulse purchases to maintain a 'lifestyle'. To save tax, I opted for life insurance (more on this later), based on information from colleagues and friends. I also invested in some stocks, IPOs and MFs - again based on information from friends and the internet.

Net effect - we don't have a financial plan. We don't know if these investments will yield the benefits we expected. We don't really know if the total return will be sufficient for retirement - life expectancy is up, which means we will need money for a longer term, medical costs are rising with decreasing quality of life.

Its not a rosy picture and one which we seldom think of.

Solution: Financial planning.

Planning your finance means assessing your net worth, defining your financial goals and planning your investments to meet those goals. While it is best to meet with a Certified Financial Planner to do this well, there are a few things you could do for a start.

1. Spend less than you earn

2. Look for ways to earn more (legally, of course!)

3. Stop using credit cards for routine purchases

4. Stop or at least postpone purchase that you don't need

In the meantime, read these blogs to gain more understanding -,

What about you? Have you been planning? Do you have any advice to share with us? Let us know in the comments. Ciao.

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