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Does fixed deposit give you the best returns?

Does fixed deposit give you the best returns?

Usually, no! FDs are the best only if you fall in the lowest tax bracket or are a retiree.

While bank fixed deposits are undoubtedly safe, their returns are poor. In fact, over a long period of time, they tend to return lower than inflation – so your purchasing power actually reduces if your money is stored in fixed deposits over long periods of time. Fixed deposits are useful only if you need the money within the next three years.

Over the long term, there is no alternative to equity if you want to stay ahead of inflation. You can either directly invest in stocks, or, if you lack the time & expertise, take the mutual fund route.


Fixed deposits give assured returns. So, traditional investors have parked their savings in FDs. However, three things which need to be considered:

  • Fixed deposit returns are lower than inflation. Your money loses value over time.
  • Breaking fixed deposit or premature withdrawals always comes with a cost. It will be an inconvenience when money is required during an emergency.

At present, interest rates on fixed deposits are between 6% to 8%,depending on the time period of investment.Retirees, persons in the lower tax bracket or those needing money within 3 years can opt for fixed deposits.

Fixed Deposit : Choose the Best Option

Fixed Deposit schemes are offered by various institutions. It is very important for you to choose the best. Read on to know how.

Which fixed deposit should you go for?

In fixed deposits, safety is paramount – not half or 0.75 percent of extra interest.

The slightly higher rate of interest doesn’t really matter in the larger scheme of things, while an unsafe FD can give you sleepless nights later.Convenience and good service would be the second factor to look for.

We therefore advise going for a nationalized bank or one of the larger private banks – ICICI, HDFC, Axis or Kotak. Slightly less safe are deposits in cooperative banks.

Corporate fixed deposits can be quite unsafe– it really depends on the company you are investing in. Many companies tend to advertise their deposits and lure you with higher interest rates, so beware!

What term should you choose?

Fixed deposits longer than three years are not useful. The returns they give are poor, and often lower than inflation. For long term investments, you would rather go for equities, which can give better and inflation beating returns over the long term. On the debt side, PPF and public sector bonds (like NABARD or Indian Railways) are better for long term investments.

Below three years, the tenure you should go for really depends on when you think you need the money. Since there is a penalty for premature withdrawal, you might as well choose the tenure so that you are unlikely to break the deposit midway.

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Retirement Money : It is never too early to start

Retirement is a phase where usually the income tub reduces to droplets. Build a reservoir to stay financially hydrated.

Picturing yourself with sparse hairs, in a rocking chair, newspaper in hand and toddlers at feet is a task next to impossible, when your career ball has just got rolling. But as much as you hate to think about finances for your grey days (or golden days, if you prefer) you should remember that the only way there is, is to walk through it.

If you are adequately prepared financially, there are more chances of your retirement being jolly and stress free. However the best thing is if you start now, your retirement finances will be neatly done, without having to sacrifice your present little joys!

Tell me how to start

If you are a 25-something you have 3 cool decades to stack up resources.  In case your knowledge of personal finance products begin and ends with FDs and RDs, no worry, we will help you identify the right products. But even before you begin you must resolve to use these funds only after your pack up and not dig into them to buy the next trendy smartphone, bike or anything else.

The first step towards your goal is the most challenging one- save enough. The next question logically is how much is enough? If you observe in your Ideal Single Lifestage Report, you should manage savings of about 40%. This is assuming you are debt-free. More on savings is covered in Do Not Spend All Your Salary.

Best products for retirement

Since retirement is such a long term goal, your retirement funds should go in growth assets. Of the growth assets, equity mutual funds are an excellent tool for retirement planning. If you invest in a good diversified equity mutual fund, your money will grow along with the markets, well beyond inflation’s reach. This is something that cannot be achieved with income assets like FD, bonds etc.

So pick up one of the best long term funds and start a monthly SIP in it. For instance if you plan to save and invest Rs 10,000 every month, about Rs 6,000 can go to one of the large cap equity funds.

Don’t succumb to the temptation of withdrawing funds at market fluctuation, just keep to your SIP, as long as the fund you have chosen continues to be among the best ones. Only move them to less risky products systematically by the time your approach retirement (read on this after 2 decades). And remember to pump up your investments as and when income rises. When retirement dawns on you, there will be enough funds at your disposal.

Earlier the better- Albert Einstein

If you’re still not motivated to start retirement investment from now, here is a classic illustration of why those who start earlier turn out to be smart.

Take the case of 2 buddies Lazy Lakshman and Smart Sanjay who start off career at age 25 yrs. Lazy Lakshman is the squandering type and never took investments serious in the early days. Smart Sanjay had his share of fun but was more disciplined from the start, so he invests Rs 6,000 every month in a good long term mutual fund for 30 years. Assuming 15% returns from the fund, at the end of 30 years he’d have a nice Rs 3 crores corpus to live on.
Suppose on turning 35 yrs, Lazy Lakshman starts investing a similar Rs.6,000 per month at a 15% assumed rate. By the end of 20 years- at the age same as Smart Sanjay, Lazy Lakshman will have a corpus close to only Rs.74 Lakhs, which is a clear loss of 75% or almost Rs.2 crores plus!

Delay in SIP

Now, what if Lazy Lakshman also aims at creating a corpus of Rs 3 crore in 20 years for his retirement? Guess how much would he have to invest, assuming the same return rate? Hold your breath- Rs 25,000 every month! Okay let’s assume he got disciplined at about 30 yrs and wishes to create the same corpus in 25 years. In this case his job would be done with an investment of Rs 12,000 a month.

Being the person that he is, do you think Smart Sanjay would not have increased with investment amount with time? Assume he added 10% to his investments every year. Not only would he have a king sized corpus for retirement, he would also be in a position to meet all his other financial goals- buying home, kids’ education,  marriage, etc without taking loans!

Do the numbers look astounding? Credit it to the power of compounding. Albert Einstein called it the ‘Eighth Wonder’.  He also observed that ‘he who understands it, earns it; he who does not, pays it’.

So go, make use of the power of compounding through SIP and without pinching your pockets create a decent retirement corpus.

Click Here to know the best way to invest and build wealth for your retirement.