Being in charge of your money is a significant step in ensuring an independent existence. The financial sector offers certain benefits and schemes that can help you take that step towards becoming independent. We map out the benefits on offer for women. Here are some of them.
Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana (SSY) is a special government savings scheme meant for girl children. Only parents of a girl below the age of 10 can invest in it. Currently, SSY pays an interest rate of 8.5%, which is higher than the rates on most fixed deposits and comparable government schemes. Deposits can be made on a monthly or yearly basis for 15 years from the date of opening the account. You can withdraw only after the child turns 18 years, subject to certain conditions. Read more here.
You can contribute a minimum of ₹250 and maximum of ₹1.5 lakh. The entire contribution is eligible for tax deduction under Section 80C and the interest paid is tax-free.
Several states impose lower stamp duty if the property is registered in the name of a woman. The difference is as much as 2% in Delhi, Punjab and Haryana.
According to Suresh Sadagopan, founder, Ladder7 Financial Advisories, “Families do not buy property in the name of the wife despite the stamp duty differential. However, the lower rate does benefit women buyers."
Lower Loan rates
Some banks offer special rates to women home loan borrowers. Interest rates for women are, typically, 5 basis points lower than for other borrowers. Some banks also offer a concession on loan processing charges.
On the face of it, the difference in rates and charges may not seem huge, but over the years it can have significant impact. It can even affect decisions about property ownership, said experts. “Although the percentage difference in home loan rates between men and women is small, it can make a huge difference when families take large loans," said Rishi Mehra, CEO, Wishfin, an online marketplace for financial products.
Some believe that’s making a difference. “In home ownership, which has been a male bastion, women are making a mark. Our data shows the average home loan ticket size for women is ₹27.57 lakh, 20% higher than the average ticket size for men at ₹22.97 lakh," said Adil Shetty, CEO, Bankbazaar, an online banking portal.
Women, typically, have to pay lower life insurance premiums than men because of their longer lifespans.
“We understand that women live longer than men and, hence, our term plans offer a discount for women lives as compared to their male counterparts. We also provide such discounts on our unit-linked insurance plans," said Vineet Arora, MD and CEO, Aegon Life Insurance Co. Ltd. The discount translates into lower premiums for women compared to men.
“There is a setback of 3 years on female lives as the mortality rate is lower for women. A 35-year-old woman buying a life insurance policy will have to pay the same premium as a 32-year-old man does," said Anil Kumar Singh, chief actuarial officer, Aditya Birla Sun Life Insurance Co. Ltd.
Several companies offer women-oriented critical illness plans. Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Co. Ltd offers a “Women Specific Critical Illness Plan" which covers eight different critical illnesses that particularly affect women. Aegon Life Insurance has a woman-specific critical illness rider which provides protection against pregnancy-related complications, among other ailments.
Even when buying motor insurance, women now get an advantage. For instance, Kotak General Insurance Co. Ltd offers a 10% discount on motor insurance for women customers. But keep in mind that while you are buying insurance, price is the second filter you should apply. The benefits a policy provides should be the first. Do compare any women-oriented insurance products with a generic version first.
The distribution of wealth and income in India is gradually shifting to being more equitable. Deepali Sen, founder partner, Srujan Financial Advisors LLP, said many of her woman clients are earning more than their husbands.
“Women tend to be more careful and planned in their approach towards money," she said. A welcome trend in India’s changing society.