Mutual funds (debt and equity) and the Public Provident Fund are excellent investment avenues. Deciding which is a better-suited investment product for an individual investor requires determining his/her financial goals and knowing about the aspects of PPF and mutual fund investment.
The Government of India operates the PPF and guarantees the original investment and returns, so the risk of an investor losing their investment is nil. The rate of interest, compounded annually, is reviewed and determined by the central government every quarter. In PPF, interest from investments also earns an interest though there is a 15-year lock-in period on the investment. In a financial year, one can invest up to Rs 1,50,000 tax-free. Interest earned on PPF is also tax-exempt.
Mutual funds are a vibrant market where investors can choose from various fund houses offering multiple schemes that differ in their investment portfolios. Investors with all kinds of risk appetites can find a product that suits their investment goals. What returns one can expect from their investments are determined by the performance of the underlying assets that make up the scheme portfolio–equity, debt, ETFs, gold, etc. Usually, one picks a particular scheme based on its past performance and one’s risk profile. How long one has invested determines the taxes on returns. There are some Equity Linked Savings Scheme or tax saving funds that come with a 3-year lock-in period.
As mentioned earlier, both instruments can be equally beneficial if one picks them based on their risk appetite and financial goals. PPFs are ideal for building a retirement corpus. Meanwhile, those at the beginning of their professional journeys can opt for mutual funds to attain short-, and medium-term financial goals.
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