Saturday, 4 February 2012

Santa Monica, California

Santa Monica, California
The Beginning
This was one of the beach which was missing from my list of visited beaches around Los Angeles, US. But I updated the list last weekend [29-Jan-2012]. We were six (pirates) Sanjeev (I call him Burge sir), Prakash, Somesh (they are GP guys), my colleague and good friend Nirmal and our DM Sachin. Amol, my PM gave us a pleasant surprise as he reached hotel in morning and joined the wagon. We had two ships in our fleet, elegant Elantra and classic Camry. We named Sanjeev and Amol respective Captains and other pirates were ready to roll in their attire and gears.

Though we named Amol as Captain, we had to add him to official rider list. We headed to Enterprise car rental and task was accomplished. Sanjeev and his crew joined us there and thus started - The Journey.

The Journey - Lost on Freeway
Did I mention that though we had decided to visit Santa Monica, Burge sir changed the plan at eleventh hour and we were out to hit Venice beach instead. The written directions which we copied from Google maps for Santa Monica were of no use now. Camry was following Elantra through normal traffic on I405N. The crew was excited and was humming to 102.7. Then the famous O Henry twist was there. Elantra's captain misread the directions and overlooked the exit for Venice beach and headed further. Going a bit more we realised that OMG! We were lost! We took our cars to sideway of the freeway and started guessing our whereabouts. We hashed out and confirmed the route ahead. The written directions came handy and it was decided to visit Santa Monica then. The voyage resumed, Camry following Elantra again. We reached near to the beach and saw the famous gate (oh! how could I miss the snap!). Next challenge was to find a suitable - Parking.

We traversed through bunch of parking lots but in vain. The crew was looking for any empty space on either side of road but there was no success. But lady luck was riding our side and finally we found a parking lot just in front of beach (it meant that we didn't had to walk much, lazy us). The parking fee was $8 only (read that as Rs. 400/- and that will leave with your mouth open). The ships were parked and crew was prepared to hit - The Beach

The Beach
The first word from my mouth was like WOW! That was awesome man! The sun was on the pole, breeze was cooled by sea. The beach was happening place with crowd engaged in different activities like swimming, surfing, beach volleyball, sun bath, playing Frisbee, running and so on and so forth. Kids were busy with sand castles and creating their own out of world monuments. It was like everybody had something to do (except me or I can't write what I did?). How can I forget to mention about the coast guards.... (how many of you started thinking of 'Baywatch' ;), moving across the coast, whistling and warning people not to go too far for their own safety. We stayed on beach for some time and then headed to crowded and astounding - The Pier.

The Pier (or piers? as there are in fact two adjacent piers)
The structure was massive and it should be as it was supporting an amusement park known as Pacific Park. It had a roller coaster and jumbo Ferris wheel and bunch of easy rides for kids. We lost Burge sir was when we parted for some burger shop and he for coffee. The search mission was undertaken but none of us could reach to Burge sir. However, in the end all was well as Burge sir tracked us down. The crew members recharged themselves with burgers while Burge sir had his favourite Starbucks coffee. We strolled and passed by several interesting spots like live street performer dancing to MJ tunes, a lady doing tribal dance, man playing guitar, psychic readers and few finger artist making paintings without using brush. At the end of pier was heaven for anglers. The serious ones were having all the fishing gear with them and were having wonderful time. There were tons of different places to eat, from fancy sit down places to more family friendly fair. I was wondering how scenic the evening would look from Pier, watching sun set at the horizon would be an eternal feeling.

The End
After spending such a quality time, the pirates was tired and boarded their respective ships. The captains drove back safely to the motel leaving us with mesmerizing and unforgettable day.
So what I did really? 
Those who really wanted to know what I did, can click here and find out themselves.

Interesting Facts about Santa Monica
I have collected some facts which readers may find interesting.
- Santa Monica is also popularly known as SaMo.
- The Pier is more than 100 years of age.
- It is estimated that Pier has more than 3 million visitors a year
- The Santa Monica Looff Hippodrome (carousel) is a National Historic Landmark. It sits on the Santa   Monica Pier, which was built in 1909.
- Santa Monica hosts the annual Santa Monica Film Festival.
- Santa Monica (city and pier) is shown in many popular movies and also in video games.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Term Insurance

Getting married?
Buying a home with huge home loan?
Blessed with baby?

