Arbab and Alisha, cousins with a shared love for finance, found themselves engrossed in a lively discussion at a family “Dawat.” As plates of biryani and kebabs passed around, their conversation turned to the age-old question: PPF (Public Provident Fund) or mutual funds? Which investment is correct for their financial goals?
The importance of investing
Before diving into the debate, let’s understand why investing is crucial. Investing is equal to planting seeds now to reap a harvest in the future. It is a way to generate wealth i.e., make your surplus funds work for you to secure your financial future.
Arbab, sipping on his masala buttermilk, began extolling the virtues of the PPF and emphasized that the PPF calculator is an essential tool to be used. “Alisha,” he said, “PPF is like a trusty old friend. It offers a host of benefits –
- Tax benefits under Section 80C.
- Guaranteed returns.
- Earnings are tax-free.
- Long-term savings with a lock-in period.
- It’s backed by the Indian government.
- Loan facility against PPF balance.
- High-interest rates.
- Flexible contribution amount.
- Partial withdrawal facility.
- Protection from creditors.
- Can be extended in blocks of 5 years.
- Suitable for retirement planning.
- No market volatility.
- Nomination facility.
- It’s exempt from wealth tax.
With these benefits, it is clear that your helpful pal that can come to your rescue is an online PPF calculator. Using the calculator, you can compute the month-on-month contribution you must make to attain the desired retirement corpus.”
Mutual funds –
Alisha, who had a penchant for adventure, countered, “But Arbab, mutual funds have their own set of advantages –
∙ Diversification across asset classes.
∙ Professional fund management.
∙ Liquidity with open-end funds.
∙ SIPs for disciplined investing.
∙ Investment in equities, debt, and more.
∙ Higher potential returns.
∙ Ease of buying and selling.
∙ Transparency in holdings.
∙ ELSS for tax-saving.
∙ Accessibility to international markets.
∙ Capital gains tax benefits after one year.
∙ Dividend and growth options.
∙ Well-regulated by SEBI.
∙ Systematic withdrawal plans.
∙ Market exposure for long-term growth.”
As the evening wore on, Arbab and Alisha decided to delve into the heart of the matter – comparative analysis.
The interest rates for PPF are set by the government every quarter. This predictability in interest rates is one of the attractive features of PPF, often resulting in returns that are higher than those offered by traditional savings accounts or fixed deposits. In contrast, mutual fund returns are subject to market fluctuations and the fund manager’s decisions. The returns from mutual funds can vary significantly based on market conditions, making them less predictable compared to PPFs.
Both PPF and mutual funds offer attractive tax-saving benefits. PPF provides a tax deduction under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act, and the interest earned is entirely tax-free. In contrast, mutual funds offer tax-saving opportunities through Equity Linked Savings Schemes (ELSS) under Section 80C. However, the tax treatment of mutual fund returns depends on factors like the holding period and fund type, which can provide more flexibility in tax planning but also require a deeper understanding of taxation rules.
PPF is often favoured by conservative investors who have a lower risk tolerance. Its low-risk and stable nature offers a comfort level to individuals who look for investment protection and safety features over higher returns. Mutual funds, on the other hand, are best suited for retail investors with a higher risk appetite level who are comfortable with market fluctuations.
Mutual funds are professionally managed by managers who possess expertise in making smart investment decisions. Such professionals actively assess the markets, perform in-depth research, and timely adjust the portfolio to enhance returns and lower risks. In contrast, PPF is a self-managed investment where the account holder decides how much to deposit and when to do so without active management by professionals. This means the onus of investment decisions falls squarely on the PPF account holder.
Risk and return
PPF is backed by the government, it is a low-risk instrument. It offers satisfactory returns, usually slightly over the inflation rate, making it a stable and safe investment choice. In contrast, mutual funds hold higher risk levels owing to their market exposure. However, they endow the potential for higher returns, which includes the possibility of considerable wealth generation over a long time period. The risk linked with mutual funds differs based on the fund selected, such as balanced funds, debt, or equity, permitting retail investors to customise their risk-return investment portfolio.
Mutual funds have the potential to beat inflation over the long term, particularly equity funds. These funds historically have outperformed inflation rates, making them an effective hedge against the eroding purchasing power of money. PPF, while stable and reliable, may not always offer returns that outpace inflation, potentially impacting the real value of savings over time. Therefore, investors with a keen eye on beating inflation may find mutual funds more suitable for this purpose.
The key benefit of mutual funds is diversification. Such funds pool money from distinct retail investors and invest the same in a portfolio of bonds, stocks, and various other assets. This diversification spreads risk and can enhance the stability of returns. In contrast, PPF, being a fixed-income instrument, lacks diversification and primarily focuses on debt instruments. Consequently, it might not provide the same level of risk mitigation through mutual fund diversification.
PPF has a fixed tenure equaling 15 years, which may be extended in blocks of five years. This fixed tenure can be beneficial for those eyeing forming a long-term plan to save funds with a particular date of maturity in mind. In contrast, mutual funds come with zero fixed tenure, permitting retail investors to hold their investments as per their wish, offering more flexibility about investment duration and withdrawal.
Mutual funds provide retail investors exposure to the stock market, making them an appealing choice for those eyeing to get an advantage from equity market growth. Such funds can invest in a wide range of instruments including bonds, stocks, and even international securities. PPF, in contrast, is primarily debt-oriented and primarily invests in government securities, offering limited exposure to equity markets. This makes PPF less suited for investors seeking direct participation in stock market gains.
Alisha and Arbab realized it was not a question of selecting one over the other. Both mutual funds and PPFs come with unique benefits. The key here is to diversify your investment portfolio by investing in both.
Arbab ended by saying, “By utilising an online mutual fund calculator and PPF calculator, we can form a balanced investment approach. Mutual funds for growth and PPF for stability. In this way, we can efficiently secure our finances and make the most out of the benefits of both investment products.”
So, next time you are at a family gathering, enjoying the food, remember Alisha and Arbab’s wisdom on finance. Ensure you go for investment diversification using tools such as PPF and mutual fund calculator and watch out for your wealth to grow over the long term.