Year 2021 was that of resilience in the face of pain. The year was strewn with painful images—of large swathes of land dotted with burning pyres, of our holy rivers retching with the smell of death and spewing corpses on their banks, of lives and jobs gone astray. But it also etched pictures of unprecedented resilience in the face of one of humanity’s worst crises—of picking up the pieces left behind by the second wave of Covid, of building lives afresh using those pieces, of protecting ourselves against the vagaries of life and nature.
The threat of Covid rendered unnatural the natural act of stepping out of our homes without thinking twice, but it also turned restrictions into the freedom to discover new avenues of investing, transacting and connecting online. It taught us how to savour the present while securing the future not just for ourselves but also for our families.
As we enter 2022, it’s time to take the next step: to put all our savings in sync. The first gateway we need to cross this year is to ensure our tax-saving investments—which most wake up to only in the last three months of a financial year to about end of March—fit seamlessly into our financial plans. We understand that it’s easy to get caught between the employer’s nudge to declare your tax-saving investments and the agent’s push to buy into products that may not be suitable for you if you don’t strategise well. That’s why our cover story gives age-wise strategies—for the Gen-Z and millennials, for the middle-aged, and the seniors—to invest in a way that tax planning caters to your financial goals.
On the investment front, the stock market exuberance led to a flurry of initial public offerings (IPOs) in 2021; the market is also keenly watching 2022 with some big names slated to come out with their IPOs. We provide a sneak peek on what 2022 holds for individual investors and consumers.
But as we embark on this new journey of investment and consumption, it’s important to understand the risks and rewards it entails for us. A young reader asked us this time whether she should invest in cryptocurrencies or mutual funds. Risk is something that needs to be navigated in any instrument and younger investors, with a longer time frame, are more amenable to it than others, but it is the nature of the risk that one is willing to face that makes all the difference. Similarly, the much-talked-about buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) schemes may be convenient to use but the associated costs and risks can give the story an ugly twist. We take you through the ins-and-outs of these schemes and how they compare with other traditional forms of instant debt such as credit cards.
Growing digitalisation has exposed us to the ever-increasing risk of cyber frauds. For instance, there was more than a 200 per cent jump in credit and debit card-related frauds in 2020 compared with 2019, according to data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). We present some shocking data on financial frauds. But then it’s really quite simple to avoid being a victim of such frauds.
The pain of 2021 made each of us more tenacious, more ready to take on any variant that hits us in 2022, not just emotionally but financially too. Many of us topped our health and life insurance policies. Those of us who could save have saved every extra penny and fortified our portfolios against emergencies. One of the families, who lost their primary breadwinner, shared their story of pain and resilience with us. It’s time to take lessons from the struggles of 2021 and start afresh this New Year.