Can women afford to be financially illiterate?
Obvious answer is no because most women will have to manage their finances on their own at some point in their life. As a woman you are better off in life earning and managing your own money. You neither can prevent your husband from leaving you or taking another wife nor can you prevent your kids betray you in old age. But you could have some of your dignity if you didn’t have to beg them for financial support. You may also have to finance your ageing parents.
That’s why it is it is very important for women to have a strong understanding about how to manage their finance, and invest for their own future. But general tendency amongst women is that they are very reluctant to discuss their finance with anyone else, including their life partner.
In general, it is seen that women can discuss their personal, family or even love matters with friends, medical issues with a doctor, but when it comes to talking about money and investments they are very tight lipped. Behind women’s resistance to discuss about money matter lies lack of confidence in their knowledge of financial planning and investing. This lack of confidence is really self-imposed one, completely unwarranted and mostly due to earlier habits, sometimes dating back to childhood spent watching men handle finances in families. Traditionally, women have demonstrated stronger saving rates than their male counterparts and enjoyed better long-term investment performance whenever they did take initiative in this regard. Unfortunately, too many women still hesitate to take control of their finances.”
Then how can they become more financially literate and independent? Here are few tips
- Budget your monthly spending:
Unfortunately, the world mostly knows women for their spending habits/addiction and ignores their ability to manage the family in difficult times. Indeed all women have financial management in their genes but just few are able to really exploit them. A simple way to curb the spending habit is to start preparing your monthly family budget. This will help in analysing spending pattern and to compare it with actual family needs. By this you will be able to prioritise your needs and will be able to avoid unnecessary expenses. Before you spend ask yourself the below questions
- Do I really need this item?
- Is it going to serve me well for years to come?
- Will this purchase prevent me from achieving my financial goals?
Once you start budgeting treat yourself with something small but nice, if you are able to surpass your saving targets this will keep you motivated in the long run.
- Decide on Cash v/s Credit
We all love swiping our credit cards and collecting points. Even though we think we’re saving in the long run, don’t swipe just to get more points. Instead, work with the rewards you already have or set a goal for spending on credit cards. Though you don’t have to pay immediately but ultimately the credit card bill will result in negative cash flow for you. In case if you can’t resist your craving for shopping then avoid using credit cards or reduce your credit limits.
- Look for online deals
With the boom in the e-commerce industry there are several websites offering the same products at relatively cheaper price along with home delivery option. This will surely help you to save for your future especially when you are buying big ticket items like consumer durables.
- Define your short term and long term financial objectives
If you wish to retire early and wish to lead a very healthy, relaxed and independent retirement life with your spouse, it is very important for you to identify your short term and long term financial needs and objectives as early as possible. While doing so you should give due consideration to various factors like your existing housing/education loan, unplanned medical expenses, your child’s education, your retirement needs etc. Once you identify these needs you will get your saving targets. It will also help you in distributing your savings in proper manner towards:
- Taking sufficient health insurance for your family.
- Taking a good term insurance on the life of person on whose earnings your family is majorly dependent.
- Investing for your kids’ educational needs.
- Investing for your retirement.
- Learn a bit about finance
It is not as tough as you think. Once you have an understanding of investment basics, you’ll feel much more comfortable and confident in making financial decisions. Remember it is never too late. Even small adjustments to savings rates or investment plans can have a big impact over a long period of time. To help you get started, there are numerous tools, tips, and articles available online and offline that can help you take your financial knowledge to the next level. Initially this all may be confusing for you. Don’t hesitate to take some help from a reliable friend or investment professional to identify the right instrument for achieving your financial objectives.
- No question is a silly question
Don’t be afraid to ask question when it comes to investing your hard earned money. Make sure to clear any doubt which comes to your mind as, this will help you in two ways. Firstly, it may save you from losing money by investing in a bad/fraudulent scheme and secondly, it will help you compare and choose the best scheme according to your financial objective.
- Don’t put all the eggs in one basket
Diversify your investment portfolio into various types of instruments based on your age and risk taking abilities. You should have proper mix of Debt, Equity, Mutual Funds, Bank deposits, Pension funds, PPF, Term Insurance, Health Insurance, etc. so that you and your family can lead a stress free and healthy life for ever. Do remember that taking a bit of a risk at an early stage of your life is worth your while. Try to find that right balance.
- Consider Tax factor
Last but the most important, while you compare and finalise any investment option, it is very imperative to take into account
- The tax benefit/savings on your investment
- Tax out go on the returns.
Always compare the net of tax returns between investments options under consideration.
Someone has very aptly said, “The speed of your success is limited only by your dedication and what you’re willing to sacrifice”. Your current small sacrifice may be the foundation stone for your successful and happy future. Being a home-maker and a successful multitasker, women must step forward in the area of managing finances. This simple list is here to guide you and make you the master of your universe in the true sense.