Monday, March 31, 2008

Best of Indian Business Blogs: Weekly Edition 2

Weekly edition 2 of "Best of Indian Business Blogs" is here. A big thanks to readers for the response to our first weekly edition. The weekly edition will carry more weight now that heavyweights like Kiruba and Gautam are joining us for selecting the very best of Indian business blog posts of the week.

So here it goes:
1) Kamla Bhatt interviews ItwoFS's Karthik Srinivasan on plagiarism in Indian film music

Karthik has built a website with a missionary zeal and he is looks at it as a hobby. That's what makes it such an interesting website, especially for music buffs.

2) Maninder on what's wrong with Idea Rocks India's MSN microsite

Big brands also make mistakes. In the mumbo jumbo of MBA jargons, often we miss some very simple things that we should have taken care of. Maninder points out to one such mistake

3) A three part series on startup financing in India: 1, 2, 3

Essential read for startups where Kartik Varma takes you along the financial angle of a startup. While on startups, Snigdha Sengupta makes some interesting points about angel funding in India.

4) Guest Post by Mayank Bidawatka, Head of Marketing at Pluggd In this post, Mayank demystifies SEO and SEM concepts

SEO and SEM are important tools to figure out the complexities of the internet. Some guys like Afzal Khan and Mani Karthik provide support as Freelancers and offer services to many clients across, USA, UK, Australia & Canada.

5) Sudipto Majumdar on the rise of gaming cafes in India and Sashi Reddi on the Indian gaming business.

Other takes by fellow panel members: Gaurav Mishra, Palin NingthoujamMany times an investment goes wrong. People need to refinance to backup their plans. However putting up your houses for sale is certainly no solution, and neither is debt consolidation.

Happy reading and do spread the word around.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Buying a home?

Buying a home is a complex process. Buying a home for the first time can be overwhelming for many first-time home buyers because few know where or how to begin the home buying search.

The first step should be to align yourself with a pro who has experience working with first-time home buyers and can show you the ropes. Because buying or selling a home involves such a large amount of money, the brokerage and real estate agent hired to represent your financial interests should easily meet your list of high quality standards.

Now, some people make the mistake of thinking that all home consultants or real estate agents are the same and, as with any profession, the cream of the crop sits shoulders above the rest. There are a large number of differences among agents.

And there are too many of them who are ready to take you on a ride. Better be ready with some decisive questions for your consultant. This will tell him that you can not be taken for granted.

The questions could be :
1) How Long Have You Been in the Business?

2) What is Your Best Action Plan or Strategy for My Needs?

3) Will You Please Provide References?

4) What documents are required and do you have a sample?

5) What are the charges: both lender and the consultant?

6) What Kind of Guarantee Do You Offer?

7) What Haven't I Asked You That I Need to Know?

These questions will make him make the effort in providing the service you deserve.Real estate agents represent buyers, sellers, or both--and they can work as neutral facilitators for either party. It's essential to understand agent duties and loyalties before you make that first phone call.

Last but not the least, a successful real estate transaction requires cooperation from everyone associated with the sale. There are things you can do to help your agent, which in the long run gets you to closing faster and with fewer bumps along the way. Foremost being honest and transparent with the agent as much as you would like him to be the same.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Best of Indian Business Blogs: Weekly Edition 1

When Gaurav Mishra came out with the idea of a weekly digest of best business blog posts from India, I agreed immediately. I am sure that my readers would be happy to see the very best Indian business blogs picked out after a bit of brainstorming by a panel of eminent Bloggers.

If you missed out on my previous post announcing the weekly digest, to be published every Monday, here's the dope. We are attempting to highlight and promote link-worthy posts from Indian business bloggers in the form of a weekly digest. The panel members in our network include:- Gaurav Mishra, Rajesh Lalwani, Veerchand Bothra, Palin Ningthoujam and Yours Truly.

So here goes the top posts for the week:
  1. Interview of the four entrepreneurs behind CMYK Health Boutique who plan a nationwide network of Spas - Four Fountains Spa. Rashmi Bansal, in her inimitable free wheeling way, takes you along the journey of entrepreneurship and its nitty gritties.

    My key take away ( as a chronic fence sitter!) was when Anurag says, " Nahin karne ke bahut bahhaane hai. Naukri chhodo, everything will fall in place"

  2. Continuing on Startups, read these posts that came as reactions to Jason Calacanis' ( post - how to save money running a start-up.