This means your responsibilities, your liabilities have increased and considering worst case of your unfortunate demise, what you really don't want to happen to your beloved family is to leave them alone strangling. No wonder you are the right person to get an "Term Insurance" ASAP. Without beating about the bush I will come to my point - Term Insurance.

"Term life insurance or term assurance is life insurance which provides coverage at a fixed rate of payments for a limited period of time, the relevant term. After that period expires coverage at the previous rate of premiums is no longer guaranteed and the client must either forgo coverage or potentially obtain further coverage with different payments and/or conditions. If the insured dies during the term, the death benefit will be paid to the beneficiary. Term insurance is the least expensive way to purchase a substantial death benefit on a coverage amount per premium dollar basis over a specific period of time." - Wiki

To elucidate, term insurance is a form of life insurance where upon person (beneficiary) has to pay less premium for a fixed period of years (term ) and can get mammoth amount in sad event of death. However, premium paid does not attract any lump sum amount if nothing happens to beneficiary during or after term. Its like gone if nothing happens but if something bad occurs the coverage will be decent enough to take care of your entire family.

To give an example, at an age of 28 a non-smoking healthy person can get coverage of 50 lacs for 35 years at less than 5K per year premium i.e. only around Rs. 480/- per month.Comparing it with any other normal insurance plan; which although gives you money back, does not provide the much needed risk coverage. A popular plan may cover mere 2.5 lacs at around 12K per year premium. The difference is profound.

Ideal time
The most important period in a person's life is from age 30 to 50. It is this span of life when person normally gets married, gets children, owns sweet home. This all increases his social duties and financial obligations. Hence it would be not wrong to say that this is period where the risk is maximum and it makes sense to get a term insurance. Now as companies are offering term up to 35 years, a person taking policy at 30 can get cover up to 65 years by which his risk is minimized. The premium at early age(25-30) will obviously be less. Not to forget here that premium paid for term insurance has exemption under 80C of Income Tax rule.

I have observed that while taking home loan, some housing loan companies offer coverage of one's home by charging higher EMI. I would warn readers to compare such offer with term insurance and then take wise decision.

Go for Online
With the insurance companies going online getting the term insurance is like child's play. Also some companies gives additional discount on higher risk coverage. e.g. premium for 1 Cr may be less than premium for 90 lacs. Having said that I would also want to bring a point to your attention about reject ratio.While planning to buy an online term plan, keep in mind that the risk cover offered by the company and claim settlement depend on the authenticity of the information (health details, financial details, existing insurance so on and so forth) you provide. So furnish accurate and as much of information honestly.

My Choice
There are loads of Insurance companies in market nowadays. In my opinion one should not be concerned about the reliability of any of these companies as all of these companies are reputed and big corporate houses today. Secondly, as all the companies are duly governed and regulated by the regulator so one can be rest assured for any of the product offering that these companies offer to the market. 
Currently, market favorites are i-Life plan from Aviva Life Insurance, iProtect (now iCare) Plan from ICICI Prudential Life Insurance, Kotak e-Term and others.

To realize the benefits of term insurance one actually needs a paradigm shift from considering term insurance as an earning tool. There are loads of other ways to make money (I would write up on that some other day may be) but having insurance as means of making money is not a good idea!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

'Early Investment'

If you are bachelor and living in Pune and earning handsome salary (It would be cherry on the cake if you are in IT sector); then don't wait for the ball to come into your play. Instead grab the opportunity with both hands and buy a 1 BHK/ 1HK flat.

To give insight of what I am referring let me cite an example. A HK flat in prime locality like Vimanagar costs around 18 Lacs. Considering 80% loan, a person can get loan of 14.5 lacs with EMI of 15k. Only challenge is 3-4 lacs which the young generation can make arrangement (as they say jugaad).
The flat can earn whopping rent of around 10K (yes its true ten thousand) per month; leaving the person to add only 4-5k from his pocket.The bonus is Income Tax exempt you will get for Principal and Interest. Thus you can have the cake and eat it too!!

The scenario may be different from person to person but key here is 'Early Investment'!!