Mint Money tells you when it makes sense to take an education loan, how it can benefit you and how much it can cost

Keeping your accumulated savings invested and taking an education loan instead can benefit you. Photo: Alamy

Keeping your accumulated savings invested and taking an education loan instead can benefit you. Photo: Alamy

Any big-ticket spending requires you to either have the required funds in place or a financing option. When dealing with long-term financial goals, such as higher education of children, you have the advantage of planning much in advance. Here’s how you can go about the planning.

Start early

A lot of parents have an inclination to send their children abroad for higher education, at least at the post-graduate level, said Suresh Sadagopan, a certified financial planner and founder of Ladder 7 Financial Advisories. “In that case, the planning needs to start really early. They would need a horizon of at least 10-15 years. When we talk of international education at post-graduate level today, most likely it is not going to happen below ₹40 lakh,” he said.

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How do you work towards saving that amount? Prakash Praharaj, founder, Max Secure Financial Planners, said that the future cost of a particular course needs to be calculated taking into account at least 10% annual inflation. “Then calculate the current assets and investments accumulated for these goals. Then the remaining gap for the aimed amount is to be filled through monthly SIPs over the years,” he said.

Starting an SIP of ₹5,000-7,000 in an equity fund for 15 years and increasing it by 10-20% each year could help. However, Sadagopan said, given the fact that there are so many ongoing expenses these days, including other loans, it becomes difficult for parents to put aside a huge amount for the child’s post-graduation alone.

Consider taking loan

Even if you have been working on creating a higher education corpus, you need to consider taking an education loan. At present, the total expenses for higher education abroad could be in the range of ₹1 crore per child, Sadagopan said.

“A realistic thing that parents need to realise is that the child’s higher education is not their only goal. Retirement is also an important goal and they need to be aware of the fact that you can get a loan for all other requirements but not for retirement,” he said.

Own funds versus loan

But if someone has already accumulated the required amount, why should another repayment burden be taken on? The answer lies in two things, Praharaj said. “A cost benefit analysis suggests that taking an education loan and keeping the accumulated amount invested works in your favour. Moreover, it also helps in developing a sense of responsibility in the student. The realisation that a repayment has to be done by them keeps them focussed,” he said.

The math of keeping your accumulated savings invested and taking an education loan instead suggests that taking a loan results in significant benefits. For instance, if ₹1 crore is kept invested and an education loan for the same amount is taken, at the end of nine years, including the repayment holiday on the education loan, the net benefit could be around ₹87 lakh (see graph).

This includes the tax saved on repayment of loan. Borrowers of education loans can claim deduction on the interest paid, though not on the principal amount. Also, unlike in home loans, there is no limit to the amount that can be claimed as deduction.

Sadagopan said it is better that the parents keep the money with themselves and let the child take the loan. “In future if the child is struggling to find a job and pay back, you can step in to help at that point,” he said.


10 Small Business Trademark Mistakes that Cost You Money


Your small business trademarks have an untold amount of potential value. Who knew 10 or 20 years ago that the Google and Apple brands would be worth tens of billions of dollars each?

Every brand has to start somewhere, including yours. That’s why it’s critical to protect your brands with trademarks. If you don’t, you could not only lose the opportunity to profit from their future value but also, you could get into a lot of very expensive trouble.

Fortunately, all of that trouble is avoidable. All you have to do is properly clear and register your trademarks. But that’s exactly where many small businesses set themselves up for problems and begin making small business trademark mistakes.

Rather than investing the time and money to protect their businesses and brands the right way, they use free (i.e. do it yourself) or cheap (i.e. legal document services providers) methods to search the availability of their business and brand names as trademarks and to register those marks.

It’s a recipe for disaster that has created an entirely new type of legal services, do-over legal services. This is a vertical that should not exist simply because if people got the help they needed to do things correctly the first time, they’d avoid the problems that create the need.