    It's at Venturewoods;; Start Up Dunia; Aditya Mishra

  3. Namrata Balwani's post on what ails online advertising in India - My reactions and take aways from the post: Actually the marketers are wary of the measurement metrics for internet advertising. Even though the measurement metrics for the mainstream advertising has also its problems, it is a known dragon instead of an unknown dragon that the online advertising is perceived to be.

  4. Ajay Shah links to Vijay Mahajan post on 'waiver of mass debt (WMD): It's a contentious issue between Politicians and Economists and warrants careful reading.

  5. Manoj Dawane, Mauj Mobile, talks about the future of Indian mobile VAS industry. Manoj takes you along on the possibilities of Mobile services in India. With 228 million subscribers as on December, 2007, the possibilities looks limitless!

The top five have been selected out of many more and I am sure you'll be benefited by reading the posts as much as we have learnt from them. Do spread the word around among your friends too.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Weekly Digest of the Best of Indian Business Blogs

The best of Indian Business Blogs is an initiative to promote business blogging in India. We will attempt to highlight and promote link-worthy posts from Indian business bloggers in the form of a weekly digest that we publish on our respective blogs. The panel members in our network include:- Gaurav Mishra, Rajesh Lalwani, Veerchand Bothra, Palin Ningthoujam and Yours Truly.

The other panel members are trend setters in their areas and I look forward to working with them to bring out the very best of Indian Business Blogs. The panel members are:
  1. Gaurav Mishra who sells cars for a living and blogs about marketing, technology and social media is a budding Social Media Guru
  2. Rajesh Lalwani is CEO of BlogWorks, Strategic Social Media and Mainstream Marketing Firm
  3. Veer Chand Bothra is at the center of India’s mobile boom, as MobilePundit, as organizer of Mumbai Mobile Mondays and as VP at NetCore Solutions
  4. Palin Ningthoujam is a Marketing Communications Consultant & Social media enthusiast
  5. Ranjan Varma,(it's me!) Personal Finance 2.01, Creator, India's first online weekly on personal finance.
The weekly digest is planned for every Monday starting from tomorrow. I am sure you would like it as much as we enjoyed going through the best Indian business posts of the week.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

10 Credit Card Tips to Keep You Out of Debt

This blog has it's first guest post. I haven't written anything on credit cards and when Heather Johnson volunteered to write about how to be using your credit cards, I thought it a great thing to share with you. Yes, if anyone of you would like to share some of your personal finance stories, please feel free to comment or write to me (ranjanvarma at gmail dot com). Over to Heather Johnson.

The moment we come of age, credit card companies are stuffing our mailboxes with enticing offers and convoluted fine print. It's no wonder there is a staggering problem with credit card debt these days, particularly in the United States. However, credit cards don't have to be your enemy. In fact, they can be quite useful and it's very hard to exist without at least one major credit card.

Below are 10 credit card tips to keep you out of debt:

1. If you are someone who will carry a balance from one month to the next (which is most of us), then your finance charges should your biggest priority. Choose a card with the lowest percentage rate available.

2. When you do find a "Zero percent interest" or "Low interest" card, read the fine print and make sure that interest rate isn't going to drastically hike after an introductory period.

3. Sometimes, "fixed" rates aren't fixed at all. With a little warning ahead of time, credit card companies are free to increase your rates at any time.

4. Don’t carry your credit card around with you. Unless you are specifically leaving the house to use it, keep it at home so impulse shopping won't tempt you.

5. Carefully read each month's statement, as companies certainly do make mistakes. Also, you want to make sure that no unapproved charges have been made.

6. Watch out for annual fees. Some cards have no annual fees, other cards (particularly those with big rewards) may charge quite a bit.

7. Can't afford a big ticket item that you really want? Don't use the credit card as a crutch. It isn't a gateway to free money and you will have to repay it eventually.

8. Always pay more than the minimum charge on your bill or you will never pay it down.

9. Never mail your monthly payment in late. Even an honest mistake could result in a huge rate hike as penalty. Credit card companies are not sympathetic to mistakes, unfortunately.

