13 Awesome Personal Finance Blogs

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Personal Finance is no longer an esoteric topic that is confined only to “experts”. This can be seen by the ever increasing number of Indian bloggers in this very important space. Some of the bloggers have a mass-following due their awesome content, and others (like me) are trying to learn from these amazing folks. Here is a review cum list of some India based blogs in personal finance space [Alphabetic Order]:

Mr. Deepak Shenoy mostly writes on trades in Indian markets but sometime publishes gem of posts on personal finance. He is founder of the company MarketVision which offers consulting and training services in finance and technology. His blog might be intimidating for a novice at first, since the posts contains lot of facts, figures and charts. His blogging frequency is amazing (sometimes as high as 4-5 posts in a day). The blog template is simple and easy to navigate with good placement of advertisements. Some of his interesting posts are:

Pay Pre-EMI or Full EMI?

Can you afford to loose job? 

Shenoy’s Investment Funda

Mr. Ankit Agarwal writes topics focussed on providing money saving tips and frugal living ways. The ideas posted are good but I think that the blog has too many advertisements (including one before the post) which distracts the reader from the content. The blog also has some toolbar popping up at the top and bottom which is irritating. Also the language is slightly preachy and hence difficult to follow. Some of his interesting posts are:

Advantages & Disadvantages of Internet Banking                                                                                                

 Money Saving Tips for everyone

Mr. Srinivas Raghavan is the CEO of HappyMentor.com and is a CA by profession. The company provides training and consultancy services in the field of financial planning and organizational development. The blog layout is good and easy to navigate. The interesting aspect is the uploaded videos on the site, in which he talks about various aspects of financial life. In the videos he comes out as a happy person sharing his vast knowledge with the world. He also brings philosophical angle to the process of getting rich. But unfortunately he does not seem to update the blog very frequently. Some of his interesting posts are :

Self-occupied house not an asset                                       

Utilize tax planning to be rich                                           

Fall in love with Passive Income

Mr. Anshul Dixit aims to spread awareness among people by presenting facts and concepts about many areas, one of which is personal finance. The website name is interesting and the layout is like a collage of various articles written on the blog. I found the front page crowded but surprisingly easy to navigate. Unfortunately 2/3rd of the space for any blog post is taken by side columns and advertisements which makes it difficult to focus on the real content. The writing is simple and informative and he provides simplified explanation of various concepts. The website also provides services like providing articles for other blogs or information for campus placements. Some of his interesting posts are:

Meaning of numbers of Credit Card                                                     

How is Sensex calculated?

The blogger goes by the name JigVishu, a software engineer by profession but writes about personal finance. The blog layout is simple with very few advertisement and very navigation friendly. The content is good but the blogging frequency is very less. The blogger has a nice way of explaining concepts using tables and examples, which makes it readable. Some of the interesting posts are:

ULIP Fundamentals                                                                   

EPF Contribution                                                  

Tax Saving Infrastructure Bonds

This blog has multiple writers Mr. Tushar Mathur, Ms. Malvika Sampat and Mr. Ziaulla Namani. The blog layout is decent but some of the advertisements (e.g. at the top) are very distracting. The layout has very small fonts. The latest news and other columns on the right does not seem relevant at all. Also despite multiple writers the blogging frequency is very less. Another distraction is the number of tags attached to any post, which are greater than 10 in most cases. The advertisement image at each post is irritating. The content is very diverse and good but the writing style is slightly preachy with less examples making it difficult to read the blog. Some interesting posts are:

7 Insurance Myths Debunked                                                                                                                           

Layman’s guide to reverse mortgage

Mr. Sherin Dev blogs for http://www.moneywithmoney.net/ as well. The blog layout is really good with some awesome blog content. The frequency of writing is also amazing with more than an average one post per day in 2011. The unique aspect with this blog is the number of guest writers that have written blog posts on it, providing a varied content with diverse thought process.  But I feel that the disadvantage of having so many guest bloggers is that you won’t see a single person’s though process. The articles are written in a simple and easy to understand language. Interestingly Sherin makes his blog “Un-Copyright” status. Another interesting aspect is that most of the blog revenue goes to charity, although I could not see any yearly/monthly statistics on how much goes to charity. Some interesting articles are:

The Entrepreneurial Fad                                               

Investing Life Cycle to wealth                                                       

Money Lessons to kids 

Mr. Manish Chauhan and his team is behind this most successful blog on personal finance. Manish has now launched some personal finance services as well. The blog name itself is unique and attractive. The blog layout is decent but the front page top image “Warren Buffet Vs Sensex” is really distracting. The pop-up survey that comes up is very irritating as well. But the USP is the quality of content which makes this site simply the best. The articles are in-depth and aims at solving real consumer problems. The impressive aspect is the detail that are put by Manish and his team in each blog article. A simple article such as opening a PPF account comes out with clarity. Another great aspect is the immediate response to any comment or email sent to Manish. Recently Manish launched the personal finance forum, that I believe it is first in India (lot of forums related to stocks and investing but not specific to personal finance). Also despite so much popularity of the blog, the number of advertisements is very minimal. The blog is also enriched by the amount of comments and discussion seen on the posts and forums.

Mr. Pankaj Batra is a software professional and the blog is a personal account of his hobbies. He recently modified his blog layout and this one seems easy on the eye with advertisements blending smoothly in the background. He writes with decent frequency and the quality of his blog posts are good. His site has lot of download material which is great. Some of his interesting articles are:

Direct Tax Code                                                                                                                                    

Is it just your insurance company’s fault?