With that in mind, I’m going to teach you about common small business trademark mistakes in an effort to stop some small businesses from making them.

These small business trademark mistakes could cost you money. And I’m not talking about a small amount of money. I’m talking about a massive amount of money.

Let’s put it this way, the $500 or $1,000 you save today by going the do-it-yourself or cheap route to search and register your business and brand names could cost you tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars in the future.

I’ve seen too many businesses forced to close their doors because they’ve made one or more of these completely avoidable mistakes. Don’t be another victim. Educate yourself and avoid these common small business trademark mistakes:

1. You registered your trademark but didn’t secure your name in URLs or social media profiles.

Once someone else registers a domain or snags a social media profile using your trademark, it can be time-consuming and costly to stop them.

Imagine if they start publishing content using a domain or social media profile that matches your brand name. If that content is inappropriate or confuses consumers, you could lose business. Develop a domain name strategy now so you can avoid this problem!

2. You never trademarked your business name.

Just because you registered your business name so you could start operating in your state doesn’t mean that you own the trademark.

You still need to register your business name as a brand name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)! Learn the difference between a trade name and a trademark, so you don’t make this mistake.

3. Your business or brand name is descriptive.

The more descriptive your business or brand name is, the less likely you’ll be able to trademark it. In fact, you might not be able to trademark it at all!

Learn how to choose a strong name that you can trademark before you fall in love with it and invest time and money into promoting it.

4. You assumed that since you made up a word or logo that you own it and trademark registration is unnecessary.

Nope. Even if you make up a word, you still need to register it as a trademark to be able to fully protect it and enforce your rights to it.

Common law will be on your side, but you still have to register your trademark if you want to collect money damages and recoup lost profits in an infringement lawsuit.

5. You searched your name in the USPTO database or on an online search site and found no matches, so you assumed it’s available for you to use.

The USPTO database is just your first step in conducting a trademark search. For one thing, it doesn’t include potentially conflicting marks due to common law.

Furthermore, an online search using other free or cheap service providers will give you limited results. That’s because these search providers don’t conduct comprehensive trademark searches.

There is a huge difference between a comprehensive search and any other type of search you conduct yourself or pay someone else to conduct for you. If you do nothing else, invest in a comprehensive search before you start using your name in the marketplace!

6. You think because your business or brand name includes your personal name (first or last) that you don’t have to register it.

Business and brand names that include your first or last name are typically considered to be descriptive and can’t usually be trademarked (although it’s not impossible).

A descriptive trademark is not distinctive, which means it’s weak and difficult to protect. See #3.

7. You assumed that your trademark covers your use of your mark for everything and everywhere.

Not even close! Your trademark only covers your use of the mark for the goods and services specifically described in your trademark registration.

This is why it’s so important to work with an intellectual property attorney to write the goods and services description section of your trademark application! Using a generic classification of goods and services won’t give you the protection you need and is unlikely to scale effectively with your business.

8. You’re not using your mark as it was registered.

You can only protect your mark as it was registered, so you need to use it that way. You should use the trademark symbol to put others on notice that you registered the mark.

But that’s not the only reason you should use the trademark symbol! If you don’t use the symbol, it could be a lot more difficult to collect money damages or recover lost profits in an infringement lawsuit.

9. You’re not maintaining your trademark.

Did you know you could lose your trademark if you don’t maintain it? First, you need to continue using it in commerce or you could lose your rights to it.

Second, you have to renew and update your registration. Between the fifth and sixth year and between the ninth and tenth year after you register your mark, as well as every ten years thereafter, you have to file specific registration renewal documents or the USPTO could flag your trademark as abandoned and cancel it. That means someone else could register it. If you want to get your trademark back, you have to re-register your mark from scratch.

10. You’re not monitoring and enforcing your trademark.

If you’re not monitoring your mark for potential infringements (both online and offline) and responding to those infringements to enforce your mark, then you could lose your ability to protect it.

