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Buying Stationery Online in India

Posted by on Jul 20, 2017

If you are a writer, an artist or a translator, it is likely that you have more than a cursory interest in stationery products. If you are to buy stationery provisions for your office, you have a professional reason for cultivating an interest in stationery. People who are not any of these may also have a special interest in pens, pencils or art materials. Yet, in this age of the computer and the internet, you may not have well-stocked retail shops in your locality for you to buy what you need. A good online retailer of stationery is an ideal solution in such a situation.

In India, the large online retailers do sell stationery products but only as one of those myriad other products that they sell. Pens and pencils are not the most expensive items that people buy. So it is difficult to get rich or make a handsome profit by selling stationery. That’s why Amazon or Flipkart or any other online retailer is not the ideal place where you want to be if you want to buy a pencil or a pen.

To cite an instance, I have been searching for inexpensive 0.9 mm pencil leads for my mechanical pencil for quite some time.  I have failed to find them with the local retailers I have easy access to. I corresponded with one big producer of stationery goods in India, but lost interest after exchanging a few emails because those who are to sell the products showed little interest in selling a few boxes of pencil lead to an individual. Some of the big online retailers have some stock but these are mostly foreign-made and far too expensive. So it wasn’t an ideal situation, but I didn’t give up on my search.

Last week I discovered Offimart.com. In fact it was my search for 0.9 mm pencil leads that took me to their site. I found that the site is powered by Infibeam, a reputed company from whom I bought a few books years ago. Offimart claims they have over 20,000 items listed on their website and have partnered with thousands of vendors and suppliers. They keep a stock of some of the listed products and they procure the rest as per the buyer’s order. Offimart claims orders are usually shipped in 3-7 days.

I discovered that Offimart has stocks of Camlin Hi Par 0.9 mm B Fine Leads and I promptly ordered a few boxes along with some erasers. Offimart’s delivery fee is only Rs. 50 per order (not per item) and they deliver at the customer’s doorstep throughout India. For orders above Rs. 1000, they waive the shipping charges. This seemed very reasonable. I ordered on 18th July and received the items in fine condition and delivered by Fedex this (20th) afternoon. I can’t dream of a better service! According to Offimart, they use the services of leading couriers like Fedex, Blue Dart etc. for delivering the products across India.

coloured pencil drawing of a courier boy delivering a package

Offimart hasn’t solicited me to write this post. I have written it on my own as I am very impressed by their prompt service and plan to buy more products from them. Now I know where to look for if I want to buy pens, pencils and art materials online in India!

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Earn a Pension from your Mutual Fund investments in India

Posted by on Mar 25, 2017

Here’s a plan for a conservative investor who aims to earn a regular income/pension from his investments in mutual funds and expects a return that is better than what bank fixed deposits offer him at this point.

  • The Indian equity market is expensive on today’s date. The current PE (price to earnings, one of those markers that show how expensive the market is) of the NIFTY is near 22 against a historical average of 18. See here.
  • Hence, it won’t be wise for our conservative investor to invest a lump sum in an Equity Fund (that invests almost 100% in equities) or even a Balanced Fund (with at least 65% in equities) right now.

colored pencil sketch of an older man

  • Among the Debt Funds, the Short Term Debt Funds are the most stable (longer term bond funds are more volatile) although they won’t give you the highest returns in the long term. Still the short-term funds are much better than bank fixed deposits with an average annual return of about 9% per annum. See here.
  • There is little difference between the Liquid Funds and the Short Term Debt funds in their risk profile. The short-term funds invest in slightly longer duration papers and some of these may have an exit load (deduct a small percentage) if you withdraw money within 15/30 days of your investment. But the short-term funds would give you an additional 1 to 1.5 percent return compared to the liquid funds.
  • I would recommend an investment of 80 to 90 per cent of your corpus in two or three short-term debt funds (select the 4/5 star rated funds from the above list and while selecting please check the expense ratios of the funds (the lower the better). Opt for the Growth option and after one month initiate an SWP (systematic withdrawal plan) so you withdraw 7.5-8% (what an FD would offer you) of your investment in that fund every month or every quarter. At the present rate your initial investment should still grow!
  • Keep the rest (10-20%) of your corpus in another short term debt fund and wait for the market to fall. At opportune moments, when the PE has come down substantially (20 or lower), switch some portion of this investment to a Multi-Cap Equity Fund. See here. These funds invest in all kinds of companies: big, medium and small, their world is not limited to any specific sectors and, as such, they are the most diversified. You can stagger this investment, doing it in several tranches to get the benefit of market volatility. The general principle is you should increase the amount you switch with each fall.

If the market never falls, your money is still safe in your fund and you can keep it and use it as an emergency corpus at any point of time.

[Disclaimer: What is suggested above is by way of guidance only. I am not a financial adviser and I am not asking anyone to follow this guidance. I had to write this short note for a friend and am uploading it here with the hope that it may help a few thers too. Readers should make investments only after proper assessment of their risk profile and at their own risk.]

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