Ms. Shweta Mishra, Mr. Manish Mishra and Mr. Madhur Batra are the authors of this blog. The layout and the name of the blog comes out as very professional. But the content of the blog seems very similar to so many others on the internet and there seems to be a lack of many good quality posts. Although some of the posts are really detailed in nature. Advertisements inside the posts are distracting. The language is easy to follow but the frequency of blogging is not very high given the number of writers. Some of the interesting articles are:

Choose the best childern’s insurance plan                                                                                                                 

Demystifying LTA exemption

Mr. Ranjan Verma is also the author of personalfinance201 and developer of a personal finance desktop application called RupeeManager. He has more than a decade of experience in LIC and now he is the founder of RupeeManager. His blog layout is superb and especially the image icon that he has created for his blog is awesome. He also runs RupeeCamp which is a structured program for learning about personal finance. I have been following his blog for very long time and I love it. The way he writes the posts with simplicity and conciseness makes a reader compel to interact/comment on the post. He writes on many other topics including current news. Some of his interesting posts are:

Investing in low-risk mutual funds                                  

How to maximize your income?                             

Top 10 personal finance resource in India

Mr. Adheesh Sharma (CFA) is currently pursuing his MBA from Insead. The awesome part of his blog is the funky sardar icon. The blog is filled with many cartoons to explain the concept or show-case some conversation. The layout is very attractive and compels readers to navigate and look around the blog for various articles. The frequency of blogging has been reduced now probably due to his MBA, and he has acknowledged this in his post. The content quality is awesome due to the fact that Adheesh spends a lot of time in simplifying his posts and writing creatively. As an example, check out this post on “Disciplined Saving’ where he indicates that “The money you spend on buying a car today, could fund your child’s way to Harvard”. He very smartly puts his point across with lot of details and conviction in the posts. The blog is very impressive and contains lot of gems. A must read!!

Vinaya HS is a product manager by profession and writes on personal finance based on his own experience. The unique aspect of his blog is the give-away he does. He sometimes raises some contest or asks readers to put comments and then gives away some book or coupons to the winner. He shares tips on Tuesdays (calls Tip Tuesdays) and has written articles for techdirt.com. Another interesting aspect is the post he does based on reader questions. He is a big fan of ERE and provides a monthly update on his ERE plan with a nice graph. Some of his posts are thought provoking. Few interesting posts are:

Fallacy of traditional retirement calculation                                       

Withdrawing EPF                               

How to calculate EMI of your home loan

 

Did I miss any other interesting blog? Please share in comments!!

Note: I have intentionally avoided blogs which are either corporate blogs or blogs specific to only stock investments. Although this implies skipping some of the best blogs like valueinvestor, TipBlog or  FundooProfessor. But I wanted to focus on blogs which provides a generic thought process on personal finance for individuals rather than specific investment areas like stocks or mutual funds. This review is my personal opinion and if anyone feels offended, please drop me an email. Appropriate action will be taken.

Provident Fund (PF) Account Balance Online

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It seems that many of salaried employees think of Provident Fund (PF) as a black hole that sucks up their hard-earned money. Economic Times reported that 4000 Crore Rs is lying with EPFO in its unclaimed deposit accounts with no takers. 

One of the deterrent for claiming the PF account money (withdrawal or transfer) is the complicated process and bureaucracy involved. Also frequent job changes (sometimes 3-4 times a year) by employees also  contributes to unclaimed deposit accounts. On top of that the PF rules are not very customer-friendly.

The introduction of on-line PF Balance inquiry is a positive step in making the process easy. The process involves visiting the following web-site to know your PF balance :

http://www.epfindia.com/MembBal.html   [You will need the PF Account Number]

And thankfully this service is free of charge. The catch is that the data is available only for certain cities and that too up-to certain date only. So for example in case of Bangalore the data is available till 08.11.11 but say for Agra the data is till 06.09.11. The complete list can be found here. Also very few cities are included as of now. As an example in Karnataka, data is available only for the following cities:

image

In most cases the PF number is something like KN/XXXXX/YYYYYY, so when you visit the webpage you will find that it asks you for Establishment Code (Max 7 digits), Extension (Max 3 characters) and Account Number (Max 7 Digits). In most cases you need to keep the middle box [Extension] empty. So fill the “XXXXX” in the first box, keep second box empty and fill the “YYYYYY” in the last box. You need to fill up the Name, Mobile number and accept before submitting. You will then receive an SMS on your mobile number with you balance.

Note that sometimes if you do this process in non-working hours, you may not receive the SMS immediately, so try during working hours. The SMS contains the details of PF balance as EE and ER amount. The EE = Employee Contribution while the ER = Employer Contribution. The SMS will also indicate the date up to which the balance is shown.

Another good service is the Claim Status. If you have applied for PF Withdrawal or Transfer you can check the application status on this website":

http://www.epfindia.com/ClaimStatus_New.html [You will need the PF Account Number]

But if your company runs its own PF Trust – [my company does], then you may not find this data on the EPFO web-site yet. The current data is mostly for the Regional PF accounts.

I would actually like to see following services on the EPFO website:

    • Consolidated Statement for every individual across India
    • Service to apply for any correction in details
    • Online PF Transfer Application Process [Select Input PF Number, Output PF Number and an identification]
    • Online PF Withdrawal Process with money getting credited to bank account

What services you would like to see online for Provident Fund?