2016 was a year of many new financial experiences

I had written some earlier posts on my experiences in 2016 and the financial perspective of my income, expenses and investments. The current post is more about the new things I experienced on the financial front.

To begin with, I filed my tax returns on my own this year. Till now, I had always done it through a CA. This year though. what with the complexities of my income having come down in terms of amount, I wanted to try it out on my own. The forms were quite simple, the instructions reasonably clear and as I had most of my financial records available the overall time taken on it was only about 2 hours. What is more, I was able to do electronic verification and received my refund within a month. All in all a great experience which I would like to repeat.

With the kind of travel I do, some due to family commitments and others due to leisure it is important for me to try and take benefits of reduction in travel expenses wherever possible. The expenses are made more complicated by the fact that we normally travel by air now, unless the train journey is an overnight one. This year I used travel portals extensively, keeping track of both loyalty benefits as well as the cashback provided by banks and credit cards. I will write about it in more details later but these new mechanisms have helped immensely in cutting down on my travel expenditure significantly.

I have always been spending online wherever I can and really did not need much cash at any time. However, the advent of note ban forced me to look into the few areas where I was earlier spending in cash. I needed it mostly for cabs so created accounts in both Ola and Uber. Using Paytm was the next logical step, though I use it only for utilities payment rather than any direct shopping. With cash of smaller denomination almost going out of fashion and no one really willing to take 2000 Re notes, this has really helped greatly to get basic stuff done – latest example being my daughter and I buying some cookies from Cookie Man when we had been to InOrbit mall to catch a movie.

I have used credit cards for a long time now and there are some great benefits to be had from these. Notable is the 50 % off I get on movie tickets through Citi card if I use it in BookMyShow portal. Additionally, this year I got invitations to several special events as well as a fair amount of travel cashback.

This year was also one where we replaced our older furniture. I wanted to sell the old stuff from where we were buying the new ones but they offered only salvage value. Realizing that I had to get a better price, I registered in OLX and to my surprise got a number of responses within a day. By the next day the dining and drawing area was quite empty and we got fairly decent money – significantly more than what the furniture shop offered us. I am already decided on selling a lot of our old stuff in OLX when we shift from Hyderabad.

Personal finance is linked to all areas of our lives, it is not only investments. Using the tools available to us will help us lead a life richer than what we are doing right now. Demonetization may have hastened the process but much of it was available to us earlier too.

For my part, I am looking forward to a lot more experiences in 2017.

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