Friday, April 27, 2012

The business of deposits

This article was originally published in Postnoon on April 27th, 2012


I, Prof. Nicky, had a tet-e-tet with Laxmiamma three weeks back. I was curious to know if she had taken heed of my advise and started investing. So I strolled out of our lush campus and walked into the nearby GPRS quarters. It is in one of these quarters that Laxmiamma had been hoarding her cash every month since the past 10 years in the hope of collecting enough money to release her pawned jewellery.


Laxmiamma was genuinely happy to see me and did not waste any time before showing me the account opening kit which she had got from her bank. She was the proud owner of a bank account now, which came with an ATM card and a cheque book.

She did not waste any time in offering her famous Irani chai and shooting her questions to me. So while enjoying the chai, I answered her primary question related to the difference between a savings account, a Fixed Deposit and a Recurring Deposit.

A Savings Account is meant for saving money, as the name suggests, from your income. The money deposited can be withdrawn any time and you can deposit money into the account as many times as you want. It is generally like a temporary parking place for the surplus funds that you have. Earlier, the banks used to pay a very small interest on the amount in this account. However, the recent deregulation of savings account interest rates by RBI has resulted in the bank giving as much as 6-7% interest.

Laxmiamma: I have opened my account by putting an initial deposit of `5,000/- Should I put my entire savings in the past 10 years into this account then Prof. Nicky?

Prof. Nicky: You could do that. But, you will earn more if you deposit your savings into a Fixed Deposit. The interest that the Banks offer on this account are usually much higher. Though the catch is that, you are expected to keep your money with the bank for a fixed tenure. The interest rates vary according to the tenure and, currently, may range from 7% to 10%.

Laxmiamma: But what if I have a medical emergency and need the money urgently?

Prof. Nicky: Hmmm… you can withdraw the deposit if you wish to. However, the bank will usually impose a penalty of 0.5% to 1% for doing so. Different banks have different rules regarding it.

Laxmiamma: So I will keep my past savings as a Fixed Deposit with the bank. But can I do a fixed deposit of my monthly future savings too?

Prof. Nicky: Once again, you could do that. But it will be a hassle for you to do it every month. If you have an online banking facility, then it is easy. But since you do not have that facility, you will need to fill up the fixed deposit form every month. Instead, you can do a Recurring Deposit of your monthly savings.

Laxmiamma was awed at all the facilities that the banking system offers. She asked, “How do I do that?”

Prof. Nicky: You can fill up a form similar to the Fixed Deposit form and instruct the bank to take out a fixed amount of money every month from your savings account, and put it into a Recurring Deposit. The bank will do it every month, for as many months as you instruct them to do it in the form. You will not need to remind the bank. You only have to ensure that you have that money in your savings account. For a Recurring Deposit, you need to be reasonably certain about the amount of money that you can save every month. The interest rates are similar to those in the Fixed Deposit.

Laxmiamma: So what you are telling me is that all three, Savings Account, Fixed Deposit and Recurring Deposit are going to be useful to me!
Prof. Nicky: Exactly! Can you please get me another cup of the chai?
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