Develop a process to monitor use of your mark online by doing regular searches using the USPTO database, Google, and social media. If possible, invest in trademark monitoring with an intellectual property attorney or use a third-party watch service provider like Thompson CompuMark or Corsearch that has access to far more online and offline databases than free or cheap providers offer.

Mistake Photo via Shutterstock


The Ultimate Guide to Running Gear That Doesn’t Cost a Fortune

The Ultimate Guide to Running Gear That Doesn't Cost a Fortune


  • Running is an inexpensive hobby
  • Shoes are the only big investment
  • You don’t even need a running watch

As we slowly leave the summer behind and head into the running season in India, there’s a good chance that someone you know is training for a distance running event. It could be a friend who wants to get fitter and has been running 5km once a month, or a family member training for a marathon. This is how this writer got into running and we know many runners who’ve picked it up the same way.

If you’re one of these people, or if you’re thinking of taking up running to stay fit, then you need to know about the gear you should get to start running. Training for a race such as a 10km and half-marathon is a great way to motivate yourself to take up running seriously. If you’ve reached this stage, you need to invest in some basic gear. We spoke to some experienced runners and used our own experience to compile this guide. This is meant for people who’ve just begun running and the goal was to focus only on things you need, rather than what marketing departments of huge corporations want you to buy. Deals and discounts are upon us, so use this guide to fill your wishlist.

Do I need a tracker?
Many people start looking for activity trackers or running watches when they get into running. Alfredo Miranda, a Delhi-based runner who works with a construction company, says beginners definitely don’t need to buy a wearable for running. “You can just use a stopwatch. Measure the track via Google Maps [if it doesn’t have mile markers],” he says. “I run in Rose Gardens, Hauz Khas [in South Delhi]. I know one lap is 1.5km.”

Miranda’s low-cost hack could save you a lot of money. Once you take up running seriously, you can always invest in a proper running watch. If you absolutely need GPS on your runs, you can always use your smartphone. There are several running apps such as Strava, Runkeeper, Runtastic, and Nike+ that you can use instead of buying something like TomTom Spark Cardio + Music.

(Also see: Convinced You Need a Fitness Tracker? Think Again)

How do I carry my smartphone?
Let’s start with smartphones. Dr. Adil Rizvi, a cardiovascular surgeon and a runner, recommends an arm band or a waist pouch. “You should check if these are waterproof to guard against rain and sweat. Your phone should fit [inside the pouch or band] and you should check if it’s comfortable,” he says. You can buy an arm band at around Rs. 500 but be sure to check reviews to see if your smartphone fits in the case. The belt pouch is also easily available online at around Rs. 500. Both these products will fit most people unless you’re on extreme ends of the weight spectrum. We’ve spoken to people who’re underweight due to illness and none of these products fit them. You’d probably be better off buying these products offline to ensure proper fit – both for you and the things you want to carry.

It’s also always a good idea to keep some money and a piece of paper with your name and the details of an emergency contact in the pouch or arm band. In case you face some kind of a medical emergency, this will help people get you help. Dr. Rizvi suggests buying an ID band that has these details that you can wear it on your wrist, but that’s optional.

Alfredo Miranda suggests an alternative. “I bought a cover for my phone, the [shock-proof] one that protects from falls. I bought it for Rs. 300. I carry my phone in my hand for runs up to 15km,” he says. You can see whichever is more comfortable for you and choose accordingly.

How should I carry water during runs?
You will definitely need to carry water. Miranda runs with a half-litre water bottle, and both he and Dr. Rizvi suggest that you plan your run so that you can refill the bottle along the way. Dr. Rizvi says buying a waist pouch with a bottle holder is a good investment for those who don’t like to hold a bottle during runs. These start at under Rs. 300 and once again we suggest you buy them offline to ensure that you don’t have problems with fit.