10. Create a household budget and stick to it.

Credit cards are a necessary evil in the 21st century. Even if you are liquid enough to never have to charge something, you will need a credit card to buy a plane ticket, reserve a hotel room and more. In other words, it is in your best interest to learn how to use a credit card wisely, as it will always be a part of your adult life.


Heather Johnson is a freelance business, finance and economics writer, as well as a regular contributor at Business Credit Cards, a site for business credit card and best business credit card offers. Heather welcomes comments and freelancing job inquiries at her email address

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Annual Fee/Cost & Returns for ETF

Knowledge@Wharton has an article on ETFs

Here are some numbers from the article:
While the average actively managed mutual fund charges investors annual fees of about 1.3% of the amount invested, the Vanguard S&P 500 fund charges just 0.18%. Spyders charge just 0.08%. If the market's annual return averaged 8% a year for 20 years, every $100 invested would grow to $459 in the Spyder, $451 in the Vanguard fund and $366 in the managed fund. The difference: fees' effect on compounding. While managed funds try to offset this disadvantage with good stock picks, many studies have shown that the average manager cannot do this consistently.
We have a few ETFs in India. But the lowest fee is arounf 0.45% compared to 0.08% for the first ETF of the US.

India's first online weekly on personal finance

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Meet Ramit Sethi of

I am a big fan of Ramit Sethi's blog on personal finance (banking, saving, budgeting and investing) and personal entrepreneurship. And I was delighted to be able to meet him in person while he is on a vacation to India.

Ramit is a graduate of Stanford, where he studied technology and psychology. He's the co-founder & VP of Marketing for PBwiki, a wiki startup in Silicon Valley.

We chatted up on many things included the ghee filled wedding food, bargaining/negotiation skills of Indians and how even poor people are happier here compared to USA and the Dharavi tour. I suggested him to take a local train ride to understand the spirit of Mumbai!!

I also got a lot of insights on how to be a better blogger and I want to share some of those.
  • Understand your reader: Have we ever thought of or tried to find out what kind of readers are coming to our blog. We need to know the audience. Some kind of research/ poll should tell us about the visitors to our blog.
  • Write with that reader in mind: Writing for a techie or college grad would be different from writing for a guy who already has 4-5 years of work experience.
  • Have a tag line that people can identify you with: There should be a small but distinct description of what you write or who you are. It's like describing a brand that you are or want to become.
  • Focus on content and telling stories: The best way to talk about personal finance is to tell stories and how it is related to other interesting things like food, losing weight , etc.
  • Find out where you want to see your blog in 3-5 years.
Thanks Ramit.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

India's first eBook on personal finance

A lot of people feel "threatened" when dealing with money and most people phase out when money/ savings/ investing/ tax/ stocks/ insurance/ funds are discussed. After tackling them over the last one year on my blog and website , I hope to construct an easy-to-digest, friendly e-book that people want to read and understand!

This e-book is only 21 pages and will not take more than an hour to go through. No matter who you are and what you earn, my feeling is that this one hour can help you understand money and change a lot of things for you, for the better!

Personal Finance is about managing your own money. There are scores of books and courses to manage the finance of your business or a Company. Then there are books on finances of the Government (Monetary, Fiscal Economics).

But are there enough for managing your own finances? Which is equally, if not more, important for all of us. And moreover it's simple and not rocket science!

Download the eBook

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Warren Buffett: Some Interesting Aspects

This is a popular presentation doing the rounds on the internet. I do not know the source but have received it in my mail box a number of times.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

AllTop: Aggregator of the best websites & blogs

Guy Kawasaki has done it again! With the internet exploding with information overload, here comes an aggregation that classifies information from the best and popular sites focusing on a particular niche.

For example for personal finance, check out the AllTop on Personal Finance

AllTop helps you explore your passions by collecting stories from “all the top” sites on the web. They’ve grouped these collections — ”aggregations” — into individual Alltop sites based on topics such as environment, photography, science, celebrity gossip, fashion, gaming, sports, politics, automobiles, and Macintosh. At each Alltop site, they display the latest five stories from thirty or more sites on a single page.

Hoping to see my website on that list!!

India's first online weekly on personal finance

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Dummies guide to Subprime mess

See this prezo on Subprime. After going through the slides, you will understand the extent of the subprime mess.

You will also come to know that the so called "experts" are such stupid people!

India's first online weekly onpersonal finance