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Mutual Funds Vs Post Office Schemes: Which one is a better investment option for you?

The Financial Express logo The Financial Express 24-12-2018

For a long time, post office schemes have been favourite among investors looking to obtain regular returns from their investments. Government-sponsored post office schemes offer returns of 7%-8.7% on an annual basis. Additionally, these schemes also offer maturity bonus of up to 5%. However, in spite of the post office schemes being risk-free and offering handsome returns, mutual funds have gained an edge over these schemes. That is because mutual funds offer better liquidity as well as returns in comparison to post office schemes. Especially investments made in equity and debt funds offer higher returns than fixed-income investments. However, mutual funds are subject to market volatility due to which a large number of investors are reluctant to invest in them.

So what exactly to choose? Let's understand this with the below example:

Further, here are a few points on the basis of which you can choose between mutual funds and post office schemes:

Guaranteed returns: Mutual fund investments do not offer guaranteed returns, unlike post office schemes. Any change in the market directly impacts the returns and at times, an investor may miss out on the monthly dividends too. Also, even if the monthly dividends are paid, the amount that an investor will receive each month is not guaranteed. On the other hand, post office schemes are currently offering guaranteed annualized returns of up to 8.7%.

Liquidity: Mutual fund investments are highly liquidable and an investor can opt out of it at any point in time. Withdrawal from mutual fund investments would cost you around 1% exit charge. However, premature withdrawal from post office schemes would cost you a deduction of over 2%.

Taxation: The interest earned from post office schemes is taxable as per your personal income tax slab. Similarly, dividends from mutual funds are subject to distribution tax of 13.84%. If the units of the fund are sold within a year, then the tax would have to be paid as per your personal income tax slab. If the units are sold after a year, the long-term capital gain tax of 10% is levied.

Maximum investment: The maximum investment an investor can make in post office schemes is fixed in some of the schemes. Mutual fund investments, however, don?t come with such limit and an investor can invest as much as he wants.

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Monthly investments: Post office schemes allow investors to accumulate money by depositing it on a monthly basis. Similarly, in mutual funds, an investor can invest via SIP. SIP investments have now become one of the best investment options as with it an investor can invest an amount as low as Rs 500. With SIP, an investor can benefit from the power of compounding and rupee-cost averaging.

Where to invest: Post office schemes or mutual funds?

If you are aged and are looking for a steady source of income, then post office schemes are a good option for you. However, if you are young and are willing to take some risk, then mutual funds are a good pick for you. However, when investing in mutual funds, keep in mind that you do so for the long run as that helps your investments overcome the effects of market volatility. When it comes to investment, all that matters is your risk appetite and your budget. For conservative investors, post office schemes are a good option, whereas for risk-taking investors mutual funds may be an apt choice.

(By Abhinav Angirish, Founder, Investonline.in)

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