Miranda says, “Keep water stations at the race in mind while training. For example the Bhatti ultra [in Faridabad] I was running 80km. I know there is one water station every 5km so I can forget about carrying water.” You should find out how often water and aid stations are available at your race and simulate those conditions in training. Items such as water bladders with small backpacks should be avoided unless you’re on an unsupported long run, Dr. Rizvi says.

What should I wear while running?
Dr. Rizvi says, “Wear synthetic [moisture wicking] T-shirts [and shorts] during runs. Different brands have different names such as Drifit for these.” He suggests avoiding cotton. “Cotton is not a good fabric for running. It becomes wet and heavy [once you start sweating].” He adds that you should pick running clothes should have reflective strips so vehicles can spot you if you’re running when it’s dark.

Instead of buying expensive T-shirts from big brands, you can just use the T-shirts you get for free when you participate in races. Most timed racing events in India offer a complimentary T-shirt to all participants, and plenty of these are of good quality. Good quality dry-fit T-shirts are available at around Rs. 500.

As you run longer distances, you’re likely to encounter some chafing. This happens when your clothes rub against your skin, leading to irritation. This can be very painful and Miranda has a cost-effective solution to avoid it. “Just use Vaseline,” he says.

That brings us to shoes. We’ve met some barefoot runners who’ve been managing quite well, but most people will need a pair of running shoes. If anyone recommends a particular shoe and tells you to buy it, they’re totally wrong. As we’ve mentioned before, it’s best if you go to a store for running shoes and get a gait analysis done before buying. While you’re at it you might want to get a pair of socks as well. If your current pair aren’t giving you any trouble while running, keep using them. Otherwise you might want to get a new pair.

There are plenty of other things such as foam rollers, ice packs, energy gels that you’ll find online. If you’re just taking up running and aiming for a half marathon, you wouldn’t need these if you take a few precautions. Both Dr. Rizvi and Miranda say stretching properly before and after runs is what you need. Energy gels are not needed unless you’re attempting to run more than a half-marathon.

Running isn’t a very expensive hobby. It’s possible to train on a low budget with the suggestions mentioned above.

Do you have any favourite cost-effective running tips? Share them via the comments.

Tags: Running, Half marathon, Marathon



‘Aadhaar eKYC Can Make New Mobile Connection Cost Zero’

'Aadhaar eKYC Can Make New Mobile Connection Cost Zero'

Trai Chairman R S Sharma Friday said cost of activation of a new mobile connection can virtually come down to zero if electronic KYC of Aadhaar is implemented as authentication will be done digitally.

He said transaction costs are reduced substantially when Aadhaar is used as an authentication tool.

“If you are taking a mobile connection, currently the cost of activation of a mobile customer is Rs 150 because you have to fill a customer acquisition form (CAF), you have to give paper documents… if you use digital identity authentication, you can fill the customer form, digitally sign it and get your electronic KYC. So, essentially the cost is equal to zero,” Sharma said at the annual growth Net summit in New Delhi.

Sharma has made recommendations to the Department of Telecom (DoT) to this effect and the latter has “apparently” accepted it.

After the government finalises the norms, it will enable instant identity verification using Aadhaar card bio-metric data for a new mobile connection.

When operators issue new connections using the Aadhaar card, it would speed up the verification process as everything will be done online, Sharma hoped.

He, however, pointed to the big gap between technology development and its implementation.

Sharma as the UIDAI Director General and then as Department of Electronics and IT (Deity) Secretary had earlier recommended to DoT on making the whole process paperless.

This, however, met with scepticism in some quarters on security issues.

“Now, what is happening is one person who takes your PAN card is able to give 20 SIMs to different people and if they commit a crime, you will be caught. You are not aware who is using or misusing your PAN card to get the SIMs,” Sharma explained.

Citing the example of Peshawar attack in Pakistan which killed many children, the Trai chairman said there were six terrorists who had SIMs that were issued to a woman.

“Pakistan decided to authenticate all the SIMs with biometrics and they had completed the programme last year,” he added.

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